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Health Bulletin


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  1. #1901
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Tamil Nadu at number 5: 7,000 die of brain fever in 5 years

    More than 7,000 people, mostly children, have died across the country since 2010 because of acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) and Japanese encephalitis (JE). These are different forms of brain fever, some of which are preventable.

    Encephalitis is a general term for a range of diseases that causes inflammation of the brain. JE, one of the main diseases causing AES, is a viral infection spread mainly through Culex mosquito bites.

    Data obtained by TOI from the Union health ministry through an RTI application shows Uttar Pradesh, with 18,170 reported cases and 3,071 deaths, tops the chart, followed by Assam (9,063 cases; 1,780 deaths), Bihar (3,574 cases; 997 deaths) and West Bengal (6,855 cases; 836 deaths). Tamil Nadu leads in the southern region, with 2,830 cases and 123 deaths, while Karnataka (1,008 cases; two deaths), Andhra Pradesh (673 cases; 20 deaths) and Kerala (239 cases; 30 deaths) fare better. Maharashtra has relatively less number of cases (115), but curiously almost half of the patients (46) died.Delhi had it under control, saving all the nine reported patients.

    Statistics show the number of cases and deaths due to JE in the country has increased from 555 cases and 112 deaths in 2010 to 1,652 cases and 292 deaths in 2014. While the number of AES cases doubled from 5,167 in 2010 to 10,834 in 2014, the number of deaths has increased from 679 in 2010 to 1,726 in 2014.

    Dr T Jacob John, retired head of clinical virology , Christian Medical College, Vellore, said brain fever is often preventable. "JE is caused by the JE virus. However, AES is a broader term used to report cases in JE endemic areas, during JE outbreaks, in the absence of a lab test. It is only a `reporting form entry' and not a disease by itself." He said the misuse of the term AES is rampant and any acute brain disease (like JE, non-JE encephalitis, non-infectious encephalopathies, pyogenic meningitis, TB, viral and cerebral malaria) may be called AES in different places.

    Union health minister J P Nadda recently said the Centre was serious about curtailing JE and AES. He promised financial and technical assistance, especially to vulnerable states like UP , Tamil Nadu, Assam, West Bengal and Bihar.

    The ministry's data released in December last shows that a majority of the vulnerable states have failed to utilise funds under the national programme to prevent JE and AES.While UP did not divulge the expenditure, West Bengal and Bihar spent (less than 1%), Assam (less than 10%) and Tamil Nadu (49%) of the funds. JE mostly affects children below 15 years. Nearly 25% of affected children die and among survivors about 30%-40% suffer from physical and mental impairment.


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  2. #1902
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    New treatment for diabetes in offing

    Australian researchers have discovered a link between protein intake and improved control of blood glucose in mice, opening the way for potential new treatments for diabetes in human beings.

    Lead researcher Stefan Broer of Australian National University (ANU) said the findings show mice, with a reduced capacity to digest and absorb protein, are highly efficient at removing glucose from blood after a meal. "This is precisely what individuals with diabetes fail to do. This research has significant potential for the design of new drugs to treat type 2 diabetes," said professor Broer, from the ANU Research School of Biology.

    Around one million Australians suffer from type 2 diabetes and around two million more are at risk of developing the chronic condition, which can severely impact on lifestyle and lead to high BP and weight gain.

    Broer said the mice lacked a so-called transporter in the intestine that moves amino acids, the breakdown products of protein digestion, from the lumen of the intestine into the blood. This reduces the intake of protein and indirectly improves their efficiency at removing glucose from the blood. The mice also have reduced levels of cholesterol and fat in blood, which are typically elevated in obese people and can lead to the onset of diabetes.


  3. #1903
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    New test spots drug use from single fingerprint

    Scientists have developed a new, non-invasive test that can detect cocaine use through a simple fingerprint.

    The new fingerprint method can determine whether cocaine has been ingested rather than just touched.

    "The beauty of this method is that not only is it non-invasive and more hygienic than testing blood or saliva, it cannot be faked," said Melanie Bailey from the University of Surrey.

    By the very nature of the test, the identity of the subject is captured within the fingerprint ridge detail itself, he added.

