Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Study: Statin use tied to lower risk of depression

  • statin_drugs.gif

People with heart disease who take cholesterol-lowering statins may have a lower risk of depression than those who don't take the drugs, according to a new study from California.
It's still not clear whether the popular medications have anything to do with the brighter mood among users. But the results do support the hypothesis that clogged-up blood vessels in the brain could play a role in depression, said Dr. Christian Otte.
"It is possible that statins exert beneficial effects on depressive symptoms through protective effects on cerebrovascular processes," Otte, of the Charité University Medical Center in Berlin, told Reuters Health by email.
Statins are some of the most widely used drugs worldwide. Between 2005 and 2008, a quarter of U.S. adults over 45 took the drugs, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
While the drugs are generally considered safe, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday released a warning linking them to a slightly increased risk of diabetes and memory loss.
There have also been rare cases of liver and muscle damage related to statins.
To find out if the medications could have an effect on depression, Otte's group, which published its finding in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, tracked 965 people in California for several years. All of the participants had suffered a heart attack or had other signs of heart disease.
At the beginning of the study, 65 percent of the people were taking a statin, such as Lipitor, Crestor or Zocor.
Based on questionnaires about their mental health, 17 percent of statin users screened positive for depression at the beginning of the study compared to 24 percent of people not on the drugs.
Among those who had no mood problems initially, 18 percent of statin users and 28 percent of nonusers became depressed at some point over the six year study.

Pfizer recalls expired lot of Prevnar vaccine

Pfizer, the world's biggest drugmaker, is recalling one batch of its Prevnar pneumonia vaccine because it was filled with expired material, U.S. drug regulators said.
Pfizer began the recall on February 10, the Food and Drug Administration said on its website on Tuesday. The recall affected just one wholesaler, meaning the medicine had not yet reached doctors.
Prevnar 13 fights pneumonia, meningitis and other diseases caused by pneumococcus bacteria, and was recently approved for use in adults 50 and older. It had previously been approved for children.
Pneumonia caused by the pneumococcal organism is one of the biggest causes of death in older people and its incidence begins to increase after age 50. The FDA has said about 300,000 older adults in the United States are hospitalized each year for pneumonia.
The vaccine is poised to become one of Pfizer's biggest brands. Wall Street analysts, on average, have forecast Prevnar 13 sales of $4.42 billion this year, rising to $6.75 billion by 2016.
The recalled Prevnar syringes had been labeled as expiring on September 30, 2013 and had the lot number F73652, the FDA said.

FDA may fine Merck for lack of study on diabetes drugs

    Merck & Co Inc logo

U.S. drug regulators may fine Merck for failing to test whether its diabetes drugs Januvia and Janumet can raise the risk of an inflamed pancreas, according to a warning letter posted online on Tuesday.
Merck agreed to do a post-approval study of the drugs in mice to see if they increase the risk of acute pancreatitis, the Food and Drug Administration said in a warning letter dated February 17. Pancreatitis can be deadly if it is not treated.
The FDA sometimes requires companies to conduct additional trials of a drug after it is approved to resolve any uncertainty about safety. A company that fails to comply may be fined up to
"Your product is considered misbranded because you are in violation of a postmarketing requirement," Leslie Ball, acting director of the FDA's office of scientific investigations, in the letter to Merck.
"You have failed to comply with the approved timetable ... and failed to show good cause for not conducting the additional testing required."
Merck's blockbuster pill Januvia and the related drug Janumet help lower blood sugar levels in people who have type 2 diabetes, the kind linked to poor diet and lack of exercise.
The FDA approved Januvia in 2006, but later got reports of patients who developed an inflamed pancreas after taking the medicine. The agency asked Merck to study the link and see if its medicine was causing the problem.
Janumet pairs Januvia's drug, known generically as sitagliptin, with a widely used, older, generic medicine called metformin, which also helps to control blood sugar.
Merck has said all people with diabetes are more likely to develop pancreatitis, even without medication.
But Merck agreed to give sitagliptin to mice for three months to test pancreatic safety, the FDA said. The company was supposed to submit its study design to the FDA by June 15, 2010, and submit a final report by June 15, 2011.

Study: Men underestimate their own weight, overestimate weight of women

A new study finds a disparity in the way men view their own weight, compared to how they view the weight of their wives or girlfriends, MyFoxTwinCities reported.

