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Health Bulletin


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  1. #1991
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Indians take to ‘unhealthy’ sugary beverages in a big way

    Traditional sweets such as jaggery, ladoos and their like may have been disappearing from the Indian plate but consumption of sugary beverages including energy drinks has increased, a trend found responsible for the rising number of deaths and disabilities worldwide. The annual per capita consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has increased from around 2 litres in 1998 to 11 litres in 2014, estimates by the Diabetes Foundation and Centre of Nutrition and Metabolic Research showed.

    The findings of the Indian study assumes significance in the light of a latest international study, published in Circulation journal, linking consumption of sugary drinks including sodas, fruit drinks, sports/energy drinks, sweetened iced teas etc to an estimated 184,000 adult deaths each year.

    Apart from these sugary beverages, Indians also consumed milkshakes, sweetened buttermilk or lassi which are high in calories and glycemic load, the Indian study showed.

    However, estimates showed the intake of traditional sweeteners and sweets have dropped over the years. The per capita consumption of traditional sugars such as jaggery and khandsari dropped from 8.72 kg per annum in 2001 to approximately 5 kg per annum in 2011.

    According to the study by Diabetes Foundation, easy availability of packaged sugary beverages including colas in rural and urban areas significantly contributed to higher per capita consumption. "The consumption pattern of sweets and beverages is rapidly changing among children as well. Importantly, sugar-sweetened beverages and other sugar-containing high calorie foods are easily available within and around school premises," the study said.

    Highlighting the role of mothers in deciding the food choices of children, it pointed towards a strong association between the dietary intake of children and their mothers. The study showed that any food or food preparation was considered "healthy" if it was "hygienically" prepared. Thus, mothers preferred packaged foods, including bottled beverages, over restaurant food.

    Food choices were also found to be significantly influenced by television advertisements, peer pressure, and the "fashion" for consuming "westernized" foods.

    According to the global study, increasing intake of sugary beverages was leading to complex lifestyle diseases like diabetes, heart disease and even cancer, resulting in more and more deaths.

    "High consumption of sugary beverages contributes to multiple metabolic disorders due to accrual of body fat, as well as directly through excess non-esterified fatty acids(NEFAs), which impair critical functioning of the liver, pancreas and cellular functions," Dr Anoop Misra, a leading endocrinologist and chairman of Fortis C-DOC Centre of Diabetes, said.

    Misra, who is also a researcher of the Indian study, said the impact of such beverages could be high on Indians because they already have higher NEFAs, insulin resistance, hepatic steatosis and dysglycemia than white Caucasians.


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  2. #1992
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Chennai scientists nail glaucoma gene

    A leading cause of blindness called primary angle closure glaucoma (PACG) has flummoxed doctors for years. Millions progressively lose vision because of elevated pressure in the eye, leading to draining of the eye fluid. Now, scientists at Vision Research Foundation of Sankara Nethralaya, Chennai, have identified three regions in the human genome associated with the condition.

    This, experts say, is the first step in understanding the genetics of glaucoma. Scientists, who are closely studying genes in the identified regions and their association with the condition, say it will eventually help in early diagnosis of the disease, besides planning intervention to prevent or correct the disorder.

    One of the sequence variants identified include PLEKHA7, a gene that plays an essential role in blood pressure regulation. About 80% of the estimated 15 million people afflicted with PACG live in Asia, and 11.2 million cases are reported from India.

    Vision Research Foundation A Jayamuruga Pandian said the variation in these regions possibly denote a defective gene. "There could be other reasons for PACG, but the gene variation is a clear indication," he said. Dr Agarwal's Eye Hospital chairman Dr Amar Agarwal said anyone aged above 40 years should go for regular eye tests to rule out PACG. "If a person has to change glasses every three months or has a rainbow hallow in vision, he/ she should get a check-up," he said.


  3. #1993
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Lab to check if Leptospirosis strain has mutated


    The National Leptospirosis Reference Centre (NLRC) at Port Blair will study the strain of leptospirosis circulating in the city, and whether it has undergone any mutation. After remaining largely invisible for the last four years, the bacterial infection has returned to claim 16 lives in July alone.

    BMC's laboratory at Kasturba Hospital has already begun communication with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) lab in Port Blair and will be sending the samples shortly. Currently, the lab at Kasturba is using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique to test whether or not a person is infected.

    "It is important to know what we are dealing with and whether the organism has changed. We are in the process of sending the samples," confirmed BMC's epidemiologist Dr Mini Khetarpal. Experts have been worried about lepto's high case fatality rate of 27%, which is nothing like the death rates seen in previous years. In 2014, it was 5% and the previous year to that around 1%.



