Patients Prefer Doctors Who Face Them Rather Than Computer Screen

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Ali Haider, MBBS MD

Assistant Professor, Department of Palliative Care and Rehabilitation Medicine
Division of Cancer Medicine
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Houston, TX 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Patients with chronic and serious illnesses such as cancer often experience high physical and psychosocial symptoms. Recent studies have reported association of physicians’ examination room computer use with less face to face interactions and eye contact. It’s important for the clinicians to look for certain physical cues to better understand the well being of their patients. Therefore we conducted this randomized clinical trial to understand patients perception of physicians compassion, communication skills and professionalism with and without the use of examination room computer.

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Oropharyngeal Cancer Rising In Incidence and Costs to Over $140,000

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

David R. Lairson, PhD Professor of Health Economics Division of Management Policy and Community Health Co-Director, Center for Health Services Research School of Public Health The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth)

Dr. Lairson

David R. Lairson, PhD
Professor of health economics
Department of Management, Policy, and Community Health
The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The study of oropharyngeal cancer treatment cost was initiated by the Head and Neck Cancer Surgery Department at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center as part of a larger study of the economic and health consequences of human papillomavirus (HPV) related conditions in Texas.  State specific information is required for policy-makers to consider future investments in cancer prevention based on HPV immunization and cancer screening.  The cost estimates at $140,000 per case for the first two years of treatment are substantially higher than previous estimates.  They indicate the potential savings associated with cancer prevention and partially justify increased investment in immunization efforts.

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New Gene Mutation Found to Cause Retinitis Pigmentosa in SW USA Hispanics

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Stephen P. Daiger, PhD TS Matney Professor of Environmental and Genetic Sciences Human Genetics Center, School of Public Health and Mary Farish Johnston Distinguished Chair of Ophthalmology Ruiz Dept. of Ophthalmology and Visual Science The Univ. of Texas HSC at Houston

Dr. Daiger

Stephen P. Daiger, PhD
Professor, Human Genetics Center
Thomas Stull Matney, Ph.D. Professor in Environmental and Genetic Sciences
Mary Farish Johnston Distinguished Chair in Ophthalmology
The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Thanks for your questions about our research.  My research group and I have a long-term interest in finding genes and mutations causing inherited retinal diseases.  Our main focus is on retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and, more specifically, the autosomal dominant form of RP.

Inherited retinal diseases are progressive, degenerative diseases of the retina.  Onset can be very early in life, even at birth, or much later in life.  As the degeneration develops an affected person may first experienced limited loss of vision, progressing to severe loss of vision, ending, in many cases, in legal or complete blindness.  About 300,000 Americans are affected by inherited retinal disease and 50% of these have RP.  RP, like most hereditary conditions, can be inherited in an autosomal dominant, autosomal recessive or X-linked fashion.

One of the surprising, and in some sense, disturbing findings in studying  retinitis pigmentosa is that mutations in many different genes can cause this disease.  We now know that mutations in more than 80 genes can cause RP and thousands of different mutations have been found in these genes.  With next-generations sequencing it is possible to find the cause of RP in from 50% to 80% of cases, depending on the underlying mode of inheritance.For example, in our research we can find the disease-causing mutation in about 75% of families with autosomal dominant RP.  Needless to say, a primary aim of our research is to find the cause in the remaining 25%.

In looking for the cause of retinitis pigmentosa in the remaining 25%, that is, those in whom mutations were not detected by earlier methods, we found a potential dominant-acting mutation in the arrestin-1 gene (gene symbol “SAG”) using whole-genome sequencing.  Molecular modeling suggests this mutation is damaging.  This was unexpected because previously-reported mutations in this gene were associated with Oguchi disease, a recessive retinal disease with symptoms distinct from RP.  On further testing our cohort of patients with autosomal dominant RP, we found this mutation in nearly 4% of families.  Even more surprisingly, when we looked closely at the affected families, and worked with our collaborators to test other patients, we discovered that all of the families with the dominant-acting SAG mutation — 12 total — were of Hispanic origin.  By interviewing informative family members we learned that these families have their roots in the Southwestern United States.  Historically, the mutation may have arisen hundreds of years ago, consistent with genetic variation tracking with the mutation.

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Fixed-Dose Blood Pressure Medications Save Money In The Long Run

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Kalyani B. Sonawane, PhD Assistant Professor/ PhD Program Director Department of Health Services Research, Management and Policy College of Public Health and Health Professions University of Florida Gainesville, FL 32610

Dr. Sonawane

Kalyani B. Sonawane, PhD
Assistant Professor/ PhD Program Director
Department of Health Services Research, Management and Policy
College of Public Health and Health Professions
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32610

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Almost one-third of Americans have high blood pressure. Of those patients who are prescribed medication to control their blood pressure, about 30 percent have problems with side effects and nearly 50 percent will not have their blood pressure controlled within the first year of taking medication. In such scenarios, physicians have the option to either add a medication, such as fixed-dose combination, to the patient’s regimen or gradually increase a patient’s dose of their current drug to achieve blood pressure control; and gradually decrease the dose of their current drug or switch to a different drug to resolve side effects. Using healthcare claims data, we compared the economic impact of these alternative treatment modification strategies.

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Animal Study Suggests Lorcaserin (Belviq®) May be Useful to Reduce Opioid Intake

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Christina R. Merritt and Kathryn A. Cunningham
Center for Addiction Research
University of Texas Medical Branch
Galveston, TX 77555

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Opioid use disorder (OUD) is one of the top public health problems in the United States. Overdoses on prescription opioids, heroin and fentanyl accounted for 33,091 deaths in the U.S. in 2015 (https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm655051e1.htm); each day, 91 Americans die from an opioid overdose (https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/epidemic/). The first-ever Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs and Health (https://addiction.surgeongeneral.gov/ ) observed that more people used prescription opioids than tobacco in 2015. Furthermore, individuals with OUD, the most problematic pattern of opioid abuse, often relapse, particularly in environments associated with past drug use, and new means to help maintain abstinence are needed.

Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine; 5-HT) function in the brain, particularly through its cognate 5-HT2C receptor, is an important regulator of the abuse liability of cocaine and other psychostimulants. Previous studies suggested that the weight loss medication and selective 5-HT2C receptor agonist lorcaserin (Belviq®) can curb cocaine- and nicotine-seeking in preclinical models, even when tested in tempting environments. We administered lorcaserin to rats who were trained to take the powerful painkiller oxycodone (OxyContin®), a prescription opioid currently approved for treatment of acute and chronic pain with characteristically high abuse potential. Lorcaserin suppressed oxycodone intake as well as the drug-seeking behaviors observed when rats were exposed to cues such as the lights and sounds previously associated with drug intake. Taken together, these findings highlights the therapeutic potential for lorcaserin to extend abstinence and enhance recovery from OUD.

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BRCA Testing Shifts From Cancer Patients to Unaffected Women

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Fangjian Guo, MD, PhD Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Women’s Health University of Texas Medical Branch Galveston TX

Dr. Fangjian Guo

Fangjian Guo, MD, PhD
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Women’s Health
University of Texas Medical Branch
Galveston TX

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: BRCA testing in patients diagnosed with early-onset breast or ovarian cancer can identify women with high-risk mutations, which can guide treatment. Women who learn they have a high-risk mutation may also want to inform family members that they may also carry a high-risk mutation.

