Hair dye manufacturers are on notice: The cure for gray hair is coming. That’s right, the need to cover up one of the classic signs of aging with chemical pigments will be a thing of the past thanks to a team of European researchers. In a new research report published online in The FASEB Journal (http://www.fasebj.org) people who are going gray develop massive oxidative stress via accumulation of hydrogen peroxide in the hair follicle, which causes our hair to bleach itself from the inside out, and most importantly, the report shows that this massive accumulation of hydrogen peroxide can be remedied with a proprietary treatment developed by the researchers described as a topical, UVB-activated compound called PC-KUS (a modified pseudocatalase). What’s more, the study also shows that the same treatment works for the skin condition, vitiligo.
“To date, it is beyond any doubt that the sudden loss of the inherited skin and localized hair color can affect those individuals in many fundamental ways,” said Karin U. Schallreuter, M.D., study author from the Institute for Pigmentary Disorders in association with E.M. Arndt University of Greifswald, Germany and the Centre for Skin Sciences, School of Life Sciences at the University of Bradford, United Kingdom. “The improvement of quality of life after total and even partial successful repigmentation has been documented.”
To achieve this breakthrough, Schallreuter and colleagues analyzed an international group of 2,411 patients with vitiligo. Of that group, 57 or 2.4 percent were diagnosed with strictly segmental vitiligo (SSV), and 76 or 3.2 percent were diagnosed with mixed vitiligo, which is SSV plus non-segmental vitiligo (NSV). They found that for the first time, patients who have SSV within a certain nerval distribution involving skin and eyelashes show the same oxidative stress as observed in the much more frequent general NSV, which is associated with decreased antioxidant capacities including catalase, thioredoxin reductase, and the repair mechanisms methionine sulfoxide reductases. These findings are based on basic science and clinical observations, which led to successful patient outcomes regarding repigmentation of skin and eyelashes.
“For generations, numerous remedies have been concocted to hide gray hair,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal, “but now, for the first time, an actual treatment that gets to the root of the problem has been developed. While this is exciting news, what’s even more exciting is that this also works for vitiligo. This condition, while technically cosmetic, can have serious socio-emotional effects of people. Developing an effective treatment for this condition has the potential to radically improve many people’s lives.”
Contact: Cody Mooneyhan
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
With concerns often expressed about youth crime and violence in the UK, researchers have been investigating what young people really think about living in an inner-city neighbourhood that has high levels of deprivation, crime and gang activity.
The results revealed that to overcome concerns and cope with dangerous situations, girls tried to avoid or escape risky encounters – although for some this conflicted with a desire to be independent, glamorous and to seek out boyfriends. Boys, on the other hand, acted and talked tough to prove their street credentials but were critical of gangs and youth violence.
The research was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and carried out by Doctor Jenny Parkes and Doctor Anna Connolly at the Institute of Education, University of London. The researchers talked with young teenagers about the risks and dangers they faced in the community. “Although the London neighbourhood we studied was identified as a ‘hotspot’ for gang activity, most of the young people we spoke to were highly critical of gangs, youth crime and violence,” says Parkes. “One thing that emerged from the discussions was the frequent dilemma boys in their early teens faced in working out how to deal with the dangers they encountered routinely in their neighbourhoods.”
The study found that the way threatening situations were dealt with in the streets was closely linked with young people’s relationships in schools, homes and communities. For all of them, a threat of gang violence was a concern as was sexual harassment for the girls. In addition, for some (especially young people with a history of school exclusion) a number of the tactics they adopted to avoid danger exposed them to additional risks, including being teased by other youngsters. For girls, tactics for gaining respect by people of their own age, such as acting independently, or the choice of clothes they wore and having a boyfriend could be sources of conflict with their parents.
“By engaging young people in interviewing and data analysis for themselves, our research generated a great deal of discussion and critical reflection,” says Parkes. “The approach enabled them to discuss fears and anxieties that usually would have been hidden if the discussions had just been about ‘risk management’”.
