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Facebook helped boost organ donor registration

Raising awareness of organ donation on social media websites can help boost donation rates, according to a new study. Facebook began allowing users to make their status as organ donors visible in their profiles in May 2012, and on the first day of the change, about 13,000 people in the U.S. registered to become organ donors 20 times more than the average number of daily registrations. The effect of the social media initiative on its first day varied across states, ranging from a seven-fold increase in registrations in Michigan, to 100-fold increase in Georgia, the results showed. The findings mean that social media might be an effective tool for encouraging organ donation, as well as tackling other public health problems in which communication and education are essential, the researchers said. Our research speaks to on-going efforts to address the organ availability crisis in the United States. It also suggests that social media and social networks may be valuable tools in re-approaching refractory public health problems, said study researcher Dr. Andrew Cameron, the surgical director of liver transplantation at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. Today, more than 118,500 people in the U.S. are on the waiting list for organs, and one name is added to the list every ten minutes, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. On average, 18 people die every day waiting for an organ. Despite countless previous efforts, organ donation rates in the United States have not grown, while need for transplants has risen dramatically. Therefore, new efforts are needed to boost organ donation through public education, the researchers said. The Facebook initiative t let users add their organ-donation status to the timeline for their friends and family to see. It also directed people to the official organ donation registry websites of their states. The results showed high registration rates following the Facebook initiative, compared with usual rates at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The boost may stem from the fact that people are more open to making decisions about sensitive and difficult topics when they are in an environment “amongst friends,” compared with the environment at the DMV, the researchers said. However, after the initial spike, registration rates diminished over the following weeks. The researchers said this shows more work is needed to find ways to sustain the increase. “The next challenge for efforts like the organ donor initiative will be utilization of social media applications like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram more effectively and more durably,” the researchers wrote in the study, which was published today (June 18) in the American Journal of Transplantation. Copyright 2013 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.source : http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/06/18/facebook-helped-boost-organ-donor-registration/

Depression treatments: Brain scans may suggest best course

For people with depression, brain activity can predict whether talk therapy or medication will better relieve their symptoms, a new study suggests. In the study, published June 12 in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, people whose brain scans showed an overactive insula, a brain region involved in emotional processing, tended to improve with medication, but not talk therapy, whereas the reverse was true for those with an underactive insula. The study was small and the findings are preliminary. But if the results are confirmed in a larger trial, the technique could be used to help guide treatment decisions for people with depression, the researchers said. An evaluation of a depression patient, in a doctor's office, “doesn't really help us to know very well whether they should receive talk therapy or a medication,” said study co-author Dr. Boadie Dunlop, a psychiatrist at Emory University in Atlanta. But the new findings, “based on the activity of the brain, that could help us pick the best treatment for an individual,” he said. Poor success Depression treatments such as talk therapy or medication have a poor success rate, with only 40 percent of people typically seeing their symptoms resolve with the first treatment, Dunlop said. Spending two to three months on ineffective treatments can lead to lost productivity, higher risk of suicide, and continued suffering for patients and their families. [Where is the Suicide Belt?] To see whether there was a way to identify the best treatment for patients, Dunlop and his colleagues measured the brain activity of 82 patients with major depression using positron emission tomography (PET) scans. Afterward, they randomly assigned the participants to receive 12 weeks of a common antidepressant escitalopram (brand name Lexapro), or 12 weeks of cognitive behavioral therapy, a talk therapy that has been shown to improve depression. Of the original cohort, 67 people completed the study. Afterward, the researchers assessed the roughly 40 percent of people who were completely free of depression, as well as the approximately 25 percent who had hardly improved at all. (About 35 percent of people improved somewhat, but not enough to be considered symptom-free.) They found that people with an overactive brain region called the insula improved dramatically on medication, but not at all with talk therapy. People with an underactive insula improved with cognitive behavioral therapy, but not with medication, according to the study. Dunlop said that the people who improved somewhat showed the same trends, but to a lesser extent. Future applications It's not clear exactly why the insula, which processes bodily experiences of emotion, predicted people's response to treatment, but past studies had shown it was tied to depression, Dunlop said. The new research is based on a small number of people and must be confirmed in a larger trial, Richard Shelton, a psychiatrist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, wrote in an email to LiveScience. In addition, Shelton noted that PET scans are expensive, costing about $1,500. They also involve low doses of radiation. “In an age of cost-containment, it seems unlikely that every person with depression entering treatment would undergo a brain scan first to guide treatment selection,” said Shelton, who was not involved in the study. But if the findings are confirmed, it would raise the possibility that PET scans could be used in some circumstances, to determine treatments for the patients with certain needs, Dunlop said. Copyright 2013 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.source : http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/06/13/depression-treatments-brain-scans-may-suggest-best-course/

