Archive for September, 2008


Jo Moss told the BBC that there needs to be more public awareness and support for ADHD.

Parents need lessons in how to cope with their children’s unruly behaviour, new guidelines on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) say.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) says drugs such as Ritalin should be avoided – and must not be given to the under-fives.

Teachers would also benefit from training to recognise and help children with this condition, it adds.

Any primary school class is likely to have a child with ADHD, experts say.

Most of the estimated 365,000 children in Britain with ADHD receive no treatment at all.

There is an over-reliance on medicines.

Dr Tim Kendall, a Consultant Psychiatrist from Sheffield who helped write the guidelines.

But of those who do, most – about 37,000 – are prescribed stimulants like Ritalin (methylphenidate).

Children with ADHD have extreme difficulty sitting still, learning or concentrating.

At school they may find it hard to keep friends and suffer from bullying because of their behaviour. Looking after affected children can be exhausting for parents.

Parenting Classes

The guidelines, which cover England, Wales and Northern Ireland, say parent training and education programmes should be offered as a first-line treatment for ADHD, both for pre-school and school age children.


The programmes teach parents how to create a structured home environment, encourage attentiveness and concentration, and manage misbehaviour better.

Drugs remain a first option for children over five and young people with severe ADHD, say the guidelines, but only as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes psychological and behavioural interventions.

Dr Tim Kendall, a Consultant Psychiatrist from Sheffield who is joint Director of the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health and helped draw up the guidelines, said: “There is an over-reliance on medicines.

ADHD symptoms
Easily distracted
Difficulty remaining seated when required
Difficulty awaiting turn in group situations
Difficulty following instructions
Difficulty in playing quietly
Often shift from one incomplete activity to another
Often interrupts others
Often engages in physically dangerous activities without considering the consequences

“Quite commonly, people tend to revert to offering methylphenidate or atomoxetene. When they do that it’s not always because there’s a good balance of risk and benefits. It’s because the child has got what appears to be ADHD and that’s what’s available.

“Its easier to prescribe a drug when other options like parent training programmes are not available.”

Dr Kendall said it was important to diagnose ADHD correctly, rather than label all bad behaviour as ADHD. The symptoms of ADHD persist in all settings – both at school and at home – and cause real impairment.

Andrea Bilbow, Chief Executive of the ADHD charity ADDISS, welcomed the NICE recommendations but questioned how helpful the parent training programmes would be to parents.

“Parenting Programmes are extremely important, but they need to be specific for ADHD.”

“The ones that NICE are recommending were designed for the parents of children with conduct disorder, which is completely different from ADHD,” she said.

The Scottish InterCollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) is rewriting its guidelines on ADHD Diagnosis and Treatment and will take the NICE Guidelines into consideration.

Their new guidance will come out in the first half of 2009.

(Source:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/health/7630926.stm – Published 23/09/2008)

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(Source: http://www.cancer.org/docroot/PED/content/PED_3_1x_Link_Between_Lifestyle_and_CancerMarch03.asp)

How much do daily habits like diet and exercise affect our risk for cancer? Much more than you might think. Increasingly, Researchers agree that poor diets and sedentary lifestyles are among the most important contributors to cancer risk.

Fortunately, these are things we can control.

Except for quitting smoking, the best way to cut your risk of cancer is to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, to be physically active on a regular basis, and to make healthy food choices. The evidence for this is strong: Each year, about 550,000 Americans die of cancer; fully one-third of these deaths are linked to poor diet, physical inactivity, and carrying excess weight.

Control Your Weight

Maintaining a healthy weight is important to reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of several cancers, including cancers of the breast (among women past menopause), colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, and other organs.

Being overweight works in a variety of ways to increase cancer risk. One of the main ways is that excess weight causes the body to produce and circulate more of the hormones estrogen and insulin, which can stimulate cancer growth.

What’s a Healthy Weight?

One of the best ways to find out if you are at a healthy weight is to check your Body Mass Index (BMI), a score based on the relationship between your height and weight. Use our easy online BMI calculator to find out your score. To reduce your cancer risk, try to keep your BMI less than 25.

