25th Sep 2014, 04:34 PM #1431
Re: Health Bulletin
Stressed? Walk outdoor to boost spirit
Coping with stress may come without a cost if you care to go out of your house and walk with others in the local natural environment, a study suggests.
Group nature walks are linked with significantly lower depression, less perceived stress and enhanced mental health and well-being, the findings showed.
The researchers found that people who had recently experienced stressful life events like a serious illness, death of a loved one, marital separation or unemployment especially saw a mood boost after outdoor group walks.
"Walking is an inexpensive, low-risk and accessible form of exercise and it turns out that combined with nature and group settings, it may be a very powerful, under-utilized stress buster," said senior study author Sara Warber, an associate professor at the University of Michigan in the US.
"Our findings suggest that something as simple as joining an outdoor walking group may not only improve someone's daily positive emotions but may also contribute as a non-pharmacological approach to serious conditions like depression," Warber added.
For the study, the researchers evaluated 1,991 participants from the Walking for Health programme in Britain.
The findings appeared in the journal Ecopsychology.
25th Sep 2014, 04:34 PM #1432
Re: Health Bulletin
Five-a-day fruits, veggies consumption can be good for mental health too
A new study has revealed that consuming recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables per day may not only be good for people's physical health but is also beneficial for their mental wellbeing.
It was found in the study that 33.5 percent of people with high mental wellbeing ate five or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day, compared with only 6.8 percent who ate less than one portion.
31.4 percent of those with high mental wellbeing ate three-four portions and 28.4 percent ate one-two.
Other health-related behaviors were found to be associated with mental wellbeing, but along with smoking only fruit and vegetable consumption was consistently associated in both men and women. Alcohol intake and obesity were not associated with high mental wellbeing.
Low mental wellbeing has been strongly linked to mental illness and mental health problems, but high mental wellbeing was more than the absence of symptoms or illness; it was a state in which people feel good and function well. Optimism, happiness, self-esteem, resilience and good relationships with others are all part of this state.
Mental wellbeing was important not just to protect people from mental illness but because it protects people against common and serious physical diseases.
The study is published in BMJ Open.
26th Sep 2014, 01:52 PM #1433
Re: Health Bulletin
High calcium in blood may signal cancer
High levels of calcium in blood, a condition known as hypercalcaemia, can be used by doctors as an early indication of certain types of cancer, says a study, indicating that a simple blood test may help prevent the deadly disease.
The risk is particularly prominent among men.
While the connection of hypercalcaemia to cancer is well known, this study has, for the first time, shown that often it can predate the diagnosis of cancer in primary care.
Hypercalcaemia is the most common metabolic disorder associated with cancer, occurring in 10 to 20 percent of people with cancer.
“We wanted to look at the issue from a different perspective and find out if high calcium levels in blood could be used as an early indicator of cancer and therefore in the diagnosis of cancer,” said Fergus Hamilton, who led the research from University of Bristol in Britain.
For the study, the researchers analysed the electronic records of 54,000 patients who had elevated levels of calcium and looked at how many of them went on to receive a cancer diagnosis.
In men, even mild hypercalcaemia conferred a risk of cancer in one year of 11.5 percent.
If the calcium was above limits, the risk increased to 28 percent.
In women, the risks were much less, with the corresponding figures being 4.1 percent and 8.7 percent.
In men, 81 percent of the cancer associated with hypercalcaemia was caused by lung, prostate, myeloma, colorectal and other haematological cancers.
In women, cancer was much less common.
There are a number of possible explanations for this but we think it might be because women are much more likely to have hyperparathyroidism, another cause of hypercalcaemia, Hamilton added.
“Men rarely get this condition, so their hypercalcaemia is more likely to be due to cancer,” he explained.
The study appeared in the British Journal of Cancer.
27th Sep 2014, 03:09 PM #1434
Re: Health Bulletin
Stop prescribing antibiotics for fever and cold, Indian Medical Association will tell doctors
Faced with the scary prospect of losing lives to simple infections in the future, India is finally waking up to the dangers of reckless antibiotic use. The Indian Medical Association, a pan-India voluntary organization of doctors, will on Sunday launch a nationwide awareness programme on overuse of these live-savers, a practice that has led to emergence of drug-resistant organisms.
IMA will also ask fellow practitioners to avoid unnecessary prescriptions such as recommending antibiotics for patients with fever and cold which are generally caused by viral infections.
"In the past two decades, almost no new antibiotic has been discovered while bacteria have learnt to overcome the existing ones. If we don't conserve our antibiotics, a day will come when simple infections will become life threatening," said Dr Narender Saini, the secretary general of IMA.
Saini said Sunday onwards IMA plans to hold public lectures and 'training of trainers' aimed to press for rational use of drugs among the medical fraternity. IMA, he added, has 2.5 lakh member doctors registered with its 1,700 branches across the country and all of them will be part of the initiative.
