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Health Bulletin


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  1. #1571
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    How obesity triggers auto-immune diseases

    A new study points to the major role obesity plays in triggering and prolonging auto-immune diseases.

    In the case of auto-immune diseases, the immune system attacks its own body rather than predatory invaders.

    Obesity leads to a breakdown of the body's protective mechanism, creating the optimal environment for auto-immune diseases, and creates an environment that may hinder its treatment, showed the study.

    "We have been aware of a long list of causes of auto-immune disorders - infections, smoking, pesticides, lack of vitamins, and so forth. But in the last five years, a new factor has emerged that cannot be ignored: obesity," said Yehuda Shoenfeld from the Tel Aviv University in Israel.

    As around 35 percent of the global community is overweight or obese and more than 10 auto-immune diseases are known to be associated with increased weight, it is critical to probe obesity's involvement in the pathology of such diseases, noted Yehuda.

    Yehuda conducted a review of 329 studies from around the world on the relationship between obesity, adipokines (compounds secreted by fat tissue and involved in numerous physiological functions including the immune response), and immune-related conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

    "According to our study and the clinical and experimental data reviewed, the involvement of adipokines in the pathogenesis of these auto-immune diseases is clear," added Shoenfeld.

    "We were able to detail the metabolic and immunological activities of the main adipokines featured in the development and prognosis of several immune-related conditions," concluded Shoenfeld

    The study appeared in Autoimmunity Reviews.


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  2. #1572
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Anxiety can seriously hurt brain health

    A new study has indicted that Alzheimer's disease can get worse if one suffers from anxiety especially for those with mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

    The study led by researchers at Baycrest Health Sciences' Rotman Research Institute, showed that anxiety symptoms in individuals diagnosed with MCI increase the risk of a speedier decline in cognitive functions independent of depression (another risk marker). For MCI patients with mild, moderate or severe anxiety, Alzheimer's risk increased by 33 percent, 78 percent and 135 percent respectively.

    The research team also found that MCI patients who had reported anxiety symptoms at any time over the follow-up period had greater rates of atrophy in the medial temporal lobe regions of the brain, which are essential for creating memories and which are implicated in Alzheimer's.

    Dr. Linda Mah, principal investigator on the study, said that their findings suggested that clinicians should routinely screen for anxiety in people who had memory problems because anxiety signals that these people were at greater risk for developing Alzheimer's.

    The Baycrest study accessed data from the large population-based Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative to analyze anxiety, depression, cognitive and brain structural changes in 376 adults, aged 55 - 91, over a three-year period. Those changes were monitored every six months. All of the adults had a clinical diagnosis of amnestic MCI and a low score on the depression rating scale, indicating that anxiety symptoms were not part of clinical depression.

    The study is published in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.


  3. #1573
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Now, popping a pill may make you smart

    It sounds like something out of a film, but scientists may have discovered a way to make you smarter - by reverting the brain to a "plastic" child-like state.

    Researchers at Stanford University experimented by interfering with PirB, a protein expressed in animal brain cells that allows skills to be recalled but which also hampers the ability to learn new skills, and realised they could disrupt the receptor's regular function, allowing the brain to make faster connections.

    By doing so, Professor Carla Shatz and her colleagues, Dr. David Bochner and Richard Sapp, found that their test subjects - animals - were better able to adapt to using only one eye, compared to animals that did not have the PirB molecule supressed.

    In repressing the protein to a "plastic" state - which is a technical term that implies the ability to adapt to new conditions - Professor Shatz saw that at least one part of the brain became more malleable and could more easily recover from damage, rewire itself and learn new skills - in effect making a person smarter. Health news: in pictures

    Neuroplasticity, which occurs in the brain under two primary conditions, describes how experiences reorganise neural pathways in the brain - or what happens when we learn something new (like a skill) or memorise information.


  4. #1574
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Thought-regulation of genes made possible

    Scientists have created the first device which allows people to turn genes in mice on and off at will using only their brainwaves. In humans, the ability to regulate the expression of genes through thoughts alone could open up an entirely new avenue for medicine.

    A monitoring system that could pick up early neurological signs of an impending epileptic fit or a migraine, for example, could automatically trigger the manufacture and release of protein-based medication within the body. "Being able to control gene expression via power of thought is a dream that we've been chasing for over a decade," said Dr Martin Fussenegger from ETH Zurich, who led the research.

