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Health Bulletin


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  1. #1471
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Better toilets may not mean better health: Study

    The world's biggest sanitation programme, being run in India, will reduce the shameful practise of open defecation in the country but may not improve the country's abysmal health indicators, according to a study by an international group of scientists.

    The study comes at a time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan with great fanfare.

    Once covered toilets were made for families, the researchers looked at whether practising hygienic sanitation improved their health.

    To everyone's surprise, the researchers found no evidence that the intervention protected against diarrhoea in children younger than 5 years: 7-day prevalence of reported diarrhoea was 8.8% in the intervention group (data from 1,919 children) and 9.1% in the control group (1,916 children).

    Defecating in a toilet with water did not reduce the prevalence of parasitic worms that are transmitted via soil and can cause reduced physical growth and impaired cognitive function in children.

    There was also no impact on child weight or height measures of nutritional status.



    Lead author of the study professor Thomas Clasen from Emory University, Atlanta and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the UK said, "Many householders do not always use the latrines. This, combined with continued exposure from poor hygiene, contaminated water, and unsafe disposal of child faeces, may explain the lack of a health impact".

    More Indians have a cell phone than a covered toilet.

    Around 626 million people in the country don't have access to a close toilet and consequently practice open defecation.

    The sanitation intervention delivered under the terms of the Government of India's Total Sanitation Campaign the world's largest sanitation initiative provided almost 25,000 individuals in rural India with access to a latrine.




    However, a study to be published in the British Medical Journal Lancet on Friday, involving 100 rural villages, shows that it did not reduce exposure to faecal pathogens or decrease the occurrence of diarrhoea, parasitic worm infections or child malnutrition.

    This cluster randomised trial involved 9,480 households in 100 rural villages in Odisha with a child younger than four years or a pregnant woman.

    Households in 50 villages were randomly assigned to receive the sanitation intervention in early 2011; control villages received the intervention after a 14-month surveillance period.

    The intervention increased the average proportion of households in a village with a latrine from 9% to 63%, compared to an increase of 8% to 12% in control villages.

    Worldwide, around 2.5 million people lack access to basic sanitation facilities such as a latrine, a third of who live in India.

    Two-thirds of the 1.1 billion people who practise open defecation and a quarter of the 1.5 million who die every year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor hygiene and sanitation also live in India.

    Trying to explain why the intervention did not help bring down India's abysmally high diorrhea rates, the researchers suggest a number of possible explanations including insufficient coverage and inconsistent use of latrines, or that a lack of handwashing with soap or animal faeces could also be contributing to the disease burden.

    Dr Stephen Luby, research deputy director at the Centre for Innovation in Global Health, Stanford University, said, "This rigorous assessment is important, because it provides the best evidence so far for the uncomfortable conclusion that well -funded, professionally delivered sanitation programmes, even when they reach coverage levels that are quite commendable for large scale interventions, do not necessarily improve health".

    In 1990, households without any sanitation facility in India stood at 76%. To meet its Millenium Development Goals, India was required to reduce the proportion of households having no access to improved sanitation to 38% by 2015. The government had earlier estimated that India may reduce the proportion of households without any sanitation to about 43% by 2015 missing the target by about 5 percentage points. By 2015, India is likely to reduce the rural proportion of no sanitation to 58.8% (against target of 46.6%) and urban proportion of no sanitation to 11.6% (against target of 12.1%).

    The UN had recently said that the number of people forced to resort to open defecation remains a widespread health hazard and a global scandal. "In 11 countries, a majority of the population still practices open defecation. Even in countries with rapidly growing economies, large numbers of people still must resort to this practice 626 million in India, 14 million in China and 7 million in Brazil," a UN MDG report said recently.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Bad sleep quality, not duration, triggers insomnia

    Sleep problems like insomnia being reported among the elderly are more likely because of bad sleep quality and not their duration.

    "Older adults may complain of waking up too early and not feeling rested despite accumulating substantial hours of sleep," said Linda Waite, the Lucy Flower professor in urban sociology at the University of Chicago in the US.

    The study found discrepancies between self-reported insomnia and outcomes recorded on a sleep-monitoring device.

    The actigraph measurements showed that most of the older adults got sufficient amounts of sleep.

