Could Statins Protect Against ALS?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Alastair J. Noyce MD, PhD  Preventive Neurology Unit,  Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine Queen Mary University of London,  Department of Clinical and Movement Neurosciences, University College London, Institute of Neurology,  London UK

Dr. Noyce

Alastair J. Noyce MD, PhD
Preventive Neurology Unit,
Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine
Queen Mary University of London,
Department of Clinical and Movement Neurosciences,
University College London, Institute of Neurology,
London UK

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

Response: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or motor neurone disease (MND) is a relentlessly progressive disorder that affects nerves which supply muscles. Over time the nerves die, leading to limb weakness, speech and swallowing problems, and ultimately breathing problems. Patients die on average 3-5 after diagnosis. There is no cure and the underlying disease processes are only understood in part.

In this study, we adopted a large-scale approach to exploring causal risk factors for ALS. Causality is important because it implies that if one could modify or induce a change in a risk factor, one would observe a change in the risk of ALS. Observational studies struggle to prove causality definitely. Associations in observational studies can arise because:

1) the risk factor truly changes risk of ALS; or

2) something about ALS changes one’s exposure to the risk factor; or

3) the presence of another factor, which may or may not be known, can induce an association between a risk factor and ALS. Unless scenario 1 represents the truth, then changing the risk factor will not have any effect on risk of ALS.

We used a proxy-based approach, known as Mendelian randomisation, to assess hundreds of possible risk factors for ALS for evidence of causality. What emerged from this was a very clear signal linking LDL cholesterol to risk of ALS. Continue reading

Younger Cancer Survivors Face Greater Financial Burdens

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Zhiyuan "Jason" Zheng PhD Director, Economics and Healthcare Delivery Research American Cancer Society, Inc. Atlanta, GA 30303

Dr. Zheng

Zhiyuan “Jason” Zheng PhD
Director, Economics and Healthcare Delivery Research
American Cancer Society, Inc.
Atlanta, GA 30303

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

Response: Historically, the cost of healthcare can be a substantial burden for cancer survivors and their families in the US. Even with health insurance, a cancer diagnosis can impose significant out-of-pocket costs for medical care.  These are partially due to the rising costs of cancer treatments in recent years, moreover, the increasing levels of coinsurance, copayments, and deductibles also shift a significant portion of the burden to cancer patients.

We found that younger cancer survivors, those aged 18-49 years, bear a higher burden than their older counterparts. We also found that two-thirds of cancer survivors enrolled in high-deductible health plans did not have health savings accounts, and they are more vulnerable to financial hardship than those in high-deductible health plans with health savings accounts and those covered by low-deductible plans.

These findings are important to patients because although cancer patents have benefited from newer and more advanced treatments, financial hardship may lead to emotional distress, cause changes in health behaviors, and jeopardize treatment adherence and health outcomes. 

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Health Effects of Alcohol May Depend on How Much You Drink

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
"Schott Zwiesel Wine Glasses" by Didriks is licensed under CC BY 2.0 <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0"> CC BY 2.0</a>Simona Costanzo MS, PhD
Laboratory of Molecular and Nutritional Epidemiology,
Department of Epidemiology and Prevention.
IRCCS Istituto Neurologico Mediterraneo Neuromed,
Italy

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

Response: We investigated how the different intake of alcohol relates to all-cause and cause-specific hospitalizations. In particular, we mainly investigated the association of alcohol consumption with total number of hospitalizations that occurred during 6 years of follow-up.

We also examined cause-specific hospitalizations (e.g., alcohol-related diseases, vascular diseases, cancer, traumatic injury, and neurodegenerative diseases).

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Youth with Conduct Problems More Likely To Use Cannabis

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dan Romer PhD Research director, Annenberg Public Policy Center Director of its Adolescent Communication Institute University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Daniel Romer

Daniel Romer PhD
Annenberg Public Policy Center
The University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA

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

Response: Previous research has found some troubling relations between adolescent cannabis use and subsequent increases in conduct problems and other unhealthy consequences.  These studies were done in New Zealand in the late 90’s and we wanted to re-examine those relationships using more contemporary data in the US.

We had data on 364 adolescents who were followed from age 13 to 19 in Philadelphia that could provide a more up to date picture of the effects of using cannabis on one important outcome, conduct disorder.  We also wanted to use more sensitive methods than had been used in prior research that would enable us to examine reciprocal relations between cannabis use and c (CP).  That is, it might be the case that youth with CP are prone to using cannabis and that this helps to explain why there appears to be a relation over time between cannabis use and CP rather than cannabis use leading to CP.

Our findings supported that hypothesis.  There was no prospective relation between changes in cannabis use and subsequent changes in conduct problems.  Instead, changes in conduct problems were found to predict changes in use of cannabis.  Youth with conduct problems also affiliated more with peers who used cannabis, adding further to their own use.  There was also no evidence that youth who used cannabis sought out peers who used it apart from the effects of CP.

Finally, both use of cannabis and  conduct problems predicted subsequent development of a mild cannabis use disorder (CUD).  Continue reading

TumorScan May Become a Universal Screening Blood Test For Cancer

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Professor Diana Anderson Established Chair in Biomedical Sciences The University of Bradford Richmond Road Bradford West Yorkshire

Prof Anderson

Prof. Diana Anderson
Established Chair in Biomedical Sciences
The University of Bradford Richmond Road Bradford West Yorkshire

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

Response: I have worked in this field for over 40 years both as a research scientist in industry and as a university-based researcher. It has always been my ambition to develop a relatively simple and affordable test to predict if a person is sensitive to cancer. In fact, in 1974, I was appointed as Head of Mutagenesis Studies at ICI’s Central Toxicology Laboratory in Manchester, UK, and I was looking at developing a short-term test to predict cancer even back then.

Our ‘universal’ cancer test is different from other ‘universal’ tests being developed, because ours is not looking for a specific biomarker or mutation. Ours is a generic test for cancer in an individual, regardless of any underlying mechanism that’s causing their cancer.

It is known that levels of damage to the DNA in the cellular genome can correlate with cancer and this is what we set out to investigate with the Comet assay.

Of the available tests to detect damage to the genome the Comet assay is very straightforward. This assay was primarily developed as a method to measure DNA damage. Briefly, cells are embedded in agarose on a microscope slide and lysed to remove membranes leaving supercoiled DNA loops, breaks in which after alkaline treatment and alkaline electrophoresis move towards a positive charge. The DNA is stained with a fluorescent dye and visualised by fluorescent microscopy. The image is like Haley‘s comet and the greater number of breaks the greater is the migration to the anode and the greater the damage.  Continue reading