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Posted - Mar. 19, 2004 at 8:20 a.m.



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Mar 19, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- TO SUN OR NOT TO SUN

Reports have touted moderate sun exposure as a way to prevent vitamin D deficiency, but other researchers say the cost may be increased risk of skin cancer. Researchers at the American Academy of Dermatology, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Yale School of Dermatology and the Sun Safety Alliance contend the reports are scientifically unsound and misleading about the dangers of the sun's ultraviolet radiation. In the study in question, Dr. Michael Holick, director of the vitamin D laboratory at Boston University School of Medicine, said exposing unprotected skin to the sun several times a week can prevent vitamin D deficiency. Other researchers counter there is overwhelming evidence that UV rays cause skin cancer and vitamin D can easily be obtained from food and supplements.

'PAINLESS' BYPASS SURGERY

Doctors say a "painless" multiple bypass surgery uses a robot and allows most patients to be released from the hospital within 36 hours. They say the procedure, pioneered at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, is minimally invasive. It uses a robot to make a 2.5-inch cut in the front of the chest, instead of the usual large incision that requires splitting the breastbone. Then, rather than having the surgeon cut through bone or rib to reach the heart, the heart is rotated to the incision. Cardiac surgeon Nilesh Patel and Dr. Valavanur Subramanian, chairman of cardiothoracic surgery at The Lenox Hill Heart and Vascular Institute of New York, were the first to perform multiple bypass surgery using the procedure. Of the first 45 patients who underwent the procedure, about 40 percent was discharged within 14 hours of surgery and another 10 percent, within 24 hours.

ANTHRAX BACTERIA SHEDS SECRET

Scientists have identified the mechanism the bacteria that cause anthrax, bubonic plague and typhoid fever use to avoid detection and destruction. Such escape from the immune system can lead to life-threatening bacterial infections. The researchers at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine report in the journal Nature the lab-culture research with mouse cells identifies a protein kinase called PKR that causes the death of macrophages, the large white blood cells that act as the body's first defense against invaders. Without macrophages to detect, engulf and stop the invading bacteria, the infection goes unnoticed and spreads. "If we are able to develop specific inhibitors for PKR, and the drug industry can easily produce them, we may be able to control these nasty infections," said the study's senior author, Michael Karin, UCSD professor of pharmacology. "In addition, these findings may be applicable to serious cases of the flu, where individuals also get bacterial super-infections."

DESIGN FOR A HEALTHY HEART

Researchers have devised a system called Heart Advance that provides nutritional supplements and information on how to maintain a healthy heart. "Heart Advance simplifies and complements a heart healthy lifestyle," says Steven Nelson, vice president of marketing for the product marketer, GNC. "With Heart Advance your supplement homework is done for you." This formula features natural, effective ingredients in a convenient daily packet system. Each packet contains plant sterols, or compounds found in fruits, vegetables and whole grain products thought to lower "bad" LDL cholesterol levels; vitamin E isomers; B-vitamins, including B6, B12 and folic acid, which help maintain normal homocysteine levels (a recognized marker of cardiovascular health); fatty acids, including omega-3 and omega-6; coenzyme Q-10, an ingredient found in every living cell; and policosanol, a mixture of fatty compounds derived from rice bran.

(Editors: For more information about SUN, contact Andrea Cohen at (973) 763-1137. For BYPASS, Michael Kaplanat (212) 537-8295. For INFECTION, Sue Pondrom at (619) 543-6163 or spondrom@ucsd.edu. For HEART, Emily Hetrick at (612) 798-7210 or ehetrick@mediarelations.com)

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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