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Health Bulletin


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  1. #2031
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Cancer treatment gets mini-accelerator boost

    Researchers at Cern are developing a new particle accelerator, just two metres long, that can be used in hospitals for imaging and the treatment of cancer.

    Cern, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, in Switzerland is home to the Large Hadron Collider, the world's largest and most powerful particle accelerator.

    The mini-Linac will consist of four modules, each 50cm long, the first of which has already been constructed. "With this first module we have validated all of the stages of construction and the concept in general," said Serge Mathot of the Cern engineering department.

    The miniature accelerator is a radiofrequency quadrupole (RFQ), a component found at the start of all proton accelerator chains. RFQs are designed to produce high-intensity beams. The challenge for the mini-Linac was to double the operating frequency of the RFQ in order to shorten its length, which had never before been achieved.

    "Thanks to new beam dynamics and innovative ideas for the radiofrequency and mechanical aspects, we came up with an accelerator de sign that was much better adapted to the practical requirements of medical applications," said Alessandra Lombardi, in charge of the design of the RFQ. The mini-RFQ can produce low-intensity beams, with no significant losses, of just a few microamps that are grouped at a frequency of 750 MHz. These specifications make it a perfect injector for the new generation of high-frequency, compact linear accelerators used for the treatment of cancer with protons. It will also be capable of accelerating alpha particles for advanced radiotherapy.


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  2. #2032
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    'One in 200 pregnancies are fatal'

    One in 200 pregnancies have complications leading to maternal deaths, according to reports discussed at a conference held by Apollo Hospitals on Sunday. The conference 'Critical Care for Women' highlighted the need for awareness on complications during pregnancy and child birth. Despite medical and scientific advancements, there are still concerns of maternal deaths that arise due to complications in sugar levels, blood pressure and other problems.

    According to reports, over the years, Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) has been brought down from 48 deaths per 1000 live births in 1998-99 to 21 births per 1,000 live births in 2012, stating Tamil Nadu has been making progress in reducing infant mortality and improving child health. Maternal mortality rate, with additional skilling and learning, will also reduce in the coming years.

    Apollo Hospital Critical Care Services director %Dr N Ramakrishnan said, "Post-partum hemorrhage, sepsis and eclampsia are some of the causes of maternal mortality. The gap lies in not just identifying the complications that arise during pregnancies but also supplementing care givers with the necessary education and skills to treat those complication."


  3. #2033
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Misuse of antibiotics toughens up acnes

    Use of antibiotics to treat acne can have serious consequences, new research suggests.

    In India, dermatologists often prescribe antibiotics of all sorts to treat skin diseases. High-end antibiotics like azithromycin (normally used to treat sore throat and respiratory infections) are also used. This, however, proves counterproductive, say experts, as a microorganism develops resistance to the drugs.

    "Azithromycin is only approved for upper respiratory tract infection. Its use for acne is not recommended anywhere in the world and is totally off label. But many dermatologists prescribe it to patients for quicker results, thus creating a resistance out of nothing," said Dr Kabir Sardana, skin specialist at Maulana Azad Medical College.

    He said research has revealed that oral antibiotics exert selective pressure for resistance development at sites where there is normal microflora. "In addition, the risk of an upper respiratory tract infection in individuals who use an antibiotic to treat acne has been shown to be about two-times higher than in those not using antibiotics," Dr Sardana added.

    According to Dr Anoop Misra, chairman, Fortis C-Doc Centre for Diabetes, Obesity, Metabolic Diseases and Endocrinology, drug-resistance is common in bacteria causing diseases like typhoid, pneumonia, wound infections, urinary tract infections, septicaemia and abscesses. "There is no government control on sale and purchase of even high-end antibiotics. People buy them over-the-counter for common fever or diarrhoea without prescription," he said, adding that many private practitioners prescribe higher antibiotics unnecessarily, disregarding its consequences.

    Health experts say no new groups of antibiotics have been developed since the 1990s. "Carbapenem is the last group of antibiotics developed worldwide. After that there have been modifications to the available drugs. On the other hand, there is increase in drug-resistant microorganisms. New Delhi Metallo-B-Lactamose 1 (NDM1) is just one of the examples," said Dr Misra.


  4. #2034
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    'Happy hormone' can kill cancer tumours, discover Kol-born scientists


    A 14-year study by two Kolkata-born scientists has led them to discover that dopamine -known as the happy hormone -can also kill tumours, putting them on the verge of one of the most significant medical discoveries ever.