Restless legs syndrome linked to higher risk of early death

Men who suffer from restless legs syndrome may not live as long as those without the condition, according to a new study. The study found that men with restless legs syndrome (RLS) were nearly 40 percent more likely to die over the eight-year study, compared to men without RLS. When the researchers excluded from their analysis men with major chronic conditions such as cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure, those with RLS were 92 percent more likely to die over the study period. “The results of this study indicate that men with RLS had a higher overall mortality,” the researchers wrote in their study. However, the study shows an association, not a cause-and-effect link between having RLSand an increased risk of dying, and the researchers said that it is not known how RLS might increase the mortality risk. In the study, deaths among men with RLS were frequently due to respiratory disease, endocrine disease, metabolic disease and immunologic disorders. Further research is needed to understand the relationship between these diseases and RLS, the researchers said. RLS is a bothersome chronic condition that affects 5 to 10 percent of adults. Patients have an irresistible urge to move the legs, and often experience burning and creeping sensations that are described as “an itch you can't scratch,” or “like insects crawling inside the legs.” In the study, researchers looked at 18,425 men, whose average age was 67, including 700 who were diagnosed with RLS. During an eight-year follow-up, 2,765 of the men died. Among the men with RLS, 25 percent died during the study, compared with 15 percent of those who did not have RLS. The researchers also found that men with RLS were more likely to use antidepressant drugs, had more insomnia complaints, and were more likely to have high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and Parkinson's disease. However, controlling for these factors didn't change the results, they said. The link between RLS and higher risk of death was not related to other common risk factors such as smoking, older age, low physical activity and lack of sleep. Moreover, men who had conditions such as high blood pressure, cancer or insomnia, had a further increased risk of death if they had RLS too, according to the study. The study was published online June 12 in the journal Neurology. Some of the researchers who worked on the study have received money from pharmaceutical companies that make drugs used to treat restless legs syndrome. “Increasing awareness of RLS, especially training for health professions, should be encouraged if our findings are confirmed by future studies,” the researchers said. Copyright 2013 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.source : http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/06/12/restless-legs-syndrome-linked-to-higher-risk-early-death/

Infections linked to mood disorders

Infections and autoimmune disorders may increase the risk of developing a mood disorder such as depression later in life, a new study from Denmark suggests. In the study, which included more than 3 million people, those who were hospitalized for infections were 62 percent more likely to subsequently develop a mood disorder compared with people not hospitalized for infections. And those hospitalized for an autoimmune disease were 45 percent more likely to subsequently develop a mood disorder. Autoimmune diseases are those in which the immune system goes awry and attacks the body's own cells or tissues. The risk of mood disorders increased with the number of times a person was hospitalized. Those who were hospitalized three times with infections during the study had double the risk of a mood disorder, and those who were hospitalized seven times had triple the risk, compared to those not hospitalized with infections. The findings support the hypothesis that inflammation, from either an infection or autoimmune disease, may affect the brain in a way that raises the risk of mood disorders, the researchers say. If the link is confirmed in further studies, the researchers said, their estimates show that infections could be responsible for up to 12 percent of mood disorders. However, the study found an association, and cannot prove that infections or autoimmune diseases are the cause of mood disorders. It's possible that other factors, such as stress or the experience of hospitalization, may explain the link, said Ian Gotlib, a professor of psychology at Stanford University, who was not involved in the study. The study is published June 12 in the journal JAMA Psychiatry. Infections and mood disorders The study included people born in Denmark between 1945 and 1996 who were followed until the end of 2010. During the study, more than 91,000 people visited a hospital for a mood disorder, including bipolar disorder or depression. Of these, about 32 percent visited hospitals for an infection before their mood disorder, and 5 percent visited the hospital for an autoimmune disease before their mood disorder. The risk of a mood disorder was greatest in the first year following an infection or autoimmune disease. People who visited a hospital for both an infection and an autoimmune disease had a greater risk of developing a mood disorder than those who visited a hospital for either of the two conditions alone. This may indicate the two conditions interact to increase the risk of mood disorder, the researchers said. Because the study looked at information from only people hospitalized with infections, autoimmune disorders and mood disorders, its not clear whether the findings may apply to people with less severe infections, or mood disorders. What's the cause? Gotlib called the study “impressive” and said it raises important questions. Previous studies have shown that people with depression have lower numbers of T cells (a type of immune cell), and are at increased risk for autoimmune diseases, Gotlib said. But there are also many other risk factors for mood disorders that were not taken into account in this study, such as smoking and socioeconomic status, Gotlib said. Future studies should attempt to untangle whether infections are really the cause of mood disorders, or if the two just happen to occur together. In addition, studies should investigate how, on a biological level, infections and autoimmune diseases might affect the brain to cause mood disorders, Gotlib said. Copyright 2013 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.source : http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/06/12/infections-linked-to-mood-disorders/