Additionally, BRCA testing can be used to identify high-risk mutation carriers before they develop breast or ovarian cancer. Carriers can then manage their cancer risks with screening (MRI/mammogram), chemoprevention, or prophylactic surgery. Current guidelines recommend BRCA testing for individuals who are considered high-risk for breast or ovarian cancer based on personal or family history.  However, this practice fails to identify most BRCA mutation carriers. It is estimated that more than 90% of mutation carriers have not been identified. One of the issues is that many women who do get tested are actually low-risk and do not have any personal or family history of breast or ovarian cancer.

This study assessed how BRCA testing was used in the US health care system during the past decade. We found that in 2004 most of the tests (75.7%) were performed in patients who had been diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer. Only 24.3% of tests were performed in unaffected women. However, since 2006, the proportion of BRCA tests performed in unaffected women has increased sharply, with over 60% of the tests performed in unaffected women in 2014.

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Mutliple Sclerosis: Ocrelizumab Lowers Rate of Disease Progression and Disability

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jerry S. Wolinsky, MD Emeritus Professor in Neurology McGovern Medical School part of UTHealth | The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Houston’s Health University Department of Neurology Houston, Texas 77030

Dr. Jerry Wolinsky,

Jerry S. Wolinsky, MD
Emeritus Professor in Neurology
McGovern Medical School
The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Houston’s Health University
Department of Neurology
Houston, Texas 77030

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Multiple sclerosis (MS) clinically is a very heterogeneous disease. It presents in considerably different ways and has a very poorly predictable clinical course. In an attempt to better communicate between experts in the field, there have been multiple attempts to categorize “typical” courses of the disease. How we think about the disease is in part driven by these somewhat artificial categories that lump our patients into those with relapsing forms of the disease (relapsing remitting with or without accumulating clinical disability, and secondary progressive with accumulating disability eventually occurring even in the absence of apparent clinical episodes of the disease), and primary progressive MS, where patients are slowly or sometimes rather rapidly accumulating disability in the absence of prior clinical relapses.

However, the distinctions between multiple sclerosis patients are not always as clear as the definitions would suggest, and it is certain that patients with primary progressive multiple sclerosis sometimes have clinical relapses after years of never having had relapses, and show MRI evidence of having accumulated many lesions in the brain over the course of their disease. Until now, none of the drugs that have shown benefit for relapsing disease have been able to convincingly show clinical benefit for patients with primary progressive disease, and for that matter have shown variable results when attempted in patients categorized as having secondary progressive courses. While some of our currently approved drugs have shown hints of benefit when tried in major clinical trials in primary progressive MS, the results were not been robust enough to seek regulatory approval.

The Oratorio study design was based on lessons learned from prior trials in primary progressive and relapsing forms of MS, as well as the recognition that B cells might play an important role in the immunopathogenesis of disease based on a considerable amount of preclinical work and observations in patients with multiple sclerosis.

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Can Low Dose Oral Nicotine Have Beneficial Health Effects?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

U. H. Winzer-Serhan Ph.D. Associate Professor Department of Neuroscience and Experimental Therapeutics Texas A&M Health Science Center

Dr. Ursula H. Winzer-Serhan

Ursala. H. Winzer-Serhan Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Neuroscience and Experimental Therapeutics
Texas A&M Health Science Center

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Nicotine is a plant alkaloid that is naturally occurring in the tobacco plant. Smoking delivers nicotine to the brain where it acts as a stimulant. Tobacco and electronic cigarette smoking delivers many other chemicals to the body, which are harmful and can cause cancer.

However, the drug nicotine by itself is relatively benign and poses few health risks for most people. Nicotine acts in the brain on nicotinic receptors, which are ion channels that are widely expressed in the brain. They play an important role in cognitive functions. Research with rodents and in humans has shown that nicotine can enhance learning and memory, and furthermore, can protect neurons during injuries and in the aging brain. With the increasingly older population, it becomes more and more important to delay cognitive decline in the elderly. Right now, there is no drug available that could delay aging of the brain.

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Almost 5 Million Unnecessary Pap Smears Done Annually In Women With Hysterectomy

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Fangjian Guo, MD, PhD Assistant Professor BIRCWH Scholar Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Women’s Health The University of Texas Medical Branch

Dr. Fangjian Guo

Fangjian Guo, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor
BIRCWH Scholar
Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology
Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Women’s Health
The University of Texas Medical Branch

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: National guidelines consistently recommend against cervical cancer screening among women with a history of a total hysterectomy for a benign condition. These women are unlikely to develop high-grade cervical lesions. The goal of our study was to assess whether these guidelines are being followed. We examined the use of Pap testing among US adult women with a history of total hysterectomy for a benign condition and the roles of health care providers and patients in the initiation of Pap test use.

We found that in 2013, 32% of women who have had a hysterectomy received an unnecessary recommendation for cervical cancer screening from a health care provider in the past year; 22.1% of women with hysterectomy received unnecessary Pap testing. Although the majority of Pap tests were performed at a clinician’s recommendation, approximately one fourth were initiated by patients without clinician recommendations. According to standard 2010 US Census population figures, about 4.9 million unnecessary Pap tests are performed annually among women who have had a total hysterectomy for a benign condition. At approximately $30 per test, $150 million in direct medical costs could be saved annually if screening guidelines were followed for these women.

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Statin Users Have Lower Incidence of Uterine Fibroids

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Mostafa Borahay, MD, PhD, FACOG Assistant Professor Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Galveston, TX

Dr. Mostafa Borahay

Mostafa Borahay, MD, PhD, FACOG
Assistant Professor
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Galveston, TX

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Uterine fibroids are the commonest tumors of the female reproductive system. More than 50% of women are estimated to have uterine fibroids. In fact, 1 out of 4 women undergo a hysterectomy in the United States and half of these hysterectomies are due to fibroids.
Recently we demonstrated that statins, drugs used to fight high cholesterol, have anti-tumor effects on uterine fibroids as shown in cells and animal models.

In this current study, we examined the incidence of uterine fibroids and fibroid-associated symptoms in women taking statins for high cholesterol. We performed this using large national patient database.
We found that compared to non-users, statin users have lower incidence of uterine fibroids. Furthermore, they have less heavy bleeding, pelvic pain and other fibroid-associated symptoms. Also, they needed less surgeries to remove tumors (myomectomy).

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Currently, we don’t have a successful, safe long term medical treatment for uterine fibroids. Surgeries, typically a hysterectomy, is commonly performed for fibroids. This study provide some evidence that a safe long term medical treatment can be available for treating these tumors. This provides hope for many women, especially those interested in preserving their childbearing potential.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: After finding strong evidence from cellular and animal experiments and using patient databases, our next step is clinical trials. We plan to start a clinical trial for statins in women with fibroids in the near future. The established safety of statins represents a huge advantage.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: The successful work over the last few years stresses the huge benefits from and the critical need for a multidisciplinary teams in medical research. Our team included clinicians, basic scientists and biostatisticians and epidemiologists.

Also, there is a need for more funding for medical research. Scientific research to discover innovative treatments requires funding and therefore the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other funding bodies have a large responsibility to fulfil.

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.

Citation:

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2016 Jun 28. pii: S0002-9378(16)30381-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2016.06.036. [Epub ahead of print]
Statin Use and Uterine Fibroid Risk in Hyperlipidemia Patients: A Nested Case-Control Study.
Borahay MA1, Fang X2, Baillargeon JG2, Kilic GS3, Boehning DF4, Kuo YF2.

