US Pharm. 2007;32(5):91.

Female Stem Cells Work Better
It appears that women have the upper hand when it comes to stem cells. According to a study conducted at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh and published in the Journal of Cell Biology, female stem cells derived from muscle are better able to regenerate skeletal muscle tissue than male cells.

According to the study's senior author, Johnny Huard, PhD, director of the Stem Cell Research Center at the hospital, the study is considered to be the first ever to report a difference in regenerative capabilities of muscle stem cells based on sex. He said it could have a major impact on the successful development of stem cells as viable therapies for a variety of diseases and conditions.

"Regardless of the sex of the host, the implantation of female stem cells led to significantly better skeletal muscle regeneration," said Dr. Huard. "Based on these results, future studies investigating regenerative medicine should consider the sex of the stem cells to be an important factor." Dr. Huard says that further investigations could lead to a better understanding of sex-related differences in aging and disease.

West Virginia Ranks Worst in Heart Disease
It may be a relatively small state, but West Virginia has a big problem when it comes to heart disease. According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, every 10th adult in West Virginia has had a heart attack or suffers from coronary artery disease, edging out Kentucky by 1.6% as the state with the highest prevalence of myocardial infarction (MI) and angina/coronary heart disease (Puerto Rico had the highest rate of angina/coronary heart disease). According to the study, many of the states with the highest prevalence were clustered in the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys. Colorado and Hawaii were the two heart-healthiest states (the U.S. Virgin Islands had the lowest rate of MI).

Some other interesting statistics from the study include: Men had a significantly higher prevalence of MI than women; high school dropouts were twice as likely to report one or more heart conditions than college graduates; and the prevalence of all conditions was similar among African Americans and Caucasians but significantly higher for American Indian/Alaskan Native persons and those who identified themselves as multiracial.

You Are What Your Mother Eats
Researchers of a study published in The Lancet claim that higher maternal fish consumption during pregnancy benefits a child's neurologic development. In fact, the investigators said that the risk from the loss of omega-3 fatty acids by not eating enough fish exceeds the risk from trace amounts of mercury in seafood.

This fact has created a dilemma for many pregnant women since they were warned by the FDA to limit their intake of seafood, the main food source of omega-3 fatty acids, to avoid trace amounts of neurotoxins, especially methylmercury.

Poor outcomes associated with insufficient intake of omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy could result in intrauterine growth retardation, delayed or suboptimum depth perception, adverse neurodevelopmental measures, residual deficits in fine motor skills, speed of information processing in infants, and irreversible deficits in serotonin and dopamine release, according to Joseph Hibbeln, MD, of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and colleagues.

ER Visits Caused by Drug Misuse Rise
According to the latest estimate from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, emergency room visits related to the non-medical use of pharmaceuticals, including prescription and over the counter drugs increased 21% from 2004 to 2005. Three categories of drugs were most frequently implicated in nonmedical use: antianxiety drugs (benzodiazepines, up 19%), prescription pain relievers (up 24%), and methadone (up 29%).

Tall Children Have Lower Cholesterol as Adults
A study published in recent issue of the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health describes a link between taller toddlers and teens and lower cholesterol as adults. According to the data, every standard deviation greater height at age two years was associated with .119 mmol/L lower total cholesterol level at 53 years. And each standard deviation greater height velocity in the teenage years was linked to .073 mmol/L lower total cholesterol in adulthood. However, the researchers point out that rapid increase in body mass index (BMI) had the opposite effect. Greater BMI increases from ages 15 to 36 and from 36 to 53 were associated with higher total and LDL cholesterol levels and lower HDL levels.

Heart Disease in Women May Be Linked to Variant Gene
Researchers at Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute report that early signs of coronary atherosclerosis in women appear to be associated with a gene variant also linked to asthma.

According Edward Lammer, MD, and colleagues, women with the variant gene have a significantly greater risk of having elevated levels of coronary artery calcium than women with normal copies of the gene. The affected women also showed a significant increase in the thickness of the carotid arteries. The research was published in a recent issue of Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology.

David Iovannisci, PhD, lead study author, said the research is significant be­ cause it "is one of the first studies to track the development of heart disease in young people and not the aftermath of the disease in older populations. Our research provides critical clues to help us identify people who are susceptible to heart disease long before the disease presents itself and when treatments may be most effective."

Passive Smoking Linked to Increased TB Risk
Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health report that passive smoking and exposure to indoor pollution from burning organic substances is linked to a higher risk of tuberculosis (TB). When a systematic review of published data was done, the investigators found 38 studies between 1950 and 2006 that included enough data for them to calculate a number for the increase in TB risk associated with smoke, passive smoking, or pollution from the burning of fuels such as wood and charcoal.

"The evidence suggests that, when compared to nonsmokers, smokers have about double the risk of tuberculosis," said Megan Murray, MD, DPH, of the Harvard School of Public Health.

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