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Genetic Markers in Mental Illness--A New Era of Predictive Screening

Genetic Markers in Mental Illness--A New Era of Predictive Screening

Teaser: 


Genetic Identification Promises Individually-tailored Treatments

Julia Krestow, BSc MSc

Mental illness is a term describing a group of disorders, all of which profoundly affect an individual's ability to think, feel, and act, and which result in a substantially diminished capa-city to cope with the ordinary demands of life. Mental illness can strike irrespective of age, gender, or race.1 Although mental disorders were recognized as illnesses in the mid-18th century, suspicion and fear often overshadowed understanding. Gradually, advances in the fields of psychiatry, behavioural science, neuroscience, biology, and genetics have replaced trepidation with knowledge. Some common mental illnesses are schizophrenia, bipolar affective disorder and depression.

Researchers and clinicians have worked for decades to reduce the suffering of those with disabling disorders, and current treatments can alleviate symptoms for many. Unfortunately, there is no curative treatment, and the treatments which do exist can have side effects. Research has long shown that the risk of developing mental illness increases if another family member is similarly affected; this suggests a strong hereditary component. Exciting developments in molecular genetics and the neurosciences explain the cautious optimism in terms of insight gained into the causes of mental disorders.

Diabetes: New Guidelines on Screening and Diagnosis

Diabetes: New Guidelines on Screening and Diagnosis

Teaser: 

D'Arcy Little, MD, CCFP
York Community Services, Toronto and
Department of Family Medicine, Sunnybrook Campus of Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Epidemiology
Diabetes mellitus, a metabolic disease characterized by hyperglycemia secondary to defective insulin secretion and/or action, is an extremely common, chronic illness with a high burden of potentially preventable complications. It is a leading cause of coronary artery disease, peripheral vascular disease, kidney failure, peripheral neuropathy and new-onset blindness. A full five percent of Canadians have been diagnosed with the disease, and this percentage is predicted to translate into 2.2 million cases by the year 2000. However, statistics from the United States suggest that for every person diagnosed with diabetes, another has the disease and remains undiagnosed. Appropriate screening for diabetes provides the means to identify those undiagnosed individuals who may benefit from earlier intervention.

The terms insulin-dependent (IDDM) and non-insulin-dependent (NIDDM) diabetes were eliminated in favour of the terms "Type 1" and "Type 2" diabetes in an effort to emphasize pathogenesis over treatment in disease diagnosis.

Screening Mammography is Underutilized in the Elderly

Screening Mammography is Underutilized in the Elderly

Teaser: 

Valerie Ha, BSc

In the past ten years, public campaigning on behalf of breast cancer has raised awareness to new heights. Despite an increase in the incidence of breast cancer over the past twenty years (most likely due to better detection of disease), we have seen a plateau and even more recently a decline in the mortality rates in both Canada and the United States. This is likely due to our ability to diagnose disease earlier through breast screening and our improvements in treatment.

Breast Screening is indeed a major player in our fight against breast cancer. It is estimated that a significant reduction in breast cancer mortality can be achieved in Ontario if 70% of women between the ages of 50-69 were to participate in a program of early detection.

It is estimated that a significant reduction in breast cancer mortality can be achieved in Ontario if 70% of women between the ages of 50-69 were to participate in a program of early detection.

Indications

Breast cancer screening involves participation in biennial mammograms, monthly self-examination and regular breast examination by a trained professional; a regimen that should be followed during the years that the woman is most likely to be affected.