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1.  Optimal Management of High-Risk T1G3 Bladder Cancer: A Decision Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(9):e284.
Background
Controversy exists about the most appropriate treatment for high-risk superficial (stage T1; grade G3) bladder cancer. Immediate cystectomy offers the best chance for survival but may be associated with an impaired quality of life compared with conservative therapy. We estimated life expectancy (LE) and quality-adjusted life expectancy (QALE) for both of these treatments for men and women of different ages and comorbidity levels.
Methods and Findings
We evaluated two treatment strategies for high-risk, T1G3 bladder cancer using a decision-analytic Markov model: (1) Immediate cystectomy with neobladder creation versus (2) conservative management with intravesical bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) and delayed cystectomy in individuals with resistant or progressive disease. Probabilities and utilities were derived from published literature where available, and otherwise from expert opinion. Extensive sensitivity analyses were conducted to identify variables most likely to influence the decision. Structural sensitivity analyses modifying the base case definition and the triggers for cystectomy in the conservative therapy arm were also explored. Probabilistic sensitivity analysis was used to assess the joint uncertainty of all variables simultaneously and the uncertainty in the base case results. External validation of model outputs was performed by comparing model-predicted survival rates with independent published literature. The mean LE of a 60-y-old male was 14.3 y for immediate cystectomy and 13.6 y with conservative management. With the addition of utilities, the immediate cystectomy strategy yielded a mean QALE of 12.32 y and remained preferred over conservative therapy by 0.35 y. Worsening patient comorbidity diminished the benefit of early cystectomy but altered the LE-based preferred treatment only for patients over age 70 y and the QALE-based preferred treatment for patients over age 65 y. Sensitivity analyses revealed that patients over the age of 70 y or those strongly averse to loss of sexual function, gastrointestinal dysfunction, or life without a bladder have a higher QALE with conservative therapy. The results of structural or probabilistic sensitivity analyses did not change the preferred treatment option. Model-predicted overall and disease-specific survival rates were similar to those reported in published studies, suggesting external validity.
Conclusions
Our model is, to our knowledge, the first of its kind in bladder cancer, and demonstrated that younger patients with high-risk T1G3 bladder had a higher LE and QALE with immediate cystectomy. The decision to pursue immediate cystectomy versus conservative therapy should be based on discussions that consider patient age, comorbid status, and an individual's preference for particular postcystectomy health states. Patients over the age of 70 y or those who place high value on sexual function, gastrointestinal function, or bladder preservation may benefit from a more conservative initial therapeutic approach.
Using a Markov model, Shabbir Alibhai and colleagues develop a decision analysis comparing cystectomy with conservative treatment for high-risk superficial bladder cancer depending on patient age, comorbid conditions, and preferences.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Every year, about 67,000 people in the US develop bladder cancer. Like all cancers, bladder cancer arises when a single cell begins to grow faster than normal, loses its characteristic shape, and moves into surrounding tissues. Most bladder cancers develop from cells that line the bladder (“transitional” cells) and most are detected before they spread out of this lining. These superficial or T1 stage cancers can be removed by transurethral resection of bladder tumor (TURBT). The urologist (a specialist who treats urinary tract problems) passes a small telescope into the bladder through the urethra (the tube through which urine leaves the body) and removes the tumor. If the tumor cells look normal under a microscope (so-called normal histology), the cancer is unlikely to return; if they have lost their normal appearance, the tumor is given a “G3” histological grade, which indicates a high risk of recurrence.
Why Was This Study Done?
The best treatment for T1G3 bladder cancer remains controversial. Some urologists recommend immediate radical cystectomy— surgical removal of the bladder, the urethra, and other nearby organs. This treatment often provides a complete cure but can cause serious short-term health problems and affects long-term quality of life. Patients often develop sexual dysfunction or intestinal (gut) problems and sometimes find it hard to live with a reconstructed bladder. The other recommended treatment is immunotherapy with bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG, bacteria that are also used to vaccinate against tuberculosis). Long-term survival is not always as good with this conservative treatment but it is less likely than surgery to cause short-term illness or to reduce quality of life. In this study, the researchers have used decision analysis (a systematic evaluation of the important factors affecting a decision) to determine whether immediate cystectomy or conservative therapy is the optimal treatment for patients with T1G3 bladder cancer. Decision analysis allowed the researchers to account for quality-of-life factors while comparing the health benefits of each treatment for T1G3 bladder cancer.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Using a decision analysis model called a Markov model, the researchers calculated the months of life gained, and the quality of life expected to result, from each of the two treatments. To estimate the life expectancy (LE) associated with each treatment, the researchers incorporated the published probabilities of various outcomes of each treatment into their model. To estimate quality-adjusted life expectancy (QALE, the number of years of good quality life), they incorporated “utilities,” measures of relative satisfaction with outcomes. (A utility of 1 represents perfect health; death is assigned a value of 0, and outcomes considered less than ideal, but better than death, fall in between). For a sexually potent 60-year-old man with bladder cancer but no other illnesses, the average LE predicted by the model was nearly eight months longer with immediate cystectomy than with conservative treatment (both LEs predicted by this model matched those seen in clinical trials); the average QALE with cystectomy was 4.2 months longer than with conservative treatment. Having additional diseases decreased the benefit of immediate cystectomy but the treatment still gave a longer LE until the patient reached 70 years old, when conservative treatment became better. For QALE, this change in optimal treatment appeared at age 65. Finally, conservative treatment gave a higher QALE than immediate cystectomy for patients concerned about preserving sexual function or averse to living with intestinal problems or a reconstructed bladder.
What Do These Findings Mean?
As with all mathematical models, these results depend on the assumptions included in the model. In particular, because published probability and utility values are not available for some of the possible outcomes of the two treatments, the LE and QALE calculations could be inaccurate. Also, assigning numerical ratings to life experiences is generally something of a simplification, which could affect the reliability of the QALE (but not the LE) results. Nevertheless, these findings provide useful guidance for urologists trying to balance the benefits of immediate cystectomy or conservative treatment against the potential short-term and long-term effects of these treatments on patients' quality of life. Specifically, the results indicate that decisions on treatment for T1G3 bladder cancer should be based on a consideration of the patient's age and any coexisting disease coupled with detailed discussions with the patient about their attitudes regarding the possible health-related effects of cystectomy.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040284.
MedlinePlus encyclopedia page on bladder cancer (in English and Spanish)
Information for patients and professionals from the US National Cancer Institute on bladder cancer (in English and Spanish)
Information for patients on bladder cancer from the UK charity Cancerbackup
Online course on Decision Analysis in Health Care from George Mason University
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040284
PMCID: PMC1989749  PMID: 17896857
2.  Association of Lifecourse Socioeconomic Status with Chronic Inflammation and Type 2 Diabetes Risk: The Whitehall II Prospective Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(7):e1001479.
Silvia Stringhini and colleagues followed a group of British civil servants over 18 years to look for links between socioeconomic status and health.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Socioeconomic adversity in early life has been hypothesized to “program” a vulnerable phenotype with exaggerated inflammatory responses, so increasing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in adulthood. The aim of this study is to test this hypothesis by assessing the extent to which the association between lifecourse socioeconomic status and type 2 diabetes incidence is explained by chronic inflammation.
Methods and Findings
We use data from the British Whitehall II study, a prospective occupational cohort of adults established in 1985. The inflammatory markers C-reactive protein and interleukin-6 were measured repeatedly and type 2 diabetes incidence (new cases) was monitored over an 18-year follow-up (from 1991–1993 until 2007–2009). Our analytical sample consisted of 6,387 non-diabetic participants (1,818 women), of whom 731 (207 women) developed type 2 diabetes over the follow-up. Cumulative exposure to low socioeconomic status from childhood to middle age was associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in adulthood (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.96, 95% confidence interval: 1.48–2.58 for low cumulative lifecourse socioeconomic score and HR = 1.55, 95% confidence interval: 1.26–1.91 for low-low socioeconomic trajectory). 25% of the excess risk associated with cumulative socioeconomic adversity across the lifecourse and 32% of the excess risk associated with low-low socioeconomic trajectory was attributable to chronically elevated inflammation (95% confidence intervals 16%–58%).
Conclusions
In the present study, chronic inflammation explained a substantial part of the association between lifecourse socioeconomic disadvantage and type 2 diabetes. Further studies should be performed to confirm these findings in population-based samples, as the Whitehall II cohort is not representative of the general population, and to examine the extent to which social inequalities attributable to chronic inflammation are reversible.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Worldwide, more than 350 million people have diabetes, a metabolic disorder characterized by high amounts of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Blood sugar levels are normally controlled by insulin, a hormone released by the pancreas after meals (digestion of food produces glucose). In people with type 2 diabetes (the commonest form of diabetes) blood sugar control fails because the fat and muscle cells that normally respond to insulin by removing sugar from the blood become insulin resistant. Type 2 diabetes, which was previously called adult-onset diabetes, can be controlled with diet and exercise, and with drugs that help the pancreas make more insulin or that make cells more sensitive to insulin. However, as the disease progresses, the pancreatic beta cells, which make insulin, become impaired and patients may eventually need insulin injections. Long-term complications, which include an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, reduce the life expectancy of people with diabetes by about 10 years compared to people without diabetes.
Why Was This Study Done?
