Science and Medicine

Focusing on Immediate Health Effects May Improve Weight Loss

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“Our study results challenge people to rethink the way they structure weight loss programs.”

CINCINNATI—Most weight loss programs try to motivate individuals with warnings of the long-term health consequences of obesity: increased risk for cancer, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and asthma. New research suggests the immediate health benefits—such as reduced pain—may be the most effective motivator for helping obese individuals shed extra weight and commit to keeping it off.
 
In a pilot research study, University of Cincinnati (UC) researchers found that 21 percent of participants in a local dietary weight loss program reported significantly less pain in the lower extremities and back after losing an average of 10 pounds. Additionally, study participants reported a 20 to 30 percent reduction in overall bodily pain after weight loss.
 
Researchers say their results indicate that even small weight loss can relieve pain and reduce the burden excessive weight puts on the musculoskeletal system.
 
“By focusing on an immediate benefit that can be felt—like pain reduction—instead of the future health impact of obesity, weight loss programs may be able to inspire overweight individuals to lose weight,” said Susan Kotowski, PhD, study collaborator and director of the Gait and Movement Analysis Laboratory in the UC College of Allied Health Sciences.

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Major Breakthrough Made in Cancer Treatment

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RNA and DNA sequencing of a tumor to aid in clinical decision making and therapeutic choice

VANCOUVER, British Columbia—Researchers at the BC Cancer Agency Genome Sciences Centre have provided the first published example of genome-scale RNA and DNA sequencing of a tumor to aid in clinical decision making and therapeutic choice.

Published recently in the journal Genome Biology, the research focuses on a rare tumor of the tongue, which had progressed to metastatic disease. The rarity of this tumor meant that no established treatment options existed. Analysis of the complete genomic sequence allowed the comprehensive discovery of the genetic changes that had accumulated within the tumor. From this information, a personalized drug regime was initiated, which stabilized the aggressive cancer for several months.

“Utilizing a complete map of the molecular changes within a tumor in a clinical setting represents a world first in the application of this technology,” said Dr. Steven Jones, associate director of the Genome Sciences Centre and professor, Simon Fraser University. “It ushers in the era of personalized medicine in oncology, whereby therapies will be tailored precisely to the genetic make-up of the tumor. I anticipate that in the not too distant future nearly all patient tumors will be characterized in this way as a matter of course.”

While still in a preliminary stage, this approach is of particular relevance for rarer tumor types, where there are no established treatment protocols.

“This is an important advancement in cancer treatment. Genome sequencing has the ability to help guide clinical decisions offering personalized treatment strategies, and improve the quality of life of people living with cancer in B.C.,” said Dr. David Levy, president, BC Cancer Agency, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority.

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British Researchers Warn Medical Tourists of New Superbug

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A new gene that allows any bacteria to become a superbug, and scientists are warning this type of drug resistance could soon appear worldwide.

Medical tourism has become a multi-billion dollar industry. It is difficult to get exact figures but it is estimated that 1.3 million Americans traveled outside the United States for healthcare services in 2008. That number is expected to double in 2010.

Now a new warning from the National Health Services (NHS) in England has been published in British medical journals. Researchers for the prestigious Lancet Infectious Diseases report that a bacteria that makes an enzyme called NDM-1 has been found in patients who went abroad for medical procedures.

The infection is especially prevalent in patients who went to India or Pakistan, which are popular destinations with Europeans for cosmetic surgery procedures.

Fear that NDM-1 may go global

Although only about 50 cases have been reported in Britain, scientists fear that NDM-1 has the potential to go global quickly. Cases have been reported in the United States, Canada and the Netherlands.

NDM-1 can exist inside different bacteria such as E.coli. Researchers now believe that that NDM-1 can also jump to other bacteria strains that have already been found to be resistant to antibiotics. At least one strain of NDM-1 was found to be resistant to all known antibiotics.

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