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Eating Certain Fats Might Offset Some Heart Risk From Weight Gain

good fats and bad fatsIf you’re going to overindulge and gain weight, at least try to make sure the extra calories come from unsaturated fats, a new study suggests.

When lean people pack on even a few extra pounds, heart disease risk factors in the bloodstream change – some for the better if the excess food contains unsaturated fats, versus saturated fats, researchers found.

Even a moderate weight gain of about three pounds for lean, young people clearly increased markers of heart disease risk factors like insulin resistance as well as signs of impaired vascular function, said senior author Dr. Ulf Riserus of the Unit for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism at Uppsala Science Park in Sweden.

But unsaturated fats in the diet improved cholesterol levels despite the extra calories and weight gain, which is surprising, Riserus told Reuters Health by email.

For seven weeks, two groups of healthy, relatively lean adults ages 20 to 38 were told to keep to their habitual exercise level and daily diets, adding three to four muffins to their diets each day.Coconut

The researchers provided the 240-calorie muffins, with half their energy from fats. One group of 19 adults received muffins made with sunflower oil, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), while the other group of 20 people ate muffins made with palm oil, a saturated fat. The muffins were otherwise identical.

After seven weeks, each group had gained between two and three percent of their body weight, about 3.5 pounds (1.5 kilos) each, and waist girth increased by about one percent, but blood pressure did not change significantly.

This level of weight gain in the short term is probably not dangerous at all, Riserus said, but if weight accumulates over time, especially abdominal fat, there can be health consequences.

salmonBased on blood tests, the sunflower oil group had lower cholesterol and lipid levels at the end of the study than they had at the beginning of the study. For the palm oil group, cholesterol went up, according to the results in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Both groups showed signs of increased insulin resistance, a diminished ability to process blood sugar that can be a warning sign for diabetes onset.

Riserus and his team had previously found that the type of fat in the diet determined how much of the excess calories were stored as abdominal fat and liver fat, he said.

“If the high-caloric diet was based on unsaturated fats rather than saturated fats, very little fat was stored as liver and abdominal fat, whereas the opposite was true for the diet high in saturated fats,” he said.

Saturated and unsaturated fats have different molecular effects on the liver, he said. Unsaturated fats signal the liver to take up cholesterol from the blood, he said.

“We believe our results are very relevant considering that a large part of most populations are in caloric excess and gradually gain weight over time,” Riserus said. “Although weight gain should be avoided, the results basically tell us that we may benefit from having enough unsaturated fats in our diets, irrespectively of how many calories we eat.”

The results support the American Heart Association recommendation to replace some saturated fats in the diet, like fatty beef, butter and cheese, with unsaturated fats like vegetable oils and nuts, he said.avacado

“I do not think people usually plan for weight gain, but, as we know, it just happens quite commonly,” said Ursula Schwab, an associate professor of nutrition therapy at the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio.

“So, by following the guidelines regarding dietary fat, unintentional weight gain can be less harmful than in cases when the recommendations on the quality of dietary fat is not followed,” Schwab told Reuters Health by email. She was not involved in the new study.

All dietary polyunsaturated fats are beneficial, she said, but that is not necessarily the case for supplements.

In addition to sunflower oil, rapeseed oil and canola oil are good sources of polyunsaturated fats, Riserus said.

Source: Reuters


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Ebola: WHO Cites Cases With Longer Incubation Period of 42 Days

Ebola OctoberAs questions of how many people the second Dallas nurse infected during her journey to and from Dallas throw scary possibilities, a WHO situation assessment report gives more cause for concern by stating that the incubation period of the virus has been seen to extend to as long as 42 days in some cases.

It says that recent studies conducted in West Africa have demonstrated that 95% of confirmed cases have an incubation period in the range of 1 to 21 days; 98% have an incubation period that falls within the 1 to 42-day interval.

For WHO to declare an Ebola outbreak over, a country must pass through 42 days, with active surveillance supported by good diagnostic capacity and no new cases detected in the period.

The organization has also criticized rapid determination of infection within a few hours, noting that two separate tests 48 hours apart are required before discharging a patient or a suspected one as Ebola negative.

In assessing the situation in West Africa, WHO says fresh cases in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone show that the outbreak is not showing any sign of being controlled.

On the positive side, it is all set to declare later this week that Senegal is Ebola-free, if no new cases are detected.Ebola October 2

Nigeria will also get the green signal once it passes the requisite 42 days, with active surveillance and no new cases till Monday, 20 October.

