4th Dec 2014, 01:40 PM #1621
Re: Health Bulletin
Secret behind green vegetables' capacity to improve heart's efficiency is out
The secret behind what makes green vegetables so potent in improving the heart's efficiency, blood supply to organs and reducing risk of diabetes and obesity has been found.
In three independent studies, scientists from the universities of Southampton and Cambridge have identified how a simple chemical called nitrate, found in leafy green vegetables, can help in thinning of blood ensuring oxygen can be delivered to all corners of the body efficiently.
Reducing the thickness of blood may also decrease instances of dangerous clots forming and reduce the risk of stroke and heart attacks.
The same researchers also found nitrate can help the diseased heart to function more efficiently, help produce more of a compound that widens and opens blood vessels and help change bad white fat cells into good brown, fat-burning cells, which could combat obesity and reduce risk of type 2 diabetes.
In the first study, scientists identified how eating more nitrate rich vegetables like spinach can reduce the production of a hormone, called erythropoietin, made by the kidneys and liver. This hormone determines how many red blood cells we have, thus affecting not only how much oxygen can be carried around our bodies but also how thick our blood is. In abundance, erythropoietin allows more red blood cells to be produced and when levels are low fewer red blood cells are made. Increasing the number of red blood cells is a natural response triggered by the shortage of oxygen.
The findings from this new work indicate people may be able to alter the thickness of their blood through simple changes in their diet.
Dr Andrew Murray from the University of Cambridge, who co-led the study, said: "Here we show that nitrate from the diet can help regulate the delivery of oxygen to cells and tissues and its use, matching oxygen supply and demand. This ensures cells and tissues in the body have enough oxygen to function without needing to over produce red blood cells, which can make the blood too thick and compromise health".
"Lowering the blood's thickness without compromising oxygen delivery may also help prevent blood clots, reducing the risk of a stroke or heart attack.''
Professor Martin Feelisch from the University of Southampton, who also led the study said: "These findings suggest simple dietary changes may offer treatments for people suffering from heart and blood vessel diseases that cause too many red blood cells to be produced. It is also exciting as it may have broader implications in sport science, and could aid recovery of patients in intensive care by helping us understand how oxygen can be delivered to our cells more efficiently."
A second paper shows that consuming nitrate with the diet, consistent with eating a few more leafy greens or beetroot, could alleviate the symptoms of a large number of different heart and circulatory diseases by protecting vital proteins in heart cells and by increasing the production of a compound that causes blood vessels to widen, allowing the heart to pump more efficiently.
In a third study, the researchers from both Cambridge and Southampton identified nitrate's ability to stimulate conversion of white, or bad, fat cells into beige cells in a process called browning. Beige cells are more similar to 'good' brown fat cells and burn fat to produce heat. These data suggest simple changes in the diet could reduce the number of bad white fat cells we have, reducing the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
4th Dec 2014, 01:49 PM #1622
Re: Health Bulletin
Why watching movies in bed is a sure shot recipe for a bad back
A new study has revealed that watching movies in bed on a laptop or tablet is bad for backs.
According to the study by the British Chiropractic Association, nearly half of Britons use the gadgets before dropping off to sleep, while three-fifths also watch TV in bed and eight in 10 of those spend up to four hours glued to the screen, the Daily Express reported.
The study found that hours spent hunched up or slumped over tiny screens with unsupported spines can damage posture, lead to poor sleep and cause back or neck pain.
BCA chiropractor Tim Hutchful said that 48 per cent of people can't sleep and many of his patients will resort to a laptop or a mobile phone to help them sleep, for example to watch a film, but this could further prevent them from sleeping.
BCA is urging Britons to make bedrooms tech free zones to improve sleep quality and better posture.
The study suggests that if people are using gadgets in bed, they must ensure their back is supported with a pillow and the device is at eye level.
5th Dec 2014, 02:43 PM #1623
Re: Health Bulletin
Link between obesity and hypertension discovered
A team of researchers has discovered the link between obesity and hypertension.
