Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Research Links Eye Color with Rare Form of Cancer

Every year in the United States about 2,500 people are diagnosed with uveal melanoma, which arises
A Blue Human Iris: Photo courtesy of 8thstar at Enblish Wikipedia
from the pigment cells in the eyes which determine their color. Clinical data in the past pointed to a correlation between this disease and Caucasians and those with light eye color, but the genetic path for this phenomenon has not been studied previously.

A new study conducted by doctors from Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Perlmutter Cancer Center of the NYU School of Medicine, and reported by the Foundation Fighting Blindness with Louis Kreisberg, CEO, showed a strong association between genes connected to eye color and the onset of uveal melanoma.

"This is a very important discovery that will guide future research efforts to explore the interactions of these pigmentary genes with other genetic and environmental risk factors in cancers not linked to sun exposure, such as eye melanoma. This could provide a paradigm shift in the field. Our study suggests that in eye melanoma the pigmentation difference may play a direct cancer-driving role, not related to sunlight protection," says Mohamed Abdel-Rahman, MD, one of the scientists exploring the issue.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Estate Planning and Prenuptial Agreements

When people with children from previous marriages decide to wed, special issues arise when considering inheritance.  Parents are concerned that the rights of their children be protected, and pre-nuptial agreements can be the vehicle through which those inheritance rights are protected.

What is a prenuptial agreement? Basically, it is just a contract which goes into effect at the time of the marriage. The agreement should be executed well in advance of the actual wedding, and should include details about spousal support and/or the distribution of assets should there be a death or divorce.

The key value of having a prenuptial agreement is that the rights to support and inheritance are respected according to the agreed upon requirements in the event of divorce or death. The agreement is able to protect children from the previous marriage and also to protect any separate assets which were brought into the new relationship or earned during it.

In addition, owners of businesses can protect their business from coming under the control of an estranged ex-spouse. People who are the recipients of inherited wealth frequently want to protect those assets to remain in the family for their heirs.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Sedentary Lifestyle Can Increase Risk of Diabetic Retinopathy Says New Study

Proliferative retinopathy
The Foundation Fighting Blindness, where Louis Kreisberg is the CEO, helps fund research in all areas delving into the causes and treatments of a large variety of vision-threatening illnesses. One such study showed a connection between a sedentary lifestyle and diabetic retinopathy.

The study, published in the online version of JAMA Ophthalmology by Paul D. Loprinzi, Ph.D of the University of Mississippi, examined the association of sedentary behavior (SB) with diabetic retinopathy (DR). The researcher used data from 2005 to 2006 found in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

The study included 282 participants who had diabetes. The average age of the subjects was 62, and 29 percent had at least a mild form of DR. The participants engaged on average in 522 minutes per day of SB. Sedentary behavior was assessed with an accelerometer and measured while participants were awake.

The author of the study found that those with a 60-minute per day increase in SB had a 16 percent increased risk of having mild or worse DR. Total physical activity was not associated with DR.

"The plausibility of this positive association between SB and DR may in part be a result of the increased cardiovascular disease risks associated with SB, which in turn may increase the risk of DR. This association does not prove a cause and effect of SB and increased chance of worsening DR. To know whether this observed association had a cause-and-effect relationship, intervention trials would be needed in which individuals were assigned randomly to increase PA and decreased prolonged SB had a decreased chance of worsening DR," writes Dr. Loprinzi.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Blended Families Face Unique Issues for Estate Planning

Most of life’s milestones require planning in order to get the most benefit from them. Estate planning is no different. This goes for traditional families as well as for blended families, which are growing in number.

If you are about to become the head of a blended, or step-family, then pay attention to some of the decisions which need to be made when planning the distribution of your assets.

1.      Keep your documents up to date. A new marriage could invalidate a previous will, so check and make sure. Whether you are about to enter a step-family or not, it is always a good idea to have your will updated whenever something new is added to the mix. If not, you could end up leaving your assets to your ex, even if you would rather not.

2.      Who will be the executor of you will? It can be anyone you trust with the job, including spouse, children, or children from a previous marriage. It can even be a friend or colleague. Don’t forget to pick a third-party mediator, like an accountant or lawyer, which can help avoid confusion and awkwardness.

3.      You can create a trust which will help to pass on your assets to children of a previous marriage, while still allowing you to provide for your present spouse. The trust can help insure the correct division of assets.

4.      Life insurance can help those inheriting from you, creating an additional source of funds. You can designate your new children from a more recent marriage as beneficiaries of the insurance, while the rest of your estate can go to your older children from a past marriage.

5.      Even though it might seem awkward, singing a marriage contract can keep things clear and straightforward.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Embryonic Stem Cells Show Promise in Helping Eye Diseases in Certain Patients

The Foundation for Fighting Blindness, with CEO Louis Kreisberg
Diagram to show how embryonic stem cells are differentiated
, reported on the advancements recently made in the use of stem cells as a therapy for certain eye diseases.

Human stem cells were first isolated in 1998, and since that time researchers have been investigating how these special embryonic cells can be used to treat a variety of illnesses.

Recently scientists have seen encouraging results with a group of 18 patients who were followed for a median time of 22 months, and two for over three years.
“This is a promising study, and it provides a lot of hope for regenerative medicine,” said Dr. Steven D. Schwartz, a retina specialist at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the lead author of the paper. “However, there’s a lot of work to be done.”
The study followed patients who were the recipients of Advanced Cell Technology, which changes embryonic stem cells into retinal pigment epithelium cells, which are the supporting cells for the light-sensing cells of the eye.

In eight of the 18 eyes that were treated, vision improved considerably. That is compared to no improvement at all in the untreated eyes.