Socioeconomic adversity in childhood seems to increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes but why? One possibility is that chronic inflammation mediates the association between socioeconomic adversity and type 2 diabetes. Inflammation, which is the body's normal response to injury and disease, affects insulin signaling and increases beta-cell death, and markers of inflammation such as raised blood levels of C-reactive protein and interleukin 6 are associated with future diabetes risk. Notably, socioeconomic adversity in early life leads to exaggerated inflammatory responses later in life and people exposed to social adversity in adulthood show greater levels of inflammation than people with a higher socioeconomic status. In this prospective cohort study (an investigation that records the baseline characteristics of a group of people and then follows them to see who develops specific conditions), the researchers test the hypothesis that chronically increased inflammatory activity in individuals exposed to socioeconomic adversity over their lifetime may partly mediate the association between socioeconomic status over the lifecourse and future type 2 diabetes risk.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
To assess the extent to which chronic inflammation explains the association between lifecourse socioeconomic status and type 2 diabetes incidence (new cases), the researchers used data from the Whitehall II study, a prospective occupational cohort study initiated in 1985 to investigate the mechanisms underlying previously observed socioeconomic inequalities in disease. Whitehall II enrolled more than 10,000 London-based government employees ranging from clerical/support staff to administrative officials and monitored inflammatory marker levels and type 2 diabetes incidence in the study participants from 1991–1993 until 2007–2009. Of 6,387 participants who were not diabetic in 1991–1993, 731 developed diabetes during the 18-year follow-up. Compared to participants with the highest cumulative lifecourse socioeconomic score (calculated using information on father's occupational position and the participant's educational attainment and occupational position), participants with the lowest score had almost double the risk of developing diabetes during follow-up. Low lifetime socioeconomic status trajectories (being socially downwardly mobile or starting and ending with a low socioeconomic status) were also associated with an increased risk of developing diabetes in adulthood. A quarter of the excess risk associated with cumulative socioeconomic adversity and nearly a third of the excess risk associated with low socioeconomic trajectory was attributable to chronically increased inflammation.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show a robust association between adverse socioeconomic circumstances over the lifecourse of the Whitehall II study participants and the risk of type 2 diabetes and suggest that chronic inflammation explains up to a third of this association. The accuracy of these findings may be affected by the measures of socioeconomic status used in the study. Moreover, because the study participants were from an occupational cohort, these findings need to be confirmed in a general population. Studies are also needed to examine the extent to which social inequalities in diabetes risk that are attributable to chronic inflammation are reversible. Importantly, if future studies confirm and extend the findings reported here, it might be possible to reduce the social inequalities in type 2 diabetes by promoting interventions designed to reduce inflammation, including weight management, physical activity, and smoking cessation programs and the use of anti-inflammatory drugs, among socially disadvantaged groups.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001479.
The US National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse provides information about diabetes for patients, health-care professionals, and the general public, including information on diabetes prevention (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information for patients and carers about type 2 diabetes; it includes peoples stories about diabetes
The nonprofit Diabetes UK also provides detailed information about diabetes for patients and carers, including information on healthy lifestyles for people with diabetes, and has a further selection of stories from people with diabetes; the nonprofit Healthtalkonline has interviews with people about their experiences of diabetes
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources and advice about diabetes (in English and Spanish)
Information about the Whitehall II study is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001479
PMCID: PMC3699448  PMID: 23843750
3.  Global cellular response to chemotherapy-induced apoptosis 
eLife  2013;2:e01236.
How cancer cells globally struggle with a chemotherapeutic insult before succumbing to apoptosis is largely unknown. Here we use an integrated systems-level examination of transcription, translation, and proteolysis to understand these events central to cancer treatment. As a model we study myeloma cells exposed to the proteasome inhibitor bortezomib, a first-line therapy. Despite robust transcriptional changes, unbiased quantitative proteomics detects production of only a few critical anti-apoptotic proteins against a background of general translation inhibition. Simultaneous ribosome profiling further reveals potential translational regulation of stress response genes. Once the apoptotic machinery is engaged, degradation by caspases is largely independent of upstream bortezomib effects. Moreover, previously uncharacterized non-caspase proteolytic events also participate in cellular deconstruction. Our systems-level data also support co-targeting the anti-apoptotic regulator HSF1 to promote cell death by bortezomib. This integrated approach offers unique, in-depth insight into apoptotic dynamics that may prove important to preclinical evaluation of any anti-cancer compound.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.01236.001
eLife digest
Many cancer treatments work by causing cancer cells to enter an advanced stage of a process known as programmed cell death or apoptosis. When a cell begins apoptosis, it takes a series of metabolic steps–such as fragmenting its DNA or reducing its volume–that eventually kills it. The cancer cells in tumours are able to grow because they are able to avoid apoptosis.
When cancer cells are treated with cytotoxic drugs they do not die immediately but try to stave off the effect of the drug. However, we still know relatively little about what happens at the molecular levels as cancer cells struggle to avoid apoptosis.
Now Wiita et al. have combined two methods for studying cancer cells–deep sequencing of RNA and quantitative proteomics–to simultaneously observe a variety of processes, including the transcription of genes to produce messenger RNA (mRNA) molecules, the translation of these mRNA molecules to produce proteins, and the proteolysis (or breakdown) of these proteins when the cells were subjected to chemotherapy.
Wiita et al. studied how human myeloma cells responded to bortezomib, a drug that is used to treat various blood cancers, and found that ribosomes–the complex molecular machines that perform the translation step– reacted to the chemotherapy by preferentially translating certain mRNA molecules in order to produce a set of proteins that protect the cell. Developing drugs to inhibit the effects of these stress-response proteins could make the cancer cells more responsive to existing anticancer drugs. When this effort to stay alive is ultimately unsuccessful, the destruction of proteins appears surprisingly unrelated to the previous attempts that were made to protect the cell.
With further work the “global cellular response” approach developed by Wiita et al. could lead to the discovery of new drug targets, improve our understanding of drug resistance in chemotherapy, and provide new ways to monitor how patients respond to treatment.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.01236.002
doi:10.7554/eLife.01236
PMCID: PMC3808542  PMID: 24171104
apoptosis; proteomics; ribosome profiling; caspase; myeloma; Human
4.  Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Risk of Cardiovascular Events and All-Cause Mortality: A Decade-Long Historical Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(2):e1001599.
Tetyana Kendzerska and colleagues explore the association between physiological measures of obstructive sleep apnea other than the apnea-hypopnea index and the risk of cardiovascular events.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) has been reported to be a risk factor for cardiovascular (CV) disease. Although the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) is the most commonly used measure of OSA, other less well studied OSA-related variables may be more pathophysiologically relevant and offer better prediction. The objective of this study was to evaluate the relationship between OSA-related variables and risk of CV events.
Methods and Findings
A historical cohort study was conducted using clinical database and health administrative data. Adults referred for suspected OSA who underwent diagnostic polysomnography at the sleep laboratory at St Michael's Hospital (Toronto, Canada) between 1994 and 2010 were followed through provincial health administrative data (Ontario, Canada) until May 2011 to examine the occurrence of a composite outcome (myocardial infarction, stroke, congestive heart failure, revascularization procedures, or death from any cause). Cox regression models were used to investigate the association between baseline OSA-related variables and composite outcome controlling for traditional risk factors. The results were expressed as hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% CIs; for continuous variables, HRs compare the 75th and 25th percentiles. Over a median follow-up of 68 months, 1,172 (11.5%) of 10,149 participants experienced our composite outcome. In a fully adjusted model, other than AHI OSA-related variables were significant independent predictors: time spent with oxygen saturation <90% (9 minutes versus 0; HR = 1.50, 95% CI 1.25–1.79), sleep time (4.9 versus 6.4 hours; HR = 1.20, 95% CI 1.12–1.27), awakenings (35 versus 18; HR = 1.06, 95% CI 1.02–1.10), periodic leg movements (13 versus 0/hour; HR = 1.05, 95% CI 1.03–1.07), heart rate (70 versus 56 beats per minute [bpm]; HR = 1.28, 95% CI 1.19–1.37), and daytime sleepiness (HR = 1.13, 95% CI 1.01–1.28).The main study limitation was lack of information about continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) adherence.
Conclusion
OSA-related factors other than AHI were shown as important predictors of composite CV outcome and should be considered in future studies and clinical practice.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common sleep-related breathing disorder, particularly among middle-aged and elderly people. It is characterized by apnea—a brief interruption in breathing that lasts at least 10 seconds—and hypopnea—a decrease of more than 50% in the amplitude of breathing that lasts at least 10 seconds or clear but smaller decrease in amplitude associated with either oxygen desaturation or an arousal. Patients with OSA experience numerous episodes of apnea and hypopnea during the night; severe OSA is defined as having 30 or more episodes per hour (an apnea-hypopnea index [AHI] of >30). These breathing interruptions occur when relaxation of the upper airway muscles decreases the airflow, which lowers the amount of oxygen in the blood. As a result, affected individuals frequently wake from deep sleep as they struggle to breathe. Symptoms of OSA include loud snoring and daytime sleepiness. Treatments include lifestyle changes such as losing weight (excess fat around the neck increases airway collapse) and smoking cessation. For severe OSA, doctors recommend continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), in which a machine blows pressurized air through a face mask into the airway to keep it open.
Why Was This Study Done?
