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Health Bulletin


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  1. #1551
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Fat intake low in rural India: AIIMS doctors

    In a country where obesity and diabetes, on account of high intake of fatty food, is turning into an epidemic, a unique health crisis is faced by few others. Top nutritionists working at AIIMS say the fat intake among rural population continues to be significantly lower than the Recommendatory Dietary Allowance (RDA) leading to serious health issues in them.

    In last 20-30 years, scientists claim, the fat intake among rural masses has increased from 14-16 grams (it is lower for the tribal population) only when the needed amount is minimum 20 gram from visible or direct sources such as oil and ghee. It is leading to low energy and malnutrition in the affected population, doctors say. They are demanding the introduction of visible fat such as oil and ghee in the Public Distribution System (PDS).

    "In India, we have two distinct socio-economic groups: the high and middle income group which needs to consider the quality and quantity of fats they are consuming as there is a rising trend in the cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, hypertension and obesity and the low income group that does not get even 50% of daily recommended dietary quantity of fats," said Dr Umesh Kapil, professor, public health nutrition at AIIMS.

    He said due to poor fat intake children from rural and tribal background suffer from deficiencies of fats soluble vitamins like Vitamin A, D, E and K. "Vitamin A is essential for good vision, vitamin D for bone health, K for blood clotting, and E for limiting the formation of harmful free radicals. The lack of it causes high incidence of malnourishment, nutritional blindness and poor bone health issues in people who consume low fat. It puts them at risk for contracting measles and diarrhea too," said the AIIMS nutritionist.

    According to a recent article published in the Indian Journal of Community Health, rural poor take 16 grams fat daily from visible sources such as oil and ghee, up from 14 grams of intake recorded in year 1975. It reports fat intake among tribal has increased by only two grams in nearly three decades, from eight grams in year 1985-87 to 10 grams in 2011-12.

    "Major commodities distributed under the PDS include staple food grains, such as wheat, rice, sugar, and kerosene. The findings make a strong case for inclusion of fats and oil," said Dr H P S Sachdev, expert on child health and nutrition.

    AIIMS in collaboration with Indian Academy of Pediatrics (nutrition chapter) and Sitaram Bhartiya Institute of Science and Research recently held and international workshop on micronutrients and child health and the organizers said they will be writing to the health ministry recommending fat in PDS.


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  2. #1552
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Secondhand cigarette smoke causes weight gain

    Secondhand cigarette smoke not only increases the risk of cardiovascular and metabolic problems, it may also lead to gain weight, a new study has warned. The study challenges the decades-old belief that smoking cigarettes helps keep you slim, researchers said. Study author Benjamin Bikman, professor of physiology and developmental biology at Brigham Young University and colleagues wanted to pinpoint the mechanism behind why smokers become insulin resistant. To carry out their study, they exposed lab mice to side-stream (or secondhand) smoke and followed their metabolic progression.

    Mice exposed to smoke put on weight. When researchers drilled down to the cellular level, they found the smoke triggered a tiny lipid called ceramide to alter mitochondria in the cells, causing disruption to normal cell function and inhibiting the cells' ability to respond to insulin. The key to reversing the effects of cigarette smoke, they discovered, is to inhibit ceramide.


  3. #1553
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Women can really 'sniff' out things better than men

    Women are really superior to men when it comes to the sense of smell, says a new study.

    Males and females greatly differ in their perceptual evaluation of odors, with women outperforming men on many kinds of smell tests. Sex differences in olfactory detection may play a role in differentiated social behaviors and may be connected to one's perception of smell, which has been naturally linked to associated experiences and emotions. Thus, women's olfactory superiority has been suggested to be cognitive or emotional, rather than perceptual.

    Researchers at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro had developed a fast and reliable technique called the isotropic fractionator, that measures the absolute number of cells in a given brain structure such as the olfactory bulb, which is the first brain region to receive olfactory information captured by the nostrils.

