New Award To Study The Effects Of Radiation And Aging On The Human Immune System Announced By NIAID

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, has awarded nearly $9.7 million over five years to the Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF), Japan, to study the effects of atomic bomb radiation and aging on the human immune system. For the first time, experts in both the United States and Japan will systematically analyze biological samples from the unique population of elderly Japanese atomic bomb survivors to better understand the health consequences of exposure to ionizing radiation on the natural aging process.

As people grow older, their immune systems also age, leading to a gradual decline in the body’s ability to fight infections, respond to vaccinations and prevent the development of cancer. The aging of the immune system, known as immunosenescence, is a major contributing factor to disease and death among the elderly. Radiation exposure appears to accelerate immunosenescence, although the molecular events that cause immunosenescence are not well understood.

According to the World Health Organization, in 2000 there were approximately 600 million people worldwide 60 years and older; WHO estimates that this number will jump to 1.2 billion by 2025 and 2 billion by 2050.

“Understanding how the immune system ages will help us find better ways to care for this growing population,” says NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.

This study will take advantage of the unique cohort of atomic bomb survivors who were exposed to varying levels of radiation in 1945. Using state-of-the-art technology, investigators will analyze blood samples from survivors to determine how radiation exposure alters the normal age-related decline of the immune system and identify the cellular and molecular changes that occur. They also will determine how the observed immune changes are related to disease and infection. One goal is to understand how exposure to ionizing radiation and aging affect a person’s ability to respond to vaccination.

“We will gain valuable information that will benefit not only the general public but also patients undergoing radiation for cancer treatment and those who could be exposed to radiation from an industrial accident or even a terrorist attack,” says Daniel Rotrosen, M.D., director of NIAID’s Division of Allergy, Immunology, and Transplantation, which oversees this award. “This collaboration complements NIAID’s program to develop medical countermeasures against radiological and nuclear threats.”

Yoichiro Kosunoki, Ph.D., Kei Nakachi, Ph.D., and Tomonori Hayashi, Ph.D., of the Department of Radiobiology/Molecular Epidemiology at RERF, will lead a team of nine experts in Japan and in the United States:

Yoko Hirabayashi, M.D., National Institute of Health Sciences, Tokyo, Japan
Atsushi Iwama, M.D., Chiba University, Japan
Shigeo Koyasu, Ph.D., Keio University, Tokyo, Japan
Nancy Manley, Ph.D., University of Georgia, Athens
Janko Nikolich-Zugich, M.D., Ph.D., University of Arizona, Tucson
Gregory Sempowski, Ph.D., Duke University, Durham, N.C.
Marcel van den Brink, M.D., Ph.D., Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York City
Nan-ping Weng, M.D., Ph.D., National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, Baltimore
Koji Yasutomo, M.D., Ph.D., University of Tokushima, Japan

Source: Julie Wu

NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Athena Feminine Technologies, Inc. Initiates Enrollment Of Phase Iv Clinical Trial For Athena Pelvic Muscle Trainer™

Athena Feminine Technologies, Inc., in partnership with the National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health, announced the initiation of a nationwide enrollment for Phase IV of the DUETS (Device for Urinary Incontinence, Effectiveness, Tolerability and Satisfaction) research study for its Athena Pelvic Muscle Trainer™ (PMT). The Athena PMT is an FDA-approved wireless vaginal electrical stimulator available by prescription for women with stress, urge or mixed incontinence.

“An estimated 20 million women in America have some loss of bladder control and the Athena PMT may give these women a chance to take back control of their bladders and lives without medication or surgery,” said Dave Berryman, Chief Executive Officer of Athena Feminine Technologies, Inc. “Women had success treating their bladder control issues with the Athena PMT. We are looking forward to further characterizing the condition in women with this study to report on the prevalence and a possible effective treatment.”