    Khetarpal however said that while there is an increase in cases and death rates, it has to be taken into consideration that only samples of serious patients are being subjected to confirmatory tests. "Critical cases alone cannot be taken as a denominator to calculate the death rate," she said adding that there are more than 100 suspected cases of leptospirosis, which if taken into consideration, will bring down the fatality rate. "Due to heightened surveillance and additional testing of samples, more positive cases are being reported," she said. On Monday, six more positive cases were detected taking July's count to 54 and the year's tally to 59.

    Dr Jayanti Shastri, incharge of PCR laboratory said that the PCR technology does not tell much about the species. "We are hoping to find that out with help with the national lab," she said. The lab has a National Leptospira Repository, which maintains one of the world's largest collections of leptospiral reference strains and isolates.


  4. #1994
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Sitting for long may up cancer risk in women


    Spending more leisure time sitting is associated with a higher risk of multiple myeloma, breast cancer and ovarian cancer in women, a new large-scale study led by an Indian-origin scientist has found. The study, however, found no association between sitting time and cancer risk in men. While extensive research links physical activity to cancer prevention, few studies have examined the link between sitting time and the risk of specific cancers.

    For the study, researchers led by Alpa Patel from American Cancer Society, compared leisure time sitting to cancer risk among over 146,000 men and women (69,260 men and 77,462 women) who were cancer-free and enrolled in the American Cancer Society Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort. Between 1992 and 2009, 18,555 men and 12,236 women were diagnosed with cancer.

    The researchers found longer leisure-time spent sitting was associated with a 10% higher risk of cancer in women after adjustment for physical activity, Body Mass Index (BMI) and other factors. The association was not apparent in men.

    In women, sitting time was specifically associated with risk of multiple myeloma, invasive breast cancer, and ovarian cancer.

    Among men no association between sitting time and site-specific cancers was found. "Longer leisure-time spent sitting was associated with a higher risk of total cancer risk in women, and specifically with multiple myeloma, breast and ovarian cancers, but sitting time was not associated with cancer risk in men," the researchers concluded.


  5. #1995
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Baby's first stool can help predict future IQ score

    Analysis of a newborn's first stool can alert doctors whether a child is at risk of problems with intelligence and reasoning, new research shows.

    In particular, high levels of fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEE) found in the meconium (a newborn's first stool) from a mother's alcohol use during pregnancy can alert doctors that a child may develop cognitive problems in teenage years, the findings showed.

    "We wanted to see if there was a connection between FAEE level and their cognitive development during childhood and adolescence -- and there was," said one of the researchers Meeyoung Min, research assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University in the US.

    "FAEE can serve as a marker for fetal alcohol exposure and developmental issues ahead," Min added.

    "Detecting prenatal exposure to alcohol at birth could lead to early interventions that help reduce the effects later," Min said in the study published in the Journal of Paediatrics.

    The research is part of the ongoing Project Newborn study, a longitudinal research project has studied nearly 400 children for 20 years since their births in the mid-1990s.

    For this study, researchers analysed the meconium of 216 babies for levels of FAEE. They then gave intelligence tests at ages nine, 11 and 15. The researchers found a link between those with high levels of FAEE at birth and lower IQ scores.


  6. #1996
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    AIDS epidemic can end by 2030: UNAIDS


    UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday the world was headed for a "generation free of AIDS", after UNAIDS reported a 35-percent drop in new HIV infections from 15 years ago.

    The positive news was also coupled with calls for more funding, with the objective of eliminating the virus by 2030. The United Nations also warned that continuing stigmatisation of sex workers, drug users and homosexuals were barriers to progress.



    "The world has delivered. We have achieved and exceeded the goals regarding AIDS. We have 15 million people on HIV treatment," Ban said in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, where he is attending a global development summit.

    "We are on the way to a generation free of AIDS," Ban said. "The world has delivered on halting and reversing the AIDS epidemic. Now we must commit to ending the AIDS epidemic."



    According to the UNAIDS report released on Tuesday in Geneva, there have been remarkable strides since the advent in 1996 of anti-retroviral drugs, which suppress the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

    Though not a cure, the therapy creates a virtuous circle. The less the virus is in circulation, the less likely it is that people become infected.

    Although new HIV infections declined to two million in 2014 against 3.1 million 14 years ago and the number of new infections has noticeably decreased or remained stagnant, UNAIDS warned spending had plateaued.

    There are currently 36.9 million people living with HIV around the world. Around March this year, 15 million of them were accessing anti-retroviral therapy.

    "In 2011 world leaders called for reaching 15 million people with life-saving HIV treatment by 2015. And that is exactly what the world did - ahead of schedule," said UNAIDS chief Michel Sidibe in a report entitled "How AIDS changed everything."

