Successful Aging – DNA and Lifestlye

We all want the same thing out of longevity — to live a long, healthy, happy life. But when it comes to doing studies on successful aging, it gets harder to define. Sure, researchers can give surveys to people and try to assess their overall health — but how do we really know if something is improving longevity in terms of both life span and health span? Some researchers approach the concept of successful aging as “remaining free of disease and disability” while other approach it from a cellular level. Read on for some research examples of these different approaches to successful aging.

The Disease/Disability Definition: Cystatin C and Aging Success

This 6-year study looked at cystatin C as a predictor of successful aging. What the heck is cystatin C? Good question. I had to look it up. Cystatin C is a molecule produced by cells in the body. It is filtered out of the body by the kidneys and reabsorbed. Basically, when the kidneys are working well, levels of cystatin C remain normal. Cystatin C is therefore thought to be a good measure of kidney function and (according to the study) may predict successful aging.

The study defined successful aging as remaining free of cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic obstructed pulmonary disease (COPD) while being physically and mentally functional. 2,140 people, with an average age of 74 and free of any of the conditions just mentioned were enrolled in the study. Their cystatin C levels were taken at the beginning of the study. Overall, 873 people developed at least one of the conditions listed above (138 cognitive disability, 238 physical disability, 34 COPD and 317 cardiovascular disease). The result? People with a higher level of cystatin C (even within normal levels) were more likely to develop one of the “unsuccessful aging” conditions.

The Genetic Definition: Telomere Length and Physical Activity

Telomeres are the ends of chromosomes. Telomeres are a series of repeating DNA information that act as a buffer because the very extreme ends of chromosomes cannot be copied. Each time a cell divides, the telomeres get shorter. Eventually, when they are too short, the cell can no longer copy itself correctly. Telomere length plays an important part in aging. In this study, researchers made the following observation: We know that being physically inactive increases the risk for age-related diseases and we know that telomere length plays an important part in aging; therefore we should see differences in telomere length based on physical activity level. To find out, researchers had to enroll sets of identical twins (because identical twins have the same DNA and can be compared easily). They enrolled 2,401 twins and gave them a survey on physical activity, smoking and other risk factors. They also took samples of leukocyte (white blood cells) and looked at the telomere length. Physical activity was linked to longer telomere lengths in the study. In fact, the most active subjects’ telomeres were 200 nucleotides longer (nucleotides are the stuff DNA is made of). What does it mean? Lifestyle can change our very DNA and accelerate aging.

Successful Aging and You

For most of us, defining successful aging as being free of disease and disability is probably good enough, through I particularly find it striking how lifestyle gets into your very DNA. What to do? Use this research to motivate yourself to focus on the three pillars of wellness:

  • Eat well
  • Move more
  • Be calm

By improving nutrition, increasing exercise and reducing stress you can slow down your body’s rate of aging and help prevent diseases and disabilities.


Why Some Women Suffer Breast Cancer Relapses

NEW YORK –  Scientists at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre in New York City have found out why some women suffer relapses years after beating breast cancer.

Leading oncologist Dr. Larry Norton has revealed that breast cancer cells have the unique ability to lie dormant for years, even after the original tumor has been removed.

In a novel study, the researchers have found a genetic switch, called Src, that triggers dormant breast cancer cells.

“Wandering cells might relocate to the primary site just as they could – by using the same biological toolbox – locate to a distant site,” the Daily Express quoted Norton as saying.

“It’s just as a weed-bed overgrows and destroys a garden and then scatters its tiny seeds to invade neighboring gardens.

“Our results should encourage cancer specialists to think about further study of Src inhibitor drugs that attack reservoirs of these ‘wandering’ latent cancer cells and prevent spread of the disease in breast cancer patients after the tumour has been removed,” he added.

Dr. Helen George, Cancer Research UK’s head of science information, said: “This research is important because it offers an explanation of why some breast cancers can spread and return.


New Radioactive Imaging Agent may Revolutionize Skin Cancer Diagnosis

SYDNEY – An Australian Government funded research group has developed a potential new material that can make early diagnosis of malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer possible.

