Health Updates 9 November 2011

  • Study debunks operation to prevent strokes: “An operation that doctors hoped would prevent strokes in people with poor circulation to the brain does not work, researchers are reporting.  A $20 million study, paid for by the government, was cut short when it became apparent that the surgery was not helping patients who had complete blockages in one of their two carotid arteries, which run up either side of the neck and feed 80 percent of the brain.  The surgery was a bypass that connected a scalp artery to a deeper vessel to improve blood flow to the brain.  The new study, published on Wednesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association is the second in recent months to find that a costly treatment, one that doctors had high hopes for, did not prevent strokes.  In September, researchers reported that stents being used to prop open blocked arteries deep in the brain were actually causing strokes.  That study was also cut short.”  (Denise Grady, NY Times)
  • Vaccine may slow advance of breast, ovarian cancers: Ovarian and breast cancer patients with limited tumor burden and minimal prior chemotherapy may benefit from a recombinant poxviral vaccine, according to researchers with the National Cancer Institute (NCI)….They also noted that some patients showed good clinical responses to subsequent therapies following the study.  This suggests that once a vaccine triggers a response from the immune system, it may start a ‘prolonged, dramatic process’ that could lead to increased responses to any following therapy.” (Kurt Ullman, MedPage Today)
  • Really? The claim: drink eight glasses of water a day to protect the kidneys  “The old saw about drinking eight glasses of water a day for overall health is widely considered a myth.  But research over the years has suggested that drinking extra water helps the kidneys clear sodium, urea and toxins from the body….’Believe it or not, there now does seem to be some merit and evidence to support the ‘myth’ that eight large glasses of fluid a day is good for your kidneys,’ said Dr. William Clark, an author of the study and a nephrologist at the London Health Sciences Center in Ontario.”  So, the bottom line: “A moderately increased intake of fluids may protect the kidneys.” (Anahad O’Connor, NY Times)
  • Autism linked to excess neurons: “Children with autism appear to have bigger brains with more neurons than normal for their age, a small preliminary study affirmed….These new findings are the first direct evidence that neurons, and not glial or other cell types, appear to be responsible, the researchers pointed out.  Neurons in nearly all regions of the brain are generated before birth and the excessive head and brain growth also occur before clinical manifestations of the disorder, an accompanying editorial noted.” (Crystal Phend, MedPage Today)

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