The Phenomenon Of Women Caring For Ex-Husbands

The aging population, 65 years and older, includes nearly 3.8 million divorced men and women, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Illnesses and end-of-life issues can be particularly difficult for singles without spouses or designated caregivers. A new study from the University of Missouri provides insight into the experiences of exes who care for their former spouses, offering support, assistance with daily tasks and management of health needs.

“The concept of women as caregivers for their ex-husbands is largely unexplored,” said Teresa Cooney, associate professor in the College of Human Environmental Sciences. “To date, our study is the first to examine this form of caregiving. Initial findings suggest that it is more common than expected and that the experience is highly variable for caregivers.”

Cooney and Christine Proulx, MU researchers in the MU Department of Human Development and Family Studies, are examining the experiences of women who provide care for their ex-husbands. In the study, the researchers conducted a series of telephone interviews with caregivers throughout the U.S. and identified unique characteristics and motivations of these women and how caregiving affected their relationships.

“Compared to traditional caregiving, there are unique issues involved with providing care for former spouses,” Proulx said. “A surprising number of the women reported continued involvement with their ex-husbands post-divorce. A strong motivator for women to become caregivers is related to their desire to maintain relationships, not with ex-husbands, but typically with their children. It appears that having shared children with an ex might facilitate emotional attachment. Women also might try to shield their children from the demands of caregiving.”

Emotional attachments among women and their exes, including post-divorce relations or positive feelings toward former spouses, facilitated their caregiving relationships. Additionally, the study revealed that some women experience “uplifts” or emotional rewards for caregiving.

“Some women reported caregiving as a turning point in relationships with their ex-husbands,” Cooney said. “These women experienced positive interactions as they helped their former husbands, which seemed to buffer the challenges of caregiving. Although pleasant interactions are common among more traditional caregivers and their recipients, we didn’t expect to find this in a study of ex-wife caregivers. Several women noted that their ex-husbands had ‘softened’ during illness and there was less conflict.”

Continued exploration to determine why and how former spouses become caregivers will expand current ideas about families and relationships, Cooney said. Cooney and Proulx will further examine relational changes, support for caregivers of former spouses and males as caregivers.

Emily Martin
University of Missouri-Columbia

Two-Thirds Of Severe Sports Injuries To Female Students Due To Cheerleading

A new report on severe sporting injuries among high school and college athletes shows cheerleading appears to account for a larger proportion of all such injuries than previously thought.

The latest annual report from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill-based National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research shows high school cheerleading accounted for 65.1 percent of all catastrophic sports injuries among high school females over the past 25 years.

Previously, the figure was believed to be 55 percent, but new data included in this year’s survey indicates that the true number of cheerleading injuries appears to be higher.

The story is the same for college participants as well. At that level, the new data shows cheerleading accounted for 66.7 percent of all female sports catastrophic injuries, compared to past estimates of 59.4 percent.

The difference is due to a new partnership between the UNC center and the National Cheer Safety Foundation, a California-based not-for-profit body created to promote safety in the sport and collect data on injuries, which provided the center with previously unreported data. The addition of new information compiled by the foundation saw the inclusion of an additional 30 injury records from high schoolers and college students. Beforehand, the number of direct catastrophic injuries in all sports totaled 112.

The center’s director, Frederick O. Mueller, Ph.D., professor of exercise and sports science in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences, who has authored the report since it was first published in 1982, said catastrophic injuries to female athletes have increased over the years.

“A major factor in this increase has been the change in cheerleading activity, which now involves gymnastic-type stunts,” Mueller said. “If these cheerleading activities are not taught by a competent coach and keep increasing in difficulty, catastrophic injuries will continue to be a part of cheerleading.”

Between 1982 and 2007, there were 103 fatal, disabling or serious injuries recorded among female high school athletes, with the vast majority (67) occurring in cheerleading. No other sports registered double-figure tallies; gymnastics (9) and track (7) had the 2nd and 3rd highest totals, respectively.

Among college athletes, there have been 39 such injuries: 26 in cheerleading, followed by three in field hockey and two each in lacrosse and gymnastics.

In 2007, two catastrophic injuries to female high school cheerleaders were reported, down from 10 in the previous season, and the lowest number since 2001. However, there were three catastrophic injuries to college-level participants, up from one in 2006.

