Posts about medical study

Massive Blast of Measles Vaccine Wiped Out Cancer In Study

Unfortunately these stories are not uncommon but the hoped for follow through of practical solutions that work at all are rare. But we keep learning and while the breakthroughs based on these news stories is rare we do keep finding new and better methods to cope with health issues.

Mayo Clinic trial: Massive blast of measles vaccine wipes out cancer

Stacy Erholtz was out of conventional treatment options for blood cancer last June when she underwent an experimental trial at the Mayo Clinic that injected her with enough measles vaccine to inoculate 10 million people.

The 50-year-old Pequot Lakes mother is now part of medical history.

The cancer, which had spread widely through her body, went into complete remission and was undetectable in Erholtz’s body after just one dose of the measles vaccine, which has an uncanny affinity for certain kinds of tumors.

Erholtz was one of just two subjects in the experiment and the only one to achieve complete remission. But the experiment provides the “proof of concept” that a single, massive dose of intravenous viral therapy can kill cancer by overwhelming its natural defenses, according to Dr. Stephen Russell, a professor of molecular medicine who spearheaded the research at Mayo.

Researchers have known for decades that viruses can be used to destroy cancer. They bind to tumors and use them as hosts to replicate their own genetic material; the cancer cells eventually explode and release the virus. Antiviral vaccines that have been rendered safe can produce the same effects and can also be modified to carry radioactive molecules to help destroy cancer cells without causing widespread damage to healthy cells around the tumors. The body’s immune system then attacks any remaining cancer that carries remnants of the vaccine’s genetic imprint.

Mayo started out giving patients 1 million infectious units and gradually cranked up the dosage — but it didn’t work until Erholtz and another patient were injected with 100 billion infectious units, he said.

While the treatment worked in Erholtz, whose tumors were primarily in her bone marrow, the results weren’t sustained in the second patient, whose tumors were largely confined to her leg muscles. Russell said researchers need to study how the nature of the tumor affects the lethality of the virus.

One challenge of health research on fatal health conditions is that the experimentation with people is usually limited to people that have no available options left from the approved treatments. So, in general they are very sick. And the great complexity of dealing with human immune systems, the variation in the disease and in people create a very difficult research environment. Thankfully we have many great scientists dedicated to finding new treatments.

Related: Virus Kills Breast Cancer Cells in LaboratoryVirus Engineered To Kill Deadly Brain TumorsUsing Bacteria to Carry Nanoparticles Into CellsWebcast of a T-cell Killing a Cancerous Cell

More Muscle Mass Appears Linked to Longer Life

New UCLA research suggests that the more muscle mass older Americans have, the less likely they are to die prematurely. The findings add to the growing evidence that overall body composition — and not the widely used body mass index, or BMI — is a better predictor of all-cause mortality. The study was published in the in a closed science journal (it is too bad UCLA promotes such anti-science practices). The research was funded by the NIH (who also shouldn’t allow such anti-science practices).

Dr. Preethi Srikanthan: “many studies on the mortality impact of obesity focus on BMI. Our study indicates that clinicians need to be focusing on ways to improve body composition, rather than on BMI alone, when counseling older adults on preventative health behaviors.”

The researchers analyzed data collected by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) III, conducted between 1988 and 1994. They focused on a group of 3,659 individuals that included men who were 55 or older and women who were 65 or older at the time of the survey. The authors then determined how many of those individuals had died from natural causes based on a follow-up survey done in 2004.

The body composition of the study subjects was measured using bioelectrical impedance, which involves running an electrical current through the body. Muscle allows the current to pass more easily than fat does, due to muscle’s water content. In this way, the researchers could determine a muscle mass index — the amount of muscle relative to height — similar to a body mass index. They looked at how this muscle mass index was related to the risk of death.

They found that all-cause mortality was significantly lower in the fourth quartile of muscle mass index compared with the first quartile.

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Study After Study Find No Benefits to Multivitamins

The largest study of its kind concludes that long-term multivitamin use has no impact on the risk of common cancers, cardiovascular disease or overall mortality in postmenopausal women.

“Dietary supplements are used by more than half of all Americans, who spend more than $20 billion on these products each year. However, scientific data are lacking on the long-term health benefits of supplements,” said lead author Marian L. Neuhouser, Ph.D., an associate member of the Public Health Sciences Division at the Hutchinson Center.

The study focused the effects of multivitamins because they are the most commonly used supplement. “To our surprise, we found that multivitamins did not lower the risk of the most common cancers and also had no impact on heart disease,” she said.

