Thursday, October 20, 2011

Health Breast HER2 Cancer, C-diff Kills Autism Causes, Alzheimer’s BP ACE Inhibitors 50% Less

Tags: Health Breast HER2 Cancer, C-diff Kills, Autism Causes, Alzheimer's BP ACE Inhibitor 50% Less, Omega-3 FA Osteoarthritis Cure

Protein That Fuels Lethal Breast Cancer Growth Emerges as Potential New Drug Target

ScienceDaily (Oct. 17, 2011)

A protein in the nucleus of breast cancer cells that plays a role in fueling the growth of aggressive tumors may be a good target for new drugs, reports a research team at the Duke Cancer Institute.

The finding, published in the Oct. 18, 2011, print issue of the journal Cancer Cell, presents a potential new way to inhibit breast cancer growth among so-called estrogen receptor negative cancers, which are especially lethal because they don't respond to current hormone therapies.

"This is validation of a new drug target for a subset of breast cancers that have poor treatment options," said the study's senior author, Donald McDonnell, PhD., chairman of the Duke Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology.

In about 75 percent of breast cancers, the growth of tumors is driven by estrogen. Current treatments for these tumors work by blocking the effects of the hormone.

But about 25 percent of breast cancers are not fueled by estrogen. Among the most common malignancies in this category are HER2-positive tumors, where human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 is in excess on the surface of tumor cells. Treatments have been developed to disable the activity of HER2 and impede tumor growth, but the tumors often grow resistant.

McDonnell and his team focused on a protein inside the nucleus of tumor cells that has a relationship with HER2. Known as estrogen-related receptor alpha (ERRα), the protein was identified in the 1980s and misleadingly dubbed an estrogen receptor. It is not; instead, it controls genes involved in energy metabolism.

But ERRα does appear to play a role in spurring tumor growth in breast cancers. Using a genomic analysis to profile 800 breast tumors, McDonnell's team identified a correlation between the activity of the protein and the aggressiveness of estrogen-negative malignancies.

"When that ERRα receptor is active, the outcome of these patients is much, much worse," McDonnell said. "The question is why?"

The protein appears to ignite tumor growth after getting a signal from different hormone receptors. One trigger is HER2, the growth factor receptor, and another is IGF-1R, which binds to an insulin-like hormone. As a result, ERRα is active in all breast cancer tumors where either HER2 or IGF-1R is also active, a scenario that occurs most frequently in estrogen receptor negative cancers.

Using a drug candidate that is still investigational, the scientists found they could shut down ERRα in cellular models of breast cancer even without knowing everything that was causing its activation. By silencing ERRα with the experimental drug in laboratory tests, the researchers stopped the tumor cells from proliferating. …

Infection: How Hospitals Are Breeding Grounds for Superbugs You've Never Even Heard Of

We don't think of hospitals as places where we can get sick. But that's what they are, far more commonly than the healthcare industry wants us to know.

Anneli Rufus, October 19, 2011 |

Hospitalized for pneumonia, Lisa Thayer's mother was suddenly gripped with painful cramps and a bout of diarrhea that Thayer calls "explosive."

"It had a horribly distinctive smell -- a gross almost-sweetness that made me close my eyes. The hospital staff recognized it immediately," says Thayer, a Houston architect. "They said, 'Uh oh. It's C-diff.'" …

An infected person's feces contain bacteria that form sturdy disinfectant-resistant spores that can survive in the open for five months. A hand touches a contaminated surface, then enters a mouth. Think you're not eating shit? In hospitals, you quite possibly are.

According to a recent article in American Family Physician, 13 percent of patients hospitalized for up to two weeks catch Clostridium difficile, as do 50 percent of those hospitalized for four weeks or more. But you needn't be a patient to catch C-diff. All you need do is visit a hospital.

Over the last decade, C-diff has morphed into a superbug. A new epidemic strain emerged in 2004 that is now making C-diff ever more virulent, drug-resistant, prevalent and lethal. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that C-diff kills nearly 30,000 people in America every year. Some experts call this a low estimate. …

C-diff is the meanest new microbial kid on the block. … Children, seniors and people with health problems -- especially those taking antibiotics or undergoing chemotherapy -- face the highest risk of contracting C-diff when visiting hospitals.

"But anyone can develop C-diff if the spores enter their mouth," says former New York State Lieutenant Governor Betsy McCaughey, who combats HAIs through her advocacy group, the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths. "Visiting a hospital recently, I saw a child in the elevator eating French fries and touching all the surfaces. I wished that I could explain to the parents that these invisible C-diff spores are on everything."

