Health Scan: Protein discovery can predict colon cancer

The protein – identifiable in a simple blood test – is called CD24, says Arber. It predicts colon cancer very efficiently, he continues.

By BY JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH
February 7, 2010 01:42
Health Scan: Protein discovery can predict colon cancer

colon 88. (photo credit: Courtesy)

A protein marker that predicts with a “high degree of accuracy” whether a person will develop colon cancer has been discovered by researchers at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center. The team headed by Prof. Nadir Arber  presented their findings to the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in Florida. The discovery, which has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal, could make it unnecessary to undergo invasive tests.

The protein – identifiable in a simple blood test – is called CD24, says Arber. It predicts colon cancer very efficiently, he continues. Arber presented the research with Dr. Sarah Karus, director of the center’s lab.

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Half a million people died of colon cancer in 2009, and more than a million were diagnosed last year. It is preventable if detected early. The least invasive test is testing stools for occult blood, but this is less accurate; the most accurate (90 percent) is a complete colonoscopy, in which a thin tube containing a video device is threaded into the colon. But many people are reluctant to undergo it.


HEALTHY GUMS CAN SOOTHE  INFLAMED JOINTS

If you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis (RA), go to the dentist as soon as you can. You may have moderate to severe gum disease (periodontitis) that spreads toxic bacteria and fungus through your bloodstream and damages soft tissue in the joints. If properly treated, periodontitis can subside and with it the joint inflammation. Periodontitis, in which inflammation leads to separation of the teeth from the gums, and possible tooth loss, was recently linked to the development of RA among non-smokers, according to research presented at the American College of Rheumatology’s meeting in Philadelphia.

RA is a chronic disease that causes pain, stiffness, swelling and limitation in the motion and function of multiple joints. Though joints are the principal body parts affected by RA, inflammation can develop in other organs as well. The disease typically affects women twice as often as men.

University of Minnesota researchers headed by rheumatology Prof. Jerry Molitor studied 6,616 people who were examined four times in 1987 and 1998 and assessed for periodontal disease between 1996 and 1998.

They were diagnosed as having no, mild, moderate or severe periodontitis and either prevalent RA diagnosed nine years before or more-recent RA. In addition, researchers performed peptide antibody tests on blood samples collected during their study visits. The risk of developing RA was over twice as high in persons with moderate to severe periodontitis, compared to those with no or only mild periodontitis. The risk of developing RA was even higher among non-smokers with moderate to severe periodontitis compared to non-smokers with no to mild periodontitis.

People with peridontitis were also more likely to develop higher levels of the antibody, which has been associated with more severe, damaging RA. Those individuals with these antibodies were more likely to have moderate to severe periodontitis and to be smokers than those who did not have both of those putative RA risks.


VITAMIN D CAN HEAD OFF DIABETES

Yet another condition – type 2 diabetes – could be prevented if people have enough vitamin D in their bloodstream, according to an article in the December issue of Medical Media’s Hebrew-language Diabetes Update. The risk for osteoporosis, ovarian cancer, early dementia, falling among the elderly and a large number of others have been proven to be reduced significantly when people raise their vitamin D levels via ultraviolet rays or eating fatty fish. At present, the Health Ministry has not required the health funds to test all blood samples for vitamin D deficiency.

The article notes that attaining blood sugar balance in diabetics is more difficult in the winter, when there is less sunlight. Vitamin D deficiency has a correlation with higher insulin resistance, which is found in diabetics and those suffering from pre-diabetes. The hormone has a modulating effect on the body’s autoimmune system and on the synthesis of insulin in the pancreatic beta cells. The author concludes from his analysis of medical literature that giving vitamin D to people with pre-diabetes can hold back the actual metabolic disease.

Adults over 50 should get 200 international Units of it (usually in drop form mixed with water or juice). Those between 50 and 70 need twice as much, while those over 70 need 600 IUs. But if these doses do not bring the level up to 30 or 40 nanograms per milliliter, a doctor will prescribe much larger amounts over a limited period. The article urges primary physicians to ensure that their patients have sufficient levels of the hormone in their blood.

The ministry has for years promised to require the dairy industry to fortify all milk with vitamin D but without success. Recently, ministry nutrition department head Dr. Ziva Stahl said it would be required “soon,” but a date was not given.

TEACHERS: BE QUIET

Schoolteachers and university lecturers are
32 times more likely than people in other professions to experience voice problems. They obviously tend to spend more time speaking than other people. And unlike singers or actors, teachers can’t take a day off when their throats hurt.

A new study by the US National Center for Voice and Speech (NCVS) reveals how teachers use their voices at work and at home, and uncovers differences between male and female teachers. UPI reported findings presented at a recent meeting of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) in San Antonio, Texas.

Eric Hunter and colleagues equipped teachers with the NCVS voice dosimeter, which captures voicing characteristics such as pitch and loudness. The dosimeter sampled their voices 33 times per second. The researchers analyzed 20 million of these samplings over a 14-day period for each teacher. Female teachers used their voices about 10 percent more than males when teaching and 7% more when not teaching. The data also indicated that female teachers speak louder than male teachers at work. All the teachers spoke about 50 percent more when at work, at both a higher pitch and volume (about 3 decibels louder). Instead of resting their overworked voices at home, the teachers also spent significant amounts of time speaking outside of work.


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