The study assessed multivitamin use among nearly 162,000 women enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative, one of the largest U.S. prevention studies of its kind designed to address the most common causes of death, disability and impaired quality of life in postmenopausal women. The women were followed for about eight years.

Nearly half of the study participants – 41.5 percent – reported using multivitamins on a regular basis. Multivitamin users were more likely to be white, live in the western United States, have a lower body-mass index, be more physically active and have a college degree or higher as compared to non-users.

The study found no significant differences in risk of cancer, heart disease or death between the multivitamin users and non-users.

These findings are consistent with most previously published results regarding the lack of health benefits of multivitamins, Neuhouser said, but this study provides definitive evidence. Since the study did not include men, Neuhouser cautions that the results may not apply to them.

So what advice do Neuhouser and colleagues offer to women who want to make sure they’re getting optimal nutrition? “Get nutrients from food,” she said. “Whole foods are better than dietary supplements. Getting a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains is particularly important.”

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Smoking Bans at Work and Public Places Result in Significant Drops in Hospitalization for Heart Attacks, Strokes and Asthma.

Laws that end smoking at work and other public places result in significantly fewer hospitalizations for heart attacks, strokes, asthma and other respiratory conditions, a new UCSF analysis has found.

The research provides evidence that smoke-free laws that cover workplaces, restaurants and bars have the biggest impacts on hospitalizations, reduce health care costs and also raise quality of life, the researchers said. The research is published in closed science journal; for an “association” (when you act as though your focus is just growing your income I have trouble seeing the claim for being an association as legitimate) to do that is particularly pitiful. Adding to the sad commentary on the lack of respect for open scient this is research done by a “public” university with grants from the federal government. So sad how little some that should care about science do when it conflicts with their outdated notions of how to publicize research. We really should not tolerate such behavior.

“The public, health professionals, and policy makers need to understand that including exemptions and loopholes in legislation — such as exempting casinos — condemns more people to end up in emergency rooms,” said senior author Stanton A. Glantz, UCSF professor of medicine and director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at UCSF. “These unnecessary hospitalizations are the real cost of failing to enact comprehensive smoke-free legislation,” he said.

The inquiry consisted of a meta-analysis of 45 studies published prior to Nov. 30, 2011. Altogether, the research covered 33 different smoke-free-laws in cities and states around the United States as well as several countries, including New Zealand and Germany. The laws variously prohibit smoking in such public spots as restaurants, bars, and the workplace.

The authors found that comprehensive smoke-free laws were followed rapidly by significantly lower rates of hospital admissions than before the laws went into force:

  • A 15% drop in heart attack hospitalizations;
  • A 16% drop in stroke hospitalizations;
  • A 24% drop in hospitalizations for respiratory diseases including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

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Prostate Cancer Drug so Effective Trial Stopped to Give Drug to All Participants

Prostate cancer drug so effective trial stopped by Victoria Colliver

The hormone treatment, Johnson & Johnson’s Zytiga, when added to a standard steroid therapy doubled the time it takes for the disease to progress in patients treated with the standard therapy alone, said the lead researcher, Dr. Charles Ryan, associate professor of clinical medicine at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last year approved Zytiga, also known as abiraterone, for use in men whose prostate cancer had spread to other parts of their body and had already been treated with chemotherapy.

This trial focused on patients whose cancer had metastasized, may have been treated with other hormone therapies but had not yet gone through chemotherapy.

Prostate cancer, the second most common form of cancer in males after only lung cancer, is diagnosed in about 200,000 men in the United States each year. And while it is generally treatable, the disease kills nearly 30,000 men a year.

Because their disease is often slow-growing, about a third of patients diagnosed with prostate cancer won’t be treated. Another third will undergo successful treatment, which could include surgery, various hormone therapies or chemotherapy.

Still, a third of patients will have recurrent or aggressive disease that may have been caught too late. Ryan said men tend to die when the cancer spreads outside the prostate, mostly to bone, and the patient becomes resistant to hormonal therapy. The cancer cells rely on testosterone to exist, so typically doctors treat patients with testosterone-blocking hormone therapy.

But patients become resistant when the cancer cells develop the ability to make their own hormone and learn to survive even in the face of the testosterone-blocking drugs, giving the disease the ability to progress, Ryan said.

Zytiga is the first FDA-approved drug that can go inside the cancer cell and block it from making its own testosterone.

The trial involved 1,088 men who were being treated by 151 cancer centers in 12 countries. Each was given a low dose of the steroid prednisone, which works to combat the cancer

This is very good news. There is lots of positive news over the years. Often it seems to come to nothing years later. Promising drugs in the lab turn out to be far less promising in clinical trail. But very successful clinical trials are very good news. Even this kind of news though really should be confirmed by larger scale success, but this is a very good start.

