Health and Fitness

New Approach Reduces Number Of Routines Needed To Detect Erythropoietins

Austrian researchers have successfully developed a new electrophoretic method for detecting MIRCERA ® and other erythropoietins (EPO) in the blood. The technique, using SARCOSYL-PAGE, has specifically enhanced sensitivity for MIRCERA, but does not alter the performance characteristics of SDS-PAGE for detecting other EPOs. Details of this study, funded by a grant from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), appear in the latest issue of Drug Testing and Analysis published by Wiley-Blackwell. MIRCERA ( methoxy polyethylene glycol-epoetin beta ), a PEGylated EPO, is a synthetic protein that helps the body produce red blood cells and used to treat anemia caused by kidney disease. The drug is manufactured by Hoffmann-La Roche and only available outside the U.S. due to an infringement upon Amgen's patents on recombinant EPO products and processes. In the past, EPOs have been used off-label as doping agents by athletes to enhance endurance in such sports as cycling, distance running, and rowing.

Alcohol In Pregnancy And Child Behaviour Problems Linked In New Study

A new study from Perth's Telethon Institute for Child Health Research has found evidence that the amount and timing of alcohol consumption in pregnancy affects child behaviour in different ways. The study has just been published online in the international journal Addiction. Lead author Colleen O'Leary said the analysis was drawn from a random sample of more than 2000 mothers who completed a questionnaire three months after the baby's delivery, and were then followed up when the child was 2, 5 and 8 years of age. "Mothers who reported what we would classify as heavy drinking in the first trimester of pregnancy were nearly three times as likely to report that their child suffered with anxiety and/or depression or somatic complaints, " Ms O'Leary said. "Those who drank moderately during that first trimester were twice as likely to report those types of behavioural issues for their child. "Exposure to moderate or heavy levels of alcohol in late pregnancy increased the risk of aggressive types of behaviours in the child.

Case Western Reserve Researchers' New Pathway Discovery Published As 'Paper Of The Week'

Case Western Reserve University researchers, from the School of Medicine's Department of Nutrition, discovered two new metabolic pathways by which products of lipid peroxidation and some drugs of abuse, known as 4-hydroxyacids, are metabolized. The pathways were identified by a combination of metabolomics and mass isotopomer analysis. The findings shed new light on the mechanism of action of the drug of abuse gamma-hydroxybutyrate, also known as "the date rape drug." The manuscript published in the November 27th issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry was named a "Paper of the Week." Such papers are chosen from the top one percent of all articles submitted to the prestigious peer-reviewed journal. This type of rare breakthrough sets the ground work for future discoveries. This work was supported by a RoadMap grant from the National Institutes of Health, a grant from the National Institute of Environment Health Sciences, as well as by a grant from the Cleveland Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation.

Also In Global Health News: Drug Trafficking In Kenya; Violence In S. Sudan; Uganda Bill; Sleeping Sickness

Drug Trafficking, Use Spreading HIV/AIDS In Kenya Drug trafficking and use are fueling the spread of HIV/AIDS in Kenya, according to a recent report by the U.N. Security Council, the Nation reports. "A statement from the council's Presidency currently в states that Afghan heroin was being imported, causing a dramatic increase in heroin addiction and spreading HIV/AIDS in the slums of Nairobi and Mombasa, Kenya's two main cities, " the newspaper writes. The article examines efforts underway to stop drug trafficking and includes comments by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (12/14). Violence In S. Sudan Exacerbates Health Problems In Region, MSF Report Finds "At least 2, 000 people have died and 250, 000 have fled their homes following violence in southern Sudan this year, worsening a humanitarian crisis in a region seeking its independence, officials from" Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said Monday during the release of their report (.pdf) on the region, the Associated Press reports (Odula, 12/14).

Drinks Industry Supplanting Government Role In Alcohol Policies In Sub-Saharan Africa

A recent comparison of proposed national alcohol policies in Lesotho, Malawi, Uganda, and Botswana shows that the drinks industry has assumed a significant and detrimental role in designing national alcohol policies in Sub-Saharan Africa. The policy drafts point to the alcohol industry's preferred version of a national alcohol policy, which includes letting the industry regulate its own marketing activities. In a study published in the January issue of the journal Addiction, researchers Г ystein Bakke and Dag Endal found that that alcohol policy documents from the four African countries were almost identical, and were likely based on a single source document that reflects alcohol industry interests. That source document originates from a series of alcohol policy initiatives in Sub-Saharan countries sponsored by multinational brewer SABMiller and the International Center on Alcohol Policies (ICAP), an alcohol industry-funded organisation. The proposed national alcohol policies emphasise the economic benefits of the alcohol trade and the positive health impacts from alcohol consumption.