In a ground-breaking study, researchers from Monash University in Australia, Warwick, Cambridge in the UK and several American universities found that the hormone leptin, which is secreted by fat cells that is significantly elevated following weight gain and in obesity, acts in the brain to elevate blood pressure.
These studies, involve both animal and human experiments, including a unique cohort of patients lacking the hormone leptin or lacking the leptin receptor.
Results demonstrated that both blocking leptin from producing its actions in the brain and removal of the leptin receptors, from the brain were effective at for the reducing obesity induced hypertension.
As much as 80 percent of common hypertension is caused by excess body fat, and this study for the first time describes the mechanism by which obesity elevates blood pressure, and opens up new approaches to treat obesity induced high blood pressure.
Researcher Michael Cowley said that this study shows that a hormone secreted by fat (leptin) increases blood pressure, and explains the mechanism of the known link between obesity and high blood pressure.
Cowley added that their data suggest that pharmacological approaches based on altering the effect of leptin in the dorsomedial hypothalamic region of the brain, could potentially represent a therapeutic target for the treatment of obesity induced hypertension and potentially could be exploited to alleviate the incidence of obesity induced cardiovascular diseases.
The study is published in the journal Cell (embargo midday EST).
6th Dec 2014, 03:51 PM #1624
Re: Health Bulletin
Nanowires to combat cell damage, ageing in humans
Nanowires made of vanadia can reduce cell damage in the human body, researchers from Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore have found.
This breakthrough can help develop drugs that prevent ageing, cardiac disorders, and several neurological problems like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease. Vanadium oxide or vanadia is a form of vanadium, an element found close to titanium on the periodic table.
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are produced during normal cellular metabolism. When the level of ROS is elevated, normal redox state of cells is disturbed, leading to damage of cellular components, including proteins, lipids, and DNA.
Oxidative stress caused by ROS is responsible for various conditions ranging from a simple premature greying of hair to serious diseases like cancer, diabetes, arthritis, ageing and kidney disorders.
"Many of the antioxidant-based drugs used to control ROS, also produce ROS, though at small proportions. So we wanted to concentrate on a mechanism that mimics the natural detoxification pathways," say professor G Mugesh and Patrick D'Silva, who led the research team.
In a paper published in Nature Communications, they have shown that vanadia nanowires actually mimic a natural antioxidant enzyme, according to a Gubbi Labs release.
ROS are helpful when their concentrations are optimal. They help in numerous biochemical reactions and act as critical secondary messengers in signalling pathways. They are also essential for the normal metabolism of the human body.
"The human body has numerous mechanisms to scavenge ROS, and specifically hydrogen peroxide. However, when people are suffering from a disease, the production of ROS shoots up, and the natural scavenging mechanisms are not able to cope with. In such cases, we may have to control ROS levels artificially," says D'Silva.
6th Dec 2014, 03:51 PM #1625
Re: Health Bulletin
Male smokers face greater cancer risk: Study
In a discovery that could possibly persuade smokers to quit, researchers at the Uppsala University in Sweden have found a strong association between smoking and the loss of the male Y chromosome in blood cells.
The same team had previously shown that the loss of the Y chromosome is linked to cancer.
Since only men have the Y chromosome, these results might explain why smoking is a greater risk factor for cancer among men and also why men in general have a shorter life expectancy, the researchers said.
The team tested if there were any lifestyle or clinical factors that could be linked to the loss of the Y chromosome.
"Out of a large number of factors that were studied such as age, blood pressure, diabetes, alcohol intake and smoking, we found that loss of the Y chromosome in a fraction of the blood cells was more common in smokers than in non-smokers", said Lars Forsberg, lead researcher at Uppsala University.
The loss of the Y chromosome was more common in heavy smokers compared to moderate smokers.
In addition, the association was only valid for men who were current smokers.
Men who had been smoking previously but quit showed the same frequency of cells with loss of the Y chromosome as men who had never smoked, the authors noticed.
How loss of the Y chromosome in blood cells, induced by smoking, is connected with the development of cancer throughout the body is still not clear.
One possibility is that immune cells in blood that have lost their Y chromosome have a reduced capacity to fight cancer cells.