Writing about their work in the ACS’ Journal of the Medicinal Chemistry, the Cooperative Research Consortium for Biomedical Imaging Develop has revealed that the novel material is currently being tested in laboratory animals.

Ivan Greguric, a group member, notes that about 130,000 new cases of malignant melanoma occur each year worldwide.

Although patients do best with early diagnosis and prompt treatment, according to the researcher, the positron emission tomography (PET) scans sometimes used for diagnosis sometimes miss small cancers, delaying diagnosis and treatment.

While searching for better ways of diagnosis, the researchers identified a new group of radioactive imaging agents, known as fluoronicotinamides.

Testing it on laboratory mice that had melanoma, the researchers observed that the novel substance revealed skin cancer cells with greater accuracy than imaging agents currently in use.

Consequently, note the researchers, this substance may become a “superior” PET imaging agent for improving the diagnosis and monitoring the effectiveness of treatment of melanoma.

They have revealed that clinical trials with this new agent are scheduled for 2010.

Living Proof – A Man’s Unusual Prescription for Bone Cancer

In 1995, 54-year-old Michael Gearin-Tosh was diagnosed with myeloma, a form of cancer affecting the bone marrow. Myeloma is one of the most deadly forms of cancer. Faced with the prospect of chemotherapy, he decided to create his own natural protocol which included:

1. Gerson therapy entails juicing fresh fruits and vegetables; it is combined with three coffee enemas per day.

2. Regular acupuncture treatments.

3. He consumed enormous amounts of vitamin C, as prescribed by Dr. Linus Pauling.

4. He performed Chinese breathing exercises, a practice used for thousands of years. For one hour a day, he visualized inhaling oxygen through his toes.

According to Gearin-Tosh, “I imagined the heroic Imperial Russian armies that defeated Napoleon in 1812 marching through my body, looking for white cancerous cells to hunt out and destroy.”

Doctors gave him little likelihood of surviving no more than one year without chemotherapy. More than 7 years after that prediction, he wrote his book – a success story that will touch anyone who has fought cancer, along with friends and family members of a cancer patient. (

Home Remedies Series – Psoriasis

Psoriasis treatment using Cabbage Leaves

Cabbage leaves have been successfully used in the form of compresses in the treatment of psoriasis. The thickest and greenest outer leaves are most effective for use as compresses. They should be thoroughly washed in warm water and dried with a towel. The leaves should be flattened, softened and smoothed out by rolling them with a rolling pin after removing the thick veins. They should he warmed and then applied smoothly to the affected part in an overlapping manner. A pad of soft woollen cloth should be put over them. The whole compress should then be secured with an elastic bandage

Psoriasis treatment using Bitter Gourd

Bitter gourd is a valuable remedy for psoriasis. A cup of fresh juice of this vegetable, mixed with a teaspoon of lime juice, should be taken sip by sip, on an empty stomach daily for four to six months

Psoriasis treatment using Avocado Oil

The oil of avocado has been found beneficial in the treatment of this disease. It should be applied gently to the affected parts

Psoriasis treatment using Cashewnut Oil

The oil extracted from the outer shell of the cashewnut is acrid and rubefacient. It can be applied beneficially on the affected area

Psoriasis treatment using Buttermilk

The use of curd in the form of buttermilk has proved useful in psoriasis and the patient should drink it in liberal quantities. The application of buttermilk compresses over the affected parts will also be useful in treating this condition

Psoriasis treatment using Vitamin E

Vitamin E therapy has been found effective in the treatment of psoriasis. The patient should take this vitamin in therapeutic doses of 400 mg a day. It will help reduce itching and scab formation

Psoriasis treatment using Lecithin

Lecithin is also considered a remarkable remedy for psoriasis. The patient may take six to nine lecithin capsules a day-two or three capsules before or after each meal. If taken in the form of granules, four tablespoonfuls may be taken daily for two months. The dosage may be reduced thereafter to two tablespoons

Psoriasis Diet

Since psoriasis is a metabolic disease, a cleansing juice fast for a week is always desirable at the beginning of the treatment. Carrots, beets, cucumbers, and grapes may be used for juices

