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Anchor lead: Most women should not be screened for ovarian cancer, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Ovarian cancer has a poor prognosis, largely because by the time the disease is identified it is advanced, pointing to a clear need for a screening test. The US Preventive Services task force has just recommended against screening using current methods. William Nelson, director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, explains why.

Nelson: What the US Preventive Services Task Force did is they formally recommend against screening asymptomatic women who have no family history of ovarian cancer. I think what this suggests is what we got ain’t that good. What we need is something better. There are some tremendous new insights into how ovarian cancers arise. They arise in the Fallopian tube. That knowledge puts into play the idea that you can detect something that might come down the Fallopian tube, through the uterus and out through the cervix you might detect in something resembling a Pap smear.  :32

Nelson predicts such a test may soon be clinically useful. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

 

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Anchor lead: A solution to the development of delirium in people in intensive care units is still needed, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Haloperidol is a medication that has been used for a long time in intensive care units in an attempt to prevent delirium in patients, a very troubling and sometimes persistent acute confusion. Now a recent study shows haloperidol isn’t helpful. Dale Needham, an intensive care expert at Johns Hopkins, comments.

Needham: Delirium is incredibly important because it’s associated strongly with long term cognitive impairments. Patients having difficulty with memory and planning and organizing tasks, months or years after their critical illness. Medications are an area where people are very much interested in, this is a very important study, but unfortunately its demonstrated that medications aren’t the right approach or at least this medication, haloperidol. Likely for delirium there’s not going to be a magic bullet in terms of medications.

Needham has long advocated other strategies such as reduced sedation and early mobilization to reduce some of the trauma of an intensive care unit stay. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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Anchor lead: What makes certain bacteria associated with obesity? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Fat mice led David Hackam, director of pediatric surgery at Johns Hopkins, on a mission to find out why one group became obese while others on the same diet did not. The most recent study concludes that an interaction between genes, bacteria and diet is responsible, a finding that also has implications for obesity in people.

Hackam: We found that those bacteria that were found in these mice that are missing this gene break down sugars more readily. So they take starch, and the only way to digest starch  in the human is to use bacteria to break it down, these bacteria are very efficient at breaking it down so they can feed themselves and they get very happy, but now, the host, the body, us, sees more sugar. So the same diet these bacteria, influenced by this gene, now creating a smorgasbord of extra food for the body.  :31

Hackam says future studies will look at whether it is possible to eliminate these bacteria and stave off obesity. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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Anchor lead: Bacteria living in our guts may influence the development of obesity, Elizabeth Tracey reports

We’ve all seen families where one child is overweight or obese but other children aren’t, yet they eat the same diet and live in the same environment. Now research by David Hackam, director of pediatric surgery at Johns Hopkins, points to an interaction between genes and gut bacteria that may the culprit.

Hackam: This study advises us that it isn’t simply the components of the diet, it’s the interaction between the diet and our genes, and our bacteria that live in our body. It may well be that different diets all can cause obesity in the person that is predisposed to becoming obese. That actually is a little bit helpful to families because it’s not all their fault. :27

Hackam says those with certain genes can be colonized with bacteria that are more efficient, making too many nutrients available for the host and leading to weight gain, He says increased vigilance regarding diet may be needed to compensate. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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Anchor lead: Can you utilize techniques used by athletes to improve your own physical and mental performance? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Integrating brain and body using training is key to superior athletic performance, research by Christopher Fetsch, a researcher in the Mind/Brain Institute at Johns Hopkins shows.

Fetsch: in addition to training their muscles and their agility and their strength, they are also training these mechanisms in the brain that combine information and very efficiently translate that into a plan to adjust body posture or more the muscles.  :15

Fetsch says such training has lessons for us all.

Fetsch: It is definitely true that there’s a great deal of plasticity in the central nervous system, which allows us to learn new skills and also stave off the effects of aging on cognitive performance, and so the more we learn about the mechanisms of decisions in the brain the potential is there to help people in their daily lives and as they grow older, to use that plasticity to better their lives. :22

Fetsch notes that improvements using training are possible at all ages. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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Anchor lead: Many parents fail to safely store guns even when they have a child with a diagnosed mental illness, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Parents who have a child with a diagnosed mental illness are no more likely to practice safe gun storage than parents of children without such conditions, a recent study in Pediatrics found. Karen Swartz, a psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins, says one take home is clear.

Swartz: It’s really important for anyone who’s dealing with a mental health issue for their families to think about any kind of weapon, medicine, anything that could be used to harm them be kept in a safe way.  :12

Swartz says her work with families may provide some insight.

Swartz: I do believe that parents have trouble at times accepting that their children are as ill as they are. I think parents when given the choice between my child’s just being an annoying teenager versus my child has a life-threatening illness, it’s so terrifying to think that the latter is true. It’s an illness that could kill my child, I don’t want to believe that. Sometimes I think they have trouble thinking it’s serious enough that it would take all of that preparation and safety.  :26

At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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Anchor lead: Can an educational program about depression help teenagers with the condition? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Depression education for young people helps those with the condition as well as those others think may be depressed speak up, an analysis of a Johns Hopkins program developed and led by Karen Swartz, a psychiatrist at Hopkins, has found. The program, known by the acronym ADAP, for adolescent depression awareness program, targets 9th and 10th graders.

Swatrz: There are times when they don’t know how ill their children are. Teenagers are a particular challenge because it’s a developmental stage of life where people are keeping to themselves. The focus shifts from parents and siblings to peers. And so often the peers know things that the parents really don’t and so they may be having a rough time, or having things going on that the parents are completely unaware of, and that’s part of the idea of building a better safety net around them where they’re educated, their friends are educated their teachers are educated and there are more people around them who can say, this is a problem.  :33

At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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