    The actigraph provided data that showed the average duration of sleep period among the study participants was 7.9 hours and the average total sleep time was 7.25 hours.

    "This indicates that the majority of older adults are getting the recommended amount of sleep and usually not having common sleep problems," Waite added.

    Respondents who reported waking up more frequently during the night had more total sleep time.

    "This suggests that a question about feeling rested may tap into other aspects of older adults' everyday health or psychological experience," Waite noted.

    Older adults' perception of sleep does not always match what is actually happening when a more objective assessment is used to monitor sleep patterns and behaviours, the study, published in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, pointed out.

    It used data from 727 participants in the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project who were randomly invited to participate in an "Activity and Sleep Study".

    "Our findings suggest that reports of what seem like specific sleep problems may be due to other issues in their lives affecting their overall well-being," Waite concluded.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Lung cancer can stay hidden for over 20 years: Study

    Lung cancers can lie dormant for over 20 years before suddenly turning into an aggressive form of the disease, according to a study published Thursday in the US journal Science.

    The study, led by researchers at the Cancer Research UK, examined lung cancers from seven patients, including smokers, ex-smokers and never smokers.

    It found that after the first genetic mistakes that cause the cancer, it can exist undetected for many years until new, additional faults trigger rapid growth of the disease, Xinhua reported.

    The researchers hoped this study will help improve early detection of the disease.

    Currently, two-thirds of patients with lung cancer are diagnosed with advanced forms of the disease when treatments are less likely to be successful.

    "By understanding how it develops we've opened up the disease's evolutionary rule book in the hope that we can start to predict its next steps," study author Charles Swanton, professor at the Cancer Research UK said in a statement.


  4. #1474
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Psychological abuse more harmful for kids than sexual abuse

    Kids who are emotionally abused and neglected face similar and at times worse mental health problems than children who are physically or sexually abused, a new study indicates.

    "Given the prevalence of childhood psychological abuse and the severity of harm to young victims, it should be at the forefront of mental health and social service training," said study lead author Joseph Spinazzola, from the trauma centre at the Justice Resource Institute in Brookline, Massachusetts.

    Researchers analysed data from 5,616 youth with lifetime histories of one or more of three types of abuse: psychological maltreatment (emotional abuse or emotional neglect), physical abuse and sexual abuse.

    The majority (62 percent) had a history of psychological maltreatment and nearly a quarter (24 percent) of all the cases were exclusively psychological maltreatment in the form of bullying, terrorising, coercive control, severe insults, threats, overwhelming demands, shunning and/or isolation.

    "Children who had been psychologically abused suffered from anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, symptoms of post-traumatic stress and suicidal tendencies at the same rate and, in some cases, at a greater rate than children who were physically or sexually abused," Spinazzola noted.

    Moreover, sexual and physical abuse had to occur at the same time to have the same effect as psychological abuse alone.

    "Psychological abuse is not considered a serious social taboo like physical and sexual child abuse. We need public awareness initiatives to help people understand just how harmful psychological maltreatment is for children and adolescents," Spinazzola commented.

    The article appeared in the journal Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy.


  5. #1475
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    நீரிழிவு நோயாளிகளுக்கு கண் நரம்பு பாதிப்பு அதிகரிப்பு

    ரிழிவு நோயாளிகளுக்கு கண் நரம்பு பாதிக்கப்படும் எண்ணிக்கை அதிகரித்து வருகிறது என்று எழும்பூர் கண் மருத்துவமனையின் தலைவர் நமீதா புவனேஸ்வரி கூறியுள்ளார்.

    சென்னை மருத்துவ கல்லூரியில் வியாழக்கிழமை உலக கண் பார்வை தின விழிப்புணர்வு கருத்தரங்கம் நடைபெற்றது. இந்த கருத்தரங்கில் எழும்பூர் கண் மருத்துவமனையின் தலைவர் நமீதா புவனேஸ்வரி சிறப்பு விருந்தினராக கலந்து கொண்டார்.

