Pitt Receives $2.8 Million To Train HIV/AIDS Researchers In Mozambique, Brazil And India

The University of Pittsburgh has received a five-year, $2.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health’s Fogarty International Center to train researchers in regions of the world most hard-hit by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The grant, part of the center’s AIDS International Training and Research Program (AITRP), will allow Pitt to develop a training site in Mozambique, where there are an estimated 750 new HIV infections every day, and to expand programs underway in Brazil and India.

“The HIV/AIDS epidemic remains uncontrolled in many regions in the world,” said principal investigator Lee Harrison, M.D., professor of medicine and epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh. “With an ever-growing number of patients in treatment programs, there is an urgent need for well-trained scientists to monitor patients and find out why people develop resistance to anti-HIV drugs.” He said the Fogarty grant will give international researchers the tools and skills needed to do this vital work.

“America has become the leader in advancing prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS in developing countries,” said Roger I. Glass, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Fogarty International Center. “Training local researchers benefits their own countries and helps U.S. scientists develop new understanding and methods for combating disease.”

The Pitt training program in Mozambique is based on a partnership forged in 2006 with Catholic University Mozambique, the site of one of only two medical schools in the southeastern African country. With 1.8 million people living with HIV and one physician for every 33,000 residents, Mozambique has very limited capabilities for research and few trained investigators, Dr. Harrison said. The growing epidemic disproportionately impacts women, many of them of childbearing age. In the region of Beira, where Catholic University is based, 34 percent of pregnant women are HIV-infected.

In Mozambique, the Pitt team will focus on training researchers in epidemiological methods to better understand the failure of antiretroviral treatment and answer basic questions about HIV prevalence. In Brazil, ranked second in number of reported AIDS cases in the Americas, training will focus on treatment and vaccine trials, tuberculosis research related to AIDS and the effectiveness of antiretroviral therapy in public clinics. In India, where there are 2.5 million HIV-infected people, training will center on laboratory studies on the molecular mechanisms of HIV and the development of anti-HIV vaccines using Indian strains.

The University of Pittsburgh received one of seven AITRP grants recently awarded. The AITRP has trained nearly 2,000 researchers overseas, most of whom remain in their countries to continue HIV/AIDS research, train young scientists and provide leadership to their governments on health issues. Co-directing the program with Dr. Harrison is Phalguni Gupta, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.

Source
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, U.S. Steel Tower, 600 Grant St., 57th Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15213 United States

What Causes Rheumatoid Arthritis – How Is Your Heart Affected?

In a recent issue of The Johns Hopkins Arthritis Bulletin, Johns Hopkins specialists reported on the latest research regarding the link between rheumatoid arthritis and heart health.

With rheumatoid arthritis, the inflammation that damages joints also takes a toll on the heart. Johns Hopkins specialists offer bottom line advice on how to adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle to combat the effects of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and its accompanying inflammation.
Being heart-smart with Rheumatoid Arthritis
People with rheumatoid arthritis understandably focus on caring for their joints. But their most serious health risk involves their heart.

Compared to the general population, rheumatoid arthritis patients have a significantly increased risk of heart attack and stroke, and a shorter life expectancy.
Rheumatoid Arthritis and your heart – the risks
Here are some of the findings from recent studies about the link between rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease:

Heart attacks are twice as common among women with rheumatoid arthritis as among those without the disease.
Atherosclerosis (“hardening of the arteries”) starts early and progresses more rapidly in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Carotid artery blockages (a risk factor for stroke) are three times more common in people with rheumatoid arthritis than in people without the disease (44% vs. 15%).
Cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and stroke, occur about 10 years earlier in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Mortality is higher among rheumatoid arthritis patients after a first heart attack.
Blood vessel damage is often already apparent at the time of rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis.
Heart attacks in rheumatoid arthritis patients are more likely to be silent or to occur without the typical symptoms, and they more often result in sudden cardiac death.
Congestive heart failure (weakening of the heart’s pumping ability) is more common among people with rheumatoid arthritis.

