Posted on Mon, Feb. 07, 2005
ASKDR.GOTT/ Peter Gott, M.D.
By Peter H. Gott, M.D.
Dear Dr. Gott: In a past article, you stated that a reader's arm infection may have been caused by a cortisone injection that could have been improperly administered.
What happened to the time when doctors used sterile equipment and other appropriate procedures?
Dear Reader: Nothing happened. We still exercise caution. In fact, the general use of disposable needles and syringes has enormously reduced the risk of bacterial contamination.
In my response, I was concerned that the cortisone itself -- which blocks inflammation and normal immune responses -- may have been the culprit. Without cortisone, minor contaminants (that can occur with injections) are easily deactivated by the body's healing properties.
NIH Asks for Internet Access to Studies
Thu Feb 3, 5:05 PM ET Technology - Reuters Internet Report
By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. National Institutes of Health, which spent nearly $20 billion last year funding research, urged scientists on Thursday to let the agency publish their studies on the Internet.
Researchers receiving NIH grants should send their manuscripts to a free, Web-based archive managed by the National Library of Medicine as soon as they can, after first submitting them to medical or scientific journals, NIH director Dr. Elias Zerhouni said.
"With the rapid growth in the public's use of the Internet, NIH must take a leadership role in making available to the public the research that we support," Zerhouni said.
"Scientists have a right to see the results of their work disseminated as quickly and broadly as possible, and NIH is committed to helping our scientists exercise this right."
The policy is a challenge to scientific journals that usually publish such research.
Journals such as Science, Nature and The New England Journal of Medicine sometimes charge thousands of dollars for annual subscriptions but in return subject the studies they publish to an often lengthy process of review and critique.
The NIH, which spent $19.3 billion in 2004 to pay for work done by 212,000 researchers around the world, said taxpayers have a right to see the research they have paid for.
Scientists can ask for a delay of up to one year to protect the profitability of journals, Zerhouni said.
"My goal is to change the landscape of scientific publishing, which is paid for by the public," he told reporters in a telephone briefing.
The NIH estimates that the results of research it supported were described in more than 60,000 published papers in 2003.
The database will be available on the PubMed Central Web site at http://www.pubmedcentral.gov/.
Zerhouni said for-profit journals should not be hurt by the policy because only a fraction of the studies they feature are done by NIH-funded researchers.
But there is a move to challenge the big journals. The San Francisco-based Public Library of Science, or PLoS, for example, publishes two free online journals and was backed by former National Institutes of Health director Dr. Harold Varmus.
Disease advocates have complained especially loudly, saying they cannot find information they need without paying fees for an online peek at a study.
Sleep Hormone May Affect Sex Organs, Study Finds
Mon Feb 7, 5:01 PM ET Health - Reuters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Melatonin, a hormone available in over-the-counter supplements and popped freely by many frequent air travelers, may affect the sex glands, U.S. and Japanese researchers reported on Monday.
Tests on Japanese quail showed the hormone regulates a sexual pathway believed to be involved in seasonal breeding patterns.
It is likely to affect human gonads as well, the researchers said.
"It really amazes me that melatonin is available in any pharmacy," said biologist George Bentley of the University of Washington and the University of California, Berkeley.
"It is a powerful hormone, and yet people don't realize that it's as 'powerful' as any steroid. I'm sure that many people who take it wouldn't take steroids so glibly," added Bentley, who worked on the study.
"It could have a multitude of effects on the underlying physiology of an organism, but we know so little about how it interacts with other hormone systems."
Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (news - web sites), Bentley and colleagues at Hiroshima University in Japan said they were studying melatonin's effects on a brain hormone called gonadotropin-inhibitory hormone or GnIH.
They removed all melatonin-producing organs from the birds -- the eyes and the pineal glands -- and found GnIH levels fell. When they gave the birds melatonin, levels of GnIH went back up.
This is important because GnIH has been found to have the opposite effect to the key hormone that primes the body for sex -- gonadotropin releasing hormone or GnRH. In birds, switching off GnRH causes the gonads -- the testes and ovary -- to shrink as part of the birds' yearly cycle.
In humans, GnRH brings on puberty.
Melatonin regulates the sleep-wake cycle in many animals, including humans. It is produced at night by the pineal gland at the base of the brain, bringing on drowsiness.
Light causes levels to drop, and melatonin pills are often used by travelers to help them sleep through jet lag and by shift workers who have trouble sleeping.
