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Health Bulletin


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  1. #1701
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Mommy makeover now begins just after delivery

    In an increasingly lookist world, mommy weight hangs around a woman like an albatross. Till recently, you were allowed at least a year to grapple with motherhood before you started worrying about the bloated belly, misshapen breasts and rolls of flesh elsewhere. Women adapted in the interim, reigning in the unruly sag with binders and stretches of sari. But it was slow going.

    Today, women have no time to wait for a belly binder to start working even if Angelina Jolie herself recommended it. Diets and power yoga too don't work instant magic. So new moms are now looking for quick fixes, called The Mummy Makeover, to knock off pregnancy weight gain. Some give it a year, some three months but some even insist on cosmetic surgery right after delivery despite the medical perils.

    Having just delivered her second child through C-Section, Liffy Thomas, a 28-year-old from Kochi, stayed put on the operating table at Apollo Hospitals in Chennai, for a tummy tuck. She spent an additional hour getting sewn up tight, excising excess fat and skin. When Thomas planned her delivery, she'd included a mini abdominoplasty in the schedule, because she'd found it near impossible to return to her pre-pregnancy figure after her first child.

    Women are advised to wait six months after they stop breast-feeding for slimming surgery. "It's generally not advisable but when a woman is insistent, being aware of the risks, surgeons do concede if all parameters are stable," says Dr V Purushothaman, plastic surgeon with Apollo First Med.


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  2. #1702
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Pomegranate juice adds days to life

    Pomegranate juice as a potential source of rich vitamins and antioxidants is well known. But researchers have proved the fruit can also add years to life.

    The study has found that fruit flies fed with pomegranate juice not only lived longer but also were resistant to some diseases and produced more offspring. It was done by scientists at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), the Trans-disciplinary University (TDU) and Foundation for Revitalisation of Local Health Traditions (FRLHT), Bengaluru, to validate the Rasayana discipline in Ayurveda, which explains methods to rejuvenate, improve quality of life and delay ageing with the help of pomegranate.

    As part of the study, a species of fruit fly called Drosophila melanogaster was fed two different diets: a routine nutrient medium and another supplemented with pomegranate juice. Flies fed with the juice lived longer -- 23 days versus 20.8 (about 19% longer). Also, the number of offspring produced was two times higher in the flies fed pomegranate juice. They were also more resistant to fungal infection than the flies given the normal medium.

    Asked if the results hold good for humans too, Upendra Nongthomba, associate professor in the department of molecular reproduction, development and genetics, IISc, said validating the longevity factor in humans will take longer and hence they chose flies to see the impact. "But the other benefits of pomegranate as mentioned in Ayurveda are proven," he added.

    Padmavathy Venkatasubramanian, professor at TDU and a principal investigator, said, "Rasayana in Ayurveda deals with methods of rejuvenation such as dietary recipes and regimen, herbal and mineral supplements, and health-promoting lifestyles that are said to enhance quality of life and delay ageing."


  3. #1703
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Inherited viruses making us smarter?

    Inherited viruses that are millions of years old play an important role in building up the complex networks that characterise the human brain, a new study has found.

    It is known that endogenous retroviruses constitute around five per cent of our DNA. For many years, they were considered junk DNA of no real use, a side-effect of our evolutionary journey.

    Johan Jakobsson at Lund University and colleagues found that retroviruses seem to play a central role in the basic functions of the brain, more specifically in the regulation of which genes are to be expressed, and when.

    The findings indicate that, over the course of evolution, the viruses took an increasingly firm hold on the steering wheel in our cellular machinery.

    The reason the viruses are activated specifically in the brain is probably due to the fact that tumours cannot form in nerve cells, unlike in other tissues.

    "We have been able to observe that these viruses are activated specifically in the brain cells and have an important regulatory role," said Jakobsson, head of the research team for molecular neurogenetics.

    "We believe that the role of retroviruses can contribute to explaining why brain cells in particular are so dynamic and multifaceted in their function.

    "It may also be the case that the viruses' more or less complex functions in various species can help us to understand why we are so different," he said.

    The research, based on studies of neural stem cells, showed that these cells use a particular molecular mechanism to control the activation processes of the retroviruses.

    The findings open up potential for new research paths concerning brain diseases linked to genetic factors.

    "I believe that this can lead to new, exciting studies on the diseases of the brain. Currently, when we look for genetic factors linked to various diseases, we usually look for the genes we are familiar with, which make up a mere two per cent of the genome," Jakobsson said.

    "Now we are opening up the possibility of looking at a much larger part of the genetic material which was previously considered unimportant.

    "The image of the brain becomes more complex, but the area in which to search for errors linked to diseases with a genetic component, such as neurodegenerative diseases, psychiatric illness and brain tumours, also increases," he added.


  4. #1704
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Depression, behavioral changes maybe precursors to Alzheimer's

    A new research has said that depression and behavioral changes may precede the memory declines in people who later develop Alzheimer's disease.

