29th Jul 2014, 04:12 PM #1311
Re: Health Bulletin
The scientific reason you should start fist bumping
Scientists have discovered a healthier way of greeting your friends instead of the customary handshake - bumping fists.
Research has found that bumping fists may be a more hygienic greeting than shaking hands.
Direct contact is needed for most microbes to move, so minimizing the parts of the hand that touch gives bacteria less chance to spread.
Experiments at Aberystwyth University have revealed that habitual handshaking allows movement of germs between people and can help spread contagious illness.
Researchers also looked at grip strength and found that a stronger handshake increased the amount of bacteria shared.
Using rubber gloves and a thick layer of E Coli, scientists exchanged handshakes, high fives and fist-bumps and have shown that transfer of potentially disease-causing bacteria is highest during a handshake.
Dr Dave Whitworth carried out the research, dipping a glove into a bacterial broth before gingerly extending a hand. The pair tested three different greetings and assessed the amount of germs transferred from each contact.
They found that a high dose of bugs were passed on during a handshake.
This was reduced by over half in the high-five, and germ transfer was a whopping 90% lower when bumping fists.
The hygienic nature of the fist bump may be due in part to its speed (typically much quicker than a first-rate handshake) but also because there is a smaller area involved.
The study was inspired by an increase in measures to promote cleanliness in the workplace, such as hand-sanitizers and keyboard disinfectants.
Dr Whitworth said "People rarely think about the health implications of shaking hands. If the general public could be encouraged to fist-bump, there is genuine potential to reduce the spread of infectious diseases."
29th Jul 2014, 04:43 PM #1312
Re: Health Bulletin
Diabetic kids need extra care at school, say doctors
When Divya, 11, requested her class teacher permission to use the restroom for the third time in an hour, the older woman warned her against playing the fool. Embarrassed, the child returned to her seat, helpless as she did not know how to explain she was a diabetic and so had drink water frequently. Divya is not alone. Several children who are Type-1 diabetics suffer in silence without proper support at school and among peers.
In Type-1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin to maintain blood sugar level. It is an auto-immune disorder where the body fights against itself and does not produce insulin. City diabetologists say the disease in on the rise among children, especially those in the 4-14 age group. Owing to the lack of awareness among patients and doctors, most cases are diagnosed when it is too late. While the incidence of the disease was only 5% in every 1 lakh population a decade ago, it is now 10.5%, says diabetologist Dr Ravi Kumar of Childs Trust Hospital. "Almost 80% of these cases get diagnosed late and get admitted to the ICU directly. These little patients should take insulin shots before every meal to ensure their sugar levels do not drop to dangerous levels."
Nine in 10 diabetic children are Type 1 or 'juvenile diabetics', said Dr Vijay Vishwanathan, chief diabetologist at M V Hospital for Diabetes in Royapuram. According to the International Diabetic Federation, 79,100 new cases of Type-1 diabetes are recorded in the world every year and there is an annual increase by 3%.
"Among all the Asian countries, India has the highest number of Type-1 diabetics and since the trigger is unknown, these patients are insulin dependent life long," he said. His clinic records 10 new cases every month. He warned that when children are thirsty excessively and pass urine frequently it is important for the parents to approach a doctor.
"Children with insulin dependent diabetes need extra care, especially at school. They need to drink water and urinate frequently so teachers should be made aware of their condition," he said. Teachers should be trained to handle situations like the child fainting or suddenly collapsing when blood sugar drops, he said.
30th Jul 2014, 01:25 PM #1313
Re: Health Bulletin
Gut microbes respond differently to diet based on gender
A new study has revealed that gut microbes of males and females react differently to diet, even when the diets are identical.
According to the study by scientists from The University of Texas, therapies designed to improve human health and treat diseases through nutrition might need to be tailored for each sex.
The researchers studied the gut microbes in two species of fish and in mice, and also conducted an in-depth analysis of data that other researchers collected on humans and found that in fish and humans diet affected the microbiota of males and females differently. In some cases, different species of microbes would dominate, while in others, the diversity of bacteria would be higher in one sex than the other.
Daniel Bolnick, professor in The University of Texas at Austin's College of Natural Sciences said that the results identify that there is a significant difference in the gut microbiota for males and fe males, the dietary data used in the analysis are organized in complex clusters of disparate factors and do not easily translate into specific diet tips, such as eating more vegetables or less meat.
The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.
