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Health Bulletin


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  1. #2231
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Different countries, different definitions of `honesty`

    A new study has found that people's honesty varies significantly between countries.

    The University of East Anglia (UEA) research also suggests that honesty is less important to a country's current economic growth than during earlier periods in history.

    The study examined whether people from different countries were more or less honest and how this related to a country's economic development. More than 1500 participants from 15 countries took part in an online survey involving two incentivised experiments, designed to measure honest behaviour.

    The countries studied -- Brazil, China, Greece, Japan, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey, the United States, Argentina, Denmark, the United Kingdom, India, Portugal, South Africa, and South Korea -- were chosen to provide a mix of regions, levels of development and levels of social trust.

    Author David Hugh-Jones found evidence for dishonesty in all the countries, but that levels varied significantly across them. "Differences in honesty were found between countries, but this did not necessarily correspond to what people expected," he said.

    He noted that beliefs about honesty seem to be driven by psychological features, such as self-projection. Surprisingly, people were more pessimistic about the honesty of people in their own country than of people in other countries. One explanation for this could be that people are more exposed to news stories about dishonesty taking place in their own country than in others.

    Hugh-Jones added that people's beliefs about the honesty of their fellow citizens, and those in other countries, may or may not be accurate, and these beliefs can affect how they interact. For example, a country's willingness to support debt bailouts may be affected by stereotypes about people in the countries needing help. So it is important to understand how these beliefs are formed.

    The study has been presented at the London Experimental Workshop conference, hosted by Middlesex University London.


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  2. #2232
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Healthy breakfast boosts school performance: Study

    A good nutritious breakfast everyday may boost children's school performance by as much as twice the average, a new, largest ever study in Wales (UK) has found. The study involved recording the daily eating habits of nearly 5000 9-11 year-olds from more than 100 primary schools and following up on their Teacher Assessments 6-18 months later.

    A direct and positive link between pupils' breakfast quality and consumption, and their educational attainment, has been demonstrated for the first time in this study carried out by public health experts at Cardiff University and published in the journal Public Health Nutrition.

    The study found that children who ate breakfast, and who ate a better quality breakfast, achieved higher academic outcomes. The research found that the odds of achieving an above average educational performance were up to twice as high for pupils who ate breakfast, compared with those who did not.

    Eating unhealthy items like sweets and crisps for breakfast, which was reported by 1 in 5 children, had no positive impact on educational attainment.

    Pupils were asked to list all food and drink consumed over a period of just over 24 hours (including two breakfasts), noting what they consumed at specific times throughout the previous day and for breakfast on the day of reporting.
    Alongside number of healthy breakfast items consumed for breakfast, other dietary behaviours - including number of sweets and crisps and fruit and vegetable portions consumed throughout the rest of the day - were all significantly and positively associated with educational performance.

    Hannah Littlecott from Cardiff University's Centre for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement (DECIPher), lead author of the study, said: "This study therefore offers the strongest evidence yet of links between aspects of what pupils eat and how well they do at school, which has significant implications for education and public health policy - pertinent in light of rumours that free school meals may be scrapped following George Osborne's November spending review".

    Professor Chris Bonell, Professor of Sociology and Social Policy at the University College London Institute of Education, welcomed the study's findings. He said: "This study adds to a growing body of international evidence indicating that investing resources in effective interventions to improve young people's health is also likely to improve their educational performance".

    Dr Graham Moore, who also co-authored the report, added: "Most primary schools in Wales are now able to offer a free school breakfast, funded by Welsh Government. Our earlier papers from the trial of this scheme showed that it was effective in improving the quality of children's breakfasts, although there is less clear evidence of its role in reducing breakfast skipping.

    "Linking our data to real world educational performance data has allowed us to provide robust evidence of a link between eating breakfast and doing well at school. There is therefore good reason to believe that where schools are able to find ways of encouraging those young people who don't eat breakfast at home to eat a school breakfast, they will reap significant educational benefits."


  3. #2233
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    ‘Don’t advise doctors on reproductive medicine’

    Don't tell doctors how to practise reproductive medicine. Using this dramatic line, the country's infertility specialists have written a 10-point rejoinder to the central government's Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill 2014.

    "The bill should not include technical details telling the physician how to practice reproductive medicines. Even the MTP (Medical Termination of Pregnancy) Act & the PCPNDT (Pre-Conception & Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques Act) do not advise physicians on how to perform MTP, ultrasonography, amniocentesis, etc," said a letter by the Indian Society for Assisted Reproduction (ISAR) last week. ISAR, an umbrella organisation of infertility specialists in the country, wrote the letter in response to the Centre's call for suggestions to its draft bill. "The law should act as a guideline and not get into specifics," said ISAR past president Dr Manish Banker from Ahmedabad.