Danish researchers found that while men tend to underestimate their weight, they tend to overestimate the weight of their female partner.  For example, even when women were at a healthy weight, men tended to view them as overweight.  According to the study, it only took a body mass index score of 22.59 for men to start classifying their partner as overweight, while medical guidelines classify a BMI of 25 or more as overweight.

Meanwhile, a percentage of men who were technically obese, with a BMI above 29.9, categorized themselves as normal.

Women, however, consistently saw themselves as heavier than they really were.  Women who were underweight perceived themselves as normal, while women who were at a normal weight saw themselves as overweight.

One-time treatment gets rid of cellulite

How To Get Rid of Cellulite! - 10 Secret Cellulitis Cures & Treatment Solutions
Ever since “showing some skin” hit the fashion scene, women have been looking for ways to get rid of cellulite.

Johanna Petrychi, a physician’s assistant from Queens, N.Y., is no exception – she has been dealing with cellulite since her ‘tween years.

"Even at 12 years old, you know, always going to the beach with friends; sitting down, I look over, I had dimples, they didn't have dimples,” Petrychi said. “And it was something that progressively got worse the older I got."

No matter how much she exercised, Petrychi didn't see a change, and it affected her everyday life.

"I always wore long shorts from as far back as I remember,” she said. “You know, whether it'd be going out to the beach, or trying to wear skirts; growing up everything just went to my knee," she said.

So in November 2010, she turned to Dr. Bruce Katz, director of the Juva Skin and Laser Center in New York City, who introduced her to Cellulaze, the first one-time laser treatment approved for cellulite by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Cellulite occurs when collagen bands under the skin pull down, causing hills of fat to push up – resulting in that infamous dimpled appearance.

"For the first time, we really actually have a laser that treats all three components of cellulite," Katz said.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Toddler fights for life after being BORN with Stage Four cancer passed on in womb from mother - who died two weeks ago

A nine-month-old baby is fighting for her life after being diagnosed with stage four cancer which was passed from her mother during pregnancy - a rare medical occurrence.
When police officer Briana Cox, from Phoenix, was diagnosed with melanoma after having a seizure when her daughter was three months old, doctors assured her the baby was healthy.
But Briana - whose own body was riddled with cancer - insisted on having her daughter tested, and doctors discovered she had the same cancer as her mother. It had also spread throughout the baby's body.
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Shock diagnosis: Briana Cox had no idea she - or her baby Addison - had cancer until three months after the birth when she had a seizure and was diagnosed, as was her daughter
Unaware: Police officer Briana Cox was diagnosed with cancer in 2006 and thought it was gone after routine checkups, when she became pregnant with her fourth child
Unaware: Police officer Briana Cox was diagnosed with cancer in 2006 and thought it was gone after routine checkups which did not detect it had returned
Addison was born with stage four melanoma, passed from her mother while in utero. It is such a rare medical occurrence, scientists only discovered it was even possible in 2009.
Briana Cox, did not know she had cancer when she was pregnant with her fourth child. 
First diagnosed with melanoma in 2006, she had surgery to remove the tumor and was given the all clear.