    Using the technique, a group of researchers led by Prof. Roberto Lent has finally found biological evidence in the brains of men and women that may explain the olfactory difference between genders.

    The group examined post-mortem brains from seven men and 11 women who were all over the age of 55 at the time of death. All individuals were neurologically healthy and none worked in professions requiring exceptional olfactory abilities, such as coffee-tasting or professional cooking. By calculating the number of cells in the olfactory bulbs of these individuals, the group discovered that women have on average 43 percent more cells than men in this brain structure. Counting neurons specifically, the difference reached almost 50 percent more in women than men.

    Prof. Lent said that generally speaking, since larger brains with larger numbers of neurons correlate with the functional complexity provided by these brains, it made sense to think that more neurons in the female olfactory bulbs would provide women with higher olfactory sensitivity.


  4. #1554
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Y chromosome has nothing to do with sexuality'

    Women born with a rare condition that gives them a Y chromosome don't only look like women physically, they also have the same brain responses to visual sexual stimuli, a new study shows. The condition is known as complete androgen insensitivity or CAIS.

    "Our findings clearly rule out a direct effect of the Y chromosome in producing masculine patterns of response," said Kim Wallen, an Emory University professor of psychology and behavioural neuroendocrinology.
    "It's further evidence that we need to revamp our thinking about what we mean by 'man' and 'woman'," said Wallen, who conducted the research with Stephan Hamann, Emory professor of psychology, and graduate students in their labs.
    The Y chromosome was identified as the sex-determining chromosome in 1905. Females normally have an XX chromosome pair and males have an XY chromosome pair. Women with CAIS are born with an XY chromosome pair. Because of the Y chromosome, the women have testes that remain hidden within their groins but they lack neural receptors for androgens so they cannot respond to the androgens that their testes produce.
    They can, however, respond to the oestrogens that their testes produce so they develop physically as women and undergo a feminizing %puberty. Since they do not have ovaries or a uterus and do not menstruate they cannot have children. "Women with CAIS have androgen floating around in their brains but no receptors for it to connect to. Essentially, they have this default female pattern and it's as though they were never exposed to androgen at all," Wallen said.

    Wallen and Hamann are focused on teasing out neural differences between men and women.

    In a 2004 study, they used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study the neural activity of typical men and typical women while they were viewing photos of people engaged in sexual activity.

    For the recent study, the researchers repeated the experiment while also including 13 women with CAIS in addition to women without CAIS and men."We didn't find any difference between the neural responses of women with CAIS and typical women, although they were both very different from those of the men in the study," Hamann said


  5. #1555
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Women participate in a rally during National Breast Cancer Awareness Day in Kolkata.



  6. #1556
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Spooky science: Ghosts 'created' in Swiss lab

    In a first, Swiss researchers have succeeded in recreating a ghost illusion in the laboratory.

    Patients suffering from neurological or psychiatric conditions have often reported feeling a strange "presence" that is felt but unseen, akin to a guardian angel or a demon.

    Researcher Olaf Blanke's team at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland was able to recreate the illusion of a similar presence in the laboratory and provide a simple explanation.

    They showed that the "feeling of a presence" actually results from an alteration of sensorimotor brain signals, which are involved in generating self-awareness by integrating information from our movements and our body's position in space.

    Blanke's team interfered with the sensorimotor input of participants in such a way that their brains no longer identified such signals as belonging to their own body, but instead interpreted them as those of someone else.

    The researchers first analysed the brains of 12 patients with neurological disorders - mostly epilepsy - who have experienced this kind of "apparition."

    MRI analysis of the patients's brains unveiled interference with three cortical regions: the insular cortex, parietal-frontal cortex, and the temporo-parietal cortex.

    These three areas are involved in self-awareness, movement, and the sense of position in space (proprioception).

    They contribute to multisensory signal processing, which is important for the perception of one's own body.

    The scientists then carried out a "dissonance" experiment in which blindfolded participants performed movements with their hand in front of their body.

