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Health Bulletin


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  1. #1791
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    High testosterone puts men at high heart disease risk

    A new study shows that the sex hormones testosterone and estrogen alter cardiovascular factors in a way that raises a man`s risk of heart disease.

    Men have higher testosterone and lower estrogen levels than pre-menopausal women.

    "Therefore, doctors have suspected that testosterone may promote cardiovascular disease or that estrogen may protect against it, or both," said Elaine Yu, lead investigator and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, Boston.

    The study, conducted in 400 healthy men aged 20 to 50, found that higher levels of testosterone led to lower levels of HDL cholesterol or "good" cholesterol while estrogen appeared to have no effect on HDL cholesterol.

    In contrast, the investigators reported that low levels of estrogen led to higher fasting blood glucose (sugar) levels, worsening insulin resistance and more fat in muscle, markers for developing diabetes which is itself a risk factor for heart disease.

    "These observations may help explain why men have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease," Yu noted.

    The researchers also found that neither testosterone nor estrogen regulated changes in LDL or "bad" cholesterol, blood pressure and body weight.

    "It appears that these common risk factors for cardiovascular disease are not regulated by sex hormones," Yu added.

    In summary, higher testosterone levels and lower estrogen levels in men worsen cardiovascular risk factors that may help to explain gender differences in heart disease.

    The results were presented at the Endocrine Society`s 97th annual meeting in San Diego, California, last week.


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  2. #1792
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Here's how 'blood group O' protects against malaria

    We all know that malaria parasites evade the human immune system while living in human red blood cells. A good news is that according to a new study, blood type O provides protection against malaria.

    The study suggests that a protein secreted by parasites called RIFIN, plays an important role in providing protection against malaria in people who have blood group O.

    A team of Scandinavian scientists explains the mechanisms behind the protection that blood type O provides and suggests that the selective pressure imposed by malaria may contribute to the variable global distribution of ABO blood groups in the human population.

    It has long been known that people with blood type O are protected against severe malaria, while those with other types, such as A, often fall into a coma and die. Unpacking the mechanisms behind this has been one of the main goals of malaria research.

    Scientists led from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have now identified a new and important piece of the puzzle by describing the key part played by the RIFIN protein.

    Using data from different kinds of experiment on cell cultures and animals, they show how the Plasmodium falciparum parasite secretes RIFIN, and how the protein makes its way to the surface of the blood cell, where it acts like glue. The team also demonstrates how it bonds strongly with the surface of type A blood cells, but only weakly to type O.

    Principal investigator Mats Wahlgren describes the finding as conceptually simple, however, since RIFIN is found in many different variants, it has taken the research team a lot of time to isolate exactly which variant is responsible for this mechanism.

    Wahlgren said that their study ties together previous findings, adding they can explain the mechanism behind the protection that blood group O provides against severe malaria, which can, in turn, explain why the blood type is so common in the areas where malaria is common.

    Wahlgren added that in Nigeria, for instance, more than half of the population belongs to blood group O, which protects against malaria.

    The study was published in Nature Medicine.


  3. #1793
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Exercise hormone just a myth: Study

    Humans cannot produce the "exercise hormone" irisin that previous studies reported, a study says.

    Previous studies suggested that the hormone irisin, first discovered three years ago, travels from muscle to fat tissue after exercise to tell fat cells to start burning energy instead of storing it.

    The finding ignited hope and press coverage that irisin could hold the key to fighting diabetes and obesity, perhaps one day taking the form of a pill that could melt away the pounds without the hassle of a workout.

    But new research from an international team of scientists has found that the antibodies used to measure levels of irisin in blood were poorly vetted and non-specific.

    "From the start, the study of irisin has been complicated by unvalidated reagents and contradictory data that have raised flags about the existence of irisin and its role in humans and other species," said one of the study authors Harold Erickson, professor at Duke University School of Medicine.

    "We provide compelling evidence that the signals reported by previous studies were due to non-specific blood proteins, not irisin. Hopefully, our findings will finally convince other researchers to stop chasing a myth," Erickson noted.