Mueller said catastrophic sporting injuries may never be totally eliminated, but collecting and constantly analyzing reliable injury data can help reduce them dramatically.

According to the report, almost 95,200 female students take part in high school cheerleading annually, along with about 2,150 males. College participation numbers are hard to find since cheerleading is not an NCAA sport. The report also notes that according to the NCAA Insurance program, 25 percent of money spent on student athlete injuries in 2005 resulted from cheerleading.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
210 Pittsboro St., Campus Box 6210
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
United States

Brain cells generated in a dish – Discovery pinpoints the true ‘stem cell’

Regenerative medicine scientists at the University of Florida’s McKnight Brain Institute have created a system in rodent
models that for the first time duplicates neurogenesis – the process of generating new brain cells – in a dish.

Writing in today’s (June 13) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers describe a cell culture method that
holds the promise of producing a limitless supply of a person’s own brain cells to potentially heal disorders such as
Parkinson’s disease or epilepsy.

“It’s like an assembly line to manufacture and increase the number of brain cells,” said Bjorn Scheffler, M.D., a
neuroscientist with UF’s College of Medicine. “We can basically take these cells and freeze them until we need them. Then we
thaw them, begin a cell-generating process, and produce a ton of new neurons.”

If the discovery can translate to human applications, it will enhance efforts aimed at finding ways to use large numbers of a
person’s own cells to restore damaged brain function, partially because the technique produces cells in far greater amounts
than the body can on its own.

In addition, the discovery pinpoints the cell that is truly what people refer to when they say “stem cell.” Although the term
is used frequently to describe immature cells that are the building blocks of bones, skin, flesh and organs, the actual stem
cell as it exists in the brain has been enigmatic, according to Dennis Steindler, Ph.D., executive director of the McKnight
Brain Institute and senior author of the paper. Its general location was known, but it was an obscure species in a sea of
cell types.

“We’ve isolated for the first time what appears to be the true candidate stem cell,” said Steindler, a neuroscientist and
member of UF’s Program of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine. “There have been other candidates, but in this case we
used a special microscope that allows us to watch living cells over long periods of time through a method called live-cell
microscopy, so we’ve actually witnessed the stem cell give rise to new neurons. Possibly a different method may come up to
identify the mother of all stem cells, but we’re confident this is it.”

During experiments, scientists collected cells from mice and used chemicals to induce them to differentiate. During the
process, they snapped images of the cells every five minutes for up to 30 hours and compiled the images into movies.
Traditional ways to attempt neurogenesis have been unable to so closely duplicate the natural process. They also haven’t
allowed scientists to monitor the entire sequence of cell development from primitive states to functional neurons and expose
the electrophysiological properties of the cells.

A little more than a decade ago, scientists came to realize that the brain continues to produce small amounts of new cells
even in adulthood, overturning the belief that people are born with a fixed amount of brain cells that must last them
throughout their lives.

In people, stem cells develop naturally into full-fledged brain cells as they travel through a neural pathway that begins
deep within the brain in a region called the subventricular zone. The primitive cells mature along the way, finishing as
neurons in a spot called the olfactory bulb.

In the laboratory cultures, the cells still move about, but the pathway is no longer important, showing that neurogenesis
does not necessarily require the environmental cues of the host brain.

The natural development of stem cells in the brain is very similar to the lifelong production of blood cells in the human
body called hematopoiesis, with “poiesis” derived from the Greek word meaning “to make.”

Scientists in Steindler’s lab noticed the similarities between primitive cell development in blood and in the brain in the
late 1990s, calling the process “neuropoiesis.”

“The exciting part is we are actually using methods that researchers involved with hematopoiesis used,” Scheffler said.
“Those researchers took primitive cells, put them in a dish and watched them perform. From that, they learned vital
information for clinical applications such as bone marrow transplants. Now we have a tool to do exactly the same thing.”

By watching the cells perform, scientists can make judgments and influence the capacity of the cells to generate specific

“As far as regenerating parts of the brain that have degenerated, such as in Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease and
others of that nature, the ability to regenerate the needed cell type and placing it in the correct spot would have major
impact,” said Dr. Eric Holland, a neurosurgeon at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York who specializes in the
treatment of brain tumors, but who is not connected to the research. “In terms of tumors, it’s known that stem-like cells
have characteristics much like cancer cells. Knowing what makes these cells tick may help by furthering our knowledge of the
biology of the tumor.”

