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Health Bulletin


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  1. #121
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Rise in drug-resistant bugs due to overuse of antibiotics

    Overuse of antibiotics has led to a situation in which even simple infections acquired outside the hospital are turning drug-resistant. This has been revealed in a recent study conducted by a city private hospital on ICU patients. It showed that nearly one-fourth of all admissions due to infection of the urinary tract, pneumonia or blood stream infection were community-acquired which means that these people contracted the drug-resistant infections outside a health care setting.
    "About 70% of the community-acquired infections were resistant to fourth generation antibiotics which is a dangerous trend. It shows that the drug-resistant bacteria, usually found in hospital settings, are now breeding in the community too," said Dr Sumit Ray, the lead investigator and vice-president of the critical care department at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. He said that overuse of antibiotics and over-the-counter sale and purchase of these drugs is behind increasing drug resistance.

    The problem, he added, is likely to aggravate further if urgent steps are not taken to check the misuse and overuse of antibiotics. "Growing resistance would mean that even a simple urinary tract infection or pneumonia, which is common especially in immune-compromised patients such as diabetics and kidney patients, may land one in the ICU. The mortality rate in drug-resistant infections is as high as 33 percent," said Ray.

    Antibiotic therapy involving top-line drugs (fifth generation antibiotics such as Carbapenem) costs anywhere between Rs 60,000 and one lakh for each course excluding admission charges which puts a huge financial burden on the patient, said another senior doctor. "In some patients, even the fifth generation antibiotics do not work. So we have started a new treatment module where basic but heavily toxic drugs are administered. The bacteria does not recognize it and gets destroyed but it leaves a bad impact on the kidney and other organs of the patient," said Dr Ray.

    Resistance to antibiotics is becoming a serious threat for India because of the popular habit of popping pills at will. Even World Health Organization has issued a warning that the world is staring at a post-antibiotics era, when common infections will no longer have a cure. "We have proposed a restrictive policy for over-the-counter sale of third and fourth generation antibiotics to deal with the drug resistance problem. They will be included in the H1 category at present which means that these drugs can only be sold on the basis of prescription and both the chemist and the doctor would have to maintain a record of it. Also, these drugs will come with a warning," said a senior health ministry official.


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  2. #122
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Early pregnancy lowers breast cancer risk

    Getting pregnant while you are still young is known to protect women against breast cancer, a new study suggests.

    Researchers in BioMed Central found having a child before the age of 20 decreases risk of breast cancer by half.

    Using microarray analysis researchers from Basel discovered that genes involved in the immune system and differentiation were up-regulated after pregnancy while the activity of genes coding for growth factors was reduced.

    The activity of one particular gene Wnt4 was also down-regulated after pregnancy.

    The protein from this gene (Wnt4) is a feminizing protein - absence of this protein propels a fetus towards developing as a boy.

    Wnt and Notch are opposing components of a system which control cellular fate within an organism and when the team looked at Notch they found that genes regulated by notch were up-regulated, Notch-stimulating proteins up-regulated and Notch-inhibiting proteins down-regulated.

    Wnt/Notch signaling ratio was permanently altered in the basal stem/progenitor cells of mammary tissue of mice by pregnancy.
    Mohamed Bentires-Alj from the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, who led this study said, "The down-regulation of Wnt is the opposite of that seen in many cancers, and this tightened control of Wnt/Notch after pregnancy which may be preventing the runaway growth present in cancer."

    The research is published in the open access journal Breast Cancer Research.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    8 reasons why you should take tea

    Studies continue to unlock the medicinal benefits of tea, which has been touted to help with everything from headaches to depression since Ancient times. Nutritionist Patricia Bannan has provided eight reasons as to why we should drink tea.

    Tea contains a small amount of natural fluoride, a chemical that can help prevent tooth decay, she said. When fluoride mixes with saliva, bacteria can't produce the acid by-products that promote cavities.

    Additionally, fluoride works to repair teeth in the early stages of tooth decay, she explained. Studies also show catechins (antioxidants) in green tea extract may trigger weight loss by stimulating the body to burn calories and decrease body fat, especially in the abdominal (belly) area.