Well-balanced diet made of raw seeds, nuts etc

After the juice fast, the patient should adopt a well-balanced diet consisting of seeds, nuts, grains, vegetables, and fruits. Emphasis should be placed on raw seeds and nuts, especially sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and plenty of organically grown raw vegetables and fruits.When there is a substantial improvement, goat’s milk, yoghurt, and home-made cottage cheese may be added to the diet. The juice fast may be repeated after a month or so

Avoid animal fats, refined or processed foods

All animal fats, including milk, butter, eggs; refined or processed foods; foods containing hydrogenated fats or white sugar; all condiments; and tea and coffee should be avoided. When there is a substantial improvement, goat’s milk, yoghurt, and home-made cottage cheese may be added to the diet. The juice fast may be repeated after a month or so

Other Psoriasis treatments Warm-water enema and Sea-water baths

During the initial juice fast, a warm-water enema should be used daily to cleanse the bowels. Regular sea-water baths and application of sea water externally over the affected parts once a day are beneficial

Frequent bath and soap should be avoided

Frequent baths should be avoided. Soap should not be used

Hot Epsom salts bath

Hot Epsom salts baths also prove valuable in psoriasis. After an Epsom salts bath, a little olive oil may be applied. The skin should be kept absolutely clean by dry friction or daily sponging

Natural Compounds in Vegetables Make Chemotherapy More Effective

PORTLAND- Natural compounds present in plants and some vegetables may help treat cancer even more effectively, when used side-by-side with chemotherapy drugs, according to new research.

A study published in the International Journal of Cancer has found that chlorophyllin-a water-soluble derivative of chlorophyll that makes possible the process of photosynthesis and plant growth from the sun’s energy-is, on a dose-by-dose basis, 10 times more potent at causing death of colon cancer cells than the chemotherapeutic drug hydroxyurea.

Experts in the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University say that the study has also shown that chlorophyllin kills cancer cells by blocking the same phase of cellular division that hydroxyurea does, but by a different mechanism.

Based on that finding, the researchers suggest that it may be possible to developed to have a synergistic effect with conventional cancer drugs, helping them to work better or require less toxic dosages.

“We conclude that chlorophyllin has the potential to be effective in the clinical setting, when used alone or in combination with currently available cancer therapeutic agents,” the researchers wrote in their study report.

They, however, stressed the need for both in laboratory and animal studies, with combinations of chlorophyllin and existing cancer drugs, before it would be appropriate for human trials.

Other studies published in the journals Carcinogenesis and Cancer Prevention Research have explored the role of organic selenium compounds in killing human prostate and colon cancer cells.

During the studies, a form of organic selenium found naturally in garlic and Brazil nuts was converted in cancer cells to metabolites that acted as “HDAC inhibitors” – a promising field of research in which silenced tumor suppressor genes are re-activated, triggering cancer cell death.

Rod Dashwood, professor and director of the Cancer Chemoprotection Program in the Linus Pauling Institute, says that the concept of combining conventional or new cancer drugs with natural compounds, which have been shown to have anti-cancer properties, is very promising.

“Most chemotherapeutic approaches to cancer try to target cancer cells specifically and do something that slows or stops their cell growth process. We’re now identifying such mechanisms of action for natural compounds, including dietary agents. With further research we may be able to make the two approaches work together to enhance the effectiveness of cancer therapies,” Dashwood said.

Right Dose of Omega-3 Fatty Acid May Be Identified

PARIS – A team of French scientists has possibly identified just the right dose of DHA acid that prevents heart disease in healthy men.

This study is the first to identify how much DHA or docosahexaenoic acid (omega-3 fatty acid) is necessary to promote optimal heart health.

Scientists show that a 200 mg daily dose of DHA is enough to affect biochemical markers that reliably predict cardiovascular problems, such as those related to aging, atherosclerosis, and diabetes.

“This study shows that regularly consuming small amounts of DHA is likely to improve the health status of people, especially in regards to cardiovascular function,” said Michel Lagarde, co-author of the study.

Lagarde and colleagues examined the effects of increasing doses of DHA on 12 healthy male volunteers aged between 53 and 65.

These men consumed doses of DHA at 200, 400, 800, and 1600 mg per day for two weeks for each dose amount, with DHA being the only omega-3 fatty acid in their diet.

