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Global Health News and Reports

Testosterone may help men with multiple sclerosis

Contact: Mark Wheeler
JAMA and Archives Journals

A small pilot study suggests that testosterone treatment is safe, well tolerated and may reduce symptoms, slow brain degeneration and increase muscle mass in men with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, the most common form of the disease, according to a report in the May issue of Archives of Neurology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Multiple sclerosis is a progressive disease involving the immune and central nervous systems. MS and many other autoimmune diseases (in which the body attacks its own systems or tissues) are less common in men than in women, according to background information in the article. This is especially true during reproductive years. Sex hormones, including testosterone and estrogen, may be responsible for the difference. Testosterone has been shown to protect against an MS–like condition and other autoimmune diseases in animals.

Nancy L. Sicotte, M.D., of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, and colleagues conducted a study of testosterone treatment in 10 men with relapsing-remitting MS, characterized by periods of neurologic symptoms (such as numbness or difficulty walking) followed by periods of remission. The men, who had an average age of 46, were enrolled in the study and then entered a six-month pre-treatment phase, during which symptoms were monitored but no therapies were administered. Then, each man applied 10 grams of a gel containing 100 milligrams of testosterone to his upper arms once daily for 12 months.

“One year of treatment with testosterone gel was associated with improvement in cognitive performance and a slowing of brain atrophy [deterioration],” the authors write. During the first nine months of the study—the period of time before the men began taking testosterone, plus the first three months of treatment, before it had time to take effect—brain volume decreased an average of -0.81 percent per year. In the second nine months, this decline slowed by 67 percent to an annual rate of -0.25 percent. “Because the protective effect of testosterone treatment on brain atrophy was observed in the absence of an appreciable anti-inflammatory effect, this protection may not be limited to MS, but may be applicable to those with non-inflammatory neurodegenerative diseases,” including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease, the authors write.

In addition, lean body mass (muscle mass) increased an average of 1.7 kilograms (about 3.74 pounds) during the treatment phase. Participants did not report any adverse effects, there were no abnormalities in blood tests taken during the trial and the men’s prostate examination results remained stable.

“Overall, in this first trial of testosterone treatment in men with relapsing-remitting MS, the treatment was shown to be safe and well tolerated,” the authors conclude. “In addition, exploratory findings reported herein suggest a possible neuroprotective effect of testosterone treatment in men, which warrants further investigation.”

(Arch Neurol. 2007;64:683-688. Available pre-embargo to the media at

Editor’s Note: This study was supported by grants from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the General Clinical Research Centers at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, the Sherak Family Foundation and the Skirball Foundation. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.


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May 14, 2007 Posted by | Global, Global Health Vision, Global News, JAMA, Multiple Sclerosis | 4 Comments

Mediterranean diet halves risk of progressive lung disease

Contact: Emma Dickinson
BMJ Specialty Journals

Prospective study of dietary patterns and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease among US men
A Mediterranean diet halves the chances of developing progressive inflammatory lung disease (COPD), reveals a large study, published ahead of print in Thorax.

COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is an umbrella term for chronic progressive lung disease, such as emphysema and bronchitis. It is expected to become the third leading cause of death worldwide by 2020, with cigarette smoking the primary factor in its development.

The researchers tracked the health of almost 43,000 men, who were already part of the US Health Professionals Follow up Study. This began in 1986 and involved more than 50,000 US health care professionals aged between 40 and 75, who were surveyed every two years.

They were asked questions about lifestyle, including smoking and exercise, diet and medical history. Dietary intake was assessed in detail every four years.

Eating patterns fell into two distinct categories: those who ate a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains and fish (Mediterranean diet); and those who ate a diet rich in processed foods, refined sugars, and cured and red meats (Western diet).

Between 1986 and 1998, 111 cases of COPD were newly diagnosed.

The Mediterranean diet was associated with a 50% lower risk of developing COPD than the Western diet, even after adjusting for age, smoking, and other risk factors.

And men who ate a predominantly Western diet were more than four times as likely to develop COPD, even after taking account of other influential factors.

The higher the compliance with a Mediterranean diet, the lower was the risk of developing COPD over the 12 year period.

Conversely, the higher the compliance with the Western diet, the higher was the risk of developing COPD.


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May 14, 2007 Posted by | British Medical Journal, COPD, Global, Global Health Vision, Global News | Leave a comment

UCI launches effort to develop patient-specific stem cell lines

UC Irvine neurobiologist Hans Keirstead and his research team today launched a project to develop stem cell lines that genetically match human patients. These lines would allow scientists to better study conditions ranging from diabetes to Parkinson’s disease, and they would provide the basis for potential patient-specific stem cell treatments.