Although they suspected it for years, up until  October 2009, scientists did not know for sure whether or not cancer could be passed from mother to baby during pregnancy.
It was previously thought that if the cells did cross the placental barrier, the child's immune system should have recognized them as foreign invaders and destroyed them.
But a team at the Institute of Cancer Research, a college of the University of London, working with colleagues in Japan, found that cancer cells had defied accepted theories of biology and were able to pass undetected through the placenta because they became invisible to the immune system.
It usually happens when the mother carries a mutated cancer gene, which is a rare occurrence. Addison's case is only the ninth published and before 2009 there were only been 17 suspected cases.
Professor Mel Greaves, who led the study, said: 'It appears that in this and, we presume, other cases of mother-to-offspring cancer, the maternal cancer cells did cross the placenta into the developing fetus and succeeded in implanting because they were invisible to the immune system. 
'But we stress … the chances of any pregnant woman with cancer passing it on to her child are remote.'
She then went for routine checkups every three months, then every six and finally once a year. Doctors assured the mother-of-four there were no cancerous cells in her body.
But last June, only three months after giving birth to baby Addison, Briana had a seizure and doctors discovered the cancer was back.
Her husband James told 'They found she had metastasized malignant melanoma and it spread pretty much through her whole body, shoulder, lungs and brain - the worst of it being in her brain.
'We asked, "Why didn't anyone catch this?"'
He said, though doctors assured Briana her daughter was fine, she demanded they test her baby and she too was diagnosed.
Mr Cox said: 'It's very similar to her mother's - in the brain, one in her shoulder, in her lungs, kidney, liver, leg, even the back of her tongue.
'Bri went through the emotions of "my baby, my fault", but everyone told her it's not her fault.  No one took better care of themselves than her.'
Briana lost her battle with cancer on February 12 and the prognosis for her daughter is not good.
Doctors say there is no cure and she has been given just two more years to live. 
According to Phoenix Children's Hospital, this is the first case they've ever seen of its kind and Addison is only the ninth case ever published.
It was previously thought that if a mother did pass cancer through the placenta, the child's immune system would have detected and destroyed it.
Mother's instinct: Though doctors assured Briana her baby was fine, she insisted on having her tested and it was discovered she too had stage four melanoma all over her body as well
Mother's instinct: Though doctors assured Briana her baby was fine, she insisted on having her tested and it was discovered she too had stage four melanoma all over her body as well
Family: Briana lost her battle with cancer two weeks ago and leaves behind her husband and other children
Family: Briana lost her battle with cancer two weeks ago and leaves behind her husband and other children
Brave baby: Though she has only been given about two years to live, Addison Cox is a happy child and her father said she is a 'fighter, just like her mom'
Brave baby: Though she has only been given about two years to live, Addison Cox is a happy child and her father said she is a 'fighter, just like her mom'
But in 2009, scientists found a mutated gene in both cancers that makes them effectively invisible to the body’s defenses.
Professor Mel Greaves, from the University of London, who led the study, said: 'It appears that in this and, we presume, other cases of mother-to-offspring cancer, the maternal cancer cells did cross the placenta into the developing fetus and succeeded in implanting because they were invisible. '
Fundraisers are being held to raise money for Addison's medicine which may prolong her life and ease her suffering.
Mr Cox said of his daughter: 'You would think this is one of the happiest babies on the face of the earth. She's a fighter like her mom. She's showed no signs of pain.'

Read more:

Facts and myths about male infertility

Pregnancy Miracle Review
The wish to establish a family is a primal desire - but for 10-15 percent of couples in the United States, this may not be possible.

Every year, more than 1.2 million patients seek help in the arena of conception, often frustrated and confused.

Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive following 12 months of regular intercourse without the use of contraception. This period of time is shortened to 6 months for women 35 and older, as fertility gradually declines with age. Although, most assume that fertility is a female health problem, 50 percent of couples are actually affected by male factor infertility.

Male infertility is most commonly due to problems with sperm; either quantity, motility, or size and shape can impacts one’s ability to conceive. One of the most common cause of male infertility is a varicocele, which is found in 40 percent of infertile men. A varicocele is a group of dilated veins in the scrotom. For most men they don’t cause any issues and thus require no intervention. Some, however, can experience pain or impaired fertility. The dilated vessels increase the temperature of the scrotum, resulting in testicular damage and impaired sperm production. For that reason, when a couple is having difficulty conceiving and all other causes of an abnormal sperm analysis have been ruled out repair of the varicocele is recommended.

Many chronic conditions can also impact ones fertility. For instances, diabetes, which affects more than 25 million Americans, can result in abnormal ejaculation. Poor sugar regulation can result in nerve damage including those which are responsible for coordinating ejaculation. Liver cirrhosis can also impact fertility, as the condition is often associated with hormonal imbalances that can interfere with sperm production.

Additionally, drugs and environmental exposures can interfere with viable sperm production. Although it is well known, that drugs like alcohol, marijuana, heroin and cocaine can all impact the quality and quantity of sperm, even some prescription drugs can interfere with normal production. Antibiotics, antacids, antidepressants, gout, and blood pressure medications can also impact fertility. Similarly, exposure to heavy metals, such as lead and mercury, can influence sperm production.

As fertility can be impacted by so many variables, every clinical work-up begins with a detailed history and physical exam. Although at times tedious, the questions asked by the physician help direct the next steps by narrowing the possible diagnoses and subsequent treatments. Semen analysis is a critical step in the work-up of an infertile couple. Semen needs to be collected at least 3 months following any stressful events or febrile illnesses, as a fever can impair sperm production for up to 3 months.  These samples will be analyzed for several parameters that affect fertility, such as semen volume, sperm concentration, shape and size. The results of this analysis will greatly help narrow the possible causes.