Some women may lose small amounts of urine occasionally due to coughing, laughing or sneezing, while others may saturate their clothing on a regular basis. Incontinence occurs because of problems with the muscles and nerves that help to hold or release urine. Women experience urinary incontinence twice as often as men, usually stemming from a weakened pelvic floor muscle, which acts like a hammock and on average supports the weight of about 20 lbs. of organs. Like all muscles, the pelvic floor muscle must be healthy and toned to properly function. Kegel exercises can strengthen these muscles allowing for improved bladder control; however, many women who try these exercises forget to do them or don’t do them properly.

“The pelvic muscle is often neglected until one experiences involuntary loss of bladder control. Even if a woman has urinary incontinence, she will wait an average of 6.5 years before discussing it with her healthcare professional,” noted Susan Wysocki, President of the National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health, which has partnered with Athena Feminine Technologies, Inc. to conduct the study with 100 or more nurse practitioners acting as lead investigators. “There’s a real embarrassment factor associated with incontinence and many women think it is a part of normal aging or something to live with because of having children, but that’s simply not true. For many women, it’s an easily treatable condition.”

The Athena PMT is a discreet, tampon-sized device which uses an electrical pulse to mimic Kegels. The easy-to-use device stimulates the muscle to contract and relax with absolutely no effort from the woman doing perfect Kegels every time. The device has data supporting its safety and efficacy, and has no known side effects. The wireless trainer can conduct pelvic exercises in the comfort and privacy of one’s own home. The prescription device is covered by many insurance companies.

About the DUETS Research Trial

The Athena DUETS Trial will examine the Athena PMT’s effectiveness, in terms of the impact of treatment on stress, urge and mixed urinary incontinence and sexual health, as well as tolerability and satisfaction with the device among different age, race, and socio-economic groups. Global impressions of subjects and women’s health professionals will also be reported.

The 13-week study will also look to determine whether the Athena PMT provides an effective, convenient and comfortable therapy to limit or control urinary incontinence, time of onset, severity, symptoms, co-morbidities, and medical and pharmacological histories. The information derived will be useful for clinicians presented with dilemmas when treating urge, stress or mixed incontinence and sexual dysfunction in women.

About Athena Feminine Technologies, Inc.

Athena Feminine Technologies, Inc. is a company dedicated to improving the quality of life of women worldwide by providing products that address female pelvic and reproductive health concerns. The PMT is the first in a series of technology products that may detect and/or rehabilitate common physiological changes that occur in adult women. Athena is committed to female inner health and providing women with discreet, affordable and effective ways to treat disorders caused by weakness in the pelvic floor. The company has and constantly pursues a “for women, by women” focus.

About National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health

Founded in 1980, the mission of the National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Heath (NPWH) is to assure the provision of quality health care to women of all ages by nurse practitioners. NPWH defines quality health care to be inclusive of an individual’s physical, emotional and spiritual needs, and recognizes and respects women as decision-makers for their health care. NPWH’s mission includes protecting and promoting a woman’s right to make her own choices regarding her health within the context of her personal, religious, cultural and family beliefs.

Source: Athena Feminine Technologies, Inc

Vigorous Exercise Can Help Seniors Avoid Disability

Healthy seniors who are physically active and exercise for more than 60 minutes each week can lessen their chances of disability as they age, finds a new long-term study.

“This study contributes to the large body of scientific evidence supporting the importance of continuing to be physical active over one’s life,” said lead author Bonnie Bruce, of the division of immunology and rheumatology at Stanford University Department of Medicine.

The study appears in the July issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

The researchers looked at 805 adults between the ages 50 and 72 at enrollment and followed for them for 13 years, from 1989 to 2002. Each year, participants answered survey questions about their overall health and vitality and rated themselves on their ability (or inability) to do tasks such as dressing, eating and reaching. Responses fell on a scale from 0 (no difficulty) to 3 (unable to do).

Participants also reported their level of activity and were considered “active” if they exercised vigorously for example, running, brisk walking, swimming, biking and hiking more than 60 minutes per week, or “inactive” if 60 minutes or less per week.

The researchers then grouped them as normal-weight active, normal-weight inactive, overweight active or overweight inactive, with BMI determining their weight group.

