Sunday, February 27, 2011

The drug becomes the killer...

Cancer drug, when combined, boosts death risk
Posted: 02 February 2011

WASHINGTON: The cancer drug Avastin, also known as bevacizumab, is linked to a higher risk of death when combined with chemotherapy, said a study Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The drug has previously been found to raise the risk of blood clots in the legs and lungs by 33 percent, and in December the US Food and Drug Administration said it was neither safe nor effective against breast cancer.

Bevacizumab, marketed as Avastin by the Swiss drug giant Roche, has been approved for use in combination with chemotherapy for treating colorectal cancer, non-small cell lung cancer and renal cell carcinoma.

The growth of new blood vessels helps spread cancer and Avastin is designed to fight the disease by inhibiting the proliferation of new blood vessels.

The JAMA study led by Vishal Ranpura and doctors at Stony Brook University Medical Center in New York examined previously published randomized controlled trials which appeared to give conflicting results about its link to fatal adverse events (FAEs).

After conducting a review and meta-analysis of a total of 10,217 patients with advanced solid tumors studied in 16 different trials, researchers reported the overall incidence of fatal adverse events with bevacizumab was 2.5 percent.

"Compared with chemotherapy alone, the addition of bevacizumab was associated with a 1.5 times increased risk of FAEs," it said.

The height of the risk varied across different treatments, and depended on the type of chemotherapy it was administered alongside, but not the type of tumor or drug dose, the study said.

"Bevacizumab was associated with a 3.5 times increased risk of FAEs in patients receiving taxanes or platinum agents (3.3 percent vs. 1.0 percent), but was not associated with increased risk of FAEs when used in conjunction with other agents," it said.

Hemorrhage, a blood disorder called neutropenia, holes in the gastroinestinal tract, pulmonary embolism and stroke were the most frequent causes of fatal bleeding linked to the drug, the study said.

The study said that since "absolute risk of treatment-related mortality appears low, the use of bevacizumab should be considered in the context of overall survival benefits."

In an accompanying editorial, Daniel Hayes of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center said the "jury is still out" on bevacizumab.

"Although bevacizumab has benefit, it is currently not possible to determine in whom or for how long," Hayes wrote.

"Thus, oncologists are forced to dilute the potential effects of bevacizumab by exposing all treated patients, and society, to enormous costs and occasional life-threatening toxic effects. These unfortunate circumstances are sad for those who pay the bills -- and sadder for patients with solid tumors."


Taken from; source article is below:
Cancer drug, when combined, boosts death risk

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The side effects of drugs - sleep disorder

I asked our GP doctor one time, if it is possible for him to prescribe one drug that my children can use - one that has to side effects.

He simply smiled and told me that all drugs have side effects: they only vary in strength. Perhaps also on the time that they manifest, or in the way they affect us, as in this article's findings - sleep disorder.

Read on, and find out more...

Posted: 01 February 2011

HELSINKI: Children injected with the Pandemrix Influenza A vaccine were nine times more likely to contract narcolepsy -- or sleep disorder -- than those who were not vaccinated, a preliminary study by Finland's National Institute for Health and Welfare, THL, showed Tuesday.

"Currently, the most likely explanation is that the increase in narcolepsy is by joint effect of the vaccine and some other factor(s)," THL said.

The institute stressed in its preliminary study that more investigation was needed, but said young people aged four to 19 years old had a "manifold increased risk of falling ill with narcolepsy" if they had been inoculated against swine flu with Pandemrix.

Finland launched an aggressive inoculation programme against the H1N1 virus in 2009, but last August THL recommended discontinuing the use of Pandemrix until it could study whether it was connected to a sharp rise in the instance of narcolepsy cases in the country, especially among children.

The European Medicines Agency also launched a probe into the suspected connection.

Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder which causes extreme fatigue and often results in the patient falling soundly asleep without warning, even in the middle of an activity.

Doctors in Finland reported a more than tripling of narcolepsy cases during the swine flue pandemic, and THL said "the risk of falling ill with narcolepsy among those vaccinated in the 4-19 years age group was nine-fold in comparison to those unvaccinated in the same age group."

