13th May 2014, 07:25 PM #1101
Re: Health Bulletin
Anti-oxidant in red wine and chocolates does not prevent heart disease or cancer: Study
Another popular dietary myth has been exploded by researchers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, who found that the anti-oxidant resveratrol, found in red wine, dark chocolate and berries, has no effect on aging, heart disease or cancer.
"The story of resveratrol turns out to be another case where you get a lot of hype about health benefits that doesn't stand the test of time," says Richard D. Semba, a professor of ophthalmology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and leader of the study.
"The thinking was that certain foods are good for you because they contain resveratrol. We didn't find that at all."
The researchers studied a group of 783 Italians who regularly consumed a diet which included red wine, dark chocolate and berries. They found that the subjects did not live any longer than and are just as likely to develop cardiovascular disease or cancer as those who eat or drink smaller amounts of the antioxidant. The study is published in the May 12 issue of the scientific journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
Despite the negative results, Semba says, studies have shown that consumption of red wine, dark chocolate and berries does reduce inflammation in some people and still appears to protect the heart. "It's just that the benefits, if they are there, must come from other polyphenols or substances found in those foodstuffs," he says. "These are complex foods, and all we really know from our study is that the benefits are probably not due to resveratrol."
The new study did not include people taking resveratrol supplements, though few studies thus far have found benefits associated with them.
Semba is part of an international team of researchers that for 15 years has studied the effects of aging in a group of people who live in the Chianti region of Italy. For the current study, the researchers analyzed 24 hours of urine samples from 783 people over the age of 65 for metabolites of resveratrol.
After accounting for such factors as age and gender, the people with the highest concentration of resveratrol metabolites were no less likely to have died of any cause than those with no resveratrol found in their urine. The concentration of resveratrol was not associated with inflammatory markers, cardiovascular disease or cancer rates.
Semba and his colleagues used advanced mass spectrometry to analyze the urine samples.
The study participants make up a random group of people living in Tuscany where supplement use is uncommon and consumption of red wine-a specialty of the region-is the norm. The study participants were not on any prescribed diet.
Resveratrol is also found in relatively large amounts in grapes, peanuts and certain Asiatic plant roots. Excitement over its health benefits followed studies documenting anti-inflammatory effects in lower organisms and increased lifespan in mice fed a high-calorie diet rich in the compound.
The so-called "French paradox," in which a low incidence of coronary heart disease occurs in the presence of a high dietary intake of cholesterol and saturated fat in France, has been attributed to the regular consumption of resveratrol and other polyphenols found in red wine.
13th May 2014, 11:18 PM #1102
Re: Health Bulletin
Yoga may help manage blood pressure, but more research needed
Doing yoga may help reduce blood pressure among people with hypertension, a new analysis of past studies suggests.
“There is now a growing number of randomized controlled trials on yoga for a variety of medical conditions,” Holger Cramer told Reuters Health in an email.
But, he added, “the quality and expressiveness of these trials varies, thus, it is often difficult to evaluate the real evidence for the usefulness of yoga in a specific condition based on single trials.”
Cramer led the review at the Faculty of Medicine at University of Duisburg-Essen in Essen, Germany.
Previous studies have suggested yoga may be beneficial for a number of health conditions, including irregular heart rhythms and posttraumatic stress disorder (see Reuters Health stories of January 30, 2013 here: reut.rs/1jawFIW and April 18, 2014 here: reut.rs/1hYvQY9).
Cramer said he has published reviews on yoga for low back pain, breast cancer, schizophrenia, depression, menopausal symptoms, cardiovascular risk factors, heart disease, asthma and rheumatic diseases.
“The current review on yoga for hypertension is part of this ongoing project. In my opinion, since yoga is widely used all over the world for a number of health issues, it is of crucial importance to scientifically evaluate where it is useful - and where it is not,” he said.
The findings were published in the American Journal of Hypertension.
Cramer and his colleagues combined the results of seven previous studies that included 452 patients. In each of those studies, people with high or borderline-high blood pressure were randomly assigned to practice yoga for at least eight weeks or to get usual blood pressure care or another type of treatment instead.
