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Health Bulletin


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  1. #111
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Asparagus can keep diabetes away

    Asparagus, a popular vegetable, can keep diabetes at bay by helping blood sugar levels stay under control while boosting output of insulin, the hormone that helps the body absorb glucose, says a study.

    Type two diabetes, which accounts for 90 percent of all diabetes cases, is emerging as a major health burden worldwide.

    More than a million people are already affected by it in the UK alone but don't realise they have it, perhaps because they do not recognise symptoms such as fatigue, thirst, frequent urination, recurrent thrush and wounds that are slow to heal, the British Journal of Nutrition reported.

    Left untreated, type two diabetes can raise the risk of heart attacks, blindness and amputation. But if doctors catch it early, it can be well controlled with diet and medication, according to the Daily Mail.

    Once known as 'late onset' diabetes, since it only tended to strike from middle-age onwards, doctors are now beginning to see patients in their teens and twenties with the condition.

    Fatty foods and unhealthy lifestyles are believed to raise the risks.

    To see if asparagus could help, scientists at the University of Karachi in Pakistan injected rats with chemicals to induce a diabetic state, with low levels of insulin and high blood sugar content.

    They said: "This study suggests asparagus extract exerts anti-diabetic effects."

    They then treated half with an extract from the asparagus plant and the other half with an established anti-diabetic drug, called glibenclamide. The rats were fed the asparagus extract in small or large doses every day for 28 days.

    Only high doses of the extract had a significant effect on insulin production by the pancreas, the organ which releases the hormone into the bloodstream.

    The findings support earlier studies highlighting the benefits of asparagus.

    One article published in the British Medical Journal in 2006 showed asparagus triggered an 81 percent increase in glucose uptake by the body's muscles and tissues.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    First vaccine to help control autism symptoms developed

    Scientists have developed the first-ever vaccine for gut bacteria common in autistic children that may also help control some autism symptoms.

    Researchers from the University of Guelph in Canada have developed a carbohydrate-based vaccine against the gut bug Clostridium bolteae.

    C bolteae is known to play a role in gastrointestinal disorders, and it often shows up in higher numbers in the GI tracts of autistic children than in those of healthy kids. More than 90 per cent of children with autism spectrum disorders suffer from chronic, severe gastrointestinal symptoms. Of those, about 75 per cent suffer from diarrhea, according to research.

    "Little is known about the factors that predispose autistic children to C bolteae," said researcher Mario Monteiro. Although most infections are handled by some antibiotics, he said, a vaccine would improve current treatment.

    "This is the first vaccine designed to control constipation and diarrhea caused by C bolteae and perhaps control autism-related symptoms associated with this microbe," he said.

    Some researchers believe toxins and/or metabolites produced by gut bacteria, including C bolteae, may be associated with symptoms and severity of autism, especially regressive autism.

    Brittany Pequegnat and Monteiro used bacteria grown by Mike Toh, a Guelph student in the lab of microbiology professor Emma Allen-Vercoe. The new anti-C bolteae vaccine targets the specific complex polysaccharides, or carbohydrates, on the surface ofm the bug.

    The vaccine effectively raised C bolteae-specific antibodies in rabbits. Doctors could also use the vaccine-induced antibodies to quickly detect the bug in a clinical setting, said Monteiro.

    The vaccine might take more than 10 years to work through preclinical and human trials, and it may take even longer before a drug is ready for market, Monteiro said. "But this is a significant first step in the design of am multivalent vaccine against several autism-related gut bacteria," he said.


  3. #113
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Having fewer kids helping women live longer, grow taller & slimmer

    Women are becoming taller and slimmer as they are living longer and are having fewer kids due to improved health-care and nutrition, a new study claims.

    A Durham University study of people living in rural Gambia shows that the modern-day "demographic transition" towards living longer and having fewer children may also lead women to be taller and slimmer. The findings, published in the journal Current Biology, may have relevance around the globe. Researchers show that changes in mortality and fertility rates in Gambia, likely related to improvements in medical care since a clinic opened there in 1974, have changed the way that natural selection acts on body size.

    For the study, data was collected over a 55-year period (1956-2010) by the UK Medical Research Council on thousands of women from two rural villages in the West Kiang district of Gambia.

    Over the time period, those communities experienced significant demographic shifts — from high mortality and fertility rates to rapidly declining ones. The researchers also had data on the height and weight of the women. Their analysis shows that the demographic transition influenced directional selection on women's height and body mass index (BMI). Selection initially favoured short women with high BMI but shifted over time to favour tall women with low BMI. "This is a reminder that declines in mortality rates do not necessarily mean evolution stops, but that it changes," said Ian Rickard, prof of anthropology.


  4. #114
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Having fewer kids helping women live longer, grow taller & slimmer

    Women are becoming taller and slimmer as they are living longer and are having fewer kids due to improved health-care and nutrition, a new study claims.

