Can we eat to starve cancer?

How can we conquer one of the most tragic conditions ?

William Li presents a new way to think about treating cancer and other diseases: anti-angiogenesis, preventing the growth of blood vessels that feed a tumor. The crucial first (and best) step: Eating cancer-fighting foods that cut off the supply lines and beat cancer at its own game. Witness William Li’s interesting talk at TED (c).

Poor sleep quality increases suicide risk for older adults

sleep deprivationOlder adults suffering from sleep disturbances are more likely to die by suicide than well-rested adults, according to a study. “This is important because sleep disturbances are highly treatable, yet arguably less stigmatizing than many other suicide risk factors,” noted the lead author of the study.

“This is important because sleep disturbances are highly treatable, yet arguably less stigmatizing than many other suicide risk factors,” said Rebecca Bernert, PhD, lead author of the study. Bernert is an instructor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and director of the Suicide Prevention Research Laboratory at Stanford.

Bernert said older adults have disproportionately higher rates of suicide risk compared to other age groups, making suicide prevention in elderly populations a pressing public health challenge. Using data from an epidemiological study of 14,456 adults aged 65 and older, Bernert and her colleagues compared the sleep quality of 20 who died by suicide with the sleep patterns of 400 similar individuals over a 10-year period. They found that participants reporting poor sleep had a 1.4 times greater chance of death by suicide within a 10-year period than participants who reported sleeping well.

The study confirmed the relationship between depression and suicide risk, while also assessing poor sleep as an independent risk factor. “Our findings suggest that poor sleep quality may serve as a stand-alone risk factor for late-life suicide,” Bernert said. Surprisingly, the study found that, when comparing the two risk factors, poor sleep predicted risk better than depressive symptoms. The combination of poor sleep and depressed mood was the strongest predictor of suicide risk. “Suicide is the outcome of multiple, often interacting biological, psychological and social risk factors,” Bernert said. “Disturbed sleep stands apart as a risk factor and warning sign in that it may be undone, which highlights its importance as a screening tool and potential treatment target in suicide prevention. “Suicide is preventable,” she added. “Yet interventions for suicide prevention are alarmingly scarce.”

Bernert has two studies now underway testing the effectiveness of an insomnia treatment for the prevention of depression and suicidal behaviors. Most of the study’s suicide decedents were white men, which reflects a group at heightened risk for suicide in the general population, Bernert said, noting that additional research is needed to see if the correlation between disturbed sleep and suicide risk extends to women, minorities and younger adults or teenagers.

Source: Stanford University Medical Center

Climate change could drive rise in debilitating disease

Buruli_ulcer_460A disease prevalent in developing countries could be spread by the changes in rainfall patterns according to a new study.

Buruli Ulcer affects thousands of people every year, mainly in developing countries, and in the worst cases can cause fatality or permanent disability. The devastating bacterial infection starts with an area of swelling that becomes ulcerated, causing painful open wounds and necrosis of the skin. It is unknown how the water-borne disease is transmitted.

The study, published in Emerging Microbes and Infections, found a strong link between Buruli Ulcer outbreaks in French Guiana, in South America, and changes in complex rainfall patterns, including extreme rainfall events driven by the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO). ENSO refers to warm and cool ocean-atmosphere events that take place off the coast of Western South America — with the study showing that this atmospheric anomaly can affect the spread of disease in this area.

Researchers from Bournemouth University found that outbreaks of Buruli Ulcer can be triggered by changes in climate, with rainfall playing a large part in the spread of the disease.

Bournemouth University’s Aaron Morris was lead investigator on the research project as a part of his PhD. Aaron said, “Understanding how infection levels respond to climatic factors is hugely important, particularly with poorly understood, emergent diseases such as Buruli Ulcer. These links help us shed light on their ecology and enable us to more accurately predict outbreaks. They are also vital in understanding how climate change will affect the dynamics and emergence of pathogens in the future.”

The research has focussed on the link between biodiversity and the spread of diseases in humans, with field research conducted in French Guiana focussing on Buruli Ulcer. Biodiversity is an unpredictable and under-researched driving force in the prevalence and transmission of diseases, and this study shows the link between changing ecosystems and the occurrence of disease.

Bournemouth University experts Demetra Andreou, Rodolphe Gozlan and Hossein Hassani were also instrumental in researching Buruli Ulcer.