Researchers have identified several links between rheumatoid arthritis and cardiovascular disease. Inflammation is believed to be the most important of these.
The role of inflammation in Atherosclerosis
Cardiologists now understand that inflammation plays a crucial role in the onset of atherosclerosis. They believe that an injury to the inner lining of the arteries (the endothelium) triggers an immune response, sending immune system cells rushing to repair the damage.
The effects of chronic inflammation on your arteries
But in chronic inflammatory states such as rheumatoid arthritis, the immune response doesn’t shut off after the injury heals. The accumulating immune system cells attract deposits of cholesterol, blood platelets, cellular debris, and calcium, which clump together to form plaque.

As plaque deposits grow, they restrict blood flow through the artery. If the plaque ruptures, clots can break away and travel to the heart or brain, where they may cause a heart attack or a stroke.
What can you do to stay heart-smart even if you have Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Bottom line advice

The relationship between rheumatoid arthritis and the heart is complex, and rheumatologists still have a great deal to learn about how to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease among people who have rheumatoid arthritis.

For now, it’s important to do everything possible to reduce the traditional risk factors for heart disease and stroke:
smoking, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

Getting regular exercise and losing extra pounds (even a 5-10% weight reduction is beneficial) will help your joints as well as your heart. Monitor your blood pressure and have your cholesterol levels checked regularly.

Also, ask your physician about the possibility of taking a low-dose aspirin each day to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.

In addition, the cholesterol-lowering medications known as statins–atorvastatin (Lipitor) and others–not only help the heart, but also have modest beneficial effects on rheumatoid arthritis-related inflammation. If your doctor hasn’t already suggested a statin drug for your heart health, you might ask about it.

For the latest research on Heart Health and Heart Attack Prevention, see the new 2008 Johns Hopkins White Paper: Heart Attack Prevention at: Johns Hopkins White Paper Heart Attack Prevention

To get a copy of the free special report “Johns Hopkins 7 Keys to Reduce Cholesterol,” please visit:
Johns Hopkins 7 Keys to Reduce Cholesterol

Dementia Risk May Be Reduced By Some Hypertension Drugs

Some high blood pressure medicines may help protect older adults from declines in memory and other cognitive function, according to new research from Wake Forest University School of Medicine, reported at the annual meeting of the American Geriatrics Society in Seattle.

The drugs that researchers believe are protective are part of a class known as ACE inhibitors – specifically those types that reach the brain and may help reduce the inflammation that might contribute to Alzheimer’s disease.

“For older adults who are going to take an ACE inhibitor drug for blood pressure control, it makes sense for their doctors to prescribe one that goes into the brain,” said Kaycee Sink, M.D., M.A.S., lead researcher and an assistant professor of internal medicine – gerontology.

Some ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors are known as centrally acting because they can cross the blood brain barrier, a specialized system of tiny blood vessels that protects the brain from harmful substances in the blood stream. Centrally acting drugs include captropril (Capoten®), fosinopril (Monopril®), lisinopril (Prinivil® or Zestri®), perindopril (Aceon®), ramipril (Altace®) and trandolapril (Mavik®).

The study found a link between taking centrally active ACE inhibitors and lower rates of mental decline as measured by the Modified Mini-Mental State Exam, a test that evaluates memory, language, abstract reasoning and other cognitive functions. For each year that participants were exposed to ACE inhibitors that cross the blood brain barrier, the decline in test results was 50 percent lower than the decline in people taking other kinds of high blood pressure pills.

The researchers also found that non-centrally active ACE inhibitors were associated with a trend towards an increased risk of dementia. However, the results were not statistically significant, which means that they could have occurred by chance. Dementia was diagnosed by a panel of physicians after reviewing results of magnetic resonance imaging and other tests.

“These results suggest that there is more to treating blood pressure than achieving a goal of 140/80,” said Sink. “Which drug you choose for blood pressure control can have broader implications. We know that ACE inhibitors protect against heart failure and kidney failure, and now there is evidence that some of them may also protect against dementia.”

Sink said the effects may be related to reducing inflammation in the brain.

“The hypothesis for how they may slow cognitive decline is that they are decreasing inflammation in the brain, and we know that inflammation is important in the development of Alzheimer’s disease,” she said.

The researchers analyzed data from the Cardiovascular Health Study, a long-term study of cardiovascular risk factors that involved 5,888 people over 65 years old from Forsyth County in North Carolina, Sacramento County, Calif., Pittsburgh, Pa., and Washington County, Md. The mean age of participants was 75 years old and most participants (64 percent) were women.