The normal-weight physically active seniors reported an average of 303 minutes of exercise per week, compared with an average of 16 minutes for normal-weight inactive seniors. On the other hand, overweight seniors who were physically active reported an average of 251 minutes per week, compared with 12 minutes for the overweight inactive seniors.

After 13 years, the overweight active seniors (average disability score 0.14) had significantly less disability than the overweight inactive (average disability score 0.19) and normal-weight inactive seniors (average disability score 0.22) seniors.

The researchers concluded that being physically active, regardless of body weight, helped lessen disability. Bruce said that public health efforts that promote physically active lifestyles among seniors may be more feasible than those that emphasize body weight to remain healthy.

Brian Martinson, Ph.D., senior investigator at HealthPartners Research Foundation in Minneapolis, agreed that “it’s better to be active than inactive,” but said it’s often difficult for physicians without specific training to motivate patients to think of the long-term health benefits of exercise and activity.

“Physicians should focus some discussions on the health benefits of physical activity because they have the most influence over their patients’ behavior,” he said. “However, I’m not sure how motivating the health benefits are to people. Most people, unfortunately, exercise because they want to look good in a dress or suit or want to look good for a high school reunion. The aim of decreasing disability long-term may not be enough of a motivator.”

The American Journal of Public Health is the monthly journal of the American Public Health Association. Visit apha for more information.

Bruce B, Fries J, Hubert H. Mitigation of disability development in healthy overweight and normal-weight seniors through regular vigorous activity: a 13-year study. Am J Public Health 98(7), 2008.

Health Behavior News Service
Center for the Advancement of Health 2000 Florida Ave. NW, Ste 210
Washington, DC 20009
United States

NIDA Survey Shows A Decline In Smoking And Illicit Drug Use Among Eighth Graders

The nation’s eighth graders took center stage in this year’s Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey, showing a significant decline in both smoking and illicit drug use in the past year, part of a downward trend for all measured age groups in the last decade. In addition, eighth graders showed a substantial long-term decline in past-year alcohol use, down to 31.8 percent from its recent peak of 46.8 percent in 1994. The Monitoring the Future project-now in its 33rd year-is a series of independent surveys of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan under a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Results from the 2007 survey were announced at a news conference at the White House.

The 2007 results appear to reflect an ongoing cultural shift among teens and their attitudes about smoking and substance abuse. Lifetime, past-month, and daily smoking among eighth graders has dropped considerably in the past year, and daily cigarette smoking among eighth graders dropped from 4 percent to 3 percent; down from its 10.4 percent peak in 1996. Similarly, annual prevalence of marijuana use by eighth graders fell from 11.7 percent in 2006 to 10.3 percent in 2007, and is down from its 1996 peak of 18.3 percent.

“Over the last decade, there has been a large science-based effort throughout the public health community to drive down the rates of smoking, illicit drug, and alcohol use among teens,” said NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D. “These results show us we are definitely seeing a decline in substance abuse among our youngest and most vulnerable teens, and we are committed to continuing our efforts.”

“We are especially heartened to see the decrease in smoking among eighth graders, and will be watching the next two years closely to see if this decline will stick as these kids get older,” said NIDA director Nora D. Volkow. “If this change in attitude is carried with them throughout the rest of their teen years, we could see a dramatic drop in smoking-related deaths in their generation.”

The survey also showed that while past-year use of marijuana declined among 8th graders in 2007, it remained steady among 10th and 12th graders. However, in the past decade, there has been a slow downward trend in overall illicit drug use driven by gradual declines in marijuana smoking. Past-year marijuana use among 10th graders sits at 24.6 percent after it peaked in 1997 at 34.8 percent. Similarly, past-year marijuana use among 12th graders registers at 31.7 percent after a 1997 peak of 38.5 percent.