    A Durham University study of people living in rural Gambia shows that the modern-day "demographic transition" towards living longer and having fewer children may also lead women to be taller and slimmer. The findings, published in the journal Current Biology, may have relevance around the globe. Researchers show that changes in mortality and fertility rates in Gambia, likely related to improvements in medical care since a clinic opened there in 1974, have changed the way that natural selection acts on body size.

    For the study, data was collected over a 55-year period (1956-2010) by the UK Medical Research Council on thousands of women from two rural villages in the West Kiang district of Gambia.

    Over the time period, those communities experienced significant demographic shifts from high mortality and fertility rates to rapidly declining ones. The researchers also had data on the height and weight of the women. Their analysis shows that the demographic transition influenced directional selection on women's height and body mass index (BMI). Selection initially favoured short women with high BMI but shifted over time to favour tall women with low BMI. "This is a reminder that declines in mortality rates do not necessarily mean evolution stops, but that it changes," said Ian Rickard, prof of anthropology.


  5. #115
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    New therapy to end insulin jabs for diabetics

    Daily insulin shots for diabetics may soon be passe. Scientists have found a solution to control blood sugar and in fact cure diabetes from within the human body. Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) scientists have discovered a hormone, betatrophin, that increases production of insulin-secreting pancreatic cells 30 times the normal rate.

    This has raised hopes that the hormone, secreted by liver and fat cells, will not only drastically improve control of blood sugar levels but actually cure patients suffering from diabetes.

    Experts say they have never seen any treatment that causes such an enormous leap in beta cell replication. Publishing their findings in medical journal Cell, scientists said the new beta cells only produce insulin when called for by the body.

    This offers the potential for the natural regulation of insulin and a great reduction in the complications associated with diabetes, the leading medical cause of amputations and non-genetic loss of vision.

    Lead HSCI researcher Doug Melton carried out the study in mice but said the gene exists in humans too.

    "Our idea here is relatively simple. We would provide this hormone, the type 2 diabetic will make more of their own insulin-producing cells, and this will slow down, if not stop, the progression of their diabetes," said Melton

    Melton sees betatrophin primarily as a treatment for type 2 diabetes, but believes it might play a role in the treatment of type 1 diabetes as well, perhaps boosting the number of beta cells and slowing the progression of that autoimmune disease when it's first diagnosed.

    "We've done the work in mice," Melton said. "But of course we're not interested in curing mice of diabetes, and we now know the gene is a human gene. We've cloned the human gene and, moreover, we know that the hormone exists in human plasma; betatrophin definitely exists in humans."

    The team of researchers, which also includes postdoctoral fellow Peng Yi, cautioned that much work remains to be done before it could be used as a treatment in humans.

    Diabetes is one of India's biggest health challenges. By 2030, India's diabetes burden is expected to cross the 100 million mark, against 87 million estimated earlier.


  6. #116
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Kerala scientists set to invent Chikugunya vaccine

    Production of Chikungunya vaccine seems to be just a matter of time. A group of Kochi-based scientists have produced recombinant antigen of the virus which cause the disease. As per the scientists, the immediate benefit of their invention is the possibility of introduction of a diagnosing kit so that the disease can be detected on the first day of infection.

    The scientists first identified the viral code protein of the gene and then developed the antigen of the virus. `` In fact, we had developed a recombinant antigen of the same virus in 2011. But that antigen hadn't the properties of the vaccine. Then we continued the research and invented the new antigen which has all the properties of vaccine including epitopes,'' said C Mohan Kumar, director, SCMS Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology. To develop the antigen, the scientists amplified the gene from the protein coat of the virus and purified it, a report published in the Journal of Immunological Methods, the official journal of the Association of Medical Laboratory Immunologists, USA, says.

    Disabled antigens of the disease causing microbes are used for producing vaccines against the same disease. Disabled antigens injected into the body will produce antibody against the antigen thereby protecting the person from contracting the disease. `` So, our next step was the production of antibody of the recombinant antigen we produced. We used rabbits to produce the antibody of the recombinant antigen through in vitro method. And we succeeded. This will help us to introduce a new diagnostic kit for Chikungunya,'' he said. `` In 2011, we produced recombinant antigen of the virus paving way for diagnosis of the disease within five days. While using that method, the disease can be detected within four or five days which is the period for the body to produce antibody against the virus. As per the new method, we can put antibody into the serum samples and if the sample is contaminated with the virus, then the antibody will link with antigen in the sample immediately. So, we will be able to diagnose the disease on the first day of infection,'' Dr Mohan Kumar said.

    The institute has started measures to produce the vaccine using the funds of Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR). Researchers in the area are of the view that invention of a safe vaccine would be remarkable. ``I am yet to go through the work by these scientists. However, invention of a vaccine against Chikungunya will be an important one. A safe vaccine will be of very much helpful in treating the diseases in case of an outbreak. The invention may lead to the developing of drugs for the disease as well,'' said Dr E Sreekumar, scientist, Rajiv Gandhi Centre of Bio-technology, Thiruvananthapuram who is also conducting a research into cellular mechanism of the pathogens of Chikungunya.