    But the report said more needed to be done.

    "After a decade of unprecedented growth, financing for the AIDS response has levelled off. At the same time, the world now has compelling evidence that people with HIV benefit by accessing anti-retroviral therapy as early as possible," it said.

    UNAIDS said further increases and efficient reallocation were needed to address the "increased need of earlier initiation of anti-retroviral therapy" and called for AIDS spending of $32 billion (29 billion euros) annually between now and 2020 in the hope of eliminating the virus by 2030.

    "Stigma, discrimination and punitive laws continue to affect the people most impacted by HIV and to block their access to HIV services in every region of the world," the report said.

    "The criminalisation of sex work, drug use and same-sex sexual relationships among consenting adults hinders attempts to reach people at higher risk of HIV infection."

    Sidibe said he was hopeful that the next decade would "give us a more effective vaccine".

    The UN has set up an ambitious treatment target to help end the AIDS epidemic, aiming to ensure that 90 percent of all people living with HIV will know their status and that 90 percent of those diagnosed with HIV will receive anti-retroviral therapy.

    The third target is that 90 percent of all people receiving anti-retroviral therapy will have viral suppression.

    2015 is the deadline year for the Millennium Development Goals which in September 2000 rallied the world around a common 15-year agenda to tackle poverty and hunger, prevent deadly but treatable diseases and expand educational opportunities to all children.

    In September, world leaders will gather at the United Nations in New York to adopt a new agenda for sustainable development in which health is one of the top priorities.

    Sub-Saharan Africa remains the region worst hit by AIDS with 25.8 million people living with HIV. Last year, there were 1.4 million new HIV infections -- a 39 percent drop from 2000.

    Asia is a distant second with five million cases but there has been a recrudescence of new infections. Last year there were 340,000 new HIV infections and China, Indonesia and India accounted for 78 percent of them.

    Medical charity Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) hailed the strides made in the fight against AIDS but stressed that the world "cannot afford to lose any momentum".

    "In some countries where we work, HIV treatment coverage is as low as 17 percent, which stands in stark contrast to the UNAIDS goal of 90 percent treatment coverage," it said


  7. #1997
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    4 types of drunk personalities identified. Which one are you?


    Do you know which type of drunk you are - a menacing Mr Hyde or a friendly Mary Poppins? Psychologists have found that people turn into one of four character types when drunk.

    These include the Ernest Hemingway who is barely affected by excessive alcohol; the Mary Poppins who is friendly and compassionate and the Nutty Professor who is transformed from a quiet type to a confident extrovert. Worst of all is the menacing and hostile Mr Hyde, researchers said, adding that most people who fall into the last category were women.

    Psychologists at the University of Missouri-Columbia asked more than 360 men and women to complete a personality test: once when they were sober and once when they were drunk. The results showed that the largest group of drunks were the Hemingways, who changed very little. Hemingways were almost exactly as reliable, organized and prompt intoxicated as when they were sober, and they had very little trouble with their intellects, imaginations and abstract ideas.

    "Two previous studies have found that, on average, [intellect and conscientiousness] reportedly decrease the most with intoxication, so the moderate decreases demonstrated by this group make its members stand out as being 'less affected' than drinkers in some of the other groups - much like the author Ernest Hemingway, who claimed that he could 'drink hells any amount of whiskey without getting drunk'," researchers said.

    Named after a Disney movie character who is chemically transformed into an outgoing character, the Nutty Professors were transformed from quiet, introverted people to loud, brash drunks after a few drinks. The group includes far more men than women, 'The Times' reported.

    The Mary Poppins drunk could be guaranteed not to start a drunken argument or fall over in a bar and instead was a friendly, compassionate drinker.

    "They decrease less than average in conscientiousness, intellect and agreeableness when intoxicated," the researchers said.

    The umbrella-twirling nanny Mary Poppins is the lead character in a series of children's books written by P L Travers.

    The menacing Mr Hyde drunks, named after the sinister alter-ego of Dr Jekyll in R L Stevenson's 1886 novella, should be avoided at all costs. These are the hostile types who become more disagreeable with every drink and are most likely to experience blackouts or be arrested for drunk and disorderly behaviour.


  8. #1998
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Trip to dentist leaves man with 90-min memory


    In a 'never-before-seen case', reminiscent of the film "Momento", a man in the UK has been left with just 90-minutes of memory after a root-canal treatment at a dentist, researchers say.

    The incident left the 38-year-old man stuck in an endless loop of waking up and thinking he has a routine dental appointment. The amnesia patient suffered memory loss similar to that featured in movies such as "Groundhog Day" and "Memento".

