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Health Bulletin


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  1. #181
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Soaking up sun may help treat asthma

    Scientists have suggested that the amount of time that asthma patients spend in the sun may have an impact on their illness.

    A research team at King's College London said low levels of vitamin D - made by the body in sunlight - has been linked to a worsening of symptoms.

    Its latest research shows that the vitamin calms an over-active part of the immune system in asthma, the BBC reported.

    However, treatment of patients with vitamin D has not yet been tested.
    Prof Catherine Hawrylowicz and her group researched the impact that vitamin D has on a chemical in the body, interleukin-17 - a vital part of the immune system, which helps to ward off infections.

    But the chemical can cause problems when levels are too high, which has been strongly implicated in asthma.

    In the study, levels of interleukin-17 were brought down by vitamin D when it was added to blood samples taken from 28 patients.

    The clinical trials are now being conducted by the researchers to see if soaking up the sun can ease the symptoms of the patient.

    The study has been published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.


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  2. #182
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Pancreatic 'juices' can help detect cancer

    Scientists have developed a promising method to distinguish between pancreatic cancer and chronic pancreatitis - two disorders that are difficult to tell apart.

    A molecular marker obtained from pancreatic "juices" can identify almost all cases of pancreatic cancer, researchers at Mayo Clinic, Florida, have found.

    Pancreatic cancer and chronic pancreatitis both produce the same symptoms in the pancreas, such as inflammation.

    The researchers found that the altered gene CD1D was present in the pancreatic juices of 75% of patients later diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, but was present in only 9% of patients with chronic pancreatitis.


  3. #183
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    India’s mobile towers to be part of international radiation study

    Concerns about cell tower radiations in India will be part of an international research aimed at establishing whether such radiation has any ill-effect on human health.

    World Health Organisation's (WHO) research on the apparent adverse effects of electro-magnetic field (EMF) radiations from cell towers, which is expected to be completed next year, will be crucial in deciding if the radiations are carcinogenic and how far the towers should be located from human habitation.

    Hamadoun I. Toure, secretary general of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the world's apex telecom authority working closely with United Nations, at a recent interaction during a FICCI conference in New Delhi, said the WHO is the best judge to study radiation effects on human body and decide on how far cell towers should be located from human habitation.

    Confirming the development, Cellular Operators Association of India director general Rajan Mathew said his association and members would wholeheartedly support the WHO study.

    "We will provide all technical details about cell towers and their distances from human existence across India," said Mathew. If the exisiting ITU norms for radiations are followed, it does not cause any harm to people, he added.


  4. #184
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Video games may boost heart health in kids

    High-intensity active video games may improve cardiovascular health in children, according to a new study.

    While other studies have assessed children's energy expenditure and physical activity while playing active video games, this is the first study to measure the direct health benefits of high-intensity gaming on children's arteries.

    Researchers from the University of Western Australia with colleagues from Swansea University evaluated 15 children aged from 9 to 11 to determine whether high-intensity and low-intensity active video gaming - also known as exergaming - were good for cardiovascular function and health.

    Dr Louise Naylor and Michael Rosenberg, from UWA's School of Sport Science Exercise and Health, compared children's energy expenditure and heart rate when the children played both low-intensity and high-intensity active console video games and a session on a treadmill.

    The researchers found that children playing a high-intensity video game used as much energy as if they were exercising moderately, and that high-intensity gaming improved children's cardiovascular health and was a good form of activity for children to use to gain long-term and sustained health benefits.

    Importantly, the children who participated in the study said they enjoyed playing both low and high-intensity games and were likely to continue playing them.

    "Our research supports the growing notion that high-intensity activity is good for children and raises the potential for the inclusion of intensive exergames in the recommendations to improve health in children," Naylor said.

    The study was published in The Journal of Paediatrics.


  5. #185
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Premature aging of kids sets alarms ringing

    Toddlers with greying hair, an eight-year-old with high blood cholesterol, a pre-adolescent who has the physique of a 20-year-old - the signs are ominous. Biological clocks in children are ticking rapidly, and are the rate at which their organs are aging is faster than their chronological age.

    The country's medical fraternity may take pride in improved life expectancy, but the spurt in lifestyle diseases, especially among children, has resulted in premature aging. This means that the increased life expectancy doesn't necessarily translate into improved quality of life.