Drug Users Know Their Stuff

Drug users are well informed about the harms associated with the drugs they use, and perceive alcohol and tobacco to be amongst the most dangerous substances, according to a survey by UCL (University College London) and Imperial College London researchers. The findings, published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, suggest that the current system of classifying psychoactive drugs in the UK may need to be revisited. The study, led by Dr Celia Morgan and Professor Valerie Curran at UCL, surveyed 1, 500 UK drug users via the website Drug users were asked to rate twenty psychoactive substances on a 'rational' scale previously developed by Professor David Nutt, Imperial College London, who collaborated on this study. Heroin, crack and cocaine topped the list in terms of harm, but alcohol was rated fifth, solvents seventh and tobacco ninth. Ecstasy came 13th in the harm rating, LSD 16th and cannabis 18th. Thus, the survey found no relationship between the drug's legal status, based on the current classification system, and users' ratings of harm.

British Festive Drinking Will Exceed 600 Million Units Of Alcohol

An alcohol awareness charity estimates that Britons will be consuming at least 602 million units of alcohol over the festive period in December: they say the equivalent of 265 million pints, 602 million shots of vodka or 286 million glasses of mulled wine will be drunk at work Christmas parties and on Christmas day, with nearly half of consumers predicting they will be drinking more than the recommended daily unit guidelines. These predictions are in a report released last week by UK-based alcohol awareness charity Drinkaware who commissioned market research specialists ICM to interview a random sample of over 2, 000 adults aged 18+ between 27th and 29th November to ask them about their festive drinking habits. The report suggests that: 1 in 7, or 14 per cent of adults in Britain generally drink more than they intend to over Christmas. 1 in 6, or 16 per cent, say that December is the one month of the year when they don't feel guilty when they drink. More than 1 in 3, or 36 per cent will be attending three or more festive events this month.

Adolescent Smokers Prone To Drug Abuse

It is common knowledge that smoking is a health risk but why do teens become addicted to smoking more easily than adults? In an evaluation for Faculty of 1000 Biology, Neil Grunberg looks into why adolescents are more prone to substance abuse. Grunberg describes the study, published by Natividad et al. in Synapse journal, as "fascinating" and suggests it "may have implications to help understand why adolescents are particularly prone to drug abuse". Nicotine increases the level of dopamine in the brain, a neurotransmitter that is responsible for feelings of pleasure and wellbeing. The study looked at dopamine levels in adolescent and adult rats after nicotine withdrawal. The authors found that the withdrawal signs (physical and neurochemical) seen in adolescent rats were fewer than those observed in adults. The study provides previously unknown mechanisms as to why there are differences in nicotine withdrawal between adolescent and adult rats. The key here, as stated by Grunberg, is "age alters [neurological] systems and interactions relevant to nicotine".

House Approves Omnibus Spending Bill; Senate Expected To Vote This Weekend

The House on Thursday approved an omnibus spending package that combines six of the seven remaining appropriations bills for fiscal year 2010 and removes restrictions related to abortion funding and needle-exchange programs in Washington, D.C., the Washington Post reports. The bill passed by a 221-202 vote, with 28 Democrats joining all 174 Republicans in opposing the measure (Pershing, Washington Post, 12/11). Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), the district's non-voting member of the House, said that removing the prohibition on the district's use of its own funds for abortion services for low-income women particularly was important because it "has created severe hardships" and "singled out the district and its women for unfair and unequal treatment." In addition, the omnibus bill would ease restrictions on needle-exchange programs designed to curb the spread of HIV among injection drug users (Urbina, New York Times, 12/11). The provision would allow federal funding for such programs except in locations "that public health or law enforcement agencies determine to be inappropriate" ( Women's Health Policy Report, 12/10).

Alcohol Consumption Increases Risk Of Breast Cancer Recurrence

Moderate to heavy consumption of alcoholic beverages (at least three to four drinks per week) is associated with a 1.3-fold increased risk of breast cancer recurrence. Women who are post-menopausal or overweight may be most susceptible to the effects of alcohol on recurrence. Drinking less than three drinks per week was not associated with an increased risk. Marilyn L. Kwan, Ph.D., staff scientist in the Division of Research at Kaiser Permanente, Oakland, Calif., presented detailed results of this study at the CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, held Dec. 9-13, 2009. Based on these findings, Kwan suggested, "women previously diagnosed with breast cancer should consider limiting their consumption of alcohol to less than three drinks per week, especially women who are postmenopausal and overweight or obese." Previous research has shown that consumption of alcohol is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, but there are limited studies to date about alcohol's role in patient prognosis and survival among those already diagnosed with breast cancer.

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