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Does a Bad Night's Sleep Make You Eat Fatty Food?
Does a Bad Night's Sleep Make You Eat Fatty Food?
February 26, 2015

Skipping just a single night of sleep leads to a shift in brain activity that seems to spark a desire to consume more fat the following day, a new study suggests.

The study offers potential insights into the relationship between lack of sleep and the risk of obesity, researchers said.

"The main finding of this study is that one night of sleep loss altered function within the brain's 'salience network,' " explained study senior author Hengyi Rao.

The salience network is a pathway in the brain thought to guide decision-making, according to Rao. He is an assistant professor of cognitive neuroimaging in neurology and psychiatry within the division of sleep and chronobiology at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine.

What's more, Rao added, a brain scan analysis revealed exactly how the network changed in response to sleep loss, which ultimately enabled his team to accurately predict how much more fat an individual might consume following lack of sleep.

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Posted by Ken at 1:43 AM - Link to this entry  |  Share this entry  |  Print

A Common Vitamin Deficiency May Raise Your Diabetes Risk More Than Obesity
A Common Vitamin Deficiency May Raise Your Diabetes Risk More Than Obesity
February 26, 2015

Lose weight: It's the go-to recommendation for preventing diabetes.

But according to new research published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, it may not be enough. Vitamin D deficiency also appears to increase your risk of Type 2 diabetes -- no matter your weight.

More than 29 million Americans have diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That's 9.3 percent of the population. Another 86 million have prediabetes, and up to 30 percent of them will develop Type 2 diabetes in the next five years. In Type 2 diabetes, the body cannot properly use insulin, resulting in chronically high blood sugar levels. Blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, stroke and loss of toes, feet or legs are common side effects.

Meanwhile, up to 41.6 percent of Americans are deficient in vitamin D, according to 2011 a paper published in Nutrition Research. While previous research -- including one study published in Diabetes Care -- has suggested a link between vitamin D deficiency and diabetes, many experts believed obesity was the middleman. Perhaps vitamin D deficiency spurred weight gain, which, in turn led to diabetes? According to the Endocrine Society's 2012 scientific statement on vitamin D, people who have low levels of vitamin D are at increased risk of obesity as well as Type 2 diabetes, prediabetes and metabolic syndrome (characterized by high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels).

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Posted by Ken at 1:43 AM - Link to this entry  |  Share this entry  |  Print

'Superbug' Outbreak at California Hospital, More Than 160 Exposed
'Superbug' Outbreak at California Hospital, More Than 160 Exposed
February 19, 2015

A potentially deadly "superbug" resistant to antibiotics has infected seven patients, including two who died, and more than 160 others were exposed at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center through contaminated medical instruments, the hospital revealed.

The drug-resistant superbug known as CRE was likely transmitted to the Los Angeles patients by contaminated medical scopes during endoscopic procedures that took place between October 2014 and January 2015, a university statement said.

The bacteria may have been a "contributing factor" in the deaths of two patients, according to the university.

UCLA says it sterilized the scopes according to manufacturer standards, but it is now using a decontamination process "that goes above and beyond the manufacturer and national standards."

Fears linger that more confirmed cases of the bacteria could emerge.

By one estimate, CRE, or carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae, can contribute to death in up to half of seriously infected patients, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The bacteria can cause infections of the bladder or lungs, leading to coughing, fever or chills. CRE infections have been reported in every state except Idaho, Alaska and Maine, according to the CDC.

UCLA said infections may have been transmitted through two endoscopes used during the diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic and bile-duct problems.

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New HIV drug prevents infection in monkeys
New HIV drug prevents infection in monkeys
February 19, 2015

Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute say a newly developed drug designed to combat HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is strong enough to work as a vaccine.

The anti-HIV agent, eCD4-Ig, has been tested on macaque monkeys who when vaccinated with the drug were able to withstand heavy, repeated doses the animal version of the AIDS virus called SIV (simian immunodeficiency virus). In lab tests, the drug was able to block every strain of HIV-1, HIV-2 and SIV.

The drug's promise was detailed this week in the journal Nature -- the culmination of several years of research by a dozen scientific institutions.

"This is the culmination of more than a decade's worth of work on the biochemistry of how HIV enters cells," Michael Farzan, a professor at the Scripps Research Institute who led the research efforts there, explained in a press release.

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Health Benefits of Moderate Drinking Overblown: Report
Health Benefits of Moderate Drinking Overblown: Report
February 12, 2015

All that talk of red wine and other alcoholic beverages being good for your health if consumed in moderation is just plain wrong, a new analysis contends.

A review of nearly 53,000 British people found little to no health benefit linked to alcohol consumption, once the results were adjusted for a range of personal, social, economic and lifestyle factors, the researchers reported.

