Tags: Blood | Pressure | Insulin | Pill | Pot | and | Infertility

Blood Pressure, Insulin Pill, Pot and Infertility, More

Saturday, 02 September 2006 12:00 AM

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Long Work Hours Linked to High Blood Pressure
2. New Insulin Options May Replace Injections
3. Teens Get New Cholesterol Screening System
4. Smoking Marijuana Causes Infertility
5. Carpal Tunnel May Warn of Diabetes
6. Erase Wrinkles for Life
7. Simple Stretch Heals Heel


1. Long Work Hours Linked to High Blood Pressure

Americans who work long hours each week may be increasing their risk of developing high blood pressure, according to a new study published in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Researchers surveyed 24,205 working adults between the ages 18 and 64 in California. Compared to people who worked 11 to 19 hours per week, risk of high blood pressure was 14 percent higher for those who worked 40 hours and 17 percent higher for those who worked 41 to 50 hours per week. People who worked 51 hours or more each week were 1.29 times more likely to have hypertension than those who worked 11 to 39 hours.

The type of work people do also influences their risk. The study found that compared to professionals, clerical workers were 23 percent more likely to suffer from high blood pressure and risk for unskilled workers was 50 percent higher.

"It has been suggested that there is an association between long work hours and the risk of hypertension in studies of Japanese workers," said Dean Baker, M.D., M.P.H., senior author of the study and director of the Center for Occupational and Environmental Health at the University of California in Irvine. "However, this association had not yet been examined in American workers."

Baker described the study results as "a highly relevant finding," given that in this country, people work longer hours than in any other industrialized nation, including Japan. "We're essentially becoming a nation of workaholics," he said.

Work stress, age, male gender, lifetime cigarette use, diabetes, a sedentary lifestyle, and lower income are additional factors that correlate with higher risk for hypertension. Weight control through regular exercise and a healthy diet, without refined foods and chemical additives, can correct and prevent hypertension without medications.

Source: Journal of the American Heart Association

2. New Insulin Options May Replace Injections

New options are on the horizon that will free diabetics from the pain of needle pricks. Pfizer's insulin inhaler called Exubera is set to hit the market in September to join Generex's Oral-lyn. They both deliver a fast-acting dry powder through the mouth and into the lungs with effectiveness similar to injections.

Diabetics who have breathing problems, are smokers, or are pregnant can't use the breakthrough drugs, but other means for delivering insulin effectively and painlessly may be just around the corner.

There are two types of diabetes: Type 1 diabetes is often diagnosed early in life when the body stops producing insulin. Type 1 diabetics rely solely on insulin injections to control their disease. Type 2 diabetes usually develops in adults and accounts for more than 90 percent of all cases.

Type 2 diabetics still make some insulin and their disease can often be controlled by pills that help them make use of the insulin their body produces, or by diet. After many years, their ability to produce insulin often deteriorates and they, too, become dependent on shots.

Generex is developing an insulin chewing gum, and Oramed Pharmaceuticals is set to begin Phase 1 clinical trials of an oral insulin pill. Unlike inhaled insulin, which is absorbed by the lungs, the insulin pill would work in the body more like naturally-produced insulin since it would be absorbed through the blood stream after passing through the liver.

Scientists believe a pill could eventually be effective for all diabetics including those that have breathing problems, are smokers or are pregnant, and could completely replace painful insulin injections.

3. Teens Get New Cholesterol Screening System

New criteria for identifying abnormal cholesterol levels in teenagers promise to predict future risk of heart disease more accurately, according to a new study published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Existing guidelines for teen cholesterol screening were established in 1992. "Right now, cut-points to determine which teens have high-risk blood cholesterol and fat levels don't take into account age," said study co-author Ian Janssen, Ph.D., a researcher at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. "This is problematic since, as adolescents age, blood cholesterol levels that place them at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease in adulthood change naturally."

To create a more accurate system for identifying teens at risk, the researchers used total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglyceride measurements of more than 6,000 people between the ages of 12 and 20. The information was gathered between 1988 and 2002.

Researchers developed age- and gender-specific growth curves similar to the ones used to monitor height and weight patterns in children and adolescents. The curves were then linked to adult blood cholesterol and fat levels that are believed to predict cardiovascular risk.

The new system aims to help a pediatrician assess a teen's cholesterol levels and determine if that teen is likely to have high-risk cholesterol levels as an adult. According to federal guidelines, adolescents should be screened for abnormal cholesterol if their parents have abnormal cholesterol or their family has a history of heart disease before age 55.

Other research has shown that conventional cholesterol screening is not a reliable measure of cardiovascular risk. A specific type of "bad" or LDL cholesterol made up of small, dense molecules and known as very low-density lipoprotein, or VLDL, has been shown to be a more accurate predictor of heart disease. Tests for VLDL are not routinely used but are available if requested by patients.