If you are trying to control your weight, a good first step is to watch portion sizes, especially of foods high in calories, fat, and added sugars. Try writing down what and how much you eat and drink for a week and see where you can cut down on portion sizes, cut back on some not-so-healthy foods and drinks, or both!

Be More Active

Watching how much you eat will help you control your weight. The other key is to increase the amount of physical activity you do. Being active helps reduce your cancer risk by helping with weight control, and can also reduce your risk by influencing hormone levels and your immune system.

More good news – physical activity helps you reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes, too! So grab your tennis shoes and head out the door!

The latest recommendations for adults call for at least 30 minutes of intentional moderate to vigorous activity a day — this is over and above usual daily activities like using the stairs instead of the elevator at your office or doing housework — on 5 or more days per week. Even better, shoot for 45 to 60 minutes. For kids, the recommendation is 60 minutes or more a day.

Activities considered moderate are those that make you breathe as hard as you would during a brisk walk. This includes things like walking, biking, even housework and gardening. Vigorous activities generally engage large muscle groups and cause a noticeable increase in heart rate, breathing depth and frequency, and sweating.

Eat a Healthy Diet

Eating well is also important to improve your health and reduce your cancer risk. Take a good hard look at what you typically eat each day and incorporate the following suggestions to build a healthy diet plan for yourself:

Vegetables and fruits: You need to eat at least 5 servings of vegetables (including legumes) and fruits each day, especially those with the most color (a sign of high nutrient content). These foods are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and many other substances that work together to lower risk of several cancers, including cancers of the lung, mouth, esophagus, stomach, and colon. Not only that, if prepared properly, vegetables and fruits are usually low in calories, so eating them in place of higher-calorie foods can help you control your weight.

Whole grains: Aim for at least 3 servings of whole grains each day. There are easy ways to add whole grains to your diet — eat oatmeal at breakfast, choose whole-wheat bread or wraps for your lunchtime sandwich, whip up brown rice at dinner instead of white.

Processed and red meats: Cutting back on processed meats like hot dogs, bologna, and luncheon meat, and red meats like beef, pork and lamb may help reduce the risk of colon and prostate cancers. These foods are also high in saturated fat, so eating less of them and eating them less often will also help you lower your risk of heart disease.

Cancer Risk Reduction in Our Communities

Adopting a healthier lifestyle is easier for people who live, work, play, or go to school in an environment that supports healthy behaviours. Working together, communities can create the type of environment where healthy choices become easy choices.

We all can contribute to those changes: Let’s ask for healthier food choices at our workplaces and schools. For every junk food item in the vending machine, ask for a healthy alternative. Support restaurants that support your desire to eat well by offering options such as smaller portion sizes, lower-calorie items, and whole-grain products. And let’s help make our communities safer and more appealing places to walk, bike, and be active.

The Bottom Line

One third of all cancer deaths are related to diet and activity factors. Let’s challenge ourselves to lose some extra pounds, to increase our physical activity, to make healthy food choices, and to look for ways to make our environments healthier places to live, work, and play.

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(Source:  http://news.yahoo.com/s/hsn/20080926/hl_hsn/hypnosiscutshotflashesforbreastcancersurvivors)

Breast cancer survivors who suffer from hot flashes can reduce these attacks significantly with hypnosis, a new study finds.

Hot flashes are a problem for many women who survive breast cancer. Not only do they cause discomfort, but they interrupt sleep, cause anxiety and affect a woman’s quality of life.

“This is a very encouraging study of hypnosis as a treatment for hot flashes in breast cancer survivors,” said Dr. Ted Gansler, director of Medical Content at the American Cancer Society, who was not involved in the study. “This is an important topic because of the high prevalence of these symptoms in breast cancer survivors, and because few other treatment options are both safe and effective for this population,” he added.

There have been some other studies of hypnosis and cancer that indicate that the treatment is useful, but currently underutilized, Gansler noted.

The report was published in the September issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

For the study, researchers led by Gary Elkins, a professor of psychology at Baylor University School of Medicine, randomly assigned 60 breast cancer survivors who suffered from hot flashes to five weekly sessions of either hypnosis or no treatment.

During each session of hypnosis, women were given mental imagery and suggestions for relaxation and coolness. They were also told to disassociate themselves from hot flashes. In addition, they were taught to use positive suggestions and imagery during self-hypnosis.