    Thanks to its polyphenols (the antioxidants found in tea), sipping on a cup may have cancer-fighting effects.

    While the overall research is inconclusive, evidence shows the polyphenols in tea, particularly catechins, have biological activities that may be relevant to cancer prevention, Bannan noted.

    These antioxidants have also been shown to inhibit tumor growth: green teas specifically have been shown to activate detoxification enzymes that may help protect against tumor development.

    One study from Italy found drinking three cups of green tea daily prevented prostate cancer in men who had precancerous cells indicating the presence of the disease.

    However, because the studies are inconclusive, the National Cancer Institute does not recommend for or against the use of tea to reduce the risk of any type of cancer

    Scientists now agree the 'eight glasses of water a day' rule is misleading and drinks such as tea and coffee can hydrate the body just along with water. It's still a good idea to aim for moderate caffeine intake, with no more than one to two cups at a time.

    According to a study conducted in the Netherlands and published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, drinking tea was associated with a more than 50 per cent reduction in severe atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries) in women who drank 1 to 2 cups a day.

    Another study, published in the journal Stroke, found that long-term consumption of black, green, oolong or white tea can cut the risk of strokes by as much as 60 percent.

    Researchers say the antioxidants, found abundantly in tea, may play a critical role in preventing heart diseases.

    Tea might also help in the prevention and treatment of neurological diseases, especially degenerative diseases like Alzheimer's.


  4. #124
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Health benefits of tree nuts revealed

    Three new studies have explored the health benefits of consumption of tree nuts including almonds, cashews, hazelnuts and walnuts.

    Researchers found that tree nut consumption was associated with a better nutrient profile and diet quality; lower body weight and lower prevalence of metabolic syndrome; and a decrease in several cardiovascular risk factors compared to those seen among non-consumers.

    As seen during the research, tree nut consumers had higher daily intakes of calories and nutrients of concern, but lower intakes of added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium than non-consumers. Tree nut consumers also had lower weight, BMI, and waist circumference than non-consumers.

    In addition, those who consumed tree nuts had lower systolic blood pressure and higher HDL-cholesterol (the good kind). On a population basis, these reduced risk factors could lead to better health.

    The researchers looked at the effects of nuts on various cardiovascular markers.

    "We found that nut consumption was associated with an increase in Monounsaturated fatty acids (the good fats) in the blood, which was correlated with a decrease in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol (the bad kind), blood pressure, 10-year coronary heart disease risk, HbA1c (a marker of blood sugar control over the previous three months) and fasting blood glucose," explained Cyril Kendall, PhD, of the University of Toronto.
    "Nut consumption was also found to increase LDL particle size, which is less damaging when it comes to heart disease risk," Kendall added.

    According to Dr Kendall, this study found additional ways in which nut consumption may improve overall cardiovascular health. The studies were presented this week at the Experimental Biology Meeting in Boston, MA.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Crosswords and Sudoku help protect against mental decline

    A new study has claimed that daily crossword or Sudoku puzzle can help boost brain power and keep mind alert in old age.

    Researchers reviewed studies on mental decline and said that most showed no strong evidence that physical exercise or taking vitamins or drug treatments helped keep the brain active, media reported.

    The team of researchers, who reviewed 32 trials involving about 25,000 patients, said that mental exercise in the form of a regular ‘brain-teaser’ puzzle is the only proven method to boost brainpower as you age.

    Lead author Dr Raza Naqvi, from the division of geriatric medicine at the University of Toronto, Canada, told the publication that mental exercise showed benefits in the three clinical trials in the review.

    "This involved computerized training programmes or intensive one-on-one personal cognitive training in memory, reasoning or speed of processing," he said,

    Naqvi said that in one trial, participants had significantly improved memory during five-year follow-up periods.

    He said that another study showed an improvement in memory and attention in a group who took part in a computerised cognitive training programme.

    The study was published in Canadian Medical Association Journal.


