Monthly Archives: November 2010

Study shows potential for Alzheimer’s vaccine

 A vaccine for Alzheimer’s disease has been a long-held goal of researchers studying the devastating disease. Research presented Tuesday at the Society for Neuroscience meeting showed one potential vaccine under study appears both safe and effective in an animal model, according to a story in the Chicago Tribune.

Most Alzheimer’s vaccine research aims to prevent the accumulation of amyloid-beta plaque in the brain that can interfere with memory and cognition. However, work on a vaccine was derailed when a study in 2002 showed that an investigational vaccine targeting amyloid-beta also caused an autoimmune response that led to dangerous inflammation in the brain.

In the new study, a team at UC Irvine tested a vaccine developed against a non-human protein that is similar to amyloid-beta but has a different sequence of amino acids. Because the protein in the vaccine is non-human, it’s hoped that the vaccine would not cause inflammation.

“The idea is if we can overcome this auto-inflammatory reaction, we might be able to develop a safe vaccine,” said the senior author of the study, neuroscientist Charles Glabe of UC Irvine, at a news conference Tuesday in San Diego. “It’s not a good idea to vaccinate humans with a human protein because of autoimune complications. In contrast, random or non-human peptide antigens are very safe.”

Indeed, the mice with Alzheimer’s disease who received the vaccine had improved performance on memory and cognition tests without suffering side effects. They were found to have reductions in amyloid-beta and tau protein clumps.

More than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, and disease rates surpass 40% of the population of people ages 85 and older.

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Symptoms may point to ovarian cancer

The notion that ovarian cancer is a “silent killer” without early warning signs has changed in recent years.

The Gynecologic Cancer Foundation said symptoms that women should consider as warning signs include: bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, and frequent or urgent urination.
If women have such symptoms daily over the course of several weeks they should consult with a gynecologist, particularly if the symptoms are new or unusual.

Owensboro physician Dr. Chris Toler, an OB/GYN, said those signs are the best early detection available at this point, although there are indications that the accuracy of screening tests will improve.

Arkansas a contender for worst deep fried food

Onlinehealthnews.org compiles lists of some of the worst food offerings — that is, the opposite of healthy menu choices — and believes the Arkansas State Fair may be a strong contender for the Deep Fried Madness crown this year.

The Arkansas State Fair offered deep fried Hershey’s Kisses, deep fried hard-boiled eggs, deep fried bacon and cream cheese, and deep fried cheeseburger (ground beef and cheese on a stick, battered and fried in the corndog manner).

Onlinehealthnews.org reported that the Texas State Fair will deep fry almost anything and will be hard to beat.

Restaurant Weekend was more than enough

Not that you asked, but I had a pretty exciting Restaurant Weekend scheduled last Saturday and Sunday.

To celebrate my daughter Jill visiting from Nashville, the family ate pizza at Turroni’s in Evansville on Saturday. Man, I love that pie.

On Sunday, we ate breakfast at Cracker Barrel here. I do not see how anyone resists that place. Apparently, nobody does because the lines are long.

The food tastes great and they give you so much. It’s like every order comes with a three-plate minimum, and mine wasn’t even a sampler. It was just a regular order, costing about $8.

Three pancakes arrived on Plate No. 1, joined by a little bottle of maple syrup. Yum. I almost drank it straight.

Two eggs, sunny side up, came on Plate No. 2, with three bacon strips forming a smiley face.

Plate No. 3 had biscuits and gravy.

Yowza. What a great day-starter.

Oddly enough, I didn’t leave the place on a stretcher. I was full, but not bloated, the sure sign of overeating. Still, that pretty much took care of my food intake for the day.

I know dieticians tell us we eat too much food at one sitting these days, and it’s wiser to eat about half as much, and that big restaurant portions are baaaad, very baaaad.

OK, most of the week, I’m counting calories, limiting fat grams and passing up fast food. But last weekend, I surrendered and ate to my heart’s content.

Then on Monday, something crazy happened. It’s like I couldn’t stop eating. My Restaurant Weekend began eating into my workweek routine.

At lunchtime, I reheated Turroni’s pizza from Saturday’s take-home box. It didn’t make a dent.

There were only two leftover pieces and they were small squares, like “fun size,” not the New Yorker, fold-over size. 

I looked for more food and found a hot dog in the refrigerator. The dreaded hot dog with all its fat and salt. The heart buster.