    Trials on mice have been successful, say researchers Partha Dasgupta and Sujit Basu. If human trials succeed, cancer cure will get significantly cheaper -a chemo course costs lakhs, while a vial of dopamine comes for just Rs 25.

    Dasgupta is an emeritus professor with Chittaranjan National Cancer Research Institute and Basu, a professor at Wexner Medical Centre, Ohio State University. Like penicillin -said to be the biggest medical discovery in history -the cancer-killing property of dopamine was discovered almost by accident, when the duo was carrying out random tests to analyze the hormone.


    opamine is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate movement and emotions. The duo says it also starves cancerous tumours of blood, causing them to shrink and eventually vanish. "Tumour cells multiply rapidly, making them swell very fast. We concluded that if the growth of blood vessels can be checked, tumours will stop growing and disappear. In animal-model experiments, we observed that dopamine acted very well on cancerous tumours, effectively countering vascular endothelial growth factor (that helps tumours grow)," said Dasgupta.

    But dopamine fluctuation could lead to serious disorders like Parkinson's disease. "We need to know more about its efficacy in the long-run," said oncologist Gautam Mukhopadhyay.


  5. #2035
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Spicy food may lower risk of early death: study


    Eating spicy food regularly may reduce your risk of death from cancer, heart diseases and diabetes, a new study of over 485,000 people in China has claimed.

    An international team led by researchers at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences examined the association between consumption of spicy foods as part of a daily diet and the total risk and causes of death.

    They undertook a prospective study of 487,375 participants, aged 30-79 years, from the China Kadoorie Biobank. Participants were enrolled between 2004-2008 and followed up for morbidities and mortality.

    All participants completed a questionnaire about their general health, physical measurements, and consumption of spicy foods, and red meat, vegetable and alcohol.

    Participants with a history of cancer, heart disease, and stroke were excluded from the study, and factors such as age, marital status, level of education, and physical activity were accounted for.

    During a median follow-up of 7.2 years, there were 20,224 deaths.

    Compared with participants who ate spicy foods less than once a week, those who consumed spicy foods 1 or 2 days a week were at a 10 per cent reduced risk of death.

    And those who ate spicy foods 3 to 5 and 6 or 7 days a week were at a 14 per cent reduced risk of death.

    In other words, participants who ate spicy foods almost every day had a relative 14 per cent lower risk of death compared to those who consumed spicy foods less than once a week, researchers said.

    The association was similar in both men and women, and was stronger in those who did not consume alcohol.

    Frequent consumption of spicy foods was also linked to a lower risk of death from cancer, and ischaemic heart and respiratory system diseases, and this was more evident in women than men.

    Fresh and dried chilli peppers were the most commonly used spices in those who reported eating spicy foods weekly, and further analysis showed those who consumed fresh chilli tended to have a lower risk of death from cancer, ischaemic heart disease, and diabetes.

    Some of the bioactive ingredients are likely to drive this association, the authors said, adding that fresh chilli is richer in capsaicin, vitamin C, and other nutrients. But they caution against linking any of these with lowering the risk of death.

    This is an observational study so no definitive conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect, but the authors call for more research that may "lead to updated dietary recommendations and development of functional foods," researchers wrote in the study published in the journal BMJ.

    Previous research has suggested that beneficial effects of spices and their bioactive ingredient, capsaicin, include anti-obesity, antioxidant, anti-inflammation and anticancer properties.


  6. #2036
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Lose weight, prevent cancer by breastfeeding, say docs


    While lifestyles and work schedules might have changed over the years, doctors still vouch that breastfeeding is the best bet for a newborn. With August being World Breastfeeding Month, women are encouraged to continue breastfeed their newborn atleast till the baby is a year old.

    Dr Bandita Sinha, consulting obstetrician and gynaecologist said that the advantages of breastfeeding are tremendous. Not only does it help the new mother lose weight due to a high rise in metabolism but it also helps the uterus to return to its normal size quicker - at about six weeks compared with 10 weeks if the new mother doesn't breastfeed. "Since breast milk contains 20 calories per ounce, if you feed your baby 20 ounces a day, that's 400 calories you've swept out of your body," Dr Sinha said.