  6. #126
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Body's internal clock triggers late-night snacking

    A recent study has found that the body's internal clock, the circadian system, increases hunger and cravings for sweet, starchy and salty foods in the evenings.

    While the urge to consume more in the evening may have helped our ancestors store energy to survive longer in times of food scarcity, in the current environment of high-calorie food, those late night snacks may result in significant weight gain.

    "Of course, there are many factors that affect weight gain, principally diet and exercise, but the time of eating also has an effect. We found with this study that the internal circadian system also likely plays a role in today's obesity epidemic because it intensifies hunger at night," said Steven Shea, Ph.D., director for the Center for Research on Occupational and Environmental Toxicology at Oregon Health and Science University and senior author on the study.

    "People who eat a lot in the evening, especially high-calorie foods and beverages, are more likely to be overweight or obese," he stated.

    Indeed, eating a lot in the evening can be counterproductive since the human body handles nutrients differently depending on the time of day. For example, sugar tolerance is impaired in the evening. Additionally, consuming more calories in the evening predisposes people to more energy storage; we simply don't expend as much energy after an evening meal in comparison to morning meals.

    Furthermore, artificial light enables people to stay up later than they probably should and often people don't get enough sleep.

    "If you stay up later, during a time when you're hungrier for high-calorie foods, you're more likely to eat during that time. You then store energy and get less sleep, both of which contribute to weight gain," Shea said.

    Conducted by Shea and two Boston-area researchers, Frank Scheer, Ph.D. and Christopher Morris, Ph.D. of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, the study examined the appetite and food preference of 12 healthy non-obese adults throughout a 13-day laboratory stay in very dim light in which all behaviors were scheduled, including timing of meals and sleep.

    Dr. Scheer, first author on the study, explained that "by the end of this long protocol, all of the participants' meals and activities were spaced evenly across the day and night, allowing examination of the true internal circadian effects on appetite, while controlling for other effects on appetite including the amount of food recently consumed."

    The researchers found that the internal circadian system regulated hunger, with participants feeling the least hungry in the morning (8am) and most hungry in the evening (8pm.).

    Similar rhythms were found in appetite for types of food, such as sweet, starchy and salty, and the estimate of how much food participants could eat.

    The study concluded that the internal circadian system causes an evening peak in appetite that may promote larger, higher-calorie meals before the fasting period necessitated by sleep.

    The study is published in the most recent version of the journal Obesity.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Hormone replacement adds muscle to women

    Swiss scientists have proved that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can improve muscle strength and fibre function in women, says a study.

    Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) significantly improves muscle function -- down to the muscle fibre level -- in post-menopausal women, said a new study published Wednesday in The Journal of Physiology.

    Some studies published over the last decade have led to negative publicity around HRT, a treatment used to relieve symptoms of menopause, resulting in many women being reluctant to use it.

    This new study, however, offers a positive outcome from the treatment, reports Science Daily.

    Doctor Lars Larsson, from Uppsala University Hospital in Sweden, who led the study, said: "We found that even though individual muscle fibre did not change in size, the muscles of HRT users showed greater strength by generating a higher maximum force compared to non-HRT users."

    "It is thought that using HRT, at least in part, reduces modifications of muscle contractile proteins that are linked to ageing," said Larsson.


  8. #128
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Genetic cause for migraines discovered

    A US scientist, who suffered from crippling migraines as a child, has found the gene flaw that causes the condition, paving way for better treatments for unpredictable and pounding headaches.

    As a teenage student athlete, Emily Bates hated never knowing when the next migraine would strike, disrupting her schoolwork, practises and competitions.

    The Brigham Young University chemistry professor identified mutations in a gene that makes people more susceptible to migraine headaches.

    The study is the first demonstration of a genetic cause for the common migraine and is an important step in the search for a cure.

    "I had migraines really frequently and severely," Bates said.

    "I would lose my vision, vomit uncontrollably - it would wipe out an entire day. I decided then as a high school student that I was going to work on migraines, that I was going to figure them out and help find a cure," Bates said.

