Downsides to vaccines, detecting Alzheimer's and "early-in-the-day" smokers

August 25, 2011 2:53:33 PM PDT
There is no doubt that vaccines save lives, but do they have a downside?

The Institute of Medicine, an organization that is made up of the country's leading scientists, put together a committee to look at over a thousand studies that were done on most of the vaccines in common use.

In recent years, the subject of vaccines has been hotly debated, so the scientists scrutinized the scientific evidence by going over 1000 studies on vaccines.

They found very rarely found some problems, and said that in general, vaccines are safe.

While the side effects of the 14 vaccines that were examined included brief seizures, fainting, brain swelling, or an allergic reaction, they happen with rarity.

The committee also found no proof that vaccines can cause autism or diabetes.

Detecting Alzheimer's before symptoms show

Alzheimer's Disease is usually identified after symptoms develop, but researchers now want to find it before the symptoms show up.

"We know that if we can actually delay the onset of symptoms, we know that we can actually cut the number of people with Alzheimer's disease by half," said Dr. Stephen Rao of The Cleveland Clinic.

A new study says a brain imaging technique found chemical changes in the brain that indicate Alzheimer's years before any symptoms show up.

It is a step to an early diagnosis.

"We think ultimately there will be a combination of imaging biomarkers, as well as measures that are taken from the blood and spinal fluid which will eventually be used in this early and accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease," added Dr. Rao.

"Early-in-the-day" smokers more at risk for cancer

People who reach for their first cigarette soon after getting out of bed may have the highest risk of cancer amongst smokers.

Researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health published two studies that found more lung cancers and more head and neck cancers in "early-in-the-day" smokers.

Smokers who had their first cigarette during the first half hour of being awake had almost twice the risk of developing the cancers than smokers who waited to smoke their cigarette later in the day.

The researchers say this finding is important because it can help them target interventions to stop smoking to those smokers at the highest risk.