Psychiatric Illnesses May Involve Changes in Only Two Genes



A new study shows that changes in only two genes may account for most psychiatric illnesses.


 

PSYCHIATRIC ILLNESSES MAY INVOLVE CHANGES IN ONLY TWO GENES

As most regular readers of Weekly Health Update know, I rarely discuss psychiatric research studies here, as most behavioral studies are based upon lower level research methodologies, and many of these studies also take inadequate safeguards, in my view, to eliminate inherent biases. However, every now and then, a psychiatric study comes along that catches my attention, and merits further discussion.

Currently, psychiatric diagnoses are based upon clinical symptoms that are organized into diagnostic groups contained in the “bible” of Psychiatry, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or “DSM.” Because specific psychiatric diagnoses are based almost entirely on the subjective observation of signs and symptoms of mental illness, rather than objective test results, there is enormous potential for misdiagnosis. Moreover, many psychiatric diagnoses are associated with overlapping clusters of symptoms, which further increases the likelihood of misdiagnosis (and inappropriate treatment).

A new research study, which appears in the current issue of the journal The Lancet, strongly suggests that several common mental health disorders long thought to be unrelated to each other may, in fact, share a common biological basis, at least in some patients. The striking findings of this novel genetic study may dramatically change the way that psychiatrists diagnose and manage patients with psychiatric illnesses.

In this landmark study, 33,332 patients with psychiatric illnesses and 27,888 healthy control subjects underwent sequencing of their entire complement of DNA (“genome”), looking for genetic variations known as single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). (These common variations in the individual “letters” of our genetic code are responsible for many of the differences that exist among us, including hair color, eye color, and other variations, or traits, that can be readily observed.) The researchers then used very complex genetic analysis tools to search for SNPs that appeared to be linked, specifically, to the diagnosis of 5 different psychiatric illnesses in this large population of research subjects.

The results of this landmark study go a long way towards explaining the inaccuracies and inconsistencies commonly associated with the clinical diagnosis of psychiatric illnesses based upon DSM diagnostic criteria. Another very important result of this study is that it provides a potential explanation for the actual genetic and biological basis for at least some cases of common psychiatric illnesses.

Based upon the enormous amount of genetic information collected in this study, SNPs at four specific genetic sites were found to be strongly associated with the following 5 common psychiatric illnesses: autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder (depression), and schizophrenia. What was especially fascinating was the finding that genetic variations at these four sites involved just two genes, both of which are associated with calcium channels that act like microscopic gates that allow calcium to move into or out of cells.

It is difficult to overstate the importance of this study’s findings. For perhaps the first time, there is now genetic and biological data linking the 5 most common major psychiatric illnesses to specific locations in just two genes, which argues against the current clinical view that each of these illnesses are completely unrelated to each other. Indeed, the finding that variations in only two genes may account for these 5 common psychiatric illnesses is hugely significant, as is the finding that these two genes, which are involved in the construction of calcium channels, may play a fundamental role in the development of these seemingly unrelated illnesses.

The findings of this pivotal study will, hopefully, help psychiatrists to move away from the current subjective, and often arbitrary, methods of clinically diagnosing and treating psychiatric illnesses, and move towards making diagnoses based upon objective gene-based (“molecular”) and biological findings. Moreover, reaching a clearer understanding of the biological mechanisms underlying these common psychiatric illnesses may also lead to innovative new treatment options for patients with mental health illnesses.

 

For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my bestselling book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Vroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

Within one week of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books. Within three months of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.com Top 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list.

 

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Dr. Wascher’s latest video:

Dark as Night, Part 1

Dark as Night, Part 1

Dark as Night, Part 1


At this time, more than 8 percent of Americans are unemployed.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, however, the unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty between September 2001 and December 2011 is now more than 12 percent.  A new website, Veterans in Healthcare, seeks to connect veterans with potential employers.  If you are a veteran who works in the healthcare field, or if you are an employer who is looking for physicians, advanced practice professionals, nurses, corpsmen/medics, or other healthcare professionals, then please take a look at Veterans in Healthcare. As a retired veteran of the U.S. Army, I would also like to personally urge you to hire a veteran whenever possible.


Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


 

I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people from around the world who visit this premier global health information website every month.  Over the past 12 months, more than 2.6 million pages of high-quality medical research findings were served to the worldwide audience of health-conscious readers.  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


 


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CT Scans and Cancer Risk in Children





 

A new clinical study suggests that performing CT scans during childhood may significantly increase the risk of leukemia and brain cancer.