30th Jul 2014, 01:43 PM #1314
Re: Health Bulletin
Run for 7 minutes daily to cut risk of heart attacks, scientists say
A simple seven-minute run has now been found to cut the risk of a heart attack or death due to stroke by 55%.
Scientists confirm that running for only a few minutes a day or at slow speeds may significantly reduce a person's risk of death from cardiovascular disease compared to someone who does not run.
The US government and the World Health Organization recommend 75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity activity, such as running but it was unclear whether there are health benefits for those exercising below this level.
Researchers, therefore, studied 55,137 adults between the ages of 18 and 100 over a 15-year period to determine whether there is a relationship between running and longevity.
Compared with non-runners, the runners had a 30% lower risk of death from all causes and a 45% lower risk of death from heart disease or stroke.
Runners, on average, lived three years longer compared to non-runners.
The authors have, therefore, concluded that promoting running is as important as preventing smoking, obesity or hypertension.
The benefits were the same no matter how long, far, frequently or fast participants reported running.
Benefits were also the same regardless of sex, age, body mass index, health conditions, smoking status or alcohol use.
The study showed that participants who ran less than 51 minutes, fewer than 6 miles, slower than 6 miles per hour, or only one to two times per week had a lower risk of dying compared to those who did not run.
DC Lee, lead author of the study and an assistant professor in the Iowa State University said they found that runners who ran less than an hour per week have the same mortality benefits compared to runners who ran more than three hours per week.
Thus, it is possible that the more may not be the better in relation to running and longevity.
Researchers also looked at running behaviour patterns and found that those who persistently ran over a period of six years on average had the most significant benefits, with a 29% lower risk of death for any reason and 50% lower risk of death from heart disease or stroke.
"Since time is one of the strongest barriers to participate in physical activity, the study may motivate more people to start running and continue to run as an attainable health goal for mortality benefits," Lee said. "Running may be a better exercise option than more moderate intensity exercises for healthy but sedentary people since it produces similar, if not greater, mortality benefits in five to 10 minutes compared to the 15 to 20 minutes per day of moderate intensity activity that many find too time consuming".
Running three times a week cut the chance of a fatal heart attack or stroke by 61% which was slightly more than those who ran once or twice a week.
The optimum running speed was between 7.1mph and 7.6mph which cut the risk of a dying from a heart attack or stroke by 60%, the study found.
Dr Chi Pang Wen of the Institute of Population Health Sciences in Taiwan said "A five-min run is as good as 15-min walk and a 25-min run can generate benefits that would require four times longer to accomplish by walking. As the researchers indicated, for younger individuals who are pressed for time, running is a far better option for time efficiency. Exercise is a miracle drug in many ways. The list of diseases that exercise can prevent, delay, modify progression of, or improve outcomes for is longer than we currently realise. We do not need to be athletes to exercise — it should be part of all of our daily routines."
30th Jul 2014, 01:43 PM #1315
Re: Health Bulletin
Now, a simple blood test to detect cancer
In a giant leap in cancer diagnostics, a simple blood test developed by British scientists can tell whether a patient has cancer or not.
Researchers from the University of Bradford have devised a simple blood test that will enable doctors to rule out cancer in patients presenting with certain symptoms, saving time and preventing costly and unnecessary invasive procedures such as colonoscopies and biopsies being carried out.
Early results have shown the method gives a high degree of accuracy diagnosing cancer and pre-cancerous conditions from the blood of patients with melanoma, colon cancer and lung cancer.
The Lymphocyte Genome Sensitivity (LGS) test looks at white blood cells and measures the damage caused to their DNA when subjected to different intensities of ultraviolet light (UVA), which is known to damage DNA.
The results of the study show a clear distinction between the damage to the white blood cells from patients with cancer, with pre-cancerous conditions and from healthy patients.
Professor Diana Anderson, from the University's School of Life Sciences led the research.
She said "White blood cells are part of the body's natural defence system. We know that they are under stress when they are fighting cancer or other diseases, so I wondered whether anything measurable could be seen if we put them under further stress with UVA light. We found that people with cancer have DNA which is more easily damaged by ultraviolet light than other people, so the test shows the sensitivity to damage of all the DNA — the genome — in a cell."
The University of Bradford has filed patents for the technology.
A separate clinical trial is currently underway at Bradford Royal Infirmary. This will investigate the effectiveness of the LGS test in correctly predicting which patients referred by their GPs with suspected colorectal cancer would, or would not, benefit from a colonoscopy — currently the preferred investigation method.
