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Mon, 30 Jan 2023
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Epidemic superbug strains evolved from one bacterium

The drug-resistant "superbugs" that have cut a swathe through day care centers, schools, locker rooms and prisons across the United States in the last five years stem from one rapidly evolving bacterium, US scientists said Monday.

Scientists studying the genetic make-up of these bugs, which are resistant to almost all antibiotics, say they are nearly identical clones that have emerged from a single bacterial strain, which they have dubbed USA300.

"The USA300 group of strains appears to have extraordinary transmissibility and fitness," said Frank DeLeo, a researcher with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in Hamilton, Montana.

©Unknown

Heart

From And For The Heart, My Dear Valentine: Broccoli

Wishing your Valentine good heart health on February 14 -- and throughout 2008?

Then consider the food some people love to hate, and hand over a gift bag of broccoli along with that heart-shaped box of chocolates. Researchers in Connecticut are reporting impressive new evidence that eating broccoli may protect against heart disease.

Researchers have known for years that broccoli is a rich source of antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber that may protect against cancer, Dipak K. Das and colleagues note. Other studies also suggest that broccoli may benefit the heart, although scientists do not know how it works.

Coffee

Drinking coffee may lower ovarian cancer risk: study

London - Caffeine appears to lower a woman's chances of developing ovarian cancer, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday, while smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol do not.

The benefit for caffeine drinkers also seemed strongest for women who had never used oral contraceptives or postmenopausal hormones, the researchers wrote in the journal Cancer.

Bad Guys

Burying Clinical Data, Spinning Journal Articles, Selling Bad Drugs

If Hillary and Obama think the press is picking on them, they should look at Big Pharma.

The ink isn't even dry on the massive Vioxx settlement and already Big Pharma's been accused of burying clinical data, spinning journal articles and selling drugs that cause the conditions they're supposed to fix. Sound familiar?

Health

Geneticizing Disease: Implications for Racial Health Disparities

Today it is almost impossible to pick up a newspaper or open a Web browser without finding an article that links a specific gene to a certain medical condition. In fact, a simple Google search of "gene linked" in November last year pulled up hits with genes linked to depression risk, restless leg syndrome, autism, breast cancer, childhood asthma, and type 1 diabetes in children. This is only on the first page of results from a total of 30,600,000 hits.

Increasingly, genes are being linked in the mainstream press, on the Web and also in prestigious medical journals not only to medical conditions but also to behavioral conditions such as narcissism, aggressiveness, and in some instances to voting behavior. Linking disease to specific genes is becoming progressively more common among the American public, too. The increasing perception is that an individual's genes are the main cause of disease.

Monkey Wrench

NHS concern after man pulls tooth

Health managers have promised a better emergency dental service after one man was left in agonising pain and felt forced to pull out a tooth with pliers.

Bulb

"Sunshine Vitamin" Earning New Respect

Inside a laboratory at Stanford University, researchers are confidently pursuing evidence that vitamin D plays an important role in breast and prostate cancer prevention.

At Children's Hospital in Oakland, Calif., a famed nutritionist is convinced that widespread deficiency of vitamin D in the U.S. population leads to poor immune system and brain functioning, among other conditions.

And scientists at University of California-Davis this month were awarded $600,000 by the federal government to study the link between vitamin D and major diseases of the day.

Cow

Disease risk to mozzarella output

The production of one of Italy's best known exports, mozzarella, is under threat from an infection spreading through herds of water buffalo.

The Italian government has set up an emergency commission to try and stop the spread of the disease, which affects milk production.

Evil Rays

National report calls for more research on health effects of wireless technologies

A new National Research Council report chaired by University of Colorado at Boulder Distinguished Professor Frank Barnes calls for a stronger research effort on the potential health effects of exposure to radio frequency energy tied to the global explosion in wireless technology like cell phones, laptops and hand-held Web-surfing gadgets.

Requested by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration from the National Research Council last year, the report was released Jan 16. The authors did not evaluate potential human health effects of radio frequency, or RF, exposure from wireless devices, but rather made recommendations on how to meet research needs regarding the technology, said Barnes, a distinguished professor in the electrical and computer engineering department.

"This is a very, very complex issue," said Barnes. "Obviously we are not seeing immediate short-term effects of such exposure, like people dropping dead on their cell phones. But in the long term -- 10, 20 and 30 years out -- we have a lot less information about potential effects from these types of wireless devices."

Bulb

Study: Brain connections strengthen during waking hours, weaken during sleep

Most people know it from experience: After so many hours of being awake, your brain feels unable to absorb any more - and several hours of sleep will refresh it.

Now new research from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health clarifies this phenomenon, supporting the idea that sleep plays a critical role in the brain's ability to change in response to its environment. This ability, called plasticity, is at the heart of learning.

Reporting in the Jan. 20, 2008, online version of Nature Neuroscience, the UW-Madison scientists showed by several measures that synapses - nerve cell connections central to brain plasticity - were very strong when rodents had been awake and weak when they had been asleep.

The new findings reinforce the UW-Madison researchers' highly-debated hypothesis about the role of sleep. They believe that people sleep so that their synapses can downsize and prepare for a new day and the next round of learning and synaptic strengthening.

The human brain expends up to 80 percent of its energy on synaptic activity, constantly adding and strengthening connections in response to all kinds of stimulation, explains study author Chiara Cirelli, associate professor of psychiatry.