    She added that with more women getting back to work soon after delivery, it can be a cumbersome task "but the trend of using a breast pump is gradually catching up in India". Dr Sinha also said using a breast pump may be only way in which a premature baby can receive the mother's milk.

    Consulting gynaecologist Dr Shilpa Patil said that breastfeeding also helps prevent breast cancer. "I advise that a child should be breast-fed for atleast a year. Often mothers experience a shortage of milk, in that case a milk powder substitute is recommended," she added. But Dr Patil said that a mere five women in 100 have this problem, and in some cases, mothers go into depression. "Some mothers who express disinterest in breaatfeeding but we strongly recommend it, even if time is a constraint," she added.


  7. #2037
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Eating white bread, rice ups depression risk in women

    Consuming foods rich in refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and white rice, may cause mood changes, fatigue and other symptoms of depression in postmenopausal women, a new study has warned. According to researchers, a diet high in refined carbohydrates may lead to an increased risk for new-onset depression in postmenopausal women.

    The study by James Gangwisch and colleagues in the department of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Centre (CUMC) looked at the dietary glycemic index, glycemic load, types of carbohydrates consumed, and depression in data from more than 70,000 postmenopausal women who participated in the US National Institutes of Health's Women's Health Initiative Observational Study between 1994 and 1998. Scientists said that while carbohydrates consumption normally increases blood sugar levels, eating highly refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, rice and junk food, triggers a hormonal response that affects the glycemic index.

    This then exacerbates changes in a woman's mood and triggers fatigue as well as other depression symptoms.

    Greater consumption of dietary fibre, whole grains, vegetables and non-juice fruits was associated with decreased risk, researchers said. This suggests that dietary interventions could serve as treatments and preventive measures for depression.

    Further study is needed to examine the potential of this novel option for treatment and prevention, and to see if similar results are found in the broader population.

    The study was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.


  8. #2038
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    'Breakups hit women harder, men just move on'

    Women experience more emotional pain following a breakup, but they also recover fully as compared to men, according to a new global survey which included respondents from India.

    Researchers from Binghamton University in New York and University College London asked 5,705 participants in 96 countries to rate the emotional and physical pain of a breakup on a scale of one (none) to 10 (unbearable).

    The five countries with the most respondents were the US (63 per cent), India (7 per cent), Canada (5 per cent), and the UK and Germany (3 per cent) each. Researchers found that women tend to be more negatively affected by breakups, reporting higher levels of both physical and emotional pain. Women averaged 6.84 in terms of emotional anguish versus 6.58 in men. In terms of physical pain, women averaged 4.21 versus men's 3.75.

    While breakups hit women the hardest emotionally and physically, they women tend to recover more fully and come out emotionally stronger. Men, on the other hand, never fully recover — they simply move on, researchers said. According to Craig Morris, research associate at Binghamton University and lead author of the study, the differences boil down to biology. Women have more to lose by dating the wrong person.

    "Put simply, women are evolved to invest far more in a relationship than a man," Morris said.

    "A brief romantic encounter could lead to nine months of pregnancy followed by many years of lactation for an ancestral woman, while the man may have 'left the scene' literally minutes after the encounter, with no further biological investment.

    "It is this 'risk' of higher biological investment that, over evolutionary time, has made women choosier about selecting a high-quality mate. Hence, the loss of a relationship with a high-quality mate 'hurts' more for a woman," Morris said.

    Conversely, as men have evolved to compete for the romantic attention of women, the loss of a high-quality mate for a man may not "hurt" as much at first, Morris said.

    "The man will likely feel the loss deeply and for a very long period of time as it 'sinks in' that he must 'start competing' all over again to replace what he has lost — or worse still, come to the realisation that the loss is irreplaceable," he said.

    Morris said that breakups are important because most of us will experience an average of three by age 30, with at least one affecting us strongly enough that it substantially decreases our quality of life for weeks or months.

    "People lose jobs, students withdraw from classes, and individuals can initiate extremely self-destructive behaviour patterns following a breakup," he said.

    "With better understanding of this emotional and physical response to a breakup — post relationship grief — we can perhaps develop a way to mitigate its effects in already high-risk individuals," he added.

    The study was published in the journal Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences.


  9. #2039
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Patient dies during live demo surgery at AIIMS, sparks ethics row


    The death of a patient who was operated upon by a Japanese surgeon as part of a live surgery workshop at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi last week has rekindled a debate on the ethics of organizing such workshops and the rights of patients on whom the procedures are carried out.

