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Seafood Appears Safe To Eat

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Jun 13, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- SEAFOOD APPEARS SAFE TO EAT

A study of 643 children shows no detectable risk from low levels of mercury their mothers consumed in ocean seafood. Researchers report in the journal The Lancet the study that followed the children from before birth until age 9 showed no harmful symptoms among youngsters born to women who ate an average of 12 fish meals a week -- about 10 times the average American's consumption. The study is the latest by a team studying children born in 1989 and 1990 in the Republic of the Seychelles, an island nation in the Indian Ocean. Five evaluations of the children since birth have turned up no harmful effects from the low levels of seafood-borne mercury their mothers consumed during pregnancy. "Consumption of fish is generally considered healthy for your heart, yet people are hearing that they should be concerned about eating fish because of mercury levels," said lead author Gary Myers, a pediatric neurologist. "We've found no evidence that the low levels of mercury in seafood are harmful. In the Seychelles, where the women in our study ate large quantities of fish each week while they were pregnant, the children are healthy."


An imaging tool is helping doctors see inside the lungs to determine how a drug used to test for asthma works. The study showed a magnetic resonance imaging technique developed by Duke University Medical Center researchers enables scientists to visualize the lungs of laboratory rats and observe their function as the animals receive the asthma-diagnosing drug methacholine. The "magnetic resonance microscopy" technique enables scientists to zoom in on airways as small as the width of a human hair. "We're visualizing the behavior of the smallest airways, a critical element in understanding such pulmonary diseases as asthma," said G. Allan Johnson, director of the Center for In Vivo Microscopy. The drug causes the airways of lungs in humans and rats to constrict. Asthmatic patients' lungs tend to overreact to the medication, an indication of the disease. Traditionally, a patient's response to the drug must be determined indirectly by measuring the amount of air exhaled. "Using the traditional techniques, it's hard to pinpoint the site of constriction in the lung to identify the triggers for an asthma attack," said Ben Chen, research associate and lead study investigator. The results were presented at the American Thoracic Society meeting in Seattle.


A study shows promising results with the use of the antibiotic Avelox (moxifloxacin HCl) as a treatment for chronic bronchitis. Researchers say results of the study have important implications for potential savings in healthcare resources and curbing the growing problem of antibiotic resistance. Chronic bronchitis affects more than 8 million Americans, about half of whom smoke. The study, presented at the annual meeting of the American Thoracic Society, showed promising results in smokers with acute exacerbations (flare-ups) of chronic bronchitis. The researchers found patients who took Avelox for five days fared better than those who received standard treatments for seven days. They also required fewer follow-up antibiotics and experienced longer intervals between flare-ups. "These results are important for the health-care system and for the millions of people around the world who suffer from chronic bronchitis, many of whom face a lifetime of painful and disruptive symptoms and prolonged antibiotic use," said Dr. Michael Niederman, chairman of medicine at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y.


Results of the largest such study to date show bilateral lung volume reduction surgery may benefit some patients with severe emphysema. The researchers found, on average, patients who undergo the procedure and receive medical therapy are more likely to have better function even after two years after undergoing the procedure and do not face an increased risk of death compared to those who receive only the medical treatment. The 5-year National Emphysema Treatment Trial evaluated the effectiveness and safety of adding LVRS to medical therapy with pulmonary rehabilitation for patients with advanced emphysema. The effects varied, the researchers cautioned. They identified two characteristics that can help predict a patient's surgery outcome: the distribution of emphysema (whether the damage was concentrated in the upper areas of the lungs) and his/her exercise capacity. Patients whose emphysema was predominantly in the upper lobes of the lung and whose exercise capacity was low after pulmonary rehabilitation but prior to surgery were more likely to survive longer and function better after LVRS compared to similar patients who received medical therapy only. In contrast, in patients who did not have upper lobe distribution of emphysema and who had greater exercise capacity, LVRS decreased survival and failed to improve functional levels. The findings were presented at the American Thoracic Society 99th International Conference in Seattle and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

(EDITORS: For more information about SEAFOOD, contact Tom Rickey at 585-275-7954 or; about ASTHMA, contact Kendall Morgan at 919-684-4966 or; about BRONCHITIS, contact Chris Gordon at 347-200-3294; about LUNG, call 301-496-4236.)

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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