Contact: John Pastor
University of Florida

Drug Test System Detects Substances That Allow To Control Pulse In Precision Sports, Such As Motor Racing

The fight against drugs if the different sport disciplines is one of the main objectives of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), to which the group ‘Analytical, environmental, biochemical and food control’ of the Department of Analytical Chemistry of the University of Granada [] has contributed. The researchers, directed by professors Alberto Fernбndez Gutiйrrez and Antonio Segura Carretero, have designed an optical sensor that allows to determine the presence of propanolol (a beta inhibitor used as a performance-enhancing drug in the so-called precision sports, such as motor racing or archery) in urine.

The main contribution of their research work lies in the precision of this new system, cheaper, more accurate and, above all, faster that the old ones, as it can detect the presence of propanolol in just a few minutes, with an accuracy of 0.2 micrograms per litre.

Beta inhibitors are medicines that regulate the heart pace, slow down the cardiac frequency and stimulate the attention. They cause a reduction and improvement of pulse (reducing trembling), and they also have an anti-stress effect. Some of its undesirable effects are a sensation of permanent fatigue, a drop in arterial tension, muscular cramps, risk of psychical depression and sexual impotence if habitually and repeatedly consumed. Besides propanolol, other beta inhibitors are acebutonol, alprenolol, atenolol, labetalol, metoprolol, nadolol, oxprenolol and sotalol.

Their consumption has been banned by the IOC in precision sports such as chess, motor racing, billiards, bowling, air sports, winter sports (‘freestyle aerials’/’half-pipe’ jumping, ‘snowboard’ and ‘halfpipe/big air’), gymnastics, wrestling, motorcycling, pйtanque, modern pentathlon, archery, ‘curling’ and sailing.

The ‘antidopping’ system designed by the scientists of the UGR [] is part of the doctoral thesis ‘Development of fluorescent optosensors for the determination of pharmacological active principles and environmental pollutants in real samples’ [], carries out by Jorge F. Fernбndez Sбnchez, another member of the research group which at present keeps on working on this research line.


The University of Granada (UGR) was founded in 1531, under the initiative of Emperor Charles V. In this way, Granada asserted its vocation as a university city, open to different cultures, peoples and beliefs, continuing the tradition of the Arab University of Yusuf I (Madrassa, 14th century). With 475 years of tradition, the University of Granada has been an exceptional witness to history, as its influence in the city’s social and cultural environment grew until it was to become, over a period of almost five centuries, an intellectual and cultural nucleus in Southern Spain in its own right. The University of Granada has also made a strong commitment to its future by fostering the development of quality research, whose guiding criteria are to stress traditional lines of research, to support investigation which – although less developed – may prove useful to a changing society and to forge bonds with firms and institutions. As a result of its growth in scientific production, the UGR is among the top Spanish universities. More than 400 research groups are working in all different areas of knowledge, in collaboration with both national and international research groups. The University of Granada offers to 81,600 students – 10 per cent of which are foreign students – 75 degree courses distributed in 28 centres. The UGR is the leading European destination for Erasmus/Socrates students, the most important Spanish university in graduation prizes, the third in the number of doctoral courses with the Distinction of Quality granted by the Ministry of Education and Science and the sixth in scientific production.


Secretariado de Comunicaciуn – Universidad de Granada
Hospital Real – Cuesta del Hospicio s/n

In Presence Of Fragrant Cleaning Products, Air Purifiers That Emit Ozone Can Dirty The Air

Indoor air purifiers that produce even small quantities of ozone may actually make the air dirtier when used at the same time as household cleaning products, scientists at UC Irvine have discovered.

Ozone emitted by purifiers reacts in the air with unsaturated volatile organic compounds such as limonene – a chemical added to cleaning supplies that gives them a lemon fragrance – to create additional microscopic particles, scientists found. Certain ionic purifiers emit ozone as a byproduct of ionization used for charging airborne particles and electrostatically attracting them to metal electrodes. Ozonolysis purifiers emit ozone at higher levels on purpose with the ostensible goal of oxidizing volatile organic compounds in the air.

This research appeared online in Environmental Science and Technology.