This study looked at blood samples taken from 208 individuals. Ninety-four healthy individuals were recruited from staff and students at the University of Bradford and 114 blood samples were collected from patients referred to specialist clinics within Bradford Royal Infirmary prior to diagnosis and treatment.
The samples were coded, anonymised, randomised and then exposed to UVA light through five different depths of agar.
The UVA damage was observed in the form of pieces of DNA being pulled in an electric field towards the positive end of the field, causing a comet-like tail. In the LGS test, the longer the tail the more DNA damage and the measurements correlated to those patients who were ultimately diagnosed with cancer (58), those with pre-cancerous conditions (56) and those who were healthy (94).
"These are early results completed on three different types of cancer and we accept that more research needs to be done; but these results so far are remarkable," said Professor Anderson. "Whilst the numbers of people we tested are, in epidemiological terms, quite small, in molecular epidemiological terms, the results are powerful. We've identified significant differences between the healthy volunteers, suspected cancer patients and confirmed cancer patients of mixed ages. This means that the possibility of these results happening by chance is 1 in 1000. We believe that this confirms the test's potential as a diagnostic tool."
Professor Anderson believes that if the LGS proves to be a useful cancer diagnostic test, it would be a highly valuable addition to the more traditional investigative procedures for detecting cancer.
31st Jul 2014, 12:51 PM #1316
Re: Health Bulletin
Now, miracle 'squid' pill to benefit brain, heart
A new supplement called Bioglan Calamari Gold pill made from squid has been launched that has five times more Omega-3 than cod liver capsules and helps in improving brain and heart function.
The product would help people who suffer from fatigue, memory problems and bad skin, which makes it the most effective way of getting your daily intake of the essential fatty acid, the Daily Express reported.
The one-a-day pill contains 40 per cent omega-3 DHA, which has been proven to help with heart health, brain function and high blood pressure. Studies also hailed the use of DHA that helps in improving cognitive function, lower the risk of arthritis and postpartum depression, improve joint health and even lower the levels of blood fats linked to heart disease.
Studies also hail the use of DHA helps improve cognitive function, lower the risk of arthritis and postpartum depression, improve joint health and even lower the levels of blood fats linked to heart disease.
It has been made from the liver of squid and would be the first of its kind in the UK. They are available for 19.99 pounds in the market.
Suzie Sawyer, Nutritionist, said that Omega-3 acids are a group of essential fatty acids which can't be created by the body and DHA was the predominant omega-3 in many of our vital organs so it was fundamental for our health.
31st Jul 2014, 01:05 PM #1317
Re: Health Bulletin
Eating chicken could make you immune to antibiotics
Each time you eat chicken, you could also be consuming a cocktail of antibiotics. A lab study released by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) found antibiotic residues in 40% of chicken samples bought from outlets in Delhi and NCR.
While the amount of antibiotics found in each sample was not very high, experts said regular consumers of such meat could be in danger of developing antibiotic resistance. In other words, eating chicken with drug traces over a period of time could make you immune to important antibiotics prescribed to treat common illnesses.
The study said it had evidence of large scale and reckless use of antibiotics by poultry owners, which can also lead to antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains in the chicken itself.
CSE said it conducted the study after being alerted by doctors, including Bangalore-based cardiac surgeon Devi Shetty, about a rising trend of antibiotic resistance among patients.
CSE said 22.9% of the 70 samples it collected contained residues of one antibiotic while 17.1% had more than one. One sample purchased from Gurgaon was found to have a cocktail of as many as three antibiotics.
The CSE report, released on Wednesday, said poultry owners routinely pumped antibiotics into chicken during their short life of about 35 to 42 days, to promote growth so that they look bigger and also to treat or prevent infections. India has no law to regulate antibiotic use in the poultry sector
CSE's research team tested chicken samples at its Pollution Monitoring Laboratory. Three tissues in each sample were tested — muscle, kidney and liver. Residues of five of the six antibiotics were found in all three tissues of the samples in the range of 3.37 to 131.75 micrograms per kg.
According to Dr Shetty, after a researcher conducted a study on antibiotic resistance at his hospital, they found about 10% of the patients to be resistant to common antibiotics.
"These are people who probably haven't taken antibiotics before. They are villagers. We started thinking it could be caused from the food they are eating. That is why I approached CSE to do a study and now the data says it all," he said on a live video chat from Bangalore during the presentation of the findings.
