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IN BRIEF

The Baltimore Sun

PBS documentary focuses on gay youths

Sexuality

Maryland Public Television plans to air a new documentary called Anyone and Everyone at 9 p.m. tomorrow that promotes what station officials call "lessons about love and acceptance" through stories from parents of gay youth.

MPT officials say 26 percent of gay teens who come out to their parents are told to leave home. About 20 to 40 percent of the 1.6 million homeless kids around the nation are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. And nearly 40 percent of gay students report being physically harassed.

Those who have a gay child or friend and want to know more about resources available around the state can call a live phone bank during the 90-minute broadcast. They include local support groups, AIDS-HIV hotlines and ministry directories. The number is 800-222-1292.

The Public Broadcasting Service produced this documentary and others on topics of love and forgiveness for MPT and other public television stations. The documentaries were initiated by the nonprofit Fetzer Institute, which supports endeavors that look beyond "political, social and economic strategies to their psychological and spiritual roots."

Meredith Cohn

Heart disease

Chronic anxiety can boost heart attack risk in men

Researchers reported this month that chronic anxiety can significantly increase the risk of a heart attack, at least in men.

The findings add another trait to the psychological profiles linked to heart disease, including anger or hostility, Type A behavior and depression.

"There's a connection between the heart and head," said Dr. Nieca Goldberg, a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association who was not involved in the study.

"This is very important research because we really are focused very much on prescribing medicine for cholesterol and lowering blood pressure and treating diabetes, but we don't look at the psychological aspect of a patient's care," she added.

Doctors "need to be aggressive about not only taking care of the traditional risk factors ... but also really getting into their patients' heads."

The research was published last week by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

At issue here is not the sweaty palms before a big speech or nervousness at a party, but long-standing anxiety - people who are socially withdrawn, fearful, chronic worriers.

University of Southern California psychologist Biing-Jiun Shen used data from a national aging study to estimate the impact of this trait on the heart.

The Normative Aging Study has tracked 735 men since 1986. Shen tracked men who scored in the top 15 percent of anxiety scales that measure such things as excessive doubts, social insecurity, phobias and stress.

Those men deemed chronically anxious were 30 percent to 40 percent more likely to have had a heart attack than their more easygoing counterparts.

Associated Press

Autism

Researchers link genetic flaw to children with the disorder

Scientists have found a new genetic link to autism that appears to affect about 1 percent of people with the disorder and could help resolve some of the mystery surrounding what causes it.

A study published online this month in the New England Journal of Medicine identified a stretch of 25 genes that were either missing or duplicated in 10 children who were diagnosed with autism or a similar developmental disorder.

Experts now must figure out which of the deleted genes contribute most to autism. Understanding that could help researchers develop new therapies for the condition, which affects more than a million Americans.

At the least, identifying the genetic flaw makes it possible to give children a relatively inexpensive diagnostic test, researchers said.

The new report, by researchers with the Boston-based Autism Consortium, follows a similar finding published last month by a team at the University of Chicago Medical Center. Both groups have zeroed in on the same stretch of genes that appears linked to autism.

"This allows us to really start chasing down the biology of the disorder," said Dr. Bill Dobyns, a leader of the team, which published its results last month in the journal Human Molecular Genetics.

Scientists have long known that autism has strong genetic roots, but previous studies found specific genetic causes for only about 10 percent of cases. In many such cases, autism is just one feature within a developmental defect that can also include mental disability or other cognitive problems

Chicago Tribune

Diabetes

Thermometer can detect hot spots on feet, a possible sign of an ulcer

Diabetics, watch out: A hot spot on your foot can signal an ulcer is brewing, a wound that could cost you your limb. New research shows that using a special thermometer to measure the temperature of their soles can give patients enough early warning to avoid one of diabetes' most intractable complications.

It's a simple-sounding protection for such a huge problem. Foot ulcers each year strike 600,000 U.S. diabetics, people slow to notice they even have a wound because diabetes has numbed their feet.

"They've lost the gift of pain," says Dr. David Armstrong of Chicago's Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, a diabetic foot specialist.

Worse, foot ulcers are so slow-healing and vulnerable to infection that they're to blame for most of the roughly 80,000 amputations of toes, feet and lower legs that diabetics undergo each year.

A $150 infrared thermometer with a tip that digitally measures skin temperature on contact reduced by nearly two-thirds the number of high-risk patients who got foot ulcers, Armstrong found in a study of 225 diabetic veterans. It was the third in a series of government-funded research to back the approach.

Associated Press

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