Most childhood cancer survivors have health problems in adulthood

Nearly all childhood cancer survivors have at least one chronic health condition by the time they reach middle age, a new study suggests. In the study, 95 percent of childhood cancer survivors had a chronic health problem such as hearing loss, heart valve abnormalities, lung problems, memory problems or new cancers by age 45. (For comparison, about 38 percent of adults in the general population who are ages 35 to 64 have at least one chronic health condition). While some cancer survivors in the study had no symptoms from these problems, about 80 percent had a life-threatening, serious or disabling condition, the study found. Considering that participants in the study were relatively young (the average age was 32), the prevalence of disorders typically associated with old age was particularly striking, researchers said. Those disorders include cataracts (15 percent), nerve pain (20 percent) and cognitive impairment (35 percent). These findings suggest that in some cases, cancer treatment may accelerate aging, the researchers said. The findings underscore the need for doctors to monitor childhood cancer survivors for conditions that could cause significant health problems if not detected early, the researchers said. Physicians should check for new cancers, heart disease and additional problems that can be improved with treatment, such as vision deficits. Childhood cancer survivors should be aware of the treatment they had when they were younger so that their doctors can order appropriate screening tests, said study researcher Kirsten Ness, of the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis. Some survivors may be able to reduce their risk of certain health conditions. For instance, cancer survivors who are at risk for high blood pressure or blood fat levels may be able to reduce their risk of these conditions by following a healthy lifestyle (eating healthy foods, exercising and not smoking), Ness said. Childhood cancer, adult health Some cancer treatments may increase the risk of adult health problems because the treatments damage normal tissue in addition to cancer cells, Ness said. Most previous studies of childhood cancer survivors asked participants about their health problems, but did not evaluate them with a medical exam. These studies thus likely underestimated the prevalence of chronic conditions. In the new study, 1,713 childhood cancer survivors underwent a battery of medical tests such as measurements of blood pressure, blood glucose levels, resting heart rate, heart electrical activity and thyroid function. Some participants, who were considered “at risk” for certain conditions because of the type of cancer treatment they had received in childhood, were also screened with more specific tests, such as mammograms to detect breast cancer among women who underwent chest radiation. In these “at risk” survivors, lung problems were diagnosed in 65 percent of patients, hormone problems involving the hypothalamus and pituitary gland were diagnosed in 61 percent, heart abnormalities were diagnosed in 56 percent, and cognitive impairment, including memory problems, was diagnosed in 48 percent. Participants were survivors of childhood leukemia, lymphoma and tumors of the brain, bone and other organs. Future research Not all of the health problems detected by the tests were noticeable in everyday life. For instance, although tests showed that leukemia survivors who had received radiation experienced impaired memory, their ability to hold a job and carry out daily activities was not affected. Future research will be needed to examine how this problem, and other problems that don't show symptoms, progress over time, the researchers said. Additional studies should attempt to determine which factors predispose childhood cancer survivors to the conditions seen in the study, the researchers said. The study was published June 12 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Copyright 2013 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.source : http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/06/11/most-childhood-cancer-survivors-have-health-problems-in-adulthood/

6 sex supplements contain hidden drugs, FDA warns

The Food and Drug Administration is cracking down on sex supplements again, warning the public on Monday about six products that were found to contain hidden drugs. The names of the tainted products are: Reload, Get It Up, Super Cheetah, Cave Diver, Nights to Remember and X Zen Platinum. All of the products are marketed for sexual enhancement, and sold on various websites and in some retail stores, the FDA said. All of the products were found to contain the drug sildenafil (sold under the brand name Viagra), and one was found to contain tadalafil (brand name Cialis). Sildenafil and tadalafil are prescription drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction. Sex supplements are not allowed to contain prescription drugs, and the drugs are not included on the products' labels. Undeclared drugs in supplements are dangerous because consumers ingest these drugs without being told about their risks. Sildenafil and tadalafil can cause adverse reactions, including dangerously low blood pressure, if taken along with other prescription drugs that contain nitrates, the FDA says. (Some drugs prescribed to treat chest pain and heart disease contain nitrates.) Consumers who take the products listed in today's warnings should stop using them immediately, and throw them away, the FDA says. Last month, the FDA recalled two sex supplements, called Vicerex and Black Ant, because the products contained sildenafil and tadalafil. Earlier this year, the FDA warned consumers that several other sexual enhancement supplements contained undeclared drugs. Because the FDA is unable to test and identify all tainted sexual enhancement products, consumers should exercise caution before buying any products in this category, the agency said. Copyright 2013 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.source : http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/06/10/6-sex-supplements-contain-hidden-drugs-fda-warns/