Dr Shetty also said that the likelihood of becoming antibiotic resistant after eating chicken depends on how often we eat chicken. "If you are eating poultry chicken on a daily basis then you could be at a higher risk. That is why I asked my family to get only village reared chicken not the poultry ones," he said.
Dr Randeep Guleria, head pulmonary medicine at AIIMS said he wasn't surprised that antibiotics were entering the food chain through poultry.
"The findings aren't surprising. It's a big concern and in the last few years after the NDM 1 superbug scare, the medical community has been raising concern about indiscriminate use of antibiotics in poultry and agriculture," Dr Guleria said.
Said Chandra Bhushan, CSE's deputy director general, "Our study is only the tip of the iceberg. There are many more antibiotics that are rampantly used that the lab has not tested," Bhushan said.
When contacted by TOI, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan said he would react to the findings only after reading the entire lab report.
CSE also conducted a review of 13 research studies on antibiotic resistance (ABR) in India since 2002 and found that ABR levels were very high for ciprofloxacin and doxycycline, both used for illnesses such as diarrhoea, pneumonia, urinary tract infections and others. High level residues of the same antibiotics were found in chicken samples tested by CSE. The problem according to CSE is compounded by the fact that antibiotics that are essential for humans are now being used in the poultry industry.
"In India there is growing evidence that resistance to fluoroquinolones such as ciprofloxacin is rapidly increasing. Treating fatal diseases like sepsis, pneumonia and tuberculosis (TB) with fluoroquinolones is becoming tough because microbes that cause these diseases are increasingly becoming resistant to fluoroquinolones," a CSE statement said.
What is even more shocking is that poultry farmers seem to have no qualms about accepting that they use high levels of antibiotics and that these antibiotics are widely available, bought easily without any prescription.
A CSE researcher made investigative videos of a farm in Haryana where the poultry staff are seen briefing him about the use of antibiotics. Another researcher bought bags of antibiotics from Karnal and even from Bhagirath Palace in Delhi.
Shopkeepers said the antibiotics are imported from China. The chicken samples for the study were collected from randomly selected shops, both small and big and also some branded outlets. Since these outlets were randomly selected, the trend is likely to be similar in most parts of the country, researchers asserted.
CSE has made a set of recommendations to deal with the problem. It has called for a ban on use of antibiotics as growth promoters and for mass disease prevention. Antibiotics critical for humans should not be allowed in the poultry industry and antibiotics should not be used as a feed additive, it said and asked for government regulation of the poultry feed industry.
Interestingly, the ongoing Indo-US dialogue has the import of free chicken legs on its agenda. Considering that US has only voluntary standards for antibiotic usage in poultry and that 80% of antibiotics there are given to farm animals, CSE head Sunita Narain said India should be cautious. "The government should think about allowing import of chicken legs from a country with such poor regulations," she said.
31st Jul 2014, 01:12 PM #1318
Re: Health Bulletin
World's first malaria vaccine to hit markets soon
The world's first malaria vaccine will be available in the market by next year.
Pharma company GSK has submitted a regulatory application to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for its malaria vaccine candidate, RTS,S.
RTS,S will be exclusively for use against the Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasite, which is most prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).
Around 90% of estimated deaths from malaria occur in SSA, and 77% of these are in children under the age of 5.
Data from the phase III vaccine trial programme conducted at 13 African research centres in eight African countries (Burkina Faso, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Tanzania) including over 16,000 infants and young children have also been included to support the filing.
Results from a large-scale Phase III trial showed that over 18 months of follow-up, children aged 5-17 months at first vaccination with RTS,S experienced 46% fewer cases of clinical malaria, compared to children immunized with a control vaccine.
An average of 941 cases of clinical malaria were prevented over 18 months of follow-up for every 1,000 children vaccinated in this age group.
Severe malaria cases were reduced by 36%; 21 cases of severe malaria were prevented over 18 months of follow-up for every 1,000 children vaccinated.
Malaria hospitalizations were reduced by 42%.
RTS,S aims to trigger the body's immune system to defend against the P falciparum malaria parasite when it first enters the human host's bloodstream and/or when the parasite infects liver cells. The vaccine is designed to prevent the parasite from infecting, maturing and multiplying in the liver, after which time the parasite would re-enter the bloodstream and infect red blood cells, leading to disease symptoms. In the phase III efficacy trial, RTS,S was administered in three doses, one month apart.