Several researches, including those conducted by WHO in India, have revealed that over-the-counter sale and purchase of antibiotics is rampant in the country. There is also lack of knowledge about the exact use of each antibiotic among physicians.
"Over-prescription of antibiotics is a reality and we must act to check this practice. I welcome IMA's move," said Dr Anoop Misra, chairman, the Centre of Excellence for Diabetes, Obesity, Metabolic Diseases and Endocrinology (Fortis-C-DOC). He said government should put in place a mechanism to audit the prescription of antibiotics, particularly the second and third generation ones, in all hospitals and nursing homes.
"Disease causing microorganisms have evolved at a higher speed than drug development. If we don't check overuse of existing antibiotics, we will hit a dead-end soon," said Dr Sumit Ray, vice-chairman, critical care medicine at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.
Health experts say no new groups of antibiotics have been developed since the 1990s. "Carbapenem is the last group of antibiotics developed worldwide. There have been modifications to the available antibiotics but no new drug has come up. This is despite an increase in drug-resistant microorganisms. The New Delhi superbug or New Delhi Metallo-B-Lactamose 1 (NDM1) is just one example," said Dr Ray.
The medical fraternity in Europe has been observing antibiotic awareness day since year 2008. Public health experts say it is good that India has woken up to the need finally. "The burden of bacterial diseases in India is among the highest in the world. A large population is immune-compromised on account of diseases such as diabetes, heart diseases and cancer. These people are at higher risk of infection. Preservation of high-end antibiotics should be of utmost importance here," said Dr Sanjeev Bagai, another senior doctor.
27th Sep 2014, 03:22 PM #1435
Re: Health Bulletin
Seeking perfection in everything may trigger suicide: Study
If you look for perfection in everything you do but sometimes fail to achieve that, do not lose heart too often else it may trigger suicide risk.
Physicians, lawyers and architects whose occupations emphasise on precision, and also those in leadership roles, are at higher risk for perfectionism-related suicide, says a significant study.
“Perfectionism is a bigger risk factor in suicide than we may think,” said psychology professor Gordon Flett from York University.
In a research article, Flett and co-authors professor Paul Hewitt of University of British Columbia and professor Marnin Heisel of Western University cited the recent cases of prominent perfectionists who died by suicide.
The authors document how being exposed to relentless demands to be perfect - a concept they refer to as socially prescribed perfectionism - is linked consistently with hopelessness and suicide.
They also listed how perfectionistic self-presentation and self-concealment can lead to suicides that occur without warning and how perfectionists often come up with thorough and precise suicide plans.
“Clinical guidelines should include perfectionism as a separate factor for suicide risk assessment and intervention,” Flett noted.
“There is an urgent need for looking at perfectionism with a person-centred approach as an individual and societal risk factor, when formulating clinical guidelines for suicide risk assessment and intervention, as well as public health approaches to suicide prevention,” he emphasised.
More than one million people worldwide commit suicide on an annual basis, according to the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.
The article was published in the journal Review of General Psychology.
28th Sep 2014, 03:28 PM #1436
Re: Health Bulletin
How skin pigment protects us from UV rays
To protect the body from the dangerous ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun, skin pigment converts UV radiation into harmless heat through a rapid chemical reaction, a study says.
"In this way, the pigment disarms the energy in the UV light and prevents it causing harmful chemical reactions," said Villy Sundstram, a professor of chemistry at the Lund University in Sweden.
Pigment in skin and hair comprises two different types of melanin: eumelanin and pheomelanin.
Eumelanin makes people develop a sun tan and gives colour to brown and black hair, whereas those with red hair and pale skin have high levels of pheomelanin.
"We found that eumelanin converts harmful UV radiation into heat with almost 100 percent efficiency," Sundstram pointed out.
"The chemical reaction is incredibly quick, taking less that a thousandth of a billionth of a second," Sundstram explained.
What happens in detail in the chemical reaction is that a hydrogen ion - a proton - is ejected from the pigment at the same moment the UV light reaches the pigment molecule.
The chain of events could be likened to the melanin getting rid of the energy of the UV light by shooting a proton projectile very quickly.
This projectile in turn gives off energy to the surrounding membrane tissue in the form of heat, thus converting dangerous UV radiation into harmless heat, the findings showed.
"By understanding how the body naturally protects itself against UV light, we can develop better sun protection products based on the same principles," Sundstram maintained.
"This would provide better protection against skin cancer," he emphasised.
The study appeared in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
28th Sep 2014, 03:28 PM #1437
Re: Health Bulletin
Chemotherapy, radiotherapy has no negative effect on fetus
Scientists have revealed that children who are exposed to chemotherapy or radiotherapy while in the womb suffer no negative impacts on mental or cardiac development from chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
In the first study, 38 children prenatally exposed to chemotherapy were recruited from the International Network for Cancer, Infertility and Pregnancy (INCIP) registry and assessed for mental development and cardiac health and their outcomes were compared to 38 control children who were not exposed to chemotherapy.