    The study made use of a human gene implanted in mice. A tiny chamber containing human cells and an LED light was inserted under each mouse's skin. The genes had been genetically modified to be sensitive to light, which made it possible to trigger and manage their protein production through shining the near-infrared light from the LED on them.

    The human test subjects were divided into three groups, and asked to either meditate, play a game of Minecraft, or watch the light coming from the mouse's body. Their brain activity was captured by a headset and analysed to establish their state of mind. The resulting signal was transmitted to the mice in the form of an electromagnetic field, which was able to light up the LED. The quantity of protein created by the guest genes depended on whether the human wearing the headset was relaxing or concentrating on playing Minecraft. Those who were asked to keep their eye on the mouse were able to see the effect their brain activity had on the red-coloured light, and thus on the genes within the implant. After some practice, this group learnt to exert conscious control over the amount of protein produced. They were able to alter their state of mind in order to change the output of the genes; a finding which gives the researchers hope that similar techniques could be used to influence implants within a person's own body.


  5. #1575
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Excessive guilt in young children leads to depression

    Feeling an excessive amount of guilt early in life may shrink a part of the brain linked to regulation of emotion and increase the risk of recurring depression later in life, a study says.

    Kids who experience excessive guilt have smaller anterior insula on each side of the brain and a smaller insula in the brain's right hemisphere is linked to recurrent episodes of depression later, the findings showed.

    "Arguably, our findings would suggest that guilt early in life predicts insula shrinkage," said first author Andrew Belden from the Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis in the US.

    "I think the story is beginning to emerge that depression may predict changes in the brain, and these brain changes predict risk for recurrence," Belden added.

    There is one insula on each side of the brain, and they are thought to be involved in emotion, perception, self-awareness and cognitive function.

    The researchers followed a group of children, who were assessed for depression and guilt each year from ages 3-6.

    As part of the study, the investigators also found the same brain structure is smaller in kids diagnosed with pathological guilt during their pre-school years, providing evidence that excessive guilt is not only a symptom of depression but is also related to the size of the insula.

    The study appeared in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.


  6. #1576
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Liver cirrhosis emerges silent killer, toll up in TN

    When Mandolin U Srinivas passed away on September 19, it was a shock for many because he was apparently healthy. Doctors who diagnosed the condition as acute liver cirrhosis said the 45-year-old musician did not see it coming till it was too late.

    Cirrhosis is a condition in which the liver slowly deteriorates and is unable to function normally due to chronic, or long lasting, injury. Scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue and partially blocks the flow of blood through the liver. Although anyone can develop liver cirrhosis, it is most common in people who are overweight or obese, and its incidence has been rising along with rates of obesity in the last decade.

    Liver surgeon Dr T Surendran of MIOT Hospitals said with no known treatment - and often no symptoms until serious damage has occurred - this silent disease is one of the greatest obesity-related health risks. "The problem with cirrhosis is that until 80% of the liver is totally damaged, there will not be any symptom which makes early diagnosis and treatment a challenge. Ten years ago, we saw five in 100 patients testing positive. But now the numbers have gone up to 15," he said.

    Obesity is characterized not only by excess fat near the surface of the body, but also excess fat in and around internal organs. As liver is the largest internal organ, sometimes excess fat accumulates on it and can lead to inflammation and scarring. In its most severe form, this can progress to cirrhosis, liver failure and death.

    Doctors say there are several ways in which liver cirrhosis can develop. "Cirrhosis can be congenital and can be detected by screening. People can also develop a scarred liver by picking up infections like Hepatitis B or C. But there are several cases of cirrhosis that are consequences of consuming excess alcohol," said surgical gastroenterologist Dr Joy Varghese, consultant hepatologist at Global Hospitals. The doctor added that once liver diseases become progressive, there is no other alternative than a liver transplant.

    Dr Surendran said that while everyone was concerned about cardiovascular problems, not many gave enough attention to liver. "Hep B infection in India is more infectious than HIV. People should get vaccines to prevent it. These days it is very common to see people as young as 25 years coming in with severe liver problems," he said.


