Health Highlights: Dec. 16, 2007

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:

Blood Brain Flow Scan Can Identify Smokers' Nicotine Urges

Anyone who has attempted to quit smoking has experienced the sometimes overwhelming urge to resume that bad habit once the nicotine begins to leave the system.

For the first time, scientists have identified a brain activation that creates the nicotine craving and the continuing need to smoke. The findings by University of Pennsylvania scientists, to be published in the December 19, 2007, issue of The Journal of Neuroscience, measure brain blood flow, according to a university news release.

WHAT TO KNOW
    • Blood Brain Flow Scan Can Identify Smokers' Nicotine Urge
    • Liposuctioned Fat Stem Cells Effective in Breast Reconstruction after Lumpectomy, Study Finds
    • CDC Cancels Bids for National Medical Processing Center for Ground Zero Workers
    • New Human Bird Flu Cases Reported in Asia
    • Recalled Valucraft Booster Cables Pose Shock Hazard
    • More Blood Contaminants Found in People with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma: Study

The blood brain flow measuring system using an MRI scan was developed by Dr. John Detre, a University of Pennsylvania associate professor of neurology. The senior author of the paper, Caryn Lerman, the director of the university's Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center, said, "MRI may aid in the identification of smokers at increased risk for relapse who may require more intensive therapy."

Each of 15 regular smokers received an MRI scanned within an hour of the first scan and got the second MRI after abstaining from smoking overnight. The findings showed that "abstinence-induced, unprovoked cravings to smoke are associated with increased activation in brain regions important in attention, behavioral control, memory, and reward," according to the news release.

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Liposuctioned Fat Stem Cells Effective in Breast Reconstruction after Lumpectomy, Study Finds

A small Japanese study shows promise for using stem cells from liposuctioned fat to reconstruct a woman's breast after she has had a procedure called a lumpectomy to remove small, malignant tumors.

Other methods for reconstructing the breast after lumpectomies have met with only limited success, the Associated Press reports. But the use of fat that contains stem cells appears to allow the tissue to keep from dying and to grow normally.

The study was presented Dec. 15 at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, the wire service reported. San Diego-based Cytori Therapeutics, which developed the procedure, says it will have more studies in Europe and Japan next year.

The Japanese study involved 21 breast cancer patients who had liposuctioned fat removed their tummies, hips or thighs. Half of the fat was used to extract stem cells and was then added to the remaining fat, the A.P. reported. The subjects were injected in three places around the breast.

There was a statistically significant improvement in breast tissue thickness at one and six months after treatment, the lead researcher, Dr. Keizo Sugimachi of Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan, reported. Eight months after treatment, "about 80 percent of the patients are satisfied" with the results, Sugimachi told the wire service.

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CDC Cancels Bids for National Medical Processing Center for Ground Zero Workers

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