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Posted - Mar. 9, 2004 at 7:40 a.m.



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Mar 09, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- GREAT STRESS MAY LEAD TO MS

A study suggests the stress of losing a child may increase the risk of developing the disabling disease of multiple sclerosis. The study, reported in the journal Neurology, showed parents whose child died were 50 percent more likely to develop MS than were those who did not lose a child. The results show psychological stress may play a role in the development of MS, the authors say. "We hypothesized that, if stress causes MS, only severe stresses are likely candidates, because MS is a rare disease," said study author Dr. Jiong Li of the University of Aarhus in Denmark. "The death of a child is one of the most serious stressors that occurs in a society with low infant mortality, so it serves as an objective indicator that can be studied." Li said the results could help researchers determine what bodily processes are affected by stress that could lead to MS. "This could help us better understand the disease process and, in the future, develop preventative treatments," he said.

EARLY TREATMENT KEY TO STROKE RECOVERY

Getting stroke patients to the hospital on time improves their chances of a complete recovery, researchers report. The study of 2,700 patients, reported in The Lancet, confirms the benefits of rapid treatment with thrombolytics, which act as clot busters. Doctors have known such early treatment can improve a stroke patient's chance of a full recovery, yet only an estimated 2 percent to 5 percent of all eligible acute stroke patients in the United States are being treated with thrombolytics, the study authors say. Stroke patients who were treated within 90 minutes of the onset of symptoms showed the most improvement. The study suggests the thrombolytic t-PA given up to four hours after the onset of symptoms may be of benefit, but the authors caution there are virtually no benefits to treatments administered six or more hours after the fact.

TWO SIDES TO THE DRUG COIN

A drug used to prevent nausea and other effects of chemotherapy in breast cancer patients may prevent the therapy from working well on tumor cells. Dexamethasone, a synthetic steroid, is routinely given to women just prior to chemotherapy with either paclitaxel or doxorubicin, drugs commonly used for breast cancer. But new research, reported in Cancer Research by scientists from the University of Chicago, reveals pretreatment of breast cancer cells with dexamethasone reduces the cancer cell death rate by more than 25 percent.

BLACKS FACE HIGHER CATARACT RISK

A nine-year study has shown blacks have nearly twice the incidence of cataracts as do whites. In addition, the risk of a certain type of cataract was more than three times higher in blacks than in whites, researchers report in Ophthalmology, the clinical journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. The study of 3,000 participants examined the incidence and progression of cataracts, a clouding of the lens of the eye. Overall, cataracts developed 1.8 times more frequently in the black than in the white participants. In addition, the incidence of one type of cataract, called cortical, was more than three times greater in blacks than in whites. Dr. M. Cristina Leske of Stony Brook University says the increased risk could be related to a high frequency of diabetes, hypertension and abdominal obesity. Cataract surgery can prevent visual loss from the lens clouding, Leske said.

(Editors: For more information about MS, contact Kathy Stone at (651) 695-2763 or kstone@aan.com. For STROKE, Marian Emr at (301) 496-5924. For TUMOR, John Easton at (773) 702-6241 or jeaston@uchospitals.edu. For CATARACTS, call (415) 561-8534)

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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