Women who underwent hypnosis had an average 68 percent decrease in the frequency and severity of hot flashes, the researchers found. In addition, these women said they experienced less anxiety and depression. They also had significant improvements in sleep and their ability to perform daily activities, compared with women who received no treatment.

“Women are interested in alternatives to traditional hormone therapy and pharmacologic interventions, and this study demonstrates the feasibility and potential effectiveness of hypnosis as an alternative treatment,” the researchers concluded.

But since the control group received no treatment, it’s difficult to say whether some or even all of the improvement represents a “placebo effect,” Gansler noted. “However, the researchers reasonably suggest that the improvement is so substantial that it is unlikely to be due entirely to a placebo effect,” he said.

Nancy E. Avis, a professor in the department of social sciences and health policy at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, and author of an accompanying journal editorial, agreed that hot flashes are a symptom of cancer treatment that needs to be paid attention to.

“We don’t have good interventions for hot flashes,” Avis said. “We know that hormone therapy treats hot flashes, but women who have had breast cancer don’t want to take hormone therapy,” she said.

Many mind-body approaches are promising, Avis said. “The hypnosis study has impressive results, but we need more research,” she said. “Based on these small studies, we are not ready to say they work.”

Avis believes alternative approaches such as hypnosis are appealing to a lot of women. Many other approaches such as meditation and yoga are available at cancer centers, she noted.

“There is no reason to think they are not safe,” Avis said. “The advice is — try it — there is no harm in trying. As long as you do it with somebody who knows what they’re doing, there are no downsides,” she said.

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(Souce: http://www.kansascity.com/105/v-print/story/786597.html )

The Researchers at the University of Kansas School of Medicine really put Paul Hilpman through his paces.

After a series of dexterity tests, they harnessed the 76-year-old man to wires and a breathing tube and put him on a treadmill.

“Then the sadistic doctor cranks up the slope until they think I’ll collapse,” Hilpman quipped.

All that sweating and panting by Hilpman and about 160 other elderly volunteers at KU has led to a hopeful discovery.

Exercising and staying physically fit, the researchers say, may slow the relentless, mind-robbing progress of Alzheimer’s disease.

“This offers hope for all of us,” said KU Neurologist Jeffrey Burns. “Exercise is cheap. Everybody can do it. If it does impact Alzheimer’s disease, we should be treating people with exercise.”

The implications of any intervention that can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s are enormous.

About 5.2 million Americans now live with Alzheimer’s. By 2050, that number could swell to 11 million to 16 million.

But if ways can be found to postpone Alzheimer’s by as little as two years, nearly 2 million cases of the disease could be avoided.

Burns and his colleagues have been doing brain scans and treadmill tests on mentally healthy older people such as Hilpman and comparing them with those of others who are in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

The doctors have found that brain shrinkage, an inevitable consequence of Alzheimer’s, was less pronounced in people who had the disease and were physically fit.

By doing scans that delve into the structures of the brain, the KU Researchers pinpointed that shrinkage to an area called the hippocampus, which is key to processing new memories.

The hippocampus is one of the first parts of the brain to atrophy as Alzheimer’s develops. This finding suggests that exercise might slow the disease at its earliest stages.

“Our results are really significant,” said Robyn Honea, a Neuroscientist at KU who analyzed the brain scans. The brain shrinkage “is not just a random effect. It’s very relevant to the disease.”

The KU Researchers say they are the first to demonstrate how physical fitness may affect the brains of people with Alzheimer’s. Their work adds to growing evidence that physical activity can make beneficial changes to damaged brains.

The Journal of the American Medical Association last week published a study that showed older adults at risk of Alzheimer’s did better on tests of memory and language if they regularly spent about 2 1/2 hours a week walking and doing other exercise.

The benefits were modest, but they were apparent after six months of exercise, the Australian Researchers said. The results persisted for at least another 12 months.

Another new study in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association found that people who started regular workouts on a treadmill, even years after suffering a stroke, showed increased activity in the undamaged parts of their brains that controlled walking.

The Researchers suggest that the exercise helped rewire the brain so new areas could take on the jobs of areas damaged by stroke.