That is, everything that infected people's feces have touched. And those explosive, watery C-diff feces have a knack for traveling. We're talking walls, sinks, toilets, linens, light switches, furniture, wheelchairs, drapes, handles, knobs, telephones, trays, uniforms, buttons, doors and floors. Standard cleaning methods with alcohol and ammonia products won't kill C-diff spores; pretty much only bleach can.

"Don't bother using alcohol-based hand sanitizers," McCaughey warns. "They won't work. Wash with soap and water -- but even then, you're not killing the germs. Soap doesn't kill them. You're just washing them down the drain. …

McCaughey exhorts hospital administrators to enforce rigorous cleaning protocols and discourage children from visiting. She applauds the 27 state laws now on the books requiring hospitals to track and disclose their HAI rates. Delaware's Hospital Infections Disclosure Act, for example, penalizes noncompliant hospitals with fines and yanks their licenses. …

Resistance to empiric antimicrobial treatment predicts outcome in severe sepsis associated with gram-negative bacteremia.

J Hosp Med. 2011; 6(7):405-10 (ISSN: 1553-5606)

Micek ST; Welch EC; Khan J; Pervez M; Doherty JA; Reichley RM; Hoppe-Bauer J; Dunne WM; Kollef MH
Pharmacy Department, Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis, Missouri.

BACKGROUND: Gram-negative bacteria are an important cause of severe sepsis. Recent studies have demonstrated reduced susceptibility of Gram-negative bacteria to currently available antimicrobial agents.

METHODS: We performed a retrospective cohort study of patients with severe sepsis who were bacteremic with Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Acinetobacter species, or Enterobacteriaceae from 2002 to 2007. Patients were identified by the hospital informatics database and pertinent clinical data (demographics, baseline severity of illness, source of bacteremia, and therapy) were retrieved from electronic medical records. All patients were treated with antimicrobial agents within 12 hours of having blood cultures drawn that were subsequently positive for bacterial pathogens. The primary outcome was hospital mortality.

RESULTS: A total of 535 patients with severe sepsis and Gram-negative bacteremia were identified. Hospital mortality was 43.6%, and 82 (15.3%) patients were treated with an antimicrobial regimen to which the causative pathogen was resistant. Patients infected with a resistant pathogen had significantly greater risk of hospital mortality (63.4% vs 40.0%; P < 0.001). In a multivariate analysis, infection with a pathogen that was resistant to the empiric antibiotic regimen, increasing APACHE II scores, infection with Pseudomonas aeruginosa, healthcare-associated hospital-onset infection, mechanical ventilation, and use of vasopressors were independently associated with hospital mortality.

CONCLUSIONS: In severe sepsis attributed to Gram-negative bacteremia, initial treatment with an antibiotic regimen to which the causative pathogen is resistant was associated with increased hospital mortality. This finding suggests that rapid determination of bacterial susceptibility could influence treatment choices in patients with severe sepsis potentially improving their clinical outcomes. Journal of Hospital Medicine 2011. © 2011 Society of Hospital Medicine.

Autism Brain Development Low-Fat Diet Avoiding Sun Using Sunscreen Too Much

Dr. Stephanie Seneff, Posted by Dr. Mercola, October 19, 2011,

Just about everyone in America is convinced of two well-established tenets for how to live a long and healthy life:

  • Eat a low-fat diet
  • Avoid the damaging rays of the sun

My goal in this essay is to convince you that these two tenets, taken together, are extremely bad medical advice, and that the consequences of our government's success in selling this well-intended but misguided recommendation to the American public are devastating and long-lasting, particularly to our nation's children.

In fact, I have now formed a mental profile of the prototypical mother of an autistic child: she would be a woman who is extremely conscientious about avoiding foods that are high in fat content.

She would be very vigilant to protect herself from the harmful rays of the sun whenever she ventures outside, and she would be very careful to stay pencil thin and to keep herself physically fit.

In short, to most Americans, she would be the epitome of good health.

How Diet and Sun Exposure May Impact Your Chances of Having Autistic Child

The onset of menstruation will not occur until the body fat content rises above 17 percent. Young female athletes often find that menstruation is delayed, or that their menstrual periods are suddenly shut down, likely because their exercise has upset the ratio of muscle to fat to the point where Mother Nature considers it a bad bet to risk a pregnancy. Ballet dancers and gymnasts, who must stay thin but still be very strong, are at great risk of having their menstrual cycles shut down completely [1]. Human biology wants fat not just on the person, but also in the diet, if a pregnancy is in the wings.

