August 9 - 13, 2010

First Signs of Puberty Seen in Younger Girls
The New York Times
A new study finds that girls are more likely today than in the past to start developing breasts by age 7 or 8. ...If there is an ideal age when girls should reach puberty, no one knows what it is, said Dr. Marcia E. Herman-Giddens, a researcher at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. A girl needs a certain amount of body fat to start menstruating, and girls who are malnourished or ill may have delayed puberty.
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Puberty Comes Earlier For Today's Girls (Blog)
National Public Radio
The rates of early puberty for girls have doubled in a little more than a decade, a new study of girls between 6 and 8 years old finds. ...Dr. Marcia E. Herman-Giddens, a researcher at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, told  the New York Times that if there is an ideal age when girls should reach puberty, no one knows what it is. And that's been the case all the while that the age of puberty has been declining. Thirteen years ago, Herman-Giddens remarked that no adequate studies on norms for the age of puberty had been done. A study she led at the time found that by age 8, 48 percent of black girls and 15 percent of white girls showed signs of puberty.

Molecular bandit keeps pain at bay in UNC research
The Chapel Hill Herald
A study published Wednesday in the Journal of Neuroscience introduces an enzyme that could pack a big punch in the battle against chronic pain. Its name is prostatic acid phosphatase or PAP for short. According to researchers at UNC, PAP blocks pain in animal models by siphoning off a molecule called PIP2 -- a critical component of the chemical cascade behind chronic pain.

Healthy diet, exercise habits key for students
The Herald-Sun (Durham)
For college students, the campus dining hall offers a tantalizing feast: Ice-cream sundaes every night, 30 varieties of cereal and a limitless supply of french fries. "It's like a smorgasbord on a cruise ship," said Cynthia Bulik, director of the Eating Disorders Program at the UNC School of Medicine. ...But Bulik said recent research suggests that the average student gains only five pounds in the first year of college. And a 2008 study published in the journal Health Psychology found that the male students who gain weight generally do so because of an increase in muscle mass.

Most U.S. parents spank preschoolers
United Press International
Despite studies that show spanking can increase aggression in children and lower IQ points, 79 percent of U.S. preschool children are spanked, researchers said. In addition, Dr. Desmond Runyan of the University of North Carolina Injury Prevention Research Center and colleagues found corporal punishment of children remains common worldwide, despite bans adopted in 24 countries since 1979.

24 countries have banned all spanking
United Press International
Twenty-four countries -- only 12 percent of the world's nations -- have banned all corporal punishment, U.S. researchers found. Dr. Adam J. Zolotor, assistant professor of family medicine in the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill, and colleagues conducted a systematic review of the laws and changes in attitudes and behaviors in countries that have adopted bans on corporal punishment since the passage of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1979.

DNA Test May Speed Colon Cancer Diagnosis
The New York Times
A new generation of DNA tests for colon cancer seems likely to improve the detection both of cancers and of the precancerous polyps that precede them. The tests, if validated, could reduce the burden of disease substantially by detecting tumors at an early stage, including those not picked up by a colonoscopy. ...By 2004 it was clear that looking for the Vogelstein mutations was “neat biology but not a home run,” said Dr. David Ransohoff, an expert on colon cancer screening at the University of North Carolina.

Spanking Study
North Carolina News Network
Despite attempts across the world to scale back corporal punishment, a new study suggests a high number of pre-school kids across the world are still spanked. UNC social medicine professor Dr. Desmond Runyan led the study that looked at spanking rates in the U.S. and five other nations. Runyon says the findings conclude  the rate of spanking is higher than most published rates would indicate.

Corporal punishment remains common
The Herald-Sun (Durham)
Spanking has declined in the U.S. since 1975 but nearly 80 percent of preschool children are still disciplined in this fashion. In addition, corporal punishment of children remains common worldwide, despite bans on corporal punishment that have been adopted in 24 countries since 1979. These are some of the more thought-provoking findings reported in three separate, recently published studies of corporal punishment led by researchers at the University of North Carolina Injury Prevention Research Center.

Some heart patients aren't getting the right care
Reuters (Wire Services)
Some patients with congestive heart failure  are not receiving recommended medicines that could keep them alive longer and out of the hospital, a trend that may be adding to the nation's health costs, U.S. researchers say. ...Dr. Sid Smith, a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and former president of the American Heart Association, said the findings do not reflect his group's experience. "Everything that we can see in the heart failure quality improvement efforts using the AHA or ACC (American College of Cardiology) heart failure guidelines suggests that there is an increase in the use of these therapies," Smith said.

Backache, neck ache - symptoms of 'laptop-itis'
The Times of India
Are you suffering from backache, sore arms and neck? It could be the result of long hours you spend in front of your laptop, say experts. Because of the way the computers are designed, using a laptop almost inevitably leads to poor posture, said Kevin Carneiro from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine.

A Caution on Antacids for Older Patients (Blog)
The New York Times
They’re among the most widely prescribed medications in the world. They’re reasonably safe for most people to take. That’s why drugs that reduce stomach acid — used to combat heartburn, acid reflux and ulcers — don’t get much scrutiny from doctors, or from patients. ...“They can be used indiscriminately for any ache between someone’s chin and knees,” said Dr. Nicholas Shaheen, a specialist in esophageal diseases at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

UNC Study: Corporal Punishment Ineffective
Several new studies from UNC Chapel Hill examine trends in child abuse and maltreatment. Adam Zolotor from the School of Medicine says he found thirty years after the UN ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, only two countries have not signed on - the U.S. and Somalia. Zolotor also looked at what's happened in countries where corporal punishment has been banned. He found that rates of child abuse drop. Zolotor argues that corporal punishment isn't that effective... and has been associated with poor behavioral outcomes later in life.

UNC scientist receives $223K grant to study chemo
The Chapel Hill Herald
UNC scientists have received a one-year $223,000 grant from the Breast Cancer Research Foundation to study the effect of chemotherapy on aging in older women with breast cancer. Hyman Muss, professor of medicine and director of the UNC Geriatric Oncology Program, is principal investigator, and Ned Sharpless, associate professor of medicine and UNC Lineberger associate director for translational research, is co-principal investigator.

Company goes missing, Biotech Center wants its money
The Triangle Business Journal
When the North Carolina Biotechnology Center awarded drug discovery and development company Thrombotargets a loan to further its research on ways to stop bleeding, the company was riding high on promising news from regulators and touting its lead candidate as a potential blockbuster. ...Dr. Cam Patterson, chief of the Division of Cardiology and director of the Carolina Cardiovascular Biology Center at UNC, was named to Thrombotargets’ scientific advisory board in 2007. Patterson also has no information on the company. “I severed my ties with the company a long time ago,” Patterson says. “I’m not sure if they still exist.”

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