Bentley said the team has found a gene for a hormone like GnIH in hamsters, and he found evidence of a GnIH gene in the map of the human genome.
Such a hormone would be important for many species, he said.
"Reproduction is energetically costly. It takes its toll," Bentley said in a telephone interview.
"So that is why a lot of animals breed seasonally. They can only afford to do it at certain times of year."
Cops Accused of Using Steroids to Bulk Up
By SEAN MURPHY
.c The Associated Press
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - As a brand-new police officer, Chris Holden wanted to do everything he could to protect himself, especially after he heard about a highway patrolman who was shot to death in a struggle over his gun.
So he began bulking up with steroids.
Now Holden, 31, is out of work, one of four members of the Norman Police Department who were fired last fall after being accused of using or selling bodybuilding steroids.
Police officers in Mississippi, Ohio, Connecticut, Hawaii, Colorado, Alabama, Florida, Arkansas and New York have also been accused of steroid-related offenses in recent years. In many cases, they were charged with using, possessing or dealing steroids.
Steroids are attractive to some officers who know that an intimidating physique can ward off conflict or give them the upper hand in a life-or-death struggle.
"The thinking is that big is better than small, tough is better than weak," said Gene Sanders, a former police officer who has worked for nearly 15 years as a police psychologist for several agencies in California. "There is sort of an underground, unspoken tradition among several departments that I've worked with that if you really want to bulk up, this is the best way to do it."
But steroids can also lead to heart disease, liver damage and shrunken testicles, as well as uncontrolled aggression, or "roid rage," which can be especially dangerous in a law officer.
"These substances can cause depression and despondency, and here is a person who has a weapon," said Dr. Linn Goldberg, head of Oregon Health & Science University's Division of Health Promotion and Sports Medicine.
A former Riverdale, Ga., police officer who received a life sentence in 1995 for the slaying of a bar owner, and an Oregon jail guard who received a 20-year sentence in 1986 for kidnapping, shooting and paralyzing a woman both claimed steroid use contributed to their behavior.
Holden was an officer on the streets of Norman for barely two weeks when Oklahoma Highway Patrolman Nikky Green was shot to death on a rural road in 2003. Investigators say the killer wrestled Green's gun away from him and shot him with it.
"If I was making a traffic stop, on a disturbance call or a motorist assist, no matter what call I was going to, I thought about the trooper that was killed," Holden wrote in a letter published in The Norman Transcript in November.
"I wanted to physically prepare myself as much as I could and have the confidence to do my job," he said. "I took anabolic steroids so that I would be stronger. If I got into a fight, I felt I stood a better chance of surviving. I wanted to go home when my shift was over."
Holden, three fellow members of the Norman police force and an Oklahoma highway patrolman got in trouble last fall after a Drug Enforcement Administration investigation found that a Norman bodybuilder was allegedly supplying steroids to cops.
One of the Norman officers and the patrolman were arrested; the patrolman is on leave, awaiting disciplinary action. Holden was never charged with a crime.
On the Net:
Oregon Health & Science University's Athletes Training & Learning to Avoid Steroids: http://www.ohsu.edu/hpsm/steroids.html
02/04/05 21:06 EST
Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. All active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
Report: School Steroid Use Silent, Rampant
.c The Associated Press
DALLAS (AP) - Texas high school students yearning for athletic fame or a chiseled physique are easily obtaining and using steroids as many coaches look the other way and parents seem unaware, a Dallas Morning News investigation has found.
The same students popping pills and sticking themselves with needles of muscle-building drugs were also found to be abusing other drugs - such as Viagra, the fertility drug Clomid and sedatives - to compensate for steroid side effects.
Those side effects include liver damage, tumors, sexual impotency, erratic mood swings and potentially suicidal depression.
"Steroids have made a massive comeback" in high schools over the past decade, Mike Long, a veteran Texas high school football coach, said in Sunday's editions of The News. Long abused steroids as a young athlete and now counsels teenagers about their dangers.
Grapevine-Colleyville officials made headlines last week with a rare admission that nine athletes had confessed to using steroids last spring.
Despite more than a decade of research on high school steroid use, coaches and school administrators have largely ignored the issue. Most area coaches interviewed by the newspaper said they don't believe steroid use is a problem.
"I'm telling you, I've never seen steroid use and I've never suspected it," said Mike Hughes, head football coach at Plano West Senior High School, where five former students interviewed by The News described widespread use. "I'm more concerned about other things - alcohol, marijuana and those things."