“The public needs to be aware that every air purification approach has its limitation, and ionization air purifiers are no exception,” said Sergey Nizkorodov, assistant professor of chemistry at UCI and co-author of the study. “These air purifiers can not only elevate the level of ozone, a formidable air pollutant in itself, but also increase the amount of harmful particulate matter in indoor air.”

High levels of airborne particles can aggravate asthma and cardiovascular problems, and have been linked to higher death and lung cancer rates. Excess ozone can damage the lungs, causing chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath and throat irritation.

Nizkorodov and students Ahmad Alshawa and Ashley Russell conducted their experiment in a sparsely furnished office with a floor area of about 11 square meters. They placed an ozone-emitting air purifier in the middle of the room along with a large fan to better mix the air. At timed intervals, limonene vapor was injected in the room. Samples of the air were taken about one meter from the purifier and analyzed for ozone and particulate matter levels.

The researchers tested two types of air purifiers – a commercial ionic purifier that emits about 2 milligrams of ozone per hour, and an ozonolysis purifier that emits approximately 100 milligrams of ozone per hour.

Continuous operation of the ionic purifier without limonene resulted in a slight reduction in the average particle concentration, while operation of the ozonolysis purifier resulted in no detectable effect on the particle level. When limonene was added to the room, the particle concentration shot up in both cases, on some occasions up to 100 times the original level. Adding limonene to the room when a purifier was not operating produced little change in the overall particle level.

The scientists also developed a mathematical model that precisely matched their experimental observations. This model can be used to predict whether a given air purifier will make the air dirtier in a given indoor environment.

Scientific data on indoor air purifiers will be important as officials begin the process of regulating air purifiers that emit ozone. In September 2006, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law Assembly Bill 2276, requiring the California Air Resources Board to develop regulations that will set emission standards and procedures for certifying and labeling the devices.

“State regulators should set a strict limit on the amount of ozone produced by air purifiers to protect the public from exposure to unhealthy ozone and particulate matter levels,” Nizkorodov said.


The National Science Foundation funded this study.

About the University of California, Irvine: The University of California, Irvine is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Founded in 1965, UCI is among the fastest-growing University of California campuses, with more than 25,000 undergraduate and graduate students and about 1,800 faculty members. The second-largest employer in dynamic Orange County, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $3.7 billion.

Contact: Jennifer Fitzenberger

University of California – Irvine

Osteoporosis: Calcium And Exercise To Strengthen The Bones – Do You Get Enough?

People who are physically active and get enough calcium can strengthen their bones – even in old age.

A stumble, a fall – a broken bone: many older people are afraid of this happening. The German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care published information today about how you can protect yourself. Research shows that regular adequate intake of calcium and exercise can strengthen the bones. But many people do not know whether they are getting enough calcium in their diets. The Institute has developed a calculator at informedhealthonline that can help you estimate if you are getting enough calcium.

Regular intake of calcium protects the bones

Getting older does not necessarily mean that you will get osteoporosis. However, the risk of osteoporosis does rise as we get older, and people over 70 often have brittle bones. A fall does not only mean bruises then, but it is easier for a bone to break. There are several ways to protect and strengthen bones, even when you are already older.

One important way is to get enough calcium regularly. To stop our bones losing too much strength we need an increasing amount of calcium as we get older. The best way to get it is with a calcium-rich diet. “Older people in particular are often not getting enough calcium,” according to the Institute’s Director, Professor Peter Sawicki.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a minimum daily intake of calcium of 1,300 mg for women after the menopause and men over the age of 65. The Institute developed an online calculator for its website with the help of the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin. The calculator helps you find out quickly and easily roughly how much calcium you are getting through your diet every day and whether that is enough.

If you cannot get enough calcium in your diet, then calcium supplements could help. Trials have shown that taking daily calcium supplements can help protect people who are at high risk of bone fracture. According to Professor Sawicki, “Even when you are already over 70, you can reduce your risk of bone fracture if you get enough calcium.”

Exercise strengthens the bones and might help reduce the risk of falling

Some people believe that they can best protect themselves by not moving around too much and trying to avoid situations where they might have a chance of falling. But in reality being too immobile is one of the major risk factors for osteoporosis. If you spend a large part of the day sitting or lying down, your bones are more likely to become weak and brittle. Physical activity that involves carrying your weight can actually strengthen your bones. One of the easier ways to get exercise with a low risk of injury is brisk walking. According to the Institute, even in older age, walking is a simple way of getting enough exercise that people feel comfortable with – and it benefits more than the bones, as well.