Blood and urine samples were collected before and after each dose and at eight weeks after DHA supplementation stopped.

Researchers then examined these samples for biochemical markers indicating the effects of each dose on the volunteers.

“Now that we have a very good idea about how much DHA is just right, the next step is to try it out in an expanded clinical trial that involves many more people,” said Gerald Weissmann, editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal, which is slated to publish the report.

“Until then, I’ll stick with tasty foods that contain DHA, like fish, rather than getting a quick fatty-acid fix at the local vitamin store,” Weissmann said.  

Introducing – Milk Thistle

Milk thistle is a flowering herb that is native to the Mediterranean region. It has been used for thousands of years as a remedy for a variety of ailments, especially liver problems.

Common Names—milk thistle, Mary thistle, holy thistle. Milk thistle is sometimes called silymarin, which is actually a mixture of the herb’s active components, including silybinin (also called silibinin or silybin).

Latin NameSilybum marianum

What It Is Used For

Milk thistle is believed to have protective effects on the liver and improve its function. It is typically used to treat liver cirrhosis, chronic hepatitis (liver inflammation), and gallbladder disorders. Treatment claims also include:

  • Lowering cholesterol levels
  • Reducing insulin resistance in people with type 2 diabetes who also have cirrhosis
  • Reducing the growth of cancer cells in breast, cervical, and prostate cancers

How It Is Used

Silymarin, which can be extracted from the seeds (fruit) of the milk thistle plant, is believed to be the biologically active part of the herb. The seeds are used to prepare capsules, extracts, and infusions (strong teas).

What the Science Says

There have been some studies of milk thistle on liver disease in humans, but these have been small. Some promising data have been reported, but study results at this time are mixed.

  • Although some studies conducted outside the United States support claims of oral milk thistle to improve liver function, there have been flaws in study design and reporting. To date, there is no conclusive evidence to prove its claimed uses.
  • Recent NCCAM-funded research includes a phase II study to better understand the use of milk thistle for chronic hepatitis C. Additional research, cofunded by NCCAM and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, includes studies of milk thistle for chronic hepatitis C and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (liver disease that occurs in people who drink little or no alcohol).
  • The National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Nursing Research are also studying milk thistle, for cancer prevention and to treat complications in HIV patients.

Side Effects and Cautions

  • In clinical trials, milk thistle generally has few side effects. Occasionally, people report a laxative effect, upset stomach, diarrhea, and bloating.
  • Milk thistle can produce allergic reactions, which tend to be more common among people who are allergic to plants in the same family (for example, ragweed, chrysanthemum, marigold, and daisy).
  • Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

Chlorophyll Compounds may Help Treat Cancer

PORTLAND – Natural food compounds, previously studied for their ability to prevent cancer, may play a more potent role in treating it, says a new study.

Conducted by the Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University (OSU), the study found that chlorophyllin (water-soluble derivative of chlorophyll) was 10 times more effective in killing colon cancer cells than hydroxyurea, a drug commonly used in cancer treatment.

Moreover, chlorophyllin kills cancer cells by blocking the same phase of cellular division that hydroxyurea does, but by a different mechanism, according to an OSU release.

This opens the possiblity of developing other cocktails of natural products, to produce a synergistic effect with conventional cancer drugs, helping them to work better or require less toxic dosages, researchers said.

The concept of combining conventional cancer drugs with natural compounds that have been shown to have anti-cancer properties is very promising, said Rod Dashwood, professor and director of the Cancer Chemoprotection Program at the institute.

Most chemotherapeutic approaches to cancer try to target cancer cells specifically and do something that slows or stops their cell growth process, Dashwood said.

We conclude that chlorophyllin has the potential to be effective in the clinical setting, when used alone or in combination with currently available cancer therapeutic agents, the researchers wrote.

Chlorophyllin is a water-soluble derivative of chlorophyll — the green pigment found in most plants and many food products that makes possible the process of photosynthesis and plant growth from the sun’s energy.

The study was published in the International Journal of Cancer.


Introducing – Vitamin K

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in blood clotting. The body can store fat-soluble vitamins in fatty tissue.

Viatmin K is known as the clotting vitamin, because without it blood would not clot. Some studies indicate that it helps in maintaining strong bones in the elderly.