Moms gain health benefits from breastfeeding, too

    Breast-feeding not only delivers health benefits to babies, it also improves mothers' health.
    The American Academy of Pediatrics reaffirmed its policy on breast-feeding Feb. 27, and in its statement, along with explaining the well-known benefits for babies of being breast-fed, the pediatricians' group also detailed the evidence for health benefits of breast-feeding for women.
    "Both short- and long-term health benefits accrue to mothers who breast-feed," the policy statement said.
    The benefits begin shortly after birth — women have less postpartum blood loss if they breast-feed. The uterus also shrinks back to its normal size more quickly in women who breast-feed, according to the statement.
    A mother's mental health gets a boost from breast-feeding, too — a 2003 study from Australia showed an increase inpostpartum depression in mothers who did not breast-feed, and those who weaned their babies early.
    Breast-feeding has longer-term effects as well.
    Research on the effects of breast-feeding on moms' abilities to return to their pre-pregnancy weight has been inconclusive because such studies tend to have many confounding factors, such as diet and activity levels. However, one study of more than 14,000 postpartum women who breast-fed exclusively for at least six months found they weighed less on average than those who didn't breast-feed.
    Among women who developed gestational diabetes, studies have found a 4 to 12 percent reduced risk of later developing Type 2 diabetes for each year a woman breast-feeds.
    Women who breast-feed for at least 12 months over the course of their life reduce their risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis by 20 percent, and those who breast-feed for at least 24 months cut their risk of developing that condition in half, according to data from the large, long-term Nurses Health Study.
    Heart disease and cancer
    Another large, ongoing study, the Women's Health Study, showed how breast-feeding benefited women's hearts. That research, involving 139,000 women, found an 11 percent reduction in hypertension, a 19 percent reduction in having too-high levels of fat in the blood, and an overall 10 percent reduction in heart disease risk.
    And women who cumulatively breast-feed for longer than a year have a 28 percent reduced risk of both breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
    The AAP recommends that babies receive only breast milk until they are 6 months old, and then continue to receive breast milk, along with other foods, until they are at least 1 year old.
    The doctors' group noted that there are cases where moms shouldn't breast-feed, such as when an infant has the metabolic disorder galactosemia, or when a mother has a certain disease, such as an active herpes infection or HIV, or is taking certain medications.  

    Heart attacks more common in the morning

    Heart attacks are five to six times more likely to occur in the early morning hours between 1 and 5 a.m., and studies have shown that morning heart attacks tend to be more severe than those that happen later in the day.

    Though it has often been assumed that this is partly due to the stress associated with going to work in the morning, a new study finds a more biological basis for the peak.

    The study, published in the journal Nature, has identified a link between your circadian rhythm and the rise in early morning heart attacks.

    Experts have known that the type of heart attack that tends to occur in the morning is called ventricular fibrillation, caused by a rapid irregular heart beat (rather than a heart attack caused by slowed heart rates).  The study, performed on mice, discovered events on the molecular level that can lead to these more rapid irregular heartbeats.

    Levels of a protein called KLF15 vary throughout the day, following the lead of the circadian clock, which governs hormonal rhythms in your body.  The study found that having too low or too high levels of KLF15 set off a cascade of events that change the potassium current, affecting the electrical recovery time of heart muscle cells.

    “This time interval is critical,” explains one of the study’s authors Dr. Xander Wehrens, professor of medicine in the department of cardiology at Baylor College of medicine in Houston, Texas.  “Too long or too short of an interval can result in abnormal heart rhythms called arrhythmias. As the heart loses the regularity of the beat, it cannot pump blood efficiently and a person can die suddenly."

    The research needs to be repeated in humans to see if KLF15 is as important. If it is, it could lead to medications that target arrhythmias.

    “Our work suggests that drugs that would fine tune electrical activity of the heart could perhaps prevent sudden cardiac death in the morning, but this remains to be studied,” says Wehrens.

    For now, there is some evidence that the early morning increase in heart attacks is related to stress and a spike in stress hormones and blood pressure, so managing your stress would certainly be helpful, as would lowering all your risk factors for heart disease.

