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Old Health and Medicine Articles from 2007 and Before

Israeli scientists find vital key to fixing damaged heart tissue

Researchers in Israel report they have discovered a molecule in newborn hearts that appears to control the process of renewing heart muscle.

When injected into adult mouse hearts injured by heart attacks, this molecule, called Agrin, seems to “unlock” that renewal process and enable heart muscle repair – something never seen in human heart tissue outside of the womb.

These findings, published June 5 in Nature,  point to new directions for research on restoring the function of damaged hearts. Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide.

The healing process following a human heart attack is long and inefficient, explained Prof. Eldad Tzahor of the Weizmann Institute of Science, who led the study together with doctoral student Elad Bassat, research student Alex Genzelinakh and other Weizmann molecular cell biologists.

Once damaged, muscle cells called cardiomyocytes are replaced by scar tissue, which cannot pump blood and therefore place a burden on the remaining cardiomyocytes.—More…

By ISRAEL21c - Wednesday, June 14, 2017 - Full Story

Do anti-wrinkle creams work? (video)

WASHINGTON,  — Want a younger, more perfect-looking you? Skin can stay firm and stretchy thanks to protein fibers called collagen and elastin in the tissue beneath the surface. But environmental factors like smoking or ultraviolet rays from the sun can produce antioxidants that damage skin cells’ ability to make more of these supports. Anti-wrinkle treatments claim they keep the skin surface fresh and rejuvenate these cells, but do they work? To find out whether an over-the-counter jar of cream could make 40 the new 20, we dive into the science:

By American Chemical Society - Tuesday, June 13, 2017 - Full Story

“I Was Married By a Judge, I Should Have Asked For a Jury”

Aristotle, the Greek philosopher, remarked, “There are no boy philosophers”. Fortunately, most of us do get wiser as we age. However, it’s never been a top priority of mine to rush into old age so I could be a wise, elderly, medical journalist philosopher. Could I be wrong?  Consumer Reports on Health says there are several good things about aging. So I had to read on.

It appears I was wrong on one point. I’ve always believed that the elderly suffered from more depression than younger people. After all, they see old friends die, illnesses become more frequent, their wife runs away with the local preacher, and it’s not as much fun to look in the mirror. But according to the prestigious Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rates of depression actually go down after age 60.

This fact is confirmed by several other sources. For instance, a study of 340,000 people, published by the National Academy of Science, reports that those in their 60s and 70s were less troubled by negative emotions.

By Dr. Gifford Jones - Monday, June 12, 2017 - Full Story

Imaging technique could be game changer for pharma

In drug development, the body can be something of a black box. We take medicine and observe the overall effects, but what happens inside the body largely remains a mystery. To help clear up this picture, researchers are turning to imaging techniques in tissue and animal testing. The step has gained ground in the drug industry, according to a story in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society.

By American Chemical Society - Saturday, June 10, 2017 - Full Story

Patient safety is our highest concern

Last February, Dr. Bérard and her colleagues published an updated analysis of the Quebec Pregnancy Cohort data. Between 1998 and 2009, the rate of antidepressant use during pregnancy for the study population doubled, from 2.1% to 4.3%. During that same period, the rate of major congenital malformations increased by more than 50%, and the rate of maternal depression went up slightly as well.

In addition, the study once again confirmed the link between paroxetine and heart defects, finding that the drug was associated with a nearly 50% rise in the rate of major cardiac malformations. The study also showed that venlafaxine, the active ingredient in Effexor (the drug that Christiane took during her pregnancies) more than doubled the incidence of major respiratory defects (which two of Christiane and Amery’s children suffered from).

Part I: “Please don’t forget about me”: Antidepressants and birth defects
Part II: A gigantic uncontrolled experiment
Part III: I was Absolutely Distraught
Part IV: Patient safety is our highest concern

By Patrick D Hahn - Saturday, June 10, 2017 - Full Story

“I was absolutely distraught”

Lyam David-Kilker was born on 24 October 2005, the second son of Michelle David and Miles Kilker of Bensalem, Pennsylvania. At birth he seemed like a normal, happy, healthy infant, but all that soon changed. His breathing was labored, and he became lethargic and lost his appetite. His parents took him to the doctors, who delivered devastating news. Lyam was born with multiple cardiac defects: a hole in his atrial septum, a hole in his ventricular septum, along with transposition of the great arteries—the same condition which afflicted Christiane and Amery’s son Daniel. Lyam required two open-heart surgeries and spent the first six months of his life in the hospital.

Shortly before conceiving, Michelle David had been prescribed Paxil for mild anxiety and occasional panic attacks, and she continued to take the drug throughout her pregnancy. After Miles Kilker heard a commercial message on television for the law firm linking Paxil to congenital heart defects, Michelle called the number and was referred to Sean Tracey, a personal injury lawyer from Houston.