Coaches rarely confront players or alert their parents, even when they suspect steroid use. Some cite a lack of screening programs and fear of a lawsuit from angry parents. They also think twice about accusing a key player because of the extraordinary pressure to win.
The News interviewed more than 100 current and former high school students, coaches and parents in North Texas high schools. More than 25 of them described their personal encounters with illegal steroid use.
Among other findings from the four-month investigation:
Teens often obtain steroids from dealers who are friends, classmates and sometimes varsity athletes.
Federal and local law enforcement agencies devote little time to curbing steroid use because of tight resources and what they deem more urgent priorities, such as illicit drugs and alcohol.
Teens and adults use the Internet to exchange information about buying and using steroids and tips on managing side effects.
Many teenage steroid users are non-athletes. So-called "vanity" users take steroids to impress classmates and potential girlfriends.
A Texas A&M University survey on substance abuse two years ago found that nearly 42,000 Texas students in grades seven through 12 - about 2.3 percent - had taken steroids. Researchers say the number is almost certainly too low.
Steroid use, though common, is still shrouded in secrecy. Coaches seldom out students. Few students get caught. And few high schools fund steroid screening, which is expensive at $100-$175 per test.
"In my 58 years, other than pedophilia, I've never witnessed a behavior as secretive as this," said Charles Yesalis of Penn State University, a pioneering researcher and writer on youth steroid use. "People will tell you they smoked pot, they did coke, they did speed, they did crank, they smacked their wife, they smacked their girlfriend long before they tell you they used anabolic steroids. The higher you go up the athletic food chain, the more pronounced this becomes."
Despite their dangerous health effects, school and law enforcement officials say steroids are a much less serious problem than illicit drugs and alcohol.
"Cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines are what we see a lot of," said Plano Police Chief Gregory Rushin. "That's what's killing our kids. We just don't see that many steroids cases."
High school steroid users make similar distinctions. In Colleyville, a high school user told The News that steroids shouldn't be viewed "as a bad-kid drug."
"Remember, kids are not breaking into people's houses to get their steroids," Yesalis said. "They're not walking around with dilated pupils looking like a parent's worst nightmare. A lot of kids doing this are captain of the high school football team."
02/06/05 15:27 EST
The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism Vol. 90, No. 2 611-614
Copyright © 2005 by The Endocrine Society
Growth Hormone Releasing Peptide-2 (GHRP-2), Like Ghrelin, Increases Food Intake in Healthy Men
Blandine Laferrčre, Cynthia Abraham, Colleen D. Russell and Cyril Y. Bowers
Obesity Research Center (B.L., C.A., C.D.R.), St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital Center and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, 1090 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, New York 10025; and Tulane University Health Sciences Center (C.Y.B.), New Orleans, Louisiana 70112
Address all correspondence and requests for reprints to: Colleen Russell, St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital Center, 1111 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, New York 10025. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
GHRP-2 is a synthetic agonist of ghrelin, the newly-discovered gut peptide which binds to the growth hormone (GH) secretagogue receptor. Ghrelin has two major effects, stimulating both GH secretion and appetite/meal initiation. GHRP-2 has been extensively studied for its utility as a growth hormone secretagogue (GHS). Animal studies have shown its effect on food intake. However, whether GHRP-2 can also stimulate appetite in humans when administered acutely is not known. We subcutaneously infused 7 lean, healthy males with GHRP-2 (1 µg/kg/h) or saline for 270 minutes and then measured their intake of an ad libitum, buffet-style meal. Similar to what has been reported for ghrelin administration, our subjects ate 35.9 ± 10.9% more when infused with GHRP-2 vs. saline, with every subject increasing their intake even when calculated per kg body weight (136.0 ± 13.0 kJ/kg [32.5 ± 3.1 kcal/kg] vs. 101.3 ± 10.5 kJ/kg [24.2 ± 2.5 kcal/kg], p = 0.008). The macronutrient composition of consumed food was not different between conditions. As expected, serum GH levels rose significantly during GHRP-2 infusion (AUC 5550 ± 1090 µg/L/240 min vs. 412 ± 161 µg/L/240 min, p = 0.003). These data are the first to demonstrate that GHRP-2, like ghrelin, increases food intake, suggesting that GHRP-2 is a valuable tool for investigating ghrelin effects on eating behavior in humans.
For the full text: http://jcem.endojournals.org/cgi/content/full/90/2/611
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