- People regain the same amount of weight no matter how fast or slow they lose it
- Scientists discover new cells that could be a breakthrough for cancer treatments
- Brain scans show comatose patients might still be conscious
Here's a roundup of five medical studies published this week that might give you new insights into your health. Remember, correlation is not causation -- so if a study finds a connection between two things, it doesn't mean that one causes the other.
Slow and steady may not matter in weight loss
Does it matter if you lose weight quickly or gradually? Apparently not. A new study published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology found obese individuals regained about the same amount of weight post-diet whether they are on fast or slow weight-loss regimen.
Most medical guidelines recommend gradual weight loss because experts previously believed rapid weight loss would lead patients to rapidly regain the weight.
The study, led by Joseph Proietto of the Weight Control Clinic at Austin Health in Australia, showed that it didn't matter whether participants were placed on a 12-week rapid weight loss program or a 36-week gradual program. After they achieved a primary target loss of over 12.5% of their body weight, participants from both programs showed the same results: they regained about 71% over the next three years.
More than 80% of those in the rapid weight loss group achieved their target weight loss, versus just 50% in the gradual program. The study authors say that encouraging rapid weight loss could motivate participants to continue their diets.
Depression and obesity are linked
It's common to crave junk food when you're feeling blue, but a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report suggests there may also be a much stronger link between obesity and depression.
Scientists analyzing data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys determined that adults with depression are more likely to be obese than their depression-free peers.
Obesity and depression were only linked in men older than 60. Women, on the other hand, suffer from a combination of obesity and depression at all ages. In addition, the worse a woman's depression symptoms are, the more likely she is to be obese. Fifty percent of women reporting severe depression were obese, as opposed to only 42.4% with mild depression and 32.5% with no depression.
Antidepressant medications contribute even more to the obesity problem, with 55% of adults on antidepressants who still suffered from moderate to severe symptoms weighing in as obese. Among adults with the same symptoms who were not on antidepressants, the prevalence of obesity dropped to 39%.
Doctors may be able to use this new information to create more comprehensive treatments for both depression and obesity, including steps to prevent one if the other is already present.
Immune cells in tumors may lead fight against cancer
UC San Francisco researchers have discovered a new type of immune cell in human tumor tissues, which could mean a breakthrough for cancer treatments. Their study, published in the journal Cancer Cell, chronicles the discovery that they say might lead to newer, more precise immunotherapy than is currently being studied in clinical trials.
Tumors usually subvert the immune system, inactivating a patient's valuable T-cells. T-cells identify and capture any cell that is recognized as abnormal. Without active T-cells, cancers are able to grow and spread.
Lead study author Matthew Krummel, a professor of pathology at UCSF, believes that these newly identified immune cells, although quite sparse in the tumors, are critical in determining the rate at which tumors grow and potential patient outcomes, especially for head, neck and breast cancers. The researchers found patients with a strong presence of this cell tend to live longer than those with a weak presence.
You can be conscious in a coma
It might be possible to be conscious in coma, according to a new study published in the PLOS Computational Biology journal. Scientists have found hidden signatures in the brains of people in vegetative states that mean they might be capable of thoughts while otherwise unresponsive.
Comatose patients were hooked up to a complex brain scanner and were told to imagine playing tennis. Scans of their brains were then compared to the scans of healthy adults who were told to do the same thing. While some of the vegetative patient's scans remained unchanged, others showed scans that looked similar to the scans of healthy patients.
This means some vegetative patients are possibly able to respond to commands even though they appear unresponsive. These findings could help researchers develop a test to tell whether vegetative patients are aware, which could change the patient's future diagnosis and treatment.
Kids with enterovirus twice as likely to have diabetes
A study published by Diabetologia, the Journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, suggests kids who have had enterovirus are 48% more likely to develop Type 1 diabetes than kids who haven't.
Type 1 diabetes is thought to be caused by a complex combination of genetic factors, immune responses and environmental factors. The study authors say enterovirus might change a child's immune system, increasing his or her risk of the disease. Kids in the study with other respiratory issues like asthma or hay fever did not have the same increased diabetes risk.
A mix of enteroviruses circulates every year, according to the CDC. Different types of enteroviruses can be common in different years, each associated with its own various clinical syndromes, from minor illness and fever to severe, potentially deadly conditions.
This study only included enterovirus infections that presented with clear symptoms. It did not include enterovirus D68, the specific strain that has been reported on this year.