OSA can be life-threatening. Most directly, daytime sleepiness can cause accidents, but OSA is also associated with an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD, disease that affects the heart and the circulation). To date, studies that have investigated the association between OSA and the risk of myocardial infarction (heart attack), congestive heart failure, stroke, and other CVDs have used the AHI to diagnose and categorize the severity of OSA. However, by focussing on AHI, clinicians and researchers may be missing opportunities to improve their ability to predict which patients are at the highest risk of CVD. In this historical cohort study, the researchers investigate the association between other OSA-related variables (for example, blood oxygen saturation and sleep fragmentation) and the risk of cardiovascular events and all-cause mortality (death). A historical cohort study examines the medical records of groups of individuals who have different characteristics at baseline for the subsequent occurrence of specific outcomes.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used administrative data (including hospitalization records and physicians' claims for services supplied to patients) to follow up adults referred for suspected OSA who underwent diagnostic polysomnography (a sleep study) at a single Canadian hospital between 1994 and 2010. A database of the polysomnography results provided information on OSA-related variables for all the study participants. Over an average follow-up of about 6 years, 11.5% of the 10,149 participants were hospitalized for a myocardial infarction, stroke, or congestive heart failure, underwent a revascularization procedure (an intervention that restores the blood supply to an organ or tissue after CVD has blocked a blood vessel), or had died from any cause. After adjusting for multiple established risk factors for CVD such as smoking and age in Cox regression models (a statistical approach that examines associations between patient variables and outcomes), several OSA-related variables (but not AHI) were significant predictors of CVD. The strongest OSA-related predictor of cardiovascular events or all-cause mortality was total sleep time spent with oxygen saturation below 90%, which increased the risk of a cardiovascular event or death by 50%. Other statistically significant OSA-related predictors (predictors that were unlikely to be associated with the outcome through chance) of cardiovascular events or death included total sleep time, number of awakenings, frequency of periodic leg movements, heart rate, and daytime sleepiness.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that OSA-related factors other than AHI are important predictors of the composite outcome of a cardiovascular event or all-cause mortality. Indeed, although AHI was significantly associated with the researchers' composite outcome in an analysis that did not consider other established risk factors for CVD (“confounders”), the association became non-significant after controlling for potential confounders. The accuracy of these findings, which need to be confirmed in other settings, is likely to be limited by the lack of information available about the use of CPAP by study participants and by the lack of adjustment for some important confounders. Importantly, however, these findings suggest that OSA-related factors other than AHI should be considered as predictors of CVD in future studies and in clinical practice.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001599.
The US National Heart Lung and Blood Institute has information (including several videos) about obstructive sleep apnea (in English and Spanish), sleep studies, heart disease, and other cardiovascular diseases (some information in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information (including personal stories) about sleep apnea and about cardiovascular disease
The not-for-profit American Sleep Apnea Association provides detailed information about sleep apnea for patients and health-care professionals, including personal stories about the condition
The MedlinePlus encyclopedia has pages on obstructive sleep apnea and on polysomnography; MedlinePlus provides links to further information and advice about obstructive sleep apnea, heart diseases, and vascular diseases (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001599
PMCID: PMC3913558  PMID: 24503600
5.  Neurocognitive Development of Risk Aversion from Early Childhood to Adulthood 
Human adults tend to avoid risk. In behavioral economic studies, risk aversion is manifest as a preference for sure gains over uncertain gains. However, children tend to be less averse to risk than adults. Given that many of the brain regions supporting decision-making under risk do not reach maturity until late adolescence or beyond it is possible that mature risk-averse behavior may emerge from the development of decision-making circuitry. To explore this hypothesis, we tested 5- to 8-year-old children, 14- to 16-year-old adolescents, and young adults in a risky-decision task during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data acquisition. To our knowledge, this is the youngest sample of children in an fMRI decision-making task. We found a number of decision-related brain regions to increase in activation with age during decision-making, including areas associated with contextual memory retrieval and the incorporation of prior outcomes into the current decision-making strategy, e.g., insula, hippocampus, and amygdala. Further, children who were more risk-averse showed increased activation during decision-making in ventromedial prefrontal cortex and ventral striatum. Our findings indicate that the emergence of adult levels of risk aversion co-occurs with the recruitment of regions supporting decision-making under risk, including the integration of prior outcomes into current decision-making behavior. This pattern of results suggests that individual differences in the development of risk aversion may reflect differences in the maturation of these neural processes.
doi:10.3389/fnhum.2011.00178
PMCID: PMC3250075  PMID: 22291627
fMRI; risk; decision-making; children; adolescence; reward; development; gambling
6.  Clinical Cancer Advances 2008: Major Research Advances in Cancer Treatment, Prevention, and Screening—A Report From the American Society of Clinical Oncology 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2008;27(5):812-826.
A MESSAGE FROM ASCO'S PRESIDENT
Nearly 40 years ago, President Richard Nixon signed the National Cancer Act, mobilizing the country's resources to make the “conquest of cancer a national crusade.” That declaration led to a major investment in cancer research that has significantly improved cancer prevention, treatment, and survival. As a result, two thirds of people diagnosed with cancer today will live at least 5 years after diagnosis, compared with just half in the 1970s. In addition, there are now more than 12 million cancer survivors in the United States—up from 3 million in 1971.
Scientifically, we have never been in a better position to advance cancer treatment. Basic scientific research, fueled in recent years by the tools of molecular biology, has generated unprecedented knowledge of cancer development. We now understand many of the cellular pathways that can lead to cancer. We have learned how to develop drugs that block those pathways; increasingly, we know how to personalize therapy to the unique genetics of the tumor and the patient.
Yet in 2008, 1.4 million people in the United States will still be diagnosed with cancer, and more than half a million will die as a result of the disease. Some cancers remain stubbornly resistant to treatment, whereas others cannot be detected until they are in their advanced, less curable stages. Biologically, the cancer cell is notoriously wily; each time we throw an obstacle in its path, it finds an alternate route that must then be blocked.
To translate our growing basic science knowledge into better treatments for patients, a new national commitment to cancer research is urgently needed. However, funding for cancer research has stagnated. The budgets of the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute have failed to keep pace with inflation, declining up to 13% in real terms since 2004. Tighter budgets reduce incentives to support high-risk research that could have the largest payoffs. The most significant clinical research is conducted increasingly overseas. In addition, talented young physicians in the United States, seeing less opportunity in the field of oncology, are choosing other specialties instead.
Although greater investment in research is critical, the need for new therapies is only part of the challenge. Far too many people in the United States lack access to the treatments that already exist, leading to unnecessary suffering and death. Uninsured cancer patients are significantly more likely to die than those with insurance, racial disparities in cancer incidence and mortality remain stark, and even insured patients struggle to keep up with the rapidly rising cost of cancer therapies.
As this annual American Society of Clinical Oncology report of the major cancer research advances during the last year demonstrates, we are making important progress against cancer. But sound public policies are essential to accelerate that progress. In 2009, we have an opportunity to reinvest in cancer research, and to support policies that will help ensure that every individual in the United States receives potentially life-saving cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment.
Sincerely, Richard L. Schilsky, MD President American Society of Clinical Oncology
doi:10.1200/JCO.2008.21.2134
PMCID: PMC2645086  PMID: 19103723
7.  Sleep deprivation amplifies reactivity of brain reward networks, biasing the appraisal of positive emotional experiences 
Appropriate interpretation of pleasurable, rewarding experiences favors decisions that enhance survival. Conversely, dysfunctional affective brain processing can lead to life-threatening risk behaviors (e.g. addiction) and emotion imbalance (e.g. mood disorders). The state of sleep deprivation continues to be associated with maladaptive emotional regulation, leading to exaggerated neural and behavioral reactivity to negative, aversive experiences. However, such detrimental consequences are paradoxically aligned with the perplexing antidepressant benefit of sleep deprivation, elevating mood in a proportion of patients with major depression. Nevertheless, it remains unknown how sleep loss alters the dynamics of brain and behavioral reactivity to rewarding, positive emotional experiences. Using fMRI, here we demonstrate that sleep deprivation amplifies reactivity throughout human mesolimbic reward brain networks in response to pleasure-evoking stimuli. In addition, this amplified reactivity was associated with enhanced connectivity in early primary visual processing pathways and extended limbic regions, yet with a reduction in coupling with medial- and orbito-frontal regions. These neural changes were accompanied by a biased increase in the number of emotional stimuli judged as pleasant in the sleep-deprived group, the extent of which exclusively correlated with activity in mesolimbic regions. Together, these data support a view that sleep deprivation is not only associated with enhanced reactivity towards negative stimuli, but imposes a bi-directional nature of affective imbalance, associated with amplified reward-relevant reactivity towards pleasure-evoking stimuli also. Such findings may offer a neural foundation on which to consider interactions between sleep loss and emotional reactivity in a variety of clinical mood disorders.
doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3220-10.2011
PMCID: PMC3086142  PMID: 21430147
Sleep Deprivation; Positive Emotion; Reward; Brain Reactivity
8.  Regulation of Hemostasis by the Sympathetic Nervous System: Any Contribution to Coronary Artery Disease? 
Within the last two decades, hemostasis factors have emerged as ‘new’ risk factors for coronary artery disease. Historical studies on the physiology of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) attributed accelerated blood clotting to the components of the fight-flight response. Although this has not been demonstrated, exaggerated clotting related to SNS hyperactivity might confer an increased arterial thrombotic risk. This review outlines the effects of sympathetic activation as mimicked by adrenergic infusions and as elicited by mental stress and physical exercise, and the molecular mechanisms involved. A selective review of the pertinent literature was undertaken. Sympathetic activation provokes a simultaneous increase in molecules of both the coagulation and fibrinolysis pathways within minutes, resulting in net hypercoagulability as a part of normal human physiology. Catecholamines and adrenergic receptors interact to mediate hemostatic changes. Exaggerated procoagulant changes in individuals with a preexistent atherosclerotic disease, in those experiencing ongoing stressful life circumstances and in the physically untrained might confer a thrombotic threat with sympathetic activation. Initial evidence suggests that nonselective β-adrenergic blockade may attenuate clotting acceleration upon SNS activation. Prospective studies are needed to demonstrate whether exaggerated clotting as elicited by the SNS is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. If confirmed, intervention studies targeted at reducing this risk, for example with drugs, psychotherapy (including stress management) and regular physical exercise, would be warranted.
doi:10.1159/000078415
PMCID: PMC2629605  PMID: 19169370
Hemostasis; Sympathetic nervous system; Adrenergic activation; Stress; Physical exercise
9.  Long-Run Savings and Investment Strategy Optimization 
The Scientific World Journal  2014;2014:510531.