They specifically looked at 1,074 study participants who were free of dementia when they entered the study and who were being treated for high blood pressure. They evaluated whether exposure to ACE inhibitors in general – and to the centrally active versus non-centrally active drugs – was related to dementia and cognitive decline.

Compared to other anti-hypertensive drugs, there was no association between exposure to ACE inhibitors as a class and the risk of dementia. The benefits clearly came from taking the centrally active drugs.

“We need to confirm the results in a study in which people are randomly selected to receive either ACE inhibitors that are centrally active or those that aren’t,” said Sink. “Hypertension is a risk factor for dementia, so it’s important to know if the type of drug pressure medication a person takes can cut that risk.”

The research is supported by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the Pepper Older Adults Independence Center, and the Hartford Geriatrics Health Outcomes Research Scholars Program. Co-researchers were Xiaoyan Leng, Ph.D., Jeff Williamson, M.D., M.H.S., Steve Kritchevsky, Ph.D., Hal Atkinson, M.D., Mike Robbins, Ph.D., and David Goff, M.D., Ph.D., all from Wake Forest, Kristine Yaffe, M.D., from the University of California, Bruce Psaty, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of Washington, Lewis Kuller, M.D., Dr.P.H., from the University of Pittsburgh, and Sevil Yasar, M.D., from Johns Hopkins University.

Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center is an academic health system comprised of North Carolina Baptist Hospital and Wake Forest University Health Sciences, which operates the university’s School of Medicine. U.S. News & World Report ranks Wake Forest University School of Medicine 18th in family medicine, 20th in geriatrics, 25th in primary care and 41st in research among the nation’s medical schools. It ranks 35th in research funding by the National Institutes of Health. Almost 150 members of the medical school faculty are listed in Best Doctors in America.

Contact: Karen Richardson

Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center

View drug information on Mavik; Prinivil or Zestril.

Product RED Art Auction Raises $42.6M For Global Fund Programs In Africa

Irish musician and advocate Bono and British artist Damien Hirst on Thursday raised about $42.6 million at the Product RED art auction in New York City to benefit HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria programs in Africa, Reuters reports. The RED Auction included 83 red-themed works of contemporary art donated by several artists (Michaud, Reuters, 2/15). The proceeds will go to the United Nations Foundation to support Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria programs.

The auction raised significantly more than the upper pre-sale estimate of $29 million, AFP/Google reports. Artists who contributed their work included Georg Baselitz, Howard Hodgkin, Jasper Johns, Anish Kapoor and Jeff Koons. Hirst sold seven pieces for more than $19 million (AFP/Google, 2/15).

“Tonight we got serious about love, and not just the love of art, but the love of our brothers and sisters suffering from AIDS in the poorest places on the planet,” Bono said in a release from Sotheby’s auction house in New York. Sotheby’s organized the auction (AP/Google, 2/15). The auction brought the total amount raised by RED to more than $100 million since it was launched (AFP/Google, 2/15).

Reprinted with kind permission from kaisernetwork. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork/dailyreports/healthpolicy. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation© 2005 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

NFL Players in Indonesia to Support WFP and Help Tsunami Survivors

BANDA ACEH – Two of the National Football League’s (NFL) top players, New York Giants’ quarterback Kurt Warner and wide
receiver Amani Toomer, have arrived in Indonesia to assist the victims of the tsunami and support the United Nations World
Food Program (WFP) in its efforts to deliver food to survivors.

The purpose of their visit is to raise awareness about the critical work WFP is doing in Asia, where the food aid agency is
assisting more than a million tsunami survivors. Last month, WFP provided over 7,000 metric tons of food commodities to
assist over 400,000 people in Indonesia alone. In February, more than 500,000 people will be assisted with rice, fortified
noodles, biscuits, canned fish and vegetable oil.

Both Warner and Toomer and their wives, Brenda and Yola respectively, had canceled their previous holiday plans to devote
themselves to a humanitarian cause. The two couples arrived in Indonesia on February 11 and departed today for the city of
Banda Aceh, which was devastated by the December 26 earthquake and tsunami.

While living with other UN humanitarian workers in the tented UN compound in Banda Aceh, they will work on the frontlines of
WFP’s emergency operation, which will include loading a helicopter with food and participating in food distributions to
displaced families in Banda Aceh and in the devastated coastal town of Lamno.