    Behind them, a robotic device reproduced their movements, touching them on the back in real time. The result was a kind of spatial discrepancy, but because of the synchronised movement of the robot, the participant's brain was able to adapt and correct for it.

    Next, the neuroscientists introduced a temporal delay between the participant's movement and the robot's touch.

    Under these asynchronous conditions, distorting temporal and spatial perception, the researchers were able to recreate the ghost illusion.

    The participants were unaware of the experiment's purpose. After about three minutes of the delayed touching, the researchers asked them what they felt.

    Instinctively, several subjects reported a strong "feeling of a presence," even counting up to four "ghosts" where none existed.

    "For some, the feeling was even so strong that they asked to stop the experiment," said Giulio Rognini, who led the study.

    "Our experiment induced the sensation of a foreign presence in the laboratory for the first time. It shows that it can arise under normal conditions, simply through conflicting sensory-motor signals," Blanke added.

    (The research was published in the journal Current Biology.)


  7. #1557
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Mother's milk sends signals to babies

    Milk is not just food. The more closely scientists examine it, the more complexity they find.

    Along with nutrients like protein and calcium, milk contains immune factors that protect infants from disease. It hosts a menagerie of microbes, too, some of which may colonize the guts of babies and help them digest food. Milk even contains a special sugar that can fertilize that microbial garden. Now, it turns out, milk also contains messages.

    A study of monkeys, published in the journal Behavioral Ecology, demonstrates a hormone present in milk, cortisol, can have profound effects on how babies develop. Infant monkeys rely on cortisol to detect the condition of their mothers, the authors suggest, then adjust their growth and even shift their temperaments.

    Jeffrey French, a neuroendocrinologist at the University of Nebraska at Omaha who was not involved in the study, praised its "remarkable sophistication" and said that it helped to change how we think about breast milk. "Milk serves almost like a pheromone, a chemical signal sent from one individual to another," he said.

    Katie Hinde, a behavioral biologist at Harvard and lead author on the new study, and her colleagues studied 108 rhesus macaque mothers nursing infants at the California National Primate Research Center. The researchers collected samples of milk, measuring how much energy each provided and the cortisol it contained.

    Dr Hinde and her colleagues also measured how much weight each nursing monkey gained and tracked its behaviour.

    Cortisol serves many functions in mammals, but it is best known as a stress hormone. When cortisol courses through our bodies, it prepares us to handle alarming or fearful situations, increasing the brain's consumption of glucose and suppressing the digestive system. The cortisol in a mother's body can also end up in her milk. Babies appear to be remarkably sensitive to the hormone as they nurse. Scientists have found that drinking milk causes infants to rapidly build receptors in their intestines for detecting cortisol. The same shift doesn't happen when babies drink formula.

    Among the macaques, some mothers delivered a lot of cortisol to their babies, the scientists found, while others delivered only a little. High-cortisol milk made babies put on weight faster, and they were more nervous and less confident.

    To make sense of these results, the scientists looked for factors that might determine how much cortisol a mother produced in her milk. One stood out: how many other offspring she had

    New mothers had high cortisol levels in their milk, Dr. Hinde found. Hormone levels were much lower in mothers who had had about 10 babies.

    When female monkeys start having babies, Dr. Hinde noted, they can't store as much energy in their milk. New mothers are still small, and so their bodies can't provide many of the raw ingredients for milk. Their mammary glands are also underdeveloped, so they can't convert those ingredients efficiently into milk.

    Monkey mothers who have had more babies are able to supply new infants with more energy. Dr. Hinde suspects that the cortisol that newer mothers give their babies serves as a warning that they shouldn't expect a lot of milk, or energy.

    She sums up the message this way: "Prioritize growth, kiddo. You can't really afford to be exploratory and playful. Once you spend a calorie on that, it's a calorie you can't use to grow."