We focus on automatic strategies to optimize life cycle savings and investment. Classical optimal savings theory establishes that, given the level of risk aversion, a saver would keep the same relative amount invested in risky assets at any given time. We show that, when optimizing lifecycle investment, performance and risk assessment have to take into account the investor's risk aversion and the maximum amount the investor could lose, simultaneously. When risk aversion and maximum possible loss are considered jointly, an optimal savings strategy is obtained, which follows from constant rather than relative absolute risk aversion. This result is fundamental to prove that if risk aversion and the maximum possible loss are both high, then holding a constant amount invested in the risky asset is optimal for a standard lifetime saving/pension process and outperforms some other simple strategies. Performance comparisons are based on downside risk-adjusted equivalence that is used in our illustration.
doi:10.1155/2014/510531
PMCID: PMC3953623  PMID: 24711728
10.  Disability Transitions and Health Expectancies among Adults 45 Years and Older in Malawi: A Cohort-Based Model 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(5):e1001435.
Collin Payne and colleagues investigated development of disabilities and years expected to live with disabilities in participants 45 years and older participating in the Malawi Longitudinal Survey of Families and Health.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Falling fertility and increasing life expectancy contribute to a growing elderly population in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA); by 2060, persons aged 45 y and older are projected to be 25% of SSA's population, up from 10% in 2010. Aging in SSA is associated with unique challenges because of poverty and inadequate social supports. However, despite its importance for understanding the consequences of population aging, the evidence about the prevalence of disabilities and functional limitations due to poor physical health among older adults in SSA continues to be very limited.
Methods and Findings
Participants came from 2006, 2008, and 2010 waves of the Malawi Longitudinal Survey of Families and Health, a study of the rural population in Malawi. We investigate how poor physical health results in functional limitations that limit the day-to-day activities of individuals in domains relevant to this subsistence-agriculture context. These disabilities were parameterized based on questions from the SF-12 questionnaire about limitations in daily living activities. We estimated age-specific patterns of functional limitations and the transitions over time between different disability states using a discrete-time hazard model. The estimated transition rates were then used to calculate the first (to our knowledge) microdata-based health expectancies calculated for SSA. The risks of experiencing functional limitations due to poor physical health are high in this population, and the onset of disabilities happens early in life. Our analyses show that 45-y-old women can expect to spend 58% (95% CI, 55%–64%) of their remaining 28 y of life (95% CI, 25.7–33.5) with functional limitations; 45-y-old men can expect to live 41% (95% CI, 35%–46%) of their remaining 25.4 y (95% CI, 23.3–28.8) with such limitations. Disabilities related to functional limitations are shown to have a substantial negative effect on individuals' labor activities, and are negatively related to subjective well-being.
Conclusions
Individuals in this population experience a lengthy struggle with disabling conditions in adulthood, with high probabilities of remitting and relapsing between states of functional limitation. Given the strong association of disabilities with work efforts and subjective well-being, this research suggests that current national health policies and international donor-funded health programs in SSA inadequately target the physical health of mature and older adults.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
The population of the world is getting older. In almost every country, the over-60 age group is growing faster than any other age group. In 2000, globally, there were about 605 million people aged 60 years or more; by 2050, 2 billion people will be in this age group. Much of this increase in the elderly population will be in low-income countries. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, 10% of the population is currently aged 45 years or more, but by 2060, a quarter of the population will be so-called mature adults. In all countries, population aging is the result of women having fewer children (falling fertility) and people living longer (increasing life expectancy). Thus, population aging is a demographic transition, a change in birth and death rates. In low- and middle-income countries, population aging is occurring in parallel with an “epidemiological transition,” a shift from communicable (infectious) diseases to non-communicable diseases (for example, heart disease) as the primary causes of illness and death.
Why Was This Study Done?
Both the demographic and the epidemiological transition have public health implications for low-income countries. Good health is important for the independence and economic productivity of older people. Productive older people can help younger populations financially and physically, and help compensate for the limitations experienced by younger populations infected with HIV. Also, low-income countries lack social safety nets, so disabled older adults can be a burden on younger populations. Thus, the health of older individuals is important to the well-being of people of all ages. As populations age, low-income countries will need to invest in health care for mature and elderly adults and in disease prevention programs to prevent or delay the onset of non-communicable diseases, which can limit normal daily activities by causing disabilities. Before providing these services, national policy makers need to know the proportion of their population with disabilities, the functional limitations caused by poor physical health, and the health expectancies (the number of years a person can expect to be in good health) of older people in their country. In this cohort modeling study, the researchers estimate health expectancies and transition rates between different levels of disability among mature adults in Malawi, one of the world's poorest countries, using data collected by the Malawi Longitudinal Survey of Families and Health (MLSFH) on economic, social, and health conditions in a rural population. Because Malawi has shorter life expectancies and earlier onset of disability than wealthier countries, the authors considered individuals aged 45 and older as mature adults at risk for disability.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers categorized the participants in the 2006, 2008, and 2010 waves of the MLSFH into three levels of functional limitation (healthy, moderately limited, and severely limited) based on answers to questions in the SF-12 health survey questionnaire that ask about disabilities that limit daily activities that rural Malawians perform. The researchers estimated age–gender patterns of functional limitations and transition rates between different disability states using a discrete-time hazard model, and health expectancies by running a microsimulation to model the aging of synthetic cohorts with various starting ages but the same gender and functional limitation distributions as the study population. These analyses show that the chance of becoming physically disabled rises sharply with age, with 45-year-old women in rural Malawi expected to spend 58% of their estimated remaining 28 years with functional limitations, and 45-year-old men expected to live 41% of their remaining 25.4 years with functional limitations. Also, on average, a 45-year-old woman will spend 2.7 years with moderate functional limitation and 0.6 years with severe functional limitation before she reaches 55; for men the corresponding values are 1.6 and 0.4 years. Around 50% of moderately and 60%–80% of severely limited individuals stated that pain interfered quite a bit or extremely with their normal work during the past four weeks, suggesting that pain treatment may help reduce disability.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that mature adults in rural Malawi will have some degree of disability during much of their remaining lifetime. The risks of experiencing functional limitations are higher and the onset of persistent disabilities happens earlier in Malawi than in more developed contexts—the proportions of remaining life spent with severe limitations at age 45 in Malawi are comparable to those of 80-year-olds in the US. The accuracy of these findings is likely to be affected by assumptions made during modeling and by the quality of the data fed into the models. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that functional limitations, which have a negative effect on the labor activity of individuals, will become more prominent in Malawi (and probably other sub-Saharan countries) as the age composition of populations shifts over the coming years. Older populations in sub-Saharan Africa are not targeted well by health policies and programs at present. Consequently, these findings suggest that policy makers will need to ensure that additional financial resources are provided to improve health-care provision for aging individuals and to lessen the high rates of functional limitation and associated disabilities.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001435.
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Andreas Stuck, et al.
The World Health Organization provides information on many aspects of aging (in several languages); the WHO Study on Global Ageing and Adult Health (SAGE) is compiling longitudinal information on the health and well-being of adult populations and the aging process
The United Nations Population Fund and HelpAge International publication Ageing in the Twenty-First Century is available
HelpAge International is an international nongovernmental organization that helps older people claim their rights, challenge discrimination, and overcome poverty, so that they can lead dignified, secure, and healthy lives
More information on the Malawi Longitudinal Study of Families and Health is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001435
PMCID: PMC3646719  PMID: 23667343
11.  Adult Mortality Attributable to Preventable Risk Factors for Non-Communicable Diseases and Injuries in Japan: A Comparative Risk Assessment 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(1):e1001160.
Using a combination of published data and modeling, Nayu Ikeda and colleagues identify tobacco smoking and high blood pressure as major risk factors for death from noncommunicable diseases among adults in Japan.
Background
The population of Japan has achieved the longest life expectancy in the world. To further improve population health, consistent and comparative evidence on mortality attributable to preventable risk factors is necessary for setting priorities for health policies and programs. Although several past studies have quantified the impact of individual risk factors in Japan, to our knowledge no study has assessed and compared the effects of multiple modifiable risk factors for non-communicable diseases and injuries using a standard framework. We estimated the effects of 16 risk factors on cause-specific deaths and life expectancy in Japan.
Methods and Findings
We obtained data on risk factor exposures from the National Health and Nutrition Survey and epidemiological studies, data on the number of cause-specific deaths from vital records adjusted for ill-defined codes, and data on relative risks from epidemiological studies and meta-analyses. We applied a comparative risk assessment framework to estimate effects of excess risks on deaths and life expectancy at age 40 y. In 2007, tobacco smoking and high blood pressure accounted for 129,000 deaths (95% CI: 115,000–154,000) and 104,000 deaths (95% CI: 86,000–119,000), respectively, followed by physical inactivity (52,000 deaths, 95% CI: 47,000–58,000), high blood glucose (34,000 deaths, 95% CI: 26,000–43,000), high dietary salt intake (34,000 deaths, 95% CI: 27,000–39,000), and alcohol use (31,000 deaths, 95% CI: 28,000–35,000). In recent decades, cancer mortality attributable to tobacco smoking has increased in the elderly, while stroke mortality attributable to high blood pressure has declined. Life expectancy at age 40 y in 2007 would have been extended by 1.4 y for both sexes (men, 95% CI: 1.3–1.6; women, 95% CI: 1.2–1.7) if exposures to multiple cardiovascular risk factors had been reduced to their optimal levels as determined by a theoretical-minimum-risk exposure distribution.
