Easing Menopausal Symptoms With Soy

In the wake of recent reports showing a correlation between hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and serious illnesses such as stroke, breast cancer and heart disease, many women are looking elsewhere for treatment options for their menopausal symptoms. According to Duke OB/ GYN Claude Hughes, M.D., soy can be effective in treating some of the symptoms of menopause, which are caused by declining levels of estrogen. The most common symptoms include hot flushes (flashes), night sweats, mood swings, depression, forgetfulness, insomnia, as well as thinning of vaginal tissues and stress incontinence.

Brain injury test may be health care boon

U.S. soldiers fighting in today’s high-tech military force will be much more likely to survive traumatic brain injuries if University of Florida researchers succeed in developing a blood test to assess the severity of head wounds on the battlefield, U.S. Department of Defense officials say. Such a test can’t come soon enough for the department, which has allocated $2.2 million to help scientists at UF’s McKnight Brain Institute and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research develop the first routine diagnostic tool to define the scope of such injuries. Penetrating brain injuries claim 25 percent of soldiers killed in battle, according to department officials, yet there is no effective way to diagnose traumatic brain injury short of a brain scan, which is not practical in combat settings.

Brain images reveal effects of antidepressants

The experiences of millions of people have proved that antidepressants work, but only with the advent of sophisticated imaging technology have scientists begun to learn exactly how the medications affect brain structures and circuits to bring relief from depression. Researchers at UW-Madison and UW Medical School recently added important new information to the growing body of knowledge. For the first time, they used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)–technology that provides a view of the brain as it is working–to see what changes occur over time during antidepressant treatment while patients experience negative and positive emotions.

New Genetic 'Fishing Net' Harvests Elusive Autism Gene

Researchers have developed a new statistical genetic “fishing net” that they have cast into a sea of complex genetic data on autistic children to harvest an elusive autism gene.
Moreover, the researchers said that the success of the approach will be broadly applicable to studying genetic risk factors for other complex genetic diseases, such as hypertension, diabetes and multiple sclerosis. In this case, the gene, which encodes part of a brain neurotransmitter docking station called the gamma-Aminobutyric Acid Receptor beta3-subunit (GABRB3), has been implicated in autism previously, but never positively linked to the disease. Their findings will be published in the March 2003 issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics.

Scientists Map How Alzheimer’s Disease Systematically Engulfs the Brain

UCLA and University of Queensland (Australia) neuroscientists using a powerful new imaging analysis technique have created the first three-dimensional video maps showing how Alzheimer’s disease systematically engulfs the brains of living patients. The findings appear in the Feb. 1 edition of the peer-reviewed Journal of Neuroscience. The dramatic time-lapse videos show the sequential destruction of brain areas that control memory function, then emotion and inhibition, and finally sensation. They also show how the disease spares small brain regions that control vision and other functions that remain intact in Alzheimer’s patients

Taste Receptor Cells Share Common Pathway

Although sweet, bitter and umami (monosodium glutamate) tastes are different, researchers are finding that information about each of these tastes is transmitted from the various taste receptors via a common intracellular signaling pathway. The identification of a common pathway runs counter to widespread belief among some researchers in the taste field who have long held the view that the different tastes require distinct machinery within the cell to transduce their signals to the brain, which is responsible for processing taste perceptions.

Low estrogen linked to coronary artery disease risk in premenopausal women

According to an article in the February 5 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, coronary artery disease in young women appears to be related to estrogen deficiency, and there may be a link to psychosocial stress. The findings are based on an analysis of statistics compiled from a major ongoing investigation of heart disease in women that is led by cardiac researchers in Los Angeles. “Although coronary artery disease is the leading killer of premenopausal women, taking even more lives than breast cancer does, most studies have focused on heart disease in older women. Our findings demonstrate for the first time that young women with low blood estrogen levels have a significantly greater prevalence of coronary artery disease,” said C. Noel Bairey Merz, M.D., the article’s first author.

Brain images reveal effects of antidepressants

The experiences of millions of people have proved that antidepressants work, but only with the advent of sophisticated imaging technology have scientists begun to learn exactly how the medications affect brain structures and circuits to bring relief from depression. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and UW Medical School recently added important new information to the growing body of knowledge. For the first time, they used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)–technology that provides a view of the brain as it is working–to see what changes occur over time during antidepressant treatment while patients experience negative and positive emotions.

Some Alzheimer patients show unique compensatory brain activity

A group of Canadian researchers has found the most direct evidence to date that people with early-stage Alzheimer Disease can engage additional areas in the brain to perform successfully on memory tests. Alzheimer’s is a progressive, degenerative disease that affects an individual’s ability to think, remember, understand and make decisions. People with early-stage Alzheimer’s begin to experience problems with their episodic and semantic memory. Semantic refers to the accumulation of general world knowledge gained over a lifetime (for example, names of countries, famous people, major historical events). Episodic refers to events that one experiences throughout his/her life (for example, having visited the dentist yesterday, or graduating from college back in 1950).

Depression related to poor health after bypass surgery

Men who are depressed before their coronary artery bypass graft surgery are more likely to be re-hospitalized or suffer pain and reduced quality of life six months after their bypass operation, compared with men who are not depressed before the surgery, according to new research. Rates of hospitalization for heart attack or artery disease rose among bypass patients with pre-operative depression, say Matthew M. Burg, Ph.D., of the VA Connecticut Healthcare System and colleagues.

Bone marrow cells take on new role in the brain, say Stanford researchers

Researchers have published new evidence showing that cells from the bone marrow might help repair or maintain cells in other tissues. In a paper in this week’s online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers describe finding chromosomes from a bone marrow transplant in the brain cells of transplant recipients. When people receive a bone marrow transplant after high-dose chemotherapy, some of the transplanted cells regenerate the blood-making cells that were destroyed. In past experiments in mice, scientists found that cells from the transplant could also relocate to tissues throughout the body rather than being restricted to the bone marrow and blood.

Chronic self-doubters likely to face wide range of problems

People who chronically doubt their judgments lead psychologically impoverished lives in a variety of ways, a new study suggests.
Such individuals often feel anxious, are prone to sadness and mood swings, and are likely to procrastinate and avoid thinking about difficult problems. “People who are dubious about their judgment are highly vulnerable,” said Herbert Mirels, primary author of the study and professor of psychology at Ohio State University. “They see every important decision they make as a trial in which they are likely to find themselves deficient or to be found deficient by others.”