    The irisin levels reported by commercial kits were actually due to unknown blood proteins, misconstruing the role of the hormone in human metabolism, the researchers argued.

    The study directly tested the antibodies used in previous analyses and showed that they cross-reacted with proteins other than irisin, yielding a false positive result.

    Furthermore, none of the proteins detected by these test kits in any human or animal blood samples were the correct size to be irisin.

    "Our conclusions make sense, especially in light of the work of other researchers who have shown that the human version of the FDNC5 gene has a deleterious mutation at the beginning," Erickson said.

    "Humans can not produce the gene FNDC5, and therefore they can not produce irisin," Erickson added.

    The study appeared in the journal Scientific Reports.


  4. #1794
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Tetanus shot may aid treatment of deadly brain cancer: Study

    Can a tetanus shot help treat brain cancer? A small study hints that it might.

    A dose of tetanus vaccine let patients live longer when added to an experimental treatment for the most common and deadly kind of brain tumor, researchers report.

    It "put the immune system on high alert," paving the way for the experimental treatment to work better in attacking the disease, said researcher Kristen Batich of the Duke University Medical Center.

    In a paper released Wednesday by the journal Nature, she and others describe a study of 12 patients. Some who got the tetanus shot lived years longer than those who didn't.

    Dr. John Sampson of Duke, senior author of the report, called the results promising but noted the study was small, and said bigger studies are needed to confirm the results. A follow-up study has already been planned but isn't recruiting patients yet, Batich said.

    Brain cancer experts unconnected with the work were impressed.
    The results are "very exciting," said Dr. Nader Sanai of the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix. While he agreed more work is required, "what you have so far, it's a very positive story."

    Tetanus is otherwise known as lockjaw. Vaccines for it are routinely recommended for children and adults.

    The new study focused on glioblastoma, which killed Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in 2009. Even after surgery to remove the tumor, it usually grows back and kills. The few drugs to treat these tumors have little effect. Half of patients die within about 15 months.

    The new work is an example of a long-standing effort to harness the immune system to fight cancer, an approach called immunotherapy.

    The specific strategy it used is called a dendritic-cell vaccine. Doctors remove particular blood cells from a patient and equip them with a chemical target found in the tumor. Then they return the cells to the patient's body, where they train the immune system to go after the cancer.

    The 12 patients in the new study were treated with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. All patients got an ordinary tetanus-diphtheria shot and then three injections of their own cells, spaced two weeks apart.

    Then they were randomly divided into two groups. One group got a second, tiny dose of the tetanus-diphtheria vaccine at the place in the skin where the cells would be injected the next day.

    The other group got a dummy dose.


  5. #1795
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    After polio, Amitabh Bachchan to lead India’s fight against hepatitis B

    Taking a cue from the success of pulse polio campaign, the government has again roped in Amitabh Bachchan as brand ambassador for its campaign against hepatitis B, a critical public health problem facing India.

    According to latest World Health Organization (WHO) data, hepatitis B is responsible for 1.4 million deaths every year globally, as compared to 1.5 million deaths from HIV/AIDS and 1.2 million each from malaria and tubercluosis. India has over 40 million hepatitis B infected patients (second only to China) and constitutes about 15% of the entire pool of hepatitis B in the world. Every year, nearly 600,000 patients die from HBV infection in the Indian subcontinent.

    The health ministry has finalized talks with Amitabh Bachchan and is set to launch the campaign in April, a senior official in the ministry told TOI.

    Bachchan was made brand ambassador for the Polio Eradication Campaign in 2005 after polio cases peaked in India in 2002 with 1,556 cases being detected. Bihar and Uttar Pradesh accounted for the maximum number of cases.

    Prevalence of hepatitis B is high in tribal areas in India. Chronic Hepatitis B infection accounts for about 30% of liver cirrhosis and 40-50% of liver cancers in India. Outbreaks of acute and fulminant hepatitis B still occur mainly due to inadequately sterilized needles and syringes.