The researchers found that on average, yoga reduced systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) by about 10 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) by 7 mm Hg, compared to usual care.
When they looked only at patients with full-blown hypertension - leaving out those with only slightly elevated blood pressure, or “prehypertension” - the reduction in blood pressure was even greater.
“We did, however, not find any effects in pre-hypertensive patients,” Cramer said.
The National Institutes of Health defines high blood pressure as 140/90 mm Hg and above. Normal blood pressure is below 120/80 mm Hg, and prehypertension is anything in the middle.
The review also found that yoga helped patients who were taking blood pressure medication at the same time, but not those who used it as an alternative to drugs.
However, the studies included in the review varied in ways that made it difficult to evaluate the big picture of yoga’s effect on blood pressure, the researchers said.
Two studies looked at specific yoga styles. One exclusively examined the effect of yoga breathing techniques, and the rest involved some combination of yoga postures and breathing techniques, relaxation, meditation and lifestyle advice.
“While these findings are limited by the few available trials, we found that yoga breathing seems to be more effective and safer in persons with hypertension than more physically-oriented yoga forms,” Cramer said.
The researchers also looked at the safety of yoga and found three adverse reactions were reported in one of the studies. But it did not specify what those involved.
Other studies have suggested that strains of the neck, shoulders, legs and knees are common yoga injuries.
“An issue that is really important and generally underrepresented in yoga research is the evaluation of the safety of the intervention - in order to be able to precisely balance potential benefits and potential harms for each individual patient,” Cramer said.
The lack of consistency between studies, and limitations in the research methods they employed, means more research is needed, he said.
“It is really important to have large, well-designed trials available that fulfill the standards of today’s biomedical research,” he said. “It might be worthwhile to conduct some more trials that compare yoga to other forms of physical activity.”
Cramer recommends that people interested in yoga look for a style that incorporates breathing techniques and relaxation with yoga postures and look for a yoga teacher who has experience working with people who try yoga for medical reasons.
“A licensed yoga therapist would be the best choice if available,” he said.
Cramer added that patients should not stop taking their blood pressure medication and should not to be too aggressive with their yoga practice.
“Respect your limits; yoga is not about achievement and it should be practiced mindful,” he said.
13th May 2014, 11:21 PM #1103
Re: Health Bulletin
Complications rare with baby circumcisions, rise with age
There are few reported complications after boys are circumcised during their first year of life, but the risk rises considerably if the procedure is performed later in childhood, according to a new analysis published on Monday.
Previous research found wide variations in the rates of complications following male circumcisions. Those studies were often small and based on patients from a single hospital.
For the new study, published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics, researchers used data from U.S. insurance claims for babies younger than one year old, children between ages one year and nine years and older children 10 years and older. The findings do not include children who underwent ritual circumcisions in a non-medical setting.
Overall, the researchers had data on more than 1.4 million circumcised males. The vast majority were newborns.
"This is what we found about the risks of circumcision," said Charbel El Bcheraoui, the study's lead author from the University of Washington in Seattle. "It’s low overall, but it increases with age at circumcision."
About 0.4 percent of boys experienced circumcision complications when the procedure was performed within the first year of life. The risk increased about 20-fold among boys between one year and nine years of age. It was 10-fold higher among males 10 years old and older, compared with infants.
"What we assume is it's probably because between one and 10 years of age is the age when caring after procedure is the most complicated," Bcheraoui said.
Circumcision, or removing the foreskin from the penis, is a ritual obligation for infant Jewish boys and is also a common rite among Muslims, who account for the largest share of circumcised men worldwide.
The wider U.S. population adopted the practice due to potential health benefits, such as reducing the risk of urinary tract infections in infants and cutting the risk of sexually transmitted disease later in life, including HIV.
But the practice has been the focus of heated debate, including efforts to ban it in San Francisco and Germany. The rate of circumcisions performed on newborns in U.S. hospitals has dropped over the last three decades. [ID:nL2N0GM11X]
The American Academy of Pediatrics updated its recommendations in 2012 to say the benefits of male circumcision justify families having access to the procedure if they choose.