    For the results, a team of researchers used different types of an analytical chemistry technique to analyse the fingerprints of patients attending drug treatment services.

    They tested these prints against more commonly used saliva samples to determine whether the two tests correlated.

    While previous fingerprint tests have employed similar methods, they have only been able to show whether a person had touched cocaine, and not whether they have actually taken the drug.

    When someone has taken cocaine, they excrete traces of benzoylecgonine and methylecgonine as they metabolise the drug and these chemical indicators are present in fingerprint residue.



    "We sprayed a beam of solvent onto the fingerprint slide to determine if these substances were present," Bailey added.

    It is anticipated that this technology could see the introduction of portable drug tests for law enforcement agencies to use within the next decade.

    The research was published in the journal Analyst.


  4. #1904
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Indians drinking alcohol up 55% in 20 years

    A global study has found out that alcohol consumption in India has risen by 55% over a period of 20 years. More worryingly, the young are getting initiated to alcohol much earlier, while more women are indulging in hazardous and binge drinking.

    The Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recently published a report examining the economic and health implications of alcohol use among its 34 member and a few non-member countries. Among a list of 40 nations, India got the third position, only after Russian Federation and Estonia, for shooting alcohol intake between 1992 and 2012. Countries that closely followed India were China, Israel and Brazil.

    The OECD report said heavy drinking was alarmingly on the rise among youth and women in many countries. "An increasing proportion of children experience alcohol and drunkenness at early ages. Girls have caught up with boys in the past 10 years," it stated.



    The percentage of under-15 boys who haven't had alcohol went down from 44% to 30%, while for girls it decreased from 50% to 31% in the 2000s. The trend of heavy drinking witnessed among the young of all countries has experts worried. "It can be dangerous and have long-term effects such as habit formation or other chronic conditions," said hepatologist Dr Aabha Nagral, who consults with Jaslok Hospital.

    Binge drinking among the youth has also been associated with increased possibilities of road accidents and disabilities in the report.

    Dr P C Gupta, director of Sekhsaria Institute of Public Health, quoted a WHO report which said about 30% of Indians consume alcohol, out of which 4-13% are daily consumers and up to 50% of these fall under the category of hazardous drinking.

    The OECD researchers evaluated that drinkers from member states were downing an equivalent of over nine litres of pure alcohol per year, which further rose by a few units if home brewed and illegal stocks were taken into account. "All of this amounts to drinking over 100 bottles of wine, or 200 litres of beer, in a year," the report stated. Interestingly, Indians featured much lower here as average consumption of pure alcohol hovered around 2.5-3 litres annually.

    The findings have set alarm bells ringing within the medical fraternity and health activists who are demanding a national policy to curb alcohol use, which is associated with over 200 ailments of the liver, heart, pancreas, brain, and even causing cancer. The report has pointed out how alcoholism cuts through classes and afflicts a poor man and an affluent woman alike.

    Head and neck cancer surgeon Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, who consults with Tata Memorial Hospital said, "Alcohol is causally related to cancers of the mouth, oropharynx, liver, oesophagus and breast. It is appalling that such a toxic and carcinogenic compound is being brazenly advertised and consumed by an ever-increasing number of youngsters without any warning."

    The rapid rise in alcohol consumption is also not without any economic ramifications. A developing nation, for instance, loses around 1% of its annual output due to lost productivity of drunken workers.

    The report, without delving much into who drank how much and what, said alcohol practices varied from country to country and depended on culture and practices. Nagral, however, said it was crucial to understand that the previously-followed British Society of Gastroenterology guidelines, which suggested consuming three units a day for men and two units for women as relatively safe, may no longer be the thumb-rule. "The alcohol concentration may vary or the quantities may not be same. More importantly, we have noticed that even with moderate drinking one can develop liver disease over a period of time," she said. "The fact that alcohol consumption for youngsters or women is no longer a taboo in our society has brought about the big shift in trend," Nagral said.

    A silver lining, though, as stated in the report, is that if users can cut down even one unit of alcohol per week, it can bring about a great difference to the disease graph.


  5. #1905
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Cancer-fighter rice, grown in Bengal

    Cancer patients may soon have an organic way to fight the dreaded disease. Black rice, a heritage variety of Bengal rice, is known for its high amount of antioxidants that prevent cancer.

