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Health Tips - Blood tests for mental health?

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            HEALTH TIPS - Thuresday, March 8, 2007
"News That Keeps You Healthy"

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Blood tests for mental health?

Simple blood tests may be able to detect panic and other
mental disorders and predict susceptibility to nicotine
addiction, according to new research. In a study published
Tuesday in the online edition of the American Journal of
Medical Genetics, researchers from the University of Iowa
in Iowa City analyzed genetic information in immature white
blood cells called lymphoblasts. The team observed
differences in the genetic expression of participants with
and without a panic disorder. "Panic disorder will no
longer be a purely descriptive diagnosis, but, as with
cystic fibrosis, Down syndrome and other conditions, a
diagnosis based on genetic information," said lead author
Dr. Robert Philibert, professor of psychiatry in the UI
Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine.
"In addition, the finding could help us better understand
the pathways that initiate, promote and maintain panic
disorder. "The condition, which affects some 3 percent of
Americans, is characterized by monthly or more frequent
panic attacks that may include palpitations, shortness of
breath, sweating and a feeling of loss of control or
dying. Because these symptoms mimic those of a heart
attack, patients with panic disorder often end up in the
emergency room for needless cardiac tests, Philibert said.
In the study of 16 men and women with panic disorder and 17
without, the researchers found noticeable differences in
gene activity in the two groups. The team is developing
a blood test for commercial use, hoping it might help
identify systems that interact with the environment and
"possibly lead the way to new, even non-drug, therapies
to prevent illness," Philibert said. The study was funded
by the National Institutes of Health.


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New genetic risks found in Alzheimer's

CARDIFF, Wales,-- Welsh scientists have discovered
evidence that additional genes might be involved in the
development of Alzheimer's disease. The Cardiff University
researchers tested more than 17,000 gene variants in 4,000
volunteers. Among several genes showing evidence of contrib-
uting to Alzheimer's disease, the most interesting was the
gene "GALP," which could affect the development of tangles
within brain cells, a hallmark of the malady. Professors
Julie Williams and Michael Owen said their study is the
first in series to use new technology to look compre-
hensively at every gene in the human genome in Alzheimer's
Disease. "This is one of the largest studies of its kind
and involves many Welsh families," Williams said. "Many
genes will be linked with Alzheimer's disease and our
current program of research is designed to identify them."
There is no known cure or preventative treatment for
Alzheimer's, which affects more than 12 million people
worldwide. The disease causes an irreversible and
progressive loss of brain function and memory. The study is
to appear in the next issue of the journal Human Molecular


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Lack of sleep leaving women stressed

WASHINGTON, -- A new survey says more than 60 percent of
U.S. women have trouble getting a good night's sleep.
The lack of sleep leaves many women stressed out, too
tired for sex and with too little time for their friends,
the poll by the National Sleep Foundation said. Seventy-
two percent of working mothers and 68 percent of single
working women reported sleep problems like insomnia. The
highest level of sleep problems was reported by stay-at-
home mothers, with 74 percent reporting symptoms of
insomnia at least a few nights each week. "Women of all
ages are burning the candle at both ends and as a result
they are sleepless and stressed out," NSF chief executive
Richard L. Gelula said in a release. When pressed for
time, one-half of the women polled responded that sleep
and exercise are the first things they sacrifice. The
next things to go are time with friends and family,
healthy eating and sexual activity. Only 20 percent of
women said they put work on the back burner when they
run out of time or are too sleepy, the report said.

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