"Based on the findings from this study, alcohol consumption appears to confer little to no protection against mortality [death] in most age-sex groups," said study author Craig Knott, a research associate in the department of epidemiology and public health at University College London.

Previous research has shown that light alcohol consumption may confer some degree of protection against early death and illness, with people who have fewer than two drinks per day living longer than both those who drink more and those who don't drink at all, the researchers said.

But these earlier studies were flawed because researchers lumped former drinkers in with people who've never touched a drop, calling all of them non-drinkers and then comparing them to people who imbibe lightly, Knott said.

"Importantly, former drinkers appear to be less healthy and at greater risk of mortality than never drinkers," he said. "With existing research having largely grouped former and never drinkers together, there was the possibility that protective effects seen among lighter drinkers may be less a consequence of a real biological relationship and more a statistical artifact arising from their comparison against people who are simply less healthy."

In this study, published Feb. 10 in the BMJ, researchers compared interview data from the annual Health Survey for England with national death records, analyzing the drinking habits and health of almost 53,000 people aged 50 and older.

Compared with people who never drank, any protective benefits from alcohol were largely limited to men aged 50 to 64 who reported having an average 15 to 20 drinks a week, and women 65 and older who had an average 10 drinks or less per week, the investigators found.

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Posted by Ken at 1:43 AM - Link to this entry  |  Share this entry  |  Print

Is the Advice on Fat in Your Diet Wrong?
Is the Advice on Fat in Your Diet Wrong?
February 12, 2015

For years we've been told to eat a low-fat diet to protect ourselves from heart disease.

But a new report says those guidelines -- which recommend keeping fat to 30% or less of daily calories and saturated fat to 10% or less -- were not backed by solid research when they were first issued decades ago.

The report's authors even say dietary advice "should not have been introduced" at all.

U.S. public health officials made the recommendation in 1977, and 6 years later those in the U.K. did the same, in efforts to curb heart attacks and heart disease.

Officials acknowledged the evidence wasn't conclusive when the guidelines were issued. The authors of the new report say that's an understatement.

"The evidence was never there," says James J. DiNicolantonio, PharmD. He's a research scientist at St. Luke's Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City, MO.

The new report echoes concerns of other experts, says Steven Nissen, MD, chair of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic. He says there needs to be a major shift in how doctors advise their patients on diet. Nissen was not involved in the new report.

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Posted by Ken at 1:43 AM - Link to this entry  |  Share this entry  |  Print

FDA Approves New Breast Cancer Drug
FDA Approves New Breast Cancer Drug
February 7, 2015

A new drug to treat postmenopausal women with advanced breast cancer has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Pfizer's Ibrance (palbociclib) inhibits molecules that play a role in the growth of cancer cells. It is intended for postmenopausal women with estrogen receptor (ER)-positive, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-negative metastatic breast cancer who have not yet received endocrine-based therapy, the FDA said.

Ibrance is to be used in combination with letrozole, another drug used to treat certain kinds of breast cancer in postmenopausal women, the agency said.

"The addition of palbociclib to letrozole provides a novel treatment option to women diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer," Dr. Richard Pazdur, director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in an agency news release.

Ibrance was approved under the FDA's accelerated approval program, which provides patients with earlier access to promising new drugs while the manufacturer conducts further clinical trials to confirm the medicine's safety and effectiveness.

The FDA's approval of Ibrance was based on a study that included 165 postmenopausal women who had ER-positive, HER2-negative advanced breast cancer and had not been treated for their advanced disease.

Those who received Ibrance plus letrozole lived about 20 months without their disease progressing, compared to about 10 months for those who took only letrozole. Data on overall survival rates is not yet available.

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Posted by Ken at 1:43 AM - Link to this entry  |  Share this entry  |  Print

Healthy Diet May Be Linked to Lower Risk of Lung Disease
Healthy Diet May Be Linked to Lower Risk of Lung Disease
February 7, 2015

A healthy diet low in red meat and rich in whole grains might reduce the risk of developing the crippling chronic lung disease known as COPD, new research suggests.

Researchers tracked more than 120,000 men and women and found healthy eaters were one-third less likely to develop COPD compared to big consumers of red meat, refined grains, sugary drinks and alcohol.

"The predominant risk factor for COPD in the developed world is cigarette smoking," said study lead author Raphaelle Varraso, a researcher with the unit of aging and chronic diseases at the National Institute of Health and Medical Research in Villejuif, France.

"But up to one-third of COPD patients have never smoked, suggesting that other factors are involved," Varraso said. "This novel finding supports the importance of diet in COPD [development]."

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Posted by Ken at 1:43 AM - Link to this entry  |  Share this entry  |  Print

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