    The babies fed high-cortisol milk develop a nervous temperament, focusing their limited energy on putting on weight. As a result, they grow faster, despite getting less energy from their inexperienced mothers.

    Cortisol in breast milk may influence human infants as well. But Melissa Emery Thompson, an anthropologist at the University of New Mexico, cautioned that the differences between monkeys and humans make comparisons difficult.

    Infant monkeys, for example, cling to their mothers and nurse whenever they want. Human mothers balance breast-feeding with many other tasks.

    "We should expect the relationship between maternal stress, breast milk and infant temperament in humans to be relatively complex," said Dr. Thompson.

    Dr Hinde agreed: "It's going to be a bear to unpack all of that."

    But Ben Dantzer, a biologist at the University of Michigan, said that it was important to explore the implications for humans.

    Scientists know much less about cortisol's effects on human babies, because it is not possible to run carefully controlled experiments on them the way Dr. Hinde and her colleagues do on monkeys. Still, what little they do know is intriguing.

    In a 2013 study, for example, researchers found that babies who drank high-cortisol breast milk tended to be more fearful and harder to soothe. But scientists can't say whether human babies are using the same strategy as baby monkeys are.

    Deciphering the signals that babies detect in milk might lead someday to changes in formula. Right now, manufacturers try to replicate the nutrition, and even the microbes, in natural breast milk. But they may also need to consider the messages the formula is — or isn't — sending.

    "We're really missing the breadth of what mother's milk is," said Dr Hinde.


  8. #1558
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    புற்றுநோய் ஆய்வு பணிக்காக 'சீ - த்ரூ' எலியை உருவாக்கிய விஞ்ஞானிகள்


    ஜப்பானில் உள்ள ஆராய்ச்சியாளர்கள் எலியின் திசுக்களில் உள்ள நிறத்தை அகற்றி அதன் தோல் வழியாக உடல் உறுப்புகளை பார்க்கும் வகையில் ஒரு செயல்முறையை உருவாக்கி வருகின்றனர்.


    இந்த செயல்முறையின் உதவியோடு ஆய்வுகள் மேற்கொள்ளும்போது விலங்கின் உடலை அறுக்காமலேயே முப்பரிமாண முறையில் உடலின் செயல்பாடுகள் குறித்து அறியலாம் என தெரிவிக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது.


    இந்த முறையில், எலியின் இரத்த ஓட்டம் நிறுத்தப்பட்டு, ரத்தத்திற்கு சிவப்பு நிறத்தை அளிக்கும் ஹேம் வெளியேற்றப்படுகிறது. அதன்பின் எலி ஒரு ரசாயன திரவத்தில் இரண்டு நாட்கள் வைக்கப்பட்டு, திசுக்களில் இருந்து நிறங்கள் அகற்றப்படுகிறது.


    செல்களில் புற்றுநோய் எவ்வாறு உருவாகி வளர்கிறது? என்பதை கண்டுபிடிக்கும் ஆய்வுக்கு இந்த முறையை பயன்படுத்த முடியும் என்று ஆய்வுக்குழு தலைவர் தெரிவித்தார்.


    ஜப்பான் அறிவியல் மற்றும் தொழில்நுட்ப நிறுவனம், டோக்கியோ பல்கலைக்கழகம் ஈடுபட்டுள்ள இந்த ஆய்வு, உயிரோடு இருக்கும் விலங்குகளிடம் பரிசோதிக்க முடியாது எனத் தெரிவிக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது குறிப்பிடத்தக்கது.


  9. #1559
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Pondicherry University team finds 7 new molecules to treat blood cancer

    A team led by an associate professor of Pondicherry University has claimed to have identified seven new molecules to treat a type of blood cancer (chronic myelogenous leukemia or CML). CML is a type of blood cancer characterized by uncontrolled growth of white blood corpuscles (WBCs) in the bone marrow leading to imbalance in the total blood cell count in the body.