    ISAR members have said the government should rework certain provisions that duplicate functions laid down by other Acts and hold another meeting with doctors before approving the draft bill. "Why should PIOs living overseas be banned from seeking surrogacy here," asked ISAR chief Dr Hrishikesh Pai from Mumbai. "We have a good system developed by the home ministry in 2013 that has been working well with countries such as the US, the UK, Australia and Israel. Why change it now?" he added.

    One of the main contentions is "steep penalties" laid down in the ART bill 2014. "We have to remember that assisted reproductive techniques are legitimate medical procedures, and not a crime," said Banker.

    The doctors want "graded punishment" for offences such as clerical errors, lack of proper permission, harm caused by wrong medical treatment and exploitation of surrogate. "The ART bill 2014 wants an in dependent legal entity to se arch, seize and conduct raids.Won't these new provisions lead to confusion as the MTP and PCPNDT Acts have similar provisions?" said a doctor.

    Doctors have pointed to many technical issues, such as the insistence that intrauterine insemination (IUI) can only be done by infertility specialists."Over 30,000 gynaceologists offer IUI as it's the most basic form of IVF in which the husband's sperm are transferred to a woman," said ISAR president-elect Dr Narendra Malhotra.

    They wondered why the government had chosen 23 years as the minimum age for seeking surrogacy. "Why should a woman wait until 23 before taking up surrogacy if she was diagnosed with ovarian failure right after marriage at 18 or 19," asked Dr Malhotra. As the new bill wants a third party to oversee egg and sperm donation, the cost of IVF treatment could increase, they said. Dr Malhotra said, "The ART bill has been in the process for over decade, so why the rush to send notifications? We should hold a consensus meeting and discuss the provisions."


  4. #2234
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Obesity and diabetes increase bone fracture risk


    Development of obesity and Type-2 diabetes negatively affect bone structure, formation and strength over time, thereby increasing bone fracture risk, says a new study.

    The researchers also found that exercise can not only only prevent weight gain and diabetes but also increase bone strength.

    "Researchers once thought obesity was protective of bone because with more body mass, individuals have more bone mass; more bone mass typically decreases risk of osteoporosis and associated fractures," said Pam Hinton, associate professor at University of Missouri in the US.

    "What we have come to realise is that the bone of people with obesity and Type-2 diabetes is not good, quality bone. These individuals have an increased risk of fractures, so that extra body weight is not protective," Hinton noted.

    For the study, the researchers allowed one group of the rats to overeat and voluntarily exercise on running wheels. Another group of rats programmed to overeat remained sedentary.

    The researchers also had a control group of non-overeating rats that remained sedentary.

    They studied bones from rats in the three groups at different ages to determine how early in the development of obesity and diabetes the bone was affected negatively.

    "As the rats continued to grow, all groups increased their bone mass, but the rats that were obese and sedentary did not accumulate as much bone mass relative to their body weight," Hinton said.

    "So, decreased bone formation, loss of bone mass and decreased bone strength all were present in the obese, diabetic, sedentary rats. However, the rats that exercised did not lose bone strength. In fact, the rats that ran on the wheels had stronger bones than the normal-weight controls," Hinton explained.

    The animals in the exercise group did not develop the same insulin resistance and diabetes, which might explain why the bones of the exercising rats were healthier, Hinton said.

    The findings appeared in the journal Metabolism.


  5. #2235
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    How to reuse tea leaves

    - If you have a bruise, sunburn, bee sting, mosquito bite, or cold sore, put a cool, damp tea bag on the affected area. The tea will give you some relief and reduce inflammation.

    - If you're looking for a natural way to soften your skin, just run your bath water over some used tea bags and soak in it! Though any tea will serve the purpose, the antioxidants in green tea are particularly effective for rehydrating your skin.

    - Warm or cold, tea bags help revitalize tired, achy, or puffy eyes. Lie back with brewed, refrigerated tea bags over your eyes and the tannin in the tea leaves will stimulate blood circulation and get rid of your dark circles.

    - Soothe razor burns by pressing a wet tea bag to your skin. The tea will take some of the sting out and also stop the bleeding.


  6. #2236
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    To record your heart rate, swallow this device

    Scientists have developed a tiny device, like a medicine pill, that can be swallowed and from inside the gut it measures heart rate and breathing rate. The technology was developed by researchers of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

    The entire sensor is about the size of a multivitamin pill and consists of a tiny microphone packaged in a silicone capsule, along with electronics that process the sound and wirelessly send radio signals to an external receiver, with a range of about 3 meters.