Conclusions
Tobacco smoking and high blood pressure are the two major risk factors for adult mortality from non-communicable diseases and injuries in Japan. There is a large potential population health gain if multiple risk factors are jointly controlled.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Worldwide, a small number of modifiable risk factors are responsible for many premature or preventable deaths. For example, having high blood pressure (hypertension) increases a person's risk of developing life-threatening heart problems and stroke (cardiovascular disease). Similarly, having a high blood sugar level increases the risk of developing diabetes, a chronic (long-term) disease that can lead to cardiovascular problems and kidney failure, and half of all long-term tobacco smokers in Western populations will die prematurely from diseases related to smoking, such as lung cancer. Importantly, the five major risk factors for death globally—high blood pressure, tobacco use, high blood sugar, physical inactivity, and overweight and obesity—are all modifiable. That is, lifestyle changes and dietary changes such as exercising more, reducing salt intake, and increasing fruit and vegetable intake can reduce an individual's exposure to these risk factors and one's chances of premature death. Moreover, public health programs designed to reduce a population's exposure to modifiable risk factors should reduce preventable deaths in that population.
Why Was This Study Done?
In 2000, the Japanese government initiated Health Japan 21, a ten-year national health promotion campaign designed to prevent premature death from non-communicable (noninfectious) diseases and injuries. This campaign set 59 goals to monitor and improve risk factor management in the Japanese population, which has one of the longest life expectancies at birth in the world (the life expectancy of a person born in Japan in 2009 was 83.1 years). Because the campaign's final evaluation revealed deterioration or no improvement on some of these goals, the Japanese government recently released new guidelines that stress the importance of simultaneously controlling multiple risk factors for chronic diseases. However, although several studies have quantified the impacts on life expectancy and cause-specific death of individual modifiable risk factors in Japan, the effects of multiple risk factors have not been assessed. In this study, the researchers use a “comparative risk assessment” framework to estimate the effects of 16 risk factors on cause-specific deaths and life expectancy in Japan. Comparative risk assessment estimates the number of deaths that would be prevented if current distributions of risk factor exposures were changed to hypothetical optimal distributions.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers obtained data on exposure to the selected risk factors from the 2007 Japanese National Health and Nutrition Survey and from epidemiological studies, and information on the number of deaths in 2007 from different diseases from official records. They used published studies to estimate how much each factor increases the risk of death from each disease and then used a mathematical formula to estimate the effects of the risk factors on the number of deaths in Japan and on life expectancy at age 40. In 2007, tobacco smoking and high blood pressure accounted for 129,000 and 104,000 deaths, respectively, in Japan. Physical inactivity accounted for 52,000 deaths, high blood glucose and high dietary salt intake accounted for 34,000 deaths each, and alcohol use for 31,000 deaths. Life expectancy at age 40 in 2007 would have been extended by 1.4 years for both sexes, the researchers estimate, if exposure to multiple cardiovascular risk factors had been reduced to calculated optimal distributions, or by 0.7 years if these risk factors had been reduced to the distributions defined by national guidelines and goals.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings identify tobacco smoking and high blood pressure as the major risk factors for death from non-communicable diseases among adults in Japan, a result consistent with previous findings from the US. They also indicate that simultaneous control of multiple risk factors has great potential for producing health gains among the Japanese population. Although the researchers focused on estimating the effect of these risk factors on mortality and did not include illness and disability in this study, these findings nevertheless identify two areas of public health policy that need to be strengthened to improve health, reduce death rates, and increase life expectancy among the Japanese population. First, they highlight the need to reduce tobacco smoking, particularly among men. Second and most importantly, these findings emphasize the need to improve ongoing programs designed to help people manage multiple cardiovascular risk factors, including high blood pressure.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001160.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on all aspects of healthy living
The World Health Report 2002—Reducing Risks, Promoting Healthy Life provides a global analysis of how healthy life expectancy could be increased
The American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society provide information on many important risk factors for noncommunicable diseases and include some personal stories about keeping healthy
Details about Health Japan 21 are provided by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. Further details about this campaign are available from the World Health Organization
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources on healthy living and on healthy aging (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001160
PMCID: PMC3265534  PMID: 22291576
12.  Your Resting Brain CAREs about Your Risky Behavior 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(8):e12296.
Background
Research on the neural correlates of risk-related behaviors and personality traits has provided insight into mechanisms underlying both normal and pathological decision-making. Task-based neuroimaging studies implicate a distributed network of brain regions in risky decision-making. What remains to be understood are the interactions between these regions and their relation to individual differences in personality variables associated with real-world risk-taking.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We employed resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging (R-fMRI) and resting state functional connectivity (RSFC) methods to investigate differences in the brain's intrinsic functional architecture associated with beliefs about the consequences of risky behavior. We obtained an individual measure of expected benefit from engaging in risky behavior, indicating a risk seeking or risk-averse personality, for each of 21 participants from whom we also collected a series of R-fMRI scans. The expected benefit scores were entered in statistical models assessing the RSFC of brain regions consistently implicated in both the evaluation of risk and reward, and cognitive control (i.e., orbitofrontal cortex, nucleus accumbens, lateral prefrontal cortex, dorsal anterior cingulate). We specifically focused on significant brain-behavior relationships that were stable across R-fMRI scans collected one year apart. Two stable expected benefit-RSFC relationships were observed: decreased expected benefit (increased risk-aversion) was associated with 1) stronger positive functional connectivity between right inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and right insula, and 2) weaker negative functional connectivity between left nucleus accumbens and right parieto-occipital cortex.
Conclusions/Significance
Task-based activation in the IFG and insula has been associated with risk-aversion, while activation in the nucleus accumbens and parietal cortex has been associated with both risk seeking and risk-averse tendencies. Our results suggest that individual differences in attitudes toward risk-taking are reflected in the brain's functional architecture and may have implications for engaging in real-world risky behaviors.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0012296
PMCID: PMC2924392  PMID: 20808870
13.  Cognitive function is associated with risk aversion in community-based older persons 
BMC Geriatrics  2011;11:53.
Background
Emerging data from younger and middle-aged persons suggest that cognitive ability is negatively associated with risk aversion, but this association has not been studied among older persons who are at high risk of experiencing loss of cognitive function.
Methods
Using data from 369 community-dwelling older persons without dementia from the Rush Memory and Aging Project, an ongoing longitudinal epidemiologic study of aging, we examined the correlates of risk aversion and tested the hypothesis that cognition is negatively associated with risk aversion. Global cognition and five specific cognitive abilities were measured via detailed cognitive testing, and risk aversion was measured using standard behavioral economics questions in which participants were asked to choose between a certain monetary payment ($15) versus a gamble in which they could gain more than $15 or gain nothing; potential gamble gains ranged from $21.79 to $151.19 with the gain amounts varied randomly over questions. We first examined the bivariate associations of age, education, sex, income and cognition with risk aversion. Next, we examined the associations between cognition and risk aversion via mixed models adjusted for age, sex, education, and income. Finally, we conducted sensitivity analyses to ensure that our results were not driven by persons with preclinical cognitive impairment.
Results
In bivariate analyses, sex, education, income and global cognition were associated with risk aversion. However, in a mixed effect model, only sex (estimate = -1.49, standard error (SE) = 0.39, p < 0.001) and global cognitive function (estimate = -1.05, standard error (SE) = 0.34, p < 0.003) were significantly inversely associated with risk aversion. Thus, a lower level of global cognitive function and female sex were associated with greater risk aversion. Moreover, performance on four out of the five cognitive domains was negatively related to risk aversion (i.e., semantic memory, episodic memory, working memory, and perceptual speed); performance on visuospatial abilities was not.
Conclusion
A lower level of cognitive ability and female sex are associated with greater risk aversion in advanced age.
doi:10.1186/1471-2318-11-53
PMCID: PMC3182132  PMID: 21906402
14.  Rewards, aversions and affect in adolescence: Emerging convergences across laboratory animal and human data 
The adolescent transition is associated with increases in reward- and sensation-seeking, peer-directed social interactions, and risk-taking, with exploratory use of alcohol and other drugs often beginning at this time. These age-related behaviors may have biological roots embedded in the evolutionary past, with similar adolescent-typical characteristics evident across a variety of mammalian species. Drawing across human behavioral and fMRI data and studies conducting in laboratory animals, this review examines processing of rewards, aversions, and affect in adolescence. Evidence for both hyper- and hypo-reactivity during adolescence in the processing of rewards is reviewed, along with possible contributors to these differences. Indications of sometimes heightened reward reactivity during adolescence are contrasted with frequent attenuations in adolescent sensitivity to aversive stimuli. At the same time, adolescents appear particularly prone to becoming emotionally aroused, especially in social contexts. Emerging evidence hints that exaggerated adolescent reactivity in reward and affective systems may be promoted in part by unusual strong cross-reactivity between these systems during adolescence. Such age-related propensities may promote adolescent risk taking, especially in social and exciting contexts, and contribute to adolescent-typical propensities to attach greater benefit and less cost to risky behaviors such as alcohol and drug use than individuals at other ages.
doi:10.1016/j.dcn.2011.08.001
PMCID: PMC3170768  PMID: 21918675
Adolescence; reward; aversive stimuli; affect; emotions; social interactions
15.  Innate immunity and inflammation in ageing: a key for understanding age-related diseases 
The process of maintaining life for the individual is a constant struggle to preserve his/her integrity. This can come at a price when immunity is involved, namely systemic inflammation. Inflammation is not per se a negative phenomenon: it is the response of the immune system to the invasion of viruses or bacteria and other pathogens. During evolution the human organism was set to live 40 or 50 years; today, however, the immune system must remain active for much a longer time. This very long activity leads to a chronic inflammation that slowly but inexorably damages one or several organs: this is a typical phenomenon linked to ageing and it is considered the major risk factor for age-related chronic diseases. Alzheimer's disease, atherosclerosis, diabetes and even sarcopenia and cancer, just to mention a few – have an important inflammatory component, though disease progression seems also dependent on the genetic background of individuals. Emerging evidence suggests that pro-inflammatory genotypes are related to unsuccessful ageing, and, reciprocally, controlling inflammatory status may allow a better chance of successful ageing. In other words, age-related diseases are "the price we pay" for a life-long active immune system: this system has also the potential to harm us later, as its fine tuning becomes compromised. Our immune system has evolved to control pathogens, so pro-inflammatory responses are likely to be evolutionarily programmed to resist fatal infections with pathogens aggressively. Thus, inflammatory genotypes are an important and necessary part of the normal host responses to pathogens in early life, but the overproduction of inflammatory molecules might also cause immune-related inflammatory diseases and eventually death later. Therefore, low responder genotypes involved in regulation of innate defence mechanisms, might better control inflammatory responses and age-related disease development, resulting in an increased chance of long life survival in a "permissive" environment with reduced pathogen load, medical care and increased quality of life.
