5th May 2013, 12:23 PM #131
Re: Health Bulletin
Scientists develop nanoparticles for diabetics
US researchers have engineered nanoparticles for diabetics capable of releasing insulin in the blood thereby to help maintain normal blood sugar levels, says a study.
In a promising development for diabetes treatment, researchers have developed a network of nanoscale particles that can be injected into the body and release insulin when blood-sugar levels rise, maintaining normal blood sugar levels for more than a week in animal-based laboratory tests.
The work was done by researchers at North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Children's Hospital Boston, reports Science Daily.
"We've created a 'smart' system that is injected into the body and responds to changes in blood sugar by releasing insulin, effectively controlling blood-sugar levels," says Dr. Zhen Gu, lead author of a paper describing the work and an assistant professor in the joint biomedical engineering program at NC State and UNC Chapel Hill.
"We've tested the technology in mice, and one injection was able to maintain blood sugar levels in the normal range for up to 10 days."
The new, injectable nano-network is composed of a mixture containing nanoparticles with a solid core of insulin, modified dextran and glucose oxidase enzymes.
When the enzymes are exposed to high glucose levels they effectively convert glucose into gluconic acid, which breaks down the modified dextran and releases the insulin.
The insulin then brings the glucose levels under control. The gluconic acid and dextran are fully biocompatible and dissolve in the body.
Each of these nanoparticle cores is given either a positively charged or negatively charged biocompatible coating.
The positively charged coatings are made of chitosan (a material normally found in shrimp shells), while the negatively charged coatings are made of alginate (a material normally found in seaweed).
5th May 2013, 12:24 PM #132
Re: Health Bulletin
Doctors nicer to thinner patients
Are doctors nicer to patients who aren't fat? A provocative new study suggests that they are - that thin patients are treated with more warmth and empathy than those who are overweight or obese.
For the study, published in the medical journal Obesity, researchers at Johns Hopkins obtained permission to record discussions between 39 primary care doctors and more than 200 patients who had high blood pressure.
Although patients were there to talk about blood pressure, not weight, most fell into the overweight or obese category.
For the most part, all of the patients were treated about the same; there were no meaningful differences in the amount of time doctors spent with them or the topics discussed. But when researchers analysed transcripts of the visits, there was one striking difference. Doctors seemed just a bit nicer to their normal-weight patients, showing more empathy and warmth in their conversations. Although the study was relatively small, the findings are statistically significant.
"It's not like the physicians were being overtly negative or harsh," said the lead author, Dr. Kimberly A Gudzune, an assistant professor of general internal medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. "They were just not engaging patients in that rapportbuilding or making that emotional connection with the patient."
In conversations with patients of normal weight, the doctors offered simple comments to show concern. While such expressions of empathy are not remarkable on their own, what was surprising was how absent they were in conversations with overweight patients.
5th May 2013, 12:25 PM #133
Re: Health Bulletin
How you stand is how you feel
Philosophers from Descartes to Ayn Rand wrote about the interplay between psychological and physical bearing. But the latest research suggests posture may precipitate, rather than just reflect, emotions. How you carry yourself can actually change your mood, which greatly affects how you approach situations and solve problems, as well as how attractive you appear to those around you.
"Poses are powerful," said Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist and associate professor at Harvard Business School. With colleagues, she has, through a series of controlled experiments , shown that assuming an expansive pose (think Wonder Woman with legs planted apart and hands on her hips) for two minutes will increase testosterone and lower cortisol in your bloodstream.
Her research builds on other studies published since 2010, one of which showed recovering alcoholics were.
Watch celebrities on the red carpet, or models on a runway , and you'll undoubtedly see the classic stop-for-the-flashingcameras stance: chest open, legs apart, head level, usually with a hand on the hip. It turns out that this pose not only best shows off what they are wearing , but also might send reassuring signals to their brains that they are capable and competent.
A flurry of social-science research over the last three years indicates such expansive postures release a flood of hormones that make you feel more positive and at ease, even if you were a quivering mess of self-doubt beforehand. Striking a commanding pose, whether you are in a sparkling gown or frayed jeans, can change how you perceive yourself, which ultimately influences how you are perceived by others.
The idea that posture is indicative less likely to relapse if they had an expansive versus a slouched posture. Another showed that subjects made to assume erect and open postures were more likely to take the initiative or risks in various tasks compared with cohorts who were forced into closed and constricted postures.
So how long do the effects of a power pose last? Researchers say hormonal changes persist for 15 to 20 minutes . But Dana Carney, a social psychologist who studies posture at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, said, "It could start a physiological cascade that lasts all day."