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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Could Methylene Blue Improve Memory in Patients With Cognitive Impairment?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Timothy Q. Duong, Ph.D Stanley I. Glickman MD Professor of Ophthalmology, Radiology, and Physiology South Texas Veterans Health Care System, VA Southwest National Primate Research Center University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio, Texas

Dr. Timothy Duong

Timothy Q. Duong, Ph.D
Stanley I. Glickman MD Professor of Ophthalmology, Radiology, and Physiology
South Texas Veterans Health Care System, VA Southwest National Primate Research Center
University of Texas Health Science Center
San Antonio, Texas

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: A single oral dose of methylene blue increased fMRI response in the bilateral insular cortex during a task that measured reaction time to a visual stimulus. The fMRI results also showed an increased response during short-term memory tasks involving the brain’s prefrontal cortex, which controls processing of memories. Methylene blue was also associated with a 7 percent increase in correct responses during memory retrieval. The findings suggest that methylene blue can regulate certain brain networks related to sustained attention and short-term memory after a single oral low dose.

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Requests for Abortions in South American Rise Dramatically Since Zika, Especially in Brazil

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Abigail R.A. Aiken, MD, MPH, PhD Assistant Professor LBJ School of Public Affairs University of Texas at Austin Austin, TX, 78713

Dr. Abigail Aiken

Abigail R.A. Aiken, MD, MPH, PhD
Assistant Professor
LBJ School of Public Affairs
University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX, 78713

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: As Zika began to emerge as an epidemic in Latin America and its links with microcephaly began to be realized, we were aware that women in the region who were already pregnant or who would become pregnant would have a very limited set of reproductive options. Research and media attention about the possible biological effects of Zika in pregnancy began to appear rapidly. But much less attention was been paid to the impacts of Zika on women. We followed the responses of governments and health organizations and when they began to issue advisories warning women to avoid pregnancy, we knew it would be important to investigate the impacts of those advisories. A country-wide policy that is impossible to follow if you are pregnant or cannot avoid pregnancy is an unusual and important public issue. Accurate data on abortion are very difficult to obtain in Latin America because in most countries, abortion is highly restricted. We wanted to provide a window on the issue of how women were responding to the risks of Zika and its associated advisories, so we worked with Women on Web (WoW), an online non-profit telemedicine initiative that provides safe medical abortion to women in countries where safe, legal abortion is not universally available.

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Fixing An Evolutionary Omission: Adding Proof-Reading to Reverse

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jared Ellefson, PhD Postdoctoral fellow University of Texas Austin's Center for Systems and Synthetic Biology

Dr. Jared Ellefson

Jared Ellefson, PhD
Postdoctoral fellow
University of Texas Austin’s Center for Systems and Synthetic Biology

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Reverse transcriptases (RT) have revolutionized the field of biology – enabling the conversion of RNA into DNA. This initially allowed the cloning of mature messenger RNA into cDNA libraries (e.g. cloning human genes), but has since been finding a more modern role in high throughput RNA-seq which can accurately depict the physiological status of a cell. Despite its critical role, an inherent flaw exists in all known reverse transcriptases. They make many errors while copying RNA – due to the lack of an error-checking (proofreading) domain. Consequently, the errors produced in reverse transcription are propagated into RNA sequencing potentially leading to corrupted data.

The reason for the low fidelity of reverse transcriptases is due to their evolutionary heritage. All RTs are evolved from polymerase enzymes which lack the proofreading domain. This is in stark contrast to certain DNA polymerases which have extreme fidelity. The idea was, what if you could take a high fidelity DNA polymerase and transform it into a high fidelity RT. To do this we developed directed evolution techniques that would enrich these DNA polymerases for reverse transcriptase activity. After a monumental engineering effort, we were left with the world’s first reverse transcriptase that could error-check during polymerization. We found that this increased the fidelity of RNA sequencing, in addition to a number of other interesting properties (for instance this single enzyme can do both reverse transcription and PCR).

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Fat Cells Signal Cancer to Become More Aggressive

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Mikhail Kolonin, PhD, Associate Professor Director, Center for Metabolic and Degenerative Diseases Harry E. Bovay, Jr. Distinguished University Chair in Metabolic Disease Research The Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Houston, TX 77030

Dr. Mikhail Kolonin

Mikhail Kolonin, PhD, Associate Professor
Director, Center for Metabolic and Degenerative Diseases
Harry E. Bovay, Jr. Distinguished University Chair in Metabolic Disease Research
The Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Houston, TX 77030

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Epidemiology studies have indicated that in obese patients progression of prostate, breast, colorectal, and other cancers is more aggressive. Adipose (fat) tissue, expanding and undergoing inflammation in obesity, directly fuels tumor growth. Adipose tissue is composed by adipocytes and stromal/vascular cells, which secrete tumor-trophic factors. Previous studies by our group have demonstrated that adipose stromal cells, which support blood vessels and serve as adipocyte progenitors, are recruited by tumors and contribute to cancer progression. Mechanisms underlying stromal cell trafficking from fat tissue to tumors have remained obscure. We discovered that in obesity a chemokine CXCL1, expressed by cancer cells, attracts adipose stromal cells to tumors.

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Weight Loss Improves Quality of Life But Not Atrial Fibrillation Ablation Outcomes

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Sanghamitra Mohanty, MD MS FHRS

Director, translational research, Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute and Associate Professor (affiliate) Dell Medical School

What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Mohanty:  In the last few years, several trials from a research group in Australia have generated tremendous interest in life-style modifications to manage AF more effectively. These studies reported significant decrease in arrhythmia burden and symptom severity and improvement in ablation outcome in patients with paroxysmal and persistent atrial fibrillation. We investigated the impact of weight-loss on procedure outcome in terms of arrhythmia burden, quality of life and arrhythmia-free survival in long-standing persistent (LSPAF) patients undergoing catheter ablation.

Our main findings were the following;

  1. In patients with long-standing persistent atrial fibrillation, weight loss improved quality of life but had no impact on symptom burden and long-term ablation outcome
  2. No change in AF type or status was detected after the weight loss
  3. Extensive ablation including pulmonary vein (PV) isolation plus ablation of posterior wall and non-PV triggers resulted in comparable outcome in both groups at 1-year follow-up, irrespective of weight-loss interventions (63.8% vs 59.3%, p=0.68).

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Poor Outcomes with FIRM-ablation Alone in Non-Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Sanghamitra Mohanty, MD MS FHRS
Director, translational research, Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute and Associate Professor (affiliate) Dell Medical School

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Mohanty: In patients with atrial fibrillation, Focal Impulse and Rotor Modulation (FIRM)-ablation alone or in combination with pulmonary vein (PV) isolation has been documented to possibly be a better alternative to PV isolation only. However, none of those trials had a randomized study design. The current study was the first attempt to compare 3 ablation strategies namely FIRM ablation alone (group 1), FIRM +PV isolation (group 2) and PV isolation combined with ablation of non-PV triggers (group 3) in a randomized controlled trial in persistent and long-standing persistent AF.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Dr. Mohanty: Our main findings were the following:

1)      Procedure time was significantly shorter in group 3 (no FIRM ablation) compared to group 1 and 2 (with FIRM ablation)

2)      FIRM-ablation alone had very poor outcome in terms of arrhythmia recurrence (86%)

3)      FIRM ablation plus PV isolation had significantly longer procedure time and lower efficacy than PV isolation + non-PV trigger-ablation (52.4% vs 76%, p=0.02).