At a median age of almost two years of age, mental development as measured by the 'Mental Development Index' was in the normal range for both groups of children, and were not significantly different. Cardiac dimensions and functions were within normal ranges for both groups.
In the second study, which explored the impact of radiotherapy on the children of women with cancer, it was revealed that neuropsychological, behavioral and general health outcomes for those exposed to radiotherapy were within normal ranges. One child revealed a severe cognitive delay, however other pregnancy-related complications are confounding factors.
28th Sep 2014, 03:29 PM #1438
Re: Health Bulletin
Bioartificial livers come closer to reality
A new research has revealed that bio-artificial liver support system for patients with acute liver failure is under investigation to assess the safety and effectiveness.
Lead investigator Steven D. Colquhoun at Cedars-Sinai said that the quest for a device that can fill in for the function of the liver, at least temporarily, has been underway for decades and a bio-artificial liver (BAL), could potentially sustain patients with acute liver failure until their own livers self-repair.
The majority of the 49 sites currently involved in the investigation are in the United States, but studies are also underway in Europe and Australia and the research involves patients with liver disease caused by acute alcoholic hepatitis, a group with few therapeutic options.
In the bioartificial liver, which is designed by Vital Therapies Inc., blood is drawn from the patient via a central venous line, and then is filtered through a component system featuring four tubes, each about 1 foot long, which are embedded with liver cells.
The external organ support system is designed to perform critical functions of a normal liver, including protein synthesis and the processing and cleaning of a patient's blood, after which the filtered and treated blood is returned to the patient through the central line.
Colquhoun added that if successful, a bioartificial liver could not only allow time for a patient's own damaged organ to regenerate, but also promote that regeneration and in the case of chronic liver failure, it also potentially could support some patients through the long wait for a liver transplant.
28th Sep 2014, 03:44 PM #1439
Re: Health Bulletin
Turmeric 'could help brain heal itself'
A spice commonly used in curries could help the brain heal itself, new research has suggested.
A report in the journal Stem Cell Research and Therapy found a compound in the curry spice turmeric may hold the key to repairing the brains of people with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.
A team in Germany say aromatic turmerone promoted the proliferation of brain stem cells and their development into neurons during laboratory tests on rats.
Rats were injected with the compound and scientists from the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine in Julich scanned their brain.
The team examined the effect of aromatic turmerone on endogenous neutral stem cells (NSCs) found within adult brains.
NSCs go on to develop into neurons, and play an important role in recovery from neurodegenerative diseases.
They found that the turmeric compound boosted the proliferation of rat foetal NSCs by up to 80 per cent, and increased the speed at which they matured.
In living rats, injections of aromatic turmerone led to the expansion of two key brain regions where the growth of neurons is known to take place.
Dr Laura Phipps, from Alzheimer's Research UK, said: "This early-stage study highlights the effects of aromatic turmerone in rat brains, but the findings are a long way from determining whether this compound could help fight diseases like Alzheimer's.
"It's not clear whether the results of this research would translate to people, or whether the ability to generate new brain cells in this way would benefit people with Alzheimer's disease.
"We'd need to see further studies to fully understand this compound's effects in the context of a complex disease like Alzheimer's, and until then people shouldn't take this as a sign to stock up on supplies of turmeric for the spice rack."
28th Sep 2014, 04:11 PM #1440
Re: Health Bulletin
Human sleep patterns evolved first in ocean?
London: The cells that control our rhythms of sleep and wakefulness may have first evolved in the ocean - hundreds of millions of years ago - in response to pressure to move away from the sun, shows a new study.
The researchers derived this conclusion from their findings that a hormone that governs sleep and jet lag in humans may also drive the mass migration of plankton in the ocean.
"The fascinating picture emerges that human biology finds its roots in some deeply conserved, fundamental aspects of ocean ecology that dominated life on the Earth since ancient evolutionary times," said lead researcher Detlev Arendt from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany.
The molecule in question, melatonin, is essential to maintaining our daily rhythm and the scientists have discovered that it governs the nightly migration of a plankton species from the surface to deeper waters.
"We found that a group of multitasking cells in the brains of these larvae that sense light also run an internal clock and make melatonin at night," Arendt explained.
"So we think that melatonin is the message these cells produce at night to regulate the activity of other neurons that ultimately drive day-night rhythmic behaviour," Arendt noted.
The findings indicate that melatonin's role in controlling daily rhythms probably evolved early in the history of animals, and hold hints to how our sleep patterns may have evolved.
To find out the role of melatonin in other species and how it evolved to promote the task of sleep, the researchers turned to the marine ragworm Platynereis dumerilii.
The researchers discovered a group of specialised motor neurons that respond to melatonin.
Using modern molecular sensors, they were able to visualise the activity of these neurons in the larva's brain and found that it changes radically from day to night.
The findings were published online in the journal Cell.