Hospital data shows that new child narcolepsy cases in Finland jumped from seven in 2007 to 16 in 2008 to 60 during the swine flu pandemic in 2009-2010.

Fifty-two of the latest cases, or 90 per cent, occurred in youths who had received the Pandemrix vaccine, THL said, adding most of the patients developed narcolepsy symptoms between two and 10 weeks after being vaccinated.

No changes in the number of cases were observed in children under four or youth over 19 years of age.

"The observed association (with the vaccine) is so evident that it is unlikely that other so-called confounding factors could fully explain the phenomenon," THL said, adding its next step was to evaluate if other factors had created "joint effects" with Pandemrix.

So far, an unusual spike in narcolepsy patients has only been observed in Finland and Sweden despite the fact that the vaccine Pandemrix has been used on more than 90 million people in 19 countries.

In Iceland, narcolepsy cases among youth also increased markedly, but this was not restricted to those who were inoculated against Influenza A, said THL.

The final report from Finland's national narcolepsy task force will be released by August 31, 2011.


Taken from; source article is below:
Influenza A vaccine may cause child sleep disorder

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Braces at 50?

I'm back from my week-long course, and with a lot of backlogs to clear out of the way, I have to spend almost another week till I can squeeze in my posting.

So here goes. Firming up or wellness knows no age limit, doesn't it?

Read on...

By Eveline Gan, TODAY | Posted: 01 February 2011

SINGAPORE - When her 20-year-old daughter decided to get braces last year, Madam Tay J M accompanied her to the clinic. By the end of the orthodontic appointment, Mdm Tay decided that like her daughter, she wanted to get her teeth fixed too. Never mind that she was 52 years old.

"I like beautiful teeth. A nice set of teeth will help to boost my self-confidence," said Mdm Tay, who works as a secretary. "My teeth jut out slightly and they've yellowed over the years. At first I thought of only whitening them but I thought why not just go the whole way? Hopefully, I will have many more good years to go."

Mdm Tay now wears the Invisalign, a type of clear braces which are removable at mealtimes and during brushing.

At an age when some of her peers are already wearing dentures, Mdm Tay is rather self-conscious about her braces. This is why she opted for more "visually discreet" braces.

Orthodontic specialists, however, said patients like Mdm Tay are not a rarity. Once associated only with children and teens, braces are now becoming increasingly popular with adults seeking orthodontic treatment at a later age.

At I.Dental Surgeons, more than a third of those seeking orthodontic treatment are above the age of 30.

"It is not uncommon to see 40 to 50-year-olds straightening their teeth nowadays, compared to five years ago, when most of our patients were in their teens and early 20s," said dental surgeon Dr Cheng Eng Wah, principal partner and founder of I.Dental, who estimated the increase to be about 15 to 20 per cent in the past five years.

At Dr Cheng's clinic, adults like Mdm Tay tend to opt for "more aesthetically pleasing braces" such as Invisalign or ceramic braces with transparent brackets, rather than regular metal braces.

Depending on the individual's condition, the treatment costs with regular metal braces start from S$2,800 onwards, while treatment with Invisalign start from S$6,500 onwards.

Investing in the perfect smile

The trend is driven by people's "willingness to invest in aesthetics", as society becomes more affluent, Dr Cheng said.

"I think people are more aware of how a nice smile can improve their appearance and the way they present themselves. Beautiful teeth are part of what builds confidence, especially when interacting socially or professionally," he added.

Aesthetics aside, having a full set of straight teeth has its health benefits.

"For instance, properly aligned teeth have a lower risk of decay compared to 'overcrowded' teeth, as brushing and cleaning are easier with straight teeth," explained Dr Cheng.

Associate Professor Kelvin Foong, a senior consultant at the National University Hospital's department of preventive dentistry, said with the ageing population keeping their teeth longer, more complex rebuilding of the dentition could require braces to align the teeth before wearing prostheses such as crowns, implants and dentures.

At his clinic in NUH, Assoc Prof Foong's oldest patient was a 65-year-old who required minor tooth rearrangement using braces, before getting a new set of dentures.