doi:10.1186/1742-4933-2-8
PMCID: PMC1166571  PMID: 15904534
Age-related diseases; Cytokine; Inflammation; Innate Immunity; Longevity
16.  Fighting addiction's death row: British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Ian Pitfield shows a measure of legal courage 
The art in law, like medicine, is in its humanity. Nowhere is the humanity in law more poignant than in BC Supreme Court Justice Ian Pitfield's recent judgment in the legal case aimed at protecting North America's only supervised injection facility (SIF) as a healthcare program: PHS Community Services Society versus the Attorney General of Canada. In order to protect the SIF from politicization, the PHS Community Services Society, the community organization that established and operates the program, along with two people living with addiction and three lawyers working for free, pro bono publico, took the federal government of Canada to court. The courtroom struggle that ensued was akin to a battle between David and Goliath. The judge in the case, Justice Pitfield, ruled in favour of the PHS and gave the Government of Canada one year to bring the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) into compliance with the country's Charter of Rights and Freedoms. If parliament fails to do so, then the CDSA will evaporate from enforceability and law in June of 2009. Despite the fact that there are roughly twelve million intravenous drug addiction users in the world today, politics andprejudice oards harm reduction are still a barrier to the widespread application of the "best medicine" available for serious addicts. Nowhere is this clearer than in the opposition by conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his faithful servant, federal health minister Tony Clement, towards Vancouver's SIF ("Insite"). The continued angry politicization of addiction will only lead to the tragic loss of life, as addicts are condemned to death from infectious diseases (HIV & hepatitis) and preventable overdoses. In light of the established facts in science, medicine and now law, political opposition to life-saving population health programs (including SIFs) to address the effects of addiction is a kind of implicit capital punishment for the addicted. This commentary examines the socio-political context of the legal case and the major figures that contributed to it. It reviews Justice Pitfield's ruling, a judgment that has brought Canada one step closer to putting a stop to addiction's death row where intravenous drug users are needlessly, for political and ideological reasons alone, forced to face increased risks of death due to AIDS, hepatitis and overdose.
doi:10.1186/1477-7517-5-31
PMCID: PMC2611970  PMID: 18957091
17.  Are ambiguity aversion and ambiguity intolerance identical? A neuroeconomics investigation 
Frontiers in Psychology  2015;5:1550.
In recent years, there has been growing interest in understanding a person's reaction to ambiguous situations, and two similar constructs related to ambiguity, “ambiguity aversion” and “ambiguity intolerance,” are defined in different disciplines. In the field of economic decision-making research, “ambiguity aversion” represents a preference for known risks relative to unknown risks. On the other hand, in clinical psychology, “ambiguity intolerance” describes the tendency to perceive ambiguous situations as undesirable. However, it remains unclear whether these two notions derived from different disciplines are identical or not. To clarify this issue, we combined an economic task, psychological questionnaires, and voxel-based morphometry (VBM) of structural brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in a sample of healthy volunteers. The individual ambiguity aversion tendency parameter, as measured by our economic task, was negatively correlated with agreeableness scores on the self-reported version of the Revised NEO Personality Inventory. However, it was not correlated with scores of discomfort with ambiguity, one of the subscales of the Need for Closure Scale. Furthermore, the ambiguity aversion tendency parameter was negatively correlated with gray matter (GM) volume of areas in the lateral prefrontal cortex and parietal cortex, whereas ambiguity intolerance was not correlated with GM volume in any region. Our results suggest that ambiguity aversion, described in decision theory, may not necessarily be identical to ambiguity intolerance, referred to in clinical psychology. Cautious applications of decision theory to clinical neuropsychiatry are recommended.
doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01550
PMCID: PMC4318272
ambiguity aversion; ambiguity intolerance; agreeableness; need for closure; prefrontal cortex; voxel-based morphometry
18.  Vulnerability and access to care for South Asian Sikh and Muslim patients with life limiting illness in Scotland: prospective longitudinal qualitative study 
Objectives To examine the care experiences of South Asian Sikh and Muslim patients in Scotland with life limiting illness and their families and to understand the reasons for any difficulties with access to services and how these might be overcome.
Design Prospective, longitudinal, qualitative design using in-depth interviews.
Setting Central Scotland.
Participants 25 purposively selected South Asian Sikh and Muslim patients, 18 family carers, and 20 key health professionals.
Results 92 interviews took place. Most services struggled to deliver responsive, culturally appropriate care. Barriers to accessing effective end of life care included resource constrained services; institutional and, occasionally, personal racial and religious discrimination; limited awareness and understanding among South Asian people of the role of hospices; and difficulty discussing death. The most vulnerable patients, including recent migrants and those with poor English language skills, with no family advocate, and dying of non-malignant diseases were at particularly high risk of inadequate care.
Conclusions Despite a robust Scottish diversity policy, services for South Asian Sikh and Muslim patients with life limiting illness were wanting in many key areas. Active case management of the most vulnerable patients and carers, and “real time” support, from where professionals can obtain advice specific to an individual patient and family, are the approaches most likely to instigate noticeable improvements in access to high quality end of life care. Improving access to palliative care for all, particularly those with non-malignant illnesses, as well as focusing on the specific needs of ethnic minority groups, is required.
doi:10.1136/bmj.b183
PMCID: PMC2636416  PMID: 19190015
19.  Patient experiences of recovery after heart valve replacement: suffering weakness, struggling to resume normality 
BMC Nursing  2013;12:23.
Background
Heart valve disease is becoming a public health problem due to increasing life expectancy and new treatment methods. Patients are at risk of developing depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder after heart valve surgery. To better plan proper care, describing and understanding patients’ perception of recovery after heart valve replacement is essential. The objective was to describe the experience of recovery at home after heart valve replacement.
Methods
Qualitative interviews were conducted with 10 patients representing the population and these were later transcribed. The analysis was inspired by Ricoeur’s theory of interpretation, which consists of three levels: naive reading, structured analysis, and critical interpretation and discussion.
Results
The overall concept that emerged was suffering weakness and struggling to resume normality. Patients all struggled to resume normal living, both in regaining physical strength and in reestablishing balance in overall living. The overall concept can be interpreted in terms of the following themes: Disturbed network: Invaluable relatives, Contact with healthcare staff, Rehabilitation. Disturbed body: Stressful complications, Bodily attention, Physically affected, Physical capability. Recovery: Interrupted living, Suffering weakness, Gradual recovery, Achieving normality. Reflections: Thoughts about the procedure and Feeling sad and fragile.
Conclusion
The study presents the main themes of network, body, recovery and reflection for ten patients after heart valve replacement. These main themes can overall be summarized as suffering weakness and struggling to resume normality. Patients felt weak with a changed body, but after a long recovery process regained vitality and returned to their daily life.
doi:10.1186/1472-6955-12-23
PMCID: PMC3849933  PMID: 24070399
Heart valve disease; Transcatheter aortic valve implantation; Valve surgery; Patient experience; Recovery
20.  Metal-on-Metal Total Hip Resurfacing Arthroplasty 
Executive Summary
Objective
The objective of this review was to assess the safety and effectiveness of metal on metal (MOM) hip resurfacing arthroplasty for young patients compared with that of total hip replacement (THR) in the same population.
Clinical Need
Total hip replacement has proved to be very effective for late middle-aged and elderly patients with severe degenerative diseases of the hips. As indications for THR began to include younger patients and those with a more active life style, the longevity of the implant became a concern. Evidence suggests that these patients experience relatively higher rates of early implant failure and the need for revision. The Swedish hip registry, for example, has demonstrated a survival rate in excess of 80% at 20 years for those aged over 65 years, whereas this figure was 33% by 16 years in those aged under 55 years.
Hip resurfacing arthroplasty is a bone-conserving alternative to THR that restores normal joint biomechanics and load transfer. The technique has been used around the world for more than 10 years, specifically in the United Kingdom and other European countries.
The Technology
Metal-on-metal hip resurfacing arthroplasty is an alternative procedure to conventional THR in younger patients. Hip resurfacing arthroplasty is less invasive than THR and addresses the problem of preserving femoral bone stock at the initial operation. This means that future hip revisions are possible with THR if the initial MOM arthroplasty becomes less effective with time in these younger patients. The procedure involves the removal and replacement of the surface of the femoral head with a hollow metal hemisphere, which fits into a metal acetabular cup.
Hip resurfacing arthroplasty is a technically more demanding procedure than is conventional THR. In hip resurfacing, the femoral head is retained, which makes it much more difficult to access the acetabular cup. However, hip resurfacing arthroplasty has several advantages over a conventional THR with a small (28 mm) ball. First, the large femoral head reduces the chance of dislocation, so that rates of dislocation are less than those with conventional THR. Second, the range of motion with hip resurfacing arthroplasty is higher than that achieved with conventional THR.
A variety of MOM hip resurfacing implants are used in clinical practice. Six MOM hip resurfacing implants have been issued licences in Canada.
Review Strategy
A search of electronic bibliographies (OVID Medline, Medline In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, Embase, Cochrane CENTRAL and DSR, INAHTA) was undertaken to identify evidence published from Jan 1, 1997 to October 27, 2005. The search was limited to English-language articles and human studies. The literature search yielded 245 citations. Of these, 11 met inclusion criteria (9 for effectiveness, 2 for safety).
