Open Reading Frame brings together a selection of recent publication highlights from elsewhere in the open access ecosystem. This week we take a look at the past few weeks in medicine.
Can eczema protect against skin cancer?
Evidence from epidemiological studies suggests that patients with eczema may be protected against developing skin cancer, but it is not known whether this decreased risk is due to eczema itself or the drugs used to treat the condition. Research has now been carried out in mice to investigate whether defects in the outermost skin layers – a hallmark of eczema – protect against skin cancer. Knockout mice lacking skin barrier proteins had a six-fold lower risk of developing tumors compared with wild-type mice. The knockout mice also demonstrated a higher inflammatory response to tumor-inducing agents, suggesting that immune reactions triggered in those with eczema could help protect against skin cancer.
Cipolat et al. eLife
Maternal diet affects children’s DNA
New research suggests that a mother’s diet before conception can permanently affect her child’s DNA. The Gambian study, carried out in regions where people’s diet varies considerably between dry and wet seasons, showed that differential DNA methylation occurs in blood and hair follicle samples from 2-8 month old infants. These epigenetic changes correlated with the mother’s nutritional status, measured by biomarkers of nutrients in the blood. The authors conclude that maternal nutrition has important downstream effects on their offspring’s DNA, and that a mother’s diet before pregnancy could have a lasting impact on her children’s health.
Dominguez-Salas et al. Nature Communications
Mobile healthcare and hemophilia management
There have been rapid advances in the development of mobile health (mHealth) technology in recent years, which has great potential for helping patients manage chronic conditions. In a review article, Kate Khair and Mike Holland discuss the role of mHealth in managing hemophilia, a genetic blood clotting disorder. The authors describe how patient-focused apps can reinforce care provided by healthcare professionals, empower patients to live healthier lifestyles, and promote adherence to individualized treatment plans.
Khair and Holland. Smart Homecare Technology and TeleHealth
Weight loss intervention effective in menopausal women
There is a high prevalence of weight gain in perimenopausal women, which can lead to a number of complications, but interventions to prevent menopausal obesity are lacking. Now, a randomized controlled trial carried out in Australia has demonstrated the effectiveness of a motivational intervention delivered by healthcare professionals in helping perimenopausal women lose weight. Women in late premenopause receiving the intervention lost significantly more weight over a 12 month period than those in the control group, and had lower diastolic blood pressure. The results of this randomized trial indicate that motivational weight-loss interventions are effective in perimenopausal women, and such interventions could reduce the prevalence of obesity-related complications.
Williams et al. Nutrition & Diabetes
Global causes of maternal death
In 2010, it was estimated that 287,000 maternal deaths occurred globally, the majority of which were in low- and middle-income countries. Data on the causes of maternal death are therefore needed to inform global health policies to reduce mortality rates. An updated systematic review carried out by the World Health Organization revealed that from 2003-2009, hemorrhage, hypertension and sepsis were responsible for over half of maternal deaths worldwide. These findings reinforce evidence that most maternal deaths are avoidable, and should inform public health policies to reduce maternal mortality across the globe.
Say et al. The Lancet Global Health
Treating radiation-induced pneumonia after breast cancer surgery
Radiation-induced organizing pneumonia (RIOP) – a non-infectious inflammation of the lungs – can occur as a complication of postoperative radiotherapy for breast cancer. Pneumonia is frequently treated with corticosteroid therapy, but steroids have previously been associated with relapse. A retrospective study shows that among women with breast cancer who develop RIOP, the rate of pneumonia relapse is significantly higher in those receiving corticosteroid therapy compared with those on nonsteroid therapy. However, no difference in the alleviation of symptoms was observed between the two treatment groups, suggesting that nonsteroid therapy should be considered for breast cancer patients with RIOP.
Otani et al. Cancer Medicine
Written by Claire Barnard, Senior Editor for BMC Medicine.