  7. #1577
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Towels in kitchen, bathroom most germ infested places in homes

    A new study has revealed that towels in kitchen and bathroom are the most germ infested places in homes.

    A May 2014 University of Arizona study funded by Kimberly-Clark Corporation found that 89 per cent of kitchen rags carried coliform bacteria, which is found in both animal and human digestive tracts. Twenty-five per cent of the towels tested positive for E. coli, ABC News reported.

    Charles Gerba, a professor in the department of soil, water and environmental science at the University of Arizona, said that the towels are more likely to be bacteria-ridden than other household items because they are used to wipe hands and surfaces that might have been contaminated by raw meat products.

    Towels also tend to retain moisture for long periods of time, allowing the bacteria to survive, he further added.

    However, few tips can be used to prevent these germs from spreading like washing and replacing all the towels at least every three or four days; paper towels could be used to clean areas where food has been prepared and to wipe the hands; vinegar could be used in place of fabric softener to strip away odors and keep towels absorbent.


  8. #1578
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Top-selling 100 drugs to get cheaper soon

    Top selling medicine brands for stress, hypertension, HIV, pain and pneumonia may soon become cheaper. The drug price regulator National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) is set to bring in at least 100 new drugs under price control to include combinations, dosages and strengths that are commonly prescribed by doctors and sold by pharmacists.

    For instance, currently only one strength of Paracetamol is under price control, whereas NPPA has proposed to cap prices of all brands of the medicine as listed in the Indian Pharmacopeia. Similarly, in case of Nelfinavir and Ritonavir, commonly used antiretrovirals in treatment of HIV, the regulator plans to fix prices of tablets along with capsules.

    The move is significant because this is the second time NPPA has attempted to slash prices of drugs that are outside the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM), 2011. In May, the pricing authority had invoked a public interest clause to reduce prices of 108 medicines. However, it had to withdraw the guidelines after companies approached court and the law ministry opined that using the clause may be out of context.

    However, official sources say, this time there is political consensus on the issue, mainly ahead of upcoming assembly elections in some states.

    Currently, the government regulates prices of only 348 medicine formulations or 652 packs as listed in the NLEM. However, the list includes only specific dosages, strengths and combinations of medicine formulation. The regulator is of the view that this loophole does not ensure price regulation of all life saving and essential medicines of mass consumption.

    The latest move of NPPA is aimed at expanding the span of price control to include medicines dosages, strengths and combinations which are commonly used and have high market share in terms of sales.





    Recently, the pricing authority conducted a detailed study that revealed presence of certain "anomalies or discrepancies" in specification or description in the NLEM 2011. Following the findings of the study conducted across the country, the NPPA has proposed rectification in the NLEM.



    The move has created a stir among pharmaceutical companies who are concerned about stressed margins as well as instability promoted through such periodic price changes. "Mass consumption is not a criterion for NLEM. It would be desirable that the selection of drugs is left to the core committee of experts as per the established criteria. The role of the NPPA is to implement the policy in letter and spirit and not create confusion leading to instability," says D G Shah, secretary general, Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance.

    According to a senior official in the department of pharma, the proposal for changes in the list of essential medicines has been sent to the health ministry which has the ultimate authority to revise the same. Besides, NPPA has also sought comments from other stakeholders such as patient groups and drug manufacturers.


  9. #1579
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Wild polio strain 3 may have been wiped out: US CDC

    In a major milestone, scientists from the US Centre for Diseases Control (CDC) have announced that the wild polio strain 3 may have been wiped out - the second strain to be eradicated from the globe of the crippling virus.

    Polio is caused by the poliovirus. There are three serotypes of wild poliovirus - type 1, type 2, and type 3.

    Type 2 virus strain was eradicated in 1999 with the last such case reported in India.

    CDC confirmed on Saturday that poliovirus type 3 (WPV3) has not been detected for more than two years.

    Experts said the world was "closer than ever" to defeating polio.

    "We may have eradicated a second of three; that's a major milestone," said Dr Stephen Cochi, a senior adviser at the CDC's Centre for Global Health.

