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Health Bulletin


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  1. #1591
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Self-acupressure to help relieve constipation

    A new research shows that people who are suffering from constipation can be relieved with the help of a simple technique called self-acupressure.

    The technique involves application of external pressure to the perineum, that is the area between the anus and genitals.

    Ryan Abbott, the study's principal investigator and visiting assistant professor of medicine at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) says, “Patients can perform this simple intervention themselves to treat their own constipation and improve their quality of life. It can also help to limit health care costs and excessive medication use”.

    For the study around 100 patients who met the established criteria for constipation were recruited by the team from UCLA's Center for East-West Medicine.

    “All primary care and general internal physicians should consider this technique as a first line intervention together with conventional treatment,” Abbott added.

    Patients were encouraged to perform the exercises on their own for four weeks when they felt the urge to defecate.

    Nearly 72 percent of participants said that perineal self-acupressure helped them have a bowel movement.

    Nearly 54 percent claimed, it helped avoid hemorrhoids or lessen the severity of existing hemorrhoids.

    The research was published online in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.


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  2. #1592
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Tooth enamel fast-track found in humans

    Researchers in Britain have found a link between prenatal enamel growth rates in teeth and weaning in human babies.

    The incisor teeth grow quickly in the early stages of the second trimester of a baby's development, while molars grow at a slower rate in the third trimester.

    Incisors are ready to erupt after birth, at approximately six months of age, when a baby makes the transition from breast-feeding to weaning, showed the study.

    Weaning in humans takes place relatively early compared to some primates, such as chimpanzees.

    So, there is less time available for human incisors to form, so the enamel grows rapidly to compensate.

    Exactly when the early weaning in humans first began is a debatable issue among anthropologists.

    "Anthropologists will now be able to explore the start of weaning in an entirely new way because 'milk teeth' preserve a record of prenatal enamel growth after they have erupted and for millennia after death," said Patrick Mahoney from Human Osteology Research Lab in University of Kent, in Britain.

    Enamel cells deposit new tissue at different times and rates, depending on the tooth type.

    The present dental approaches depend on finding fossil skulls with teeth that are still erupting - which is an extremely rare find.

    "This research can increase our understanding of weaning in our fossil ancestors and could also help dentists as dental problems do not register in all teeth in the same way," said Mahoney.

    The study appeared in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.


  3. #1593
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Sleep-deprived schoolchildren run obesity risk

    Children of mothers who work full time may not be getting the amount of sleep they need each night, placing them at higher risk of being overweight or obese within a year, finds research.

    "We looked at night-time sleep in particular, because studies show that the amount of nighttime sleep matters for regulating weight," said co-author Janet Liechty, a professor of medicine and of social work at University of Illinois.

    "We think that it might be the more hours that mothers are working, the less time they have, and there may be some sort of tradeoff going on, 'Do I spend quality time with my child or do we get to bed early?’” explained lead author Katherine Speirs, a postdoctoral research associate.

    “And then in the morning, when mothers leave for work, their children also wake up early to get to day care,” Speirs added.

    The researchers followed 247 mother-child pairs for one year.

    The children, who ranged from three to five years old, were weighed, measured and had their body mass index (BMI) calculated at the outset of the study and again one year later.

    At the second weigh-in, 17 percent of the preschoolers were overweight and 12 percent were obese, according to BMI-for-age growth charts.

    Children whose mothers worked full time got fewer hours of sleep than peers whose mothers worked less than 20 hours per week.

    The children of women who worked full time also tended to have higher BMIs at the second weigh-in.

    The study appeared online in the journal Sleep Medicine.


  4. #1594
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Health insurance for all likely in January

    The government is likely to roll out its much touted National Health Assurance Mission (NAHM) in January, promising health insurance for all. The PMO last week asked the health ministry to work out the modalities of the scheme as well as revamp the existing Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) to expand its span to include universal coverage, said an official.

    RSBY, currently managed by the labour ministry, will also be soon transferred to the health ministry. "A decision to this effect has already been taken by the PMO," the official, who attended the meeting, told TOI. He said the PMO wants the ministry to expedite the streamlining of the scheme.

    For the time being, RSBY will be part of NHAM which will be rolled out in phases. Gradually, the two will be merged as one policy, the official said. "The complete merger will take around three years," he said.
    Improving public health has been high on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's agenda. Sources said the Cabinet secretariat and PMO have been regularly taking updates on the issue.
    The government plans to offer a complete basket of services under NHAM. This would include 50 essential medicines, a package of diagnostic services as well as around 30 alternative medicines such as ayurveda, homeopathy etc. The benefits will be available to all citizens unlike RSBY which is mostly limited to below-poverty-line families.



    Under NHAM, the poor will get free treatment whereas rest of the population will have to pay a minimum premium, factored on age and income categories.

    While the new scheme will attempt to provide healthcare benefits at all levels — primary, secondary as well as tertiary — RSBY will be initially responsible for providing secondary health care services.

    RSBY, one of the flagship social sector schemes started by the UPA government in April 2008, provides cashless health insurance of up to Rs 30,000 per year to BPL families through smart cards. It covers over three crore workers from the unorganized sector.