The survey results are not without concerns, however. Prescription drug abuse remains high with virtually no significant drop in nonmedical use of most individual prescription drugs. Vicodin remains one of the most commonly abused drugs among 12th graders: 1 in 10 reported nonmedical use in the past year. The Monitoring the Future Survey traditionally measures misuse of a variety of different prescription drugs including opiates like Vicodin and OxyContin, amphetamines (including Ritalin), sedatives/barbiturates, and tranquilizers, as well as over-the-counter drugs, such as cough syrup. However, for the first time this year, researchers pulled together data for all prescription drugs as a measurable group, and 15.4 percent of high school seniors reported nonmedical use of at least one of these prescription medications within the past year. Recent data for consuming 5+ drinks in a row in the last two weeks–an especially dangerous pattern of consumption–have remained steady at worrisome levels for all three grades. In addition, recent data for drinking have remained steady at high levels, particularly for 10th and 12th graders.

Another concern in the survey is the softening of attitudes towards MDMA (ecstasy) and LSD in the younger grades. For the third year in a row, there was a decrease in perceived harmfulness of MDMA among eighth graders. Among 10th graders, there was a decrease in perceived harmfulness of LSD and MDMA and a decrease in disapproval of LSD. Concurrently, there has been an increase in past-year MDMA use in 10th and 12th graders over the past two years.

“We will be watching what happens with MDMA and LSD use in future surveys,” said Dr. Volkow. “This decrease in both disapproval and perceived harmfulness among eighth graders shows us that we need to be vigilant in our educational efforts with every drug in each succeeding generation.”

Since 1975, the MTF survey has measured drug, alcohol, and cigarette use and related attitudes among adolescent students nationwide. Survey participants report their drug use behaviors across three time periods: lifetime, past year, and past month. Overall, 48,025 students from 403 public and private schools in the 8th, 10th, and 12th grades participated in this year’s survey. The survey has been conducted since its inception by investigators at the University of Michigan. Additional information on the Monitoring the Future Survey, as well as comments from Dr. Nora Volkow can be found at here.

MTF is one of three major Health and Human Services (HHS)-sponsored surveys that provide data on substance use among youth. Its Web site is monitoringthefuture . More information on MTF can be found at hhs/news ; or whitehousedrugpolicy . Additional details are also available here.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), sponsored by HHS’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, is the primary source of statistical information on illicit drug use in the U.S. population 12 years of age and older. The survey collects data in household interviews, currently using computer-assisted self-administration for drug-related items. More information is available here.

The Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), part of HHS’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, is a school-based survey that collects data from students in grades 9-12. The survey includes questions on a wide variety of health-related risk behaviors, including drug abuse. More information is available here.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports most of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction. The Institute carries out a large variety of programs to inform policy and improve practice. Fact sheets on the health effects of drugs of abuse and information on NIDA research and other activities can be found on the NIDA home page at drugabuse .

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) – The Nation’s Medical Research Agency – includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary Federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases.


View drug information on OxyContin; Ritalin LA.

Examining Genetic Variability Of Malaria Parasite Offers Insight

WHAT: Back-to-back papers published online in Nature Genetics reveal important new details about the genetic variability of the malaria parasite and provide new clues for how it causes disease. One paper, funded in part by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), reports the results of a massive effort to sequence and compare complete or partial genomes of 54 different samples from around the globe of the most deadly type of malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum. The sequencing, carried out in part at NIAID’s Microbial Sequencing Center, has revealed nearly 47,000 genetic variations in the parasite’s genome. The genetic diversity captured by this map will help researchers understand the parasite’s evolution and study malarial drug resistance. Two companion studies being published simultaneously include one led by NIAID scientists that identifies new antigens–pieces of the pathogen that are recognized by the immune system. Some of these new antigens may be potential targets for new therapeutics or vaccines to help control malaria.


ARTICLES: “A genome-wide map of diversity in Plasmodium falciparum,” by S Volkman et al. Nature Genetics DOI: 10.1038/ng1930 (2006). This study was conducted by scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health; the Broad Institute of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard; Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, Senegal; the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research; and Harvard Medical School.

“Genome-wide variation and identification of vaccine targets in the Plasmodium falciparum genome,” by J Mu et al. Nature Genetics DOI: 10.1038/ng1924 (2006). This study was conducted by scientists in NIAID’s Laboratory of Malaria and Vector Research; North Carolina State University; and the University of Oxford.

