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Vol. LXVII, No. 1
January 2, 2015
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Digest

Teen Prescription Opioid Abuse, Cigarette, Alcohol Use Trends Down

NIDA deputy director Dr. Wilson Compton (above) hosted a press teleconference and Twitter chat on Dec. 16 to discuss findings of the 2014 Monitoring the Future survey. This year’s survey continued to show encouraging news. However, the survey suggested a declining perception among teens that marijuana use is harmful. Interestingly, more than 50 percent of high school seniors still say they disapprove of occasional marijuana use. For more on the 2014 MTF survey, visit www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/monitoring-future.
NIDA deputy director Dr. Wilson Compton (above) hosted a press teleconference and Twitter chat on Dec. 16 to discuss findings of the 2014 Monitoring the Future survey. This year’s survey continued to show encouraging news. However, the survey suggested a declining perception among teens that marijuana use is harmful. Interestingly, more than 50 percent of high school seniors still say they disapprove of occasional marijuana use. For more on the 2014 MTF survey, visit www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/monitoring-future.

Use of cigarettes, alcohol and abuse of prescription pain relievers among teens has declined since 2013 while marijuana use rates were stable, according to the 2014 Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey that NIDA released Dec. 16. However, use of e-cigarettes, measured in the report for the first time, is high.

These 2014 results are part of an overall two-decade trend among the nation’s youth. The NIDA-funded MTF survey measures drug use and attitudes among 8th, 10th and 12th graders and is conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan.

“With the rates of many drugs decreasing, and the rates of marijuana use appearing to level off, it is possible that prevention efforts are having an effect,” said NIDA director Dr. Nora Volkow. “It is now more important than ever for the public health community to continue to educate teens, parents, teachers, community leaders, the media and health care providers about the specific harms of drug use among teens, whose brains are still developing.”

Low-Glycemic Diets May Not Improve Cardiovascular Outcomes When Compare To High-Glycemic Diets

A study funded by NHLBI comparing low- and high-glycemic index diets found no significant difference between the two plans in reducing cardiovascular risk or reversing insulin resistance.

A number of widely followed diets have been based on the idea that focusing on foods with a low-glycemic index might improve cardiovascular risk factors and lower the risk of developing diabetes. But a study suggests that using the glycemic index to select foods may not improve insulin sensitivity, lower HDL or LDL lipid levels or reduce blood pressure levels. Results of the study appeared online Dec. 18 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study included 163 overweight adults in a controlled feeding study. Participants had systolic blood pressure levels of between 120 and 159 mmHg, which means participants at the higher end of this range were considered to have high blood pressure.

The diets compared were: high-glycemic index/high carbohydrate; low-glycemic index/high carbohydrate; high-glycemic index/low carbohydrate; and low-glycemic index/low carbohydrate. The low-glycemic index/low-carbohydrate diet resulted in similar insulin sensitivity, systolic blood pressure and HDL and LDL cholesterol levels when compared to the high-glycemic index/high-carbohydrate diet.

Chromosome Region Linked to Gigantism

Researchers at NICHD have found a duplication of a short stretch of the X chromosome in some people with a rare disorder that causes excessive childhood growth. The scientists believe that a single gene within the region likely has a large influence on how much children grow.

“Finding the gene responsible for childhood overgrowth would be very helpful, but the much wider question is what regulates growth,” said Dr. Constantine Stratakis, lead author of the new paper and scientific director at NICHD.

In theory, the causes of overgrowth and undergrowth in children should be regulated by the same mechanisms, Stratakis explained. “As pediatricians and endocrinologists, we look at growth as one of the hallmarks of childhood. Understanding how children grow is extraordinarily important, as an indicator of their general health and their future well-being.”

The research started with a family who came to the Clinical Center for treatment in the mid-1990s. A mother who had been treated for gigantism had two sons who were also growing rapidly. People with this condition are abnormally tall and may have delayed puberty, large hands and feet and double vision. A second family, with an affected daughter, came to NIH from Australia. The girl had the same duplication the researchers saw in the first family.

Gigantism results from a defect in the pituitary, a pea-sized gland at the base of the brain that makes growth hormones and controls the activity of other glands in the body. Some people with gigantism have a tumor in the pituitary that secretes extra hormone; others just have an oversized pituitary. Gigantism is often treated by removing the tumor, or even the entire pituitary, but can sometimes be treated with medication alone.

The study appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine. Support also came from NINDS and NHGRI.


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