Monthly Archives: August 2016

Blood Test May Tell You

“We can now detect and measure thousands of biomarkers from a small amount of blood, with the idea of eventually being able to predict who is at risk of a wide range of diseases, long before any clinical signs become apparent,” senior study author Dr. Thomas Perls, a professor of medicine at the Boston University School of Medicine, said in a statement.

In the study, the researchers measured the levels of 19 biomarkers in the blood samples of more than 4,700 people who were enrolled in an ongoing international research project called the Long Life Family Study. The people in the study ranged in age from 30 to 110.

The biomarkers included in the study were linked to many functions in the body, including those of the immune system, the endocrine system and the kidneys, and metabolism. Previous research had shown that the levels of these biomarkers vary with age, the researchers wrote.

Using a type of algorithm, the researchers determined that there were 26 different biomarker signatures among the study participants. Then, the researchers compared the participants’ signatures with their rates of various diseases, and their overall health.

About half of the people in the study had “signature 1,” the researchers found. This signature was deemed to be the reference point for all of the other signatures in the study, because the levels of the biomarkers lined up with what researchers would expect based on people’s age and sex. For example, biomarkers associated with inflammation are thought to increase with age, while biomarkers associated with certain aspects of kidney function are thought to decrease with age.

Signature 2 was the “healthy aging” signature, and was found in about one quarter of the participants, according to the study. This signature was associated with better physical and cognitive functioning, a lower risk of type 2 diabetes and a lower risk of death over the 8-year study period compared with signature 1, the researchers found. [8 Tips for Healthy Aging]

Another eight signatures were associated with higher levels of risk for different diseases and outcomes compared with signature 1, according to the study.  The remaining 16 signatures were not associated with people’s risk of disease as they aged.

You need to know about cancer warning

A woman’s microbiome may signal if cancer is lurking in her body, a small new study suggests.

In the study, researchers at the Mayo Clinic looked at the microbes found in women’s reproductive tracts, and found that women with one type ofuterine cancer had different microbes than women without this cancer.

The cancer, called endometrial cancer, is the most common type of gynecological cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute. But little is known about what causes it, the researchers wrote in the study, which was published Thursday (Jan. 5) in the journal Genome Medicine.

The microbiome is the community of microorganisms that live in and on human bodies. In previous studies, researchers have linked people’s microbiomes to other types of cancer, the new study said. For example, there is a well-established link between the bacteria known asHelicobacter pylori and stomach cancer, the researchers wrote.

In the new study, the researchers looked at 31 white women who had been scheduled to have a hysterectomy, which is a surgery to remove the uterus, at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Among these women, 17 had been diagnosed with endometrial cancer and four had been diagnosed with a condition called endometrial hyperplasia, which can be precursor to endometrial cancer. The remaining 10 women were undergoing hysterectomies for other reasons — they did not have the cancer or the precancerous condition — and were therefore the control group. [5 Myths About Women’s Bodies]

During the procedure, the surgeons took swabs of the women’s vaginas and cervixes. Then, after the surgery, the organs that had been removed — including the women’s uteruses, fallopian tubes and ovaries, were swabbed as well — according to the study.

The researchers found that women with either endometrial cancer or endometrial hyperplasia had significantly higher levels of two types of bacteria, called Atopobium vaginae and Porphyromonas species, in their uteruses compared to the women in the control group.

In addition, these same microbes were found in higher levels in the vaginal tracts of the women with either endometrial cancer or endometrial hyperplasia compared with the women in the control group, although the researchers noted that the association in this case was not as strong.

The researchers also found that the association between the microbes in the reproductive tract and uterine cancer was even stronger among the women who also had a high vaginal pH. [7 Facts Women (And Men) Should Know About the Vagina]

It’s unclear what role the two types of microbes play in the development of endometrial cancer, the researchers said. However, they hypothesized that one type of bacteria, A. vaginae, may be a cause of chronicinflammation, which could make cells in the reproductive tract more vulnerable to the Porphyromonas species of bacteria. This, in turn, could disrupt the cells and lead to the development of cancer, the authors said.

Home Was a Former Meth Lab

A family in Australia who developed health problems found out their sickness had an unusual cause: They had unknowingly moved into a home that was a former meth laboratory, according to a new report of the case.

Just months before the family moved in, the home was the site of a clandestine drug laboratory, where the owner made methamphetamine.

Police discovered the laboratory in May 2013, arrested the owner and notified other authorities that the home needed to be decontaminated because it contained harmful chemicals. The local council issued a notice for the cleaning of the property, but this cleaning wasn’t performed, the report said.

The property was sold a few months later, but the new owners were never informed that the home had previously been a meth laboratory. In October 2013, the family of five — a mother, father and their three children — moved in. [‘Breaking Bad’: 6 Strange Meth Facts]

Seven months passed before the local council contacted the family and told them that their home was a former drug laboratory. Testing of the home took place from May to October 2014, and revealed that methamphetamine was present on surfaces in the home. The levels ranged from 11.7 micrograms per 100 cubic centimeters to 26.0 micrograms per 100 cubic centimeters — well above the Australian limit of 0.5 micrograms per 100 cubic cm, the report said. The family vacated the property in March 2015.

While living in the home, all of the family members experienced health problems, which continued for some time after they moved out. The mother reported a persistent cough, along with weight loss and excess energy, and the father reported worsening memory, dizziness and blurry vision.

The youngest child, a 7-year-old boy, developed asthma-like symptoms, as well as behavioral changes, including anxiety and symptoms ofattention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which he did not have before the family lived in the home. All of the family members reported having sore, watery eyes, and several members reported trouble sleeping.

Exposure to methamphetamine residues can cause symptoms similar to those seen in people actually taking meth, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). These include high energy, anxiety, trouble sleeping, increased distractibility, weight loss and memory troubles, according to the National Institutes of Health. Exposure to the chemicals involved in making meth can cause other symptoms, including nose and throat irritation, dizziness and breathing difficulties, IDPH says.

The report highlights the importance of effectively identifying and decontaminating clandestine drug laboratories, the researchers said.

“If properties formerly used for the clandestine manufacture of methamphetamine are not properly cleaned, the public might be unknowingly exposed to drug residues,” the researchers who reported the family’s case wrote in the Jan. 6 issue of the journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, which is published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Appropriate identification and management of these properties, including measures by authorities to prevent the sale of unremediated homes, are important to prevent exposures and adverse health effects.”

All of the family members had samples of their hair tested for methamphetamine one week after they moved out, to better determine their level of exposure to the drug. The tests showed that the family’s two youngest children, both boys, had the highest levels of methamphetamine in their hair, with 330 and 460 picograms per milligram. Previously, studies have found that children living in clandestine drug laboratories can have levels of methamphetamine in their hair ranging from 100 to 131,000 pg/mg, the report said.