    கருத்தரங்கின் முக்கிய கருவாக நீரிழிவு நோயால் கண்களின் நரம்பு திரை பாதிக்கப்படுவது என்ற தலைப்பில் அவர் பேசியதாவது:

    ஐந்து வருடங்களாக நீரிழிவு நோயால் பாதிக்கப்பட்டவர்களுக்கு கண்களில் நரம்பு திரை பாதிப்புக்கு உள்ளாகும். 20 வருடங்களுக்கு மேல் நீரிழிவு உள்ளவர்களுக்கு 100 சதவீதம் இந்நோய் தாக்கப்பட்டு இருக்கும். இதனால் கண்ணில் உள்ள ரத்த ஓட்டம் குறைந்து கண்ணின் நரம்பு திரை பாதிக்கப்படும். பின்பு கண்களில் உள்ள ரத்த நாளங்கள் வெடித்து கண்ணில் ரத்த கசிவு ஏற்படும்.

    முழுவதுமாக கண் பார்வை இழப்பு இதனால் ஏற்படும். இந்த கண் நரம்பு திரை பாதிப்பை சரி செய்ய முடியாது. ஆனால் நோய் அதிகரிக்காமல் கட்டுப்பாட்டில் வைக்க முடியும்.

    நீரிழிவு நோயால் பாதிக்கப் பட்டவர்கள் ஒவ்வொரு வருடமும் கண்களை பரிசோதனை செய்து கொள்வது அவசியமாகும்.

    இவ்வாறு அவர் கூறினார்.


  6. #1476
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Want to stay thin? Strap ice packs around body

    Scientists have now found that strapping ice packs around your body fat could make you lean and healthy.

    Exposure to cold temperatures can convert white fat tissue from the thighs and belly to beige fat that burns calories for heat.

    Known as brown adipose tissue (BAT), brown fat is a particular kind of fat tissue that burns energy and glucose to generate heat. Babies and small animals rely on brown fat to stay warm. Brown fat's energy expenditure helps to prevent obesity in rodents.

    While white fat does not share this ability, it can play a role in burning calories when it takes on some brown fat characteristics. The tissue created in this process is called beige fat. When rodents are exposed to cold temperatures, they can convert white fat deposits to beige fat.

    Researchers analysed belly fat tissue samples from 55 people to see if the tissue samples taken in winter showed more evidence of browning activity than those taken in summer. Scientists also took thigh fat tissue samples from 16 people after they held an ice pack on the skin for 30 minutes. The analysis checked the tissue samples for specific genetic markers found in brown or beige fat.

    The analysis revealed belly fat tissue biopsied in the winter had a higher level of two genetic markers for beige fat, compared to the samples taken in the summertime. In the thigh tissue samples, researchers found elevated levels of three genetic markers tied to beige or brown fat in samples taken during the winter.

    "We wanted to investigate whether human adults had the ability to transform some white fat deposits into beige fat when they were exposed to cold," said Philip A Kern from the University of Kentucky School of Medicine.

    "Browning fat tissue would be an excellent defence against obesity. It would result in the body burning extra calories rather than converting them into additional fat tissue".

    Researchers analysed the belly fat samples to see if there was a difference in response among lean and obese people. The analysis revealed that the seasonal effect of fat browning was blunted in obese people. Obesity was defined as having a body mass index greater than 30.


  7. #1477
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Type 1 diabetes cure within reach after breakthrough that could spell end of insulin injections for millions

    In the biggest leap towards curing type 1 diabetes, scientists have for the first time shown that it is possible to make vast quantities of insulin-producing cells for patient transplants.

    Scientists have for the first time managed to make hundreds of millions of mature human pancreatic cells to treat diabetic mice successfully over long periods of time.

    The researchers believe that human clinical trials could begin within a few years with long-term, subcutaneous implants that would make daily insulin injections redundant.

    Harvard stem cell researchers announced on Friday with human embryonic stem cells as a starting point, the scientists were able to produce, in the kind of massive quantities needed for cell transplantation and pharmaceutical purposes, human insulin-producing beta cells equivalent in most every way to normally functioning beta cells.

    Doug Melton, who led the work and who 23 years ago, when his then infant son Sam was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, dedicated his career to finding a cure for the disease, said he hopes to have human transplantation trials using the cells to be underway within a few years.

    "We are now just one pre-clinical step away from the finish line," said Melton, whose daughter Emma also has type 1 diabetes.

    "You never know for sure that something like this is going to work until you've tested it numerous ways," said Melton, Harvard's Xander University Professor and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. "We've given these cells three separate challenges with glucose in mice and they've responded appropriately; that was really exciting".