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High Fructose Diet During Pregnancy Predisposes Children to Obesity

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Antonio Saad, MD Fellow in Maternal Fetal Medicine University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

Dr. Antonio Saad

Antonio Saad, MD
Fellow in Maternal Fetal Medicine & Critical Care Medicine
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Saad: Recently the WHO announced an alarming news, the prevalence of diabetes has increased four fold in the past quarter-century. The major factors attributed for this increase included excessive weight, and obesity. In the US alone, two thirds of people are either overweight or obese. There are shocking numbers that should alert physicians, patients and government officials for awareness and interventions that we can alter the path away from this drastic epidemic.

In light of recent events, our group strongly believes that poor diet during pregnancy predisposes offspring in adult life to develop obesity and diabetes through fetal programming. High fructose introduction into our food chain has coincided with the obesity and diabetes epidemics. Hence, we designed an animal study where we fed pregnant mice with either regular diet or high fructose diet until delivery. Then we looked at the offspring, at 12 months of age. We looked at  their blood pressure, glucose tolerance tests, insulin resistance,  and weights. We also tested for serum marker of metabolic dysfunction and used computed tomography imaging to assess for liver fat infiltration and percent visceral adipose tissue. To our surprise, these offspring (mothers were fed high fructose diet) developed several features of metabolic syndrome.  Female offspring’s cardiovascular and metabolic function at one year of age (adulthood) had increased weight, blood pressure, visceral adiposity, liver fat infiltrates and  insulin resistance with impaired glucose tolerance).  The  male counterparts were limited to high blood pressure  and glucose intolerance. Keeping in mind that the amount of fructose given to these animals were equivalent to daily soda cans consumption in humans.

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Epidemic of Burnout Among Physicians, Especially Surgeons, Is Increasing

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Francesca M Dimou, MD Research Fellow University of Texas Medical Branch Galveston, TX

Dr. Francesca Dimou

Francesca M Dimou, MD
Research Fellow University of Texas Medical Branch
Galveston, TX

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Dimou: Burnout is a syndrome defined by emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a low sense of personal accomplishment. Over the past decade the problem of physician and surgeon burnout has come to the forefront. The demands on physicians at academic healthcare institutions are expanding rapidly and include increasing regulation, increased demands on clinical productivity, difficulty funding research efforts, medicolegal liability, inefficient systems, loss of autonomy, rising student debt, and difficulty balancing professional and personal lives. This challenges the wellbeing of everyone in the organization, including the physicians and the patients they treat.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Dr. Dimou: Our systematic review identified a significant number of studies reporting on surgeon burnout with rates exceeding 50% in some surgical specialties. Even more striking, is that the incidence of burnout among surgeons is increasing steadily and the consequences of burnout impact all aspects of their professional and personal lives. Review of the literature demonstrates that surgeons meeting criteria for burnout had an increased probability of committing and reporting medical errors, increased depression, and increased suicidal ideation. Most importantly, despite the strong data highlighting that magnitude, acuity, and consequences of the burnout problem, we could not find definitive, reproducible intervention programs for surgeons dealing with burnout, nor could we identify prevention programs.

MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Dimou:    The epidemic of burnout among physicians, and surgeons in particular is increasing. The unique surgical culture adds additional challenges. Surgeons are perfectly capable of “running on empty”, continuing to see patients and meet other expectations long after they are completely drained and exhausted. In fact, their ability to do this is a core component of their medical education and training. The surgical environment is one that discourages “weakness”; it is an environment that teaches surgeons to feel guilty if they take care of themselves. There are many system and culture issues in surgery and medicine that need to be addressed. The article highlights the need to design interventions to both help physicians who are already burned out as well as develop interventions to improve physician wellbeing at the individual level while working to make needed changes in the system as a whole.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Dimou:    Research has already significantly raised awareness around burnout and its consequences. The next step is to identify intervention and prevention programs for physicians to promote physician wellbeing and resiliency – teaching surgeons to respond to their stressful environment in a way that promotes their wellbeing. Several programs throughout the country are beginning to promote physician wellbeing, such as the Balance in Life Program at Stanford and the Physician Well-being Program at Mayo Clinic. Such programs need to be designed and studied systematically to identify effective, reproducible, and scalable interventions to allow for widespread adoptability.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Dr. Dimou:    A career in surgery can be an unparalleled privilege. Being a surgeon truly gives you the ability to change someone’s life and a surgical career will always require time, hard work, and sacrifices; we teach surgeons to operate and teach them to take care of patients, but we don’t teach them to respond to their environment effectively. The ramifications of continuing on the current path are potentially profound. If we do not change the system and create a surgical culture that promotes wellbeing we are at the risk of losing not only our current surgeon workforce, but also the best and brightest of the next generation. Systematic efforts to improve physician wellbeing at the individual level and change surgical culture to support this change are essential. 

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.

Citation:

Surgeon Burnout: A Systematic Review
Dimou, Francesca M. et al.
Journal of the American College of Surgeons , Volume 0 , Issue 0 ,
Published Online:March 25, 2016

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2016.03.022

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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Signaling Pathway Could Be Target of New Triple Negative Breast Cancer Treatment

Click Here for More Articles Related To Breast Cancer on MedicalResearch.com.

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Chunru Lin PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology,
Division of Basic Science Research and
Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Lin: Triple-Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) continues to be a serious healthcare problem despite improvements in early detection and treatment; lncRNAs are one of the emerging elements that make the process of understanding breast cancer development and progression so complex yet thorough. Thus, it is imperative to include an examination of lncRNAs when studying breast cancer, especially when researching challenging questions related to relapses and recurrences of breast cancer that occur after targeted therapeutic treatments. A perspective that incorporates lncRNAs into the discussion of breast cancer biology could be the conceptual advance that is necessary to encourage further breakthroughs.

Our research reveals the biological functional roles of cytoplasmic lncRNAs as signaling pathway mediators and catalysts that serve as indispensable components of signal transduction cascades and gene networks. This understanding could transform the prevailing dogma of the field of signal transduction. This study has identified a previously unknown mechanism for HIF stabilization and signal transduction, which is triggered by the HB-EGF bound EGFR/GPNMB heterodimer and is mediated by LINK-A-dependent recruitment of two kinases, BRK and LRRK2, to phosphorylate HIF1α at two new sites, leading to HIF1α stabilization and interaction with p300 for transcriptional activation; this further results in cancer glycolytic reprogramming under normoxic conditions. LINK-A is the first demonstrated lncRNA that acts as a key mediator of biological signaling pathways, which suggests the potential for the involvement of other lncRNAs as mediators of numerous signaling pathways.