"The finding may explain why men in general have a shorter life span than women and why smoking is more dangerous for men," added co-author Jan Dumanski.
The study was published in the journal Science.
6th Dec 2014, 03:51 PM #1626
Re: Health Bulletin
Female sex hormones could protect against blood disorder
emale sex hormones hold promise for treating certain blood disorders in both sexes for which there is currently no cure, a new study says.
Findings in mice with blood neoplasms — the excessive production of certain blood cells — suggest that a drug called tamoxifen, which targets estrogen receptors and is approved for the treatment of breast cancer, may also be used for blocking the development of blood neoplasms in humans.
Scientists have known for some time that men are at a higher risk than women of developing leukaemia.
"We did not know the causes behind the different incidence of leukaemia between men and women but sex hormones like estrogen could at least partly explain these differences," said Simon Mendez-Ferrer from the Spanish National Center for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC) in Madrid.
The study revealed that estrogens regulate the survival, proliferation and self-renewal of stem cells that give rise to blood cancers.
"Our study demonstrates that targeting estrogen signalling with a clinically approved drug, at doses with an acceptable toxicity profile in humans, provides a novel potential therapeutic strategy for a set of neoplasms currently without a definitive cure," added Mendez-Ferrer.
One of the most remarkable features of this study is its potential for translation to clinical practice in a relatively short time.
The study appeared in the journal Stem Cell.
6th Dec 2014, 06:44 PM #1627
Re: Health Bulletin
Daily aspirin's benefits for women over 65 outweigh risks
A new research has revealed that daily dose of aspirin protects women over 65 against the cancer despite the dangers of internal bleeding.
The study at the University Medical Centre in the Netherlands also suggests that since younger women appear to gain no benefit, the regular use aspirin may be harmful for them, the Daily Express reported.
Although the possibility of developing serious illnesses, particularly cancer, and the risk of stomach bleeding rises with age, so too does the drug's impact on lowering the risk of bowel cancer and heart disease.
The study says that for over 65s, one case of cancer or heart disease and stroke would be prevented for every 29 aspirin users and on the other hand, blanket treatment regardless of age is ineffective or harmful in the majority of women.
Team leader Frank Visseren, said that for over 65s, aspirin only modestly lowers cardiovascular risk, while increasing the risk of major gastrointestinal bleeding, but the benefits for cancer could tip the balance in favour of aspirin in prevention.
The study is published online in the journal Heart.
7th Dec 2014, 01:52 PM #1628
Re: Health Bulletin
Breathalyzer for pot soon
Stoners take note, police may soon have a tool to tell whether you're driving under the influence of marijuana.
Researchers at Washington State University are developing a breathalyzer that will detect the presence of THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana, the News Tribune reports. WSU chemistry professor Herbert Hill and a doctoral student are working on a handheld device similar to the ones used by police to tell whether a person is under the influence of alcohol.
While driving while stoned is against the law in all four states -Washington, Colorado, Alaska, and Oregon -where marijuana has been made legal for recreational use, as well in those where the drug is used for medical purposes, police have had to rely on blood tests and traditional standardized field sobriety tests such as walking a straight line. A 2012 study found that just 30% of those under the influence of THC failed the standard tests, and the results of blood tests can take up to 24 hours.
The THC breathalyzer will, re Getty Images searchers hope, give police a more immediate way to detect the presence of the drug. Marijuana affects reaction time, short-term memory, handeye coordination, concentration andperception of time and distance. Getting high and getting behind the wheel of a car will get you arrested for a DUI -this law hasn't changed with the legalization of marijuana in January 2014.
In the first year after Washington legalized the recreational use of marijuana, there was a 25% jump in the number of drivers testing positive for having marijuana in their system, the Seattle Times reported. Still, the number of crashes in the state stayed virtually the same as the year before.
7th Dec 2014, 02:04 PM #1629
Re: Health Bulletin
'3D mammography improves cancer detection in dense breasts'
Digital breast tomosynthesis, also known as 3-D mammography, has the potential to significantly increase the cancer detection rate in mammography screening of women with dense breasts, according to a latest study.
