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Current literature update

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The following are recent articles and research papers that may be of great interest to you:

Skip your annual physical, an Op-Ed from the New York Times, 08 January 2015.

Excerpts: “Around 45 million Americans are likely to have a routine physical this year — just as they have for many years running. A poke here, a listen there, a few tubes of blood, maybe an X-ray, a few reassuring words about diet, exercise and not smoking from the doctor, all just to be sure everything is in good working order. Most think of it as the human equivalent of a 15,000-mile checkup and fluid change, which can uncover hidden problems and ensure longer engine life…There is only one problem: From a health perspective, the annual physical exam is basically worthless.”

Antidepressant Use in Pregnancy and the Risk of Cardiac Defects.  N Engl J Med 2014; 370: 2397-407.

Summary: “By adjusting for some of the many confounding factors that may influence fetal cardiac development, the authors of this study have made a strong argument that it is not the SSRIs themselves that may lead to cardiac defects but other issues related to depression. Hopefully, this paper may provide some reassurance to women with severe depression who are offered treatment during pregnancy, and encourage providers not to withhold necessary treatments when indicated.”

Variation in cancer risk among tissues can be explained by the number of stem cell divisions. Science 2 January 2015: Vol. 347 no. 6217 pp. 78-81.

Excerpt:  “…only a third of the variation in cancer risk… is attributable to environmental factors or inherited predisposition.  The majority is due to ‘bad luck,’ that is, random mutations arising during DNA replication in normal, noncancerous stem cells.  This is important not only for understanding the disease but also for designing strategies to limit the mortality it causes.”  To better understand this finding, in plain English, read Cancer’s Random Assault (New York Times, 05 January 2015).

Sex Differences and Menstrual Cycle Phase-Dependent Modulation of Craving for Cigarette: An fMRI Pilot Study.  Psychiatry Journal, Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 723632, 7 pages.

In plain language, women’s menstrual cycle has a significant effect on nicotine cravings, and on how intensely women experience their physical withdrawal symptoms.  Excerpt: “The main finding of the present pilot study suggests that brain function associated with craving for cigarettes fluctuates across the menstrual cycle in women smokers. This result emphasizes the need for gender-specific programs to quit smoking, as well as taking into consideration a menstrual cycle phase during addiction treatment in women.”

Egyptian is Convicted for Genital Mutilation.  New York Times 26 January 2015

Female genital mutilation, usually a process of fully or partly removing the clitoris, was outlawed here in 2008, but remains widespread and widely accepted… At a trial last year, her doctor told a lower court that he had only treated her for warts and that she had died of an allergic reaction.

Hyperlipidemia in Early Adulthood Increases Long Term Risks of Coronary Heart Disease DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.114.012477

In plain language, high cholesterol in your 30s and 40s increases risk of heart disease.  The longer the elevated lipids, the greater the risk.

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