While it is ideal to treat certain orthodontic conditions such as cross-bite and deviated jaw before the child reaches puberty, the experts said there isn't a "cut-off" age for getting braces. So you could be pushing 70 and still be able to get braces without harming your oral tissues.

Braces work by delivering light force to the crown of the tooth. The tooth moves to another position, when bone surrounding its root reorganises itself under pressure from the light force, explained Assoc Prof Foong.

"If a person's teeth are supported by healthy gums and bone, then it is possible to move teeth from one position to another within each jaw bone," he said.

Not for everyone

There are certain adults who are unsuitable for braces treatment.

Assoc Prof Foong cautioned those above the age of 40 who have untreated moderate to advanced gum disease, as well as medical conditions such as uncontrolled diabetes and heavy smokers against getting braces.

Those who take medications that affect the flow of saliva, such as high blood pressure medication, also should not get braces. He explained that having braces in a dry mouth gives rise to the risk of tooth decay.

Six months into her orthodontic treatment, Mdm Tay has become used to wearing braces.

"The first month was the most difficult but I could bear the pain quite well. Right now, I almost forget they are there in my mouth," she said, laughing.

Mdm Tay feels her trouble, effort and money will be well worth it in the end, when her braces finally come off and she can partake in celebrations with a bigger and brighter smile.

- TODAY/rl

Taken from; source article is below:
Braces at 50?

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Brain scan can tell if a smoker will quit

I am not sure if this discovery will be of good use; we'd had so many of this in the past that is simply used as a pawn for evil...

Posted: 31 January 2011

WASHINGTON : US researchers have found a way to predict how successful a smoker will be at quitting by using an MRI scan to look for activity in a region of the brain associated with behaviour change.

The scans were performed on 28 heavy smokers who had joined an anti-smoking programme, according to the study published Monday in the peer-reviewed journal Health Psychology.

Participants were asked to watch a series of commercials about quitting smoking while a magnetic resonance imaging machine scanned their brains for activity.

After each ad, subjects in the study "rated how it affected their intention to quit, whether it increased their confidence about quitting, and how much they related to the message," researchers explained.

Those who showed activity in the medial prefrontal cortex during the ads were "significantly linked to reductions in smoking behaviour" in the month that followed, regardless of how the people said they were affected by the ad.

"What is exciting is that by knowing what is going on in someone's brain during the ads, we can do twice as well at predicting their future behaviour, compared to if we only knew their self-reported estimate of how successful they would be or their intention to quit," said lead author Emily Falk.

"It seems that our brain activity may provide information that introspection does not," added Falk, director of the Communication Neuroscience Laboratory at the University of Michigan.

She said researchers would next try to determine which kind of messages were most effective by matching brain activity to the ads.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, and took place at University of California, Los Angeles.

- AFP/il

Taken From; source article is below:
Brain scan can tell if a smoker will quit

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Traffic noise and stroke risk

Is our technology and modernization really having a toll on us, our health, our being?

Traffic noise boosts risk of stroke, says study
Posted: 26 January 2011

Cars are seen in heavy traffic on one of Beijing's major ring roads.
PARIS: Exposure to road traffic noise boosts the risk of stroke for those 65 or older, according to research published online on Wednesday in the European Heart Journal.

In a survey of more than 50,000 people, every 10 additional decibels of road noise led to an increase of 14 percent in the probability of a stroke when averaged for all age groups.

For those under 65, the risk was not statistically significant. But the risk was weighted hugely in the over-65 group, where it rose 27 percent for each 10 decibel increment.

Above 60 decibels or so, the danger of stroke increased even more, the researchers found.

A busy street can easily generate noise levels of 70 or 80 decibels. By comparison, a lawnmower or a chainsaw gives off 90 or 100 decibels, while a nearby jet plane taking off typically measures 120 decibels.

"Previous studies have linked traffic noise with raised blood pressure and heart attacks," said lead researcher Mette Sorensena of the Danish Cancer Society.

"Our study shows that exposure to road traffic noise seems to increase the risk of stroke."

The study reviewed the medical and residency histories of 51,485 people who had participated in the Danish Diet, Cancer and Health survey, conducted in and around Copenhagen between 1993 and 1997.

