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Health Bulletin


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  1. #1481
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Brain scans explain DIY investing

    September was "hell on earth" for Walter Ribeiro. A 29-year-old resident of Dublin, Ribeiro is heavily invested in Brazilian stocks that were slammed last month. A 21% gain for his portfolio year-to-date turned into a 10% loss.
    "I really started to doubt myself: Why did I do that? Am I really doing the right thing," said Ribeiro.

    This is why people hire financial advisers -they help shoulder the stress. At the same time, they can be expensive, they can have conflicts of interest and it's hard to know which ones to trust. Fortunately, the services and tools available for do-it-yourself investors are better and more useful than they've ever been. New research is helping investors understand what drives their financial decisions, so they can prevent emotions from costing them money .

    The new field of neuroeconomics is giving investors insight into the brain chemistry behind their market moves. When volunteers for a lab experiment contemplate risky investments, brain scans show it lights up their anterior insula, the deep part of the brain that processes fear and anxiety . Other studies show the more anxious a subject becomes in a lab -anxiety can be induced more conveniently with scary images than with junk bonds -the less confident they are in identifying investment opportunities." So even contemplating investments can make people basket cases -and then their moods undermine their decisions.

    "It's a double whammy ," says University of North Carolina finance professor Camelia Kuhnen.A stressful day at work, or a fight with a spouse, can make an investor overly cautious. And research on the brain chemical dopamine and the so-called "reward center" of the brain shows that the opposite is also true: A great meal or successful date can push investors to pile on the risk. Genes may even play a role, says Kuhnen. Some people have a gene that predispos es them to be more anxious investors, while others have a gene associated with risk-taking.

    Without some radical and very stupid surgery , there's no way to turn off the anterior insula or the dopamine. But if investors don't trust themselves to stay cool, they have more online tools today to help them keep emotions in check.

    These tools prevent do-it-yourselfers from screwing up by limiting how many decisions they have to make. Target-date funds, for example, automatically buy fewer stocks and more bonds as retire ment approaches. Online brokers can take clients through a questionnaire, suggest an appropriate portfolio of cheap index funds or exchange-traded funds and then re-balance those funds regularly - all without more than a few clicks of the mouse -for little more than you'd pay if you bought the funds on your own.

    Those who want more active control of their money need to accept that they're not as rational as they think, and work harder to master their emotions. A small but growing group of men tal health professionals, financial planners and academics is trying to help through a field they call "financial therapy."

    Therapists can teach calming techniques. They can also plumb a patient's past to help him understand why he behaves irrationally about money . A parent's credit card problems may leave an adult child petrified of debt, for example. People find it easier to change their behavior when they understand what's really motivating it, says Kristy Archuleta, a Kansas State University professor and editor-inchief of the four-year-old Journal of Financial Therapy .

    Ribeiro doesn't have a therapist. But he does occasionally email about investing with a former teacher. Those conversations helped him hold on to his stocks rather than panic and sell at what might be a bottom. "I'm trying to stay calm," he says. He reminds himself he's saving for retirement, not trying to make a quick profit.

    That's smart. It's also a difficult attitude to maintain when markets are crashing and savings are evaporating. The upside is that it gets easier the more you do it. And mental stamina -the discipline to stick with well-laid investing plans -is a big part of being a successful investor.


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  2. #1482
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Parents deny girls cancer treatment, say doctors

    Sneha, 8, was brought to a city hospital with cancer of the eye. But when doctors told the girl's parents that they may have to remove her eye to save her life, the family went absconding. Oncologists say some parents do this out of confusion and fear, while some others never bring girls to doctors. The result: More girls than boys with cancer are denied treatment.

    This, despite clinical evidence that shows biologically girls respond better than boys to cancer therapy and that 75% of all cancers in children can be cured. At all cancer centers in the country, the number of girls being brought for treatment is lower than the number of boys, said experts who gathered at PHOCON 2014, a pediatric oncology summit in the city.