Importantly, expression of LINK-A and activation of the LINK-A mediated signaling pathway are both correlated with TNBC. Targeting LINK-A with LNAs (Locked Nucleic Acids) serves as an encouraging strategy to block reprogramming of glucose metabolism in TNBC with therapeutic potential.  Continue reading

Delaying Chemotherapy After Breast Cancer Surgery Can Decrease Survival

Mariana Chavez Mac Gregor, MD, MSC Assistant Professor, Tenure track Department of Health Services Research Division of Cancer Prevention The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Houston, TX

Dr. Chavez-MacGregor

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Mariana Chavez Mac Gregor, MD, MSC
Assistant Professor
Breast Medical Oncology Department
Health Services Research Department
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Chavez Mac Gregor: Adjuvant chemotherapy has proven to significantly decrease the risk of recurrence among breast cancer patients, however the optimal time to start adjuvant chemotherpay remains unknown. There are biological resasons to believe that a delay in the initiation of systemic therapy can be associated with adverse outcomes. In this large study we evaluated the impact of a delay in the initiation of time to chemotherapy (TTC).  We analyzed data from 24,843 patients with invasive breast cancer (stages I to III) from the California Cancer Registry and observed that compared with patients who received chemotherapy within 31 days of surgery,  no adverse outcomes were associated with time to chemotherapy of 31 to 90 days of surgery. However, there was  a 34 % increase in the risk of death and a 27% increase in the risk of breast cancer specific death  among patients who started  chemotherapy 91 or more days after surgery. In a stratified analysis according to breast cancer subtype, patients with triple-negative breast cancer, a TTC greater than 91 days  was  significantly  associated with worse overall and breast cancer-specific survival.

In addition we evaluated factors associated with delays in  time to chemotherapy (defined as > or = 91 days) and observed that many of the factors are sociodemographic in nature including low socioeconomic status, non-private insurance, and being Hispanic or African American.

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White Coat Hypertension Is Not Benign and Should Not Be Ignored

Dr. Wanpen Vongpatanasin MD Program Director, Hypertension Fellowship Program Professor of Internal Medicine Director of the University of Texas Southwestern Hypertension ProgramMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Wanpen Vongpatanasin MD
Program Director, Hypertension Fellowship Program
Professor of Internal Medicine
Director of the University of Texas Southwestern Hypertension Program

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Vongpatanasin: Home blood pressure measurement may reveal very different number when compared to clinic blood pressure in hypertensive patients.  This difference can manifest as white coat hypertension (White Coat Hypertension; elevated office blood pressure with normal ambulatory or home blood pressure), or masked hypertension (MH; elevated ambulatory or home BP with normal office blood pressure).  Although numerous epidemiological studies from Europe and Asia have shown increased cardiovascular risks associated with White Coat Hypertension and masked hypertension, previous studies have not addressed cardiovascular outcomes associated with White Coat Hypertension and masked hypertension in the general population in the United States.

We found that  participants in the Dallas Heart Study, a multiethnic populational-based study in the Dallas County, both White Coat Hypertension and MH are associated with increased aortic stiffness and markers of kidney damage when compared to the group with normal blood pressure both at home and in the clinic. Furthermore, both white coat hypertension and masked hypertension are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular events, including coronary heart disease, stroke, atrial fibrillation, heart failure, and cardiovascular death over a median follow-up period of 9 years.

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Smoked, Charred Meat Raises Increases Carcinogens, Risk of Kidney Cancer

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Xifeng Wu, M.D., Ph.D
, Professor, Epidemiology
Stephanie Melkonian, Ph.D
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: This study examines dietary intake of meat-cooking mutagens and genetic risk factors associated with kidney cancer in a population of 659 kidney cancer patients and 699 matched healthy control subjects from the community. We calculated the intake of several cancer-causing carcinogens that are produced when certain types of meat are cooked over an open flame and at high temperatures resulting in the burning, smoking or charring of the meat (for example, during barbequing or pan-frying). We found that kidney cancer patients consumed more red and white meat when compared to the healthy individuals, and also had higher intake of these cancer-causing chemicals created through the meat cooking process. These results suggest that meat intake, and the way we cook our meat, may potentially be linked to risk of kidney cancer. Additionally, we found that individuals with certain genetic variants were more likely to be susceptible to the harmful effects of the cancer-causing mutagens created during the process of cooking meat.

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‘Everything in Moderation’ Might Actually Increase Obesity Risk

Dr. Marcia C. de Oliveira Otto MD PhD Division of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences The University of Texas Health Science Center School of Public Health, Houston, TexasMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr.  Marcia C. de Oliveira Otto MD PhD
Assistant professor 
Division of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences
The University of Texas Health Science Center
School of Public Health, Houston, Texas 

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

 Dr. Otto: Eat a variety of foods, or food diversity, is a long standing public health recommendation because it is thought to ensure adequate intake of essential nutrients, to prevent excessive intakes of less healthy nutrients such as refined sugars and salt, thus promoting good health. However there hasn’t been empiric evidence from populational studies testing this hypothesis. In our study, we characterized three metrics of diet diversity and evaluated their association with metabolic health using data from 6,814 participants in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, including whites, blacks, Hispanic-Americans, and Chinese-Americans in the United States, including the total count (number of different foods eaten in a week), evenness (the distribution of calories across different foods consumed), and dissimilarity (the differences in food attributes relevant to metabolic health, such as fiber, sodium or trans-fat content). We then evaluated how diet diversity was associated with change in waist circumference five years after the beginning of the study and with onset of Type 2 diabetes ten years later. We also examined the relationship between diet quality and the same metabolic outcomes. Diet quality was measured using established scores such as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) and the Alterative Healthy Eating (AHEI) score.

When evaluating both food count and evenness, we found no associations with either increase in waist circumference or incidence of diabetes. In other words, more diversity in the diet was not linked to better metabolic outcomes. Participants with greater food dissimilarity actually experienced more central weight gain, with a 120 percent greater increase in waist circumference than participants with lower food dissimilarity. Contrary to what we expected, our results showed that participants with greater diversity in their diets, as measured by dissimilarity, had worse diet quality. They were eating less healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables, and more unhealthy foods, such as processed meats, desserts and soda.

When evaluating diet quality, we found about a 25 percent lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes after 10 years of follow up in participants with higher diet quality. There was no association between diet quality scores and change in waist circumference.  Continue reading

Biomarker May Predict Cancers Grow With Anemia Drug

Anil K. Sood, M.D

Dr. Anil Sood

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Anil K. Sood, M.D.
Professor of Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Sood: Erythropoietin is an important drug for managing anemia, but concerns have surfaced that it might promote cancer growth. The data with the conventional epo-receptor were not convincing with regard to an explanation for why tumor growth might increase. Therefore, we considered whether there could be an alternative receptor to explain these findings. We carried out a systematic search and identified EphB4 as the alternative receptor that explained the increased tumor growth in response to epo.

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Heart Failure Risk Reduced With Increased Physical Activity

Ambarish Pandey, MD Cardiology Fellow, PGY5 University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas 75390MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Ambarish Pandey, MD

Cardiology Fellow, PGY5
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center,
Dallas, Texas 75390

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Berry: Physical inactivity is considered a major modifiable risk factor for coronary artery disease and the current guidelines recommend atleast 150 min/week (~ 500 MET-min/week) of moderate intensity physical activity to reduce the burden of coronary artery disease. In contrast, the role of physical activity in reducing risk of heart failure is not emphasized in the current guidelines. This is particularly relevant considering the increasing burden of heart failure in the community. Against this background, we performed this study to the dose-response relationship between physical activity levels and risk of heart failure.