Lauren Seager-Smith, National Co-ordinator, Anti-Bullying Alliance, welcomed the research because in preference to making assumptions, its findings help understand how young people experience violence today.
Lauren says, “Reports of sexual harassment of girls, and the pressure that ‘tough masculinity’ places on boys resonated with our work to combat gender-related bullying between young people. We also welcomed the researchers’ recommendation for a community and school-based approach that addresses all forms of violence against women and girls, and the negative impact on boys of acting and talking tough. Unless we take collective action, violence, harassment and bullying will continue in the privacy of intimate relationships and homes, in school classrooms and playgrounds, and in our neighbourhoods.”
For further information contact:
Institute of Education Press Office: Jennifer Sheldon
Telephone: 020 7911 5423
ESRC Press Office:
Telephone: 01793 413122
Notes for editors
1. This release is based on the findings from ‘Negotiating Danger, Risk and Safety: An Exploration with Young People in an Urban Neighbourhood’. The research was funded by the ESRC and carried out by Doctor Jenny Parkes and Doctor Anna Conolly at the Institute of Education, University of London. Dr Parkes is senior lecturer in education, gender and international development.
2. The research took place in a London borough known for its high level of socio-economic deprivation and where local concerns had been expressed about youth crime and gang activity. The first phase of the research involved over 100 interviews with young people and professionals in a range of education and community settings. Analysis of these interviews informed the second phase, when weekly meetings with groups of girls and boys in a secondary school and pupil referral unit explored how risks, dangers and safety were negotiated through social relationships. More information on the two phases (External PDF, 310Kb)
3. The Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA) is a unique coalition of over 130 members from the voluntary, public and private sectors that work together to reduce bullying and create safer environments in which children and young people can live, grow, play and learn. ABA is hosted by the National Children’s Bureau
4. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK’s largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. It supports independent high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC’s total budget for 2012/13 is £205 million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes.
5. The ESRC confirms the quality of its funded research by evaluating research projects through a process of peers review. This research has been graded as good.
A ground-breaking advance in colonoscopy technology signals the future of colorectal care, according to research presented today at Digestive Disease Week® (DDW). Additional research focuses on optimizing the minimal withdrawal time for colonoscopies and exploring safer methods for removing polyps.
During colonoscopy, doctors use a device called a colonoscope to examine the colon. This screening test for colorectal cancer allows a doctor to look for precancerous polyps called adenomas in the colon and rectum. A study featuring a new colonoscope that allows doctors to see more of the colon shows promise that could revolutionize colorectal cancer screening.
Researchers compared both the adenoma miss rate using the new colonoscope with the miss rate of a traditional colonoscope. The miss rate for the new colonoscope was only 7.6 percent as compared to 41.7 percent for the traditional colonoscope, in this study.
“It’s always our goal to minimize miss rates in colonoscopy,” said Professor Ian M. Gralnek of the Bruce and Ruth Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and senior physician at the department of gastroenterology, Rambam Health Care Campus and Elisha Hospital in Haifa, Israel. “These results show us a way to achieve that and improve the efficacy of colorectal cancer screening and surveillance colonoscopy.”
Developed by EndoChoice, the Full Spectrum Endoscopy (FUSE) colonoscope maintains the identical technical features of the standard colonoscope, but allows the endoscopist to view 330 degrees, compared to the 170 degree viewing angle of the traditional colonoscope.
The study randomly assigned 197 patients for tandem colonoscopies using either the standard or the FUSE colonoscope first. In addition to a significantly lower adenoma miss rate, results showed a significantly higher adenoma detection rate favoring FUSE. Professor Gralnek credits FUSE’s improved imaging technology with these findings as adenomas can be difficult to detect with only forward-viewing capabilities.
“Adenomas often hide behind folds in the colon and can be very difficult to find with a forward-viewing scope,” Professor Gralnek said.
“Lower adenoma miss rates have important implications for patient surveillance,” he added. The additional information FUSE provides to doctors may allow them to adjust patients’ surveillance intervals according to risk level, ultimately helping to prevent incremental colorectal cancers. The FUSE scope could be available as early as this summer.