    The patient was referred to Dr Gerald Burgess, a clinical psychologist from University of Leicester, a decade ago.

    "One of our reasons for writing up this individual's case was that we had never seen anything like this before in our assessment clinics, and we do not know what to make of it, but felt an honest reporting of the facts as we assessed them was warranted, that perhaps there will be other cases, or people who know more than we do about what might have caused the patient's amnesia," said Burgess.

    "Our experience was that none of our colleagues in neurology, psychiatry, and clinical neuropsychology could explain this case, or had seen anything like it themselves before," said Burgess, who collaborated with Bhanu Chadalavada, Consultant Psychiatrist at Northamptonshire Healthcare Foundation NHS Trust. The man had gone to a dentist for a routine procedure and lost the ability to create new memories. Since the one-hour root-canal treatment, during which he was given a local anaesthetic, the individual cannot remember anything beyond 90 minutes.

    He is fully aware of his identity and his personality did not change - but every day the man thinks it is the day of his dental appointment. He has to manage his life through an electronic diary and access to prompts.

    His symptoms are similar to patients suffering from anterograde amnesia. This is when damage to the bilateral hippocampal or diencephalon regions in the brain cause short spans of awareness as well as complete and rapid memory loss. Typically it is brought on by a specific event or trauma. He can remember his childhood, relationships and his children, up to the year 2005, but can't remember what happened more than an hour and a half ago.


  9. #1999
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Valve from cow’s heart gives new lease of life to 81-year-old woman

    A heart valve made from a cow's heart has given a new lease of life to an 81-year-old woman. The patient from Hyderabad, who was suffering from narrowing of the aortic valve, was operated upon at Frontier Lifeline Hospitals in Chennai last Saturday.

    "The procedure was a viable alternative to traditional open heart surgery for those who have severe aortic valve stenosis and belong to high surgical risk group," said Dr K M Cherian of Frontier Lifeline Hospitals.

    The woman, who had already undergone a valve replacement surgery 11 years ago, began to show symptoms of heart problems early this year. Though she approached several hospitals across the country, she could not get any positive response. "She came to us in April with complaints of severe breathlessness and repeated hospital admissions. Tests showed that her replaced aortic valve was narrow," said interventional cardiologist Dr R Anantharaman, who performed the surgery.



    Conventionally, an open heart surgery is performed to remove the diseased valve and replace it with a new one. However, considering the woman's age, doctors decided to perform a minimally invasive procedure. "We used a bio-prosthetic valve made from cow's heart tissue and fixed it by inserting a catheter through a big artery in her groin," said the doctor.

    The procedure was challenging considering the fact that the elderly woman already had a valve replacement surgery and had also undergone treatment for breast cancer a few years ago. "She had undergone radiotherapy and this had caused tissue in her chest to get stuck. This made her an extremely high risk case," said Dr Anantharaman. The doctor added that the difficulty arose as they had to re-do the valve replacement. "Usually when we are replacing a native valve, we simply remove the old valve and put in a new one. But in her case, we just placed the new valve inside the old one," he said.

    The procedure was performed by a four-member team over a period of three hours. The patient's condition stabilized post the procedure and she has been shifted to the general ward.


  10. #2000
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Medicines for diabetes, infections to cost 40% less


    Medicines widely used to treat diabetes, infections, pain and digestive disorders will cost 5-40% less with immediate effect, with the drug price regulator issuing an order to fix the prices of 39-odd formulations.

    The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority's (NPPA) order, issued on Wednesday, includes drug combinations such as ciprofloxacin hydrochloride, cefotaxime, paracetamol, domperidone and metformin + glimepiride and amoxycillin + potassium clavulanate.

    These drugs and combinations are marketed by companies such as Abbott, GlaxoSmithKline, Lupin, Cadila Healthcare, IPCA and Sun Pharma, among others. According to analysts, these drugs have a market size of around Rs 1,054 crore (moving annual total value).



    The NPPA order covers combinations of drugs under the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) and one non-NLEM drug under the Drug Price Control Order, 2013. While NPPA has fixed the ceiling prices of around 35-odd formulations, those of 3-4 other drugs have been revised, official sources in the department of pharmaceuticals, ministry of chemicals & fertilizers, told TOI.

    "The move impacts multinational drugmakers like Abbott Laboratories and GSK and domestic firms. The overall impact for companies would be minimal as these drugs do not form a significant portion of the overall sales of the company," Angel Broking VP (research — pharma) Sarabjit Kour Nangra said.



    The NPPA directive comes a day after the Supreme Court asked the Centre to re-examine its drug pricing policy for essential medicines, calling it "unreasonable and irrational".


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