According to the JAMA Pediatrics study, about 0.5 percent of the procedures ended with some type of adverse event regardless of age, but the rates for specific complications varied.
Damage to the urethra occurred in about 0.8 per 1 million circumcisions. Leaving behind too much foreskin occurred in about 702 per 1 million circumcisions.
The researchers note that some complications might not have been picked up because they were reviewing claims data on problems that typically occurred within the first month following the circumcisions.
14th May 2014, 02:02 PM #1104
Re: Health Bulletin
To sleep, perchance to control your dreams
Nighttime dreams in which you show up at work naked, encounter an ax-wielding psychopath or experience other tribulations may become a thing of the past thanks to a discovery reported on Sunday.
Applying electrical current to the brain, according to a study published online in Nature Neuroscience, induces "lucid dreaming," in which the dreamer is aware that he is dreaming and can often gain control of the ongoing plot.
The findings are the first to show that inducing brain waves of a specific frequency produces lucid dreaming.
For the study, scientists led by psychologist Ursula Voss of J.W. Goethe-University in Frankfurt, Germany, built on lab studies in which research volunteers in the REM (rapid-eye movement) stage of sleep experienced a lucid dream, as they reported when they awoke. Electroencephalograms showed that those dreams were accompanied by telltale electrical activity called gamma waves.
Those brain-waves are related to executive functions such as higher-order thinking, as well as awareness of one's mental state. But they are almost unheard of in REM sleep.
Voss and her colleagues therefore asked, if gamma waves occur naturally during lucid dreaming, what would happen if they induced a current with the same frequency as gamma waves in dreaming brains?
When they did, via electrodes on the scalp in a technique called transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS), the 27 volunteers reported that they were aware that they were dreaming. The volunteers were also able to control the dream plot by, say, throwing some clothes on their dream self before going to work. They also felt as if their dream self was a third party whom they were merely observing.
Voss does not foresee a commercial market in lucid-dreaming machines. Devices currently sold "do not work well," she said in an interview, and those that deliver electrical stimulation to the brain, like the one in her study, "should always be monitored by a physician."
But if the results hold up, the technique might help people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, who often have terrifying dreams in which they re-play the traumatic experience. If they can dream lucidly, they might be able to bring about a different outcome, such as turning down a different street than the one with the roadside bomb or ducking into a restaurant before the rapist attacks them.
"By learning how to control the dream and distance oneself from the dream," Voss said, PTSD patients could reduce the emotional impact and begin to recover.
15th May 2014, 01:35 PM #1105
Re: Health Bulletin
Depression rampant among teenagers: WHO
Depression is the leading cause of illness and disability amongst teenagers, says a report on the world's adolescents prepared by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and released on May 14. It also reveals that suicide is the third leading cause of death among teens after road traffic accidents and HIV/AIDS.
"The world has not paid enough attention to the health of adolescents," says Dr Flavia Bustreo, Assistant Director-General for Family, Women and Children's Health, WHO said at the report release in Geneva. "We hope this report will focus high-level attention on the health needs of 10 to 19-year-olds and serve as a springboard for accelerated action on adolescent health."
Drawing on a wealth of published evidence and consultations with 10 to 19-year-olds around the world, the report also brings together, for the first time, all WHO guidance on the full spectrum of health issues affecting adolescents. These include tobacco, alcohol and drug use, HIV, injuries, mental health, nutrition, sexual and reproductive health, and violence. The report recommends key actions to strengthen the ways countries respond to adolescents' physical and mental health needs.
New data from countries where surveys have been done show that fewer than 1 in every 4 adolescents does enough exercise (WHO recommends at least one hour of moderate to vigorous exercise per day), and in some countries as many as 1 in 3 is obese.
But some trends in adolescent health-related behaviours are improving. For example, rates of cigarette smoking are decreasing among younger adolescents in most high-income countries and in some middle- and low-income countries as well.
Some studies show that half of all people who develop mental disorders have their first symptoms by the age of 14. If adolescents with mental health problems get the care they need, this can prevent deaths and avoid suffering throughout life.