US births remain steady in 2012

The number of babies born yearly in the United States appears to be leveling off, after declining for the last few years, a new report says. In 2012, there were 3,958,000 babies born in the United States, according to early estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That's about the same as the number of births in 2011, the report says. The number of U.S. births has been decline since 2007, when a record-breaking 4,316,233 babies were born —more births than at the height of the baby boom in the 1950s. But the downward trend slowed between 2010 and 2011, and “essentially flattened” between 2011 and 2012, the report says. The country's birth rate has followed a similar trend, peaking in 2007 at 69.3 births per 1,000 women, and declining until 2011, after which it stabilized. In 2012, there were 63.2 births per 1,000 women between ages 15 and 44, essentially the same as the rate in 2011, the report says. The report is published June 6 by the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics. Copyright 2013 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.source : http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/06/06/us-births-remain-steady-in-2012/

Women willing to delay antibiotics for UTIs

More women than previously thought may be willing to delay taking antibiotics to treat a urinary tract infection in order to reduce the potentially unneeded use of antibiotics, a new Dutch study shows. More than one-third of women in the study with UTI symptoms said they were willing to wait a week to see if the infection would improve on its own before starting antibiotics. And more than 70 percent of the women who didn't use antibiotics for a week showed improvements or had their symptoms disappear completely, according to the study published May 30 in the journal BMC Family Practice. UTIs are more common in women than men, and are caused by E. coli bacteria in 80 to 90 percent of cases. The standard treatment for UTIs is a few days of antibiotic treatment, but the increasing emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria has become a serious concern, experts say. “To counteract this increasing resistance, the use of antibiotics should be limited in healthy patients who can also be cured without them,” study researcher Dr. Bart Knottnerus, from the University of Amsterdam said in an email. Studies show that when patients have UTI symptoms, most often, antibiotic treatment is started before the results of urine cultures, which look for the presence of bacteria, are known. “In fact, a culture is seldom done. Instead, the probability of a positive culture is estimated by asking questions and performing urine investigations,” Knottnerus said. “Since no test is perfect, some patients without UTI will get antibiotics, and some patients with UTI will not.” In the study, 137 patients were asked by their doctor to delay antibiotic treatment for one week. Fifty-one women were willing to wait. After one week, 28 of those women had still not used antibiotics and 20 of them reported clinical improvement. None of the participating women developed kidney infection, according to the study. Kidney infection is a serious condition that can occur if a UTI is left untreated, and needs a more aggressive antibiotic treatment. The researchers say that bladder infections seldom progress to the kidneys. “If a kidney infection occurs in a healthy woman, she can be cured by antibiotics,” Knottnerus said. “But to make sure that these antibiotics will still be effective in the future, it is important to limit their use in mild infections (like bladder infections).” It is important that women with UTI symptoms be monitored by a doctor if they choose to delay antibiotics. “If a woman gets ill (fever, shivering, flank pain), the infection may be progressing to the kidney,” Knottnerus said. Previous studies have shown that in somecases, patients recover from UTIs within a week without taking antibiotics. Knottnerus said the reason is that they either didn't have a UTI, or didn't need antibiotics to cure it. The body's defense mechanisms are often strong enough to fend off infections without any help from antibiotics, he said. Dr. Timothy Jenkins, assistant professor at the Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Colorado, said about the new study: “Progressive antibiotic resistance in bacteria is a major problem in the United States and worldwide, so it is very important that we develop novel strategies to reduce antibiotic use, such as the one proposed in this study.” Jenkins noted that antibiotic use in the Netherlands is extremely low, whereas antibiotic use in the United States is quite high. “Therefore, whether this study is applicable to women in the U.S. where the societal expectation for antibiotics is greater is not known,” he said. New guidelines published last week, from the Dutch College of General Practitioners, support the advice to delay antibiotic treatment for uncomplicated urinary tract infections, the researchers said. Copyright 2013 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.source : http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/06/04/women-willing-to-delay-antibiotics-for-utis/