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Health Bulletin


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  1. #1051
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Extreme levels of herbicide found in GM soy: Study

    Extremely high levels of the herbicide Roundup have been found in 70% of the genetically modified (GM) soybeans. This was revealed through independent research by the Arctic University of Norway which was funded by the Research Council of Norway. Back in 1999 Monsanto had claimed that residue levels of up to 5.6 mg/kg in GM-soy represent "...extreme levels, and far higher than those typically found".

    The Norwegian study found levels as high as 9 milligrams per kilo on an average. Hence, by Monsanto's own definition of what is "extreme level" there is way too much of the herbicide in GM soybeans. However, the non-GM soybean and organic soybean samples did not show residues of these chemicals. What is significant is that, with the aggressive promotion of GM soybean, Roundup Ready GM soybeans constitute 75% of the total global soybean production. According to the Norwegian study, in 2011-12, in the US, GM soybean contributed about 93% of the production and even in other leading soybean producing countries like Brazil and Argentina, GM soybean accounts for 83% and 100% of production respectively. The US, Brazil and Argentina account for over 80% of the global production of soybean.

    The study also pointed out that glyphosate found in Roundup formulations has been shown to interfere with molecular mechanisms that regulate early development in frogs and chickens resulting in deformities of embryos.


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  2. #1052
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Stave off summer diseases: doctors

    As summer heat intensifies people run the risk of seasonal diseases like sore throat, fever, conjunctivitis, chicken pox etc. Many are opting for both allopathic and siddha treatment to get relief. Doctors here advise people to take precautionary measures to ward off heat and thereby heat-induced diseases.

    Trichy city recorded extreme heat in the last few days with temperature inching towards 40 degree Celsius. On Monday, Trichy recorded 38 degree Celsius. Normally, such high temperature is felt by May. But in the past couple of years, temperature almost peaks even by early April. Heat is accentuated as sunlight reflects from the sand in Cauvery and Kollidam rivers after both went dry.

    Strangely, Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Government Hospital (MGMGH) has so far not witnessed any rise in illness cases due to summer heat, said Dr Kanagasundaram, its medical superintendent. Nevertheless, doctors here advise people to take precautionary measures.

    Dehydration is common at this time when temperature crosses 35 degrees C on a daily basis. As quality of water supplied in summer is severely compromised chances of diarrhoea are high. "Heat-related diseases like dehydration, vomiting and diarrhoea can be prevented only by drinking pure water. The incidence of typhoid fever and jaundice may increase due to unhygienic water and inflow of tourists. Earlier, people used to consumer butter milk and tender coconut which prevented heat-related issues. But people in cities consume less hydrating food," said Dr Kanagasundaram.

    The chances for chicken pox and small pox too are high in summer. Though, most people opt for traditional medicines to cure these diseases the treatment works out for those who have adequate immunity power. "Our hospital witnesses a few cases of chicken pox in summer. But people affected by heat-related problems want siddha treatment. While treatment is a remedy, people should try to lead life in the natural way," Dr S Kamaraj, government medical officer, ESI Hospital.

    Dr M A Aleem, vice principal of KAP Viswanatham Government Medical College, attributed the increasing temperature as a man-made phenomenon. "The temperature increases due to widespread cutting of trees and rising vehicular pollution. Atmospheric temperature is going up every year and the duration of summer prolongs, but the duration of winter decreases. Hence, people should take extra care to protect their health," said Aleem.

    People are advised to use cotton dresses and stay away from congested places. "People should avoid using tight-fitting dresses which may cause prickly heat problems. Staying in ventilated places also helps to avoid heat," said Dr Aleem.

    Drinking plenty of pure boiled water, fruit juices, coconut water and water-rich fruits like watermelon will stave off heat-related diseases.


  3. #1053
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Animals may become human organ donors: Researchers

    Advances in transplant technology could allow for the use of animal organs in humans some day, researchers say.

    In a new study, US scientists transplanted hearts from genetically engineered pigs into baboons whose immune systems had been suppressed, to prevent them from rejecting the transplants.

    The transplanted hearts survived in their recipients for more than 500 days, researchers said.

    Transplanting organs from animals, known as xenotransplantation, could replace human organs completely, or provide a stopgap until a human organ becomes available.

    However, tissue rejection by the recipient's immune system remains a major hurdle to successful transplantation.

    To overcome this problem, Dr Muhammad Mohiuddin, chief of transplantation at the National Institutes of Health's National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and his colleagues used hearts from pigs that had been genetically engineered to remove genes known to cause tissue rejection in humans, and replaced them with human genes that wouldn't cause an immune reaction.