    Researchers have known that many people with Alzheimer's experience depression, irritability, apathy and appetite loss but had not recognized how early these symptoms appear. Pinpointing the origins of these symptoms could be important to fully understanding Alzheimer's effects on the brain and finding ways to counteract them.

    According to senior author Catherine M. Roe, PhD at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, there has been conflicting evidence on the relationship between Alzheimer's and depression, But they still didn't know whether some of these symptoms were due to people realizing on some level that they are having problems with memory and thinking, or were caused directly by Alzheimer's effects on the brain.

    Roe and her colleagues analyzed data on 2,416 people ages 50 and older. Scientists regularly evaluated the participants for up to seven years, including how they performed in extensive tests of mental function and psychological health.

    All of the participants were cognitively normal at the start, but over the course of the study, 1,218 of them developed dementia.

    Those who developed dementia during the study were more likely to have mood and behavioral changes first. For example, 4 years into the study, 30 percent of those who would go on to develop dementia had developed depression. In comparison, after the same period of time, only 15 percent of those who did not develop dementia during the study had become depressed. In addition, those who would go on to develop dementia were more than 12 times as likely to have delusions than those who did not develop dementia.

    Alzheimer's researchers have been working to develop markers they can use to diagnose disease before the onset of dementia. The hope is to begin treating the condition before patients develop dementia.

    The study is published in Neurology.


  5. #1705
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Walk 20 minutes a day, beat early death

    A brisk 20-minute walk each day could be enough to reduce an individual's risk of early death, according to a new research. 0The study of European men and women found that twice as many deaths may be attributable to lack of physical activity compared with the number of deaths attributable to obesity.

    To measure the link between physical inactivity and premature death, and its interaction with obesity, Cambridge University researchers analysed data from 3,34,161 men and women across Europe participating in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) Study.

    Between 1992 and 2000, the researchers measured height, weight and waist circumference, and used self-assessment to measure levels of physical activity. The participants were then followed up over 12 years, during which 21,438 participants died.

    The researchers found that the greatest reduction in risk of premature death occurred in the comparison between inactive and moderately inactive groups, judged by combining activity at work with recreational activity; just under a quarter (22.7%) of participants were categorized as inactive, reporting no recreational activity in combination with a sedentary occupation.

    The authors estimated that doing exercise equivalent to just a 20-minute brisk walk each day - burning between 90 and 110 kcal - would take an individual from the inactive to moderately inactive group and reduce their risk of premature death by between 16-30%. The impact was greatest amongst normal weight individuals, but even those with higher BMI saw a benefit.

    Using the most recent available data on deaths in Europe, the researchers said 3,37,000 of the 9.2 million deaths amongst European men and women were attributable to obesity, however, double this number of deaths (6,76,000) could be attributed to physical inactivity.


  6. #1706
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Tattoo offers needle-free way to monitor sugar levels

    In a promising step forward in non-invasive glucose-testing for diabetes patients, researchers have developed a temporary tattoo that both extracts and measures the level of glucose in the fluid in between skin cells.

    "The readout instrument for patients will eventually have Bluetooth capabilities to send this information directly to the patient's doctor in real-time or store data in the cloud," said Indian-origin graduate student Amay Bandodkar, who along with his colleagues at the University of California, San Diego, made the breakthrough.

    The researchers have described their flexible device — which consists of carefully patterned electrodes printed on temporary tattoo paper — in their report in the journal Analytical Chemistry.

    A very mild electrical current applied to the skin for 10 minutes forces sodium ions in the fluid between skin cells to migrate toward the tattoo's electrodes.

    These ions carry glucose molecules that are also found in the fluid.

    A sensor built into the tattoo then measures the strength of the electrical charge produced by the glucose to determine a person's overall glucose levels.

    The team applied the tattoo to seven men and women between ages 20 and 40 with no history of diabetes.

    None of the volunteers reported feeling discomfort during the tattoo test and only a few people reported feeling a mild tingling in the first 10 seconds of the test.

    According to Bandodkar, this "proof-of-concept" tattoo could pave the way for their research facility to explore other uses of the device, such as detecting other important metabolites in the body or delivering medicines through the skin.

    The research team is also working on ways to make the tattoo last longer while keeping its overall cost down.

    "Presently, the tattoo sensor can easily survive for a day. These are extremely inexpensive and can be replaced without much financial burden on the patient," Bandodkar said.

    The sensor was developed and tested by Bandodkar and colleagues in professor Joseph Wang's lab at the nanoengineering department and the Center for Wearable Sensors at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego.


  7. #1707
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Brain chemical makes humans more patient

    The brain chemical serotonin that is widely targeted to treat depression also helps humans have patience in life, researchers report.

    To investigate the role of serotonin in patience, the researchers used a task in which mice have to wait for a reward that arrives at random times.

    During some of the trials, they stimulated serotonin neurons using a technique called optogenetics.