 

 

CT SCANS AND CANCER RISK IN CHILDREN

As I discuss in my bestselling book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, exposure to medical x-rays, and particularly exposure to radiation from CT scans, is an under-appreciated cancer risk factor.  Based upon even conservative estimates, exposure to medical radiation is thought to cause at least 1 to 2 percent of all new cancer cases, and most of this medical x-ray exposure comes from CT scans.  Additionally, as I also discuss in my book, there is enormous variation in the amount of radiation exposure associated with CT scans between different hospitals, and even within individual hospitals.  Now, a newly published clinical study suggests that the risk of cancer in children due to medical x-rays may be of particular concern.  This new paper appears in the forthcoming issue of the journal The Lancet.

In this study from the United Kingdom, nearly 180,000 patients who underwent CT scans as children, between 1985 and 2002, were followed.  The incidence of cancer in this very large group of patients was then monitored.

In this study, CT scans that delivered a cumulative radiation dose of at least 30 milligray were associated with three times the subsequent risk of leukemia as was observed in patients who received radiation doses less than 5 milligray.  The incidence of brain cancer was also three times higher among patients who received a cumulative radiation dose of 50 milligray or more from CT scans, when compared to patients who received less than 5 milligray.  Now, it is important to mention that these increases in cancer risk were increases in relative risk.  Since both leukemia and brain cancer are rare diseases, the absolute increase in cancer risk was actually quite small (one excess case of leukemia and one excess case of brain cancer per 10,000 CT scans of the head).  However, the findings of this important study point out the need to reduce radiation doses associated with CT scans to as low a level as is possible, especially for CT scans performed on children.  Moreover, alternative imaging studies to CT scans, such as ultrasound and MRI scans, should be used whenever possible to further reduce the exposure of both pediatric patients and adult patients to medical x-rays.


For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my bestselling book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionVroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

Within one week of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books. Within three months of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list.




Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


 

Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


 

I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people from around the world who visit this premier global health information website every month.  (More than 1.3 million pages of high-quality medical research findings were served to the worldwide audience of health-conscious people who visited Weekly Health Update in 2011!)  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


 





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Cell Phone Use in Children and Teens and Brain Tumor Risk

Welcome to Weekly Health Update


New research suggests that the risk of brain tumors in children and teens associated with routine cell phone use is probably quite small.



 

CELL PHONE USE IN CHILDREN AND TEENS AND BRAIN TUMOR RISK

A possible link between cell phone use and brain tumor risk continues to cause concern among cancer experts.  However, because it would be unethical to intentionally expose human research subjects to prolonged periods of cell phone radiation exposure, it is not possible to perform a prospective, randomized, blinded study to completely resolve this important potential health issue.  Because of this human research limitation, we are left with retrospective research studies that have attempted to estimate potential health risks associated with cell phone exposure (based primarily upon self-reported cell phone use among patients with brain tumors and those without brain tumors).  Therefore, it is not surprising that there are conflicting research results on this topic, with some studies suggesting an increased risk of brain tumors associated with prolonged cell phone use and other studies finding no apparent increased risk of brain tumors with cell phone use.  (I discuss much of this available research in my book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race.)

Because cell phone use clearly exposes the head and brain to some level of microwave radiation (and particularly when cell phones are used without hands-free devices), there has been particular concern about the possibility of brain injury and brain tumor formation among children and adolescents who use cell phones, as not only are their skulls thinner than those of adults, but their rapidly growing brains are thought to be more sensitive to any insults that might increase the risk of brain injury or brain tumor formation.

A newly published clinical research study, which appears in the current issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, represents an important advance in our understanding of the impact of cell phone use on brain tumor risk in children and adolescents. This European study is a case-control study, which compared children and adolescents (ages 7 to 19 years) who were diagnosed with brain tumors with “control subjects” (i.e., healthy children of the same age, sex, and geographical region, and who did not have brain tumors). In this case-control study, interviews were conducted with 352 children and adolescents (and their parents) who had been diagnosed with brain tumors, as well as 646 children and adolescents (and their parents) without a history of brain tumors. A novel approach in this particular clinical research study was the use of mobile phone records, in an attempt to improve the accuracy of self-reported cell phone use by the research volunteers.

The results of this study failed to find any association between the amount of cell phone use and brain tumor risk. Furthermore, there was no apparent association between the location of tumors in the brain and the areas of the brain that are known to receive the highest levels of microwave radiation from cell phone handsets.