    Pigs were chosen because their anatomy is similar to humans', and they mature very quickly, 'LiveScience' reported.

    The researchers implanted hearts from these pigs into the abdomens of baboons, without replacing the monkeys' original hearts but still connecting the pig hearts to the baboons' circulatory system.

    The transplanted hearts survived in the baboons for more than 500 days, with the baboons taking immunosuppressive drugs, the researchers reported.

    "Now, we are at a stage when we can control the rejection - the most difficult part," Mohiuddin said.

    The next step will be to perform transplants that replace the baboons' hearts with the genetically engineered pig hearts.

    Besides the heart, other tissues could also potentially be transplanted from animals to humans, including the liver, kidneys, pancreas and lungs, Mohiuddin said.

    The research was presented at a meeting of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery in Toronto.


  4. #1054
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Why protein-rich breakfast is essential for your health

    A new study has found that a breakfast rich in protein can provide better appetite and glucose control as compared to lower-protein breakfast.

    Researchers found that when comparing common breakfasts with varying amounts of protein, a commercially prepared turkey-sausage and egg bowl, cereal and milk, and pancakes with syrup, choosing the higher-protein commercially prepared turkey-sausage and egg bowl provided increased feelings of fullness and lesser calorie intake at lunch, when compared to the lower-protein breakfasts.

    Dr. Kristin Harris , head of nutrition research at Hillshire Brands, said that there is great value in understanding protein's true power when optimal amounts are consumed.

    Protein is top of mind, but consumers should be more informed about how much protein they need at each meal occasion so they can maximize benefits, like hunger control, Harris said.

    Melinda Karalus, lead researcher, tested the short-term satiety effects of six breakfast meals similar in calories, fat and fiber and varied in protein; three turkey-sausage and egg-based breakfast bowls containing 40, 23 and 9 grams of protein, respectively, a cereal and milk breakfast containing eight grams of protein, a pancake and syrup breakfast with 3 grams of protein or no breakfast.

    Participants were asked to rate their level of hunger before breakfast and at 30-minute intervals for four hours.

    After four hours, a pasta lunch was served and test subjects were asked to eat until comfortably full.

    Participants who ate the higher-protein breakfasts had improved appetite ratings throughout the morning, and they also consumed fewer calories during lunch, compared with the lower- protein cereal and pancake and syrup breakfasts, or no breakfast at all.


  5. #1055
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Anti-smoking TV ads using anger more persuasive to viewers

    Researchers have said anti-smoking television advertisements that appeal to viewers' emotions are more persuasive when they use anger rather than sadness.

    In the new study, researchers from Dartmouth College's Geisel School of Medicine and Cornell University examined how viewers process those negative emotions.

    They produced anti-smoking TV ads in which an actor delivered anti-smoking messages to 115 college students with either anger or sadness by using different vocal tones and facial expressions.

    To measure the role of emotions in the ads, the researchers manipulated the actor's expressed emotions while keeping the story the same.

    Results showed the anger-framed ad was more effective because it increased the perceived dominance of the speaker, which increased anti-smoking attitudes and predicted strong intentions not to smoke.


  6. #1056
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Bariatric risks scare patients

    Hypertension is a risk factor in bariatric surgery as it takes time to come down after the surgery. The demise of actor Rakesh Diwana after bariatric surgery in Indore shows that he was hypertensive, which led to complications and his untimely demise.

    Bariatric surgeon Dr Venugopal Pareek said, “Hypertension is a condition which takes three to four months to go. If the patient has been on a high dose of drugs, then he needs to be slowly weaned off as hypertension continues even after surgery.” These surgeries require team work between cardiologists, endocrinologists etc.

    Dr Mahidhar Valeti, head of bariatric surgery, Care Hospitals explained, “Chances of mortality in this surgery is less than one per cent. It is very important that patients choose the right set up for these specialised treatments as it requires a well-trained team for the post-operative care.”

    Obesity clinics, which are a part of most super-speciality hospitals in the city, claim that these untoward incidents scare away other patients who are scheduled for surgery. A senior official at a clinic explained, “There are risk factors and these have to be explained to the patients, instead of scaring them. The hospitals too have to ensure that a team of doctors and para-medical staff attend the patient properly to avoid any such untoward incident.


  7. #1057
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Calling girls 'fat' may result in weight gain

    Young girls who have been called ‘too fat’ are more likely to be obese as young adults, according to a new research letter.
    The early stigma of being labeled that way may worsen the problem rather than encouraging girls to become healthier, but more research is needed to be sure, the study authors say.