The result of the only reported randomized controlled trial on MOM hip resurfacing arthroplasty could not be included in this assessment, because it used a cemented acetabular component, whereas in the new generation of implants, a cementless acetabular component is used. After omitting this publication, only case series remained.
Summary of Findings
 
Health Outcomes
The Harris hip score and SF-12 are 2 measures commonly used to report health outcomes in MOM hip resurfacing arthroplasty studies. Other scales used are the Oxford hip score and the University of California Los Angeles hip score.
The case series showed that the mean revision rate of MOM hip resurfacing arthroplasty is 1.5% and the incidence of femoral neck fracture is 0.67%. Across all studies, 2 cases of osteonecrosis were reported. Four studies reported improvement in Harris hip scores. However, only 1 study reported a statistically significant improvement. Three studies reported improvement in SF-12 scores, of which 2 reported a significant improvement. One study reported significant improvement in UCLA hip score. Two studies reported postoperative Oxford hip scores, but no preoperative values were reported.
None of the reviewed studies reported procedure-related deaths. Four studies reported implant survival rates ranging from 94.4% to 99.7% for a follow-up period of 2.8 to 3.5 years. Three studies reported on the range of motion. One reported improvement in all motions including flexion, extension, abduction-adduction, and rotation, and another reported improvement in flexion. Yet another reported improvement in range of motion for flexion abduction-adduction and rotation arc. However, the author reported a decrease in the range of motion in the arc of flexion in patients with Brooker class III or IV heterotopic bone (all patients were men).
Safety of Metal-on-Metal Hip Resurfacing Arthroplasty
There is a concern about metal wear debris and its systemic distribution throughout the body. Detectable metal concentrations in the serum and urine of patients with metal hip implants have been described as early as the 1970s, and this issue is still controversial after 35 years.
Several studies have reported high concentration of cobalt and chromium in serum and/or urine of the patients with metal hip implants. Potential toxicological effects of the elevated metal ions have heightened concerns about safety of MOM bearings. This is of particular concern in young and active patients in whom life expectancy after implantation is long.
Since 1997, 15 studies, including 1 randomized clinical trial, have reported high levels of metal ions after THR with metal implants. Some of these studies have reported higher metal levels in patients with loose implants.
Adverse Biological Effects of Cobalt and Chromium
Because patients who receive a MOM hip arthroplasty are shown to be exposed to high concentrations of metallic ions, the Medical Advisory Secretariat searched the literature for reports of adverse biological effects of cobalt and chromium. Cobalt and chromium make up the major part of the metal articulations; therefore, they are a focus of concern.
Risk of Cancer
To date, only one study has examined the incidence of cancer after MOM and polyethylene on metal total hip arthroplasties. The results were compared to that of general population in Finland. The mean duration of follow-up for MOM arthroplasty was 15.7 years; for polyethylene arthroplasty, it was 12.5 years. The standardized incidence ratio for all cancers in the MOM group was 0.95 (95% CI, 0.79–1.13). In the polyethylene on metal group it was 0.76 (95% CI, 0.68–0.86). The combined standardized incidence ratio for lymphoma and leukemia in the patients who had MOM THR was 1.59 (95% CI, 0.82–2.77). It was 0.59 (95% CI, 0.29–1.05) for the patients who had polyethylene on metal THR. Patients with MOM THR had a significantly higher risk of leukemia. All patients who had leukemia were aged over than 60 years.
Cobalt Cardiotoxicity
 
Epidemiological Studies of Myocardiopathy of Beer Drinkers
An unusual type of myocardiopathy, characterized by pericardial effusion, elevated hemoglobin concentrations, and congestive heart failure, occurred as an epidemic affecting 48 habitual beer drinkers in Quebec City between 1965 and 1966. This epidemic was directly related the consumption of a popular beer containing cobalt sulfate. The epidemic appeared 1 month after cobalt sulfate was added to the specific brewery, and no further cases were seen a month after this specific chemical was no longer used in making this beer. A beer of the same name is made in Montreal, and the only difference at that time was that the Quebec brand of beer contained about 10 times more cobalt sulphate. Cobalt has been added to some Canadian beers since 1965 to improve the stability of the foam but it has been added in larger breweries only to draught beer. However, in small breweries, such as those in Quebec City, separate batches were not brewed for bottle and draught beer; therefore, cobalt was added to all of the beer processed in this brewery.
In March 1966, a committee was appointed under the chairmanship of the Deputy Minister of Health for Quebec that included members of the department of forensic medicine of Quebec’s Ministry of Justice, epidemiologists, members of Food and Drug Directorate of Ottawa, toxicologists, biomedical researchers, pathologists, and members of provincial police. Epidemiological studies were carried out by the Provincial Ministry of Health and the Quebec City Health Department.
The association between the development of myocardiopathy and the consumption of the particular brand of beer was proven. The mortality rate of this epidemic was 46.1% and those who survived were desperately ill, and recovered only after a struggle for their lives.
Similar cases were seen in Omaha (Nebraska). The epidemic started after a cobalt additive was used in 1 of the beers marketed in Nebraska. Sixty-four patients with the clinical diagnosis of alcoholic myocardiopathy were seen during an 18-month period (1964–1965). Thirty of these patients died. The first patient became ill within 1 month after cobalt was added to the beer, and the last patient was seen within 1 month of withdrawal of cobalt.
A similar epidemic occurred in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Between 1964 and 1967, 42 patients with acute heart failure were admitted to a hospital in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Twenty of these patients were drinking 6 to 30 bottles per day of a particular brand of beer exclusively. The other 14 patients also drank the same brand of beer, but not exclusively. The mortality rate from the acute illness was 18%, but late deaths accounted for a total mortality rate of 43%. Examination of the tissue from these patients revealed markedly abnormal changes in myofibrils (heart muscles), mitochondria, and sarcoplasmic reticulum.
In Belgium, a similar epidemic was reported in 1966, in which, cobalt was used in some Belgian beers. There was a difference in mortality between the Canadian or American epidemic and this series. Only 1 of 24 patients died, 1.5 years after the diagnosis. In March 1965, at an international meeting in Brussels, a new heart disease in chronic beer drinkers was described. This disease consists of massive pericardial effusion, low cardiac output, raised venous pressure, and polycythemia in some cases. This syndrome was thought to be different from the 2 other forms of alcoholic heart disease (beriberi and a form characterized by myocardial fibrosis).
The mystery of the above epidemics as stated by investigators is that the amount of cobalt added to the beer was below the therapeutic doses used for anemia. For example, 24 pints of Quebec brand of beer in Quebec would contain 8 mg of cobalt chloride, whereas an intake of 50 to 100 mg of cobalt as an antianemic agent has been well tolerated. Thus, greater cobalt intake alone does not explain the occurrence of myocardiopathy. It seems that there are individual differences in cobalt toxicity. Other features, like subclinical alcoholic heart disease, deficient diet, and electrolyte imbalance could have been precipitating factors that made these patients susceptible to cobalt’s toxic effects.
In the Omaha epidemic, 60% of the patients had weight loss, anorexia, and occasional vomiting and diarrhea 2 to 6 months before the onset of cardiac symptoms. In the Quebec epidemic, patients lost their appetite 3 to 6 months before the diagnosis of myocardiopathy and developed nausea in the weeks before hospital admission. In the Belgium epidemic, anorexia was one of the most predominant symptoms at the time of diagnosis, and the quality and quantity of food intake was poor. Alcohol has been shown to increase the uptake of intracoronary injected cobalt by 47%. When cobalt enters the cells, calcium exits; this shifts the cobalt to calcium ratio. The increased uptake of cobalt in alcoholic patients may explain the high incidence of cardiomyopathies in beer drinkers’ epidemics.
As all of the above suggest, it may be that prior chronic exposure to alcohol and/or a nutritionally deficient diet may have a marked synergistic effect with the cardiotoxicity of cobalt.
Conclusions
MOM hip resurfacing arthroplasty has been shown to be an effective arthroplasty procedure as tested in younger patients.
However, evidence for effectiveness is based only on 7 case series with short duration of follow-up (2.8–3.5 years). There are no RCTs or other well-controlled studies that compare MOM hip resurfacing with THR.
Revision rates reported in the MOM studies using implants currently licensed in Canada (hybrid systems, uncemented acetabular, and cemented femoral) range from 0.3% to 3.6% for a mean follow-up ranging from 2.8 to 3.5 years.
Fracture of femoral neck is not very common; it occurs in 0.4% to 2.2% of cases (as observed in a short follow-up period).
All the studies that measured health outcomes have reported improvement in Harris Hip and SF-12 scores; 1 study reported significant reduction in pain and improvement in function, and 2 studies reported significant improvement in SF-12 scores. One study reported significant improvement in UCLA Hip scores.
Concerns remain on the potential adverse effects of metal ions. Longer-term follow-up data will help to resolve the inconsistency of findings on adverse effects, including toxicity and carcinogenicity.
Ontario-Based Economic Analysis
The device cost for MOM ranges from $4,300 to $6,000 (Cdn). Traditional hip replacement devices cost about $2,000 (Cdn). Using Ontario Case Costing Initiative data, the total estimated costs for hip resurfacing surgery including physician fees, device fees, follow-up consultation, and postsurgery rehabilitation is about $15,000 (Cdn).
Cost of Total Hip Replacement Surgery in Ontario
MOM hip arthroplasty is generally recommended for patients aged under 55 years because its bone-conserving advantage enables patients to “buy time” and hence helps THRs to last over the lifetime of the patient. In 2004/2005, 15.9% of patients who received THRs were aged 55 years and younger. It is estimated that there are from 600 to 1,000 annual MOM hip arthroplasty surgeries in Canada with an estimated 100 to 150 surgeries in Ontario. Given the increased public awareness of this device, it is forecasted that demand for MOM hip arthroplasty will steadily increase with a conservative estimate of demand rising to 1,400 cases by 2010 (Figure 10). The net budget impact over a 5-year period could be $500,000 to $4.7 million, mainly because of the increasing cost of the device.
