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Tue, 29 Nov 2022
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Health & Wellness


Language centers revealed, brain surgery refined with new mapping

Neurosurgeons from the University of California, San Francisco are reporting significant results of a new brain mapping technique that allows for the safe removal of tumors near language pathways in the brain. The technique minimizes brain exposure and reduces the amount of time a patient must be awake during surgery.

Perhaps even more profound, the study provides new data that refines scientists' understanding of how language is organized within the human cortex. It identifies new regions involved in speech production, reading and naming. The team used this data to generate a three-dimensional cortical language map that is more detailed and integrates more data than any language map of the brain ever generated.

Magic Wand

The risk of osteoarthritis and index to ring finger length ratio

Study associates shorter second than fourth digit with independent risk for knee osteoarthritis, especially among women

Index to ring finger length ratio (2D:4D) is a trait known for its sexual differences. Men typically have shorter second than fourth digits; in women, these fingers tend to be about equal in length. Smaller 2D:4D ratios have intriguing hormonal connections, including higher prenatal testosterone levels, lower estrogen concentrations, and higher sperm counts. Reduction in this ratio has also been linked to athletic and sexual prowess. Whether this trait affects the risk of osteoarthritis (OA), a progressive joint disease associated with both physical activity and estrogen deficiency, has not been examined. Until recently.


MRI techniques evolving towards better assessment of liver fibrosis

MRI imagery is emerging as a non-invasive way to determine the existence and extent of hepatic fibrosis. It could eventually help the development of pharmacologic strategies to combat the condition. These findings are in the January issue of Hepatology, a journal published by John Wiley & Sons on behalf of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD). The article is also available online at Wiley Interscience.

Currently, the best way to assess hepatic fibrosis is liver biopsy; however, it is an invasive procedure that can cause serious side effects. Researchers have been studying less invasive techniques, such as blood tests and imaging strategies like ultrasound, but so far, they have not proven sensitive enough to detect the various stages of fibrosis.

Over the past decade, a number of technological advances have been made in magnetic resonance (MR) imaging of the liver. Researchers led by Jayant Talwalkar of the Mayo Clinic, examined the current state of MR imaging and the studies that looked at its utility in detecting liver fibrosis.


Colon cancer risk traced to common ancestor

A married couple who sailed to America from England around 1630 are the reason why thousands of people in the United States are at higher risk of a hereditary form of colon cancer, researchers said on Wednesday.

Using a genetic fingerprint, a U.S. team traced back a so-called founder genetic mutation to the couple found among two large families currently living in Utah and New York.


ER Docs Give Whites Narcotics More Often

Emergency room doctors are prescribing strong narcotics more often to patients who complain of pain, but minorities are less likely to get them than whites, a new study finds. Even for the severe pain of kidney stones, minorities were prescribed narcotics such as oxycodone and morphine less frequently than whites.


Tone-deaf? It'll show in your brain

A study by researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute gives new meaning to the expression "thick in the head."

The researchers discovered those who are tone-deaf possess more grey matter in some areas of their brain than those who are able to enjoy music.

"Specifically, we found that tone-deaf individuals had a thicker cortex in particular brain regions known to be involved in auditory and musical processing," said Krista Hyde, a research fellow at the MNI and the lead author of the study.


The Truth About Deadly 'Superbugs'

Armies of invisible creatures are spreading across the planet, infesting local communities and claiming the lives of innocent children in their wake. And the attackers are immune to some of the world's best weaponry.

It sounds more like a sci-fi movie plot than reality, but "superbugs" - deadly microbes that can resist drugs designed to wipe them out - are far from imaginary. Schoolchildren in several states recently have died from infections caused by MRSA bacteria, otherwise known as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, and medical recordkeeping shows such cases are increasing annually.

MSRA spreads via surface-to-surface contact, developing into a staph infection if conditions are right. The first symptoms can include pimple-like sores on the skin where the bacteria launch their attack, while rarer but more advanced infections can enter the bloodstream, attack organs and lead to death.


Copper Tested in Hospital Germ Wars

Out with stainless steel, in with copper? It might be a new hospital trend - not for looks, but for germ-fighting. Some intensive-care units in New York and South Carolina are about to get copper fittings as part of a project to test if drug-resistant bacteria survive better on hospitals' ubiquitous stainless steel than on copper.

About 1.7 million Americans a year develop infections while hospitalized and almost 100,000 of them die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Scientists have long preached better hygiene to control hospital spread of germs, but increasingly medical manufacturers are looking to anti-germ coatings to help.

Arrow Up

Lack of deep sleep may increase risk of type 2 diabetes

Suppression of slow-wave sleep in healthy young adults significantly decreases their ability to regulate blood-sugar levels and increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, report researchers at the University of Chicago Medical Center in the "Early Edition" of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, available online as soon as Dec. 31, 2007.

Deep sleep, also called "slow-wave sleep," is thought to be the most restorative sleep stage, but its significance for physical well-being has not been demonstrated. This study found that after only three nights of selective slow-wave sleep suppression, young healthy subjects became less sensitive to insulin. Although they needed more insulin to dispose of the same amount of glucose, their insulin secretion did not increase to compensate for the reduced sensitivity, resulting in reduced tolerance to glucose and increased risk for type 2 diabetes. The decrease in insulin sensitivity was comparable to that caused by gaining 20 to 30 pounds.


Preschoolers' nightmares less prevalent, are trait-like and associated with personality

Bad dreams in pre-schoolers are less prevalent than thought. However, when they do exist, nightmares are trait-like in nature and associated with personality characteristics measured as early as five months, according to a study published in the January 1 issue of the journal SLEEP.

The study, led by Valérie Simard, under the direction of Tore Nielsen, PhD, of the University of Montreal, sampled 987 children in the Province of Quebec, who were assessed by their parents at the 29-month, 41-month, 50-month, five-year and six-year mark. Parents were asked in a questionnaire about the frequency of their child's bad dreams without requiring that they attempt to judge whether or not awakenings occurred.