    "Every organ in the human body has an age. When a child suffers from lifestyle diseases like cholesterol and diabetes, his or her organs take a beating. So, the functionality of an eight-year-old child's organs is that of a 30-year-old," said Dr Kousalya Nathan, a lifestyle and anti-aging consultant, who is undertaking a study on premature and adolescent aging.

    Doctors say premature aging begins from the molecular level with wear and tear being witnessed in the DNA of children.

    "Cells of children are aging. This, in turn, is affecting their organs. The main cause is obesity, while the second is the sedentary lifestyle children lead," said Dr Nathan.

    Manifestations of these problems are evident with children as young as three sporting glasses, early signs of facial hair in boys, and early attainment of menarche. But doctors say there are no studies in India to establish it. "We are certainly treating more children with ailments usually associated with adults. Conditions such as cholesterol, type-2 diabetes and hypertension were seen in adults before. This could lead to stress on organs, but we are yet to do a comprehensive study on whether it induces aging," said Dr S Balasubramanian, senior paediatrics consultant, Kanchi Kamakoti CHILDS Trust Hospital in Chennai.


  6. #186
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Cold viruses become active in colder temperatures, scientists confirm

    Finally, there is scientific confirmation of what the world has always known. Researchers have confirmed that cold temperatures do trigger off the cold, that is, the most common global infection marked by runny noses, sniffles and sneezes.

    A team from Yale scientists found that cold temperatures dampen the body's natural defenses against a rhinovirus, the leading cause of seasonal colds, the scientific journal Nature has reported. Their experiments were done on mice and artificially grown human cells from respiratory tract.
    "What we show here is a temperature-dependent interaction between the host and the virus," says team leader Ellen Foxman, according to Nature. The research findings were presented at an American Society of Microbiology conference in Denver, Colorado.

    Although it is well established that colds are more common in autumn and winter, when temperatures are lower, but efforts to link the rhinovirus to temperature fluctuations have not succeeded. Some studies have shown that exposure to cold temperature will spark off the sneezing and sniffles, while others could not find any connection.

    There are over 200 viruses that can cause the common cold. The rhinovirus is responsible for 30 to 50 percent of cases. But scientists have discovered more than 100 types of rhinoviruses, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, affiliated to the US government's National Institutes of Health.

    What is new in the Yale study is that for the first time an explanation has been given for the link between colder temperatures and virus activity. Foxman and her colleagues discovered that at warmer temperatures mice infected with the rhinovirus produced a burst of antiviral immune signals, which activated natural defenses that fought off the virus, Nature reported. But at cooler temperatures, the mice produced fewer antiviral signals and the infection could persist.

    Experimenting with human airway cells in the lab under cold and warm conditions the researchers infected them with rhinovirus. They found the warm infected cells were more likely to undergo programmed cell death - cell suicide brought on by immune responses aimed at limiting the spread of infections - than the cold-infected cells, Nature reported.

    So, the explanation for getting cold more in winters is that as humans breathe in the colder air which chills the upper airways and sets the table for the rhinoviruses to start getting active.

    Nature quoted virologist Vincent Racaniello of Columbia University as saying that temperature is probably just one of several factors that explain how rhinoviruses spread. "Simple answers like this are never the whole story," he told Nature.


  7. #187
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Can practice make perfect? Jury is out

    The old adage "practice makes perfect" may not hold true, according to a study which found that natural talent and other factors are more likely to play a role in mastering an activity. Researchers from Michigan State University found that a copious amount of practice is not enough to explain why people differ in level of skill in two widely studied activities, chess and music.


    The debate over how people become experts has existed for decades. Many argue that hours of practice is sufficient to achieve elite status, but the research showed otherwise. The team analyzed 14 studies of chess players and musicians, looking specifically at how practice was related to differences in performance. Practice, the team found, accounted for only about one-third of the differences in skill in both music and chess.

    The researchers said that it could perhaps be explained by factors such as intelligence or innate ability.


  8. #188
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Babies sleeping with their parents - a practise common among Indian families, increase cot death risk five-fold

    It does not matter whether you smoke.

    Sleeping alongside your new born child - a practise common among Indian families, increases the baby's risk of cot death five-fold.

    Rates of sudden infant death would plummet if parents avoided bed sharing, scientists have now found.