Related: Global Cancer Deaths to Double by 2030Nanoparticles With Scorpion Venom Slow Cancer SpreadThe Only Known Animal That Doesn’t Get CancerUCSF Prostate Cancer Center

Flavonoids Reduce Instances of Parkinson’s Disease in Men

Men who eat flavonoid-rich foods such as berries, tea, apples and red wine significantly reduce their risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, according to new research by Harvard University and the University of East Anglia.

The findings add to the growing body of evidence that regular consumption of some flavonoids can have a marked effect on human health. Recent studies have shown that these compounds can offer protection against a wide range of diseases including heart disease, hypertension, some cancers and dementia.

This latest study is the first study in humans to show that flavonoids can protect neurons against diseases of the brain such as Parkinson’s.

Around 130,000 men and women took part in the research. More than 800 had developed Parkinson’s disease within 20 years of follow-up. After a detailed analysis of their diets and adjusting for age and lifestyle, male participants who ate the most flavonoids were shown to be 40 per cent less likely to develop the disease than those who ate the least. No similar link was found for total flavonoid intake in women.

“These exciting findings provide further confirmation that regular consumption of flavonoids can have potential health benefits,” said Prof Aedin Cassidy of the Department of Nutrition, Norwich Medical School at UEA.

“This is the first study in humans to look at the associations between the range of flavonoids in the diet and the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease and our findings suggest that a sub-class of flavonoids called anthocyanins may have neuroprotective effects.”

Prof Gao said: “Interestingly, anthocyanins and berry fruits, which are rich in anthocyanins, seem to be associated with a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease in pooled analyses. Participants who consumed one or more portions of berry fruits each week were around 25 per cent less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease, relative to those who did not eat berry fruits. Given the other potential health effects of berry fruits, such as lowering risk of hypertension as reported in our previous studies, it is good to regularly add these fruits to your diet.”

Flavonoids are a group of naturally occurring, bioactive compounds found in many plant-based foods and drinks. In this study the main protective effect was from higher intake of anthocyanins, which are present in berries and other fruits and vegetables including aubergines, blackcurrants and blackberries. Those who consumed the most anthocyanins had a 24% reduction in risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.

The findings must now be confirmed by other large epidemiological studies and clinical trials.

Parkinson’s disease is a progresssive neurological condition affecting one in 500 people. There are few effective drug therapies available.

The result is far from conclusive and even if the result were confirmed the 24% reduction is hardly huge. But since berries are yummy there seem little reason to not tilt toward more berries in your diet.

Related: Full press releaseThe Beneficial Phytochemicals in Vegetables Help Us Lead Healthy LivesBlack Raspberries Alter Hundreds of Genes and Slow Cancer

Diet May Help ADHD Kids More Than Drugs

Diet May Help ADHD Kids More Than Drugs

Kids with ADHD can be restless and difficult to handle. Many of them are treated with drugs, but a new study says food may be the key. Published in The Lancet journal, the study suggests that with a very restrictive diet, kids with ADHD could experience a significant reduction in symptoms.

The study’s lead author, Dr. Lidy Pelsser of the ADHD Research Centre in the Netherlands, writes in The Lancet that the disorder is triggered in many cases by external factors — and those can be treated through changes to one’s environment. “ADHD, it’s just a couple of symptoms — it’s not a disease,” the Dutch researcher tells All Things Considered weekend host Guy Raz.

The way we think about — and treat — these behaviors is wrong, Pelsser says. “There is a paradigm shift needed. If a child is diagnosed ADHD, we should say, ‘OK, we have got those symptoms, now let’s start looking for a cause.’ ”

According to Pelsser, 64 percent of children diagnosed with ADHD are actually experiencing a hypersensitivity to food. Researchers determined that by starting kids on a very elaborate diet, then restricting it over a few weeks’ time. “It’s only five weeks,” Pelsser says. “If it is the diet, then we start to find out which foods are causing the problems.”

Teachers and doctors who worked with children in the study reported marked changes in behavior. “In fact, they were flabbergasted,” Pelsser says.

Related: Nearly 1 million Children Potentially Misdiagnosed with ADHD in the USALifestyle Drugs and RiskOver-reliance on Prescription Drugs to Aid Children’s Sleep?Epidemic of Diagnoses
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Aerobic Exercise Plus Resistance Training Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes

Exercise Combo Best for Controlling Diabetes

A combination of aerobic exercise and resistance training may offer the biggest benefits for people with type 2 diabetes in helping them control their disease.