    Dr Revathi Raj, consultant pediatric hematologist, at Apollo Specialty Hospital said the incidence of cancer among boys is high (1.4 : 1), but of those girls affected by cancer, only 40% are brought in for treatment. "For every two girls, there are three boys diagnosed with cancer, but out of 10 cases, only three girls are brought to the hospital. Even in many cases of girls being diagnosed, parents see it as a death knell and abandon treatment abruptly," she said. In rural areas, parents with many children gave preference to boys when it came to giving cancer treatment. "Parents do not understand that biologically, girls respond better to cancer treatment than boys," she added.

    Dr Shripad D Banavali, head of the department of paediatric oncology at Tata Memorial Hospital concurred. "Even if 95% of the cases are treatable, people hesitate to hospitalise their daughters the moment the consequences of the surgery are explained to them. They think infertility due to chemotherapy or their child losing an eye or a kidney does not make her marriage material," said Dr Banavali. "Girls deserve as much a chance to be treated as the boys."

    Cancer Institute chairperson Dr V Shanta expressed concern over underreporting of cancer among children, especially in rural areas. "It is a crime to deny a child of cancer treatment. Childhood cancers form 2.3% of all cancers. While the numbers are high in metropolitan cities, reporting cancer cases in children is abysmal in rural areas," she said.

    The veteran cancer expert said children were mostly affected by blood cancer and brain tumours. The annual childhood cancer burden in India is 23,658, out of which 6,209 are cases of leukemia. Tamil Nadu reported 1,290 cases of cancer in children last year, of which 363 were cases of leukemia. "Advances in oncology over the past six decades have ensured that up to 75 % of all paediatric cancers can be cured. While it is possible to treat all pediatric cases in the country, there is a need to increase affordability and accessibility for the same," she said.

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  3. #1483
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Chennai scientists find new way to cure cancer

    A team of scientists from Chennai and Japan have developed a set of identical immune cells (monoclonal antibodies) that hold new promise in the treatment of cancer. These antibodies were developed exclusively from humans, unlike the existing ones that are either developed from animal cells or are a mixture of human and animal components.

    Dr Gene Kurosawa from Fujita Health University, Japan said the human antibodies have shown positive results in animals and they are awaiting clinical trials on humans. These antibodies are believed to have less adverse effects as they are not 'artificially modified.'

    "We pick antibodies from many hundreds of individuals and select those that have the optimal efficacy. Then it is multiplied," he said.

    Dr Samuel Abraham from Nichi-In Centre for Regenerative Medicine, which is part of the research, said antibodies are multiplied from a single unique parent cell to produce monoclonal antibodies.

    These human monoclonal antibodies once injected will act like those antibodies that are naturally produced in the human body and tag cancer cells to make it easier for the immune system to find and attack them, the doctors said.

    Dr Kurosawa added that so far they have tested it for 12 types of cancers including that of the breast, lung, gastric, pancreas, renal, ovarian and prostate.

    "We have tested this for carcinomas (cancer of epithelial tissues that line surfaces and structures in the body). In the future, we will test them for sarcomas (cancer of transformed cells)," he said. He said that the 15-year research has produced positive results on rodents and they are looking forward to clinical trials where it would be tested on humans.

    "Nature has given us ways to tackle cancer and we would like to create the best medicine with antibodies acquired from human body," he said.

    Scientists said similar studies should be attempted to fight viruses like Ebola. "Indian laboratories are, however, not equipped enough to study the Ebola virus," Dr Abraham said.

    The monoclonal antibodies once injected will act like those antibodies that are naturally produced in the human body and tag cancer cells to make it easier for the immune system to find and attack them, the doctors said

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  4. #1484
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Pill with human faeces to help fight ailments

    This pill goes down easier if you forget what is in it.

    Inside the experimental capsule is human faeces — strained, centrifuged and frozen. Taking them for just two days can cure a dangerous bacterial infection that has defied antibiotics and kills 14,000 Americans each year, researchers said Saturday.