    “This study is one step closer to being able to draw that conclusion, but of course we can't definitively say that calling a girl ‘too fat’ will make her obese,” said senior author A. Janet Tomiyama of the University of California, Los Angeles.

    “This study recruited girls when they were age 10 and followed them over nine years, so we know it's more than just a one-time connection, which makes me believe that it's an important question to continue researching,” Tomiyama told Reuters Health in an email.

    She and her coauthor examined data from an existing study that followed girls through their teen years. At age 10, the girls answered the question, “have any of these people told you that you were too fat: father, mother, brother, sister, best girlfriend, boy you like best, any other girl, any other boy, or teacher?”

    Out of just over 2,000 girls, a total of 1,188 answered ‘yes’ to any of the choices.

    Those girls were more likely to have a body mass index (BMI) – a measure of weight relative to height - in the obese range ten years later than girls who answered ‘no,’ according to the results in JAMA Pediatrics.

    “We know from considerable evidence that youth who feel stigmatized or shamed about their weight are vulnerable to a range of negative psychological and physical health consequences,” said Rebecca Puhl, deputy director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.

    “This study suggests that negative weight labels may contribute to these experiences and have a lasting and potentially damaging impact for girls,” said Puhl, who was not part of the study.

    Girls who had been labeled ‘fat’ were still at higher risk of obesity even when researchers accounted for their BMIs at age 10, household income, race and parental education level.

    The effect seemed to be strongest when the labels came from family members, which increased the risk of obesity later by 60 percent, compared to 40 percent when the comments came from friends or teachers. But it’s not wise to make too much out of the difference between those numbers, since this was only an exploratory study, Tomiyama said.

    She was not at all surprised that over half of girls had been labeled ‘fat.’
    “The pressure to be thin in our society is intense, and other research shows that people label both themselves and others as 'overweight' even if their objective body mass index is in the 'normal weight' range,” she said.
    Females are exposed to weight stigma more often, but the connection may be present for boys as well, she noted.
    There are ways for parents to address weight and health issues with their children that don’t involve labeling, Tomiyama said.

    “There's no need to say the ‘f’ word at all if you want to improve your child's health,” she said.

    Parents could instead focus on the health of the family as a whole, said Angelina Sutin, who was not involved in the new study.

    Sutin studies psychological wellbeing and health disparities at Florida State University College Of Medicine in Tallahassee.

    “The best approach would be to start kids early on a path toward healthy living by eating healthy food and being physically active,” Sutin told Reuters Health in an email.

    “This applies equally to parents as it does to kids – children model their parents’ behavior, so if kids see their parents making healthy choices, they are more likely to also make healthy choices,” she said.

    Parents could identify activities the child enjoys and work on ways to do more of them, she added.

    “I think the focus of the conversation needs to change,” Tomiyama said. “Right now, we have a laser focus on weight instead of health, but many studies show that weight is a really imprecise indicator of actual health.”
    “Parents can talk to their child about adopting healthy behaviors without once mentioning weight,” she said.


  8. #1058
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    'Junk' DNA linked to heart failure

    Large sections of the genome that were once referred to as 'junk' DNA may be linked to heart failure in humans, according to a new research.

    The so-called junk DNA was long thought to have no important role in heredity or disease because it does not code for proteins.

    However, emerging research in recent years has revealed that many of these sections of the genome produce RNA molecules that, despite not being proteins, still have important functions in the body. RNA is a close chemical cousin to DNA.

    Molecules now associated with these sections of the genome are called noncoding RNAs. Of these, about 90 per cent are called long noncoding RNAs.

    In a recent issue of the journal Circulation, researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, have reported results from the first comprehensive analysis of all RNA molecules expressed in the human heart.

    The researchers studied nonfailing hearts and failing hearts before and after patients received pump support from left ventricular assist devices (LVAD).

    The LVADs increased each heart's pumping capacity while patients waited for heart transplants.

    "We took an unbiased approach to investigating which types of RNA might be linked to heart failure," said senior author Jeanne M Nerbonne, the Alumni Endowed Professor of Molecular Biology and Pharmacology.

    "We were surprised to find that long noncoding RNAs stood out. In fact, the field is evolving so rapidly that when we did a slightly earlier, similar investigation in mice, we didn't even think to include long noncoding RNAs in the analysis," Nerbonne said.

    Heart failure refers to a gradual loss of heart function. The left ventricle, the heart's main pumping chamber, becomes less efficient. Blood flow diminishes, and the body no longer receives the oxygen needed to go about daily tasks.

    Sometimes the condition develops after an obvious trigger such as a heart attack or infection, but other times the causes are less clear.