“Many stroke survivors believe there’s nothing to be gained from further rehabilitation, but our results suggest that health and functional benefits from walking on a treadmill can occur even decades out from stroke,” said Richard Macko of the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

There has been other tantalizing evidence that physical activity can also change the brains of healthy people, Researchers have found.

For example, in young and old alike, the visual and memory areas of the brain expand when those people are trained to juggle.

Scientists have a number of ideas for why physical activity changes the brain.

Exercise increases blood flow to the brain. That may encourage new blood vessels to form and boost the brain’s blood supply.

And at least in animals, exercise increases the production of proteins called growth factors that stimulate the growth of nerve cells.

Studies already have shown that running on a treadmill promotes the growth of nerve cells in the hippocampi of rats and mice.

“They show a cascade of changes, more oxygen to the brain that sets off growth factors released from the cells that stimulate more neurons and better connections” among them, Honea said.

Burns says he wants to expand his research to determine whether someone with Alzheimer’s can actually delay the progression of the disease by starting to exercise.

Burns and KU Neurologist Heather Anderson already supervise a pilot program for people with early Alzheimer’s disease to show that regular exercise routines are feasible. If the program gets funding, Burns and Anderson plan to partner with YMCAs across the Kansas City area for a larger study.

Said Burns: “We want to know what kind of exercise is best and how intense and how long, and do they improve the disease process, do they slow the changes in the brain?”

Burns advises older people who want to start vigorous exercise to see their doctors first and work out a plan.

Hilpman, a Professor Emeritus of Geology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, stays fit by doing consulting work in geology.

“This business of going up a hill on the treadmill is nothing,” he said. “I do it all the time.”

Hilpman said that taking part in the KU study was his way of contributing to medical knowledge about Alzheimer’s. He has seen couples struggle with the disease.

“The saddest thing is when a spouse is left to deal with it,” Hilpman said. “They’re trying to hang on to some kind of reality, the things they did together. I can see how it takes a toll.”

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Cholesterol Drug Cancer Warning

(source:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/health/7595409.stm)

Patients have been urged to keep taking a cholesterol-lowering treatment despite a study linking it to higher cancer risk.

A New England Journal of Medicine study linked inegy, a combination of two drugs, to a 50% rise in cancer cases.

However, other experts said the results were likely to be an “anomaly”.

There have been 300,000 prescriptions in England and Wales over two years, and patients were told to contact their GP if they had worries.

The drug watchdog, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) approved wider use of the drug, which includes the statin, simvastatin and a newer non-statin drug called ezetimibe, last November for patients with high levels of cholesterol.

However, the small-scale study, carried out by doctors at Ulleval University Hospital in Oslo, also cast doubts on its efficacy.

The scientists compared the number of cancers arising in patients taking the drug with the number which developed in those given a “placebo” or “dummy” pill, over a four year period.

There were a total of 105 cancer cases among Inergy patients, compared with 70 in the placebo group.

The cancers in both groups were not just one type, but a wide variety, with the difference most obvious in prostate and skin cancers.

An editorial in the journal suggested that more data was needed to rule out the possibility that the drug was to blame, citing the fact that ezetimibe appeared to affect the absorption of molecules involved in the growth of cancer cells.

Chance finding
However, Professor Terje Pederson, the lead author of the study, said that the study findings could simply be due to random chance.

An analysis by Oxford University, which combined these findings with those from other similar studies, found no overall evidence that the drug caused cancer.

This view was backed by the British Heart Foundation, which said that it was important that patients taking statins continued to do so unless told to stop by their doctor.

Dr Mike Knapton, from the charity, said:  “There is no suggestion that statins increase the risk of cancer.

“The data from the big trials are encouraging but the evidence is not yet conclusive, because many of the patients studied have been followed-up for a relatively short period of time so far.”

However, he added: “Because one study did show a cancer risk, it is crucial that others continue and are monitored closely to definitively confirm or refute any link.”

“If you have been prescribed ezetimibe you should continue to take it. If you have concerns about side effects of this or other medication, you should talk to your doctor to weigh up the risks and benefits.”

A spokesman for pharmaceutical company Merck Schering-Plough, which makes Inegy, said that it believed the findings were an “anomaly”, but it was working to examine the study further.