Food Sources

Vitamin K is found in cabbage, cauliflower, spinach and other green leafy vegetables, cereals, soybeans, and other vegetables. Vitamin K is also made by the bacteria that line the gastrointestinal tract.

Side Effects

Vitamin K deficiency is very rare. It occurs when the body can’t properly absorb the vitamin from the intestinal tract. Vitamin K deficiency can also occur after long-term treatment with antibiotics.


Individuals with vitamin K deficiency are usually more likely to have bruising and bleeding.


Specific recommendations depend on age, gender, and other factors (such as pregnancy). The best way to get the daily requirement of essential vitamins is to eat a balanced diet that contains a variety of foods from the food guide pyramid.

The Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine recommends the following dietary intake for vitamin K:


    * 0 – 6 months: 2.0 micrograms per day (mcg/day)

    * 7 – 12 months: 2.5 mcg/day


    * 1 – 3 years: 30 mcg/day

    * 4 – 8 years: 55 mcg/day

    * 9 – 13 years: 60 mcg/day

Adolescents and Adults

    * Males and females age 14 – 18: 75 mcg/day

    * Males and females age 19 and older: 90 mcg/day


If you take warfarin (a blood thinner), you should know that vitamin K or foods containing vitamin K can affect how the drug works. Ask your health care provider how much vitamin K or vitamin K-containing foods you should consume.




How to Eliminate and Prevent Cancer

This was originally published by Johns Hopkins Hospital.


After years of telling people chemotherapy is the only way to “try” to eliminate Cancer, Johns Hopkins is finally starting to tell you there is an alternative way.

1. Every person has cancer cells in the body. These cancer cells do not show up in the standard tests until they have multiplied to a few billion. When doctors tell cancer patients that there are no more cancer cells in their bodies after treatment, it just means the tests are unable to detect the  cancer cells because they have not reached the detectable size.

2. Cancer cells occur between 6 to more than 10 times in a  person’s lifetime.

3. When the person’s immune system is strong the cancer cells will be destroyed and prevented from multiplying and forming tumors.

4. When a person has cancer it indicates the person has  nutritional deficiencies. These could be due to genetic,  to environmental, food and lifestyle factors.

5. To overcome the multiple nutritional deficiencies, changing  diet and including supplements will strengthen the immune system.

6. Chemotherapy involves poisoning the rapidly-growing cancer cells and also destroys rapidly-growing healthy cells in the bone marrow, gastrointestinal tract etc, and can cause organ damage, like liver, kidneys, heart, lungs etc.

7. Radiation while destroying cancer cells also burns, scars and damages healthy cells, tissues and organs.

8. Initial treatment with chemotherapy and radiation will often reduce tumor size. However prolonged use of  chemotherapy and radiation do not result in more tumor destruction.

9. When the body has too much toxic burden from chemotherapy and radiation the immune system is either compromised or destroyed, hence the person can succumb to various kinds of infections and complications.

10. Chemotherapy and radiation can cause cancer cells to mutate and become resistant and difficult to destroy.  Surgery can also cause cancer cells to spread to other

 11. An effective way to battle cancer is to starve the cancer cells by not feeding it with the foods it needs to multiply.


a. Sugar is a cancer-feeder. By cutting off sugar it cuts off  one important food supply to the cancer cells. Sugar substitutes like NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, etc are made  with Aspartame and it is harmful. A better natural substitute  would be Manuka honey or molasses, but only in very small amounts. Table salt has a chemical added to make it white in color Better alternative is Bragg‘s aminos or sea salt.

b. Milk causes the body to produce mucus, especially in the  gastro-intestinal tract… Cancer feeds on mucus. By cutting off milk and substituting with unsweetened soy milk cancer  cells are being starved.

c. Cancer cells thrive in an acid environment. A meat-based  diet is acidic and it is best to eat fish, and a little chicken rather than beef or pork. Meat also contains livestock antibiotics, growth hormones and parasites, which are all harmful, especially to people with cancer..