    Anupam Paul, Assistant Director of Agriculture, Agriculture Training Centre, Fulia said, "Black rice has a high amount of antioxidants that help in fighting diseases like cancer. It is still in the process of experimentation. Once it is completely proven, we might grow more of this."

    The source of these antioxidants are yellow pigments, which contain anthocyanins in the hull of the rice. Black rice is different from other organic rice as it has the highest amount of iron and zinc.

    Paul mentioned that most doctors treating cancer patients are not aware of the fact that black rice has minerals that are anti-cancerous. "The lack of marketing has led to this. Had people known about the positive effects, they would have opted for this. We are trying our best to reach out to doctors," said Paul.

    Nirupam Das, an ex-government employee, said, "I buy only organic rice. I am a diabetic patient and my doctor has recommended organic rice and vegetables to avoid falling prey to kidney malfunction."

    This is the only form of Japonica rice served in Bengal and it is not just used as a medicine. Black rice also helps diabetics.

    The seeds of black rice are mainly sourced from Manipur and Thailand. Das said he has been harvesting black rice since 2008.

    The 'folk rice and seeds festival', which hosted the organic food forum at Seva Kendra recently, had around 1,000 varieties of rice on display. More than 150 farmers and seed savers from Bengal, Assam, Odisha, UP, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand were part of this festival.

    Permanent counters will soon be set up in Baghbajar Ramakrishna Mission and Ballygunge Bharat Sevashram Sangha, where non-perishable organic items like rice, pulses and their products will be available directly from the farmers.


  6. #1906
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    GFSU scholar develops technology that can pinpoint time of death

    Determining the time of death is crucial in a number of criminal cases. It not only prompts the investigators in assessing the situation in which the death had taken place but also helps them zero in on the suspects.

    A method cited in the doctoral thesis of Ashima Mathur who recently got her PhD on 'Estimation of time since death using cardiac troponin I' from Gujarat Forensic Sciences University (GFSU), promises to be boon for forensic investigators. University officials said that they have applied for a patent for the method that might make the estimation of time of death more accurate.

    "Troponin, along with calcium ions, controls muscle contraction. Cardiac Troponin (cTn) works as an indicator of current or probable heart conditions. Troponin tests have been conducted for past one decade to diagnose the heart diseases and to know its extent. We decided to know troponin properties through gold nanoparticle sensors and create a spectrograph that can indicate its degradation pattern giving us probable time when the heart stopped beating," says Mathur.

    According to the study, the analysis of the given sample of troponin can accurately pinpoint the time of death up to 96 hours (four days). After the experiments on rats, the method was replicated for post-mortem of humans that has shown encouraging results.

    Professor Y K Agrawal, director of Institute of Research and Development, GFSU, and the guide in the research, told TOI that the gold nanoparticles were designed specifically to react to troponin. "We now want to create a model for its practical use that can give the results on the same day. We have applied to get patent for the method," he said.

    At the moment, the methods used by doctors to determine the estimated time of death include Algor mortis (gradual decrease in body temperature after death), Rigor mortis (physio-chemical change that causes stiffening of the body after death), Livor mortis (lividity or setting of blood in the lower portion of the body causing purple discoloration of skin), Supravital reaction of the tissues, study of post-mortem decomposition or putrefaction of the body, and study of biochemical reactions after death.


  7. #1907
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    பாரம்பரிய மருத்துவத்தை மேம்படுத்த ரூ.5,000 கோடி: மத்திய அரசு

    இந்தியப் பாரம்பரிய மருத்துவத் துறையை ("ஆயுஷ்') மேம்படுத்த ரூ.5,000 கோடி ஒதுக்கப்பட்டுள்ளதாக மத்திய அரசு தெரிவித்துள்ளது.