SPOKESPERSONS: Martin John Rogers, Ph.D., Parasite Biology/Parasite Genomics Program Officer, Parasitology and International Programs Branch, NIAID Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases for the article by S Volkman et al.

Maria Y. Giovanni, Ph.D., Assistant Director for Microbial Genomics and Advanced Technology, NIAID Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, can comment on NIAID’s Microbial Sequencing Center.

Xinzhuan Su, Ph.D., Senior Investigator and Head of the Malaria Genomics Section, NIAID Laboratory of Malaria and Vector Research for the study by J Mu et al.

NIAID is a component of the National Institutes of Health. NIAID supports basic and applied research to prevent, diagnose and treat infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, influenza, tuberculosis, malaria and illness from potential agents of bioterrorism. NIAID also supports research on basic immunology, transplantation and immune-related disorders, including autoimmune diseases, asthma and allergies.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH)–The Nation’s Medical Research Agency–includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit nih/.

Contact: Jason Socrates Bardi

NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Some Pet Birds May Have Avian Chlamydiosis And Pose Risk To Humans

Officials in Washington State have warned that some cockatiels, as well as other pet birds that were shipped by a national distributor, may pose a risk to humans who are in contact with them. Approximately 20 PetSmart stores in 11 Washington counties have had birds delivered to them from this distributor. Some of these birds had tested positive for avian chlamydiosis – infected humans can develop psittacosis (the human form of the disease).

PetSmart has voluntarily removed all the birds it had received from the distributor. The company says it is treating exposed birds with antibiotics. Everybody who works in the pet stores has been notified and has been trained on proper procedures for cleanup and handling the birds. All customers who purchased birds from these outlets since October 2007 have been sent letters about avian chlamydiosis and psittacosis.

About Avian Chlamydiosis

It is a disease which affects birds, caused by Chlamydophila psittaci, a bacterium. Not all birds that become infected show symptoms of illness.

Symptoms in birds

– the bird is lethargic
– it does not eat
– it loses weight
– there is a thick discharge from eyes and nose
– diarrhea

Birds most susceptible to infection are cockatiels, cockatoos, parrots and parakeets – those of the psittacine species.

A veterinarian can test and treat pet birds with antibiotics.

How humans get it

The bacterium gets into humans via dust from dried bird droppings – human breaths it in. An infected person will develop psittacosis. Symptoms include headache, fever, chills, cough, and muscle aches. There is an incubation period of 5-19 days (humans show symptoms 5-19 days after exposure).

Psittacosis is usually mild. However, if it is not recognized and treated there is a small chance it can become serious. The infection is usually treated with antibiotics. If you develop any of the symptoms and have been near pet birds you should get in touch with your doctor.


– Clean your birdcage regularly to prevent waste build-up.
– Use a non-dusty litter, such as newspaper and place it under the wire mesh – change it daily.
– Empty and rinse food and water bowls daily.
– Bars and perches should be washed with disinfectant and thoroughly rinsed. Wash them regularly.
– Make sure that floors/countertops near cages are thoroughly and regularly mopped to prevent dust and feathers from circulating.

Avian Chlamydiosis and Psittacosis (PDF) – Dept of Health
Psittacosis – CDC
Psittacosis (PDF) – National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians

American Lung Association Applauds EPA For Taking Critical Steps To Protect Public Health From Global Shipping Pollution

Statement of Captain Charles D. Connor, U.S. Navy (Ret.), American Lung Association President and CEO:

The American Lung Association applauds the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for advancing federal government efforts to protect the millions of people affected by dangerous air pollution generated by ocean-going vessels.

Today, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson signed a notice of proposed rulemaking to put into place procedures for an Emissions Control Area that will require foreign-flagged ships within American waters to greatly reduce the volume of air pollution they produce. The pollution from these vessels jeopardizes the health and the lives of people living thousands of miles inland. The Administrator’s action today brings the United States one critical step closer to gaining the authority of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to enforce the cleanup of shipping pollution.

