Tag Archives: University of Rochester

New Methods for Curbing Nausea of Chemotherapy

Ginger, a home remedy for helping an upset stomach, and a cocktail of anti-nausea drugs both reduced vomiting and sickness in cancer patients.

Chemotherapy could soon become less grueling.

Simply adding about half a teaspoon of ginger to food in the days before, during and after chemotherapy can reduce the often-debilitating side effects of nausea and vomiting, a large, randomized clinical trial has found. And a newer type of anti-nausea drug, when added to standard medications, can help prevent such side effects as well.

The ginger results will be presented this month at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting; the drug study was published this week in the Lancet Oncology journal.

The findings are significant, cancer experts say, because about 70% of chemotherapy patients experience nausea and vomiting — often severe — during treatment.

“Chemotherapy has come to be the thing cancer patients fear the most,” said Dr. Steven Grunberg, a professor of medicine at the University of Vermont and lead author of the study in the Lancet Oncology. “We’ve made a huge amount of progress, but we haven’t completely solved the problem.”

In the ginger study, 644 patients, most of them female, from 23 oncology practices nationwide received two standard anti-emetic medications at the time of chemotherapy. They also were given a capsule containing either 0.5 gram, 1 gram or 1.5 grams of ginger, or a placebo capsule. The patients took the capsules containing the placebo or ginger for three days before chemotherapy and three days after the treatment.

All of the patients receiving ginger experienced less nausea for four days after chemotherapy, said lead study author Julie L. Ryan of the University of Rochester Medical Center. Doses of 0.5 gram and 1 gram were most effective, reducing nausea by 40% compared with the patients on the placebo.

The study is the largest to examine the effect of ginger, already widely used as a home remedy for an upset stomach. One gram of ground ginger is equivalent to about 1/2 teaspoon. Ryan cautioned that some foods labeled as ginger, such as ginger ale or ginger cookies, may contain only ginger flavoring.

Researchers don’t know why ginger seems to help, Ryan said. But, she added: “There is other research showing it has a potent anti-inflammatory effect in the gut.”

In the study led by Grunberg, 810 patients were given two standard anti-nausea drugs, dexamethasone and ondansetron, that work by blocking a neural pathway in the brain that controls nausea. This two-drug regimen is most effective in preventing nausea and vomiting in the first 24 hours after chemotherapy.

One-third of the patients also received a one-day dose of the new drug, casopitant mesylate, while one-third received a three-day dose and one-third received a placebo.

Adding casopitant mesylate, the authors found, helped control symptoms in the so-called delayed phase of nausea that occurs beyond the first day after chemotherapy. Of patients receiving the standard two-drug regimen, 66% experienced no nausea or vomiting in the five days after chemotherapy, compared with 86% of patients taking a single dose of casopitant mesylate.

Casopitant mesylate probably adds extra relief from nausea because it acts on different nerve systems than the standard drugs, Grunberg said. Dexamethasone and ondansetron are in a class of drugs known as serotonin receptor antagonists; casopitant mesylate blocks the so-called NK1 pathway in the brain.

“NK1 antagonists work better for that later period,” Grunberg said. “This study reinforces the value of this family of anti-nausea agents.”

It also appears that the three-drug combination can be given on the day of chemotherapy without the need for additional doses, he said.

“That is a huge convenience for the patient, if we can give them all the drugs they will need for this period on the day they come to the clinic for chemotherapy,” Grunberg said. “Our whole goal is maintain the highest quality of life during chemotherapy.”

Sources: Los Angeles Times

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Parents Part, Kids Fall Short

Screening at school entry and timely intervention may help to overcome learning lapses in children affected by parental separation.

Separation from mum or dad may pose serious learning difficulties for young children, says new research.

Children are sometimes forced to live in single-parent households due to events such as matrimonial acrimony resulting in divorce of the parents or one parent living far away due to employment reasons.

Such children experience greater emotional, behavioural and developmental problems than others, say Sandra Jee and her colleagues at the School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Rochester, US. More importantly, these children begin formal education with certain handicaps, they write in the latest issue of the journal Ambulatory Pediatrics.

Taking a closer look at the impact of parental separation on developmental outcomes before school entry, Jee and the others studied 1,619 children entering school, 18 per cent of whom were separated from a parent for one month or longer. They found these children to have major problems associated particularly with learning and pre-literacy. Pre-literacy is defined as a child’s ability to carry on a brief conversation, react to a story session or familiarity with some of the alphabets and sounds that the letters make.

Children in countries like the US are routinely checked by healthcare providers before they enter kindergarten, and this makes it possible to screen and identify such potential learning difficulties, the scientists argue.

For their study the researchers asked the children’s parents to fill in details on the learning, expressive language and speech scales of their wards. They compared these observations with the demographic data they received from the medical practitioners attached to the schools to arrive at their conclusion.

The scientists feel that with one in every five children facing such problems, it is not an issue that can be brushed aside. Besides, with divorce rates rising and more and more parents moving to geographically different locations for various reasons, these issues should be addressed at the policy level.

The scientists feel it’s important for primary caregivers and schools to be aware of these risks, as early intervention might be suggested to families with young children starting formal education at such a disadvantage. Remedying the challenges may better equip the children to succeed. “Timely and proactive intervention may help to improve long-term educational and vocational deficits that these children may suffer,” observes Jee.