    "We made serotonin neurons sensitive to light so when we illuminated them, they were activated and released serotonin in the brain," said Madalena Fonseca, member from the team of lead researcher Zachary Mainen at the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown (CCU) in Lisbon, Portugal.

    The scientists observed that when they activated serotonin neurons, mice became more patient.

    "The more serotonin neurons were activated, the longer the mice would wait," added Masayoshi Murakami, another member of the CCU team.

    Scientists also performed experiments to test if stimulation of serotonin neurons could act as a reward.

    "If the sensation of serotonin was pleasant or rewarding for the mice, this could have explained why they waited longer", Fonseca noted.

    To do this, they tested whether mice preferred to perform actions associated with serotonin stimulation.

    The results of these experiments were negative, ruling out that increased patience was a consequence of reward.

    This study has implications for understanding the involvement of serotonin in depression and other diseases.

    Because antidepressants are thought to increase serotonin, people assume that more serotonin neuron firing would feel good.

    "Our results show that the story is not so simple. That serotonin affects patience gives us an important clue that we hope will help us crack the serotonin mystery," Mainen concluded in a paper appeared in the journal Current Biology.


  8. #1708
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Close your eyes for better memory recall

    Researchers from the University of Surrey, Britain, have found evidence to suggest that eyewitnesses to crimes remember more accurate details when they close their eyes.

    After studying 178 participants across two studies, the team also discovered that building a rapport also helped witnesses to remember more.

    "It is clear from our research that closing the eyes and building rapport help with witness recall," said lead author Robert Nash from University of Surrey.

    In the first experiment, participants watched a film depicting an electrician entering a property, carrying out jobs and stealing items.

    Each participant was then randomly assigned one of four conditions, either eyes closed or open, and having built up a rapport with the interviewer or not.

    They were asked a series of questions.

    The team found that closing their eyes led participants to answer 23 percent more of the questions correctly.

    Building rapport also increased the number of correct answers. However, closing their eyes was effective regardless of whether rapport was built or not.

    The second experiment took the memory task one step further, by asking witnesses about things they had heard, as well as things they had seen.

    Results showed that closing their eyes helped participants recall both audio and visual details, both when they had built rapport and when they had not.

    In both experiments, participants who did not build rapport said they felt less comfortable when they closed their eyes compared to when they kept their eyes open.

    In contrast, participants who built rapport felt more comfortable when they closed their eyes.

    "Our results show that building rapport makes witnesses more at ease with closing their eyes. That in itself is vital if we are to encourage witnesses to use this helpful technique during interviews," Nash concluded.

    The study was published in the journal Legal and Criminology Psychology.


  9. #1709
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Gold test strip may detect heart attacks early

    A team of researchers are working on a new gold test strip that is demonstrating great potential for the early detection of certain heart attacks.

    Researchers from New York University's (NYU) school of engineering and Peking University in Beijing, China are developing the test strip for cardiac troponin I (cTn-I) detection.

    cTn-I is a specific marker for myocardial infarction. The cTn-I level in patients experiencing myocardial infarction is several thousand times higher than in healthy people.

    The early detection of cTn-I is, therefore, a key factor of heart attack diagnosis and therapy.

    The new strip uses microplasma-generated gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) and shows much higher detection sensitivity than conventional test strips.

    The new cTn-I test is based on the specific immune-chemical reactions between antigen and antibody on immunochromatographic test strips using AuNPs.

    Compared to traditional chemical methods, the surfaces of the gold nanoparticles generated by the microplasma-induced liquid chemical process attract more antibodies which results in significantly higher detection sensitivity.

    "The new technology has great potential for other biomedical and therapeutic applications such as tumour detection, cancer imaging, drug delivery and treatment of degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's," said Kurt H Becker, professor at NYU's school of engineering.


  10. #1710
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Stressed people are less emphatic towards strangers

    A new study has demonstrated that stress is a major factor to find empathy.

    The study suggested that a drug that blocks stress hormones increases the ability of college students and mice to feel the pain of a stranger and that phenomenon, known as "emotional contagion of pain" is one form of empathy.

    Jeffrey Mogil of McGill University in Montreal, said that they found what in some sense might be thought of as the secret to empathy, that is, what prevents it from occurring more often between strangers and the secret is quite simply stress, and in particular the social stress of being in close proximity with a stranger.

    Mogil and his colleagues treated male mice with a stress hormone-blocker called metyrapone and watched their response to the pain of other mice and they found that the drug allowed greater empathy as mice began reacting to strangers in a manner normally reserved for familiar cagemates. In other tests, the researchers found that when they put mice under stress, the mice showed less empathy when their peers were in pain. In other words, biochemical changes related to stress were preventing emotional contagion in the animals.

    Mogil said that it is quite intriguing indeed that this phenomenon appears to be identical in mice and humans as firstly it supports the notion that mice are capable of more complex social phenomena than is commonly believed. Second, it suggests that human social phenomena might actually be simpler than commonly believed, at least in terms of their organizing principles.

    The study is published in the Cell Press journal Current Biology.


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