Public Health

The impact of exercise on body fat differs for boys and girls, suggests research published ahead of print in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Recommendations on exercise to curb the rising tide of obesity in children have tended to take a unisex approach, say the authors.

Is that pain in your chest a heart attack or indigestion? New research from Wake Forest University School of Medicine reveals that more areas of the brain than previously thought are involved in determining the location of pain.

Spatial aspects of pain are a common problem in diagnosis, said Robert Coghill, Ph.D., senior researcher on the study and a neuroscientist at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Patients cannot always distinguish pain from indigestion and pain from a heart attack, for example. Pain from a nerve injury is often felt at sites other than at the injury. And, in some cases, an injury on one side of the body results in pain on both sides.

A mother’s high beef consumption while pregnant was associated with lower sperm counts in her son, according to a study led by researchers at the University of Rochester.

Researchers sought to examine the relationship between semen quality and long-term risks from growth hormones and other chemicals in beef. While the study results revealed a significant link between the lowest sperm counts and mothers who were the highest beef consumers (seven or more beef meals per week), researchers could not pinpoint hormones, pesticides or other environmental chemicals in the animal fat as a direct cause.

High concentrations of nitrogen dioxide gas — inhaled for even very brief periods following fires, explosions of military munitions or detonations of terrorist devices — could cause serious lung damage, scientists reported today at the 233rd national meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Dr. Zengfa Gu, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Silver Spring, Md., reached that conclusion based on experiments with laboratory rats that were exposed to the toxic gas. Gu explained that previous research showed that chronic exposure to low and moderate levels of nitrogen dioxide could damage the lungs. However, there was no clear information on the health risks of brief, high-level exposures lasting only a few minutes.

For parents, 8 million cases of acute middle ear infections every year add up to a lot of sleepless nights and trips to the pediatrician. But new research from a collaboration between Rockefeller University and St. Jude Children’s Hospital could change all that.

In the March 23 issue of PLoS Pathogens, Rockefeller’s Vincent A. Fischetti and colleagues at St. Jude show that middle ear infections in mice can be prevented by giving the mice a lysin – a protein derived from a virus that infects bacteria. The new technology may prevent children with the flu from developing secondary ear infections and would be an attractive alternative to traditional antibiotics, to which bacteria are rapidly becoming resistant.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), adolescents and young adults currently account for fifty percent of new HIV infections on an annual basis. As a result, ongoing research and information on HIV prevention has become a high priority for this age group. Now a new study reveals that helping adolescents manage their emotions may be just as important as providing them with information on the practical side of safe sex in order to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

Researchers from the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center and the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University studied 222 adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18 with psychiatric disorders and found that feelings do matter when it comes to making decisions about safe sex.

Exposing teeth to soft drinks, even for a short period of time, causes dental erosion—and prolonged exposure can lead to significant enamel loss. Root beer products, however, are non-carbonated and do not contain the acids that harm teeth, according to a study in the March/April 2007 issue of General Dentistry, the AGD's clinical, peer-reviewed journal. That might be something to consider during the next visit to the grocery store.

Consumers often consider soft drinks to be harmless, believing that the only concern is sugar content. Most choose to consume "diet" drinks to alleviate this concern. However, diet drinks contain phosphoric acid and/or citric acid and still cause dental erosion—though considerably less than their sugared counterparts.

Apples may prove to be a winner when it comes to reducing the risk of heart disease, says a new study of more than 34,000 women. In this study, flavonoid-rich apples were found to be one of three foods (along with red wine and pears) that decrease the risk of mortality for both coronary heart disease (CHD) and cardiovascular disease (CVD) among post-menopausal women, The findings were published in the March 2007 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Women of all ages are encouraged to consume more fruit and vegetables, including apples and apple products, for heart health. However, this study focused on postmenopausal woman, a group becoming more aware of the risk for heart disease.

Multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and arthritis are among a variety of autoimmune diseases that are aggravated when one type of white blood cell, called the immune regulatory cell, malfunctions. In humans, one cause of this malfunction is when a mutation in the FOXP3 gene disables the immune cells’ ability to function. In a new study published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have discovered how to modify enzymes that act on the FOXP3 protein, in turn making the regulatory immune cells work better.

Brain damage that was thought to be caused by hypoglycemic coma actually occurs when glucose is administered to treat the coma, according to a study in rodents led by researchers at the San Francisco VA Medical Center.

The results are surprising, say the authors, and may be of clinical significance for the treatment of diabetics in hypoglycemic coma, though they caution that the results cannot be immediately extrapolated to humans.