    If the results are replicated in larger trials, the pill, developed at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, promises an easier, cheaper and most likely safer alternative to an unpleasant procedure highlighted in both medical journals and on YouTube: faecal transplants.

    Studies show that transplanting faeces in liquid form from healthy people to patients with stubborn Clostridium difficile infections can stop the wrenching intestinal symptoms, apparently by restoring healthy gut bacteria.

    But faecal transplants are not easy. The procedure requires delivery of a faecal solution via the rectum or a tube inserted through the nose. As with colonoscopies, patients must flush their bowels first.

    Finding and screening donors is time-consuming and can delay the transplant. And the costs can be significant, certainly higher than taking a simple pill.

    "Capsules are going to replace the way we've been doing this," said Dr Colleen Kelly, a gastroenterologist with the Women's Medicine Collaborative in Providence, RI, who was not involved in the study.

    Dr Kelly performs five or six faecal transplants a month, but demand is so great she is booked through January.

    "It's so labour-intensive," she said. "You have to find a donor, have to screen a donor. If you can just open a freezer and take out a poop pill, that's wonderful." While the pills are not being marketed yet, the authors of the study, published in JAMA, are making them available to qualified patients without requiring participation in trials.

    Their study was small and preliminary, but results were striking: 19 of 20 patients with C difficile infections were cured of diarrhea and related symptoms. Most saw improvements after one two-day round of pills, the rest after two or three rounds, said Dr Ilan Youngster, the lead investigator.

    Other teams, and at least one private company, are developing and testing faecal pills. Currently, the Food and Drug Administration effectively permits doctors to give faecal transplants to qualified patients with recurrent difficile infections. Pills marketed commercially would have to meet FDA drug-licensing regulations.

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  5. #1485
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    One-minute test for cervical cancer, costs only Rs 2

    It's good news. In less than a minute and for just Rs 2, women can now get tested for cervical lesions. A study has found VIA-visual inspection with acetic acid-to be a cost-effective screening method for cervical cancer. The accuracy of this test is comparable with the regular pap smear which is lab-based and costs nearly Rs 1,000.

    The study was conducted by the obstetrics and gynaecology department of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital and published in the August edition of Journal of Current Medicine Research & Practice. Doctors conducted the test on 500 women.

    According to Dr Geeta Mediratta, author of the study and senior consultant at Sir Ganga Ram, "VIA, with a high sensitivity, is comparable to pap smear and can be used as an alternate screening test especially in low-resource settings where the expertise to conduct definitive tests is not available, our findings have suggested."

    Experts say, in developing countries like India, where expertise for definitive tests is not available in rural areas, this test can prove very effective in picking up cancerous cervical lesions in initial stages. Importantly, it's cost-effective when compared to the pap smear test.

    Cervical cancer accounts for 12% of all malignancies worldwide. Pap smear is the most popular screening tool. However, it requires a laboratory, a trained cytologist and a repeat visit for report and further evaluation. To overcome these shortcomings, a VIA on the cervix was reported as an alternative method. Application of 3-5% acetic acid causes dehydration of cells and surface coagulation of proteins in active cells. This gives a white appearance to what's called aceto-white areas which is abnormal and need further evaluation.

    According to Dr Harsha Khullar, co-author of the study and senior consultant, "We found sensitivity of VIA and pap smear comparable. For VIA, sensitivity was 93.1%, and for pap smear it was 86.2%."

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  6. #1486
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Kids born to older mothers at higher risk of hundreds of diseases

    A new study has revealed that there are greater rates of the mitochondrial DNA variants in children born to older mothers, as well as in the mothers themselves, which cause more than 200 diseases and contribute to others such as diabetes, cancer, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's disease.

    According to the study, many mitochondrial diseases affect more than one system in the human body, including organs that require a lot of energy, including the heart, skeletal muscle, and brain. They are devastating diseases and there is no cure, so our findings about their transmission are very important.

    The discovery of a "maternal age effect" by a team of Penn State scientists that could be used to predict the accumulation of mitochondrial DNA mutations in maternal egg cells-and the transmission of these mutations to children-could provide valuable insights for genetic counseling.