    In the new study, the investigators found that unlike other RNA molecules, expression patterns of long noncoding RNAs could distinguish between two major types of heart failure and between failing hearts before and after they received LVAD support.

    "We don't know whether these changes in long noncoding RNAs are a cause or an effect of heart failure. But it seems likely they play some role in coordinating the regulation of multiple genes involved in heart function," Nerbonne said.


  9. #1059
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Common pills failing to fight superbugs: WHO

    Drug-resistant microbes have evolved to an extent where up to 50% of patients affected by the superbugs are not getting cured by medicines commonly used against them, said the World Health Organisation's first global surveillance report on antibiotic resistance released on Wednesday.

    Common bacteria like E coli are increasingly proving to be a deadly import in hospitals, particularly intensive care units, across the world.

    And WHO had a word of caution about India. "The infectious disease burden in India is among the highest in the world and the inappropriate and irrational use of antimicrobial agents against these diseases has led to an increasing trend in development of antimicrobial resistance," it said.

    "Without urgent, coordinated action by many stakeholders, the world is headed for a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries which have been treatable for decades can once again kill," said WHO's Dr Keiji Fukuda.

    The report, 'Antimicrobial resistance: Global report on surveillance', studied antibiotic resistance in nine different bacteria responsible for common diseases such as sepsis, diarrhoea, pneumonia, urinary tract infections and gonorrhoea.

    "An increasing number of patients who reach the ICU with urinary tract infection are resistant to usually prescribed medicines," said an intensivist from a south Mumbai hospital. The medical fraternity can no longer depend on one antibiotic alone, "we are using drugs in combinations most of the time", he added.

    WHO noted that fluoroquinolones, widely used to treat urinary tract infections caused by E coli, don't work in 50% cases. "In the 1980s, when these drugs (fluoroquinolones) were introduced, resistance was virtually zero. Today, there are countries where this treatment is now ineffective in more than half the patients," the report said.

    It stressed that antibiotic resistance was causing people to be sicker longer and increasing the risk of death. "People with MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) are 64% more likely to die than people with a non-resistant form of the infection," said the report.

    The emergence of extremely drug-resistant TB drove home the extent of antibiotic resistance in Mumbai. In 2011-2012, city doctors highlighted TB cases resistant to all the known antibiotics usually used to treat it. WHO, in 2011, estimated there are 6.3 lakh cases of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) among the world's 12 million cases of TB.

    Dr Rohini Kelkar, who heads the microbiology department of the Tata Memorial Hospital, Parel, and is a member of the Hospital Infection Society of India, said the situation in India is grave. The WHO report blamed poor regulation of prescriptions in the country. "There is a lack of knowledge among medical practitioners as well as the public on rational use of antibiotics. The health sector in India needs improved management of healthcare delivery systems, both public and private, which will minimize conditions favourable for the development of drug resistance."

    But not all take the grim view. A senior intensivist said although antibiotic resistance is widespread, it is still confined to certain sections of patients. "The MRSA superbug would be difficult to treat in patients who are already vulnerable and not in healthy people. Mainly, patients who stay in hospitals for long, those in ICUs and cancer patients could suffer due to antimicrobial resistance," said the doctor.

    Dr Urmilla Thatte, who heads the pharmacology department of civic-run KEM Hospital in Parel, said antibiotic resistance could be reversed with rational use of the known drugs. "A few years ago, people were resistant to septran, an old antibiotic, but now it is back to be being effective," she pointed out.


  10. #1060
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    A test to tell if you're at risk of early death

    Scientists have found that the ability or inability to stand up on one leg can indicate which 53-year-olds are at risk of premature death.

    Fifty-three-year-old men who could balance on one leg for more than 10 seconds and stand up and sit down in a chair more than 37 times in a minute were found to be least likely to die early. Women in the same age group who could stand up and sit down more than 35 times in a minute and stand on one leg for more than 10 seconds were also in the low-risk category.

    The researchers led by Rachel Cooper at the Medical Research Council Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing at University College London examined the associations of grip strength, chair rise speed and standing balance time at age 53 with death rates from all-causes over the following 13 years. The survey has been tracking the health of over 5,000 people since their births in 1946.

    Low levels of physical capability - in particular weak grip strength, slow chair rise speed and poor standing balance performance have been found to accurately indicate poorer chances of survival over the next 13 years while greater time spent in light intensity physical activity each day is linked to a reduced risk of developing disability in adults. Those with poor grip strength, chair rise speed and standing balance time at the age of 53 had over 12 times higher death rates.


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