Road traffic injuries are the number 1 cause of adolescent deaths globally, and the number 2 cause of illness and disability. Boys are disproportionately affected, with more than three times the rate of deaths than that of girls. Increasing access to reliable and safe public transport can reduce road traffic injuries among adolescents.
Deaths due to complications of pregnancy and childbirth among adolescents have dropped significantly since 2000, particularly in regions where maternal mortality rates are highest. Despite these improvements, maternal mortality still ranks second among causes of death among 15 to 19-year-old girls globally, exceeded only by suicide.
Estimates suggest that the number of HIV-related deaths among adolescents is rising. The increase is predominantly in the African Region, at a time when HIV-related deaths are decreasing in all other population groups. HIV now ranks as the second cause of deaths in adolescents globally.
Health policies from 109 countries were reviewed for this report. Among them, 84% give some attention to adolescents. In three-quarters, the focus is on sexual and reproductive health (including HIV/AIDS); approximately one-third address tobacco and alcohol use among adolescents; and one-quarter address mental health.
15th May 2014, 01:36 PM #1106
Re: Health Bulletin
Babies given antibiotics have higher asthma risk
Scientists have discovered that children who are given antibiotics before their first birthday have an increased risk of developing asthma.
UK researchers examined data from the Manchester Asthma and Allergy Study (MAAS) which has followed over 1000 children from birth to 11 years.
Antibiotics are routinely given to children to treat respiratory infections, ear infections, and bronchitis.
The study's findings are believed to be the first to show that children with wheezing who were treated with an antibiotic in the first year of life were more than twice as likely as untreated children to experience severe wheeze or asthma exacerbations and be hospitalized for asthma.
Of particular interest was that these children also showed significantly lower induction of cytokines which are the bodies' key defence against virus infections such as the common cold. The researchers also identified two genes in the 17q21 region that were associated with an increased risk of early life antibiotic prescription.
Lead author Adnan Custovic from the University of Manchester said, "We speculate that hidden factors which increase the likelihood of both antibiotic prescription in early life and subsequent asthma are an increased susceptibility to viral infections due to impaired antiviral immunity and genetic variants on 17q21. But further studies will be needed to confirm that the impaired immunity was present at the time of the early childhood respiratory symptoms and predated antibiotic prescribing rather than as a consequence of the antibiotics."
In this study, information on antibiotic prescription, wheeze and asthma exacerbations were taken from medical records. Skin reaction tests that show whether a child is sensitized to allergens were done when they were three, five, eight, and 11 years old.
At age 11, blood was collected from children who had received at least one course of antibiotics or children who had received no antibiotics in the first year of life to compare their immune-system cell response to viruses (rhinovirus; the virus responsible for the common cold) and bacteria.
Genetic testing was also done to look at the links between common genetic variations on chromosome 17, 17q21, and antibiotic prescription.
17th May 2014, 01:50 PM #1107
Re: Health Bulletin
2 large meals good for diabetic's health
A new study has revealed that eating two complete meals in a day rather than six small meals with the same calories content helps more in curbing weight and blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes.
The authors of the research said that eating only whole breakfast and lunch helps in reducing body weight, liver fat content, fasting plasma glucose, C-peptide and glucagon and improved OGIS, more than the six meals split into same caloric restriction.
The study also suggested that eating larger breakfasts and lunches might be more helpful than six smaller meals during the day, for the type 2 diabetic patients who are on a limited calorie diet. The research was published in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.
18th May 2014, 12:39 PM #1108
Re: Health Bulletin
7.2 percent women suffer from hypertension
One out of three adults in India in the age group of, 35 to 40 years, suffers from hypertension. The current statistics show that 30 per cent of middle-aged people suffer from cardiovascular diseases increasing the risk of heart attacks as observed on May 17, which is the World Hypertension Day.