A total of 1,881 people suffered a stroke during this period.

Eight percent of all stroke cases, and 19 percent of cases in those aged over 65, could be attributed to road traffic noise, according to the paper.

The researchers suggest noise acts as a stressor and disturbs sleep, which results in increased blood pressure and heart rate, as well as increased level of stress hormones.

The study factored in the effect of air pollution, exposure to railway and aircraft noise, and a range of potentially confounding lifestyle factors such as smoking, diet and alcohol consumption.

The survey cohort lived mainly in urban areas and was thus not representative of the whole population in terms of exposure to road traffic noise.

Proximity to road noise is also related to social class, as wealthier people can afford to live in quieter areas.

- AFP/de

Taken from; source article is below:
Traffic noise boosts risk of stroke, says study

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Don't ignore frequent nosebleeds

By Eveline Gan, TODAY
Posted: 25 January 2011

SINGAPORE - Fuming after a heated argument with a colleague, Helen Fong went to the toilet to regain her composure. Then, thick dark red blood began oozing out of her nose.

"I thought I must have burst a blood vessel because I was so angry," said the 50-year-old bank officer.

Subsequently, the massive nosebleeds became a frequent affair for Helen. Her doctor later found that her blood pressure was dangerously high, and that could have been the reason for the nosebleeds.

Most of us would have experienced a nosebleed at some point in our lives.

About 80 to 90 per cent of nosebleeds are spontaneous and occur in normal, healthy people, especially children, said Dr Yuen Heng Wai, consultant at Changi General Hospital's (CGH) Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Department.

While an occasional nosebleed is rarely cause for concern, frequent and severe nosebleeds may sometimes indicate underlying problems such as hypertension (high blood pressure), clotting problems or cancer, said ENT experts.

In extreme cases, frequent bloodstains in the nasal mucus or sputum may indicate advanced-stage nasopharynx carcinoma (NPC), which is cancer of the nose.

Dr Duncan Wong, associate consultant at Khoo Teck Puat (KTPH) Hospital's ENT Department, said he would perform a thorough nasal endoscopic examination, go through the patient's family history and do a blood test to exclude NPC. Patients suspected of having NPC are required to undergo a biopsy.

A person with high blood pressure may have nosebleeds more easily and find it harder to stop the bleeding, said Dr Wong.

According to Dr Yuen, studies have not proven that hypertension directly causes more frequent nosebleeds. What high blood pressure does, however, is that it could result in more severe bleeds.

"When the nose bleeds, the patient gets anxious and scared. His blood pressure goes up even more, and the bleeding continues. It is a vicious cycle," explained Dr Yuen.

When a nosebleed ends up as an emergency

An average nosebleed lasts five to 10 minutes. However, Dr Wong has seen instances where the severe loss of blood required emergency treatment and blood transfusions.

"Especially if the patient has cardiovascular problems and is on blood thinning medications such as aspirin and warfarin. Any trauma on the nose will cause them to bleed more severely," he said.

Dr Yuen advised: "As a rough guide, if you are having nosebleeds several times a week for consecutive weeks, and if it takes more than half an hour to stop despite taking measures, you should seek medical attention."

Stopping the bleeding

Tips from ENT specialists.

- Learn forward, not backward, to avoid swallowing the blood or choking.

- Pinch the lower, softer part of the nose. This exerts pressure on the most common area of bleeding.

- Put an ice pack on the forehead or back of the neck. Gurgling some iced water may also help contract the blood vessels.

- If the bleeding still does not stop after 30 minutes, seek medical attention.

- TODAY/rl

Taken from; source article is below:
Don't ignore frequent nosebleeds

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Migraines don't damage brain

Honestly, I didn't think of this as an effect of migraine, but anyway, hope this is good news to those who did!

Posted: 21 January 2011

PARIS : Good news for chronic migraine sufferers: even the most severe forms of these blindingly painful headaches do not cause damage to the brain.

"It is almost always the first question that migraine patients ask," said Christophe Tzourio, a doctor and researcher at the Universite Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris, and the main architect of a study published online this week in the British Medical Journal.

"Today we can provide an answer: there's nothing to worry about," he told AFP.