    Popular sleep medications associated with increased risk of death

    prescription sleep medicationsAMBIEN: This sleeping pill requires increasing doses to maintain the same effect and is difficult to discontinue. (Tim Boyle/Getty Images)
    People taking certain prescription sleeping pills are four times more likely to die than people who do not—even if they are only taking low doses of the medication, according to researchers. The drugs are also linked with a significantly increased risk of cancer among people taking high dosages.

    Researchers from the Scripps Clinic Viterbi Family Sleep Center in La Jolla, Calif., and the Jackson Hole Center for Preventative Medicine, in Jackson, Wyo., tracked the survival of more the 10,500 people who were prescribed sleeping pills for approximately 2.5 years and then compared those rates with more than 23,500 people who had not been prescribed sleeping pills.  The average age of the participants was 54.

    The study, published in the online journal BMJ Open, included common sleep medications such as benzodiazepines, non-benzodiazepines, barbiturates and sedative antihistamines, which are sold commercially under names like Ambien, Restoril, Sonata and Lunesta.

    Participants assigned low doses of any of these medications—less than 18 pills per year—were more than 3.5 times more likely to die than people who did not take sleep medication, while those prescribed between 18 and 132 pills were more than four times more likely to die.

    For example, the researchers said there were 265 deaths among 4,336 people taking Ambien—the most frequently prescribed sleeping medication in the study—compared with 295 deaths among the 23,671 people who had not taken sedatives or sleeping pills in the same time period.

    People who took more than 132 pills a year were not only five times more likely to die, but were also at greater risk of developing several types of cancer, and 35 percent more likely to be diagnosed with any type of cancer, overall.

    Stem cell fertility treatments could be risky for older women

    fertility treatmentsHarvard scientists are challenging traditional medical logic that dictates that women are born with a finite amount of eggs.  The scientists said they have discovered the ovaries of young women harbor rare stem cells that are in fact capable of producing new eggs.
    If properly harnessed, those stem cells may someday lead to new treatments for women suffering from infertility due to cancer or other diseases – or for those who are simply getting older, according to the researchers.  Lead researcher Jonathan Tilly of Harvard's Massachusetts General Hospital has co-founded a company, OvaScience Inc., to try to develop the findings into fertility treatments.
    The idea that women are born with all the egg cells – called oocytes – they’ll ever have has been called into question by past research, which found egg-producing stem cells in adult mice.
    In this latest study, Harvard researchers, in collaboration with Japanese scientists, used donated frozen ovaries from 20 year olds and ‘fished out’ the purported stem cells.
    The researchers inserted a gene into the stem cells, which caused them to glow green.  If the cells produced eggs, those would glow green, too.
    The researchers first watched through a microscope as new eggs grew in a lab dish.  They then implanted the human tissue under the skin of mice to provide a nourishing blood supply.  Within two weeks, they observed green-tinged cells forming.
    While the work of the Harvard scientists does show potential, there are still questions as to whether the cells are capable of growing into mature, usable eggs.
    If so, researchers said, it might be possible one day to use the stem cells in order to grow eggs in lab dishes to help preserve cancer patients’ fertility, which can be harmed by chemotherapy.
    Now, I just want to say, while this would be a remarkable discovery – if it pans out – I do have a few concerns.
    I think for specific patients in prime, childbearing ages, who are at risk of losing their fertility for one reason or another, this could be a fruitful discovery for them.
    Be that as it may, I am totally against commercializing this technology to the point where women going through menopause look at this as another way of getting pregnant.  For many, this could create incredibly high-risk pregnancies, among other medical problems.

    Monday, February 27, 2012

    Smoking is cool, says DSquared: Cigarettes on the catwalk and the front row at Milan show