    Through DNA sequencing, they found more mutations in blood and cheek cells in the older mothers in the study. Maternal age of study participants ranged from 25 to 59. But finding greater rates of mutations in children born to the older mothers did come as a surprise. The researchers believe a similar mutation process is occurring both in the cells of the mothers' bodies and in their germ lines.

    The study led to another important discovery about egg-cell development. Although it was known that developing egg cells go through a "bottleneck" period that decreases the number of mtDNA molecules, scientists didn't know how small or large this bottleneck is. Kateryna Makova, professor of biology and one of the study's primary investigators, said that if the bottleneck is large, the genetic makeup of the mother's mitochondria will be passed to her children.However, if it is tiny-if there is a severe decrease in mitochondrial molecules during the egg-cell development-then the genetic makeup of the child might differ dramatically from that of the mother. What they discovered is that this bottleneck is indeed very small.

    The study was published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

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  7. #1487
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Physical activity may not reduce depression among teens

    There is no association between physical activity (PA) and the development of depressive symptoms later on in adolescence, a study has found.

    Physical activity has been cited as a way to reduce the risk of depression but the evidence is not clear-cut.

    "Our findings do not eliminate the possibility that PA positively affects depressed mood in the general population; rather, we suggest that this effect may be small or non-existent during the period of adolescence," said the researchers.

    "Although PA has numerous benefits to physical health in later life, such positive effects may not be expected on depressive outcomes during adolescence," they added.

    The study involved 736 participants (average age 14.5 years) and was conducted from November 2005 to January 2010.

    The authors used physical activity energy expenditure and moderate and vigorous physical activity measures.

    They found no association between the levels of physical activity at 14 years of age and depressive outcomes at 17 years of age.

    The study appeared in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

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  8. #1488
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Broccoli helps improve autism symptoms

    Scientists revealed that treatment with Sulforaphane, a molecule found in foods such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, may improve some symptoms of autism spectrum disorders.

    The study led by investigators at MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine described how participants receiving a daily dose of sulforaphane showed improvement in both behavioral and communication assessments in as little as four weeks. The authors stressed that the results of this pilot must be confirmed in larger investigations before any conclusions can be drawn about sulforaphane's therapeutic benefit.

    The study enrolled 44 young men, ages 13 to 27, who were diagnosed with moderate to severe autism spectrum disorder, were randomly assigned to a daily dose of either sulforaphane - extracted from broccoli sprouts - or a placebo, with neither investigators, participants nor their caregivers knowing who was receiving the study drug.

    Participants were assessed using standardized measurements of behavior and social interaction - some completed by caregivers, some by study staff - at the outset of the study and at 4, 10 and 18 weeks after treatment began. Treatment was discontinued after 18 weeks, and additional assessments of 22 participants were conducted 4 weeks later.

    Study lead author Kanwaljit Singh, from the Lurie Center and UMass, said that among the 40 participants who returned for at least one evaluation, the average scores for each of the assessments were significantly better for the 26 participants receiving sulforaphane than for the 14 who received a placebo. Even at the 4-week visit, some caregivers reported a noticeable behavioral improvement, and by the end of the study period, both study staff and family members correctly guessed the assignments of many participants. Overall, 17 of the 26 participants who received sulforaphane were judged by their caregivers to have improvements in behavior, social interaction and calmness while on active treatment.

    After 18 weeks of treatment, the average scores assessed of those who received sulforaphane had decreased 34 and 17 percent, respectively - indicating improvement in factors such as irritability, lethargy, repetitive movements, hyperactivity, communication, motivation and mannerisms.

    Assessments using the Clinical Global Impression scale indicated that 46 percent of sulforaphane recipients exhibited noticeable improvement in social interaction, 54 percent in aberrant behaviors, and 42 percent in verbal communication. After 22-week another reassessment, supported the probability that changes had been the result of sulforaphane treatment.