Professor Sawicki said: “Injury is of course always possible when you exercise. But people who are more active strengthen their muscles and bones – and that can help them stay physically stable and secure. People may gain more confidence in their bodies and that might mean a lower risk of stumbling and falling.”

The Institute’s website informedhealthonline informs the general public about the latest developments in medical research on important health questions. Anyone who would like to keep up-to-date with the latest information releases on the website can subscribe to its newsletter.


FDA Approves Novartis Consumer Health, Inc.’s Over-the-Counter THRIVE(TM) Gum For Cessation Of Smoking

Novartis Consumer
Health, Inc., announced today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) has given approval of Thrive(TM) (Nicotine Polacrilex Gum USP) 2mg
and Thrive(TM) (Nicotine Polacrilex Gum USP) 4mg to help smokers quit
smoking in 12 weeks. The unexpectedly bold, mint-flavored nicotine
replacement gum will be available as an over-the-counter (OTC) product
nationwide beginning in late 2007 to help smokers double their chances of
kicking the habit.

“The health benefits of living smoke-free are substantial and nearly
immediate,” said Ray Niaura, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry, Brown Medical
School. “However, quitting smoking is not easy. People who combine the
correct combination of counseling, pharmacotherapy such as Thrive gum, and
support from friends and family are more likely to succeed.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 44
million Americans over the age of 18, or one in five adults, are smokers.
Additionally, 33 million, or 70 percent, of them report they are interested
in completely quitting but are not yet smoke-free. The American Legacy
Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to smoking cessation and
prevention, encourages those trying to quit to use a combination of
Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), such as Thrive gum, counseling
(professional, online or telephonic) and social support from friends and
family as part of a comprehensive quit plan.

When used as directed, Thrive gum delivers low, controlled levels of
nicotine to the bloodstream to help reduce cravings and other withdrawal
symptoms associated with the cessation of smoking. Thrive gum 2mg is
designed for those who smoke fewer than 25 cigarettes each day, and Thrive
gum 4mg is designed for those who smoke 25 or more cigarettes each day.

“Thrive will help smokers to conquer smoking in just 12 weeks, while
continuing to lead the fulfilling lifestyle they’ve always enjoyed,” said
Brian McNamara, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Novartis
Consumer Health OTC. “As a global health care leader with a tradition of
delivering innovative, self-medication treatments, Novartis applauds the
efforts of those who are taking steps toward leading a smoke-free life.”

According to the CDC, smoking-related diseases claim the lives of an
estimated 438,000 Americans each year, costing the U.S. more than $167
billion in health care and lost productivity expenses annually. The
approval of Thrive gum comes on the heels of the U.S. Surgeon General’s
report on the effects of second-hand smoke stating that smoke-free
environments are the only approach that protect non-smokers from the
dangers of secondhand smoke.

Through a 12-week program with the Thrive user’s guide and available
audio CD, those interested in quitting smoking can gradually reduce
nicotine levels in their body to help conquer their smoking habit in 12
weeks. Additionally, Thrive has established a toll-free counseling line to
aid smokers in their attempt to quit smoking.

Thrive gum is a medicine and must be used as directed to achieve the
best results. Chew the gum slowly until it tingles. Then park it between
your cheek and gum. When the tingle is gone, begin chewing again until the
tingle returns. Repeat this process until most of the tingle is gone (about
30 minutes). For best results do not eat or drink anything for 15 minutes
before or while chewing the gum.

Important Safety Information

If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, only use this medicine on the
advice of your health care provider. Smoking can seriously harm your child.
Try to stop smoking without using any nicotine replacement medicine. This
medicine is believed to be safer than smoking, however, the risks to your
child from this medicine are not fully known.

Do not use Thrive gum if you continue to smoke, chew tobacco, use
snuff, or use a nicotine patch or other nicotine containing products.

Ask your doctor before use if you have a sodium restricted diet, heart
disease, a recent heart attack or irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure
not controlled with medication, stomach ulcer or diabetes.

Ask a doctor or pharmacist before use if you are using a non-nicotine,
stop-smoking drug or taking prescription medicine for depression or asthma.