    Hepatitis B vaccine is also part of the government's ambitious child immunization programme - Mission Indradhanush against seven vaccine preventable diseases. Besides hepatitis B, Mission Indradhanush will include diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis and measles.

    The health ministry plans to target 5% unvaccinated children every year in a bid to accelerate immunization coverage. According to Union health minister J P Nadda, the government has adopted the mission mode to achieve a target of full coverage by 2020.

    In the first phase of the mission, the ministry has identified 201 high focus districts in the country with nearly 50% of all unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children. Of the 201 districts, 82 districts are in just four states of UP, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan as nearly 25% of the unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children of India are in these 82 districts of four states, the official said.

    Immunization coverage has increased by merely 1% since 2009, when it was estimated at around 61%, government data shows. The latest data for 2013 shows vaccine coverage at 65%, whereas there are over 26 million infants across the country.

    Experts say the insufficient coverage of vaccines is often due to significant discrimination in society related to gender, demography (religion, caste) and community literacy levels etc.

    The government's campaign with Bachchan as ambassador and Unicef as partner will attempt to address these social issues and motivate parents to come out for immunization.


  6. #1796
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Eating at 'right' time key to healthy heart

    A new study has revealed that eating at the right time is as important as what the person is eating in order to maintain a healthy heart.

    Researchers at San Diego State University and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies found that by limiting the time span during which fruit flies could eat, they could prevent aging-and diet-related heart problems.

    The researchers also discovered that genes responsible for the body's circadian rhythm are integral to this process, but they're not yet sure how.

    Previous research has found that people who tend to eat later in the day and into the night have a higher chance of developing heart disease than people who cut off their food consumption earlier.

    The researchers also sequenced the RNA of the flies at various points in the experiment to find which of their genes had changed as a result of time-restricted feeding.

    They identified three genetic pathways that appear to be involved: the TCP-1 ring complex chaperonin, which helps proteins fold; mitochondrial electron transport chain complexes (mETC); and a suite of genes responsible for the body's circadian rhythm.

    Girish Melkani, a biologist at SDSU whose research focuses on cardiovascular physiology was optimistic that the results could one day translate into cardiac- and obesity-related health benefits for humans.

    The study is published in Science.


  7. #1797
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Over 5 million to undergo dialysis, kidney transplant by 2030: Study

    The number of people receiving treatment for advanced kidney failure - such as dialysis or kidney transplant - will double to over five million by 2030, mostly in developing regions such as Asia and Africa, a study said on Saturday.

    Renal replacement therapy (RRT), through either dialysis or renal transplantation, is a life-saving yet high-cost treatment for people with end-stage kidney disease.

    According to the latest research by the George Institute for Global Health published in The Lancet, the number of people receiving RRT is projected to grow from 2.618 million in 2010 to 5.439 million by 2030.

    "However, the number of people without access to RRT will remain substantial," the study titled 'Worldwide access to treatment for end-stage kidney disease: a systematic review' said.


  8. #1798
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Folic acid reduces stroke risk in high BP

    The use of folic acid along with hypertension medication enalapril, compared with enalapril alone, significantly reduces the risk of first stroke, a research conducted in China has found.

    The findings suggest that stroke incidence can be significantly reduced with targeted folic acid therapy.

    The study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) included more than 20,000 adults in China with high blood pressure but without a history of stroke or heart attack.

    Yong Huo from Peking University First Hospital, Beijing, China, and colleagues randomly assigned the participants to receive daily treatment with a single pill combination containing enalapril (10mg) and folic acid, or a tablet containing enalapril alone.

    The trial was conducted from May 2008 to August 2013 in 32 communities in Jiangsu and Anhui provinces in China.

    Analyses also showed significant reductions among participants in the enalapril-folic acid group in the risk of ischemic stroke (2.2 percent vs 2.8 percent) and composite cardiovascular events (cardiovascular death, heart attack and stroke) (3.1 percent vs 3.9 percent).