    A study published today in the British medical journal said that bed sharing with parents is linked to a five-fold increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), even when the parents are non-smokers and the mother has not been drinking alcohol and does not use illegal drugs.

    While the rate of SIDS has fallen sharply following advice to parents to place babies to sleep on their back (supine), SIDS remains the major cause of infant death in the postneonatal period (28 days through to the first birthday) in developed countries.

    Some countries, such as the Netherlands and the USA, advise parents not to sleep in the same bed as infants less than three months old, whereas others, such as the UK and Australia, advise only certain parents not to bed share with their young infants, including smokers and those who have been drinking alcohol or taking drugs.

    Professor Bob Carpenter of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, lead author however adds that they in no way suggest that babies should not be brought into the parent's bed for comfort and feeding.

    "This has been investigated in previous studies and has not been found to be a risk factor, provided the infant is returned to his or her own cot for sleep," they write.

    "The current messages saying that bed sharing is dangerous only if you or your partner are smokers, have been drinking alcohol or taking drugs that make you drowsy, are very tired or the baby is premature or of low-birth weight, are not effective," they say and call for recommendations "that take a more definitive stance against bed sharing for babies under three months".

    The authors estimate that around 88% of all SIDS deaths while bed sharing would not have occurred if bed sharing had been avoided.

    The risk of SIDS while bed sharing decreased as the age of the infant rose, but if either parent was a smoker or the mother had drunk alcohol (two or more units in the last 24 hours) or used illegal


  9. #189
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Passive smoking can make kids aggressive

    Children who are exposed to secondhand smoke in early childhood are more likely to grow up to be physically aggressive and antisocial, a new study has warned.

    Researchers from University of Montreal in Canada found that aggressive behaviour in kids was linked specifically to secondhand smoke exposure in childhood regardless of whether they were exposed during pregnancy or their parents have a history of being antisocial.

    "Secondhand smoke is in fact more dangerous that inhaled smoke, and 4% of children worldwide are exposed to it.

    "Moreover, exposure to this smoke at early childhood is particularly dangerous, as the child's brain is still developing," said researcher Linda Pagani.


  10. #190
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Pop this pill to prevent brain aging, prolong life

    A pill that can mimic the beneficial effects of calorie restriction may help prevent brain aging and even prolong life span, a new study has claimed.


    Previous studies have suggested that sharply reducing calorie intake, by as much as 40% could slow aging in cells and may even prolong life span. Now, researchers say they have found a way to mimic the beneficial effects of calorie restriction on the brain with a drug.

    The pill can activate an enzyme in brain cells, and the study showed the drug delayed both the cognitive impairment associated with aging and Alzheimer's disease, and the loss of nerve cells that happens with ageing, 'MyHealthNewsDaily' reported. The new study done in mice suggests scientists could develop drugs that stave off decline in human brain function.

    Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology focused on how calorie restriction affects brain cells. They showed that restricting the calorie intake of laboratory mice by 30% boosted levels of an enzyme in the brain, and delayed the loss of nerve cells that can accompany decline in brain function. The calorie-deprived mice also did better on memory tests, compared with their well-fed counterparts.

    Researchers fed the mice a regular diet, but also gave them the enzyme-blocking drug.

    These mice had better functioning brain cells, and did better on cognitive tests, just as the mice that were fed a calorie-restricted diet.

    A 'brain switch' for changing behaviour found

    Researchers have discovered a potential "switch" in the human brain which prompts us to change our behaviour instantly as per the situation. Investigators at the University of Michigan and Eli Lilly measured levels of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, which is involved in attention and memory, while rats monitored a screen for a signal.

    At the end of each trial, the rat had to indicate if a signal had occurred. Researchers noticed that if a signal occurred after a long period of monitoring or "non-signal" processing, there was a spike in acetylcholine in the rat's right prefrontal cortex. No such spike occurred for another signal occurring shortly afterwards.

    "In other words, the increase in acetylcholine seemed to activate or 'switch on' the response to the signal, and to be unnecessary if that response was already activated," said Cindy Lustig, one of the study's senior authors.

    Researchers repeated the study in humans using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which measures brain activity, and also found a short increase in right prefrontal cortex activity for the first signal in a series. To connect the findings between rats and humans, they measured changes in oxygen levels, similar to the changes that produce the fMRI signal, in the brains of rats performing the task.


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