This is a good thing, because there are many situations where moves like Mick Jagger's aren't necessarily welcome. "Like a job interview where puffing your chest wouldn't be appropriate, you can stretch expansively beforehand," Dr Carney said. "So then you kick it off feeling good, you present well, people respond well and - boom - a positive cycle begins."
5th May 2013, 03:14 PM #134
Re: Health Bulletin
What do fats in our body do?
Researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health are studying fats, or lipids, to learn more about normal and abnormal biology in the body.
When you have your cholesterol checked, the doctor typically gives you levels of three fats found in the blood: LDL, HDL and triglycerides.
In human plasma alone, researchers have identified some 600 different types relevant to our health.
Many lipids are associated with diseases--diabetes, stroke, cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer''s disease, to name a few. But our bodies also need a certain amount of fat to function, and we can''t make it from scratch.
Triglycerides, cholesterol and other essential fatty acids--the scientific term for fats the body can''t make on its own--store energy, insulate us and protect our vital organs.
They act as messengers, helping proteins do their jobs. They also start chemical reactions involved in growth, immune function, reproduction and other aspects of basic metabolism.
The cycle of making, breaking, storing and mobilizing fats is at the core of how humans and all animals regulate their energy. An imbalance in any step can result in disease, including heart disease and diabetes. For instance, having too many triglycerides in our bloodstream raises our risk of clogged arteries, which can lead to heart attack and stroke.
Fats help the body stockpile certain nutrients as well. The so-called "fat-soluble" vitamins--A, D, E and K--are stored in the liver and in fatty tissues. Using a quantitative and systematic approach to study lipids, researchers have classified lipids into eight main categories.
Cholesterol belongs to the "sterol" group, and triglycerides are "glycerolipids." Another category, "phospholipids," includes the hundreds of lipids that constitute the cell membrane and allow cells to send and receive signals.
The main type of fat we consume, triglycerides are especially suited for energy storage because they pack more than twice as much energy as carbohydrates or proteins. Once triglycerides have been broken down during digestion, they are shipped out to cells through the bloodstream. Some of the fat gets used for energy right away. The rest is stored inside cells in blobs called lipid droplets.
When we need extra energy--for instance, when we exercise--our bodies use enzymes called lipases to break down the stored triglycerides. The cell's power plants, mitochondria, can then create more of the body''s main energy source: adenosine triphosphate, or ATP.
Recent research also has helped explain the workings of a lipid called an omega-3 fatty acid—the active ingredient in cod liver oil, which has been touted for decades as a treatment for eczema, arthritis and heart disease.
Two types of these lipids blocked the activity of a protein called COX, which assists in converting an omega-6 fatty acid into pain-signaling prostaglandin molecules. These molecules are involved in inflammation, which is a common element of many diseases, so omega-3 fatty acids could have tremendous therapeutic potential.
6th May 2013, 12:42 PM #135
Re: Health Bulletin
Childhood traumatic events can cause genetic changes: Study
Childhood rape or other traumatic events like car accidents or recurrent abuse can change the genetic functioning of the victim, a new study led by Divya Mehta of the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich, Germany, has found.
Comparing the genetic structure of blood cells drawn from childhood abuse victims with that of persons who had not suffered such abuse, the researchers found that changes in the genes were 12 times more visible in the abused persons. These are called epigenetic changes - the DNA has not changed but there are chemical differences that affect the way the genes do their work. Epigenetic changes are caused by outside circumstances and usually last lifelong.
The study has been published in a recent issue of the scientific journal Proceedings of National Academy of Science (PNAS). Scientists from Emory University and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute also participated in the research
Mehta and her colleagues studied 169 persons in their late thirties or early forties. They had suffered from seven traumatic events on an average including rape, being held at knife-point, going through a car accident, etc. While a majority of them (108) had got over the trauma, 61 were suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a condition where they experienced an extreme anxiety disorder arising from the traumatic event. Of the PTSD patients, 32 had suffered childhood abuse while 29 had not.
"These results show that while these patients have similar or even indistinguishable symptoms on the outside, they are very different on the inside. The molecular mechanism and biological pathways altered among the two sets of patients are distinct," Mehta told media
"Trauma/abuse which occurs very early in life leaves long-lasting epigenetic marks on the genome as compared to trauma which occurs later in life," she added.
This discovery radically changes the way victims of trauma need to be looked at. Not just the symptoms but the path leading to the disease - timing, type of trauma and the preexisting genetic risk factors) are all important according to Mehta.
The research also has major implications for wider psychiatric treatment. One of the reasons why psychiatric treatment has a low success rate could be that patients with different 'biologies', that is, internal genetic structures are all being grouped under one disease, Mehta said.
