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Health Headlines - April 2

Posted Oct 23 2008 2:24pm
Brain Scans Predict Benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Brain scans can predict which patients suffering from depression will benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy, a new study says.

Results of the study, by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, appear in the April issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

"We found that people with depression who have increased activity in one area of the brain and decreased activity in another in response to emotional stimuli are more likely to respond to a specific treatment -- cognitive therapy," said Greg J. Siegle, assistant professor of psychiatry at the university.

The researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to identify the brain areas that were active or inactive when exposed to a negative stimulus. While undergoing fMRI, 14 unmedicated participants with depression and 21 control subjects who had never reported symptoms of depression were presented with emotional words and asked if those words applied to them. The participants with depression then completed 16 sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy over 12 weeks as part of a larger clinical trial.

The researchers found that compared to the control participants, nine of the people with depression had decreased activity in a region of the brain called the subgenual cingulate cortex after they read negative words. Of those nine, seven recovered from their depressive symptoms after cognitive behavioral therapy, the researchers said.

Mumps Epidemic Reported in Iowa

In what U.S. health officials are describing as the nation's largest mumps outbreak in at least 17 years, nearly 245 diagnosed or suspected cases of the disease have been reported in Iowa since mid-January.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it is the nation's only outbreak, which the agency defines as five or more cases in a concentrated area, the Associated Press reported.

"We are calling this an epidemic," said Iowa state epidemiologist Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, adding that mumps has spread to more than one-third of the state and does not appear to be limited to certain age groups or other segments of the population.

The CDC said the agency has no explanation for the outbreak. But Quinlisk said one possible explanation is that the infection originated in England because the strain in Iowa has been identified by the CDC as the same one that has caused tens of thousands of cases of mumps in a major outbreak in Britain over the past two years, the AP said.

Daylight-Saving Time Starts

Daylight-saving time kicked in at 2 a.m. Sunday. That means you may have lost an hour of sleep but you gained an hour of daylight.

It will end Oct. 29.

Next year, most Americans will be able to enjoy an even longer stretch of daylight-saving time: President Bush has signed a law changing the dates of daylight-saving time. In 2007, daylight time will start three weeks earlier, March 11, and end one week later, Nov. 4, according to the Associated Press.

Daylight-saving time isn't observed in Arizona, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.

New Study Links Cell Phone Use to Brain Cancer

In what's being described as the largest, long-term study of its kind, new research from Sweden resurrects the claim that cell phones may cause brain cancer.

The report, published Friday in the International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, said prolonged cell phone use or use early in life may be putting millions of people at heightened risk of brain tumors. The report defined heavy use as 2,000 hours or more in a lifetime, while early use was defined as cell phone use before age 20, the Boston Herald reported.

The researchers, from the Swedish National Institute for Working Life, compared the use of cell phones among 2,200 cancer patients and an equal number of healthy study participants. Among the cancer patients, who were between 20 and 80 years old, 905 had malignant brain tumors and about 10 percent were also frequent cell phone users, the Herald reported.

The survey contradicts the findings of other studies that found no connection between cell phones and brain cancer. According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, there's no definitive answer about whether cell phones cause cancer, because available information is only based on short-term studies. But, several major studies show no evidence linking cell phones and cancer at this time, the NIH said.

Food Fact:
Protect your baby!

Moms-to-be need to keep certain foods off-limits. Alcohol, caffeine and artificial sweeteners top the list; take a timeout until after your pregnancy. Ditto for soft cheeses (feta, goat, brie, camembert, blue-veined cheeses such as Roquefort, and all cheeses with unpasteurized milk or milk products; raw, rare or smoked fish, poultry or meat (sushi, tartar, carpaccio, smoked salmon); deli meats and cold cuts; and fish with high mercury levels.

Fitness Tip of the day:
Mind over yoga mat-ters.

Increase confidence, control stress and promote peace of mind -- it's all in the poses. Yoga also improves your posture and circulation, and increases your flexibility, strength and coordination. Many cities have a yoga association that provides information about various types of classes. Check the Yellow Pages under "yoga instruction," or call a local fitness center for the names of studios. The cost is typically $15 to $20 per class, with discounts for multiple classes.

FAQ of the day:
How does dairy fit into a diet?

They can make it easier -- or make it harder. The key is dairy fat, which, like all fat, has lots of calories. An 8-oz. glass of whole milk has 150 calories, while the same amount of fat-free milk has only 85. Similarly, a 1/4 cup of regular sour cream has 100 calories, while the same amount of fat-free sour cream has only 70. Your best bet is to make sure all your diary products are low-fat (no more than 3 grams total per serving) or fat-free.
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