Tracing of people known to have contact with an Ebola patient reached 100% in Lagos and 98% in Port Harcourt, a crucial step in controlling the spread of the virus.

In the case of the American nurse who took a commercial flight with 132 other passengers, the risk factor is multiplied with every contact she made, beginning with the immediate co-passengers, flight attendants and airline baggage handlers to the family members she met.

The Ebola virus is believed to be able to survive outside the body for a week or more during which time anyone who comes in contact with contaminated surface can pick up the virus.

The death rate in the current Ebola outbreak has increased to 70% with the toll at 4,447. There could be up to 10,000 new cases of Ebola per week in two months, WHO has warned.

Source: International Business Times


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Scientists Find Lung Cancer Can Lie Hidden for 20 Years

Lung cancer can lie dormant for more than 20 years before turning deadly, helping explain why a disease that kills more than 1.5 million a year worldwide is so persistent and difficult to treat, scientists said on Thursday.

lung cancerTwo papers detailing the evolution of lung cancer reveal how after an initial disease-causing genetic fault — often due to smoking — tumor cells quietly develop numerous new mutations, making different parts of the same tumor genetically unique.

By the time patients are sick enough to be diagnosed with cancer, their tumors will have developed down multiple evolutionary pathways, making it extremely hard for any one targeted medicine to have an effect.

The findings show the pressing need to detect lung cancer before it has shape-shifted into multiple malignant clones.

“What we’ve not been able to understand before is why this is really the emperor of all cancers and one of the hardest diseases to treat,” said Charles Swanton, an author on one of the papers from Cancer Research UK’s London Research Institute.

“Previously, we didn’t know how heterogeneous these early-stage lung cancers were.”

Lung cancer is the world’s deadliest cancer, killing an estimated 4,300 people a day, according to the World Health Organization. Around 85 percent of patients have non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), the type analyzed in the two studies.

To get a clearer understanding of the disease, the two groups of British and American scientists looked at genetic variability in different regions of lung tumors removed during surgery and worked out how genetic faults had developed over time.

What they found was an extremely long latency period between early mutations and clinical symptoms, which finally appeared after new, additional faults triggered rapid disease growth.

In the case of some ex-smokers, the initial genetic faults that started their cancer dated back to the time they were smoking cigarettes two decades earlier. But these faults became less important over time and more recent mutations were caused by a new process controlled by a protein called APOBEC.

The research was published in the journal Science.

Ramaswamy Govindan of Washington University School of Medicine, who was not involved in the studies, said better understanding of such genetic alterations was key to developing more effective treatments.

There are also hopes for a new generation of immunotherapy drugs that boost the immune system’s ability to detect and fight tumors, which could be particularly applicable to lung cancer.

“The large number of mutations may be the tumor’s Achilles heel because every time a new mutation forms there is a chance for the immune system to recognize it,” Swanton told Reuters.lung cancer 2

Immunotherapy drugs from companies such as Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck & Co, Roche and AstraZeneca are already undergoing tests in lung cancer, with data on Bristol’s medicine Opdivo due later this year.

Apart from better drugs, a critical challenge is to find improved ways to detect lung cancer before it develops the multiple genetic faults that eventually trigger rapid tumor growth and spread.

Currently, doctors use computerized tomography (CT) to detect lung cancer — but by the time a nodule is big enough to be spotted it on a scan it may contain a billion genetically diverse cancer cells.

For the future, oncologists are pinning hopes on a new approach, known as liquid biopsy, that may be able to detect signs of cancer much earlier from DNA circulating in the blood.

The current prognosis for NSCLC is grim, with most patients diagnosed when the disease has already spread and only around 15 percent surviving for at least five years after that.

Source: Reuters


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Small Spills at Gas Stations Could Cause Significant Public Health Risks Over Time

A new study suggests that drops of fuel spilled at gas stations — which occur frequently with fill-ups — could cumulatively be causing long-term environmental damage to soil and groundwater in residential areas in close proximity to the stations.pumping gas 3

Few studies have considered the potential environmental impact of routine gasoline spills and instead have focused on problems associated with large-scale leaks. Researchers with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, publishing online Sept. 19 in the Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, developed a mathematical model and conducted experiments suggesting these small spills may be a larger issue than previously thought.

“Gas station owners have worked very hard to prevent gasoline from leaking out of underground storage tanks,” says study leader Markus Hilpert, PhD, a senior scientist in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “But our research shows we should also be paying attention to the small spills that routinely occur when you refill your vehicle’s tank.”