The study shows that in the future, trauma victims will need to be first checked through blood markers whether they have childhood trauma changes - this will open the door to better more effective customized treatment.
6th May 2013, 02:46 PM #136
Re: Health Bulletin
Going grey too soon? Finally, there's a cure
Using hair dyes may soon be a thing of the past. Scientists have for the first time reversed premature greying of hair. British and German scientists have created a new compound that reverses oxidative stress, thus curing loss of hair or skin colour.
The researchers found that people who are going grey develop massive oxidative stress via accumulation of hydrogen peroxide in the hair follicles, which causes hair to bleach itself from the inside out.
The research now shows that this massive accumulation of hydrogen peroxide can be cured with a treatment developed by the researchers described as a topical UVBactivated compound called PC-KUS (a modified pseudocatalase).
The study also shows that the same treatment works for the skin condition vitiligo-a disease that causes skin depigmentation to almost 65 million people globally. Treatment options for vitiligo are presently limited.
Current options include phototherapy, which needs to be administered for three days every week for three years to achieve even partial pigmentation-that too in only 30% of the patients.
"To treat vitiligo, we analyzed an international group of 2,411 patients with vitiligo," said Karin Schallreuter, author of the study from the Institute for Pigmentary Disorders . Of that group, 57 or 2.4% were diagnosed with strictly segmental vitiligo (SSV), and 76 or 3.2% were diagnosed with mixed vitiligo.
Scientists found for the first time that patients who have SSV within a certain nerval distribution involving skin and eyelashes show the same oxidative stress as observed in the much more frequent general vitiligo.
6th May 2013, 02:48 PM #137
Re: Health Bulletin
More than 80% of healthy Indians are vitamin D deficient: Diabetes Foundation of India
We might live in a country full of sunshine but Indians are still deprived of the sunshine vitamin.
Vitamin D which is wrongly called so is a pro-hormone that influences the expression of more than 200 genes in the human body. Nearly every tissue in the human body has receptors of vitamin D, be it the brain, heart, skin, kidney, pancreas etc. Any deficiency of vitamin D in the human body is bound to affect normal functioning of all organs having Vitamin D receptors.
Vitamin D deficiency is fast becoming a global and national health concern. It is estimated that around 80% of the Indian population has Vitamin D levels less than normal. However, the bigger concern is that the population at large is not even aware of Vitamin D deficiency and its consequences.
One of India's leading diabetologists, Dr Banshi Saboo, founder of Diabetes Foundation of India, said, "Earlier, vitamin D was thought to be responsible for maintaining calcium homeostasis to prevent osteoporosis and maintain bone health. But, in the past decade, research has established the strong association of vitamin D deficiency in diabetes, immunity, asthma, TB, high blood pressure, neuro-muscular function, etc. Dr Saboo further added, "Low level of vitamin D is associated with higher incidence of type 2 diabetes and correcting Vitamin D deficiency improves insulin sensitivity and helps in better management of hyperglycaemia. Also vitamin D deficiency has been associated with high incidence of type 1 diabetes."
As the mother is the sole source of vitamin D substrate for her developing foetus, vitamin D status is very important during pregnancy. Maternal deficiency of vitamin D is linked with abnormal foetal growth and gestational diabetes. Sunscreen lotions, staying indoors, clothing habits, pollution and minimal exposure to direct sunlight (during the period of 10am to 3pm) are the major reasons of such widespread deficiency in the Indian population.
An eminent endocrinologist from Mumbai, Dr Manoj Chadha said that vitamin D deficiency has no defined signs or symptoms. "People who complain of back pains, unexplained muscle pains, general fatigue are the most likely to be vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D deficiency can be easily corrected by Vitamin D supplementation or some lifestyle changes. In a vitamin D deficient person, oral 60,000 IU per week for 8 weeks followed by maintenance dose of 60,000 IU per month is a reasonably safe method to correct the deficiency."
Although there are few major studies carried out in India to determine the optimum (sufficient) levels of serum vitamin D 25(OH) D to be maintained to prevent chronic ailments, globally there is a consensus that vitamin D deficiency is defined as serum 25(OH) D levels less than 20 ng/ml and insufficiency as serum 25(OH) D less than 30 ng/ml. Whereas, serum 25(OH) D levels above 30 ng/ml is found to be sufficient.
Given the fact that vitamin D receptors are present in various organs and tissues of the human body, maintaining vitamin D levels in blood above 30 ng/ml may ensure normal functioning of the body organs and protect many from suffering from chronic ailments.
6th May 2013, 02:51 PM #138
Re: Health Bulletin
Mental illness getting more common: Expert
Although less than 6% adults suffer from severe mental illness every year, according to a study of 2005, almost 25% of all adults will have a diagnosable mental problem during their lifetime, said psychiatrist of Moti Lal Nehru Medical College Dr Anurag Varma.