    மும்பையில் ஞாயிற்றுக்கிழமை நடைபெற்ற நிகழ்ச்சியொன்றில் பங்கேற்ற மத்திய பாரம்பரிய மருத்துவத் துறை ("ஆயுஷ்') இணையமைச்சர் ஸ்ரீபாத் நாயக், இதுகுறித்து கூறியதாவது:

    மருத்துவ குணங்கள் கொண்ட மூலிகைச் செடிகளை உலகிலேயே இந்தியாவும், சீனாவும்தான் அதிகமாகப் பயன்படுத்துகின்றன. இந்தியப் பாரம்பரிய மருத்துவப் பொருள்களின் விற்பனை கடந்த 10 ஆண்டுகளில் 25 சதவீதம் அதிகரித்துள்ளது.

    சீனாவின் பாரம்பரிய மருத்துவத்தை உலக நாடுகள் சுலபமாக ஏற்றுக்கொண்டு விட்டன. ஆனால், இந்தியப் பாரம்பரிய மருத்துவம் உலக அளவில் ஏற்றுக்கொள்ளப்படுவதில் சற்று பின்தங்கியுள்ளது.

    இதற்கான காரணங்களைக் கண்டறிந்து உலக அரங்கில் இந்தியப் பாரம்பரிய மருத்துவத்தை கொண்டு சேர்க்க மத்திய அரசு நடவடிக்கை எடுத்து வருகிறது.
    ஆயுர்வேதம், சித்தா, யுனானி, யோகா, ஹோமியோபதி உள்ளிட்ட பாரம்பரிய மருத்துவங்களுக்கென மத்திய சுகாதார அமைச்சகத்தில் புதிய துறையை ஏற்படுத்தியதுடன் மத்திய அரசு நிற்கவில்லை. அதை மேம்படுத்துவதற்கான தேசியத் திட்டத்தையும் அரசு தொடங்கியுள்ளது.

    ஆயுர்வேத சிகிச்சை முறைகள் தொடர்பான விழிப்புணர்வை மக்களிடம் ஏற்படுத்த ஆயுர்வேத தினத்தைக் கொண்டாடுவது குறித்து அரசு திட்டமிட்டு வருகிறது என்றார் அவர்.


  8. #1908
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    "புற்றுநோய்க்கு நாள்தோறும் 1,300 பேர் மரணம்'

    நாட்டில் புற்றுநோயால் பாதிக்கப்பட்டு நாள்தோறும் 1,300 பேர் உயிரிழந்து வருகின்றனர் என்று மருத்துவ ஆய்வறிக்கையில் தெரிவிக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது.
    இதுகுறித்து இந்திய மருத்துவ ஆராய்ச்சி கவுன்சிலின் அறிக்கையில் கூறப்பட்டுள்ள
    தாவது:

    முறைப்படுத்தப்படாத வாழ்க்கை முறை, புகையிலை மற்றும் புகையிலைப் பொருள்களைப் பயன்படுத்துதல், உணவு முறையை சரியாகப் பின்பற்றாதது, மருத்துவப் பரிசோதனைகளைச் செய்து கொள்ளாதது உள்ளிட்டவற்றால் புற்றுநோயால் இறப்போரின் எண்ணிக்கை அதிகரித்து வருகிறது.

    கடந்த 2012 முதல் 2014-ஆம் ஆண்டு வரை புற்றுநோயால் இறப்போரின் விகிதம் 6 சதவீதமாக உயர்ந்தது.

    2014-ஆம் ஆண்டில் சுமார் 5 லட்சம் பேர் புற்றுநோயால் இறந்துள்ளனர்.
    நோய் குறித்து விழிப்புணர்வு ஏற்படுத்த சிறப்பு ஆலோசனைகளை வழங்கும் குழுவை மேம்படுத்த, மருத்துவ வசதிகளை வலுப்படுத்த, கடந்த 2013-14-ஆம் ஆண்டு மத்திய அரசு புதிய திட்டத்துக்கு ஒப்புதல் வழங்கியிருந்தது.
    அதிக உயிரிழப்புகளை ஏற்படுத்தும் நோய்களின் வரிசையில் காசநோய் இரண்டாம் இடத்தில் உள்ளது.

    இந்த நோய்க்கான மருத்துவப் பரிசோதனைகள், சிகிச்சைகள், காசநோய் எதிர்ப்பு மாத்திரைகள் ஆகியவற்றை அரசு இலவசமாக வழங்கி வருகிறது என்று அந்த அறிக்கையில் கூறப்பட்டுள்ளது.