Projected Number of Metal-on-Metal Hip Arthroplasty Surgeries in Ontario: to 2010
PMCID: PMC3379532  PMID: 23074495
21.  P26 - Vertebral Plasty in the Treatment of Vertebral Collapse Due to Osteoporosis 
Vertebral compression fractures are a major cause of disability; around 1.4 million cases are estimated to occur in the world each year.
In the elderly population in particular, vertebral compression fractures cause persistent pain, kyphosis, breathing difficulties, loss of appetite, and reduced quality of life, all factors that, together, induce a negative spiral from which patients struggle to emerge. As recent clinical studies have shown, the end result of this negative spiral is an approximately 25% increase in mortality, with loss of muscle mass.
The traditional treatment for vertebral compression fractures is immobilisation of the patient for several weeks and possibly the use of a brace or orthosis. The results are poor, however; furthermore, this approach, because of the immobilisation, aggravates osteoporosis (when present), and does not correct kyphosis. It therefore fails to address the secondary consequences of the fracture, which are due to altered biomechanics.
At our hospital, S.M. Annunziata in Florence, we have developed a protocol for the treatment of osteoporotic vertebral compression fractures showing a less than 30% loss of height compared with the surrounding area. It is a non-invasive treatment involving the use of a three-point brace or a fabric brace reinforced with metal splints and mobilisation after canalisation, with follow-up X-ray at two weeks. If the patient tolerates the non-invasive treatment well, and providing there has been no further reduction in the height of the vertebral body, the treatment continues (brace and follow ups) until healing is complete. If, instead there has been a further reduction in the height of the vertebral body, an MRI scan with STIR images is requested and, depending on the results of this and the symptoms reported (pain), a vertebral plasty procedure may be suggested.
In patients who, from, the outset, present a greater than 30% reduction of the vertebral body or comorbidities that prevent or could complicate an invasive approach, an MRI scan with STIR images is requested. After identifying the vertebra or vertebrae to be treated, which will still show images consistent with oedema on the MRI sequences, fat removal is carried out followed by the vertebroplasty procedure. The methods used in this field have increased in recent years. Vertebroplasty involves the introduction of radiopaque bone cement into a vertebral body by means of a metal needle placed under amplioscopic guidance; kyphoplasty is a more recent method which consists of the introduction of radiopaque bone cement into a cavity created in the vertebral body by means of a balloon, similar to the kind used in angioplasty procedures, that is inserted percutaneously. Both methods aim to “strengthen” the fractured vertebra through the introduction, into the vertebral body, of acrylic (polymethylmetacrylate) cement, like that used to fix replacement hips to bone. We use the kyphoplasty method in cases in which we need to reduce the fracture or when there are increased risks of “linkage”, whereas in the other cases we use vertebroplasty, often with high-viscosity cement to reduce to a minimum the risk of cement leakage. All patients are offered a medical anti-osteoporosis therapy if they were not already receiving such treatment prior to the vertebral collapse.
We believe that a precise diagnosis, based on a combination of MRI STIR sequences showing bone oedema and the patient’s symptoms (pain), makes it possible, through vertebral plasty, to treat many cases of vertebral collapse due to osteoporosis, considerably reducing healing time and costs.
By combining a vertebral plasty approach aiming to restore the spine’s mechanical axis with an adequate medical therapy for osteoporosis, it is possible to reduce considerably the risk of further vertebral collapses due to osteoporosis and markedly improve the patient’s quality of life.
PMCID: PMC3213769
22.  Understanding racial variation in the use of carotid endarterectomy: the role of aversion to surgery. 
Previous studies indicate that African-American patients undergo carotid endarterectomy at one fourth the rate of white patients. This study was undertaken to determine if differences in aversion to carotid endarterectomy might account for some of the racial difference in utilization of this procedure. A sample of 185 African-American and white patients was selected from a cohort of patients hospitalized for stroke or transient ischemic attack at four Veterans Affairs medical centers. Of these patients, 115 (62%) were able to be contacted by telephone and 95 (83%) agreed to be interviewed. The interview included assessments of functional status, patient preferences for their current health status, and risk aversion to a hypothetical carotid endarterectomy. Patients from both racial groups were similar in age, marital status, level of education, and comorbid medical illnesses. All respondents were male. Functional status for both groups was high and not statistically different. There were no significant racial differences in patients' perceptions of their current health state. However, African-American patients expressed more aversion to the hypothetical surgery than whites. The median excess risk of death accepted to avoid surgery was 20% for African Americans versus 2.5% for whites. These results indicate that racial differences in the utilization of carotid endarterectomy may be due in part to differences in patients' levels of aversion to this surgery.
PMCID: PMC2608306  PMID: 9473926
23.  Adolescent Neurodevelopment 
Purpose
The purpose of this paper is to outline notable alterations occurring in the adolescent brain, and consider potential ramifications of these developmental transformations for public policy and programs involving adolescents.
Methods
Developmental changes in the adolescent brain obtained from human imaging work are reviewed, along with results of basic science studies.
Results
Adolescent brain transformations include both progressive and regressive changes that are regionally specific and serve to refine brain functional connectivity. Along with still maturing inhibitory control systems that can be overcome under emotional circumstances, the adolescent brain is associated with sometimes elevated activation of reward-relevant brain regions, whereas sensitivity to aversive stimuli may be attenuated. At this time, the developmental shift from greater brain plasticity early in life to the relative stability of the mature brain is still tilted more towards plasticity than seen in adulthood, perhaps providing an opportunity for some experience-influenced sculpting of the adolescent brain.
Conclusions
Normal developmental transformations in brain reward/aversive systems, areas critical for inhibitory control, and regions activated by emotional, exciting and stressful stimuli may promote some normative degree of adolescent risk-taking. These findings have a number of potential implications for public policies and programs focused on adolescent health and well-being.
doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2012.05.006
PMCID: PMC3982854  PMID: 23332574
adolescence; brain; neurodevelopment; brain imaging; cognitive control; reward sensitivity; aversive stimuli; emotions; risk-taking; public policy
24.  Altered Amygdala Resting-State Functional Connectivity in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder 
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is often characterized by aberrant amygdala activation and functional abnormalities in corticolimbic circuitry, as elucidated by functional neuroimaging. These “activation” studies have primarily relied on tasks designed to induce region-specific, and task-dependent brain responses in limbic (e.g., amygdala) and paralimbic brain areas through the use of aversive evocative probes. It remains unknown if these corticolimbic circuit abnormalities exist at baseline or “at rest,” in the absence of fear/anxiety-related provocation and outside the context of task demands. Therefore the primary aim of the present experiment was to investigate aberrant amygdala functional connectivity patterns in combat-related PTSD patients during resting-state. Seventeen Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) veterans with combat-related PTSD (PTSD group) and 17 combat-exposed OEF/OIF veterans without PTSD [combat-exposed control (CEC) group] underwent an 8-min resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging scan. Using an anatomically derived amygdala “seed” region we observed stronger functional coupling between the amygdala and insula in the PTSD group compared to the CEC group, but did not find group differences in amygdala–prefrontal connectivity. These findings suggest that the aberrant amygdala and insula activation to fear-evocative probes previously characterized in PTSD may be driven by an underlying enhanced connectivity between the amygdala, a region known for perceiving threat and generating fear responses, and the insula, a region known for processing the meaning and prediction of aversive bodily states. This enhanced amygdala–insula connectivity may reflect an exaggerated, pervasive state of arousal that exists outside the presence of an overt actual threat/danger. Studying amygdala functional connectivity “at rest” extends our understanding of the pathophysiology of PTSD.
doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2011.00062
PMCID: PMC3214721  PMID: 22102841
amygdala; resting-state; functional magnetic resonance imaging; post-traumatic stress disorder
25.  Heightened resting neural activity predicts exaggerated stressor-evoked blood pressure reactivity 
Hypertension  2009;53(5):819-825.
Individuals who express relatively large-magnitude or ‘exaggerated’ blood pressure (BP) reactions to behavioral stressors are presumably at increased risk for cardiovascular disease. As shown by recent neuroimaging studies, individuals who express exaggerated stressor-evoked BP reactivity also express heightened neural activity in corticolimbic brain areas that centrally regulate the cardiovascular system. These studies, however, have exclusively examined BP reactivity and concomitant neural activity during stressor exposure. If exaggerated BP reactivity originates in part from a centrally-regulated and dispositional cardiovascular response tendency, then heightened resting (pre-stressor) corticolimbic activity may predict the subsequent expression of exaggerated stressor-evoked BP reactivity. To test this hypothesis, perfusion magnetic resonance imaging was used to quantify resting regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF; an indirect metabolic measure of neural activity) in men (n=19) and women (n=20) aged 20-37 who subsequently performed cognitive stressor tasks to evoke BP reactivity. Individuals who expressed larger task-induced rises in systolic and diastolic BP also expressed higher resting rCBF in four functionally-related corticolimbic areas: the dorsal and perigenual anterior cingulate, medial prefrontal, and insular cortices. Specifically, resting rCBF in these areas accounted respectively for 40% and 31% of the variance in systolic (P=0.001) and diastolic (P=0.008) BP reactivity, after accounting for total resting CBF, resting BP, task performance, and task-related ratings of unpleasantness, arousal, and perceived psychological control. Heightened resting corticolimbic activity may represent a neurobiological correlate of an individual’s predisposition for exaggerated stressor-evoked BP reactivity and possibly related cardiovascular risk.
doi:10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.108.126227
PMCID: PMC2674279  PMID: 19273741
anterior cingulate cortex; blood pressure reactivity; individual differences; insula; medial prefrontal cortex; stress

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