    At the workshop on July 31, part of the 23rd annual conference of the Indian National Association for Study of the Liver, hosted jointly by AIIMS and the Army Research & Referral Hospital, New Delhi, over a hundred surgeons watched as Dr Goro Honda, from Japan's Tokyo Metropolitan Cancer and Infectious Diseases Center, performed a laparoscopic liver resection at AIIMS. He was assisted by an Indian team led by Dr Sujoy Pal, an associate professor in the gastrointestinal surgery department of AIIMS.



    Laparoscopic liver resection involves the removal of the liver or a portion of it through three or four keyhole-sized incisions in the stomach.

    The surgery, which started at 9am, was being broadcast live to a hall full of surgeons. Honda's patient was 62-year-old Shobha Ram — a labourer who had developed liver cirrhosis after a hepatitis B infection. Ram was transferred to AIIMS from GB Pant Hospital which has a reputed GI surgery facility headed by Dr Anil Agarwal. Some time into the procedure, massive bleeding occurred and surgeons struggled to stanch the flow of blood.



    Despite suggestions that the team resort to an open surgery, Honda continued with the laparoscopic technique, relenting only after seven hours of surgery. The live video feed to the audience was terminated and the patient shifted to the intensive care unit, where he died 90 minutes later.

    Live surgery demonstrations have raised questions about the propriety of exposing a patient to a situation where the operating surgeons are intent on showcasing their skills live before an audience. In the United States, after the death of a patient in a similar workshop in 2006, some medical bodies have banned such operations.



    This incident at AIIMS has only added to the controversy. Questions are now being raised about the ethical and procedural aspects of the fatal workshop. Did the organizers take permission from the Medical Council of India (MCI) to allow a foreigner to conduct surgery? Could Ram have been saved if the surgeon had not insisted on continuing with the laparoscopic technique despite the bleeding? Was a post-mortem audit of the laparoscopic procedure carried out?

    Many questions relate to the pre-surgery diligence. Was Ram's assent sought to have him subjected to a demonstrative procedure carried out by a foreign surgeon and assisted by a team with little or no experience in the technique? (It is now learnt that given the inexperience of the AIIMS GI surgery department in laparoscopic liver resection, it would have been more prudent to have assembled an experienced team from outside the hospital for the workshop.)



    Was the patient selection process done meticulously? Was laparoscopic resection the most suitable procedure for treating Ram's condition or did the need to find a patient for the workshop override patient interest?

    When contacted, Dr Peush Sahni, head of the AIIMS GI surgery department, said that Ram's attending doctors had carried out a detailed preoperative assessment to ascertain the feasibility of removing the tumour surgically. Sahni said haemorrhage is a known complication of the procedure and that the mortality rate globally of laparoscopic resection in patients with cirrhosis is 5-10%. However, a questionnaire on the incident emailed to him remained unanswered. And until questions are asked and answered, perhaps the debate on live surgeries will only get more heated.


  10. #2040
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Sleep in side positions to avoid Alzheimer's

    Developing a simple practice of sleeping in the side-position, as compared to sleeping on one's back or stomach, may help you reduce the chances of developing Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other neurological disorders, says a study.

    The side or the lateral sleeping position is the best position to most efficiently remove waste or other harmful chemical solutes from the brain, the results said.

    The build-up of brain waste chemicals may contribute to the development of Alzheimer's disease and other neurological conditions.

    While it is increasingly acknowledged that sleep disturbances may accelerate memory loss in Alzheimer's disease, "our finding brings new insight into this topic by showing it is also important what position you sleep in", said one of the researchers Maiken Nedergaard from University of Rochester in New York, US.

    The researchers used dynamic contrast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to image the brain's glymphatic pathway, a complex system that clears wastes from the brain.

    "The analysis showed us consistently that glymphatic transport was most efficient in the lateral position when compared to the supine or prone positions," Helene Benveniste from New York's Stony Brook University said.

    "The lateral sleep position is already the most popular in human and most animals -- even in the wild -- and it appears that we have adapted the lateral sleep position to most efficiently clear our brain of the metabolic waste products that built up while we are awake," Nedergaard said.

    The study, therefore, adds further support to the concept that sleep subserves a distinct biological function of sleep and that is to 'clean up' the mess that accumulates while we are awake.

    The findings were detailed in the Journal of Neuroscience.


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