    This type of sensor could make it easier to assess trauma patients, monitor soldiers in battle, perform long-term evaluation of patients with chronic illnesses, or improve training for professional and amateur athletes, the researchers say.

    The new sensor calculates heart and breathing rates from the distinctive sound waves produced by the beating of the heart and the inhalation and exhalation of the lungs.

    The paper's other lead author is Gregory Ciccarelli, an associate staff member at MIT's Lincoln Laboratory. Senior authors are Robert Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor at MIT and a member of the Koch Institute, and Albert Swiston, a technical staff member at Lincoln Laboratory. The paper describing the device is published in the Nov. 18 issue of the journal PLOS One.

    Doctors currently measure vital signs such as heart and respiratory rate using techniques including electrocardiograms (ECG) and pulse oximetry, which require contact with the patient's skin. These vital signs can also be measured with wearable monitors, but those are often uncomfortable to wear.

    The new device is like "an extremely tiny stethoscope that you can swallow," Swiston says. "Using the same sensor, we can collect both your heart sounds and your lung sounds. That's one of the advantages of our approach—we can use one sensor to get two pieces of information."

    In tests along the GI tract of pigs, the researchers found that the device could accurately pick up heart rate and respiratory rate, even when conditions such as the amount of food being digested were varied.

    The researchers expect that the device would remain in the digestive tract for only a day or two, so for longer-term monitoring, patients would swallow new capsules as needed.

    In the future, the researchers plan to design sensors that could diagnose heart conditions such as abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias), or breathing problems including emphysema or asthma. Currently doctors require patients to wear a harness (Holter) monitor for up to a week to detect such problems, but these often fail to produce a diagnosis because patients are uncomfortable wearing them 24 hours a day.

    The researchers also hope to create sensors that would not only diagnose a problem but also deliver a drug to treat it.

    "We hope that one day we're able to detect certain molecules or a pathogen and then deliver an antibiotic, for example," Traverso says. "This development provides the foundation for that kind of system down the line."


  7. #2237
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Artificial pancreas performed well in humans in US


    A team of the US researchers has developed a functional artificial pancreas that has performed well in humans in clinical settings.

    It's been developed by combining mechanical artificial pancreas technology with transplantation of islet cells which produce insulin.

    In a study of 14 patients with pancreatitis who underwent standard surgery and auto-islet transplantation treatments, a closed-loop insulin pump was better than multiple daily insulin injections for maintaining normal blood glucose levels, the authors wrote.

    The insulin pump relies on a continuous cycle of feedback information related to blood measurements.

    "Use of the mechanical artificial pancreas in patients after islet transplantation may help the transplanted cells to survive longer and produce more insulin for longer," said Dr Gregory Forlenza, pediatric endocrinologist from Children's Hospital Colorado.

    "We hope that combining these technologies will aid a wide spectrum of patients including patients with diabetes, in the future," he wrote in a paper in the journal American Journal of Transplantation.


  8. #2238
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Crying babies respond to singing more than talking

    Crying baby? Try singing a song rather than talking. A team of scientists confirmed this after a study involving 58 infants, age seven to ten months. They found that songs, even in a language not used by the parents caught the kids' attention and delayed a crying outbreak much more than talking to them.

    The researchers, co-led by Sandra Trehub, Professor Emeritus at University of Toronto Mississauga and involving University of Montreal scientists, found that singing to infants delays the onset of distress by twice as long as talking to them. The study was published in the online version of the journal Infancy.

    "One of the things that probably makes singing so effective in terms of emotion regulation is the fact that it's very repetitive and predictable; the timing is exact, you keep the beat," says Trehub, director of the Music Development Lab at UTM's Infant and Child Studies Centre in the department of psychology.

    "I think, in doing that, you can almost hypnotize infants, you capture them or distract them or whatever it is, but they become quite captivated by that rhythmic, repetitive material coming in."

    The research involved playing three types of sounds to 58 male and female infants, age seven to 10 months, who were put into two groups. One group was exposed to audio recordings of adult-directed speech (speech conducted in an adult tone of voice), as well as speech and song in an infant-directed style, all in French (the most familiar language for the infants). The other group was exposed to the same three stimuli in Turkish, to determine whether the simple, repetitive rhythms of the music would capture their attention despite their unfamiliarity with the language.

    In both cases, the infants were seated in front of their mothers in a dimly lit sound booth that was covered with black cloth and had no toys, people or other stimuli. The objective was to determine how long the infants would attend to each recording before exhibiting the "cry face" - lowered brows, lip corners pulled to the side, mouth opening and raised cheeks.