We observed a dose dependent inverse association between physical activity levels and heart failure risk. Furthermore, we observed that the current guideline recommended physical activity levels (500 MET-min/week) are associated with only modest reduction in HF risk (< 10%). In contrast, a substantial reduction in heart failure risk was observed at twice and four times the recommended physical activity levels (19% and 35% risk reduction respectively)

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Transient Neonatal Hypoglycemia Linked To Poorer Educational Attainment Ten Years Later

Jeffrey R. Kaiser, MD, MA Professor of Pediatrics and Obstetrics and Gynecology Section of Neonatology Baylor College of Medicine Texas Children's Hospital Houston, TX 77030MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Jeffrey R. Kaiser, MD, MA

Professor of Pediatrics and Obstetrics and Gynecology
Section of Neonatology
Baylor College of Medicine
Texas Children’s Hospital
Houston, TX 77030

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Kaiser:  The continuous utero-placental-umbilical infusion of glucose ends at birth, and levels decrease during the first 1–2 hours stimulating counterregulatory hormones and promoting successful glucose homeostasis in healthy newborns. This is important because the newborn brain principally uses glucose for energy, and prolonged and severe hypoglycemia has been linked with poor long-term neurodevelopment. Most previous newborn hypoglycemia-outcome studies, however, are problematic because they did not control for maternal educational level and socioeconomic status, factors that are highly associated with childhood neurodevelopment and academic success. Further, little is known about whether newborn transient hypoglycemia (1 low value followed by a second normal value), frequently considered to be a normal physiological phenomena with no serious sequelae, is associated with poor academic achievement. To address this knowledge gap, we compared initial newborn glucose values from the universal glucose-screening database, available only at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), to their matched student achievement-test scores in 4th grade (10 years later).

After controlling for gestational-age group, race, gender, multifetal gestation, insurance, maternal education, and gravidity, we observed transient hypoglycemia in a heterogeneous cohort of newborns born at a university hospital was associated with lower fourth-grade achievement-test scores—real-world assessments that predict high school graduation, college attendance, and long-term adult economic success.

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Up to 70% of Marijuana Users Also Use Tobacco With Complex Results

Francesca M. Filbey PhD School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences Center for Brain Health University of Texas at Dallas Dallas, TXMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Francesca M. Filbey PhD
School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Center for Brain Health University of Texas at Dallas
Dallas, TX

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Filbey: Most studies exclude tobacco users from participating, but 70% of marijuana users also use tobacco. We were interested in investigating the combined effects of marijuana and tobacco. Our research targeted the hippocampus because smaller hippocampal size is associated with marijuana use. We chose to study short term memory because the hippocampus is an area of the brain associated with memory and learning. The main finding was surprising. The smaller the hippocampus in the marijuana plus nicotine user, the greater the memory performance. We expected the opposite, which was true of the non-using control group. Continue reading

Living Close To Fast Food Restaurants Not Linked To Obesity

Junfeng Jiao, PhD Assistant Professor, The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture Director, Urban Information Lab Austin, TexasMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Junfeng Jiao, PhD
Assistant Professor, The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture
Director, Urban Information Lab
Austin, Texas

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Jiao: The increase in obesity rates has been explained by dietary changes including the consumption of high-energy, low-nutrient foods. Over the past thirty years, trends reveal increases of eating away from home. Public Health professionals have hypothesized that the heightened exposure to the ubiquitous fast food establishments may be an avenue through which health and diets are impacted.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Dr. Jiao: This study examined whether the reported health impacts of eating at a fast food or quick service establishment on a frequent basis were associated with having such a restaurant near home. Results indicated that eating at a fast food or quick service restaurant two times or more per week was related with perceived poor health status, overweight, and obese. Simply living close to such establishments was not related to negative health outcomes such as being overweight or obese, having cardiovascular disease (CVD) or diabetes.

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Low Heart Rate Variability Linked To Decreased Sexual Arousal In Women

Amelia Stanton, Graduate Student Department of Psychology The University of Texas at Austin Austin, TXMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Amelia Stanton, Graduate Student
Department of Psychology
The University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Heart rate variability (HRV) has emerged as a valuable non-invasive test to assess autonomic nervous system (ANS) activity. Several studies have linked low resting Heart rate variability to mental health conditions including depression, anxiety, and alcohol dependence, indicating these disorders may be related to an imbalance in autonomic activity. As Heart rate variability is an index of the balance of sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and parasympathetic nervous system activity (PNS), it has proven a useful tool for examining the relative role of SNS activity in female sexual arousal. Moderate SNS dominance (relative to PNS activity) has been shown to predict women’s genital arousal in the laboratory, while high levels of SNS activation have been shown to inhibit genital arousal. Based on this background evidence and on a growing clinical literature indicating that low HRV (generally indicative of high SNS) is associated with negative health outcomes, we predicted a positive linear relationship between Heart rate variability and sexual arousal function. That is, we predicted that women with autonomic balance indicating moderate or low resting SNS activity (relative to PNS activity) would be less likely than women with autonomic balance indicating high resting SNS to report clinically relevant sexual arousal dysfunction. We also predicted that this relationship would hold for overall sexual function.

To test this hypothesis, sexual arousal function, overall sexual function, and resting HRV were assessed in 72 women, aged 18-39. The main finding of the study is that women with below average Heart rate variability were significantly more likely to report sexual arousal dysfunction (p < .001) and overall sexual dysfunction (p < .001) than both women with average HRV and women with above average HRV. Based on these results, we concluded that low HRV may be a risk factor for female sexual arousal dysfunction and overall sexual dysfunction.

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Breast Cancer Conserving Surgery Still Faces Socioeconomic Challenges

Isabelle Bedrosian, M.D., F.A.C.S. Associate Professor, Department of Surgical Oncology, Division of Surgery, Medical Director, Nellie B. Connelly Breast Center The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TXMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Isabelle Bedrosian, M.D., F.A.C.S.
Associate Professor, Department of Surgical Oncology, Division of Surgery,
Medical Director, Nellie B. Connelly Breast Center
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Bedrosian: There have been a number of reports on the rates of Breast Conserving Therapy (BCT) and mastectomy among women with early stage breast cancer. These reports have been discordant, with some suggesting that index mastectomy rates have increased and others suggestion Breast Conserving Therapy rates have actually increased. We hypothesized that these differences in reporting may be due to data source (ie tertiary referral centers vs population based studies) and turned to the NCDB, which captures 70% of cancer cases in the US and as such provides us with the most comprehensive overview on patient treatment patterns.
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2-3 Cups of Coffee Daily Linked To Lower Odds Of Erectile Dysfunction

David S. Lopez, Dr.P.H., M.P.H. Assistant professor University of Texas Health School of Public HealthMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
David S. Lopez, Dr.P.H., M.P.H.

Assistant professor
University of Texas Health School of Public Health

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Lopez: Coffee, and its most studied component, caffeine, have been implicated in potential health benefits due to the rich sources of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds contained in this beverage.

Caffeine intake reduced the odds of prevalent erectile dysfunction, especially an intake equivalent to approximately 2-3 daily cups of coffee (170-375 mg/day). This reduction was also observed among overweight/obese and hypertensive men, but not among diabetic men. These associations are warranted to be investigated in prospective studies.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Dr. Lopez: Caffeine intake reduced the odds of prevalent erectile dysfunction, especially an intake equivalent to approximately 2-3 daily cups of coffee (170-375 mg/day). This reduction was also observed among overweight/obese and hypertensive men, but not among diabetic men. These associations are warranted to be investigated in prospective studies.

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HPV Vaccine Still Valuable For Women Who Were Not Fully Vaccinated As Children

Jacqueline Hirth, PhD, MPH Assistant Professor andMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Jacqueline Hirth, PhD, MPH
Assistant Professor and
Dr. Abbey B. Berenson MD, MMS, PhD Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Women's Health Obstetrics and Gynecology The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston TexasDr. Abbey B. Berenson MD, MMS, PhD
Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Women’s Health
Obstetrics and Gynecology
The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston Texas

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: In this sample of young women, vaccination was effective at reducing prevalence of vaccine-type HPV (6,11,16,18) compared to women who were unvaccinated. We also found a dose response, with young women who received at least 2 doses of the 3 dose vaccine series having a lower rate of vaccine-type HPV compared to those who only received one dose (8.6% compared to 16.9%, respectively).