    A team of geneticists led by Louis Ptacek at UC San Francisco's medical school worked with two families that appeared to have a dominantly inherited form of the affliction.

    The researchers zeroed in on genetic mutations these families had in common - mutations that affect production of a protein known as casein kinase delta.

    To test whether this was a cause or a coincidence, Bates designed an experiment to determine whether the same genetic trait led to migraine symptoms in mice.

    "All sensations become amplified with migraines, including touch, heat, sound and light," said Bates.

    The researchers observed this heightened sensitivity in the migraine mice in very subtle ways - from the warmth of a tiny light and the pressure of a single hair-like filament.

    "It's a molecular clue. Now we can try to figure out what this specific protein affects in the body and how that is involved with migraines," Bates said.

    "There haven't been a lot of people working on migraine research, mostly because it's so complex and unpredictable," Bates said.

    The study was published in journal Science Translational Medicine


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Forever young: Key to halt aging found

    Scientists may have found the "fountain of aging" . They claim that the hypothalamus — a small region of the brain that plays a fundamental role in growth, development, reproduction and metabolism — holds the key to slowing down the rate of aging throughout the body.

    Researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in New York have successfully slowed down the rate of aging in mice by tweaking chemical messengers that affect the hypothalamus.

    Their study was published in the journal 'Nature'.

    By manipulating the levels of the molecule, known as NF-kB , within the hypothalamus , the researchers were able to slow down the rate of aging and increase longevity of mice. Activating the NF-kB pathway in the hypothalamus of mice significantly accelerated the development of aging. The mice showed a decrease in muscle strength and size, in skin thickness, and in their ability to learn — all indicators of aging.

    "Activating this pathway promoted systemic ageing that shortened the lifespan," scientists said. Conversely, they found that blocking the NF-kB pathway in the hypothalamus of mouse brains slowed aging and increased median longevity by about 20%, compared to controls.

    "It's clear from our study that many aspects of aging are controlled by the hypothalamus ," said senior author Dongsheng Cai, professor of molecular pharmacology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

    "What's exciting is that it's possible — at least in mice — to alter signalling within the hypothalamus to slow down the aging process and increase longevity."

    "As people age," he said, "you can detect inflammatory changes in various tissues. Inflammation is also involved in various age-related diseases , such as metabolic syndrome , cardiovascular disease , neurological disease and cancer." To find out how the hypothalamus might affect aging, Dr Cai decided to study hypothalamic inflammation by focusing on a protein complex NF-kB (nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells).


  10. #130
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Forever young: Key to halt aging found

    Scientists may have found the "fountain of aging" . They claim that the hypothalamus a small region of the brain that plays a fundamental role in growth, development, reproduction and metabolism holds the key to slowing down the rate of aging throughout the body.

    Researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in New York have successfully slowed down the rate of aging in mice by tweaking chemical messengers that affect the hypothalamus.

    Their study was published in the journal 'Nature'.

    By manipulating the levels of the molecule, known as NF-kB , within the hypothalamus , the researchers were able to slow down the rate of aging and increase longevity of mice. Activating the NF-kB pathway in the hypothalamus of mice significantly accelerated the development of aging. The mice showed a decrease in muscle strength and size, in skin thickness, and in their ability to learn all indicators of aging.

    "Activating this pathway promoted systemic ageing that shortened the lifespan," scientists said. Conversely, they found that blocking the NF-kB pathway in the hypothalamus of mouse brains slowed aging and increased median longevity by about 20%, compared to controls.

    "It's clear from our study that many aspects of aging are controlled by the hypothalamus ," said senior author Dongsheng Cai, professor of molecular pharmacology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

    "What's exciting is that it's possible at least in mice to alter signalling within the hypothalamus to slow down the aging process and increase longevity."

    "As people age," he said, "you can detect inflammatory changes in various tissues. Inflammation is also involved in various age-related diseases , such as metabolic syndrome , cardiovascular disease , neurological disease and cancer." To find out how the hypothalamus might affect aging, Dr Cai decided to study hypothalamic inflammation by focusing on a protein complex NF-kB (nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells).


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