Over the lifespan of a gas station, Hilpert says, concrete pads underneath the pumps can accumulate significant amounts of gasoline, which can eventually penetrate the concrete and escape into underlying soil and groundwater, potentially impacting the health of those who use wells as a water source. Conservatively, the researchers estimate, roughly 1,500 liters of gasoline are spilled at a typical gas station each decade.

“Even if only a small percentage reaches the ground, this could be problematic because gasoline contains harmful chemicals including benzene, a known human carcinogen,” Hilpert says.

Hilpert and Patrick N. Breysse, PhD, a professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences, developed a mathematical model to measure the amount of gasoline that permeates through the concrete of the gas-dispensing stations and the amount of gasoline that vaporizes into the air.

The model demonstrates that spilled gasoline droplets remain on concrete surfaces for minutes or longer, and a significant fraction of spilled gasoline droplets infiltrate into the pavement, as concrete is not impervious.

gas spill 2“When gasoline spills onto concrete, the droplet will eventually disappear from the surface. If no stain is left behind, there has been a belief that no gasoline infiltrated the pavement, and all of it evaporated,” Hilpert says. “According to our laboratory-based research and supported by our mathematical model, this assumption is incorrect. Our experiments suggest that even the smallest gasoline spills can have a lasting impact.”

Since the health effects of living near gasoline stations have not been well studied, Breysse says there is an urgency to look more closely, especially since the new trend is to build larger filling stations with many more pumps. These stations continue to be located near residential areas where soil and groundwater could be affected.

“The environmental and public health impacts of chronic gasoline spills are poorly understood,” says Breysse. “Chronic gasoline spills could well become significant public health issues since the gas station industry is currently trending away from small-scale service stations that typically dispense around 100,000 gallons per month to high-volume retailers that dispense more than 10 times this amount.”

“In a perfect world, it would be ideal to avoid chronic spills,” Hilpert says. “However, if these spills do occur, it is also important to prevent rainwater from flowing over the concrete pads underneath the pumps. Otherwise, storm runoff gets contaminated with benzene and other harmful chemicals and can infiltrate into adjacent soil patches or form storm water that may end up in natural bodies of water.”

 

Source: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health


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Study: ‘Fat Tongue’ May be a Factor in Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a potential health risk for millions of Americans, and a new study points to a possible culprit behind the disorder: a “fat” tongue.

“This is the first study to show that fat deposits are increased in the tongue of obese patients with obstructive sleep apnea,” study senior author Dr. Richard Schwab, co-director of the Sleep Center at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, said in a news release from Sleep, which will publish the findings Oct. 1.Sleep Apnea Tongue

Sleep apnea is a common disorder in which the airways constrict during sleep, leading to repeated stops and starts in breathing. The telltale signs include chronic loud snoring, with periodic gasps or choking — and, for many people, daytime drowsiness because of poor sleep.

But the effects go beyond fatigue. Studies suggest those pauses in breathing stress the nervous system, boosting blood pressure and inflammation in the arteries.

Obese people tend to be at higher risk for sleep apnea, and Schwab’s team say the new findings may help explain the link between obesity and the breathing disorder.

The study included 90 obese adults with sleep apnea and 90 obese adults without the disorder.

The participants with sleep apnea had significantly larger tongues, tongue fat and percentage of tongue fat than those without sleep apnea, the researchers found. The tongue fat in the people with sleep apnea was concentrated at the base of the tongue.

Sleep ApneaIn addition to increasing the size of the tongue, higher levels of tongue fat may prevent muscles that attach the tongue to bone from positioning the tongue away from the airway during sleep, Schwab’s group explained.

While the study found an association between tongue fat content and sleep apnea, it could not prove cause and effect.

However, the researchers believe future studies should assess whether removing tongue fat through weight loss, upper airway exercises or surgery could help treat sleep apnea.

“Tongue size is one of the physical features that should be evaluated by a physician when screening obese patients to determine their risk for obstructive sleep apnea,” American Academy of Sleep Medicine President Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler added in the news release.

“Effective identification and treatment of sleep apnea is essential to optimally manage other conditions associated with this chronic disease, including high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and depression,” he said.

Nearly 35 percent of U.S. adults — 78.6 million people — are obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Source: Detroit Free Press

The Presidential Healthcare Center now offers home sleep studies.  