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Women, Young Drivers More Likely to Talk or Text While Driving

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Michelle Wilkinson, MPH

Doctoral Candidate Epidemiology
The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health
Houston, TX 77030

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Cell phone use (CPU) while driving impairs visual awareness and reaction time, increasing frequency of near-collisions, collisions, and accidents with injuries. National prevalence estimates of driver cell phone use range from 5-10%. Medical and academic centers have large concentrations of young, ill, or elderly pedestrians and drivers, who are often unfamiliar with the congested environment. Drivers distracted by Cell phone use are a safety threat to pedestrians and drivers in these demanding environments. This study aimed to describe the prevalence and correlates of cell phone use among Texas drivers in major medical and academic centers, 2011-2013. This study found the overall prevalence of cell phone use while driving was 18%. The prevalence of Cell phone useand talking declined, while texting increased during the study period. Cell phone users were more likely to be female, <25 years old, and driving without a passenger.

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Diet Soda Linked To Increased Belly Fat and Waist Size

Helen P. Hazuda, Ph.D. Professor of Medicine Division of Nephrology Department of Medicine University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio San Antonio, TXMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Helen P. Hazuda, Ph.D.
Professor of Medicine
Division of Nephrology
Department of Medicine
University of Texas Health Science Center
at San Antonio San Antonio, TX

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Hazuda: The long-term effects of diet soda consumption on health outcomes is unclear, and studies in both humans and animals have raised concerns about their potentially harmful health effects including weight gain and increased cardiometabolic risk.  Most human studies have focused on middle-aged or younger adults, rather than focusing specifically on people 65 years and older, a rapidly growing segment of the U.S. population that has a disproportionately high burden of cardiometabolic disease and associated healthcare costs.  Therefore, our study examined prospectively the association between diet soda intake and long-term change in waist circumference in a biethnic cohort of older (65+ years)  Mexican American and European American participants in the San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging (SALSA).

SALSA included a baseline examination (1992 – 1996) and three follow-up examinations (2000-2001, 2001-2003, and 2003-2004).  The total follow-up period averaged 9.4 years.  Diet soda intake, waist circumference (WC), height and weight were measured at each examination along with sociodemographic factors, leisure physical activity, diabetes mellitus, smoking, and length of follow-up.

The main finding is that over the total 9.4-year SALSA follow-up period and after adjustment for multiple potential confounders, daily diet soda users (1+ diet sodas/day) experienced an increase in  waist circumference of 3.2 inches, while occasional diet soda users (>.05 < 1 diet soda/day) experienced a  waist circumference increase of 1.8 inches, and nonusers of diet soda experienced a WC increase of 0.8 inches.  Thus, there was a striking dose-response relationship between chronic diet soda intake and long-term increases in waist circumference. Continue reading

Majority of Asthma Patients Do Not Use Inhalers Correctly

Rana Suzette Bonds, MD The University of Texas Medical BranchMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Rana Suzette Bonds, MD
The University of Texas Medical Branch

MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Bonds: Both anaphylaxis and asthma can be life threatening disorders requiring prompt treatment. Each disorder can be successfully treated with medication which is delivered by devices designed for self-administration. Unfortunately there has been evidence in the literature that patients frequently do not use the devices appropriately. We sought to determine which factors were associated with incorrect use of metered dose inhalers and epinephrine autoinjectors, and to determine if rates of correct use have improved since earlier reports.

MedicalResearch: What are the main findings?

Dr. Bonds: Sixteen percent of patients used the epinephrine autoinjector properly and 7 percent of patients used the metered dose inhaler correctly. The most common error with the autoinjector was not holding the unit in place for at least 10 seconds after triggering. For patients using the metered dose inhaler the most commonly missed step was exhaling to functional residual capacity or residual volume prior to actuating the canister. Male sex, Caucasian race, and previous medical education correlated with correct use of epinephrine autoinjector device.

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Diverse Herpes Viruses Share Ability To Suppress Immune Response

Christopher S. Sullivan, Ph.D. Associate Professor Dept. Molecular Biosciences The University of Texas at Austin anMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Christopher S. Sullivan, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Dept. Molecular Biosciences
The University of Texas at Austin and
Jennifer Cox, lead author Graduate student in Dr. Sullivan’s laboratory.
Jennifer Cox
, lead author
Graduate student in Dr. Sullivan’s laboratory.

Jennifer Cox’s Replies:

MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Jennifer Cox: In the last decade, researchers have identified that many viruses encode small regulatory molecules known as microRNAs. Some viral microRNAs are able to manipulate host processes including stress responses, proliferation, and cell death. However, there are many viral microRNAs with unknown functions. Many of the viruses that encode microRNAs are associated with severe pathologies including various cancers so understanding the role of viral microRNAs can shed light on virus biology.

For this study, we focused on identifying viral microRNAs that can regulate innate immune signaling for several reasons. First, all viruses have proteins to combat interferon signaling. Second, we have identified microRNAs from two diverse viruses (retro and annello) that can inhibit interferon signaling so we hypothesized that additional viral microRNAs will perform this same function. We screened ~70 viral microRNAs for the ability to regulate innate immune signaling and identified three herpesviruses, Epstein-Barr Virus, Kaposi’s Sarcoma Associated Virus, and Human Cytomegalovirus, that inhibit the interferon response.

Epstein-Barr Virus, causes an estimated 200,000 cancers every year, including lymphomas, nasopharyngeal cancers and some stomach cancers. Interestingly, most of these cancers harbor latent EBV – a state of limited gene expression that produces no virus. microRNAs are one of the few viral gene product expressed during latency.

Our further work identified that Epstein-Barr Virus, KSHV, and Human Cytomegalovirus have converged to inhibit interferon signaling in the same manner – through decreasing expression of a central hub of innate immune signaling, CREB binding protein (CBP). We show that this regulation conveys partial resistance to the negative effects of interferon treatment on an EBV+ lymphoma cell line. Additionally, removing the microRNA from a similar cell line increases the sensitivity to interferon.

Interferon can be used in combination with other chemotherapies to treat lymphomas but varies in success. Our results may partially explain the variability seen in patients with EBV-associated cancers.

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PREOP-gallstones: Surgeon Develops Prediction Model For Elective Gallbladder Removal

Taylor S. Riall, MD, PhD Professor, John Sealy Distinguished Chair in Clinical Research Department of Surgery, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TXMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Taylor S. Riall, MD, PhD

Professor, John Sealy Distinguished Chair in Clinical Research
Department of Surgery, University of Texas Medical Branch,
Galveston, TX

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Riall: In patients who have symptoms related their gallstones – most commonly sharp right upper quadrant abdominal pain (often associated with fatty meals), nausea, and vomiting – the current recommendation is to remove the gallbladder (perform cholecystectomy). However, in older patients there are multiple factors that make this decision difficult. Older patients have more associated medical problems (like diabetes, heart disease, etc.) making elective surgery higher risk. On the flip side, older patients are at higher risk of developing complications from their gallstones, and once they do, their mortality (death from gallbladder disease) and complications increase substantially.