Contact: Jennifer Fitzenberger
University of California – Irvine

May 14, 2007 Posted by | Global, Global Health Vision, Global News, Irvine, News, News Australia, News Canada, News UK, News US, Parkinson's, Stem Cells, University of California, Washington DC | Leave a comment

Glucosamine-like supplement inhibits multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes

A glucosamine-like dietary supplement has been found to suppress the damaging autoimmune response seen in multiple sclerosis and type-1 diabetes mellitus, according to University of California, Irvine health sciences researchers.
National Institutes of Health, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Wadsworth Foundation, Canadian Institutes for Health Research

Contact: Tom Vasich
University of California – Irvine

May 14, 2007 Posted by | Irvine, Juvenile Diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis, University of California | 6 Comments

1 month post launch, Interactive Autism Network reports 13,000 participants

Contact: Emily Butler
Kennedy Krieger Institute

(Baltimore, MD) — The Interactive Autism Network (IAN)—the first national online autism registry spearheaded by the Kennedy Krieger Institute—has registered an unprecedented number of individuals and families living with autism. Never before have researchers been offered access to such a large pool of family-provided data on this puzzling disorder. In only one month, IAN ( has achieved significant milestones:

More than 13,000 registered participants

Representation in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Marshall Islands and Palau

Diverse family registration, including: six sets of triplets, 37 sets of identical twins and 157 sets of fraternal twins

Researchers from institutions across the country have already begun to access IAN data to:

Supplement and enhance current research studies

Compare and validate existing research results obtained from smaller sample sizes

Explore hypotheses for future research and search for parallels among individuals with autism and their families in a way that was not previously possible

“In one short month, IAN has become the country’s largest pool of autism data,” said Dr. Paul Law, Director, Interactive Autism Network at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. “The fact that IAN has already become a vital resource for researchers, so early in its lifespan, bodes extremely well for the potential of this project, and ultimately, to the pursuit of answers in autism.”

IAN has become successful in registering families largely due to the tight knit nature of the autism community and the outpouring of support from parents. Testimonials continue to echo the great need for and tremendous potential of IAN.

“What better opportunity to help our children, to help each other and to learn more about autism. We have been given the power to DO SOMETHING to combat autism. Go to the website, accept this responsibility & watch us change the future of this heartbreaking disorder.”

Posted on Health Blog by an IAN participant

IAN is funded by a grant from Autism Speaks, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing awareness about the growing autism health crisis and raising funds for critical autism research.

About the Kennedy Krieger Institute

Internationally recognized for improving the lives of children and adolescents with disorders and injuries of the brain and spinal cord, the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, MD serves more than 12,000 individuals each year through inpatient and outpatient clinics, home and community services and school-based programs. Kennedy Krieger provides a wide range of services for children with developmental concerns mild to severe, and is home to a team of investigators who are contributing to the understanding of how disorders develop while pioneering new interventions and earlier diagnosis. For more information on Kennedy Krieger Institute, visit

Source: EurekaAlerts

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May 14, 2007 Posted by | Alberta, Autism, Baltimore, Calgary, Global, Global Health Vision, Global News, Interactive Autism Network, Kennedy Krieger Institute, News, News Australia, News Canada, News UK, News US, Washington DC | Leave a comment

Psychosocial support for cancer survivors needs strengthening

Contact: Amy Molnar
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

While one in four cancer survivors participates in a support group after diagnosis, use of support groups varies considerably by cancer type, and few survivors receive referrals to such programs from their physicians, according to a new study. Published in the June 15, 2007 issue of CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the study finds that cancer survivors are more likely to attend a support group compared to people with other chronic conditions, but there is little active support for such use by treating physicians. Utilization among cancer survivors differs depending on factors such as gender, age, health insurance and other co-morbid conditions.

The psychosocial burden of cancer is well recognized but seems to be poorly managed by many physicians. Support groups for a variety of cancers and other chronic conditions are widely available across the United States. They often are the only mental care and external disease information resource cancer patients have. While previous studies have shown about one in five women with early stage breast cancer use support services in the year following treatment (18 percent), little is known regarding participation in support groups and support group use among patients with different types of cancer and for cancer survivors.

Dr. Jason Owen of Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, California and co-investigators sought to comprehensively characterize how patients with different types of cancers and other chronic medical conditions use support groups and who uses them. The study team analyzed survey data from 9,187 participants (1,844 with cancer and 4,951 with other chronic health problems).

Dr Owen and his team found that only one in seven (14 percent) patients with a non-cancer, chronic medical condition accessed support groups while almost one in four (23 percent) cancer patients did. Only 11 percent of cancer patients used a cancer-specific support group. Patients with blood malignancies and breast cancer were more likely to report participation in a support group compared to those with lung and skin cancers.

Interestingly, predictors of use were similar across various cancer sites and included female gender, Caucasian race, higher education level, and symptoms of depression or anxiety. Younger age and urban residence did not predict support group use. While physical functional status did not predict use among cancer patients, it did among patients with other chronic conditions.

Dr. Owen also found that while physicians passively supported patient use of support groups, only one in ten cancer patients in this study had received a physician recommendation.

Dr. Owen concludes, “This study sheds light on which individuals with cancer use these services.” This study will help clinicians recognize the importance of support groups for cancer patients. “Assistance in identifying and accessing support groups, should be a standard of care for all patients receiving curative, follow-up, or palliative care for cancer,” Dr. Owen recommends.

Article: “Use of Health-Related and Cancer-Specific Support Groups Among Adult Cancer Survivors,” Jason E. Owen, Michael S. Goldstein, Jennifer Lee, Nancy Breen, Julia H. Rowland, CANCER; Published Online: May 14, 2007 (DOI: 10.1002/cncr.22719); Print Issue Date: June 15, 2007.

Source: EurekaAlerts

Global Health Vision

May 14, 2007 Posted by | Alberta, Calgary, Cancer, Global Health Vision, Global News, News, News Australia, News Canada, News UK, News US, Uncategorized | 2 Comments