Colonoscopy withdrawal time makes a big difference for diagnosis
DDW also features other advances in colonoscopy relating not to what doctors see, but to how long they look. Researchers at Stanford University compared a three-minute versus six-minute withdrawal time during colonoscopy. The polyp miss rate was almost twice as high during the shorter procedure.
“The de facto standard of care for colonoscopy withdrawal time, which is six minutes, was based on a single observational study,” said Sheila Kumar, research fellow in Stanford’s division of gastroenterology and hepatology. “More data were needed to ensure that we are providing the best care possible. Our findings provide evidence-based support that prolonging withdrawal time significantly decreases polyp miss rates at colonoscopy.”
Dr. Kumar’s research represents the first randomized controlled trial examining the effect of colonoscopy withdrawal times on polyp miss rates. The study was conducted with patients undergoing colonoscopies at Stanford and the Palo Alto Veterans Administration Hospital. Patients were randomized to an initial three-minute or six-minute colonoscopy withdrawal time. Patients then underwent a “second look” six-minute withdrawal to determine if polyps were missed with the first look.
“The study design also allowed for data collection for screenings up to 12 minutes long, by combining data for the first and second withdrawal,” Dr. Kumar said. “Future comparisons could help to confirm the optimal time parameters of a colonoscopy.”
A safer polypectomy option for high-risk patients
In another study, researchers at Showa Inan General Hospital in Komagane, Japan, found that a particular method of polypectomy – called a “cold snare” technique – is safer for patients on anticoagulants.
When a colon or rectal polyp is detected during colonoscopy, a polypectomy is often recommended to remove the growth. But for patients who use anticoagulants, or blood thinners, polypectomies carry higher risk because of bleeding that occurs during excision of the polyp and recovery.
“The results of our study represent an important opportunity for patients whose options have been severely limited up to this point,” said Akira Horiuchi, chief of the hospital’s Digestive Disease Center.
The study compared the bleeding associated with the conventional polypectomy technique and the cold snare technique. With the first, the polyp is snared with a wire and then cut using electrocautery. The cold snare technique mechanically cuts off the polyp without electrocautery.
With the latter method, bleeding was seen in only about 5 percent of cases compared to 23 percent of cases using the conventional technique. No delayed bleeding was associated with the cold snare technique, whereas 14 percent of the conventional patients required hemostasis afterward. Polyp removal rates were identical for both approaches.
“These differences are exciting and encouraging,” Dr. Horiuchi said. “We think the study paves the way for future research to validate a safer option for many patients.”
Professor Gralnek will present data from the study “Comparing traditional forward-viewing colonoscopy with ‘full spectrum endoscopy’: a randomized, multicenter tandem colonoscopy study – the Fuse study,” abstract 9a, on Saturday, May 18, at 9:44 a.m. ET in Room 415 Valencia of the Orange County Convention Center.
Dr. Kumar will present data from the study “Evaluating the optimal time for colonoscopy withdrawal: a prospective randomized comparison of three minute versus six minute withdrawal,” abstract Mo1559, on Monday, May 20, at 8 a.m. ET in Hall West A1of the Orange County Convention Center.
Dr. Horiuchi will present data from the study “Prospective randomized comparison of cold snare polypectomy and conventional polypectomy for small colorectal polys in patients receiving anticoagulation therapy,” abstract 852, on Monday, May 20, at 4 p.m. ET in Room 314B of the Orange County Convention Center.
Digestive Disease Week® (DDW) is the largest international gathering of physicians, researchers and academics in the fields of gastroenterology, hepatology, endoscopy and gastrointestinal surgery. Jointly sponsored by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD), the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Institute, the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) and the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract (SSAT), DDW takes place May 18 to 21, 2013, at the Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, FL. The meeting showcases more than 5,000 abstracts and hundreds of lectures on the latest advances in GI research, medicine and technology. More information can be found at http://www.ddw.org.
Contact: Aimee Frank
Digestive Disease Week
A University of Illinois researcher says that the cornerstone of our efforts to alleviate food insecurity should be to encourage more people to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) “because it works.”