In addition, they will help clean the rubble in a secondary school in Banda Aceh, as well as meet with the provincial soccer
team, which lost a number of its key players in the disaster.

“In many of our operations, WFP works with respected public figures to help tell the story of WFP’s work. It is particularly
important for the victims of the tsunami and their tragedy, which is receiving worldwide attention,” said Mohamed Saleheen,
WFP’s country director in Indonesia.

Their itinerary will also include a courtesy visit to the USS Mercy, a US Navy hospital ship which is operating offshore
along Indonesia’s west coast. The US military, along with militaries from around the world, played a vital role in delivering
significant amounts of food in the first phase of the emergency operation.

When the visit ends on February 16, the Toomers will continue on to Sri Lanka to help in reconstruction activities. They will
be joined there by Kansas City chiefs full back Tony Richardson. Currently, WFP is helping to feed more than 850,000 people
in Sri Lanka, with a large logistics network spread throughout the country.

“The fact that the NFL players are involved demonstrates their commitment and sympathy to the victims of this huge natural
disaster. On behalf of the people we serve, we are very grateful to host them as part of the WFP team. Teamwork is the key to
our success,” added Saleheen.

NFL players have been active with the WFP throughout the tsunami crisis. The Indianapolis Colts donated $50,000 and a further
$60,000 was raised by fans at a match between the Colts and the Denver Broncos on January 9. Quarterbacks Peyton Manning and
Donovan McNabb volunteered their time to record a Public Service Announcement for WFP, which aired during NFL playoff games
in January. The PSA was shown during five playoff games, with the airtime, valued at millions of dollars, donated by the NFL.

WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency: we give food aid to an average of 90 million people in more than 80
countries each year, including 56 million hungry children.

WFP Global School Feeding Campaign – For just 19 US cents a day, you can help WFP give children in poor countries a healthy
meal at school – a gift of hope for a brighter future.

Visit the website: wfp.

For more information please contact (email: firstname.lastnamewfp):

Heather Hill,
WFP/Indonesia,
Mob:+66 17019208

Inigo Alvarez,
WFP/Indonesia,
Mob: + 62 811864415

Mia Turner,
WFP/Indonesia,

Mob: +62 811864383

Caroline Hurford,
WFP/Rome,
Tel: + 39 06 65132330,
Mob: + 39 3481325018

Trevor Rowe,
WFP/New York,
Mob: +1 646 8241112,
Tel: +1 212 9635196
roweun.

Jennifer Parmelee,
WFP/Washington,
Tel: +1 2026530010 ext 1149,
Mob: +1 2024223383

Christiane Berthiaume,
WFP/Geneva,
Tel: + 41 229178564.
Mob: + 41 792857304

Factors In Delaying Or Declining Total Knee Replacement Surgery

A study led by Dr. Ann F. Jacobson, associate professor in Kent State’s College of Nursing, unveils the reasons why people may initially choose to postpone but ultimately undergo total knee replacement surgery and emphasizes the need for better patient education before and after the procedure.

Patients need more education and support about total knee replacement and making the decision to have it, and there is still a need for investigation into new and better ways to provide these, Jacobson says.

“This study sought to better understand patients’ pre-and post operative experiences with total knee replacement surgery,” says Jacobson. “These patients’ perspectives have rarely been the topic of research yet numerous existing studies of total joint replacement of the hip or knee indicate that eligible patients delay or decline the procedure for reasons that haven’t been well understood.”

The Four Themes of Patient Experience

Study results identified four overarching themes in patients’ experiences of total knee replacement, which the researchers named “putting up and putting off,” “waiting and worrying,” “letting go and letting in,” and “hurting and hoping.”

A participant described “putting up and putting off” as, “I’m tired of it. I am a very active person.” Another explained “putting off” the decision to have total knee replacement as, “you just keep hoping it will get better.”

The “waiting and worrying” stage begins after deciding to undergo surgery. One person said “I put this off for years. I can’t wait to get it over with.” This period involves worrying that “something can go wrong.”

The experience of “letting go and letting in” was described as “I had to accept the loss of control” and independence and “letting in” by accepting help and encouragement. One aspect of encouragement was hearing from others who had successful total knee replacement outcomes.

The “hurting and hoping” aspect of the experience was pervaded by pain: “The pain is the main thing with the knee,” but also by hope: “Gotta keep your eye on the prize.”

