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Posted - Jan. 29, 2004 at 8:20 a.m.



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Jan 29, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- TEEN DEPRESSION MAY STEM FROM BRAIN STRUCTURE

Teenagers with early onset depression may have an abnormal brain structure, according to a new study from Canada. Researchers from Dalhousie University and Canada's National Research Council studied 34 adolescents and found those diagnosed with major depressive disorders often had a small hippocampus -- part of the brain associated with motivation, emotion and memory. Some patients had a hippocampus that was on average 17 percent smaller than people in a control group. The longer the patient had the depression diagnosis, the larger the hippocampus was, indicating the difference might not appear in adults. The research could help determine the cause of the disorder before the body is affected by treatment later in life.

TESTOSTERONE NOT LINKED TO PROSTATE CANCER

A review of past studies by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center found no link between testosterone replacement and prostate cancer or heart disease risk. The Boston researchers reviewed 72 past studies to address the issue of testosterone replacement and its potential health risks to men. Low testosterone levels, or hypogonadism, affects 2 million to 4 million older men in the United States. Although a low testosterone level is believed to lower growth of metastatic cancer, the researchers found no causal link between increased testosterone and increased risk of prostate cancer. While few, if any, data support increased cardiovascular risk, some studies suggest increased testosterone might lower heart disease risk.

PAIN MAY INHIBIT ANTIDEPRESSANT DRUGS

Body pain may interfere with drug treatment for depression, according to a new study. An analysis of clinical trial data involving 573 depression patients taking antidepressants shows one-fourth still had high depression scores after three months. Lead researcher Matthew Bair, formerly of the Regenstrief Institute, and colleagues found the therapy was most likely to fail among those who had severe pain at the start of the treatment. The research was funded in part by Eli Lilly and Co., which manufactures antidepressant drugs.

ROBOT MAY SPEED SURGERY RECOVERY

Robot-assisted heart surgery on children may require less recovery time and leave less scarring and pain than conventional surgery, a study found. Although the camera-guided procedure takes about 30 minutes longer and costs more, researchers expect it will offset costs over time with shorter hospital stays, fewer missed workdays for parents and fewer complications. Surgeons use the $1 million system's three cable-driven arms to guide instruments through the operation, which they watch on a 3-D guidance system. Despite the small sample group of seven patients ages 1 to 10, researchers were encouraged by the results.

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(EDITORS: For more information about DEPRESSION, contact Gemma Bradley at 44-207-323-0323. For TESTOSTERONE, Marty Querzoli at (617) 667-7305 or mquerzol@bidmc.harvard.edu. For PAIN, Health Behavior News Service at (202) 387-2829. For ROBOT, Kara Gavin at (734) 764-2220 or kegavin@med.umich.edu.)

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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