The World Health Organisation has already warned that 7.2 per cent of women in the world suffer from hypertension. The reason WHO wants to concentrate on women is because at times, cardiologists do not take chest-pain complaints among women as seriously as they do as in the case of men. C. Venkata S. Ram, expert at the Apollo Institute for Blood Pressure Management, says, “The bias exists because women were always thought to be free of blood pressure problems. But this is incorrect. Earlier, they were never diagnosed hence, there is no proper history in medical records of the prevalence of the disease among women. What we are seeing now is that they are equally susceptible and need to be properly treated.”
A few deft changes and keeping physically fit and active acn go a long way in keeping blood pressure problems at bay.
18th May 2014, 04:07 PM #1109
Re: Health Bulletin
High BP is a silent killer too: Experts
The most common symptom of hypertension is no symptom at all! On World Hypertension Day on Saturday, experts warned that like diabetes, high blood pressure too is a silent disease that can put people on a high risk of heart attack, stroke and kidney failure.
Kidney diseases experts said that 60% of the patients suffering from chronic kidney disease (CKD) in India are either diabetic or suffer from high blood pressure. About 139 million Indians with uncontrolled hypertension are suspected to have CKD or have a chance of developing CKD.
Nearly 14%-22% patients who have hypertension have a high possibility of developing CKD.
"Every month, we get at least five patients who have no idea that they have been suffering from uncontrolled high blood pressure and their kidneys have been badly damaged due to the hypertension. This is serious,'' said noted kidney diseases specialist Dr Prakash Darji.
Every adult, man or woman, should get their blood pressure checked at least once a year - whether they have any symptoms or not, said Dr Darji.
Nephrologist Dr Siddharth Mavani said that most people associate symptoms like headache and giddiness with blood pressure.
"The most common symptom of hypertension is that a person may not have any symptom at all. People should also look out for postural unsteadiness, transient blackouts and early morning headaches in the back of head, especially around the neck par,'' he said.
Early detection and diagnosis of hypertension can prevent burden of kidney failure. While the normal BP is 120/80, those detected with 130-140/80-90 blood pressure falls in the pre-hypertensive range and should manage it in order to avoid renal, heart and stroke complications.
According to EMRI 108 data, the state has seen a slight rise in the hypertension patients. Compared to 1,944 cases reported in the city in 2012-13, the number has increased to 2,302 in 2013-14.
For the state, the figures are 8,021 and 9,537 respectively.
"This year's theme is 'Know Your Blood Pressure' as most don't see it coming. In its worst form, it can lead to kidney, brain, cardiovascular and eye diseases," said an EMRI official.
19th May 2014, 11:03 AM #1110
Re: Health Bulletin
Measles vaccine wipes out woman’s cancer cells
US doctors claim to have wiped out a woman's advanced blood cancer with a massive dose of the measles vaccine, enough to inoculate 10 million people.
The woman was part of a clinical trial at the Mayo Clinic demonstrating that cancer cells can be killed with injections of a genetically-engineered virus through a process known as virotherapy.
Two patients in the study received a single intravenous dose of an engineered measles virus (MV-NIS ) that is selectively toxic to myeloma plasma cells. Stacy Erholtz, 49, from Minnesota, was one of the two patients in the study who received the dose last year, and after ten years with multiple myeloma, she has been clear of the disease for over six months now.
"It was the easiest treatment by far with very few side effects. I hope it's the future of treating cancer infusion," Erholtz said. Multiple myeloma is a cancer of plasma cells in the bone marrow, which also causes skeletal or soft tissue tumours. This cancer usually responds to immune system stimulating drugs, but eventually overcomes them and is rarely cured.
"We have known for some time viruses act like a vaccine. If you inject a virus into a tumour you can provoke the immune system to destroy that cancer and other cancers," said Steven Russell, a Mayo Clinic hematologist, who spearheaded the study. "This is different. It puts the virus into the bloodstream, it infects and destroys the cancer, debulks it, and then the immune system can come and mop up the residue," Russell said.
Two multiple myeloma patients were chosen because they are immune-compromised, and can't fight off the 0measles before it has time to attack cancer. Both had limited previous exposure to measles, and therefore fewer antibodies to fight the virus, and had no remaining treatment options. Of the two subjects in the study, only Stacy reached full remission.