    The team consisting of associate professor of the department of biochemistry and molecular biology R Baskaran, assistant professor M Suresh Kumar and PhD scholars Hemanth Naick Banavath and Om Prakash Sharma found that five of the seven yet-to-be-named new molecules (codenamed DB07107, DB06977, ST013616, DB04200, ST007180, ST019342 and DB01172) are more potent than the existing drugs such as ponatinib, imatinib, dasatinib and nilotinib available in the market to treat blood cancer.

    "Drugs manufactured using these newly-identified molecules will be more effective than the existing drugs as they arrest the progression of CML by binding the enzymes in the bone marrow that lead to overproduction of WBCs. These drugs will be at least twice more potent than the existing ones," said Baskaran, who has more than 20 years experience in cancer research abroad.

    The findings assume significance as CML patients have started showing resistance to the existing drugs. Moreover, the drugs manufactured using the new molecules are expected to be cheaper than the existing ones. CML patients are generally put under medication for a minimum period of five years. Some need life-long treatment.




    The drug Imatinib costs around Rs 1.21 lakh per month for a patient while its subsidized versions (available in developing countries) cost between Rs 6,000 and Rs 12,000 per month. "Drugs manufactured using the new molecules will be relatively cheaper. May be a patient need not shell out more than Rs 3,000 per month," Baskaran said.

    The findings are slated to be published on November 10 in the international journal 'Nature: Scientific Reports'. The team has proposed to seek a patent for their findings shortly. CML accounts for 12% of all cancers in India. According to Cancer Patients' Aid Association (CPAA), approximately eight lakh people suffer from this disease in the world and India accounts for three lakh patients. More than 20,000 new patients are identified every year in India.

    "The number of new CML patients will be much more than reported every year as there are no effective screening process to identify new cases," said Baskaran who joined Pondicherry University in 2012 after working as an associate professor at the Medical School in the University of Pittsburgh.

    The team submitted their findings to Nature: Scientific Reports on August 20, 2014 and the international journal accepted the work on October 20, 2014. It is for publication on November 10, 2014.


  10. #1560
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    71 million dementia patients in Asia Pacific by 2050: Study

    Around 71 million people in the Asia Pacific region will suffer from dementia by 2050 and India with over 12 million likely victims of the malady will be second only to China, said a study report on Saturday.

    The study report "Dementia in the Asia Pacific Region" by Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI) stated that dementia will present an overwhelming financial and human burden on healthcare systems of the nations.

    "Limited awareness of dementia, assumption that dementia is a natural part of ageing and not result of a disease, inadequate human and financial resources to meet the care needs of dementia patients and limited government policies on the disease and lack of training for professional and family carers are the reason dementia has seen a unprecedented three-fold rise," says the study report.

    The report was launched at the conference organised by Alzheimer's and Related Disorder Society of India (ARDSI) in collaboration with All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) here.

    The report has recommended respective governments to recognise the imperative needs for increased awareness, education and research in dementia.

    As per the report the cost associated with dementia in the Asia Pacific region currently stands at $185 million of which 70 per cent is borne by advanced economies, which only account for 18 per cent of the regional prevalence of the disease.

    Some of the recommendations the Alzheimer's Diseases International has made to the nations in the Asia Pacific Region are regarding education and awareness about Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia, improving the quality of life of people living with dementia by providing education to family members, paid careers to ensure that the best quality of care is delivered to people living with dementia.

    The nations in the concerned region have also been urged to develop a national dementia action plan detailing key areas for action, including research, awareness and education.

    "There is a need to engage community groups and NGOs to spread awareness about dementia, its risk factors, importance of early diagnosis and steps to better manage the disease. The government should develop comprehensive plans and policies in consultation with all the stake-holders to reduce the risk factors," Meera Pattabiraman, Chairperson, ARDSI, told reporters.

    "The governments need to play a very pro-active role in tackling the situation related to dementia," said Jacob Roy, chairman of Alzheimer's Diseases International.


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