HbA1c is a test that measures blood sugar control for the previous few months. Normal HbA1c is 6% or less. People with diabetes are urged to keep their HbA1c below 7%.

In the study, researchers compared the effects of a nine-month aerobic exercise program, a resistance training program, and combination exercise program vs. not exercising in 262 previously sedentary men and women with type 2 diabetes. The results showed that improvements in HbA1c levels were greatest among those who were in the combination group.

Thirty-nine percent of non-exercisers had to increase these medications compared with 32% in the resistance training group, 22% in the aerobic exercise group, and 18% in the combination group.

Diabetes is a huge and growing problem. Exercise is a good strategy to remain healthy. It is best to exercise and avoid becoming sick. But if you do get diabetes then it is even more important to take care to exercise properly.

Related: Surprising New Diabetes DataDiabetes up 90% in USA since 1997 – Study Finds Obesity as Teen as Deadly as Smoking

Being sociable is good for your health

With a little help from your friends you can live longer

A circle of close friends and strong family ties can boost a person’s health more than exercise, losing weight or quitting cigarettes and alcohol, psychologists say.

Holt-Lunstad’s team reviewed 148 studies that tracked the social interactions and health of 308,849 people over an average of 7.5 years. From these they worked out how death rates varied depending on how sociable a person was.

Being lonely and isolated was as bad for a person’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day or being an alcoholic. It was as harmful as not exercising and twice as bad for the health as being obese.

Open access paper: Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review.

Related: How to build and maintain essential relationshipsCDC Urges Reduction in Salt Intake to Save Hundreds of Thousands of LivesWhy People Often Get Sicker When They’re Stressed

CDC Urges Reduction in Salt Intake to Save Hundreds of Thousands of Lives

Most people know we eat far too much salt and that it is killing lots of us. It is still amazing that we have over 100,000 people in the USA every year die this way and yet we barely pay attention. Doesn’t it seem like we should care more about life?

Excessive dietary sodium consumption increases blood pressure, which increases the risk for stroke, coronary heart disease, heart failure, and renal disease. Based on predictive modeling of the health benefits of reduced salt intake on blood pressure, a population-wide reduction in sodium of 1,200 mg/day would reduce the annual number of new cases of coronary heart disease by 60,000—120,000 cases and stroke by 32,000—66,000 cases.

Fewer than 10% of all adults in the USA met their recommended limit. U.S. adults consumed an average of 3,466 mg/day of sodium. Most of the daily sodium consumed came from grains (1,288 mg; 36.9%) and meats, poultry, fish, and mixtures (994 mg; 27.9%).

In the United States, an estimated 77% of dietary sodium intake comes from processed and restaurant foods and approximately 10% comes from table salt and cooking. More details from the CDC.

Related: CDC: Reduce Salt in Your DietFood Rules: An Eater’s ManualEat Less Salt and Save Your HeartAnother Strike Against Cola

Smokers with High Blood Pressure and High Cholesterol Lose 10 Years

By examining data from the Whitehall Study researchers have found smokers with high blood pressure and high cholesterol in middle age died 10 years earlier than the others after reaching age 50. This is independent of changes after later in life (quiting smoking, etc.). Life expectancy in relation to cardiovascular risk factors: 38 year follow-up of 19,000 men in the Whitehall study

At entry, 42% of the men were current smokers, 39% had high blood pressure, and 51% had high cholesterol. At the re-examination, about two thirds of the previously “current” smokers had quit smoking shortly after entry and the mean differences in levels of those with high and low levels of blood pressure and cholesterol were attenuated by two thirds. Compared with men without any baseline risk factors, the presence of all three risk factors at entry was associated with a 10 year shorter life expectancy from age 50 (23.7 v 33.3 years). Compared with men in the lowest 5% of a risk score based on smoking, diabetes, employment grade, and continuous levels of blood pressure, cholesterol concentration, and body mass index (BMI), men in the highest 5% had a 15 year shorter life expectancy from age 50 (20.2 v 35.4 years).

Conclusion Despite substantial changes in these risk factors over time, baseline differences in risk factors were associated with 10 to 15 year shorter life expectancy from age 50.

Another conclusion: if you don’t want to live a shorter life, don’t smoke. Not a new idea but given how many people continue to smoke it seems some don’t understand this conclusion.

Related: Global Cancer Deaths to Double by 2030Leading Causes of Deathmore posts on open access papersStudy Finds Obesity as Teen as Deadly as Smoking

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