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(Source:  By Andrew Wallenstein, Reuters, September 3, 20080

Digital video Recorders don’t just save TV shows, according to a new survey; they save relationships.

Some 79 percent of 1,000 DVR owners reported that the technology has improved their relationship, according to the NDS DVR Report.

The statistic was just one of many presented by NDS, a manufacturer of DVR technology, suggesting the machines are becoming increasingly integral in U.S. households.

For instance, DVRs were cited as the second most essential household technology item they can’t live without, second only to the mobile phone. Among non-technological household items, DVR was beaten out only by washing machine and microwave oven.

“The results show how fast the DVR has become an indispensable part of many people’s lives in the US,” said Steve Tranter, Vice President, broadband and interactive delivery, NDS Americas. “It’s one of those technologies that, once you use it, it makes you wonder how you coped before.”

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(Source:  US  News & World Report, September 2, 2008)

The abundance of new research on how teenage brains work, aside from being cool for its own sake–teen brains are developing madly, pruning synapses and insulating neurons to build a lean computing machine–is fuelling a new movement to help kids make the most of the brain they’ve got. Think of it as a user’s manual for a machine that’s still being wired.

One of the leaders in that movement is Wilkie “Bill” Wilson, a neuroscientist and director of DukeLEARN, a Duke University project to teach teenagers the practical applications of neuroscience. DukeLEARN’s curriculum for 9th-graders won’t be in the schools until 2009, but with the first homework of the fall already being stuffed into backpacks, I asked Bill for a sneak preview. He asked: “How would you like to learn more without having to study more?” Sign me up!

Here’s how:

1. Get to bed and go to sleep
Sleep enables memory consolidation, which is psych-speak for saying that you remember stuff after you sleep on it. What’s more, overall performance, attention, and the ability to concentrate are damaged by lack of sleep. “So you’re hurt in two ways,” Wilson says. Teenagers need nine to 10 hours of sleep a night for optimum performance.

2. Start studying a few days in advance of a test
Memories are embedded better if the brain is exposed to information repeatedly. Cramming doesn’t work, because your brain doesn’t have enough time to embed and consolidate.

3. Feed your head
The brain is an energy hog, and it runs badly if it doesn’t get high-octane fuel. That means protein and complex carbs–eggs and wheat toast for breakfast, say, rather than sugary cereal and orange juice. The biggest mistake teens make, Wilson says, is to skip breakfast or to go for sugar, which raises blood sugar, followed by a quick crash.

4. Body exercise is brain exercise
Aerobic exercise really improves brain function, perhaps because it increases blood flow, or perhaps because it reduces stress and anxiety. Exercise also prompts growth of new brain neurons, at least in rats. Twenty minutes or so a day of activity that raises your heart rate will do it.

5. Learn now what you want to remember for the rest of your life
Teenage brains are much better at remembering things on a conscious level than the brains of young children or adults. Scientists aren’t sure why, but they know that human brains are primed to notice and remember what’s new, and teenagers are exposed to lots of new stuff. “You’re going to remember the first time you had sex more than the 33rd time,” Wilson says. Whatever the reason, the teenage years are the time to learn new languages and acquire other lifelong skills.

6. Harness the power of risk-taking
Adults are always harping on the downside of teenage risk-taking, and it’s true that teenagers are more apt than adults to get themselves in trouble with drinking, driving, and unsafe sex, to name the biggies. But the fact that the parts of the brain that drive people to try new, risky, and exciting things appear to be more developed in teenagers can be a huge plus. Pick appropriate challenges–difficult sports, a tough job, mastering a performance art, travelling overseas–and the teenage brain is uniquely primed to tackle them. (Click here to read what the 19-year-old Harris twins told me last week about their “do hard things” campaign.) Wilson says: “You have this power you’re given to go out and do it without fear.”

7. Learn what you love
Because emotional systems develop faster in teenager brains than do inhibitory systems, teenagers learn things they’re passionate about quickly and well. “Your brain gives you tools like attention on the project, focus,” Wilson says.

Wilson’s project is a work in progress; DukeLEARN will be testing whether teaching teenagers how their brains work will improve academic performance and lead them to take better care of their brains. But nobody says you can’t do your own experiment, starting right now.

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