    For DSquared's last fashion show in September, they had models strolling up the catwalk with smudged make-up, in mud-splattered jeans and holding bottles of Heineken. 
    It was like being transported straight to Glastonbury.
    And just six months on, the Canadian designers have again taken a leaf out of Kate Moss' book by getting their models to walk down the runway in Milan holding cigarettes.
    Inappropriate or inspired? Models at the DSquared fashion show in Milan
    Inappropriate or inspired? Models at the DSquared fashion show in Milan
    Inappropriate or inspired? Models at the DSquared fashion show in Milan
    Ms Moss famously smoked at a Louis Vuitton show this time last year - flouting an indoor smoking ban in Paris.
    And a similar ban in Italy perhaps explains why the cigarettes held by DSquared models were mainly used as accessories. The women modelling brothers Dean and Dan Caten's Sixties-inspired outfits rarely brought the cigarettes anywhere near their mouths. 
    The same cannot be said for Zombie Boy, Lady Gaga's friend who was sitting in the front row. 
    Everyone's at it: Model Rick Genest, aka Zombie Boy, was smoking too - from the front row
    The tattoo-covered 26-year-old puffed away before the show as he posed for photographers.
    It really did seem like the whole show was geared up to give the message that smoking is cool.
    Or perhaps it was all just an homage to Mad Men?
    Interesting accessorisation: The models were smoking through elaborate cigarette-holders
    Interesting accessorisation: The models were smoking through elaborate cigarette-holders
    Sixties: The DSquared clothes showed off simple and sophisticated cuts
    In the American TV series about the advertising industry that is firmly set in the Sixties, all the protagonists smoke away at their desks.
    And many of the more sophisticated outfits being paraded down the catwalk in Milan wouldn't have looked out of place on Betty, Peggy or Joan.
    Even those wearing more modern, casual outfits including DSquared staples, distressed skinny jeans and sweatshirts, were styled with beehive hairdos and Sixties-style make-up.
    Going with the times: Smoking was a lot more acceptable in the Sixties than it is now
    Going with the times: Smoking was a lot more acceptable in the Sixties than it is now
    Going with the times: Smoking was a lot more acceptable in the Sixties than it is now
    Family-affair: Dean and Dan Caten, the Canadian brothers behind DSquared's designs - and the models in the show's school hall setting behind
    Smoking break's over: The models doing their final turn during the show in Milan today
    But it is the cigarettes the models were carrying that will make the most lasting impression - particularly as the show had a rather inappropriate school hall-style setting and many of the models must still be in their teens.
    Let's hope that that smoking is one fashion trend that will not catch on.

    Read more:

    Antidepressants viewed

    Antidepressants and Weight Gain

    Not long ago, a study was brought to my attention about the number of adolescents taking antidepressant medication was brought to my attention. I can’t say I was surprised. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data stating that one in 25 kids ages 12 to 17 in the U.S. are on antidepressants.

    I believe this is a problem that has been growing and is being ignored. It’s a little hidden secret that nobody wants to talk about. There is an avalanche of patients that for one reason or another have been diagnosed with depression or alleged depression. And it is far too easy to go to any physician and get a prescription for any type of antidepressant. The old days when you had to go to a psychiatrist to evaluate your mental state if you were depressed—are long gone. Now you can go to your general practitioner and tell them “listen, I’m sad, I’m depressed” and in many situations patients will get a prescription for an antidepressant right away.

    I think Americans are being aggressively over-diagnosed and have become too sensitive to minor health problems. We have started to believe that we shouldn’t have to live our lives with problems or depression, and picking up a pill is a quick fix to feel better. So we have set a mindset where folks don’t want to deal with any sort of issue – where you have aggressive campaigns by pharmaceutical companies to get everybody on the pill and that is a fact already in adults. But what is amazing and scary to me is that it is now an epidemic in kids. And that’s dangerous.

    The biggest risk for taking antidepressants is that one size does not fit all. For example, let’s take bipolar disorder. If you have bipolar disorder, which is a very common condition, and you’re given the wrong type of antidepressant, your problem could get worse. So the first thing that we have to recognize is, a psychiatrist with proper training is the person you need in order to make the proper diagnosis. Is it bipolar disorder? Is it something else? They are the only ones that should be able to prescribe these medications

    Group backs HPV shot recommendation for boys

       Teens getting vaccine AP


    Boys 11 years and up should get Merck & Co's Gardasil vaccine to protect them against HPV infections, which can cause genital warts as well as oral, penile and anal cancers, the nation's largest group of pediatricians said Monday.
    "What we are hoping will come out of this is that we can push this as a cancer vaccine," said Dr. Michael Brady of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). "We now have the ability to interrupt the transmission and the development of cancer."
    The new statement leans on recommendations released last year by U.S. vaccine advisers and updates the previous stance of the AAP, which until now had only backed routine vaccination for girls.
    HPV, or human papillomavirus, is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least half of all sexually active people will catch genital HPV at some point.
    The infection usually doesn't cause any symptoms and goes away on its own. But certain types of the virus may cause genital warts and, rarely, cancer.
    It's estimated that HPV types 16 and 18 are responsible for 7,000 cases of cancer in men every year in the U.S. and 15,000 cases in women, most of them cervical cancers.
    Clinical studies show HPV vaccines shield boys against genital warts and anal cancer, although the protection isn't complete. Vaccinating boys is also likely to protect women indirectly by preventing them from catching the viruses in the first place, the AAP says.
    Three doses of Gardasil, the recommended amount, cost about $360. U.S. health regulators have found no serious side effects apart from soreness at the injection site.
    "This definitely is a very safe vaccine," agreed Brady, also of Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
    The vaccines are most effective from age nine through 15, but boys and men up to 21 should still be vaccinated if they missed out earlier, the AAP says.
    For 11- and 12-year-old girls, the group continues to recommend three shots of Gardasil or GlaxoSmithKline's Cervarix, which has not been approved for boys. Girls and women 13 through 26 who have not been vaccinated should also get the shots.