d. A diet made of 80% fresh vegetables and juice, whole grains, seeds, nuts and a little fruits help put the body into  an alkaline environment. About 20% can be from cooked food including beans. Fresh vegetable juices provide live enzymes that are easily  absorbed and reach down to cellular levels within 15 minutes to nourish and enhance growth of healthy cells. To obtain live enzymes for building healthy cells try and drink fresh vegetable juice (most vegetables including be an sprouts) and eat some raw vegetables 2 or 3 times a day.  Enzymes are destroyed at temperatures of 104 degrees F (40 degrees C).

e. Avoid coffee, tea, and chocolate, which have high  caffeine Green tea is a better alternative e and has cancer  fighting properties. Water-best to drink purified water, or filtered, to avoid known toxins and heavy metals in tap water. Distilled water is acidic, avoid it.

12. Meat protein is difficult to digest and requires a lot of digestive enzymes. undigested meat remaining in the  intestines becomes putrefied and leads to more toxic  buildup.

13. Cancer cell walls have a tough protein covering.  By  refraining from or eating less meat it frees more enzymes to attack the protein walls of cancer cells and allows the      body’s killer cells to destroy the cancer cells.

14. Some supplements build up the immune system (IP6, Flor-ssence, Essiac, anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals,  EFAs etc.) to enable the bodies own killer cells to destroy      cancer cells.. Other supplements like vitamin E are known to cause apoptosis, or programmed cell death, the body’s normal method of disposing of damaged, unwanted, or unneeded cells.

15. Cancer is a disease of the mind, body, and spirit.  A proactive and positive spirit will help the cancer warrior be a survivor. Anger, un-forgiveness and bitterness put the body into a stressful and acidic environment. Learn to have a loving and forgiving spirit. Learn to relax and enjoy life.

16. Cancer cells cannot thrive in an oxygenated environment. Exercising daily, and deep breathing help to get more oxygen down to the cellular level. Oxygen therapy is another means employed to destroy cancer cells.



Home Remedies Series – Belching

Belching or burping is also medically referred as eructation or ructus. Essentially it is a process of releasing gas from the digestive tract through the mouth. A typical odor or sound may also accompany the process of gas release. Belching is a common universal phenomenon and not limited to few people with any specific disorder. Infants to older adults belch or burp to expel air that has been swallowed in excess. Belching relieves the abdomen of discomfort caused due to the excess air.

Belching can also form as a habit to many people and such belching or burping may not be related to the accumulation of air in their stomachs. Instinctively people resort to belching on account of any form of abdominal discomfort to expel gas and ease the existing discomfort.

Though it sounds like a simple exercise, technically belching is a co-coordinated activity. For egs: the larynx is raised to ensure no liquid or food passing with the air from the stomach get into the lungs and this process also relaxes the upper cardia (esophageal sphincter) such that air can pass more easily from the esophagus into the throat. The lower cardia (esophageal sphincter) also needs to open so that air can pass from the stomach into the esophagus. During these activities, the diaphragm descends such that it increases abdominal pressure and decreases pressure in the chest similar to taking a breath. The change in pressure ensures air flows from the stomach in the abdomen to the esophagus in the chest.

Remedies for Belching

– Eating slowly or have small meals

– Avoiding chewing gum and carbonated drinks

– Excessive consumption of onions and chocolates may also cause burping.Avoid such foods

– Avoid alcohol especially among individuals suffering from chronic belching or excessive belching

– Reducing stress, following exercise tips from medical practitioners and inducing relaxation can help treat belching

Diet for Belching

To reduce belching avoid gulping food or drink too rapidly.

– Some foods may initiate the belching process such as milk and sugars.

– Certain types of vegetables and fruits containing a particular type of starch are not well digested by the stomach but are effective tools to treat bacteria in the stomach such as: beans, lentils, cabbage, bananas, apricots, prunes, onions and sprouts. It is advisable to avoid such vegetables and fruits to prevent belching.

– Foods made from whole grains may also cause gas and consequent belching or burping.

Lupus News

There actually has been a flurry of news surrounding lupus lately.

If that’s surprising, it’s because it’s been half a century since a new treatment for lupus, an autoimmune disease that can affect various organs, has been developed and approved. Since then the disease, whose manifestations range from mild to deadly, has been managed with a mishmash of drugs, mostly steroids, nonsteroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and even antimalarials, all devised to treat other diseases. In this respect lupus has long been something of a backwater. The disease affects 1.5 million Americans, 90 percent of them women.