Stop use and ask a doctor if mouth, teeth or jaw problems occur, or if
irregular heartbeat or palpitation occur or if you get symptoms of nicotine
overdose such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness, diarrhea, weakness and rapid

Keep Thrive out of reach of children and pets. Pieces of nicotine gum
may have enough nicotine to make children and pets sick. Wrap used pieces
of gum in paper and throw away in the trash. In case of overdose, get
medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away.

Novartis currently markets Habitrol(R) in the U.S. and Nicotinell(R) in
Europe and adds Thrive to its nicotine replacement therapy portfolio.


This release contains certain “forward-looking statements”, relating to
the Novartis Group’s business, which can be identified by the use of
forward-looking terminology such as “will,” “more likely to,” “believed to
be,” or similar expressions, or by express or implied discussions regarding
potential future revenue from Thrive. Such forward-looking statements
involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may
cause actual results with Thrive to be materially different from any future
results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such
statements. There can be no guarantee that Thrive will reach any particular
levels of revenue. Management’s expectations regarding Thrive could be
affected by, among other things, unexpected regulatory actions or delays or
government regulation generally; competition in general; government,
industry, and general public pricing pressures; uncertainties relating to
clinical trials, including new clinical data and additional analysis of
existing clinical data; the company’s ability to obtain or maintain patent
or other proprietary intellectual property protection; as well as other
risks and factors referred to in Novartis AG’s current Form 20-F on file
with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Should one or more of these
risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove
incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those anticipated,
believed, estimated or expected. Novartis is providing the information in
this press release as of this date and does not undertake any obligation to
update any forward-looking statements contained in this press release as a
result of new information, future events or otherwise.

About Novartis

Novartis AG (NYSE: NVS) is a world leader in offering medicines to
protect health, cure disease and improve well-being. Our goal is to
discover, develop and successfully market innovative products to treat
patients, ease suffering and enhance the quality of life. We are
strengthening our medicine-based portfolio, which is focused on strategic
growth platforms in innovation-driven pharmaceuticals, high-quality and
low-cost generics, human vaccines and leading self-medication OTC brands.
Novartis is the only company with leadership positions in these areas. In
2006, the Group’s businesses achieved net sales of USD 37.0 billion and net
income of USD 7.2 billion. Approximately USD 5.4 billion was invested in
R&D. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis Group companies employ
approximately 100,000 associates and operate in over 140 countries around
the world. For more information, please visit novartis.

Novartis Consumer Health, Inc.

Survey Reports Low Public Awareness And Dangerous Attitudes Towards The Risk Of Stroke, UK

European Stroke Prevention Day, – that British people are reluctant to reduce their risk of stroke by changing their lifestyles compared with some other European countries1 and that fewer British respondents could describe what a stroke is.1

The Stroke Association is a member of the Stroke Alliance For Europe (SAFE) who conducted the survey which questioned 3,155 people in the UK, Germany, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands and was sponsored by an educational grant from Merck & Co., Inc.

The survey found that British respondents lagged behind the other European countries surveyed with just 64% able to identify that a stroke is a brain attack caused by a clot or bleed in the brain.1 83% of Spanish respondents1 and 77% of Germans1 were able to do so. More than 1 in 10 British people still think that a stroke is linked to the heart.1

Lifestyle is placing many people at risk of stroke. Several factors including diet, lack of exercise, smoking and excessive alcohol intake have been associated with an increased risk of stroke. British respondents were identified as the worst binge drinkers (with 43% admitting to have done so at some point), with only a quarter saying they would reduce their alcohol intake if they knew that it would cut their risk of a stroke.1

Joe Korner, Director of Communications at The Stroke Association, commented: “This survey highlights a worrying lack of understanding about how serious a stroke is amongst the British public and the risks that people are prepared to take with their health.”

“Even more worryingly, one in four British people said they would not take regular prescription medicine even if they knew it would reduce their risk of stroke.”