In my career as a U.S. Navy Captain, I saw firsthand the staggering amounts of pollution that cruise ships, container ships, tankers and other ocean-going vessels released into the atmosphere. These ships dock at over 100 ports along our coastline and along navigable waterways far inland. Their smog-and soot-forming emissions threaten the health of those living far from our nation’s maritime ports. By comparison, the U.S. Navy has made great strides to comply with the United States’ emission standards during normal operations.

Air pollution sends people with lung disease to the hospital, shapes how children’s lungs develop, causes heart attacks and can even kill. Fighting for healthy air remains the highest priority of the American Lung Association.

Children, seniors, those with lung disease, cardiovascular disease and diabetes will benefit most of all because they face the greatest risk from these dangerous pollutants. The American Lung Association looks forward to the cleaner air that will come because of the journey undertaken with the full support of the EPA.

American Lung Association

Disturbed Sleep Linked To Poorer Daytime Function In Older Women

One of the first large-scale studies to examine the association of sleep behaviors, neuromuscular performance and daytime function in a community dwelling of older women finds that poorer sleep is associated with worse physical function in older women during the daytime.

The study, authored by Suzanne E. Goldman, PhD, of the University of Pittsburgh, was based on a total of 2,889 women, who participated in the 2002-2004 examination of the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures. The subjects wore actigraphs, which measured sleep variables including total sleep time and hours awake after sleep onset during the night and daytime napping behavior. Neuromuscular performance measurements included gait speed, chair stands and grip strength, while functional limitations were assessed as self-reported difficulty with one or more of six instrumental activities of daily living.

According to the results, women who slept less than six hours per night walked 3.5 percent slower than those who slept six to 6.8 hours. Those who slept greater than or equal to seven-and-a-half hours took 4.1 percent longer to complete five chair stands than those who slept 6.8 to seven-and-a-half hours. With higher wake after sleep onset, gait speed was 9.1 percent slower. It took 7.6 percent longer to complete five chair stands, and odds of functional limitation were 1.8 percent higher. Women with one to 1.8 hours of daytime sleep had higher odds of a functional limitation than those with less than 0.5 hours.

“The results suggest that those women with more disrupted sleep as characterized by shorter sleep duration and longer wake time during the night, and those with greater daytime sleepiness as characterized by napping behavior, were at greater risk for poorer neuromuscular performance and poorer daytime function,” said Dr. Goldman. “Women with objective measures of poor sleep had more trouble performing independent activities of daily living. These results held up even after adjustment for multiple confounders and other explanatory variables.”

Some of the more common sleep disorders in older adults include:

- Insomnia affects almost half of adults 60 and older.
- Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can elevate the risk for high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, and cognitive problems. Snoring, a symptom of OSA, is a very common condition affecting nearly 40 percent of adults, and is more common among older people.
- Restless legs syndrome, where one experiences uncomfortable feelings in the
legs, affects more than 20 percent of people 80 years and older.

- Periodic limb movement disorder, a condition that causes people to jerk and kick their legs every 20-40 seconds during sleep, is evident in almost 40 percent of older adults.

Not sleeping well can lead to a number of problems. Older adults who have poor nighttime sleep are more likely to have a depressed mood, attention and memory problems, excessive daytime sleepiness, more nighttime falls and use more over-the-counter or prescription sleep aids. In addition, recent studies associate lack of sleep with serious health problems such as an increased risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

While most people require seven to eight hours of sleep a night to perform optimally the next day, older adults might find this harder to obtain. Older adults must be more aware of their sleep and maintain good sleep hygiene by following these tips:

- Establishing a routine sleep schedule.
- Avoiding utilizing bed for activities other than sleep or intimacy.
- Avoiding substances that disturb your sleep, like alcohol or caffeine.
- Not napping during the day. If you must snooze, limit the time to less than one hour and no later than 3 p.m.
- Stick to rituals that help you relax each night before bed. This can include such things as a warm bath, a light snack or a few minutes of reading.
- Don’t take your worries to bed. Bedtime is a time to relax, not to hash out the stresses of the day.
- If you can’t fall asleep, leave your bedroom and engage in a quiet activity. Return to bed only when you are tired.
- Keep your bedroom dark, quiet and a little cool.