"People often don't realise how unwell they are. It is hard to tell if we are mentally as healthy as we were a generation ago. We are better off now at detecting mental illness with the technique of genetics and brain imaging for diagnosis and if we detect it timely, we can, intervene to reduce the intensity and/or frequency of symptoms," he said. Hyperactivity, depression, or substance abuse are more likely to be recognised and diagnosed now than before and increased awareness and can check mental illness better, said the expert.
"We are actually getting "mentally sicker". More of us are mentally ill than in previous generations, and our mental illness is manifesting at earlier points in our lives. One study supporting this explanation took the scores on a measure of anxiety of children with psychological problems in 1957 and compared them with the scores of today's average child. Today's children-not specifically those identified as having psychological problems, as were the 1957 children-are more anxious than those in previous generations", said Dr Varma.
An additional study supports the explanation that more people are diagnosed with mental illness because more of us have it. Collectively, this line of research indicates that more is going on than simply better detection of mental illness.
Some of the behaviours, thoughts, and feelings that were within the then-normal range of human experience or attributed to supernatural powers are now deemed to be in the pathological part of the continuum. This explanation implies that we, as a culture, are more willing now to admit mental illness in ourselves and in others.
Increased work expectations are another factor. The pace and demands of jobs has increased. Many companies maintain as few workers as possible to get the work done, and if an employee can't reliably perform up to the (more intense) pace, he or she risks getting fired on top of other problems, Dr Varma added.
7th May 2013, 11:16 AM #139
Re: Health Bulletin
Can't hold your drink? Pop this pill, cut intake
Popping a pill will now help drinkers reduce the amount of alcohol they consume. Problem drinkers in the UK will be given a new drug called 'Nalmefene' which manufacturers claim could cut alcohol consumption levels by 61%. The pill also known as Selincro has been licenced for use by health officials and will be available for doctors to prescribe to their patients from Monday.
The drug is meant for once-a-day usage, has been licenced for "the reduction of alcohol consumption in adult patients with alcohol dependence without physical withdrawal symptoms and who do not require immediate detoxification". Scientists say the drug will helps people with drinking problems to cut back on the amount they drink and works by modulating the reward mechanism in the brain.
A clinical trial helped patients cut the amount they consumed from 12.75 units a day to five units a day - a reduction by 61%.
The test subjects who underwent counselling along with the drug reduced their "heavy drinking days" from over three weeks to nine days a month after treatment for six months.
7th May 2013, 11:32 PM #140
Re: Health Bulletin
Sleep problems may double risk for prostate cancer
Men who have sleep problems, including difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, may be at twice the risk for prostate cancer, a new study has warned.
"Sleep problems are very common in modern society and can have adverse health consequences," said Lara G Sigurdardottir, at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik.
"Women with sleep disruption have consistently been reported to be at an increased risk for breast cancer, but less is known about the potential role of sleep problems in prostate cancer," she said.
The team investigated the role of sleep in influencing prostate cancer risk. The researchers followed 2,102 men from the prospective Age, Gene/Environment Susceptibility-Reykjavik study, which involved an established, population-based cohort of 2,425 men aged 67 to 96.
Upon enrolment into the study, the participants answered four questions about sleep disruption: Whether they took medications to sleep, had trouble falling asleep, woke up during nights with difficulty going back to sleep or woke up early in the morning with difficulty going back to sleep.
Among the participants, 8.7 percent and 5.7 percent reported severe and very severe sleep problems, respectively. None of the participants had prostate cancer at study entry.
The researchers followed the participants for five years, and during this period, 6.4 per cent were diagnosed with prostate cancer. After the researchers adjusted for age, they found that compared with men who reported no problems with sleeping, the risk for prostate cancer increased proportionately with reported severity of problems falling and staying asleep, from 1.6-fold to 2.1-fold.
Further, the association was stronger for advanced prostate cancer than for overall prostate cancer, with more than a three-fold increase in risk for advanced prostate cancer associated with "very severe" sleep problems.
To rule out the possibility that the problems with sleeping were because of undiagnosed prostate cancer or an enlarged prostate, the researchers reanalyzed the data after excluding men with symptoms of sleep disturbance that might be indicative of nocturia (waking up during the night to urinate). The results remained unchanged.
According to Sigurdardottir, these data should be confirmed with a larger cohort with longer observation times. "Prostate cancer is one of the leading public health concerns for men and sleep problems are quite common," she said. "If our results are confirmed with further studies, sleep may become a potential target for intervention to reduce the risk for prostate cancer," she added. The study was published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research