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Virtual Colonoscopy Allows Women To Be Screened Years Later Than Men

The Huffington Post  |  By  Posted: 
Tired of having to guzzle down that awful-tasting laxative preparation designed to get your colon squeaky clean prior to a colonoscopy? If so, here's some good news.
A new study has found that women can be screened for colorectal cancer at least five to 10 years later than men when undergoing an initial "virtual colonoscopy."
Published this week in Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the findings may help pave the way for the creation of guidelines as to how to use this screening technique, which is much less invasive than a traditionalcolonoscopy.
Detecting precancerous polyps through the use of imaging techniques such as a traditional colonoscopy may prevent colorectal cancer. But there are those who find the procedure too invasive. Others are simply not healthy enough to undergo it. A possible alternative is the virtual colonoscopy, which uses computerized tomography to create an animated, three-dimensional view of the inside of the large intestine.
However, no study has ever considered the age at which virtual colonoscopies should first be performed. To investigate, Dr. Cesare Hassan of the Nuovo Regina Margherita Hospital in Rome, Italy, and his colleagues studied 7,620 patients who were referred for a first-time screening using a virtual colonoscopy from 2004 to 2011. A total of 276 patients (3.6 percent) were ultimately diagnosed with advanced cancer. Age and gender were linked with advanced disease, while body mass index and a family history of cancer were not.
"We showed that the possibility for average-risk individuals to have clinically meaningful polyps detected by virtual colonoscopy is strictly associated with two main variables, namely age and sex," said Hassan in a press release. The researchers determined that 51 women under 55 years of age would need to be screened to detect one case of advanced neoplasia, compared with only 10 men older than 65 years.



In Autism, the Importance of the Gut

Michael, an autistic boy living in New York City, started scratching and picking at his face when he was about seven years old. Before long, he was gnawing on the side of his thumb. Along the bottom of his stomach, he tore cuts so deep that they scarred.

Over the next five years, a series of psychiatrists prescribed psychotropic medications to correct the self-mutilation. But nothing seemed to help. By age 12, he'd been taken out of school because he was a constant disruption. Though his parents wanted him to live at home, they decided he could be better cared for in a residential facility.

"These kids just live in a very fine balance. And when anything is off, they regress."
As they prepared to move Michael to the group home, his family was referred to Dr. Kara Margolis. Margolis, 36, is a pediatric gastroenterologist at New York Presbyterian Hospital and a researcher at Columbia University Medical Center. She speaks with contagious enthusiasm and the slightest hint of a Brooklyn accent. By the time she met Michael, bloody scabs dotted his face, from the tender skin below his eyes to the tips of his ears. He'd chewed his thumb down nearly to the bone. There was blood everywhere, Margolis recalls as she describes their first visit. He screamed and paced the room throughout the brief exam.

Until recently, psychiatrists have mainly been handling these kinds of behavioral changes. "A lot of these kids, before they see me, have been trialed on many different psychotropic drugs to try to relax them, to calm them down," Margolis explained on a Wednesday morning in April, as she sat at her cluttered desk in the gastroenterology research lab at Columbia. "Sometimes they work and sometimes they don't."

Dr. Kent Williams, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, agrees that many doctors are reluctant to consider other possibilities. "My heart goes out to the parents, because this is a daily struggle," he said. "Some physicians don't know what to do, so they give up."



Paleo Diet Echoes Physical Culture Movement Of Yesteryear

The paleo diet is sometimes ridiculed as a fad that relies on an overly rosy view of our primitive past.

But it turns out that popular health movements that advocate going back to a more natural way of living are nothing new.
Consider this quote: "It is reasonably certain that man was originally made to live and exercise in the open air, bathe in rivers, and expose his body to the healthful action of the sun."
And this one:
"Civilized man is manufacturing and eating many substances that slowly but surely lead to degeneration, disease and premature death."
These nuggets could easily come from a paleo lifestyle blog, the kind that argues our modern diet and way of life are making us sick.
Except that the first one is from an 1894 book called Athletics for Physical Culture. And the second is from a 1926 book called Natural Foods: The Safe Way to Health.
Both were written by proponents of physical culture, a fringy movement of health enthusiasts, which lasted from the 1880s to 1920s in the U.S. and Europe.
As Hamilton Stapell, a historian at the State University of New York, New Paltz, found when he went digging into the archives of physical culture, there are striking resemblances to the paleo movement today. And, he argues, this shows that people seem to romanticize a healthier past in the midst of great societal upheaval: the Industrial Revolution, in the case of physical culture; and the digital revolution, in the case of paleo.
"The problem, according to physical culture and paleo, is modern civilization," Stapell tells Shots. "With so much change, people reject overconsumption of food, alcohol and mainstream medicine, and look for ways to get back to nature. Both movements have a clear sense of going back to the past to fix the present, and a willingness to throw out what's normal and acceptable to try an alternative."
The paleo movement, also known in scholarly circles as the "ancestral lifestyle," looks at modern health from an evolutionary perspective, and finds inspiration for what to eat and how to exercise from the past — the distant, preagricultural past, in some cases. Followers adhere to a simple diet of meat, fruit and vegetables, and exercise in ways that mimic the movements of our ancestors — like lifting heavy objects.
In another editorial cartoon from the September 1905 issue of Physical Culture, the ideal specimens of humanity judge the weak.
Physical Culture
Rewind to the 1880s in England when Eugen Sandow, a Russian-German, was pioneering the sport of bodybuilding. Over the years, Sandow fine-tuned his ideas about "natural" dietary habits and weight training, sowing the seeds of the physical culture movement. Rather than the preagricultural era, he drew inspiration from the Greeks and their ideas of the perfect physical form — he even modeled his own body after Greek sculpture. He would eventually open the first of many Institutes of Physical Culture to teach diet and exercise to the masses.
As Stapell notes, weightlifting was at first seen as a peculiar activity 100 years ago in the same way that CrossFit and Vibram FiveFinger shoes — staples of the paleo community — seemed extreme when they first appeared a few years ago.



Do Intestinal Problems Cause a Vitamin B-12 Deficiency?

By Stephen Christensen

Vitamin B-12, or cobalamin, is a member of the B-complex family. Even though it is water soluble -- excess intake is easily eliminated in your urine -- your liver stores enough vitamin B-12 to last for up to six years, according to "The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy." Vitamin B-12 is the only vitamin that contains an essential mineral -- cobalt -- and it possesses the most complex molecular structure of all vitamins. Absorption of food-based vitamin B-12 involves a coordinated series of intestinal events.


Vitamin B-12 must first be liberated from foods through the actions of gastric acid, which is secreted by parietal cells in your stomach lining. Once freed, B-12 is quickly bound by R proteins -- another product of the cells lining your stomach -- which transport vitamin B-12 into your small intestine. Pancreatic enzymes in the upper part of your small intestine cleave R proteins from vitamin B-12, which is immediately recaptured by intrinsic factor, yet another protein secreted by your gastric parietal cells. The intrinsic factor-B12 complex, or IF-B12, is eventually absorbed when it binds to special receptors in the lower end of your small intestine.


A number of intestinal problems can interrupt vitamin B-12 processing and prevent its absorption into your bloodstream. If your stomach stops producing acid or intrinsic factor -- common occurrences in older people, in people taking certain ulcer medications and in a condition called pernicious anemia -- vitamin B-12 is not efficiently liberated from your foods or absorbed through your lower intestine. Other conditions, such as Crohn's disease and celiac disease, interfere with the uptake of IF-B12. The January 2011 issue of "The New England Journal of Medicine" describes genetic disorders that alter the IF-B12 receptors in your intestinal wall and prevent B-12 absorption.