More than 130,000 people experience stroke in England and Wales each year,2 leading to more than 67,000 deaths.2 British respondents were more likely to have been diagnosed with hypertension,1 the single biggest risk factor for stroke,3 than any other European country surveyed. Of those respondents who had hypertension more than half (58%) had never discussed their increased risk of stroke with their GP.1

Just over a third of British respondents claimed to exercise three or more times a week.1 Just under one fifth of British people said that despite knowing that exercising could reduce their risk of stroke, this would still not be motivation enough for them to do it.1

British respondents were less likely to smoke compared to their European counterparts. More British respondents (60%) said they did not smoke (compared to 39% of German and 44% of Spanish respondents).1 In addition, British respondents were more likely to give up smoking if they knew it would reduce their risk of stroke in comparison to respondents from other countries (only 11% of British respondents said they would not give up smoking compared to 22% of Germans).1

Commenting on the survey results, Dr Brian Crichton, GP said: ‘It is important to encourage patients, especially those with high blood pressure, to embrace lifestyle changes. Combining these changes with regular blood pressure monitoring and effective treatment is crucial to minimising the risk factors for stroke.’

The Stroke Association is the only national charity solely concerned with combating stroke in people of all ages. The charity funds research into prevention, treatment, better methods of rehabilitation and helps stroke patients and their families directly through its community services which include a communication support service, family and carer support service, information services, welfare grants, publications and leaflets. The Stroke Association also campaigns, educates and informs to increase knowledge of stroke at all levels of society acting as a voice for everyone affected by stroke. 2. A stroke is a brain equivalent of a heart attack. A stroke can be diagnosed by using FAST – Facial weakness, Arm weakness, Speech Problems, Test all three. If these symptoms are present call an ambulance straight away. 3. The Stroke Helpline provides information on stroke to the general public and is open between 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday on 0845 3033 100.


1. SAFE. Gambling with Stroke Survey, TNS Market Research 2007
2. Stroke Association, Facts and Figures about Stroke
3. SAFE Website


Proposed NIH Stem Cell Guidelines Dismay Leading Stanford Researcher

The director of stem cell research at the Stanford University School of Medicine says he is troubled by draft guidelines issued today by the National Institutes of Health that would prohibit federal funding for research on stem cell lines created through a technique sometimes referred to as “therapeutic cloning” or somatic cell nuclear transfer.

Irving Weissman, MD, director of Stanford’s Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, said the SCNT technique is one way to create disease-specific human embryonic stem cell lines on which to conduct research and test therapies. He also took issue with the assertion that the NIH consulted existing guidelines from the National Academy of Sciences and the International Society for Stem Cell Research-both of which sanction the use of SCNT-derived cell lines-in coming up with its draft recommendations.

“Instead of facts, the NIH placed its own version of ethics in place of the president’s clear proclamation,” said Weissman, the Virginia & D.K. Ludwig Professor for Clinical Investigation in Cancer Research. “As head of the National Academy of Sciences’ panel that unanimously endorsed research using SCNT, and as a drafter of the guidelines for the International Society for Stem Cell Research, I know that this suggested ban on federal funding of SCNT-derived human embryonic stem cell lines is against our policies and against President Obama’s March 9 comments. The NIH has not served its president well.”

On March 9, President Barack Obama signed an executive order removing previous restrictions on the use of federal funds for research on any human embryonic stem cell line derived after Aug. 9, 2001. He used the ceremony to remark that it is important to ensure “that scientific data is never distorted or concealed to serve a political agenda-and that we make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology.”

In announcing the draft guidelines, acting NIH director Raynard Kington, MD, PhD, justified the restriction in part by saying that there is a lack of scientific consensus as to the necessity of funding lines derived by SCNT and that, although the technique has been used to create many embryonic stem cell lines in animals, such human embryonic stem cell lines have not yet been documented.

“We believe there is strong, broad public and scientific support for the use of federal funds for research on cell lines from embryos derived through in vitro fertilization for reproductive purposes that would not otherwise be used,” said Kington, noting that similar legislation had twice passed both the House and Senate only to be vetoed by former President George W. Bush. “We do not see similar broad support for using federal funding for research on cell lines from other sources.”

The somatic cell nuclear transfer technique involves removing the nucleus from an egg cell and replacing it with a nucleus from a different cell in order to create an embryonic stem cell line genetically identical to the donor nucleus. In the case of a donor who suffers from a condition like Parkinson’s disease, the SCNT process would yield an embryonic stem cell line that could be used to test specific therapies for that patient.