Source: Journal of the American Heart Association

4. Smoking Marijuana Causes Infertility

Smoking marijuana in early pregnancy can cause infertility. A study at Vanderbilt University found that marijuana influences a signal that helps embryos pass safely from the ovary to the lining of the uterus.

Investigators found that when mice were given tetrahydrocannabinol, the major active component of marijuana, the embryos failed. They speculated that the chemical caused a fatty acid deficiency triggering a breakdown in the signaling system and making the embryo miss the crucial window for implantation in the uterus.

"We have shown before if you tinker with the normal timing of implantation in the uterus, it can create adverse ripple effects throughout the course of pregnancy leading to compromised pregnancy outcome," said Dr. Sudhansu Dey of Vanderbilt University. Now the scientists are learning what happens on the molecular level that influences implantion.

"The take-home message would be, if you have fertility problems and you are smoking either marijuana or tobacco cigarettes, stop," said Herbert Schuel, professor emeritus of anatomy and cell biology in the School of Medicine at the University of New York at Buffalo. "The same kinds of effects are produced by nicotine and tobacco smokers."

5. Carpal Tunnel May Warn of Diabetes

The pain and numbness that signal carpal tunnel syndrome may also be a signal that diabetes is in your future. Doctors have known for years that Type 2 diabetics have a higher risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome, but they wondered whether those in the pre-diabetes stage were likewise more at risk for the syndrome.

Carpal tunnel syndrome develops when the median nerve, which runs from the arm down into the hand, is squeezed as it passes though a narrow opening – or tunnel – in the wrist. The pressure causes tingling, numbness and pain that can extend all the way to the elbow.

British researchers studied the medical records of 644,495 patients. They found 2,647 people with pre-diabetes who later developed the disease and compared them with a "control" group of 5,300 non-diabetics. They reviewed the records of both groups for up to 10 years and found that those in the pre-diabetic group were 36 percent more likely to have been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome in the past that the non-diabetics. Pre-diabetics were also more likely to have had Bell's facial palsy.

Dr. Martin C. Guilliford of King's College in London who led the study said that high blood sugar levels and other metabolic abnormalities in pre-diabetics may be affecting the body many years before Type 2 diabetes is diagnosed.

Sources: Medscape. Arthritis.ca, Lifescan

6. Erase Wrinkles for Life

A single injection of a new "permanent filler" called ArteFill could erase wrinkles for the rest of your life. Plastic surgeons have been making wrinkles vanish for 25 years by using products called "soft tissue fillers" such as collagen or Restylane. They fill in wrinkles such as the nasolabial folds that run from the edges of the nostrils to the corners of the mouth and are known as smile lines. Even the best of the treatments now available are expensive and only last from six months to a year.

ArteFill is different. While other fillers are made of animal or human collagen or hyaluronic acid, they are absorbed by the body in a few months. ArteFill, however, is made of microspheres of polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA), the most common material used in implants. It won't be absorbed by the body over time and the manufacturer says it will also keep other wrinkles from forming.

ArteFill, which is waiting for approval from the Food and Drug Administration, is anticipated to cost about 50 percent more than Restylane, which usually runs $500 to $600 per syringe or cc.

7. Simple Stretch Heals Heel

Plantar fasciitis, the excruciating pain that jolts through your heel as soon as your foot hits the floor in the morning, can be treated with a simple stretching exercise that's 75 percent effective in eliminating pain.

The condition, also known as heel spur syndrome, affects almost 2.5 million Americans. It's often treated with pain medications, custom shoe inserts, steroids, and an exercise that stretches the Achilles tendon. In some patients, the condition is so debilitating they resort to surgery, even though the recovery period is prolonged with only a 50 percent chance of eliminating pain and regaining full activity.

A study followed 82 patients with plantar fasciitis for two years. They were taught a new exercise that targets the plantar fascia, a band of tissue that reaches from the heel bone to the toes and supports the arch. Patients stretched the plantar fascia by sitting with one leg crossed over the other, then taking one hand and pulling their toes back towards their shin for a count of 10.

The exercise must done 10 times before stepping out of bed in the morning and after a long period of standing or sitting. It must be repeated throughout the day for a total at least three times. The exercise reduced pain and limitations in activity in over 90 percent of patients.

The study found that 75 percent of patients performing the stretch were pain-free and had returned to full activity within three to six months, and also had a 75 percent chance of not needing further treatment.

"Plantar faciitis is everywhere, but we really haven't had a good handle on it," said Bendict DiGiovanni, MD, associate professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of Rochester and author of the study. "We needed to optimize non-operative treatments prior to considering surgical options – and if you look at the numbers, we've succeeded."

Sources: Medical News Service, Mayo Clinic


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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):1. Long Work Hours Linked to High Blood Pressure 2. New Insulin Options May Replace Injections 3. Teens Get New Cholesterol Screening System 4. Smoking Marijuana Causes Infertility 5. Carpal Tunnel May Warn of...
Saturday, 02 September 2006 12:00 AM
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