In recent study of Medicare beneficiaries with symptomatic gallstones, we found that fewer than 25% underwent elective removal of the gallbladder after an initial episode of pain or symptoms related to their gallbladder. We then developed a model that predicted the likelihood of these same patients requiring emergent gallstone-related complications if they did not have their gallbladder removed electively.

This information prompted the current study. We sought to determine if the patients getting their gallbladders removed were the ones at highest risk for complications. Similar to the previous study, we found that only 22% of Medicare beneficiaries in this study (a different population) underwent elective gallbladder removal. We divided patients into three groups based on our risk prediction model – those with <30% risk, 30-60% risk, and >60% risk of requiring acute gallstone-related hospitalization. Please note that while we call the <30% risk group “low” risk, a 17% chance of hospitalization is actually a significant risk – much higher than seen in other medical conditions for which surgery or other interventions may be considered.

  • First, our model worked well – the ACTUAL hospitalization rate was 17%, 45%, and 69% in the two years after the first symptoms.
  • Second, whether patients had their gallbladder removed seemed unrelated to risk. 22% of patients in the lowest risk group, 21% in the middle risk group, and 23% in highest risk group had their gallbladder removed. Even more striking, in the healthiest patients – those with no medical problems and no reason not to perform elective surgery – cholecystectomy rates actually decreased with increasing risk of emergent admission. Cholecystectomy was performed in 34% of patients in the low risk group, 25% of patients in the moderate risk group, and 26% of patients in the highest risk group.
  • In addition, fewer than 10% of patients who didn’t have their gallbladder removed were ever seen by a surgeon, suggesting that this decision is being made at the level of the primary care or emergency physician and not necessarily patient choice.

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Polysomnography Remains Standard For Pediatric Obstructive Sleep Apnea Diagnosis

Ron B. Mitchell, MD Professor of Otolaryngology and Pediatrics William Beckner Distinguished Chair in Otolaryngology Chief of Pediatric Otolaryngology UT Southwestern and Children's Medical Center Dallas ENT Clinic Dallas, TX 75207MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Ron B. Mitchell, MD

Professor of Otolaryngology and Pediatrics
William Beckner Distinguished Chair in Otolaryngology
Chief of Pediatric Otolaryngology
UT Southwestern and Children’s Medical Center Dallas
ENT Clinic Dallas, TX 75207

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Mitchell: The “gold standard” for the diagnosis of and quantification of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is polysomnography (PSG or a ‘sleep study’). However, the majorities of T&A procedures are done without PSG and are based on a clinical diagnosis. This is because PSG is expensive, requires overnight observation and is often unavailable. It is important to diagnose and quantify OSA as it allows for surgical planning and predicts the need and type of treatment after surgery.

We used data from the Childhood Adenotonsillectomy (CHAT) study; a large multicenter
trial (RCT), to look at the ability of clinical parameters to predict the severity of obstructive sleep apnea in children scheduled for a T&A.

The main findings of the study are that certain clinical parameters such as obesity and African American race as well as high scores on certain validated questionnaires (such as the pediatric sleep questionnaire- PSQ) are associated, but cannot predict OSA severity. PSG remains the only way to measure objectively the severity of OSA.

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Crib Mattresses May Emit Phthalates

Ying Xu Assistant Professor, Ph.D. Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering University of Texas, AustinMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Ying Xu
Assistant Professor, Ph.D.
Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering
University of Texas, Austin

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Phthalates have been widely used as plasticizers to enhance the flexibility of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) products.  They are ubiquitous and persistent indoor pollutants and may result in profound and irreversible changes in the development of human reproductive tract.

In this study, we found that the emissions of phthalates and phthalate alternatives increase significantly with increasing temperature.  We developed an emission model and validated the model via chamber experiments.  Further analysis showed that, in infant sleep microenvironments, an increase in the temperature of mattress can cause a significant increase in emission of phthalates from the mattress cover and make the concentration in breathing zone about four times higher than that in the room, resulting in potentially high exposure.  In residential homes, an increase in the temperature from 25 to 35 ºC can elevate the gas-phase concentration of phthalates by more than a factor of 10, but the total airborne concentration may not increase that much for less volatile compounds.

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Opioids: Total and Daily Dose Both Indicators of Overdose Risk

Barbara J Turner MD, MSEd, MA, MACP James D and Ona I Dye Professor of Medicine Director, Center for Research to Advance Community Health (ReACH) University of Texas Health Science Center San AntonioMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Barbara J Turner MD, MSEd, MA, MACP

James D and Ona I Dye Professor of Medicine
Director, Center for Research to Advance Community Health (ReACH)
University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Turner: Daily dose of opioid analgesics has been widely used to assess the risk of overdose death and this risk has been reported to be greatest for a morphine equivalent dose at least 100 to 120 mg per day. However, the total dose of filled opioid prescriptions over a period of time may offer a complementary measure of the risk to that provided by the daily dose. In fact, the total dose is not necessarily a simple linear transformation of the daily dose because not all patients use opioids every day, instead it reflects the total amount of opioids available to a patient.

Among 206,869 national HMO patients aged 18-64 with non-cancer pain filling at least 2 schedule II or III opioid analgesic prescriptions, the rate of overdose was 471 per 100,000 person-years. Over the study period of 3.5 years, risk of drug overdose was two to three times greater for patients with a daily dose >100 mg regardless of the total dose filled or a daily dose of 50-99 mg with a high total dose (>1830 mg) filled a six month interval (versus no opioids). The overdose risk was increased slightly for 50-99 mg per day with a lower total dose and not increased at all for daily doses under 20 mg regardless of the total dose.
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Gene Network Linked To Lifetime Alcohol Consumption

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
R. Dayne Mayfield PhD and Sean Farris Post Doc Fellow
Harris Lab
Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research
University of Texas at Austin

MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study?

Response: Alcoholism is psychiatric disorder adversely affecting the health of millions of individuals worldwide. Despite considerable research efforts, alcoholism cannot be attributed to any individual gene. We sought out to identify coordinately regulated gene networks, rather than a single candidate gene, that may be collectively driving the consumption of alcohol.

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Musical Training Enhances Long Term Memory

MedicalResearch.com Interview Invitation with:
Dr. Heekyeong Park
Assistant Professor of Psychology
University of Texas at Arlington

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Park: This study shows that music experts with extensive musical training may have altered neural processing related to improved memory.

There has been much interest in the beneficial effects of musical training on cognition. Notably, musical training has been reported to boost processing of verbal material. Previous studies have indicated that musical training was related to superior verbal working memory and that these differences in musical training were associated with differences in neural activity in brain regions important for verbal processing. However, it was not clear whether musical training impacts memory in general, beyond working memory for verbal items. By recruiting professional musicians with vast instrumental training, we investigated if extensive musical training has a broad impact on memory with corresponding changes in the brain.

For this study, we compared highly trained musicians (10+ years of experience) and individuals with little or no formal musical training on working memory and long-term memory tasks. Each memory task included both verbal and pictorial items. We measured memory accuracy on tasks and scalp-recorded changes in the brain’s electrical activity (ERPs) while participants studied and remembered items. Musicians showed enhanced performance on the working memory task for both words and pictures. For the long-term memory task, musicians also remembered studied pictures better than non-musicians. These behavioral findings demonstrate the relationship between extensive musical training and improved memory broadly. ERP waveforms were also different between musicians and non-musicians while they performed long-term memory tasks.

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