Patients yearned for a return to being a “normal human being,” doing such everyday things as housework, walking the dog, or gardening, with ease and comfort.

Source: Rachel Wenger-Pelosi

Kent State University

Humanitarian Aid Reaches Over 10,000 HIV Affected Orphans In Lilongwe, Malawi

NutraCea
(OTC Bulletin Board: NTRZ) announced that this week they began distributing
80,000 pounds of their RiSolubles(R) product to thousands of orphans
through Community Based Organizations in Malawi as part of an extraordinary
collaborative effort with Feed the Children, Raising Malawi, an
organization supported by Madonna, and The Malaria Solution Foundation. The
NutraCea Feeding Program team headed by NutraCea Senior Executives, Margie
Adelman and Kody Newland were in Malawi seeing first hand the drastic
situation that the country is facing.

“Raising Malawi is a humanitarian aid project supported by Madonna and
Michael Berg. Our mission is to provide direct physical assistance,
long-term sustainability and psycho-social support to many of Malawi’s two
million orphans and vulnerable children. Thanks to Feed the Children,
NutraCea and the Malawian Government, approximately five thousand children
at the Consol Homes-Raising Malawi Orphan Care Center will receive improved
nutrition. The health progress will be monitored and documented to track
the benefits of this nutritional supplement for children- especially those
infected with HIV,” said Philippe van den Bossche, Executive Director of
Raising Malawi.

“The situation in Malawi is desperate,” said Larry Jones, president and
co-founder of Feed the Children. “Malawi has a population of 12 million
people, roughly the same as the state of Illinois. Something that people in
America cannot believe is that of the entire population of Malawi, one
million are orphaned children. This harsh statistic means one thing — we
all must do something to help. We thank NutraCea for being so committed to
a socially conscious effort that will change the lives of thousands of
children in Malawi and we’re happy to collaborate with them.”

The distribution efforts are being supported by the First Lady of
Malawi, Ethel Mutharika and the Ethel Mutharika Foundation. Paradiso House,
in Lilongwe was a recipient of the first shipment together with the
Mtsiliza Community, Feed the Children orphanage and Consol Homes, Raising
Malawi Orphan Care Center. According to Member of Parliament, Nancy Tembo
who was one of the honored guests at the Paradiso House, “By bringing food
directly to the children, NutraCea is making a real difference —
grassroots efforts of this nature are exactly what’s needed here.” The
First Lady’s daughter Duwa Mutharika Kafoteka was representing her mother
and Founder of the Ethel Mutharika Foundation and she thanked NutraCea for
their efforts to help feed orphaned children in Malawi. Mutharika said, “We
look forward to expanding this feeding program in Malawi and we are
grateful to all the groups, especially NutraCea, who have come together to
bring this much needed humanitarian aid to our country.”

The initial product distribution was made possible through funding
raised by The Malaria Solution Foundation with a purchase of 40,000 pounds
of NutraCea’s RiSolubles. This donation was matched in kind with an
additional 40,000 pounds from NutraCea for a total of 80,000 pounds, which
will feed approximately 10,000 children for almost ten months.

“Our RiSolubles is a very beneficial food supplement for these
malnourished children,” said Margie Adelman, Senior Vice President of
NutraCea. “It’s made from the highly nutritious soluble fraction of our
proprietary stabilized rice bran that can be easily mixed with water and
consumed. Even in serious stages of malnutrition, the children benefit from
the rich bounty of protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats and a wide range of
vitamins and minerals because the product is easily digested.”

“We’re delighted to help raise the funding necessary for this project,”
said James Christiansen, President and CEO of The Malaria Solution
Foundation. “The experience we have in Africa combined with help we receive
from companies like NutraCea is a chance to help hundreds of thousands of
malnourished children. Any amount of assistance we can provide is a step
toward ending world hunger and we’re currently working on expanding this
program with NutraCea into other countries in Africa.”

“Despite all the well meaning efforts underway to solve our world
hunger issues, we still have a very long way to go. However, if it were
possible to collect even a small portion of the 60 million metric tons of
rice bran that are discarded annually, this extraordinary technology could
convert enough stabilized rice bran into RiSolubles to make a meaningful
impact on the close to one billion people that suffer from hunger and
malnutrition throughout the world,” said Kody Newland, Senior V.P. Sales,
NutraCea.