    At present, the out of pocket personal expenditure on health care in India is over 75 per cent of the total expenses, whereas in developed countries like the US and UK it is less than 15 per cent


  5. #1595
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Milk might not be doing you much good

    More and more evidence is surfacing that milk consumption may not only be unhelpful, it might also be detrimental. This is in spite of the fact that the US department of agriculture and other organizations advocate that even adults should drink at least three cups a day.

    More than 10,000 years ago, when animals began to be domesticated, no adults consumed milk. Many people don't drink it today because they are lactose intolerant. They do just fine.

    But if you believe the advertising of the dairy industry, and the recommendations of many scientific bodies, they are missing out on some fantastic benefits to milk consumption: that milk is good for bones, contains calcium and vitamin D, and "does a body good".

    There's not a lot of evidence for these types of claims. In fact, a study in The Journal of Bone and Mineral Research that followed more than 45,000 men and 61,000 women in Sweden age 39 and older had similar results. Milk consumption as adults was associated with no protection for men, and an increased risk of fractures in women. It was also associated with an increased risk of death in both sexes. A 2007 meta-analysis in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined high-quality studies of how calcium intake was related to fractures. The many studies of more than 200,000 people age 34 to 79 could find no link between calcium intake and the risk of bone fractures.

    This meta-analysis also reviewed randomized controlled trials that examined if calcium supplements could lower the risk of fracture. More than 6,000 middle-aged and older adults participated in these studies, where subjects were randomly assigned to get extra calcium or a placebo. Not only did the extra calcium not reduce the rate of fractures, the researchers were concerned that it may have increased the risk of hip fractures.

    The evidence that milk is often fortified with vitamin D, which many believe also lends the drink bone-friendly properties is sketchy as well. It is true that vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption, and for bone health, but that doesn't mean that most people need to consume more. A meta-analysis pub lished this year in The Lancet examined the effect of vitamin D supplementation on bone mineral density in older adults. It found that, for the most part, consuming extra vitamin D did not improve the bones of the spine, hip or forearm. It did result in a statistically significant, but less clinically meaningful, increase in bone density at the top of the thighbone.Taken as a whole, however, vitamin D had no effect on overall total body bone mineral density.

    None of this should be taken to mean that people with actual vitamin D or calcium deficiencies shouldn't be treated by supplementation. They should.

    In addition, milk is not a low-calorie beverage. Even if people drink nonfat milk, three cups a day means consumption of an additional 250 calories. In an era when every other caloric beverage gets marginalized due to obesity concerns, it's odd that milk continues to get a pass.

    But, everything is perfectly good in moderation, milk included. What else would you put on cereal? Cookies without milk would be unthinkable. There's nothing wrong with a periodic glass because you like it. But there's very little evidence that most adults need it.There's also very little evidence that it's doing them much good.


  6. #1596
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Now, synthetic platelets to help control bleeding

    Scientists, including two of Indian-origin, have developed new synthetic platelets that mimic and outperform natural platelets at controlling bleeding.

    Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara turned to the human body's own mechanisms for inspiration in dealing with the necessary and complicated process of coagulation.

    By creating nanoparticles that mimic the shape, flexibility and surface biology of the body's own platelets, they were able to accelerate healing processes while opening the door to therapies and treatments that can be customised to specific patient needs.

    "This is a significant milestone in the development of synthetic platelets, as well as in targeted drug delivery," said Samir Mitragotri, director UC Santa Barbara's Centre for Bioengineering. The platelet-like nanoparticles (PLNs) behave just like their human counterparts and can be added to the blood flow to supply or augment the patient's own natural platelet supply, stemming the flow of blood and initiating the healing process, while allowing physicians and other caregivers to begin or continue the necessary treatment.

    Emergency situations can be brought under control faster, injuries can heal more quickly and patients can recover with fewer complications, researchers said.

    "We were actually able to render a 65 per cent decrease in bleeding time compared to no treatment," said graduate student researcher Aaron Anselmo, lead author of the paper.

    According to Mitragotri and colleagues Stefano Menegatti and Sunny Kumar, the key lies in the PLNs' mimicry of the real thing.

    By imitating the shape and flexibility of natural platelets, PLNs can also flow to the injury site and congregate there.

    With surfaces functionalised with the same biochemical motifs found in their human counterparts, these PLNs also can summon other platelets to the site and bind to them, increasing the chances of forming that essential plug.

    The platelets are engineered to dissolve into the blood after their usefulness has run out, minimising complications that can arise from emergency hemostatic procedures.

    According to Anselmo's investigations, for the same surface properties and shape, nanoscale particles can perform even better than micron-size platelets.

    This technology allows for customisation of the particles with other therapeutic substances - medications, therapies and such - that patients with specific conditions might need.

    "This technology could address a plethora of clinical challenges," said Dr Scott Hammond, director of UCSB's Translational Medicine Research Laboratories.