This fact has been proven quite conclusively by a recent analysis of data from the Nurses' Health Study, an ambitious long-term study involving over 18,000 nurses, which has yielded a wealth of data on issues related to women's health.

Dr. Jorge Chavarro at the Harvard School of Public Health analyzed data on their dietary practices over an eight year period, and looked for correlations with various health issues (Dairy Fat Fertility). Of all the dietary associations that were investigated, the one associating fat in dairy consumption with fertility gave the most striking and statistically significant results. Women who said they ate low-fat diary (e.g., skim milk and low-fat yogurt) increased their risk of infertility by 85 percent, whereas women who consistently ate high-fat dairy (whole milk and ice cream) decreased their risk by 27 percent [2].

Consider this: chicken eggs are now considered "unhealthy" due to their high concentration of cholesterol.

They are also one of the best food sources of vitamin D. This is to say, a mother hen supplies her unborn chick with nutritional supplements that include a rich supply of cholesterol and a rich supply of vitamin D. Cow's milk is also high in fat, unless it's been manipulated into skim milk, and would be high in natural vitamin D if it weren't pasteurized (the high temperature destroys the vitamin D).

We now artificially restore synthetic vitamin D to replace what's been destroyed by pasteurization, a process that can't work well with skim milk, since vitamin D is only soluble in fat, and there is none.

We can conclude that a mother cow loads up the milk she feeds to her newborn calf with fats and vitamin D. Even fish supply their offspring with plenty of vitamin D and cholesterol, as evidenced by the fact that caviar (fish eggs) is high in fat and a good source of vitamin D. Human milk has an even higher fat content than cow's milk; 55 percent of the calories in breast milk are from fat. It would also be loaded with vitamin D if the mother had not aggressively protected herself from the "damaging" rays of the sun. Mother Nature considers it important for newborns, whether chicks or calves or fish or human infants, to be well supplied with fats and vitamin D, in order to assure healthy development.

The most crucial role for both vitamin D and cholesterol in the embryo is in the development of the brain and central nervous system. …

Could Hypertension Drugs Help People With Alzheimer's?

ScienceDaily (Oct. 17, 2011) Within the next 20 years it is expected the number of people with Alzheimer's disease (AD) will double from its current figure of half a million to one million. A new study has looked at whether certain types of drugs used to treat high blood pressure, also called hypertension, might have beneficial effects in reducing the number of new cases of Alzheimer's disease each year.

The team of researchers from the University of Bristol have looked at whether drugs already being used to treat hypertension, particularly ones that specifically reduce the activity of a biochemical pathway, called the renin angiotensin system, might reduce the occurrence of Alzheimer's and another common type of dementia called vascular dementia.

The study, conducted with the support from North Bristol NHS Trust and published online in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, stems from work by one of the team's members, Dr Patrick Kehoe. Dr Kehoe, who is a Reader in Translational Dementia Research and co-leads the Dementia Research Group at Frenchay Hospital, Bristol, is a leading authority on the possible role of the renin angiotensin system in Alzheimer's.

This pathway is very important in blood pressure regulation and, for at least a decade, links between hypertension and dementia have been known but poorly understood.

In more recent years it has been shown that certain signals produced by this pathway contribute to a number of the damaging effects often seen in the brains of people with Alzheimer's. These include memory loss, lowered blood circulation in the brain, higher levels of brain inflammation and increased levels of brain cell death due to reduced oxygen circulation. …

Omega-3 Fatty Acids Shown to Prevent or Slow Progression of Osteoarthritis

ScienceDaily (Oct. 17, 2011) New research has shown for the first time that omega-3 in fish oil could "substantially and significantly" reduce the signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis.

According to the University of Bristol study, funded by Arthritis Research UK and published in the journal Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, omega-3-rich diets fed to guinea pigs, which naturally develop osteoarthritis, reduced disease by 50 per cent compared to a standard diet.

The research is a major step forward in showing that omega-3 fatty acids, either sourced from fish oil or flax oil, may help to slow down the progression of osteoarthritis, or even prevent it occurring, confirming anecdotal reports and "old wives' tales" about the benefits of fish oil for joint health.

Lead researcher Dr John Tarlton, from the Matrix Biology Research group at the University of Bristol's School of Veterinary Sciences, said classic early signs of the condition, such as the degradation of collagen in cartilage and the loss of molecules that give it shock-absorbing properties, were both reduced with omega-3.

"Furthermore, there was strong evidence that omega-3 influences the biochemistry of the disease, and therefore not only helps prevent disease, but also slows its progression, potentially controlling established osteoarthritis," he said. …

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