    Report: Women have rare egg-producing stem cells

    For 60 years, doctors have believed women were born with all the eggs they'll ever have. Now Harvard scientists are challenging that dogma, saying they've discovered the ovaries of young women harbor very rare stem cells capable of producing new eggs.

    If Sunday's report is confirmed, harnessing those stem cells might one day lead to better treatments for women left infertile because of disease - or simply because they're getting older.

    "Our current views of ovarian aging are incomplete. There's much more to the story than simply the trickling away of a fixed pool of eggs," said lead researcher Jonathan Tilly of Harvard's Massachusetts General Hospital, who has long hunted these cells in a series of controversial studies.

    Tilly's previous work drew fierce skepticism, and independent experts urged caution about the latest findings.

    A key next step is to see whether other laboratories can verify the work. If so, then it would take years of additional research to learn how to use the cells, said Teresa Woodruff, fertility preservation chief at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine.

    Still, even a leading critic said such research may help dispel some of the enduring mystery surrounding how human eggs are born and mature.

    "This is going to spark renewed interest, and more than anything else it's giving us some new directions to work in," said David Albertini, director of the University of Kansas' Center for Reproductive Sciences. While he has plenty of questions about the latest work, "I'm less skeptical," he said.

    Scientists have long taught that all female mammals are born with a finite supply of egg cells, called ooctyes, that runs out in middle age. Tilly, Mass General's reproductive biology director, first challenged that notion in 2004, reporting that the ovaries of adult mice harbor some egg-producing stem cells. Recently, Tilly noted, a lab in China and another in the U.S. also have reported finding those rare cells in mice.

    Know your numbers: Important tests to keep your heart healthy


      Doctors and researchers have amazing knowledge about the human body in general. But all that knowledge doesn’t do me any good if the doctor can’t apply it to my personal situation.
      An important part of solving my health issues has been to have tests done and to compare the results to my previous tests.  This allows my doctors to see if things are getting better or worse.  When you first have a test done, especially at an early age when you are healthy, it gives your doctor a baseline reading of how your body functions at its best.  That information will become even more important as you get older and things start to change.  Your doctor can learn all sorts of important things by comparing later results to the baseline test.
      As women, we know we need to have PAP smears and mammograms to check for cancer.  It’s smart to get these tests done when recommended so we can know whether there is something we need to deal with or not.
      But don’t stop there. The leading killer of women is heart disease, meaning it’s important to get the tests that will help you take care of your heart.  I’m talking about blood tests for cholesterol – HDL which is the good cholesterol, LDL which is the bad one, and triglycerides.   And follow up by getting your cholesterol numbers so you can figure out what they mean.  Don’t be afraid of your numbers!
      With HDL, higher is definitely better.  LDL is the opposite so you want that one to stay low, along with your triglycerides.  Your doctor can tell you if your numbers are in a good range, or you can look it up online.   The American Heart Association website has a great explanation of what all the numbers mean.
      I also think it’s important to have a baseline treadmill test as well as an echocardiogram.  The treadmill gives the doctor an important reference point for when your heart is really working, in case you start to have problems later in life.  The same is true with the echocardiogram – your doctor just puts some stickers on your chest, hooks up the wires, and the machine gets a reading of how your heart is beating.  It’s a great way to make sure your heart is firing the way it should be.
      If you’re having blood drawn, checking your sugar levels should be standard procedure.  The same is true of your hormones.  All the systems in your body are connected by your hormones, including the insulin that controls your sugar levels.  So if one thing starts to go out of balance, it can cause a ripple effect that can cause problems in all other parts of your body.