    With optimisable PLNs, physicians would be able to strike a fine balance between anticoagulant therapy and wound healing in older patients, by using nanoparticles that can target where clots are forming without triggering unwanted bleeding.

    The findings appear in the journal ACS Nano.


  7. #1597
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Imagination, reality flow in opposite ways in brain

    Imagination and reality flow in opposite directions in the brain, according to a new study.

    Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison tracked electrical activity in the brains of people who alternately imagined scenes or watched videos.

    "A really important problem in brain research is understanding how different parts of the brain are functionally linked. What areas are interacting? What is the direction of communication?" said Barry Van Veen, a UW-Madison professor of electrical and computer engineering. "We know brain doesn't function as a set of independent areas, but as a network of specialized areas that collaborate," Van Veen said.Researchers hope the work could lead to development of new tools to help untangle what happens in the brain during sleep and dreaming.

    The study's new methods could also help understand how the brain uses networks to encode short-term memory.

    During imagination, the researchers found an increase in the flow of information from the parietal lobe of the brain to the occipital lobe - from a higher-order region that combines inputs from several of the senses out to a lower-order region.

    In contrast, visual information taken in by the eyes tends to flow from the occipital lobe — which makes up much of the brain's visual cortex — "up" to the parietal lobe.

    The researchers said they approached the study as an opportunity to test the power of electroencephalography (EEG) - which uses sensors on the scalp to measure underlying electrical activity - to discriminate between different parts of the brain's network.

    Brains are rarely quiet, though, and EEG tends to record plenty of activity not necessarily related to a particular process researchers want to study.

    To zero in on a set of target circuits, the researchers asked their subjects to watch short video clips before trying to replay the action from memory in their heads.

    Others were asked to imagine traveling on a magic bicycle — focusing on the details of shapes, colours and textures — before watching a short video of silent nature scenes.

    Using an algorithm Van Veen developed to parse the detailed EEG data, the researchers were able to compile strong evidence of the directional flow of information.

    The research was published in the journal NeuroImage.


  8. #1598
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    ‘Cheating may be in your genes’ Women with variations in a particular gene are more likely to cheat on their partners, according to a new study which suggests that infidelity may be inherited. Researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia also identified a single gene which has variations which make women more likely to commit adultery. "Our research clearly shows that people's genetic make-up influences how likely they are to have sex with someone outside their main partnership," Dr Brendan Zietsch, research fellow at the university's school of psychology, who led the study, said. "Isolating specific genes is more difficult because thousands of genes influence any behaviour and the effect of any individual gene is tiny. "But we did find tentative evidence for a specific gene influencing infidelity in women," Zietsch said. The study examined data on more than 7,300 twins aged 18 to 49, all of whom were in long-term relationships, 'The Telegraph' reported. The researchers compared the difference in these rates between identical twins, who share all their genes, and non-identical twins, who do not. The results showed that 63% of unfaithful behaviour in men, and 40% in women, was down to inherited genes. They also found that women with certain variations in a gene called AVPRIA were more likely to be unfaithful.


  9. #1599
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Talk therapy lowers suicide risk

    Talk therapy is gaining in importance as an alternative to medication with regard to averting repeated suicide attempts, a study shows.

    Just six-to-10 talk therapy sessions led to 26 percent fewer suicides in five years in the group that received treatment as compared to a group that did not, the researchers found.

    "Now we have evidence that psycho-social treatment - which provides support, not medication - is able to prevent suicide in a group at high of dying by suicide," said Annette Erlangsen, the study's leader and adjunct associate professor at the Johns Hopkins University in the US.

    The researchers say their findings suggest that it might be valuable to broadly implement therapy programmes for people who have attempted suicide in the past.

    For the study, the researchers analysed health data from more than 65,000 people in Denmark who attempted suicide between Jan 1, 1992, and Dec 31, 2010.

    Of that group, they looked at 5,678 people who received psycho-social therapy at one of eight suicide prevention clinics.

    The researchers then compared their outcomes over time with 17,304 people who had attempted suicide and looked similar on 31 factors but had not gone for treatment afterward.

    After five years, there were 26 percent fewer suicides in the group that had been treated with psycho-social therapy following their attempt.

    The therapy itself varied depending on the individual needs of the patient so the researchers cannot say exactly what the "active ingredient" was that inoculated many against future suicide attempts.

    A study was published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry.


  10. #1600
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Gene that helps prevent stroke found

    Scientists have discovered a gene that protects people from the most common cause of stroke in young and middle-aged people.

    The gene, which was isolated by studying the DNA of nearly 16,000 patients across the USA and Europe, also reduces the risk of migraines and could lower heart attack risk.

    Researchers at Royal Holloway, of London, said the discovery was "an important breakthrough". A variant of the gene PHACTR1 was found to be protective against a condition called cervical artery dissection, a separation of the layers of arteries that carry blood to the head, which is the leading cause of stroke in the young.

    The discovery could one day lead to new treatments for the disease.

    Pankaj Sharma, professor of clinical neurology at Royal Holloway said the "DNA biobank" which yielded the information could lead to more discoveries in the future.


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