If the draft guidelines are adopted, they would underscore the continued need for the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, which has funded grants to several scientists working to create specific human embryonic stem cell lines for research purposes. The institute was established in 2005 by Proposition 71 to counteract the effect of President Bush’s limits on federal funding of such research.

“Methods like SCNT were specifically sanctioned by Prop. 71,” said Geoff Lomax, PhD, the senior officer to the state institute’s Standards Working Group, which was instituted to develop ethical guidelines for the use of embryos in CIRM-funded research. “These potential restrictions on the range of research materials available for federal funding ensure that CIRM will continue to play a unique role in the world of stem cell research.”

“For certain types of research, CIRM could remain very important,” concurred Renee Reijo Pera, PhD, director of Stanford’s Center for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research and Education. Reijo Pera said she had expected the NIH guidelines to be somewhat conservative, particularly where SCNT is concerned.

“I am happy that these are draft guidelines,” said Weissman, who noted that the NIH did not solicit input from either the National Academy of Sciences or the International Society for Stem Cell Research during the consensus process. “I’d like to remind the NIH of the principles enunciated by the president on March 9. Research in this area is moving very fast, and it’s not possible to say whether advances will come from work on adult-derived iPS cells or from embryonic stem cells created by nuclear transfer. Policy needs to be developed as the field develops, rather than precluding something based on ideology.”

The proposed NIH guidelines will be available for public comment for 30 days, and the final guidelines will be released by the agency on or before July 7. They can be viewed at stemcells.nih/policy/2009draft. Comments can be mailed, or submitted electronically after the guidelines are published in the Federal Register by April 24.

The Stanford University School of Medicine consistently ranks among the nation’s top 10 medical schools, integrating research, medical education, patient care and community service. For more news about the school, please visit The medical school is part of Stanford Medicine, which includes Stanford Hospital & Clinics and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. For information about all three, please visit stanfordmedicine/about/news.html.

The Stanford University School of Medicine

Save Your Knees By Landing On Your Toes

Anterior cruciate ligament injuries are a common and debilitating problem, especially for female athletes. A new study from UC Davis shows that changes in training can reduce shear forces on knee joints and could help cut the risk of developing ACL tears. The research was published online in the Journal of Biomechanics.

“We focused on an easy intervention, and we were amazed that we could reduce shear load in 100 percent of the volunteers,” said David Hawkins, professor of neurobiology, physiology and behavior at UC Davis. Hawkins conducted the study at the UC Davis Human Performance Laboratory with graduate student Casey Myers.

The anterior cruciate ligament lies in the middle of the knee and provides stability to the joint. Most ACL injuries do not involve a collision between players or a noticeably bad landing, said Sandy Simpson, UC Davis women’s basketball coach.

“It almost always happens coming down from a rebound, catching a pass or on a jump-stop lay-up,” Simpson said. “It doesn’t have to be a big jump.”

Hawkins and Myers worked with 14 female basketball players from UC Davis and local high schools. They fitted them with instruments and used digital cameras to measure their movements and muscle activity, and calculated the forces acting on their knee joints as they practiced a jump-stop movement, similar to a basketball drill.

First, they recorded the athletes making their normal movement. Then they instructed them in a modified technique: Jumping higher to land more steeply; landing on their toes; and bending their knees more deeply before taking off again.

After learning the new technique, all 14 volunteers were able to reduce the force passed up to the knee joint through the leg bone (the tibial shear force) by an average of 56 percent. At the same time, the athletes in the study actually jumped an inch higher than before, without losing speed.

Hawkins recommends warm-ups that exercise the knee and focusing on landing on the toes and balls of the feet. The study does not definitively prove that these techniques will reduce ACL injuries, Hawkins said: that would require a full clinical trial and follow-up. But the anecdotal evidence suggests that high tibial shear forces are associated with blown knees.

Hawkins and Myers shared their findings with Simpson and other UC Davis women’s basketball and soccer coaches, as well as with local youth soccer coaches.

Simpson said that the team had tried implementing some changes during last year’s preseason, but had found it difficult to continue the focus once the full regular season began. In live play, athletes quickly slip back to learned habits and “muscle memory” takes over, he noted. More intensive off-court training and practice would be needed to change those habits, he said.

“We will be talking about this again this season,” Simpson said. Implementing the techniques in youth leagues, while children are still learning how to move, might have the most impact, he said.

Andy Fell
University of California – Davis – Health System