SLEEP is the official journal of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, LLC, a joint venture of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and the Sleep Research Society.

SleepEducation, a Web site maintained by the AASM, provides information about various sleep disorders, the forms of treatment available, recent news on the topic of sleep, sleep studies that have been conducted and a listing of sleep facilities.

American Academy of Sleep Medicine

Red Cross Urgently Needs Blood Donations To Replenish Post Holiday Blood Shortage

The American Red
Cross Southeastern Michigan Blood Services Region is asking all individuals
17 years and older, 110 pounds or more and in good health to immediately
help save lives. Blood donations are urgently needed to help boost a
dwindling blood supply exacerbated by the long holiday weekend.

“This time of year is considered the season of giving. Unfortunately,
it’s also the time when blood donations plummet, yet the need for blood
does not take a holiday,” says Diane E. Ward, CEO, American Red Cross
Southeastern Michigan Blood Services Region.

If you donated earlier this year or are thinking of making your first
donation, now is the time to roll up your sleeve and give one of the most
important gifts, the gift of life. The need for blood is ongoing; every two
seconds someone in America will need blood. Donations historically decline
during the winter season when eligible donors are away from home, school
and work, the places they conveniently participate in blood drives.

Blood availability is a preparedness issue. Blood must be on the shelf,
ready and available to provide everyday medical care and to respond to
emergencies as well as large-scale, man-made or natural disasters. Any one
of us, or our loved ones, may need that unit of blood missing from the Red
Cross’s shelves. All blood types are needed and it is critical that
volunteer donors come in to give blood now.

Call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE or visit givelife today to schedule
an appointment at a convenient location. Patients are depending on your
precious gift of life.

American Red Cross Southeastern Michigan Blood Services Region

From Toxic Dust And Algae To Ill Winds From Africa

Toxic dust: Toxins in coal-tar-based sealcoats in parking lots may be the culprit in contaminated house dust, according to a USGS study. PAHs – or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons – are large molecules found in oil, coal and tar deposits, and can have toxic effects. It’s long been known that PAHs are often found in house dust; however, the specific sources of these PAHs are largely undetermined. Researchers found that dust from indoor areas near parking lots with coal-tar-based sealcoat had substantially elevated concentrations of PAHs. The study: PAHs in house dust and relation to coal-tar-based pavement sealcoat.

Eensy-weensy spiders play large role as sentinels of contaminants: Spiders that live near water may be an effective warning system for contaminants in aquatic ecosystems, according to a new USGS and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency study. Scientists examined PCB (polychlorinated biphenyls) levels in shoreline-living spiders at Lake Hartwell, a Superfund site in South Carolina, and used this information to map contaminant concentrations in lake sediment. Future monitoring studies will use the spiders as indicators of ecosystem recovery from PCB contamination. Researchers also made risk maps for a spider-eating bird, the Carolina wren, which could be exposed to PCBs through eating spiders. These spiders rely heavily on adult aquatic insects for food and play a key ecological role in the transfer of contaminants between water and land ecosystems. In spite of this, they are underused as a sentinel species at contaminated sediment sites. The study: using riparian spiders as sentinels of PCB export and risk.

It’s an ill wind that blows: African dust making it across the ocean: Increasing quantities of African dust have blown across the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean and Americas over the past few decades. During that time, the dust’s composition has changed. In this study, African dust air masses in Africa and the Caribbean were analyzed for persistent organic contaminants and metals. These potentially toxic contaminants can originate from the burning of plastics, biomass and waste; widespread use of pesticides, plastics, and pharmaceuticals; and increased industrialization. Multiple pesticides and other contaminants, including carcinogens, suppressors of immune systems, disruptors of endocrine systems, and nervous system or liver toxins were identified from all sample sites. All are known to persist in the environment, accumulate in organisms, and are toxic at very low concentrations. The study: Chasing clouds of dust: transoceanic transport of synthetic organic pollutants and trace metals with African dust.