Migraines are acutely debilitating headaches - sometimes with an "aura", in which patients have the impression of seeing through frosted glass - that strike around one out of nine adults.

The causes remain uncertain, but are known to involve a link with blood vessels in the brain.

Earlier research using magnetic resonance imaging technology showed that people with a history of full-on migraines are more likely to incur tiny lesions to microvessels inside the brain.

Such ruptures result from a deterioration of the small cerebral arteries that supply blood to so-called white matter, which facilitates the flow on information across different parts of the brain.

The same type of lesions are more common in elderly people, diabetics and hypertension sufferers.

In large quantities, they have been linked to depression, an increased risk of stroke, neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, and impaired memory and reasoning.

Tzourio and colleagues wondered if migraine patients are more likely to show some of these symptoms, so they tested the cognitive abilities of more than 800 over-65 seniors living in Nantes, western France.

Nearly 15 per cent of the volunteers had suffered from migraines over the course of their lives.

On average their scores were indistinguishable from the others. Even seniors who had endured the most debilitating type of migraine, with aura, showed no cognitive damage.

"This is a very reassuring result for the many people who suffer from migraine," said co-author Tobias Kurth, also a researcher as Universite Pierre et Marie Curie.

"In spite of the increased presence of lesions of the brain microvessels, this disorder does not increase the risk of cognitive decline," he said in a press release.

- AFP/il

Taken from; source article is below:
Migraines don't damage brain

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Bedbugs tolerant to pesticide

Posted: 21 January 2011

WASHINGTON - Bedbugs have terrorized homeowners and tourists around the world, but US researchers say their genetic analyses of the beasts may lead to better ways to kill them off.

Entomologists at Ohio State University found genes that appear to be pesticide-resistant, according to their findings published on Wednesday in the online Public Library of Science.

"Pinpointing such defence mechanisms and the associated genes could lead to the development of novel methods of control that are more effective," said study co-author Omprakash Mittapalli, assistant professor of entomology.

The study was funded by the US government and carried out at the university's Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center.

"While bedbugs are poised to become one of the major household pests across the United States in the coming years, we know very little about their genetic makeup and their mechanisms of resistance to insecticides," said Mittapalli.

No one has escaped the infestation, including luxury hotels in New York and Paris, costing billions of dollars annually in extermination efforts by businesses and homeowners.

The six-legged nocturnal creatures feed on blood. They don't transmit diseases but people who are bitten often suffer red, itchy welts. They can hide in box springs, closets, shoes and luggage, which allows them to travel, according to the National Pest Management Association.

The researchers called their work "the first study to elucidate the genetic makeup of the insect and to obtain fundamental molecular knowledge regarding potential defense pathways and genes that may be involved in metabolic resistance to commonly used pesticides."

They analyzed both laboratory-reared bedbugs susceptible to insecticides and pesticide-exposed bedbugs collected from an apartment in Ohio state's capital city of Columbus.

More studies are needed, they said, to confirm that some of the genes are involved in pesticide resistance.

The bedbug was a minor nuisance after World War II because of the widespread use of insecticides such as DDT, which was later stopped because it was found to be too dangerous.

Other factors for the spike in bedbugs in recent years include more international travel, increased exchange of used furniture and the development of resistance among bedbugs to current pesticides, the researchers said. They estimate bedbug numbers have increased 500 per cent in the past decade.

- CNA/al

Taken from; source article is below:
Bedbugs resistant to pesticide, study finds

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Monday, February 7, 2011

HIV patients and their risk to suffer stroke

As if having HIV is not enough...

HIV patients 3 times as likely to suffer strokes
Posted: 20 January 2011

A nurse draws blood from a patient for an HIV test
WASHINGTON - People with HIV are three times as likely to suffer strokes, said a study out on Wednesday that has led researchers to question if anti-retroviral drugs could be to blame.

Among people living in the United States with the virus that causes AIDS, stroke hospitalisations rose 67 per cent over the past decade, while in the general population they fell seven per cent, said the study in the journal Neurology.

Researchers examined all stroke hospitalisations in the United States over the past 10 years and found that the total declined over the course of the decade with 71,742 fewer strokes overall.