    CDC Atlanta said "No WPV3 cases have been detected globally since November 2012. The latest WPV3 in Asia was isolated from a one year old child in the Federally Administered Tribal Area of Pakistan who had onset of the disease on April 18, 2012. The latest environmental WPV3 isolate in Asia was from a sample collected in Karachi, on October 7, 2010. The latest WPV3 in Africa was isolated from an infant aged 11 months in Yobe, Nigeria, who had onset of paralysis on November 10, 2012 and the latest environmental WPV3 isolate in Africa was from a sample collected in Lagos, Nigeria, on November 11, 2012. The number of countries reporting WPV3 cases changed from five in 2001, to 12 in 2008, to seven in 2010, and to two in 2012". CDC added "During 2010-2013, the number of WPV3 isolated globally in stool specimens collected from patients declined from 87 to zero. The genetic diversity of WPV3 isolates has fallen steadily worldwide since 1988. The number of distinct WPV3 genotypes detected globally declined from 17 in 1988, to five in 2001, to three in 2010, and to two in 2012. In Pakistan, WPV3 clusters declined from four in 2010, to one in 2011, and to one in 2012. In Nigeria, the number of WPV3 clusters declined from nine in 2010, to six in 2011, and to two in 2012".

    CDC said further "The possible interruption of WPV3 transmission is a historic milestone for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and demonstrates that full implementation of the national emergency action plans in the three remaining polio-endemic countries (Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria) will also interrupt WPV1 transmission. If validated, the eradication of WPV3 would mark the third time that transmission of a distinct human pathogen (the others are smallpox virus and WPV2) has been interrupted through immunization".

    In the pre-vaccine era, WPV3 had a worldwide distribution. Although WPV3, for reasons unknown, is less able than WPV1 to spread over wide geographic areas and cause explosive outbreaks, long-range WPV3 exportations and regional outbreaks have occurred.

    In 1988, the World Health Assembly resolved to eradicate polio worldwide. Since then, four of the six World Health Organization (WHO) regions have been certified as polio-free: the Americas in 1994, the Western Pacific Region in 2000, the European Region in 2002 and the South-East Asia Region in 2014.

    Currently, nearly 80% of the world's population lives in areas certified as polio-free. Certification may be considered when more than three years have passed since the last isolation of wild poliovirus (WPV) in the presence of sensitive, certification-standard surveillance.

    Although regional eradication has been validated in the European Region and the Western Pacific Region, outbreaks resulting from WPV type 1 (WPV1) imported from known endemic areas were detected and controlled in these regions in 2010 and 2011, respectively.

    The last reported case associated with WPV type 2 (WPV2) was in India in 1999, marking global interruption of WPV2 transmission.

    The completion of polio eradication was declared a programmatic emergency for public health in 2012, and the international spread of WPV1 was declared a public health emergency of international concern in May 2014.

    CDC said "WPV type 3 (WPV3) has not been detected in circulation since November 11, 2012. This report summarizes the evidence of possible global interruption of transmission of WPV3, based on surveillance for acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) and environmental surveillance".

    Experts from CDC said "WPV3 has not been detected since November 2012, suggesting that global WPV3 transmission has been interrupted. In regions and areas where the transmission of all three indigenous WPV serotypes has been interrupted, the order of disappearance was first WPV2, then WPV3, and then WPV1. The rapidly declining genetic diversity of WPV3 isolates during the last decade is consistent with progress toward eradication and was observed during a period of improving surveillance performance in Pakistan and Nigeria, the two countries which harbored the last known WPV3 reservoirs.


  10. #1580
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Healthy heart at young age can prevent diseases in later years

    A new study has examined that diseases in later life can be prevented if one maintains a healthy heart when one is young.

    The study presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2014 spanned more than three decades.

    Participants who were at low risk for heart and blood vessel disease when young adults were 60 percent less likely to report disability as older adults and to determine risk level, researchers used blood pressure, cholesterol and body mass index measurements, as well as diabetes and smoking status.

    Thanh Huyen T. Vu, M.D., Ph.D., study lead author and research assistant professor at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois, said that people should adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle at all ages and it was important that healthcare providers promote a healthy lifestyle early in life for their patients, as healthy lifestyle had been shown to be associated with favorable levels of cardiovascular disease risk factors.

    Researchers correlated data from 3,669 men and 2,345 women from The Chicago Heart Association Detection Project in Industry with the participants' later responses to a 2003 health survey about functional disability and quality of life. Participants were aged 29-68 when the study began in 1967 to 1973.


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