    The report was published online in PNAS Early Edition.

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  9. #1489
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    World’s first light-activated drug could be real boon for diabetics

    The world's first light-activated drug is here and it could be a real boon for diabetics.

    Scientists have created a drug for type 2 diabetes that is switched on by blue light, which they hope will improve treatment of the disease and reduce side effects of diabetes medication.

    Researchers demonstrated that the prototype drug, known as JB253, stimulates insulin release from pancreatic cells in the lab when exposed to blue light.

    Diabetes drugs that promote the release of insulin from the pancreas can in some cases cause side effects due to their actions on other organs such as the brain and heart. Some can also stimulate too much insulin release, causing blood sugar levels to drop too low.

    To help create better drugs, researchers at Imperial College London and LMU Munich adapted an existing type of drug called a sulfonylurea so that it changes shape when exposed to blue light.

    The drug would be inactive under normal conditions, but a patient could in theory switch it on using blue LEDs stuck to the skin. Only a small amount of light would need to penetrate the skin to change the drug's shape and turn it on. This change is reversible, so the drug switches off again when the light goes off.

    The study was led by Dr David Hodson and Professor Guy Rutter from the department of medicine at Imperial College London and Professor Dirk Trauner and Dr Johannes Broichhagen at LMU Munich.

    Dr Hodson said "In principle, this type of therapy may allow better control over blood sugar levels because it can be switched on for a short time when required after a meal. It should also reduce complications by targeting drug activity to where it's needed in the pancreas".

    "So far, we've created a molecule that has the desired effect on human pancreatic cells in the lab. There's a long way to go before a therapy is available to patients, but this remains our ultimate goal".

    Type 2 diabetes affects around 350 million people worldwide. It impairs people's control over their blood sugar levels, leading to higher risk of heart disease and stroke and potentially causing damage to the kidneys, nerves and retinas.

    Although molecules that react to light have been known about since the 19th century, only in the last few years have scientists exploited their properties to make light-sensitive molecules with drug effects.

    "Photo switchable drugs and photo pharmacology could be enormously useful for all sorts of diseases, by allowing remote control over specific body processes with light," said professor Trauner.

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  10. #1490
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    WHO says there could be up to 10,000 new cases of Ebola per week in two months

    In the most ominous warning till date over the Ebola outbreak, the World Health Organisation estimates that there could be up to 10,000 new infections from the deadly disease per week within two months.

    What's worse, the death rate in the current Ebola outbreak has increased to 70%.

    WHO assistant director general Dr Bruce Aylward said that if countries don't step on the gas in containing the spread of the dangerous virus over the next 60 days, "a lot more people will die with a spiraling number of cases - up to 10,000 cases per week in two months".

    In the most ominous warning till date over the Ebola outbreak, the World Health Organisation estimates that there could be up to 10,000 new infections from the deadly disease per week within two months.

    What's worse, the death rate in the current Ebola outbreak has increased to 70%.

    WHO assistant director general Dr Bruce Aylward said that if countries don't step on the gas in containing the spread of the dangerous virus over the next 60 days, "a lot more people will die with a spiraling number of cases - up to 10,000 cases per week in two months".

    According to Aylward, in the last four weeks, there have been about 1,000 new cases per week.

    The warning comes a day after WHO director general Margaret Chan confirmed that the present Ebola outbreak is the "most severe acute health emergency in modern times".

    According to her, the epidemic has proved that "the world is ill-prepared to respond to any severe, sustained and threatening public health emergency".
    According to Aylward, in the last four weeks, there have been about 1,000 new cases per week.

    The warning comes a day after WHO director general Margaret Chan confirmed that the present Ebola outbreak is the "most severe acute health emergency in modern times".

    According to her, the epidemic has proved that "the world is ill-prepared to respond to any severe, sustained and threatening public health emergency".


    As of today, there have been 4,033 confirmed deaths and 8,399 confirmed, probable and suspected cases of Ebola recorded in seven countries, although widespread transmission is confined to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.



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