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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

News Flash

Body Fat? It's in the Genes
The actions of 3 specific genes determine how many fat cells you have and how they are distributed, researchers say. The findings come from doctors at Harvard's Joslin Diabetes Center and the University of Leipzig, Germany. Using new gene-chip technology and fat samples from nearly 200 people, they identified 3 multiple developmental genes that are important in the early development of the embryo, and play a major role in body pattern, face formation, and skeletal development. Some scientists believe environmental factors affect gene activity, but Harvard Professor C. Ronald Khan, MD, says it's too soon to know whether people can change what their fat genes dictate.
When Antacids Aren't Enough
Incidence of an esophageal disease called adenocarcinoma have jumped six fold in the last 30 years and doctors now suspect that chronic heartburn may be driving the nation's fastest-increasing form of cancer. Doctors now are warning people who have had severe gastric esophageal reflux disease, or GERD, for many years not to keep popping over-the-counter acid blockers instead of seeing a doctor. "One of the big problems is if you wait until it produces symptoms, it's almost impossible to cure," says Dr. Kenneth DeVault, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla.
Statins May Aid in Heart Valve Disease
Long thought to be the result of wear and tear, heart valve disease now appears to be caused by a potentially reversible chronic inflammatory process, according to Dr. Nalini Rajamannan in an online report published by the Journal of American College of Cardiology. "Our findings open the door to the idea that medical therapies such as statins may be able to play a role in preventing or slowing the process, and curtailing the need for surgery," Dr. Rajamannan said.
Cholesterol Linked to Prostate Cancer
Italian researchers now believe that cholesterol may be used by the body to produce male hormones which have been linked to prostate cancer, according to a study published in the Annals of Oncology. The findings are based on evidence from a study of 2,745 men which found that men with prostate cancer were 50% more likely to have had high cholesterol levels. Those diagnosed with prostate cancer before the age of 50 and after the age of 65 were as much as 80% more likely to have had high cholesterol. Other experts said study findings were plausible, but disputed the hormone theory.


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