But among people with HIV, 537 more strokes were tabulated in the same time period.

People with HIV showed an increase in a certain kind of stroke, called ischemic, which is caused by blood clots to the brain. Ischemic strokes are the most common type.

"The average age for a stroke among people with HIV was in the 50s, which is much lower than that of those without HIV," said Bruce Ovbiagele, professor of neurosciences at the University of California, San Diego.

"This finding suggests that HIV or HIV treatments may be directly related to stroke occurrence."

The World Health Organization says antiretroviral therapy has resulted in "huge reductions" in death rates among HIV sufferers, though people in poorer countries often cannot afford the drug regimens.

Of the total 33.3 million people living with HIV in the world, at least 14.6 million were in need of antiretroviral therapy in 2009, said WHO and UNAIDS.

"While these therapies have greatly increased life expectancy, they may boost the presence of risk factors associated with stroke," said Ovbiagele.

"Another possibility is that longer exposure to HIV as a result of greater survival, even at low viral load levels, may allow for the virus to increase stroke risk."

- AFP/al

Taken from; source article is below:
HIV patients 3 times as likely to suffer strokes

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Japan to test new cancer therapy

Posted: 19 January 2011

TOKYO: Medical researchers in Japan say they will start the world's first clinical studies of a radiation therapy using accelerator-based neutron beams to kill cancer cells.

The National Cancer Centre in Tokyo and a Japanese medical equipment maker -- Cancer Intelligence Care Systems -- plan to start the studies using "boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT)" in three years, the centre said.

The BNCT is an innovative radiation treatment which kills cancer cells selectively without side-effects, but it requires a massive facility including a nuclear reactor to produce neutron beams.

By using a particle accelerator, which is cheaper, safer and smaller than a reactor, it will become feasible for a hospital to provide the therapy on actual patients, the centre told journalists Tuesday.

The centre hopes to try the special radiation therapy on patients with cancers that have been difficult to treat in conventional procedures, such as brain tumours and melanoma, it said.


Taken from; source article is below:
Japan to test new cancer therapy

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ID by molecule

I say this is kinda interesting....

Imaging procedure detects Alzheimer's biomarker
Posted: 19 January 2011

WASHINGTON - A molecular imaging procedure can detect beta-amyloid in living people's brains - a biomarker also identified during autopsy to confirm a diagnosis of Alzheimer disease, a new study has found.

The development could help lead to better treatment and disgnosis of the disease, according to reserachers who published the findings in the January 19 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Christopher Clark of Avid Radiopharmaceuticals in Philadelphia and colleagues examined whether florbetapir F 18 PET imaging (positron scanner) performed during life accurately predicts the presence of beta-amyloid, linked to Alzheimer's, in the brain at autopsy.

Accumulation of the protein, which can be seen in autospy, is believed to play a role in the disease by forming plaque in some areas of the brain.

The plaque ultimately destroys neurons, leading to irreversible brain degeneration.

The disease currently affects 26 million people worldwide, including five million Americans, and is becoming more prevalent as seniors make up greater proportions of societies.

The article said: "Both diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer disease (AD) are hampered by the lack of non-invasive biomarkers of the underlying pathology.

"Between 10 per cent and 20 per cent of patients clinically diagnosed with AD lack AD pathology at autopsy, and community physicians may not diagnose AD in 33 per cent of patients with mild signs and symptoms."

"The ability to identify and quantify brain beta-amyloid could increase the accuracy of a clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer disease."

Still "the definitive relationship between the florbetapir-PET image and beta-amyloid deposition has not been established," the authors acknowledged.

- AFP/al

Taken from; source article is below:
Imaging procedure detects Alzheimer's biomarker

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Sex-less in the city

By Eveline Gan, TODAY | Posted: 18 January 2011

SINGAPORE : With all the recent attention-grabbing headlines on nudity and public displays of affection, it would seem that Singaporeans are becoming more open about sex.

However, this is not the case for some couples whom gynaecologist Dr Yong Tze Tein sees at her clinic.