Sources: Tjhe Telegrasph (Kolkata, India)

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Video games could improve eyesight

NEW YORK: Playing video games that involve firing guns could improve eyesight, suggests a study….CLICK & SEE

Playing ‘Gears of War‘, ‘Lost Planet‘, ‘Halo‘ and other action video games can improve eyesight, say Daphne Bevelier of the University of Rochester and other researchers who conducted tests on 10 male college students.

The students started out as non-gamers and then received 30 hours of training on first-person shooter action video games, reports the online edition of FOX News.

The participants showed a substantial increase in their ability to see objects accurately in a cluttered space compared to 10 non-gamers given the same test.

Most aspects of vision have to do with the size of one’s eye and the thickness and shape of the cornea and lens. But some visual defects are neural in nature, said Bevelier, author of the latest study on vision and video games.

Source:The Times Of India

Fish Oil Linked to Lower Alzheimer’s Risk

A substance found in fish oil may be associated with a significantly reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other dementias, researchers reported.

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The scientists found that people with the highest blood levels of an omega-3 fatty acid called docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, were about half as likely to develop dementia as those with lower levels.

The substance is one of several omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids found in fatty fish and, in small amounts, in some meats. It is also sold in fish oil or DHA supplements. The researchers looked for a reduced risk associated with seven other omega-3 fatty acids, but only DHA had any effect.

The study, in the November issue of The Archives of Neurology, used data from the Framingham Heart Study to follow 899 initially healthy participants, with a median age of 76, for an average of more than nine years.

The scientists assessed DHA and fish intake using a questionnaire and obtained complete dietary data on more than half the subjects. They took blood samples from all the participants to determine serum levels of fatty acids.

Ninety-nine people developed dementia over the course of the study, including 71 cases of Alzheimer’s disease. The average level of DHA among all the participants was 3.6 percent of all fatty acids, and the top 25 percent of the population had values above 4.2 percent. People in this top one-quarter in DHA levels had a 47 percent reduced risk of developing dementia, even after controlling for body mass index, diabetes, hypertension, smoking status and other known or suspected risks. Risk reduction was apparent only at that top level of DHA — those in the bottom three-quarters in DHA level showed no detectable difference in risk.

People who ate two or more servings of fish a week reduced their risk for dementia by 39 percent, but there was no effect on the risk for dementia among those who ate less than that.

The finding that DHA alone reduces risk, the authors write, is consistent with earlier data showing high levels of DHA in healthy brain tissue and low levels in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Ernst J. Schaefer, the lead author of the study, was cautious in interpreting the results.

This study doesn’t prove that eating fish oil prevents dementia, he said. “Itâs an observational study that presents an identified risk factor, and the next step is a randomized placebo-controlled study in people who do not yet have dementia.” Dr. Schaefer is chief of the Lipid Metabolism Laboratory at Tufts University.

The study was financed in part by Martek, a concern that manufactures DHA, and one author received a grant from Pfizer, France.

Eating fish is not a guarantee of having high levels of DHA. In fact, fish intake accounted for less than half of the variability in DHA levels. Other dietary intake and genetic propensities probably account for the rest. Dr. Schaefer pointed out that the kind of fish consumed is important. Fatty fish, he said, is best, and frying will cause DHA to deteriorate.

Supplements may be an additional source of DHA, but an editorial in the same issue, by Dr. Martha Clare Morris, an associate professor of medicine at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, points out that there are no published human studies of the effects of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation. The Food and Drug Administration does not endorse DHA or fish oil capsules, but recognizes doses of up to 3 grams a day of fish oil as generally safe. High intakes of fish oil can cause excessive bleeding in some people.

Dr. Morris writes that there are few human studies examining the effect of mercury intake from eating seafood, and it is not known if the risks of eating fish outweigh the benefits.

But, she adds, epidemiological studies consistently show positive health effects from fish consumption on mortality, cardiovascular risk factors and, now, dementia

Source:The New York Times

Fish eating

FISH and other SEAFOOD can play an important role in a good diet. Because fish are high in protein but low in unhealthy fats, they make a great alternative to red meat. Fish are a good source of vitamins and minerals Fish has an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which may protect against coronary heart disease and stroke, and are thought to aid in the neurological development of unborn babies,” said Joshua Cohen, lead author and senior research associate at the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis at HSPH.

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It is recomended that eating fish(particularly fatty fish) atleast two times a week is very good for health. Fatty fish like mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon are high in two kinds of omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Two new studies give one more reason to eat a diet rich in fish: prevention of age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in old age .

Even though the world’s fish contain slight amounts of mercury, eating lots of fish carries no detectable health risk from low levels of the substance, even for very young children and pregnant women, concludes the most comprehensive study of the subject yet.

The findings come from a nine-year University of Rochester study conducted in the Republic of the Seychelles, an island nation in the Indian Ocean where most people eat nearly a dozen fish meals each week and whose mercury levels are about 10 times higher than most U.S. citizens. Indeed, no harmful effects were seen in children at levels up to 20 times the average U.S. level. The work is published in the August 26 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association 2005.

Who should choose their fish carefully?
Too much mercury and PCBs can cause health problems for anyone. Because they alter the way young brains develop, these pollutants can harm babies and children most of all. Both mercury and PCBs linger in the body and build up over time. They can pass from a pregnant woman or a nursing mother to her baby.

It’s especially important for all children under 15, teenage girls, and women who are pregnant or could get pregnant to avoid eating fish that have high levels of mercury or PCBs

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