I boiled it, threw it on a bun and added mustard, relish and celery salt, making it about half of a true Chicago Dog. (FYI, a full Chicago Dog includes a poppy seed bun, tomatoes, a pickle slice and hot peppers).

Somehow, I was still hungry, so I tossed back a small salad before heading back to work.

Maybe my body stored three days worth of meals, like a camel storing water, but I pretty much haven’t eaten since, except for a little soup.

If you don’t see my byline in the paper for the next few weeks, you’ll know this episode didn’t turn out well.

‘Movember’ to raise awareness of men’s cancer

If you hear the word “Movember,” it’s not a mispronunciation or misspelling. 

The idea for Movember, which, according to one website, was sparked over a few beers in Melbourne, Australia, back in 2003, is for men around the globe to grow a mustache — and raise money for cancer research, as well as raise awareness about cancers that affect men.

“Mo Bros,” as the site calls them, start the month cleanshaven and register at Movember.com (registration is still open). Throughout the month, men grow their mustaches to raise awareness and gather donations for their Movember account.

 The donations in the United States go to benefit research for better treatments and a cure for prostate cancer through the Prostate Cancer Foundation and for young adults with cancer through LIVESTRONG Young Adult Alliance.

For men out there who can’t quite grow their mustache out to fulfill the ridiculously high expectations set by the likes of Tom Selleck and Geraldo Rivera, and women who want to help, you can donate to an individual or a team, or make a general donation at Movember’s website.

In 2004, the first year of raising awareness and funding through Movember, 432 participants raised $55,000. Last year, more than 250,000 participants raised $42 million.

Energy drink banned in Michigan

Four Loko, the high-octane alcoholic beverage favored on college campuses, is again under fire, according to a story in the Chicago Tribune.

Michigan announced Thursday that it is banning alcoholic caffeinated drinks like Four Loko, which is produced by Chicago-based Phusion Projects and has been singled out for criticism by health experts.

The Michigan action, passed by the state’s Liquor Control Commission on a 2-1 vote, identified 55 products for its ban. The commission’s decision followed recent reports of students in Washington and New Jersey being hospitalized after drinking Four Loko. Manufacturers will have 30 days to pull the banned products.

Phusion Projects said Four Loko contains 12 percent alcohol and a 23.5-ounce can packs about as much caffeine as a tall Starbucks coffee. Critics, including some physicians and public health professionals, say the caffeine masks the effects of the alcohol, making young consumers unaware of their level of intoxication so they continue to drink to excess.

Mental health: Clueless in Owensboro

Election Day on Tuesday meant a later workshift for Messenger-Inquirer news reporters because events weren’t wrapping up until the evening. In my case, instead of starting work at 7:30 a.m., I went in at 1 p.m. 

I love the morning on typical days off — a four-mile run, watching the sun rise, drinking coffee, reading the paper and surfing the web. But it kind of threw me having such a long and leisurely morning on a Tuesday rather than on the weekend. Before I knew it, it was 12 o’clock and time to get ready for work.

When my wife Janet came home for lunch, she asked me if I’d taken some clothes she’d bagged to the Help Office?

“No, not yet.”

(The Help Office closes at noon).

She asked if I’d taken the garbage out.

“Uh, not really.”

She wanted to know if I had at least gone to Kentucky Wesleyan College to buy tickets for an upcoming basketball game before they sold out.

“Well, you see, it’s like this … ”

To show her I had accomplished something since waking up at 5 a.m., I informed her that I joined an ESPN fantasy basketball league. It took some time preparing for the 10 a.m. online draft, and then there was the draft itself that lasted about an hour, followed by the post-draft exhilaration.

“I got Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose and Paul Pierce.”

She wasn’t nearly as excited as I thought she’d be about me corralling that all-star trio. It was drafting genius combined with good luck. 

Even though Janet was a little ticked off — or maybe it was disappointment — I think she’ll grow to like the team.

Later that night, at the conclusion of my interview with state representative Jim Glenn, who was re-elected to the 13th District seat, he signed off by saying, “Be good to yourself.”

What a great reminder. I mean, we get caught up in all kinds of stuff that we think is important, and in that mess, we forget about No. 1.

Be good to yourself. Know what? I’m going to have to start doing that.

P.S. After just two days, my team, Crowd Hate Me, is already in first place. She hasn’t said it in so many words, but I think Janet is proud of me.