Part I: “Please don’t forget about me”: Antidepressants and birth defects
Part II: A gigantic uncontrolled experiment
Part III: I was Absolutely Distraught
Part IV: Patient safety is our highest concern

By Patrick D Hahn - Friday, June 9, 2017 - Full Story

A gigantic uncontrolled experiment

Since the beginning of the modern psychopharmaceutical era, the proportion of the population diagnosed with depression has skyrocketed. A condition that once affected fewer than one person out of a thousand now afflicts more than one out of twenty. Today major depression is the leading cause of disability for adults between the ages of 15 and 43.

During that same period, consumption of antidepressants also has skyrocketed. Currently one in six American women between the ages of 20 and 44 (an age bracket corresponding to the prime childbearing years) is taking some kind of antidepressant medication. Since more than half of pregnancies are unplanned, and many women continue taking antidepressants after learning they are pregnant, untold numbers of babies have been exposed to these drugs in the womb. These drugs readily cross the placenta and become part of the environment bathing the developing fetus, and not one of them was tested for safety and effectiveness in pregnant women before being released. This is a gigantic uncontrolled experiment.

Part I: “Please don’t forget about me”: Antidepressants and birth defects
Part II: A gigantic uncontrolled experiment
Part III: I was Absolutely Distraught
Part IV: Patient safety is our highest concern

By Patrick D Hahn - Thursday, June 8, 2017 - Full Story

“Please don’t forget about me”: Antidepressants and birth defects

“Life was amazing.”

That is how Amery Schultz recalls life with his wife Christiane – before she began taking Wyeth’s blockbuster drug Effexor while pregnant. Since then, their lives have changed in ways they never could have imagined.

Amery and Christiane were born in the same hospital, just a month apart. They weren’t childhood sweethearts, but they grew up together in the same small town in British Columbia. Christiane remembers her adolescence as a rocky time. “At school I was being bullied really bad, and my parents weren’t helping.” At 14 she left home and moved in with her older sister. “She wanted me to have fun, so she pushed me to go partying. I was drugged and assaulted a couple of times, and she wouldn’t help me.” Christiane turned to her old friend Amery for consolation, and when she got married for the first time at the age of 21, Amery was the best man at the wedding – at Christiane’s behest.

Part I: “Please don’t forget about me”: Antidepressants and birth defects
Part II: A gigantic uncontrolled experiment
Part III: I was Absolutely Distraught
Part IV: Patient safety is our highest concern

By Patrick D Hahn - Thursday, June 8, 2017 - Full Story

Concussion: What Surprised Me about Its Treatment

How should hockey star Sidney Crosby, or my own child, be treated if he suffered a brain concussion? To answer this question I interviewed Dr. Andrew Saul, Editor-in-Chief of the Orthomolecular Medical News Service, and a world authority on nutrition. Dr. Saul confirmed what I suspected, that bruised brains are not receiving the treatment they desperately need.

Newton’s Law states, “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Unfortunately, our Maker didn’t use screws to anchor the human brain inside its skull. So, without this protection, sudden blows to the head toss the brain   against a formidable hard skull, causing various degrees of injury.

By Dr. Gifford Jones - Monday, June 5, 2017 - Full Story

Sugar sponges sop up and release glucose as needed

Many diabetes patients must inject themselves with insulin, sometimes several times a day, while others take medications orally to control blood sugar. The injections, as well as the side effects from both regimens, can be painful. Now, one team reports in the Journal of the American Chemical Society progress toward an insulin-free diabetes treatment that requires fewer injections.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, current trends predict that one in three adults in the U.S. will have diabetes by 2050. Treatments include insulin injections, which can be painful. In addition, the injections can involve different types of insulin — a slow-acting one before bed or a fast-acting one before meals — which can be confusing. Pills are not much better, as patients sometimes forget to take them. Both drugs and injections can have various side effects, including nerve damage, infections and insulin resistance. Non-invasive insulin-dependent systems that include hydrogels and polymers have developed in the laboratory, but they also can trigger these complications. So Jianzhong Du and colleagues wanted to develop a method that would be easy to use and that would avoid side effects.

The researchers nicknamed their treatment the “sugar sponge.” It’s an injected lectin-coated polymer vesicle that sopped up and bound glucose when glucose levels were high, and released the sugar when its concentrations were low in laboratory tests. They also tested the sponge in mice with type-I diabetes, and within two days, they saw antidiabetic effects. The researchers say that the sponge could one day serve as a treatment for either type-I or type-II diabetes.

Sugar-Breathing Glycopolymersomes for Regulating Glucose Level

By American Chemical Society - Saturday, June 3, 2017 - Full Story