    The babies in the group listening to Turkish sounds remained calm for an average duration of nine minutes while listening to the song. Their attention lasted just over four minutes for the infant-directed Turkish talk, and just under four minutes for the adult-directed Turkish talk. The results were similar for the French stimuli group, with the infants attending to the song for about six minutes.

    The results, Trehub says, reflect that song, regardless of the level of familiarity with the language, is much more powerful than words at capturing the attention of infants, and helping them to regulate their emotions and avoid distress. She says it also shows that infants can be just as engaged by song as adults, even though they cannot show it with movements.

    "When it's singing, the words didn't seem to matter, because the song was done very rhythmically in this lively, positive and pleasant manner, so it seemed to captivate them," Trehub says. "Adults can dance, bob their head or tap their foot to a song, because their brains are tracking things in sync to the music.

    "The suggestion with this study is that those internal things are happening in babies, even though you don't see coordinated movement externally."


  9. #2239
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Working vocal cords grown in lab

    Human vocal cords have been grown in the laboratory for the first time in a develop ment that could one day lead to "voice" transplants for people who cannot speak because of a permanently damaged larynx.

    Scientists said that the bioengineered vocal cords grown from individual cells produced sounds similar to those made by the human voice box when warm, moist air was passed over them to make them vibrate. They believe that it may be possible to generate a variety of synthetic vocal cords which can be used "off the shelf " for transplant operations to suit the individual needs of different patients who cannot speak.

    At present there are limited treatment options available for people with a larynx damaged by cancer or other disorders because of the highly specialised nature of the vibrating cells of the vocal cords. Speech is generated by passing air over the vocal folds -commonly called vocal cords - within the larynx. The folds consist of two flexible bands of muscle lined with delicate, moist tissue called mucosa that vibrate hundreds of times per second to produce sound.

    The scientists recreated the mucosal tissue of the vocal cords using healthy cells taken from patients who had had their larynxes removed for unrelated reasons, as well as from a human cadaver.

    These cells were cultured in the laboratory for about 14 days when they grew around a bio-engineered "scaffold" to mimic the three-dimensional structure of the mucosal lining within human vocal cords. The two types of cells used in the procedure - fibroblasts and epithelium cells -assembled themselves naturally into different layers just like they do within human vocal cords, it was found.

    To test whether these synthetic vocal cords functioned normally , the scientists transplanted them into larynxes removed from dead dogs. They then blew warm, moist air through them to compare the sounds they made to those made by natural vocal cords.

    In a study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the researchers report that the sounds produced by the synthetic vocal cords were similar to those made naturally -although without the additional modulation produced by the throat, mouth and tongue. "Voice is a pretty amazing thing, yet we don't give it much thought until something goes wrong," said Nathan Welham of the University of WisconsinMadison, one of the leaders of the research project. "Our vocal cords are made up of special tissue that has to be flexible enough to vibrate, yet strong enough to bang together hundreds of times per second. It's an exquisite system and hard thing to replicate," he said.

    The scientists also transplanted samples of the synthetic human vocal cord into mice and found that they were not rejected by the immune system, raising hopes that they could one day be used in transplant operations.


  10. #2240
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    One in two 45-year-olds will get pre-diabetic high blood sugar

    A most half of 45-year-olds will develop so-called prediabetes, an elevated blood sugar level that often precedes diabetes, says a study from The Netherlands.

    Prediabetes or impaired glucose metabolism has no clear symptoms, but people with higher than normal blood sugar based on a blood test should be tested for diabetes every one or two years, according to the American Diabetes Association. "We have known this from previous studies -but what this study adds is a method of communicating risk in a better way -a person's lifetime risk of developing diabetes," said Dr Kamlesh Khunti of Leicester General Hospital in the UK, who co-authored an editorial accompanying the new results.

    One in three healthy 45-year-olds will develop diabetes in their lifetime, Khunti said. Researchers from Erasmus University Medical Center and the Harvard School of Public Health followed people for about 15 years, categorizing their blood sugar levels according to WHO standards. Blood sugar levels of 6 millimoles per litre or less are considered normal.Levels above 6mmolL and below 7mmolL are considered prediabetic, and levels of 7mmolL or greater are diabetes.

    Over about 15 years, a total of 1,148 people developed elevated blood sugar levels, 828 developed diabetes and 237 started taking insulin to control their diabetes.

    The team translated these results into population risk levels at age 45, and found that about half of them would develop prediabetic blood sugar levels before their death, 30% would develop full-blown diabetes and nine per cent would start taking insulin.About three-quarters of those with elevated blood sugar at age 45 would develop diabetes, and half of those who already had diabetes would start taking insulin. Higher body mass index or waist circumference increased these risks.

    "People should know their risk and if they are at higher risk, then they should have a more intensive method of reducing future diabetes risk," Khunti said.


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