  9. #1909
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    No evidence for Vitamin D benefit claims: study

    There is little evidence that vitamin D can help with health conditions other than bone fractures, and people may be given doses unnecessarily, according to a new Australian research.

    Two researchers in Australia found further studies were needed to establish any link between Vitamin D deficiency and cancer risk, diabetes and infections, ABC news reported today.

    The study was conducted by Royal Perth Hospital consultant pathologist and endocrinologist Paul Glendenning and University of Western Australia academic Gerard Chew.

    "Unfortunately there is not been many randomised clinical trials which is the highest level of evidence that we need before we start to advise individuals they should be taking supplementation to prevent those sort of diseases," Glendenning said.

    He said it was possible people were being unnecessarily tested and treated for low vitamin D levels.

    "We need to be identifying those individuals that are going to be benefit from testing, and when we've tested those individuals, if their vitamin level is low, treat them," he added.

    "While there are many studies exploring the link between extraskeletal diseases and vitamin D absorption, there is a risk of "reverse causation" skewing results and more research is needed," the study said.

    "Illness can result in the contraction of outdoor activities, reduced sunlight exposure and, accordingly, low 25(OH)D concentration may be a consequence, rather than a cause, of disease," it added.

    Glendenning said their work, published in the Medical Journal of Australia, did find some clear benefits of the vitamin.

    "There is a pretty much consistent message that calcium with vitamin D reduces fractures and has effects on fall rates," he said.

    In another article, the two scientists said frail, older patients with the highest likelihood of injury during a fall were most likely to benefit from supplements.

    "There are specific sub groups within the population that are well worthwhile testing, but at the moment, we are awaiting more data before we adopt a routine population-wide type screening program," Glendenning said.

    The article stated over 2,000 peer-reviewed articles have been published on the topics of vitamin D testing, deficiencies and benefits within the past 12 months.


  10. #1910
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Women at risk of hypertension: Experts

    Meeting work deadlines, taking care of household chores, looking after families and juggling multiple responsibilities has earned women the adjective of the most efficient multi-taskers. The persistently elevated levels of stress, together with other lifestyle factors such as lack of physical activity, sleep deprivation, skipping of meals and consumption of unhealthy diet makes women extremely prone to disorders such as hypertension and heart disease.

    It is important to educate women about the need to give priority to their health, and get their blood pressures regularly examined, say experts.

    "We find a prevalent myth among people that women are not as prone to hypertension and heart disease as men are. This is not correct. Hypertension is equally prevalent among men and women. Also, after menopause, women tend to become more susceptible to hypertension. However, a number of women we see rarely get their blood pressures regularly checked. Many are unaware that they have hypertension until a heart related incident happens. This is dangerous. We need to educate women about the need for regular heath check-ups including blood pressure checks," said consultant internal medicine expert Arvind Patil of Columbia Asia hospital.

    The single most prominent risk factor for cardiovascular disease is hypertension or constantly elevated blood pressure levels. Yet, hypertension is often underestimated and undiagnosed, especially among women.

    "Heart attacks are generally more severe in women than in men. And, most of them are due to hypertension. However, many women may not experience the same symptoms like men such as chest pain of pain before the attack. Owing to the change in lifestyle, the prevalence of hypertension in women has increased. We record more number of heart diseases in women either caused due to undiagnosed hypertension or ignored hypertension. One major factor leading to rise in women's health issues is increasing stress due to multiple roles and lack of responsibility sharing by spouses or partners," Patil said.

    For the women who have achieved menopause, the risk of developing hypertension is higher as compared to women under the age of 50 years. In women between the ages of 50 and 74 years, the prevalence of hypertension is as high as 58%. Post menopause, the level of estrogen decreases significantly. The drop in estrogen level instigates high blood pressure and brings detrimental changes in cholesterol levels.

    Estrogen is associated with good cholesterol and keeping the bad cholesterol in check. Therefore, with low estrogen, the level of bad cholesterol increases making the heart prone to diseases. Menopause can also lead to diabetes in women, as it makes then resistant to insulin, which further exposes them to the risk for heart disease and stroke.


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