New Scientific Discoveries Among Highlights Of The 121st Annual Meeting Of The American Physiological Society (APS)
SAN DIEGO, CA— Physiology is about how the components of life – molecules, cells, tissues and organs – work (or don’t work) to cause health or disease. The members of the American Physiological Society (APS; www.the-aps.org/press) have specialized in this area of scientific discovery since the APS was founded in 1887. Having once used gas light to conduct their research and the telegraph to transmit their findings, today’s physiologists work in state-of-the-art labs and use the Internet and wikis to discuss new developments.
This year marks the 121st annual gathering where members discuss their work. Some 11,000 researchers, exhibitors, and other scientists will attend the conference, which is part of the Experimental Biology meeting being held at the San Diego Convention Center from April 5-9, 2008.
Highlights of New Research
Conference highlights from this year’s meeting including the following new studies:
INGREDIENT FOUND IN GREEN TEA SIGNIFICANTLY INHIBITS BREAST CANCER GROWTH IN FEMALE MICE – Green tea is high in the antioxidant EGCG (epigallocatechin-3- gallate) which helps prevent the body’s cells from becoming damaged and prematurely aged. Studies have suggested that the combination of green tea and EGCG may also be beneficial by providing protection against certain types of cancers, including breast cancer. A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Mississippi finds that consuming EGCG significantly inhibits breast tumor growth in female mice. These results bring us one step closer to better understanding the disease and potentially new and naturally occurring therapies.
EXERCISE DURING PREGNANCY LEADS TO A HEALTHIER HEART IN MOMS- AND BABIES-TO-BE – Studies have shown that exercise has a positive effect on mothers-to-be, and no detrimental impact on their developing offspring. A new study finds that not only do women benefit from exercise in pregnancy, their fetuses do too.
ENDOMETRIOSIS WORSENED BY UNCONTROLLABLE STRESS – Endometriosis is a poorly understood condition that incapacitates and affects the productivity and lifestyle of millions of women around the world. In the US, it affects approximately six million women and adolescents at a cost of some $1.6 billion per year. A new study investigating the relationship between stress and the painful symptoms of the disease is currently underway. It offers, for the first time, evidence of the negative consequences of stress in the progression of endometriosis, most likely through an effect on the immune system.
WHERE COLLEGE STUDENTS LIVE CAN IMPACT THEIR WEIGHT, EATING AND EXERCISE HABITS - The first year of college is often associated with the “freshman 15,” a reference to the 15 pounds that female college freshman are alleged to gain during the first year of higher education. The causes of the freshman 15 range from stress-related over-eating to excessive consumption of alcohol. A new study of female freshman dorm residents adds a new perspective to this phenomenon, finding that those who avail themselves of school housing consume significantly higher numbers of calories and more sugar and — unlike their off-campus counterparts — engage in higher levels of calorie-curbing physical activity.
BACKPACK STRAPS CAN DECREASE BLOOD FLOW IN THE SHOULDER AND ARM – In some professions – such as the military, firefighting and mountain rescue – the load of a backpack may equal as much as 60 percent of adult body weight. A new study finds that even light loads (26 pounds) can decrease upper extremity blood flow and may result in a loss of fine motor control and increased fatigue.
FOR SOME WHO HAVE LOST THEIR SENSE OF SMELL, A ONCE POPULAR ASTHMA DRUG COULD BE JUST WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED – Despite the fact that millions of Americans are believed to have lost their sense of smell no effective method exists to treat many of these people. That is due in part to the fact that the causes of smell loss are varied and complex, ranging from chronic allergies, viral infection, head injury, or no apparent reason at all. Some seven percent of Americans have lost their sense of smell and with it their ability to enjoy the fragrance of flowers, foods and beverages. For individuals whose smell loss relates to the biochemistry of two common proteins, there is some good news. A team of researchers has found that a drug used long ago to help asthmatics can benefit some with smell loss.
NEW STUDY FINDS ANTICIPATING A LAUGH REDUCES OUR STRESS HORMONES – Researchers investigating the interaction between the brain, behavior, and the immune system found in 2006 that simply anticipating a mirthful laughter experience boosted health-protecting hormones. Now, two years later, the same researchers have found that the anticipation of a positive humorous laughter experience also reduces potentially detrimental stress hormones.
TREATMENT WITH AN ANTI-PSYCHOTIC DRUG FOUND TO CAUSE CHANGES IN METABOLISM EARLIER THAN EXPECTED – Schizophrenia is a complex kind of psychotic mental illness characterized by thoughts that are uncoupled from reality. While enormous gains in the effective treatment of these individuals have been achieved through the use of antipsychotic drugs, the medications have side effects. Researchers have created a new animal model that allows them to explore the sequence of some drugs’ early effect in an effort to optimize them for treatment.
NEW STUDY FINDS ADVERSE EFFECTS OF ESTROGEN REPLACEMENT THERAPY (ERT) ARE RELATED TO THE DOSE – Recent clinical trials indicate that estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. A new study in mice has examined whether adverse effects of ERT are related to the doses used. The study found that moderate and high doses of ERT increased problems in the kidney and heart. These results suggest that ERT dosage may be an important determinant in a woman’s overall health.
NOTE TO EDITORS: The APS annual meeting is part of the Experimental Biology 2008 (EB ’08) gathering and will be held April 5-9, 2008 at the San Diego, CA Convention Center. To receive press releases about the above studies please contact Donna Krupa at 301.634.7209 (office) or DKrupa@the-APS.org.