“We are very grateful to Feed the Children, Raising Malawi and The
Malaria Solution Foundation for collaborating on this project to benefit
the orphans of Malawi, as well as The First Lady of Malawi, Ethel Mutharika
and His Excellency Alan Eastman the US Ambassador to Malawi. It’s only by a
substantial collaborative effort that we were able to bring this to the
children before the holidays,” added Adelman. “Not only are we going to
help feed children through the distribution of our RiSolubles nutritional
beverage, but with the help of Raising Malawi, we intend to track the
progress of the children’s overall health as they continue to consume the
RiSolubles during the next ten months. NutraCea’s RiSolubles has been shown
to help reverse malnutrition in feeding programs conducted in other
countries. The program in Malawi is part of an on-going commitment by
NutraCea to help eradicate world hunger,” Adelman said.

For more information about the organizations listed above, please visit
the following web sites:

feedthechildren

raisingmalawi

nutracea

To watch video on this story, go to:
client.dssimon/fe/nca1b_vnr_fe.wmv

About NutraCea

NutraCea is a world leader in production and utilization of stabilized
rice bran. They hold many patents for stabilized rice bran production
technology and proprietary nutraceutical formulas ranging from arthritis,
chronic bowel conditions, and effective diabetes control to cardiovascular
disease treatment protocols. NutraCea’s proprietary technology enables the
creation of food and nutrition products to be unlocked from rice bran,
normally a waste by-product of standard rice processing. Committed to
helping the under fed, they’re heavily involved in providing product and
technology for developing countries through NutraCea’s RiceAde feeding
program. More information can be found in the Company’s filings with the
SEC and you can visit the NutraCea web site NutraCea.

Forward Looking Statements

This release contains forward-looking statements. Actual results may
differ from those projected due to a number of risks and uncertainties,
including, but not limited to the possibility that some or all of the
pending matters considered by the Company may not proceed as contemplated
and the matters specified in the Company’s filings with the Securities and
Exchange Commission. These statements are made based upon current
expectations that are subject to risk and uncertainty. The Company does not
undertake to update forward-looking statements in this news release to
reflect actual results, changes in assumptions or changes in other factors
affecting such forward- looking information. Assumptions and other
information that could cause results to differ from those set forth in the
forward-looking information can be found in the Company’s filings with the
Securities and Exchange Commission, including the company’s most recent
periodic report.

NutraCea
raisingmalawi/

Japan’s Nuclear Crisis Could Create Serious Health Problems

Japan’s nuclear power plant crisis could create serious health problems if too much radiation is released into the atmosphere. Reactor problems at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant could lead to exposure to large amounts of radioactivity, which can be lethal to humans and has long-term health consequences.

Radioactive substances are dangerous because they are unstable molecules that are continually exploding. When they explode, they emit ionizing radiation containing a high amount of energy. When particles emitted from an exploding molecule hit a cell in the body, considerable damage ensues. Ionizing radiation is like a fusillade of miniature bullets hitting the body or miniature bombs that explode within cells.

There are two types of radioactive exposure:

1) Acute exposure to ionizing radiation. Particles, or energy waves emanating from the radioactive source, can penetrate the body and damage vital cellular machinery. The greatest concern is when it damages DNA, preventing it from making new proteins to keep the cell alive. Worse yet, it may begin to copy itself abnormally turning the cell into a cancer cell.

2) Chronic exposure arising from ingestion or inhalation of the radioactive material. Radioactive materials are released as gases or small particulates. The gases can be inhaled and absorbed into the body through the lungs. Particulates are also dispersed into the air and can also be inhaled. The particulate will ultimately settle on the ground, contaminating everything it contacts. It’s incorporated into plants growing on the contaminated ground, entering the food chain. This results in long-term sustained exposure to the radioactive molecules. Inside the body, the radioactive molecules continue to explode, damaging the cells in which they are located.

There are four types of radioactive materials (radioiosotopes) generally released during a nuclear meltdown.

Tritium (hydrogen-3) and nitrogen-16 are of moderate concern. The radioactive particles released from tritium travel less than a thousandth of an inch and have such low energy, they cannot penetrate skin. There is some danger from inhaled tritium because cells containing exploding tritium molecules can be damaged. Ingested tritium is eliminated from the body fairly rapidly.