Breasts are considered dense if they have a lot of fibrous or glandular tissue but not much fatty tissue. The researchers have shown that dense breasts are more likely to develop cancer, a problem compounded by the fact that cancer in dense breasts can be difficult to detect on mammograms.
"A study of more than 25,000 women has found that digital tomosynthesis significantly increases the cancer detection rate in dense breast tissue," said a new study presented at the annual meeting of Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) last week.
Tomosynthesis provides 3-D views of the breast. Using digital mammography plus tomosynthesis, researchers detected 80 per cent of 132 cancers in women with dense breasts, compared to only 59 per cent of mammography alone, it said.
"Our results show that implementation of tomosynthesis might indicate a new era in breast cancer screening," said the study author Dr Per Skaane from the Department of Radiology Oslo University Hospital in Oslo, Norway.
"Tomosynthesis could be regarded as an improvement of mammography and would be much easier than MRI or Ultrasound to implement in organised screening programs," he said.
According to the study, other imaging modalities like Ultrasound and MRI are often used to help find cancers that cannot be seen on mammograms, but both modalities have higher rates of false-positive findings, which are suspicious findings that turn out not to be cancer, it said.
"This higher false-positive rate often results in more tests and unnecessary biopsies, making MRI and ultrasound expensive to implement in high volume screening programs," Skaane said.
So the intention of the study was to see if tomosynthesis really would significantly increase the cancer detection rate in a population-based mammography screening programme, he said.
Skaane and colleagues have been studying tomosynthesis as a promising breast cancer screening option that addresses some of the limitations of mammography by providing 3-D views of the breast.
The study compared cancer detection using full-field digital mammography (FFDM) versus FFDM plus digital breast tomosynthesis in 25,547 women between the ages of 50 and 69.
Breast density was classified based on the American College of Radiology's Breast Imaging-Reporting and Data System (BI-RADS). The BI-RADS breast density scale runs from 1 to 4, with 1 being the least dense and 4 being the most dense.
9th Dec 2014, 01:28 PM #1630
Re: Health Bulletin
Scientists restore sight in mice, dogs suffering from inherited blindness
Scientists have restored sight of animals like dogs and mice, suffering from inherited blindness, using a path breaking gene therapy technique that replaced the lost light-sensitive cells of the eye.
The findings suggest there could one day be an effective treatment to help the thousands of people across the world who suffer from the same form of inherited blindness — retinitis pigmentosa — that causes progressive loss of the photosensitive cells in the retina.
The new genetic therapy not only helped blind mice regain enough light sensitivity to distinguish flashing from non-flashing lights, but also restored light response to the retinas of dogs, setting the stage for future clinical trials of the therapy in humans.
The therapy employs a virus to insert a gene for a common ion channel into normally blind cells of the retina that survive after the light-responsive rod and cone photoreceptor cells die as a result of diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa.
Photoswitches — chemicals that change shape when hit with light — are then attached to the ion channels to make them open in response to light, activating the retinal cells and restoring light sensitivity.
Retinitis pigmentosa causes a gradual loss of vision, just like losing pixels in a digital camera. Sight is lost from the periphery to the centre, usually leaving people with the inability to navigate their surroundings.
University of California, Berkeley, scientists who invented the photoswitch therapy and vision researchers at the School of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania (PennVet) report that blind mice regained the ability to navigate a water maze as well as normal mice.
The treatment worked equally well to restore light responses to the degenerated retinas of mice and dogs, indicating that it may be feasible to restore some light sensitivity in blind humans.
"The dog has a retina very similar to ours, much more so than mice, so when you want to bring a visual therapy to the clinic, you want to first show that it works in a large animal model of the disease," said lead researcher Ehud Isacoff, professor of molecular and cell biology at UC Berkeley. "We've now showed that we can deliver the photoswitch and restore light response to the blind retina in the dog as well as in the mouse, and that the treatment has the same sensitivity and speed of response. We can reanimate the dog retina."
Dogs have a very sophisticated visual system, and are being used already for testing ophthalmic gene therapy. The dogs were chosen because they have inherited a genetic disease caused by the same gene defect as some people with retinitis pigmentosa.