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Vol. LXIV, No. 24
November 23, 2012
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Digest

Study Finds Leisure-Time Physical Activity Extends Life Expectancy

Leisure-time physical activity is associated with longer life expectancy, even at relatively low levels of activity and regardless of body weight, according to a study by a team of researchers led by NCI.
Leisure-time physical activity is associated with longer life expectancy, even at relatively low levels of activity and regardless of body weight, according to a study by a team of researchers led by NCI.

Leisure-time physical activity is associated with longer life expectancy, even at relatively low levels of activity and regardless of body weight, according to a study by a team of researchers led by NCI. The study, which found that people who engaged in leisure-time physical activity had life expectancy gains of as much as 4.5 years, appeared Nov. 6 in PLoS Medicine.

In order to determine the number of years of life gained from leisure-time physical activity in adulthood, which translates directly to an increase in life expectancy, researchers examined data on more than 650,000 adults. These people, mostly age 40 and older, took part in one of six population-based studies that were designed to evaluate various aspects of cancer risk.

First Gene Therapy Study in Human Salivary Gland Shows Promise

Gene therapy can be performed safely in the human salivary gland, according to scientists at NIDCR.

This finding comes from the first-ever safety, or phase I, clinical study of gene therapy in a human salivary gland. Its results, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also show that the transferred gene, Aquaporin-1, has great potential to help head and neck cancer survivors who battle with chronic dry mouth. Aquaporin-1 encodes a protein that naturally forms pore-like water channels in the membranes of cells to help move fluid, such as occurs when salivary gland cells secrete saliva into the mouth.

These initial results clear the way for additional gene therapy studies in the salivary glands. Although sometimes overlooked, salivary glands present an ideal target for gene therapy. They are easily accessible and, once a gene is introduced, it has no obvious escape route into the bloodstream, where it can have unintended consequences.

MRI, EEG Could Identify Children at Risk for Epilepsy After Febrile Seizures

Seizures during childhood fever are usually benign, but when prolonged, they can foreshadow an increased risk of epilepsy later in life. Now a study funded by NINDS suggests that brain imaging and recordings of brain activity could help identify the children at highest risk. The study reveals that within days of a prolonged fever-related seizure, some children have signs of acute brain injury, abnormal brain anatomy, altered brain activity or a combination.

Seizures that occur during the course of a high fever, known as febrile seizures, affect 3 to 4 percent of all children. Most such children recover rapidly and do not suffer long-term health consequences. However, having one or more prolonged febrile seizure in childhood is known to increase the risk of subsequent epilepsy. Some experts estimate that the risk of later epilepsy is 30 to 40 percent following febrile status epilepticus (FSE), a seizure or series of seizures that can last from 30 minutes to several hours.

The Consequences of Prolonged Febrile Seizures in Childhood study is focused specifically on FSE and the risk of temporal lobe epilepsy. This is one of the most common forms of epilepsy and is characterized by seizures in the brain region important for memory.

Within days of FSE, the children in the study underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and electroencephalography (EEG). The latter technique uses sensors on the scalp to record brain activity and is often used to diagnose and monitor epilepsy. The MRI findings were reported in July 2012, and the EEG findings were reported Nov. 7. Both papers were published in Neurology.

Cardiac Bypass Surgery Superior for Adults with Diabetes and Heart Disease

Adults with diabetes and multi-vessel coronary heart disease who underwent cardiac bypass surgery had better overall heart-related outcomes than those who underwent an artery-opening procedure to improve blood flow to the heart muscle, according to results from an international study. The research was supported by NHLBI.

The study compared the effectiveness of coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery with a non-surgical procedure known as percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) that included insertion of drug-eluting stents. After 5 years, the CABG group had fewer adverse events and better survival rates than the PCI group.

The findings will appear concurrently online in the New England Journal of Medicine. A companion paper on cost effectiveness will appear online in Circulation.—compiled by Carla Garnett


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