But with the successful Phase III clinical trials of a drug called Benlysta this summer, the lupus scene has shifted. Benlysta, developed by the Rockville-based Human Genome Sciences and GlaxoSmithKline, showed promising results in keeping lupus disease activity at bay; it also appears to be safe. Further clinical trials are underway, with results expected in November. After that, the firms will seek FDA approval for the drug.

As with many autoimmune diseases, lupus is characterized by a baffling set of symptoms, some vague and others pronounced, ranging from fatigue and joint stiffness and pain to depression and a butterfly-shaped facial rash that covers the cheeks and bridge of the nose. More serious is the damage the disease can do to internal organs, particularly the kidneys, lungs and heart.

Just as multiple sclerosis, another autoimmune disease affecting some 400,000 Americans, was viewed largely as a hopeless disease until 1993 WHEN the FDA approved Betaseron, the first drug to treat underlying MS and not just its symptoms, lupus is quickly becoming viewed as a treatable disease, not just a manageable one. (There are now six FDA-approved drugs to treat MS, and many more are in the research pipeline.)

About two dozen lupus therapies are currently under investigation, according to the Lupus Foundation of America. Momentum is clearly underway.

But there’s one hitch: the Lupus Foundation recently put the word out that drug researchers aren’t finding enough subjects to take part in clinical trials. The Foundation directs potential participants to its clinical trials Web site for information about getting involved — a major but often rewarding undertaking.


Fashion and Beauty Trends in Fall Takes Toll on Health

While women are all set to bid adieu to their summer wear, and get ready to shop for the latest fashion gear for fall, experts have advised them to be aware of fashion and beauty trends that may be harmful to their health.

Shazia Khan, co-medical director, Loyola Primary Care Center at Oakbrook Terrace, Continue reading

Laptop Save Student From Dropping Dead

HOUSTON – Heart tests done with a laptop computer and software that cost $4,000 may help save high school athletes from sudden cardiac death, according to a study of 2,057 students in Texas.

Each year, about 300 U.S. high school and college players die suddenly from heart conditions, said Anthony Magalski, a professor of medicine at the University of Missouri in Kansas City. The Texas research used laptops to perform electrocardiograms that identified 11 students with ailments that were dangerous enough to keep them from playing sports, the researchers said.

Overall, sports trainers at 10 Houston high schools found abnormal readings for 186 athletes, including three with “serious cardiac conditions.” The finding was reported today at the American Heart Association meeting in Orlando, Florida.

“Screening with an EKG, if done the right way, is beneficial,” said Magalski, author of related research reported in March at an American College of Cardiology conference. “The question is the logistics and the cost and the further testing that’s required because the EKG is just a screening tool.”

In the Houston study, data was sent to a cardiologist who found three students with “serious cardiac conditions” that were previously undiagnosed. This including a narrowing of the aorta and a heart muscle that was abnormally enlarged, thick or stiff, according to the heart association statement.

The study was led by Thomas DeBauche, a doctor at Cypress Cardiology in Cypress, Texas.

Hearts Risks

Seventeen students in the study had mitral valve prolapse, meaning the valve between the upper and lower chambers of the heart didn’t close properly. Six were diagnosed with high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs, which makes the heart work harder than normal, the researchers found. Two athletes had defects in aortic valves.

Electrocardiograms, or EKGs, can determine if the heart has abnormalities such as chamber walls that are too thick. Screening for defects can enable athletes to take measures to minimize the risk that sports play will aggravate aberrations.

Screening has generated debate because some athletes have abnormal EKG test results caused by workouts. Some doctors discount the EKGs and others say the screening isn’t cost effective.

An individual EKG costs between $25 and $50, Magalski said, while a follow-up echocardiogram costs up to $600.

The Texas researchers said laptop equipment could be provided to school districts for about $500, according to a statement from the heart association. DeBauche declined to comment in advance of the research presentation.

The issue of heart risks for student athletes gained national prominence in March 1990 when Hank Gathers, a 23-year- old basketball player, collapsed during a game at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.