Trials showed that the vaccine effectively protected young children and infants from clinical malaria up to 18 months after vaccination.
GSK said "Over 18 months of follow-up, RTS,S was shown to almost halve the number of malaria cases in young children (aged 5-17 months at first vaccination) and to reduce by around a quarter the malaria cases in infants (aged 6-12 weeks at first vaccination)".
GSK has vowed to sell the vaccine at cost price plus 5%, which it said would fund further research into tropical diseases. The new results are from a study of 15,000 babies and children in seven African countries.
The submission will follow the Article 58 procedure, which allows the EMA to assess the quality, safety and efficacy of a candidate vaccine, or medicine, manufactured in a European Union (EU) member state, for a disease recognised by the World Health Organization as of major public health interest, but intended exclusively for use outside the EU.
This assessment is done by the EMA in collaboration with the WHO, and requires products to meet the same standards as vaccines or medicines intended for use in the EU.
The EMA submission is the first step in the regulatory process toward making the RTS,S vaccine candidate available as an addition to existing tools currently recommended for malaria prevention. To-date there is no licensed vaccine available for the prevention of malaria.
If a positive opinion from the EMA is granted, the WHO has indicated a policy recommendation may be possible by end of 2015.
A positive opinion from the EMA would also be the basis for marketing authorisation applications to National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) in SSA countries.
Dr Sophie Biernaux, head of the Malaria Vaccine Franchise, GSK said "This is a key moment in GSK's 30-year journey to develop RTS,S and brings us a step closer to making available the world's first vaccine that can help protect children in Africa from malaria".
31st Jul 2014, 01:12 PM #1319
Re: Health Bulletin
Blood test to spot suicidal tendencies
Scientists may have developed world's first blood test to predict if a person has suicidal tendencies.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins in the US said they have discovered a chemical alteration in a single human gene linked to stress reactions that if confirmed in larger studies could give doctors a simple blood test to reliably predict a person's risk of attempting suicide. Tests showed the accuracy rate to be as high as 96%.
The latest discovery suggests that changes in a gene involved in the function of the brain's response to stress hormones plays a significant role in turning what might otherwise be an unremarkable reaction to the strain of everyday life into suicidal thoughts and behaviours.
"Suicide is a preventable public health problem but we have been stymied in our prevention efforts because we have no consistent way to predict those who are at increased risk of killing themselves," said study leader Zachary Kaminsky.
"With a test like ours we may be able to stem suicide rates by identifying those people and intervening early enough to head off a catastrophe," he added.
He focused on a genetic mutation in a gene known as SKA2. By looking at brain samples from mentally ill and healthy people the researchers found that levels of SKA2 were significantly reduced in samples from people who had died by suicide. Within this common mutation they then found in some subjects an epigenetic modification that altered the way the SKA2 gene functioned without changing the gene's underlying DNA sequence. The modification added chemicals called methyl groups to the gene.
Higher levels of methylation were then found in the same study subjects who had killed themselves. The higher levels of methylation among suicide decedents were then replicated in two independent brain cohorts.
1st Aug 2014, 01:32 PM #1320
Re: Health Bulletin
Soon see-through organs to better diagnose diseases
A new study has revealed simple methods to see through organs and the entire body to visualize long-range connections between cells as well as fine-grained cellular structures.
Senior study author Viviana Gradinaru of the California Institute of Technology said that although the idea of tissue clearing had been around for a century, to their knowledge, this was the first study to perform whole-body clearing, as opposed to first extracting and then clearing organs outside the adult body.
Gradinaru said that their methodology had the potential to accelerate any scientific endeavor that would benefit from whole-organism mapping, including the study of how peripheral nerves and organs could profoundly affect cognition and mental processing, and vice versa.
In the new study, the researchers set out to make clarity suitable for whole organs and bodies, in part by making the process faster. First, they identified the optimal hydrogel that allows detergents to quickly remove lipids from tissue using an approach named passive clarity technique (PACT).
Gradinaru added that their easy-to-use tissue clearing protocols, which employed readily available and cost-effective reagents and equipment, will make the subcellular interrogation of large tissue samples an accessible undertaking within the broader research and clinical communities.
The researchers also developed a recipe for refractive index matching solution (RIMS), which enables the long-term storage of cleared tissue and imaging thick, cleared tissue using a conventional confocal microscope.
The study is published in the journal Cell.