According to Craig Gundersen, SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, is a great social safety net program and with some additional improvements could be even more successful at reducing the number of food-insecure households. Gundersen is a U of I professor of agricultural and consumer economics and executive director of the National Soybean Research Laboratory.
“We already know that SNAP leads to reductions in food insecurity, and poverty, and there is no evidence that it leads to obesity,” Gundersen said. “We need to make it easier for people to apply for the program, to recertify once they’re in the program, and to increase benefits, especially for those who are at the lower end of the benefits structure,” he said.
Gundersen says that reducing the stigma associated with receiving SNAP benefits would be an improvement but difficult to accomplish because it requires a shift in attitudes.
“There is a perception among some that people who receive SNAP benefits are lazy – this has historically been the reason for stigma in SNAP,” Gundersen said. “In recent years, the stigma associated with SNAP participation has shifted toward a prejudice against people who are overweight. You hear a lot of anecdotal evidence that people who are overweight may be uncomfortable using SNAP. They feel like people are judging them for buying food. If we could become a society that doesn’t judge others about their weight, we could reduce stigma.”
One surprising outcome from Gundersen’s research on the topic is that about half of poor households in the United States are food secure, despite having low incomes. “One reason is perhaps that, along with other factors, they may just be better financial managers,” he said. And although it appears to come naturally to some people to be responsible financially, there is evidence that financial management skills can be taught. “Using coupons, shopping at large-scale supermarkets, and buying in bulk can save households money on food,” he said.
Gundersen said that the SNAP-Ed program provides some education in financial management. “About 70 percent of SNAP households have at least one person who is working, but for them, it may be hard to find the time to take classes.”
Food pantries and other emergency food assistance programs play an important role in the effort to alleviate food insecurity.
“A lot of SNAP recipients are from poor households who just run out of money or SNAP benefits at the end of the month,” Gundersen said. “Food pantries can tide people over until the next month. And about one-third of food-insecure households have high enough incomes that they are ineligible for any of the other food assistance programs. The only place they can go for help is to food pantries, so it’s really important that we have those available for them.”
Lowering food prices and making large-scale food stores more accessible to lower-income neighborhoods in cities are also ways to help reduce food insecurity. “Large-scale supermarkets like Walmart are finding it difficult to get permits to put stores in big cities, such as New York City and San Francisco, two of the most expensive cities to live in,” Gundersen said. “Walmart’s core customer makes between $20,000 and $50,000 per year, but upper-income people block Walmart despite the good that would come from having a discount grocery store convenient to where lower income families live. It’s frustrating to Walmart, to me, and to anti-hunger advocates.”
Gundersen also responded to the recent efforts to increase taxes on foods such as sugar-sweetened beverages. “I think it just punishes poor people for their food choices,” he said. Taxing foods that have no nutritional content is also a bureaucratic nightmare, according to Gundersen. “Stores would have to add a lot of expensive signage and reconfigure cash registers to read new bar codes on foods that may or may not be eligible for SNAP. And who would make those decisions? It’s also just patronizing and offensive to poor people; it’s telling them that because they don’t know how to shop for their family, we’ll tell you how to shop and what’s best for them. When I worked for the federal government, no one told me how to spend my paycheck, and Social Security recipients aren’t told how they can spend their money,” he said.
Gundersen said that the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) also reduces food insecurity. Given the importance of NSLP in alleviating hunger, it is not surprising that food insecurity among children rises during the summer. “There are summer food-service programs, but typically children have to be enrolled in a camp or summer school program to get the free lunch. We definitely see spikes in food insecurity over the summer months,” he said.
Food insecurity climbed rapidly in the 2007-08 years and has now leveled off at a high level, Gundersen said. “Even though we’re on the other side of the great recession, we haven’t seen declines in food security.”
An Overview of the Effectiveness of Various Approaches to Addressing Food Insecurity in the United States was funded by ConAgra Foods Foundation. A downloadable pdf of the full report is available at http://tinyurl.com/lmwb9t4.
Contact: Debra Levey Larson
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
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