    The study has provided convincing evidence that baseline folate level is an important determinant of efficacy of folic acid therapy in stroke prevention, the authors said.

    "In this population without folic acid fortification, we observed considerable individual variation in plasma folate levels, and clearly showed that the beneficial effect appeared to be more pronounced in participants with lower folate levels," they said.

    Ideally, adequate folate levels would be achieved from food sources such as vegetables (especially dark green leafy vegetables), fruits and fruit juices, nuts, beans, and peas.

    In populations, where achieving adequate levels from diet alone is difficult, folic acid fortification programmes or supplementation should be considered, the authors said.


  9. #1799
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Vitamin D supplementation ineffective at lowering blood pressure

    A new study has examined that vitamin D supplementation was ineffective at lowering blood pressure (BP) and it should not be used as an antihypertensive.

    According to the study, Intervention studies have produced conflicting evidence on the BP-lowering effect of vitamin D and an increasing number of clinical trials of have studied vitamin D and cardiovascular health.

    Miles D. Witham, B.M., B.Ch., Ph.D., of the University of Dundee, Scotland, and coauthors analyzed clinical trial data and individual patient data with regard to vitamin D supplementation and BP. The authors included 46 trials (4,541 participants) and individual patient data were obtained for 27 trials (3,092 participants).

    In both clinical trial and individual patient data, no effect was seen on systolic BP or diastolic BP due to vitamin D supplementation.

    The study concluded that the results of this analysis did not support the use of vitamin D or its analogues as an individual patient treatment for hypertension or as a population-level intervention to lower BP.

    The study is published online by JAMA Internal Medicine.


  10. #1800
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Diabetics more prone to retinopathy leading to blindness

    Diabetic retinopathy is emerging as an important factor for blindness among people with eye related diseases, a leading ophthalmologist said here on Wednesday

    He said that over 50 percent of the patients in India with cataract and infection are diabetic and will permanently lose their vision, as the blood vessels of the eye are damaged in the later stage.

    Diabetic retinopathy "vision-threatening damage to the retina of the eye caused by diabetes" is the leading cause of blindness among working-age people of the world, which has aggravated in India in the past two decades.

    It is an ocular manifestation of diabetes, a systemic disease, which affects up to 80 percent of all patients who have had diabetes for 10 years or more.

    "People can hardly imagine the level of damage diabetes can do to human eyes. Diabetes affects the retina of the eyes. It starts with partial vision loss leading to complete vision loss in a couple of years," Jeevan Singh Titiyal, professor at R.P. Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences told IANS.

    Titiyal is credited with the first live cornea transplant surgery by an Indian doctor.

    He said that every diabetic patient starts having negative changes in the retina of their eyes soon after becoming diabetic, which can be diagnosed and treated if an eye specialist is consulted.

    "Eye specialist can figure out the level of damage diabetes has caused to the eyes. Infact every diabetic patient has atleast 20 percent retinal problems which improves if well taken care off by treatment. The problem if it aggravates, needs surgery," said Titiyal.

    According to AIIMS statistics, around 50-60 lakh surgeries are conducted in India every year out of which atleast 15 lakh surgeries are related to diabetic retinopathy.

    Speaking on the topic, Praveen Vashist, additional professor, community ophthalmology at AIIMS, said that to check the actual number of diabetic retinopathies in Delhi, AIIMS had conducted check ups of 10,000 people, out of which 1,246 people were found to be suffering from diabetic retinopathy and had almost become partially blind.

    "We had set up 166 camps across Delhi specially in the slums. Out of the total number of people suffering from diabetic retinopathy 550 were brought to AIIMS and were provided free treatment," Vashist told IANS.

    Speaking on the symptoms of the disease, the experts said that diabetic patients with fluctuation in vision and partial whitening or excess reddening of the eyes should immediately consult an ophthalmologist.

    "Such disorders need special attention as scanning with improved laser technology is important to see the effect on the eyes," he added.
    "We are also focusing on acquiring the advanced laser techniques, so that the treatment and surgeries become more easier," said Titiyal.


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