Nitrogen-16 has a short half-life of 7 seconds. Within one minute of formation, less than 1 percent of it remains radioactive. However, it emits very high energy gamma radiation waves. The concern for exposure to nitrogen-16 is primarily to individuals very close to the site at which the nitrogen-16 is formed.

The greatest danger comes from cesium-137 and iodine-131. These radioisotopes emit relatively large amounts of energy. Cesium-137 has a half-life of 30.1 years, so it takes 200 years to decrease to 1 percent of its radioactivity. When inhaled or ingested, it mimics potassium, accumulates in muscle, and damages cells, especially their DNA. Damage to DNA is a leading cause of cancer.

Iodine-131 mimics non-radioactive iodine and accumulates in the thyroid gland. Iodine-131 has a half-life in the body of 7.6 days. The thyroid uses iodine to make thyroid hormone, which is critical for control of cellular metabolism. Iodine-131 accumulation in the thyroid gland can cause thyroid cancer. At excessive levels, it destroys the thyroid gland. Thyroid function is extremely important in infants because thyroid hormone is critical for brain development. Thyroid hormone deficiency causes cretinism, a disease associated with mental retardation and physical impairments.

Robert C. Speth, Ph.D., is a professor of pharmaceutical sciences at Nova Southeastern University’s College of Pharmacy.

Source:
Nova Southeastern University

Alzheimer’s Society And BBC Launch Brain Training Trial With A ‘Bang’

Alzheimer’s Society has teamed up with the BBC’s Lab UK to launch Brain Test Britain, a unique trial that will seek an answer to the question: Does brain training really work?

Launching on BBC One tonight (1930, Monday, 7 September 2009), Brain Test Britain will investigate the effects of brain training on mental fitness. Initial results will be announced in a Bang Goes the Theory special, early next year. The experiment will continue for a further nine months looking closely at whether brain training can maintain or even improve the brain. Alzheimer’s Society hopes results will be a step towards solving whether brain training can reduce the risk of dementia.

Celebrities and BBC presenters will be pitched against each other as they get ‘brain fit’. Supporters include BBC One’s Evan Davis and Alzheimer’s Society ambassadors Richard McCourt of Dick and Dom, Tania Bryer and Russell Grant.

Richard McCourt of Dick and Dom, Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador says,
‘I always wondered if any of these brain training gadgets and games really work. I’m looking forward to being trained up and finding out a lot more about how our brains function. The more we know about the brain, the nearer we’ll come to finding a cure for dementia – and that’s the reason why I want to be involved.’

Professor Clive Ballard, Director of Research, Alzheimer’s Society says,
‘Every week thousands of people spend time exercising their brain using some form of computer-based brain training, but the jury’s still out on whether exercising your brain can boost your brain power. As Brain Test Britain asks the question, everyone can help with the answer. With one million people set to develop dementia in the next 10 years, it’s vital we understand the truth behind the old saying use it or lose it. Join us today and have fun while helping to solve one of the biggest mysteries of the brain. Does brain training really work?’

Brain Test Britain will be powered by Lab UK, a BBC website that enables the public to participate in groundbreaking scientific experiments online. Volunteers are being asked to train their brains for 10 minutes at a time, three times a week, for at least six weeks. A one-off ‘Bang Goes The Theory’ special will reveal the results of the Brain Test Britain experiment early next year. Alzheimer’s Society advises that leading a healthy lifestyle is the best way to reduce your risk of dementia. The best evidence is to eat a healthy diet, keep active, don’t smoke, get blood pressure and cholesterol checked and keep a healthy weight.

Source
Alzheimer’s Society

Asthma May Be Overdiagnosed In Obese Patients

A new study reveals that, despite lack of evidence, obese patients are often diagnosed with asthma. Researchers at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in New Jersey studied 20 patients, all of whom had a diagnosis of asthma, but none of whom exhibited any spirometric evidence of airway obstruction. The body mass index (BMI) was calculated, and bronchoprovocations tests were performed. In all, 90 percent of patients had an above-normal BMI. Of that, 61 percent were nonreactive to methacholine, suggesting an overdiagnosis of asthma in obese patients. Researchers suggest bronchoprovocation testing should be considered in such patients.

CHEST 2006 abstract briefs

Contact: Jennifer Stawarz

American College of Chest Physicians