  7. #117
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Gene that controls three different diseases, identified

    Scientists have identified a gene that can cause three totally different diseases, depending on how it is altered. An international research team led by the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (UAB), the CIBERER and the University of Wurzburg (Germany) used next-generation massive ultrasequencing techniques to sequence over 20,000 genes of a Fanconi anaemia patient's genome.

    By adopting this strategy they succeeded in identifying pathogenic mutations responsible for this disease in the ERCC4 gene, which had already been linked to two other rare diseases: xeroderma pigmentosum and a type of progeria.

    The latter are characterised by heightened sensitivity to sunlight, susceptibility to skin cancer and, in the case of progeria, premature ageing.
    Fanconi anaemia, on the other hand, is characterised by progressive anaemia, congenital malformations and a high risk of developing leukaemia and mouth tumours.

    The ERCC4 gene can therefore be responsible for three different diseases, researchers said. The scientists have shown that this gene is involved in two DNA repair mechanisms by which cells maintain the stability of the genome, in such a way that the balance between these two repair systems will determine which of the three diseases the patient will contract.

    "This is a rather exceptional case, since there are few precedents of a single gene being involved in two independent physiological mechanisms and causing three clinically different diseases," said UAB professor Dr Jordi Surralles.

    The findings as well as improving the diagnosis and genetic characterisation of rare diseases, will allow new therapeutic strategies to be applied.
    The study was published in the American Journal of Human Genetics.


  8. #118
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Fertility yoga may help women conceive

    A yoga instructor has claimed that the popular practice, which has long been praised for helping people improve their flexibility and core strength, can also be used to help women conceive.

    A registered nurse and yoga instructor Sherry Longbottom has developed fertility yoga, which avoids poses that could strain the body instead.

    She favours simple gentle poses that help lessen anxiety, media reported. Longbottom said that the goal of her yoga is to get blood flow in the pelvic area.

    While practicing fertility yoga is not exactly as beneficial as in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments or hormone therapy, she asserted that yoga can help women by letting them take a moment to relax and calm down.
    She said that people today live in fight or flight mode, which goes completely against what people are trying to look for in creating a fertile environment.

    Dr James Goldfarb, the director of infertility and in-vitro fertilization at University Hospital Cleveland, said that he approves of patients trying safe alternative therapies like yoga or acupuncture as long as they feel better after a session.
    While fertility treatments like IVF have helped millions of women conceive, he said these women often suffer from a tremendous amount of anxiety at the same time.

    Longbottom said that the ability of the practice to help with an individual's mental health in addition to his/her physical health was one of the reasons she wanted to start the fertility yoga class.

    She added that mind, body and spirit are all tied together and once people address these areas, then they are taking care of their whole body.


  9. #119
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Fenugreek can spice up your bedroom life

    Herb used to add flavour to Indian curries can also spice up our sex lives, according to a new study. Researchers found that men taking fenugreek can boost their sex drive by at least a quarter.

    Sixty healthy men aged between 25 and 52 took an extract of the herb twice a day for six weeks. Their libido levels were monitored using a scoring system to assess any changes after three and six weeks.

    Within six weeks, their scores had soared by an average of 16.1 to 20.6 – a 28 per cent rise, reports a daily.

    Meanwhile, another group of men taking dummy pills saw their scores fall. Fenugreek seeds contain compounds called saponins which are thought to stimulate production of male sex hormones including testosterone.

    The tests were carried out by researchers from the Centre for Integrative Clinical and Molecular Medicine in Brisbane, Australia, who said: ‘This study has demonstrated that there was significant improvement in sexual function and performance following treatment.


  10. #120
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Revealed: What makes patients lie to doctors

    Telling lies to doctors could lead to serious health problems, a study has claimed.

    According to a study conducted with the Cleveland Clinic, 28 percent patients said that they ‘lie or omit facts’ when they visit their health care providers.

    Meanwhile, 77 percent of doctors felt that 25 percent of their patients knowingly leave out facts or just lie to them. Twenty-eight percent of doctors estimated that at least 50 percent of their patients leave out facts or lie.

    Studies have explained that they lie, as they don't want to be judged, they don't want to admit the truth and they don't want a sermon.

    CBS News medical contributor Dr Holly Phillips said that seeing doctor makes people really take hold of what they are doing, it makes them look at their own behavior, and they might not want to accept what they are doing at the given time, so they lie a little.

    “You often don't want to hear a lecture. I tell my patients, I don't want to lecture you. You know what to do, but it's my job to get you to do it,” she said.

    The most dangerous lies involve taking medications and herbal remedies, smoking, drinking, dieting and exercising.


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