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Black women prone to hair loss, study finds — health briefs

Dr. Yolanda Lenzy

Nearly half of African-American women have had some degree of hair loss, according to a study presented last week at the annual meeting of the Schaumburg-based American Academy of Dermatology.

And even though black women are more prone to suffer hair loss, they typically don’t consult a doctor about the condition, says Dr. Yolanda Lenzy, the University of Connecticut dermatologist and researcher who presented the findings at the conference in Washington, D.C.

Most often, the cause of hair loss among black women is central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia, a condition that inflames and can destroy hair follicles, according to Lenzy. But she also warned that frequent braiding, weaves and the use of hair-relaxing chemicals can also cause hair loss.

“Women who use these styling practices tend to use them repeatedly, and long-term repeated use can result in hair loss,” says Lenzy, who worked with the Black Women’s Health Study at Boston University to survey nearly 6,000 African-American women about hair loss.

More than 47 percent of them said they’ve had hair loss at the top of the scalp, but more than 80 percent hadn’t seen a doctor about that, though steroid creams and antibiotics can help and topical minoxidil can help regrowth, according to Lenzy.

 

Study: Many don’t understand acne, stigmatize those who have it

More than four of five people in a new study view acne sufferers with pity, according to research presented at the dermatology conference that also found more than half of those surveyed had such a poor understanding of the skin condition that they thought it’s contagious and caused by bad hygiene.

Dr. Alexa Kimball

Dr. Alexa Kimball

It was a small study, including just 56 volunteers.

Still, “Clearly, there are a lot of misconceptions,” says Dr. Alexa Boer Kimball, a Harvard Medical School researcher and dermatology professor who authored the study. “Acne is a medical condition. There are a variety of effective treatment options.”

Acne affects an estimated 50 million Americans. It’s typically treated with topical creams, antibiotics and, in some cases, oral contraceptives.

 

Study: Eating seafood linked to lower Alzheimer’s risk for some

Having seafood once a week or more appears to help protect against Alzheimer’s disease in people who carry a gene associated with a higher risk of the disease, a Rush University researcher has found.

For a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Martha Clare Morris, a Rush epidemiologist, analyzed autopsied brain tissue from 286 elderly Chicago-area study participants who had kept food diaries starting in 2004 as part of the study.

Martha Morris

Martha Morris

The study didn’t prove eating seafood prevents Alzheimer’s even for those with the apolipoprotein e4, or APOE e4, gene variant, which is fairly uncommon. But weekly seafood-eaters who carried the gene that puts them at higher risk of Alzheimer’s had fewer hallmarks in the brain of the plaques and tangles seen with the disease, Morris and fellow researchers found.

People who don’t have the gene variant didn’t see the same benefit, though.

Earlier studies also have suggested that seafood — which is high in beneficial omega-3 fatty acids — might help fend off the dementia associated with Alzheimer’s. But there’s been concern that mercury found in fish could damage the brain.

But Morris’ study didn’t find any link between higher levels of mercury in the brain and dementia.

An accompanying editorial found it “hopeful that interventions such as seafood consumption may help reduce clinical manifestations of Alzheimer disease . . . . Eating fatty fish may continue to be considered potentially beneficial against cognitive decline in at least a proportion of older adults.”

 

Study finds ‘a path to a cure’ for HIV, researcher says

Dr. Steven Wolinsky

Dr. Steven Wolinsky

A combination of powerful antiretroviral drugs can drop HIV to undetectable levels in the blood of most patients infected with the AIDS virus, but until now it’s been a mystery how the virus quickly rebounds if people stop taking the drugs.

Now, researchers say they’ve shown the virus continues to replicate in lymph tissue — a finding they say is important because it raises the prospect that high concentrations of drugs can be developed to target these areas and ultimately eliminate the virus in the body.

“We now have a path to a cure,” says Dr. Steven Wolinsky, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine’s chief of infectious diseases and one of the authors of an international study reported in the journal Nature.