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Health Tips ... from UPI

By LIDIA WASOWICZ, UPI Senior Science Writer   |   April 27, 2004 at 9:00 AM
STEM CELL THERAPY FOR THE HEART

Studies show injecting adult stem cells into damaged heart tissue improved the heart's function in patients with severe congestive heart failure. This is the most conclusive evidence to date the treatment can benefit patients by promoting the growth of blood vessels and heart muscle, says researcher Dr. Amit Patel of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The experimental therapy is based on the idea stem cells introduced into a heart damaged by a heart attack or chronic illness could develop into heart muscle cells and cells that promote new vessel growth. Thus, it would improve the heart's ability to contract more effectively and restore the blood supply to the heart. Additional trials are needed to repeat the results, determine the optimal timing for the injection and look at the exact effects the therapy has on cells, Patel said.


WATCH WHERE YOU SIT!

Experts caution hikers against resting on a log or against a tree in California forests because Lyme disease-carrying ticks may hide there. "We sat on logs for only five minutes at a time, and in 30 percent of the cases, it resulted in exposure to ticks," said Robert Lane, professor of insect biology at the University of California, Berkeley, College of Natural Resources. "It didn't matter if we sat on moss or the bare surface; the ticks were all over the log surface. The next riskiest behavior was gathering wood, followed by sitting against trees, which resulted in tick exposure 23 and 17 percent of the time, respectively." The study, published in the Journal of Medical Entomology, comes just weeks before the start of northwestern California's nymphet tick season, which starts in the spring and continues into summer. The western black-legged tick, found primarily in the far western United States and British Columbia, is the primary carrier of the corkscrew-shaped spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium responsible for Lyme disease. The disease can lead to debilitating symptoms in humans.


WEAR YOUR BIKE HELMET

Each year, bike-related accidents kill 900 people and harm 567,000 others -- deaths and injuries that often could be prevented by wearing a helmet. About 30 percent of those killed and 60 percent of those taken to the emergency room are children, says Elaine Ledwon-Robinson, director of speech language pathology and Pediatric Neuro Rehabilitation at the University of Michigan Health System. She says 67,000 of the injuries are to the head, and wearing a helmet could minimize or prevent some 80 percent to 85 percent of them. Only half of the 80 million riders wear helmets all the time; and about 43 percent never put on the protective headgear, surveys show. Before hitting the bike saddle, buckle up your helmet, Ledwon-Robinson advises.


KNOW YOUR PROSTATE CANCER FACTS

A large international study shows most people know little about the symptoms, diagnostic tests and treatments for prostate cancer. The authors say the study points to a need for health education campaigns to help boost awareness of prostate cancer to the level of breast cancer and other similar diseases. Increased awareness among patients is particularly important because they often play a key role in deciding their own course of treatment. Of the 1,400 men and women surveyed, half did not know simple tests can help detect early prostate cancer and only 25 percent mentioned the prostate-specific antigen test that helps to identify problems in the prostate. Only 23 percent knew anything about hormonal therapy for early prostate cancer, and a mere 1 percent were familiar with the watchful-waiting approach.


(Editors: For more information about HEART, contact Lisa Rossi at (412) 916-3315 or RossiL@upmc.edu. For SIT, Sarah Yang at (510) 643-7741 or scy@pa.urel.berkeley.edu. For BIKE, Andie McDonnell at (734) 764-2220. For CANCER, Lucy Heaton at +44 (0)7931 929003 or lucy_heaton@uk.cohnwolfe.com)

© 2004 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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