A senior consultant at the Singapore General Hospital's department of obstetrics and gynaecology, Dr Yong has seen her fair share of married couples who have sexual dysfunction and problems consummating.

In the past two to three years, she has seen 12 such cases - a figure which represents only the tip of an iceberg, since most people are too embarrassed to come forward and admit their problem.

A majority of the couples Dr Yong sees are in their 30s and have been married for a few years. They end up being referred to her when they are unable to successfully conceive.

According to Dr Yong, the sexual dysfunction issues she has seen are varied. For instance, there was a female patient with an anatomical problem - her hymen was so thick that it was impossible for sexual penetration to occur - and surgery was required to fix that.

Sex - What's that?

Interestingly, Dr Yong also sees couples who are clueless about the "birds and the bees".

"We've seen couples who try to have sexual intercourse but do not succeed, so the women end up not having any actual penetration. They are either not very sure what to do or have misconceptions about how sex is like," said Dr Yong, who recommended that both husband and wife see her at the same time for treatment.

Occasionally, the problems are more deep-seated and require a multi-disciplinary approach, with the help of an urologist and psychologist.

Sexual dysfunction becomes a challenge to treat when there are psychological problems or if either spouse is not open to treatment.

Take Jessie and Mark (not their real names) for instance. They have been married for several years but have not consummated their marriage.

While Jessie was eager to get professional help, Mark was embarrassed and unwilling to open up about his sexual problems.

"You could sense the wife's frustration and the husband's avoidance towards the issue. He made excuses like how he found sex very ticklish. He was always absent during consultations. I told his wife it was not possible for me to treat them when one party is always not around. You need two willing people to make sex happen!" said Dr Yong.

Mark's reaction is not uncommon. According to Dr Yong, men find it harder to talk about their sexual problems.

Left untreated, sexual dysfunction can become a chronic issue, making it harder to treat. Dr Yong advised couples to seek help early if they encounter problems.

Touching Base

While it is impossible to say how much sex is healthy, Dr Yong recommended couples to "touch base" at least once a week.

"Who are we to say that it's not right for a married couple to not have sex? But making love demands some form of trust and shedding of inhibition. If there's no sex in a marriage, then the couple wouldn't have truly experienced that level of intimacy," she said.

- TODAY/il

Taken from; source article is below:
Sexless in the city

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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Another reason not to smoke: gene damage

Here is another reason not to smoke. And yes, there are a myriad of reasons for not smoking. Name at least one why you should smoke.

Can't think of one?

Really, there isn't, not even one.

Smoking causes gene damage in minutes
Posted: 16 January 2011

WASHINGTON: Those first few puffs on a cigarette can within minutes cause genetic damage linked to cancer, US scientists said in a study released on Saturday.

In fact, researchers said the "effect is so fast that it's equivalent to injecting the substance directly into the bloodstream," in findings described as a "stark warning" to those who smoke.

The study is the first on humans to track how substances in tobacco cause DNA damage, and appears in the peer-reviewed journal Chemical Research in Toxicology, issued by the American Chemical Society.

Using 12 volunteer smokers, scientists tracked pollutants called PAHs, or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, that are carried in tobacco smoke and can also be found in coal-burning plants and in charred barbecue food.

They followed one particular type - phenanthrene, which is found in cigarette smoke - through the blood and saw it form a toxic substance that is known to "trash DNA, causing mutations that can cause cancer," the study said.

"The smokers developed maximum levels of the substance in a time frame that surprised even the researchers: just 15-30 minutes after the volunteers finished smoking," the study said.

"These results are significant because PAH diol epoxides react readily with DNA, induce mutations, and are considered to be ultimate carcinogens of multiple PAH in cigarette smoke," the study said.

Lead scientist Stephen Hecht said the study is unique because it examines the effects of inhaling cigarette smoke, without interference from other sources of harm such as pollution or a poor diet.

"The results reported here should serve as a stark warning to those who are considering starting to smoke cigarettes," Hecht said.

Lung cancer kills about 3,000 people around the world each day, and 90 per cent of those deaths are attributable to cigarette smoking.

The research was funded by the National Cancer Institute.

- AFP/fa

Taken from; source article is below:
Smoking causes gene damage in minutes

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