Posts tagged: Medicine

Understanding the consequences of abortion

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Diana Greene Foster

Findings from the Turnaway study, which aims to look at the effects of unwanted pregnancy on women’s lives, were published today in BMC Medicine. In this guest blog, Diana Greene Foster, Principal Investigator of the Turnaway study writes about her experiences in leading it.

When we started the Turnaway study, a main goal was to understand the consequences of abortion for women’s lives. A handful of researchers had posited that many women experience ‘post-abortion trauma syndrome’ – mental health disorders caused by having an abortion. Since nearly one out of three women in the U.S. has an abortion over her lifetime, such a syndrome would potentially affect millions of women.

I’m a demographer, so I naturally think about health conditions …

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Turmeric, the hot topic: Spicing-up brain repair and regeneration

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Image credit: Giovanni Dall'Orto/Wikimedia Commons

Any cook or foodie savouring South Asian and Middle Eastern dishes, will prize the key spice, the mustard coloured turmeric powder. In this guest post, Deirdre Hoban, a PhD student from Galway Neuroscience Centre, informs us that the spice’s uses extend beyond one’s culinary needs as it could serve a role in modern medicine.

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a rhizomatous plant of the ginger family that is conventionally used as a spice in Asian cuisine due to its characteristic yellow colour and pungent aroma. However, it has also been used for centuries as a remedy for various ailments in traditional Eastern medicine. The role of turmeric in traditional medicine is indicated by its presence in medicinal preparations described in traditional Ayurvedic medicine

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Why we need to increase the UK’s consent rate for organ donation

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organ donation box (deceased)

 

An analysis of the organ donation protocols of 48 countries has been published in BMC Medicine today, studying the differences between opt-in and opt-out systems. In this guest post, Sally Johnson, Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation at National Health Service (NHS) Blood and Transplant, tells us about why we need more people to consent to organ donation.

As director of Organ Donation and Transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant I’m delighted to have seen huge increases not just in the numbers of deceased organ donors over the last few years, but also in the numbers of patients benefitting from a transplant.

However, I want to explain why we can’t rest on our laurels and why we still have a …

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Dementia: Can we reduce the risk?

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Marc-Wortmann_Alzheimers-Disease-International

September is World Alzheimer’s Month. Today’s guest author, Marc Wortmann, the Executive Director at Alzheimer’s Disease International talks about the international campaign and the recommendations laid out by this year’s annual report.

World Alzheimer’s Month is the global awareness month for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. This is an important month to have because in large parts of the world dementia is still considered a normal part of ageing, rather than a disease of the brain. Alzheimer’s Disease International coordinates awareness and public policy efforts and uses this month to launch its World Alzheimer Report.

This year, the World Alzheimer Report 2014 focuses on modifiable risk factors. It shows there is strong evidence that cardiovascular risk factors, as well as …

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Time to reduce needless deaths from liver cirrhosis

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Cirrhosis_of_the_liver_(trichrome_stain)_(5690946257)

Our guest author, Ali. A. Mokdad is based at University of Texas and affiliated with the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IMHE). He is the lead author of a recent study published in BMC Medicine, focusing on deaths caused by liver cirrhosis. 

 

Liver cirrhosis is a costly disease that is devastating to families and their finances. Most of these deaths are preventable, however. Countries can reverse the tide of liver cirrhosis by implementing a variety of cost-effective solutions.

When my colleagues and I saw just how many deaths occurred each year as a result of liver cirrhosis, we decided to write a paper to raise awareness about these disease trends and the steps that could be taken …

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Jeans for Genes Day: putting the spotlight on genetic diseases

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While not all rare diseases are genetic, individual genetic disorders are rare. But despite individual genetic disorders being rare, collectively they affect 1 in 25 children. Furthermore, 80% of rare diseases are caused by faulty genes. Therefore when we discuss genetic diseases it is in essence a discussion on rare diseases.

Today marks Jeans for Genes Day, a fundraising event organized by Genetic Disorders UK to raise money for causes that help children with genetic diseases. There are more than 6,000 known genetic disorders, and this number is constantly increasing as patient sequencing technologies become more accessible. Genetic diseases can affect a person’s senses, movement, ability to learn or appearance, and can range from split-hand/split-foot malformation, a congenital …

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The Jolie effect – increasing options for patients

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Angelina Jolie 2 June 2014 (cropped)" by Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Celebrity endorsements for campaigns are so common they can feel meaningless – see the ‘stars’ who added their Yes or No in the run up to the Scottish referendum or, more pertinently the array of hot twenty-somethings who will line up in pink T-shirts for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Occasionally though something happens that has a genuine effect on patients’ – or prospective patients’ – lives.

Last summer, actress and human rights campaigner Angelina Jolie published a moving article, ‘My medical choice’, in the New York Times about her decision to be tested for the BRCA gene mutation and subsequently to have a double mastectomy to protect against her 87% chance of developing breast cancer.

A BRCA mutation confers a …

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‘You might as well patent oxygen’ – an unashamedly unbalanced take on Australia’s support for gene patents

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https://www.flickr.com/photos/cdcoppola/2300365663

Last year, a rainbow coalition of civil liberties campaigners, cancer patients and eminent geneticists – heck, even Jim Watson! – argued before the US Supreme Court that gene sequences are a product of nature and therefore ineligible for patent protection.

And the Supreme Court replied, in all its refined wisdom:

'Well, duh!'

A nine-to-nothing unanimous decision.

A difference of opinion

But the US has long known that truths held to be 'self-evident' are not always in for a smooth ride, and so we perhaps should not be too surprised – if still perplexed and saddened – to learn that the Australian Federal Court, when faced with the same question, responded: 'um, maybe not'.

I do not pretend to understand what brand of logic could …

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Large hypomethylated blocks could be a universal cancer ‘signature’

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Figure 1 Many of the methylation changes at single probes between cancer and normal 
are far from CpG islands. Irizarry et al. Genome Medicine

In this guest post, Dr Andrew Teschendorff of University College London and the CAS-MPG Partner Institute for Computational Biology, Shanghai, examines a new Genome Medicine study.

In an exciting research article published today in Genome Medicine, Rafa Irizzary and colleagues provide evidence for a gradual systems-level deregulation of the epigenome in stages prior to the onset of cancer and which later is seen to progress further in cancer. Thus, these insights could potentially lead to a clinical test with the ability to predict cancer risk in cells that are not yet malignant.

The authors focused on a specific epigenetic mark, known as DNA methylation, a molecular modification of DNA which can regulate the activity of nearby …

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Spotlight on breast cancer: progress, challenges and controversies

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Breast cancer – the most common type of cancer affecting women – is often thought of as a single disease. However, mounting evidence suggests that there are multiple subtypes, all of which occur at different rates, have varying levels of aggressiveness, and respond to different types of treatment.

One of the better understood subtypes is HER2-positive breast cancer, defined by high expression of the HER2 protein. Women with HER2-positive breast cancer are often treated with targeted therapies such as trastuzumab, which has dramatically improved survival rates from HER2-positive breast cancer in the past decade.

Progress in treating HER2-positive breast cancer

In a Q&A podcast published in BMC Medicine to launch our Spotlight on breast cancer

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