Invasive carp and the secret language of scent: The chemical language of invasive Asian carp may eventually be turned against them in the fight to help eradicate these harmful invaders from the Mississippi River. Asian carp, introduced into the Mississippi River in the 1970s and 80s, are now abundant throughout the lower Missouri, the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, posing a threat to native species. Carp seem to have a chemical language effective for predator defense and reproduction in murky environments, so researchers put this language to the test by subjecting young carp to extracts prepared from the skins of other carp. The result: the young carp, upon detecting the extracts, significantly avoided them by moving from the area, becoming immobile, and schooling. This “alarm substance” may be effective in repelling carp from habitat critical to native species. Young carp were also attracted to the chemical stimuli of schooling carp, which can assist in conventional eradication methods. The study: Use of pheromones to control invasive Asian carp.

Toxic algae may be harming endangered suckers in Klamath Lake: Preliminary data suggest that algal toxins may be hindering the population growth of endangered Lost River suckers and shortnose suckers in Upper Klamath Lake in southern Oregon. This lake is characterized by high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus, nutrients that promote large, frequent cycles of cyanobacterial or algal blooms from spring through fall. Researchers evaluated the presence and effects of these toxins, specifically microcystins, which are harmful to other aquatic life, in the lake’s water and in fish from the lake. Examination of liver tissues from juvenile suckers revealed adverse physiological effects consistent with tissue damage associated with microcystin exposure. Significant concentrations of the toxins were reported form all field sampling stations in the lake. The study: Cyanobacterial toxins found in Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon: implications for endangered fish.

Wading through the sources of lake contamination: Contamination of urban lakes and streams by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) is widespread and has been increasing over the last 40 years in the United States. These PAHs can be toxic to bottom-dwelling organisms, can cause tumors in fish, and several are believed to cause cancer in humans. In this study, researchers examined five sources of PAHs in 40 urban lakes from across the United States, including coal-tar-based pavement sealcoat, coal combustion, oil combustion, vehicle emissions and wood combustion. Of the five sources studied, sealcoat was the strongest contributor to PAH contamination in lake sediment. This research can help those trying to reduce pollution levels in the urban environment by providing them with a better understanding of PAH sources. This study, Sources of PAHs to urban lakes in the United States, will be presented on Nov. 23 at 11:20 a.m. in the Jefferson Room.

Tiny particles with big effects: Industrially produced nanoparticles are being dispersed into the environment from a range of everyday human activities. Use of consumer nanoproducts, such as sunscreen with zinc oxide or bed sheets and socks containing silver nanoparticles, all have the potential to release metals into the environment. Some of these particles can be toxic, but little is known about how nanoparticles will accumulate in the environment. Interactions between nanoparticles and living organisms are influenced by the unique physico-chemical properties of each kind of nanoparticle. This study introduces a new approach to evaluate the toxicity of nanoparticles with metal as an ingredient, and offers a way to begin to understand potential beneficial uses and potential environmental risks. The study: Characterizing the bioavailability and toxicity of engineered nanoparticles using enriched isotope tracers and biodynamic modeling.

Cause of feminized male sturgeon remains elusive: The number of male shovelnose sturgeon with female characteristics in the Missouri River has increased from about 3 percent in 1968 to 15 percent in 2001. USGS researchers examined the levels of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and organochlorine pesticides in normal and intersex fish to see whether these hormone-mimicking compounds were associated with the condition. Although the compounds were all present in sturgeon at levels of concern, no differences in levels between intersex male fish and normal male fish were detected. Still, reproductive development is complex and can depend on many factors, including a fish’s age at its first exposure. These fish are also exposed to many other compounds that have not yet been tested. Recent findings of intersex in endangered pallid sturgeon underscore the need to find the cause of this condition. The study: Intersex gonads in Missouri River shovelnose sturgeon: occurrence, severity, and association with contaminants.

The SETAC conference is being held in New Orleans from Nov. 19-23. For more info on the conference, visit their Web site.

Source: Jennifer Donovan

Michigan Technological University