The findings of this case-control clinical research study offer some reassurance that routine cell phone use probably does not significantly increase the risk of brain tumors in children and adolescents. However, I would caution readers that other similar studies have suggested an increased risk of at least benign brain tumors among people who extensively use cell phones over long periods of time. Moreover, recent research has shown that metabolism significantly increases in the areas of the brain that are exposed to the greatest amount of radiation during cell phone use, thus proving that brain exposure to cell phone radiation does indeed alter brain function during cell phone use.

In the absence of high-level clinical research data from a prospective, randomized, double-blinded clinical research study, my wife and I limit cell phone use by our two younger children to no more than 5 minutes at a time, and this is my recommendation to readers and patients as well.



For a comprehensive guide to living an evidence-based cancer prevention lifestyle, order your copy of my new book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race.  For the price of a cheeseburger, fries, and a shake, you can purchase this landmark new book, in both paperback and e-book formats, and begin living an evidence-based cancer prevention lifestyle today!

For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my new book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million,Vroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

On Thanksgiving Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books! On Christmas Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list!


Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity



Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author



For a different perspective on Dr. Wascher, please click on the following YouTube link:

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I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people, from around the world, who visit this premier global health information website every month. (More than 1.2 million health-conscious people visited Weekly Health Update in 2010!) As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.





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Coffee, Tea, Caffeine and Brain Cancer Risk

 

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“A critical weekly review of important new research findings for health-conscious readers”



 

COFFEE, TEA, CAFFEINE AND BRAIN CANCER RISK

 

Coffee and tea are widely enjoyed around the world, and both have been the subject of numerous health claims (most of them unproven).  Tea, and green tea in particular, has been the focus of extensive research, with many prior studies suggesting that tea may improve cardiovascular health and, to a much lesser extent, may decrease the risk of some cancers.  Much of the published research regarding coffee has, on the other hand, been focused on trying to disprove purported links between coffee consumption and a potential increase in the risk of some cancers.  (Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of such research has not identified a strong link between moderate coffee consumption and an increased risk of cancer.)

 

The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study is a huge ongoing prospective multinational public health study, and several of this enormous study’s preliminary results have already been published.  The EPIC study is focused on potential links between diet, nutritional status, lifestyle, and environmental factors and the incidence of cancer (among other chronic diseases). (EPIC is one of the largest studies of diet and health ever undertaken, and has already recruited 520,000 research volunteers in Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.)  Now, a new update from this historic public health study suggests that increased coffee and tea consumption may be associated with a decreased incidence of malignant brain tumors.  This new update from the EPIC study appears in the current issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

 

Following an average duration of follow-up of nearly 9 years, 588 new cases of brain tumors were diagnosed among the EPIC research volunteers.  Gliomas, the most common and most aggressive type of brain tumors that occur in adults, were found to be 34 percent less common among people who drank at least 100 milliliters (3.4 ounces) of coffee or tea per day.  (Although not statistically significant, this association was also noted to be stronger in men, with a 41 percent lower risk of gliomas in men, as compared to a 26 percent reduction in glioma incidence in women.)

 

Although it is not clear what causes gliomas of the brain, prior public health studies have at least suggested a link between glioma brain tumors and chronic occupational exposure to high-intensity electrical and magnetic fields, and to rubber and plastics manufacturing.  (As I discuss in A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, there is also some data linking prolonged cell phone use with an increased incidence of gliomas and other brain tumors.) 

 

Other smaller public health studies have also identified an apparent link between increased caffeine intake and a decreased incidence of gliomas, and there is laboratory evidence available suggesting that caffeine may reduce the growth of malignant glioma cells growing in culture dishes.  Thus, these new findings from the giant EPIC study further suggest the possibility that coffee, tea, and other caffeinated beverages might be able to reduce the risk of gliomas of the brain.

 

 

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GIVE THE GIFT OF HEALTH THIS HOLIDAY SEASON.  For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my new book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Vroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!



 

Disclaimer: As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


 

Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, a professor of surgery, a cancer researcher, an oncology consultant, and a widely published author


 

For a different perspective on Dr. Wascher, please click on the following YouTube link: 

Texas Blues Jam


 

I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people, from around the world, who visit this premier global health information website every month.  (As of 9/16/2010, more than 1,000,000 health-conscious people have logged onto Weekly Health Update so far this year!)  As always, I enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


 

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