As a result of the research, it may be possible to predict and prevent future outbreaks of the debilitating infection by predicting future weather patterns in countries that are susceptible to the disease and to fluctuating patterns of rainfall. The research also paves the way for future research into the impact of biodiversity and climate change on the spread of diseases. Source: Science Daily

Treat snoring to avoid deadly heart failure

snoring

Patients with obstructive sleep apnea have the same early cardiovascular damage as diabetics, according to research presented at EUROECHO and other Imaging Modalities 2012. The study ¹ was presented by Dr Raluca Mincu from Bucharest, Romania.

EUROECHO and other Imaging Modalities 2012 is the annual meeting of the European Association of Cardiovascular Imaging (EACVI) ², a registered branch of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC)3.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common sleep disorder that has been associated with cardiovascular disease. OSA increases the risk of hypertension, arrhythmias, myocardial infarction, stroke, sudden cardiac death and heart failure. Dr Mincu said: “There are not enough studies in the medical literature on early cardiovascular dysfunction in patients with OSA, when active steps can be taken to prevent progression to heart failure.” She added: “Because OSA leads to so many cardiovascular disorders, we compared early cardiovascular dysfunction in OSA patients and patients with diabetes mellitus, which is a typical risk factor for cardiovascular disease.”

The study assessed endothelial and arterial function in 20 patients with moderate to severe OSA (and no diabetes), 20 patients with treated type 2 diabetes mellitus (matched for age, sex and cardiovascular risk factors), and 20 healthy controls (age and sex matched). In all subjects, arterial function was assessed by intima-media thickness (IMT). Arterial stiffness was measured by young elastic modulus, beta stiffness index, arterial compliance, first systolic peak and second systolic peak. Endothelial function was assessed by flow mediated dilatation (FMD).

Dr Mincu said: “Patients with moderate to severe OSA had endothelial dysfunction and higher arterial stiffness than controls, and their results were similar to patients with diabetes mellitus. This suggests that OSA is associated with a high risk for cardiovascular disease.” She added: “Patients in the OSA and diabetes groups had a higher intima-media thickness, which shows that their arteries are remodelled in a pathological way.”

All five parameters of arterial stiffness were significantly higher in the OSA and diabetes mellitus groups compared to controls. FMD was lower in these groups, meaning they had poorer endothelial function than controls.

Dr Mincu said: “Patients should realise that behind snoring there can be a serious cardiac pathology and they should get referred to a sleep specialist. If they are diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, they are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease and need to adopt a heart healthy lifestyle to reduce that risk.” She added: “Although OSA treatment with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is inconvenient – it requires sleeping with a mask – patients should use it because it can reverse the parameters measured in our study.”

Dr Mincu concluded: “Our study is a signal for cardiologists, pneumologists and general practitioners to work together to actively diagnose obstructive sleep apnea, administer the appropriate treatment (CPAP) and assess arterial function. This will help avoid progression of early cardiovascular dysfunction through to heart failure, the final stage of heart disease.”

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¹ Obstructive sleep apnea determines endothelial dysfunction and increased arterial stiffness, similarly with diabetes mellitus (abstract 50318)

² About the European Association of Cardiovascular Imaging (EACVI):
The European Association of Cardiovascular Imaging (EACVI) is a registered branch of the ESC. Its aim is to promote excellence in clinical diagnosis, research, technical development and education in cardiovascular ultrasound and other imaging modalities in Europe. It was formerly called the European Association of Echocardiography (EAE).

³ About the European Society of Cardiology (ESC): The European Society of Cardiology (ESC) represents more than 75,000 cardiology professionals across Europe and the Mediterranean. Its mission is to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease in Europe.

Source: Innovations Report

What diseases can we catch from our pets?

black cat

Following the announcement that two people in England have been infected with tuberculosis by their cat, public health experts were quick to offer reassurance. The risk of transmission was “very low” and the presence of the infection in cats was “uncommon”, they said.

In fact, humans get many of the same diseases as our pets and often people and animals can be infected from the same source. Here we look at some of the main diseases that can be caught from our pets – and the risks involved. Read the full article.

Source: BBC Health News, Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Finding a way to do 3D surgery on the brain

3d glasses

Not only can 3D glasses be used in cinemas or other entertaining fields – they are also being used while carrying out critical surgeries. Surgeons carry out operations on the brain using 3D technology. Watch the short clip or read through the article.

Here’s another interesting article talking about the topic of endoscopic neurosurgery and endonasal surgery, also showing a 3D endoscope.