    The stem cell-derived beta cells are presently undergoing trials in animal models, including non-human primates, Melton said.

    India is home to over 61 million diabetic patients — an increase from 50.8 million last year. By 2030, India's diabetes burden is expected to cross the 100 million mark as against 87 million earlier estimated. The country is also the largest contributor to regional mortality with 983, 000 deaths caused due to diabetes this year.

    For decades, researchers have tried to generate human pancreatic beta cells that could be cultured and passaged long term under conditions where they produce insulin. Melton and his colleagues have now overcome this hurdle and opened the door for drug discovery and transplantation therapy in diabetes.

    Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune metabolic condition in which the body kills off all the pancreatic beta cells that produce the insulin needed for glucose regulation in the body. Thus the final pre-clinical step in the development of a treatment involves protecting from immune system attack the approximately 150 million cells that would have to be transplanted into each patient being treated.

    Melton said that the device he is currently testing has thus far protected beta cells implanted in mice from immune attack for many months. "They are still producing insulin," Melton said.


  8. #1478
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Decoded: Why beer tastes good to us

    The love for beer is trapped inside the yeast that creates its captivating taste, a new study suggests.

    Beer yeasts produce chemicals that mimic the aroma of fruits in order to attract flies that can transport the yeast cells to new niches, Belgian researchers have found.

    Interestingly, these volatile compounds are also essential for the flavour of beverages such as beer and wine.

    "The importance of yeast in beer brewing has long been underestimated. But recent research shows that the choice of a particular yeast strain or variety explains differences in taste between different beers and wines," said Kevin Verstrepen from the University of Leuven.

    "In fact, yeasts may even be responsible for much of the "terroir," the connection between a particular growing area and wine flavour, which previously often was attributed to differences in the soil," said Verstrepen.

    Yeast is essential in production of bread, beer and wine. Humans have been using yeast for thousands of years to produce bread, beer and wine.

    The microbes eat sugars and convert them into carbon dioxide gas and alcohol. In bread, the gas causes leavening of the dough while the alcohol evaporates during baking.

    In beer and sparkling wines, both the alcohol and carbon dioxide gas are retained; whereas in wine the gas is allowed to escape.

    However, the role of yeast cells is more complex than the conversion of sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Yeast cells also produce several aroma compounds that are key for the taste, flavour and overall quality of beer and wine.

    In fact, different yeasts are producing different amounts of these aroma compounds. Whereas the importance of yeast aroma production is now fully appreciated, the reason why yeast cells would make these special, volatile chemicals remains mysterious, researchers said.

    A new collaborative study shows that the fruity volatiles produced by yeast cells are highly appealing to fruit flies.

    This attraction allows some yeast cells to hitch a ride with the insects, who carry the otherwise immobile microbes to new food sources.

    Moreover, deleting ATF1, the key yeast gene driving aroma synthesis, all but abolishes the attraction of flies to the mutants.

    The brain activity in flies that are exposed to such aroma-mutants is very different from that in flies exposed to normal, fruity yeasts, researchers said.

    "Flies are strongly attracted to normal yeast cells, when compared to mutant yeasts that don't produce esters. Knowing that esters make beer taste good, it seems that the same flavours that allow us to enjoy our beer, probably evolved to attract flies and to help yeast disperse into broader ecosystems," said Emre Yaksi, the neuroscientist who led the experiments on flies.

    The research was published in the journal Cell Reports.


  9. #1479
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Patients clamour for cure-all cancer ‘wonder’ drug after internet rumours

    A misinformation campaign on the internet about a cancer drug has led to many confused patients from across the country calling up the Adyar Cancer Institute for help. Imatinib Mesylate — a drug for treatment of leukemia and originally known by the brand name Gleevec — has been featured on the net as a cure for all types of cancer. Based on this information, cancer patients and their relatives from across the country have been calling the institute inquiring about the 'wonder' drug.

    Chain mails have been going around about how the Adyar Cancer Institute is providing 'Imatinib Mesylate' free of cost to cancer patients. "We get at least 20 calls every day from across the country asking for the tablet. But the drug can only treat chronic myeloid leukemia and two other types of cancer. It is not effective for other types of cancer," says T G Sagar, director the institute.