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First Imported Case of Ebola Diagnosed in the United States

CDC confirmed on September 30, 2014, through laboratory tests, the first case of Ebola to be diagnosed in the United States in a person who had traveled to Dallas, Texas from West Africa. The patient did not have symptoms when leaving West Africa, but developed symptoms approximately five days after arriving in the United States.Ebola US

The person sought medical care at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas after developing symptoms consistent with Ebola. Based on the person’s travel history and symptoms, CDC recommended testing for Ebola. The medical facility isolated the patient and sent specimens for testing at CDC and at a Texas lab participating in CDC’s Laboratory Response Network. CDC and the Texas Health Department reported the laboratory test results to the medical center to inform the patient. Local public health officials have begun identifying close contacts of the person for further daily monitoring for 21 days after exposure.

The ill person did not exhibit symptoms of Ebola during the flights from West Africa and CDC does not recommend that people on the same commercial airline flights undergo monitoring, as Ebola is only contagious if the person is experiencing active symptoms. The person reported developing symptoms several days after the return flight.

CDC recognizes that even a single case of Ebola diagnosed in the United States raises concerns. Knowing the possibility exists, medical and public health professionals across the country have been preparing to respond. CDC and public health officials in Texas are taking precautions to identify people who have had close personal contact with the ill person and health care professionals have been reminded to use meticulous infection control at all times.

Quarantine stationsWe know how to stop Ebola’s further spread: thorough case finding, isolation of ill people, contacting people exposed to the ill person, and further isolation of contacts if they develop symptoms. The U.S. public health and medical systems have had prior experience with sporadic cases of diseases such as Ebola. In the past decade, the United States had 5 imported cases of Viral Hemorrhagic Fever (VHF) diseases similar to Ebola (1 Marburg, 4 Lassa). None resulted in any transmission in the United States.

Source: CDC


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Certain Bald Men Have a Higher Risk of Developing Aggressive Prostate Cancer

prostate probMen with a certain pattern of baldness at age 45 had a 39% increased risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer versus men with no baldness, a new U.S. study found.

Men with frontal baldness and moderate baldness on the crown of the head had a higher risk of developing an aggressive form of prostate cancer.

Researchers said the finding adds to evidence of a hormone-based, biological link between baldness and prostate cancer, but added that more studies would be needed to support whether baldness patterns should be part of a screening system. Until more research is available, men shouldn’t be overly concerned about baldness patterns, the study’s researchers said.

The hair-loss pattern associated with a higher risk was frontal baldness plus moderate baldness on the vertex, or crown of the head, which about 10% of the men in the study recalled having at age 45. Other patterns—frontal only, and frontal plus mild or severe vertex baldness—weren’t associated with an increased risk of aggressive prostate cancer. The results of the study were published online Monday in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The finding arose from the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial, a large study started in the early 1990s by the National Cancer Institute to determine whether certain screening methods reduce cancer death rates.

In one segment of the trial, from 2006 to 2008, researchers provided questionnaires to men asking them to choose one of five illustrations that most closely resembled their hair-loss patterns at the age of 45, based on memory. The median age of the approximately 39,000 men who responded to the survey was about 70.

After a median follow-up period of 2.8 years after they responded to the survey, about 1,140 cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed. About half of them were classified as aggressive.

About 53% of the total group recalled some form of male-pattern baldness at age 45. Overall, men who had any of the baldness patterns at the age of 45 didn’t have a statistically significant increased risk of any form of prostate cancer later in life, versus men with no baldness.

baldnessHowever, men with frontal plus moderate vertex balding—about 10% of the men in the study—had a 39% increased risk of aggressive prostate cancer versus men with no baldness. Researchers called this a statistically significant finding, meaning it wasn’t likely due to chance.

Still, a large majority of men in this group, and in the study’s other groups, weren’t diagnosed with any prostate cancer during the follow-up period.

If future studies confirm the link, “it may help the doctor-patient discussion about whether men should opt for prostate cancer screening,” said Michael Cook, an epidemiologist with the NCI and one of the study’s authors.

Until then, he cautioned, men shouldn’t be “overly concerned” about their baldness patterns, and shouldn’t alter their current practices and beliefs about prostate cancer screening.

The study had certain limitations, including relying on men’s recollection of their baldness patterns years earlier, and an under-representation of black men.

Prostate-cancer screening has become controversial in recent years amid evidence that it has led to overtreatment of the disease. The American Cancer Society estimates a man’s lifetime risk of developing prostate cancer is 15.3%, while the risk of dying from it is 2.7%.

Source: Wall Street Journal

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