    The drug was in the news last year when Supreme Court ruled against multinational drug supplier Novartis' move to extend its patent on the drug. As a result of the ruling, the drug is currently supplied by many generic manufacturers at a fraction of the original cost of 1.5 lakh for a month's dosage. Adyar Cancer Institute gives the drug free of cost to poor patients. Many of these patients are in-patients in the hospital. Other patients pay 8,000 for a month's dosage.

    " After the introduction of Imatinib Mesylate, the treatment has become easy and it stops the unwanted growth of cancerous cells," said Dr Sagar.

    A person treated with this drug lives for 10 years, but the information circulated on the net is making people believe that it is a cure for all types cancer, he said. Apart from myeloid leukemia, the drug can only treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia and tumour in gastro intestine, said the director.


  10. #1480
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Arthritis doesn’t spare even kids

    Ravi (name changed) and his wife were delighted when they had a daughter as she filled their home with joy and laughter. After she turned four, they noticed her limping one day. Assuming that she might have injured herself while playing, they ignored it.

    However, their concerns grew when she continued to limp. It was only after several visits to hospital they started suspecting that their little one could have arthritis. Their fear was confirmed when they met a rheumatologist. She was diagnosed with oligoarticular juvenile arthritis.

    Arthritis is not a disease only of the old and such cases have been increasing in the country. Arthritis is a major concern among children and occurs in children before they turn 16 years. According to experts, one to four children out of every 1000 children have juvenile arthritis.

    In developed countries, juvenile arthritis is a common cause of disability in children. Some children with arthritis are too young to understand the problems and rarely complain of pain. Unfortunately, some forms of juvenile arthritis are more severe than the arthritis in adults. Also damage due to arthritis which occurs in children has much greater implications than in adults.

    How to identity it?

    According to Columbia Asia Referral Hospital (CARH), 60% of juvenile arthritis patients have oligoarticular juvenile arthritis and its symptoms are usually limping and children can't walk.

    Oligoarticular juvenile arthritis could lead to eye inflammation called uvetis. If not treated properly, it could cause blindness in children. Almost all varieties of juvenile arthritis can cause decreased growth leading to the child having very short stature as they grow up.

    "Awareness of juvenile arthritis is very low. Many times parents take medications for various symptoms for their children but fail to consult a rheumatologist, which, in turn, leads to late diagnosis and complications. It is important to create awareness among parents about problems and symptoms related to juvenile arthritis," said Dr Sharath Kumar, Consultant rheumatologist of CARH, Yeshwanthpur.

    A mother of a nine-year-old girl with polyarticular juvenile arthritis said her daughter was diagnosed with arthritis when she was six years old, and timely treatment saved her. "Her pain disappeared on the first day of the treatment itself and she improved within six months. Now she goes to schools, dances and does everything like a normal child," she added.

    Rare form of arthritis affects muscles too

    What seemed like a "routine fever" left a 27-year-old techie from Electronics City almost bedridden. After a bout of fever in August, Rizwan found it difficult to walk and had severe muscle pain all over the body. His health condition worsened, he started losing weight and the muscle pain did not abate despite medication.
    When he approached a rheumatologist on September 3, he learnt that he had mysositis - a rare form of arthritis in which a patient suffers from inflammation of muscles.

    He panicked as his muscles were getting severely damaged and without timely treatment he would have lost all the muscles which would have left him permanently disabled.

    Rizwan told STOI that he underwent treatment at Manipal Hospital from September 3 to 10. "Now, I am recovering from this disease and happy because I can at least move around on my own. The doctor said I can go to office. I am planning to resume work on October 13," he said.

    He said the cost of treatment for this rare disease is very high, an injection costs Rs 70,000. "Luckily, I had insurance cover from my employer," he said

    What is myositis?

    It's a rare auto-immune condition that affects muscles and skin and in severe cases heart. It can also affect heart, lungs and throat making it difficult to swallow.

    Timely treatment needed

    The patient (Rizwan) is recovering. This disease is due to immune system over-activity, when immune system becomes high it attacks muscles. This is a very rare disease; six out of every one lakh people suffer from this disease every year. If treatment is provided within three months, the patient will recover and the disease will be cured within three to six months.


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