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Health Bulletin


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  1. #2261
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Air pollution: What is PM2.5 and how does it harm our health?

    The national capital of India has been grappling with high levels of dangerous particulate matter (PM) post Diwali celebrations, posing serious health risks to humans – especially children, the elderly and people with compromised immune system.

    But, what exactly is particulate matter?

    Atmospheric particulate matter - also known as particulate matter (PM) or particulates - is microscopic solid or liquid matter suspended in the Earth's atmosphere, which can adversely affect human health.

    PM is a complex mixture that may contain soot, smoke, metals, nitrates, sulfates, dust, water and tire rubber.

    The size of particles is directly linked to their potential for causing health problems - PM10 refers to the bigger particles and PM2.5 stands for the smaller particles.

    Health effects of particulate matter
    As fine particles(PM2.5) is much smaller than inhalable coarse particles(PM10), its negative effects on human health is more severe although both particles are harmful.

    When we breathe, PM2.5 can get deep into your lungs and some may even get into your bloodstream. Exposure to fine particles can affect the heart and lungs. Other health effects include –


    • Coughing
    • Wheezing
    • Shortness of breath
    • Irritation of the eyes, nose and throat
    • Aggravated asthma
    • Development of chronic respiratory disease in children
    • Nonfatal heart attacks




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  2. #2262
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Designer dopamine neurons to treat Parkinson's

    In a first, a team involved in Parkinson's disease research at the University at Buffalo (UB) has developed a way to ramp up the conversion of skin cells into dopamine neurons which are normally hidden in the brain.

    They have identified - and found a way to overcome - a key obstacle to such cellular conversions.

    At the same time, the finding has profound implications for changing the way scientists work with all cells.

    The new research, published in the journal Nature Communications, revolves around their discovery that p53, a transcription factor protein, acts as a gatekeeper protein.

    "We found that p53 tries to maintain the status quo in a cell, it guards against changes from one cell type to another," explained Jian Feng, professor in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB.

    The team also found that p53 acts as a kind of gatekeeper protein to prevent conversion into another type of cell.

    "Once we lowered the expression of p53, then things got interesting: We were able to reprogramme the fibroblasts into neurons much more easily," Feng said.

    This is a generic way to change cells from one type to another.

    "It proves that we can treat the cell as a software system, when we remove the barriers to change," Feng added.

    The researchers have done multiple experiments to prove that these neurons are functional mid-brain dopaminergic neurons - the type lost in Parkinson's disease.

    The finding enables researchers to generate patient-specific neurons in a dish that could then be transplanted into the brain to repair the faulty neurons.

    It can also be used to efficiently screen new treatments for Parkinson's disease.


  3. #2263
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Here's how to cure neck pain naturally!

    Experiencing neck pain is very common these days all thanks to our hectic lifestyle and stressful working culture. Almost two-third of the population in world, witnesses neck pain at some point in their lives.

    Neck pain can be caused by various spinal problems. Examples of common conditions causing neck pain are degenerative disc disease, neck strain, neck injury or even common throat infection leading to swelling in the lymph node can lead to a stiff neck.

    But, don't worry we bring to you natural remedies that you can easily adopt:

    -Ginger: Consuming ginger juice, tea or extract can help a lot in reducing pain caused by inflammatory diseases like neck pain.

    -Arnica: Arnica is one of the best remedies used to relieve pain. It is made from the extracts of fresh Arnica flowers and helps relieve neck pain relief and stiffness.

    -Menthol and camphor: Applying menthol and camphor on the affected area increases blood circulation and produce a warm or cooling effect which soothes the neck muscles.

    -Lavender: Lavender has been used for medicinal purposes since ancient times, but these days its oil is extracted and used in aromatherapies and massage oils which provide relief from neck pain.

    So, go ahead, make the most of these remedies and say bye-bye to neck pain.


  4. #2264
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Kids with common allergies at high heart disease risk

    Children with allergic disease, particularly asthma and hay fever, have twice the rate of high blood pressure and high cholesterol, setting them on course for heart disease at early age, finds a new study.

    Children with allergic disease had a much higher risk for high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

    "This study shows that cardiovascular risk starts far earlier in life than we ever realised," said lead study author Jonathan Silverberg from Northwestern University in the US.

    "Given how common these allergic diseases are in childhood, it suggests we need to screen these children more aggressively to make sure we are not missing high cholesterol and high blood pressure," Silverberg added.

    Asthma, hay fever and eczema -- increasingly common in children -- are associated with chronic inflammation, impaired physical activity, sleep disturbance and significant morbidity.

    But little has been known about the cardiovascular risk factors in children with these diseases so far.

    "There may be an opportunity to modify their lifestyles and turn this risk around," Silverberg said.

    Silverberg studied the association of asthma, hay fever and eczema and cardiovascular risk factors using data from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey of 13,275 children.

    Asthma occurred in 14 percent of children, eczema in 12 percent and hay fever in 16.6 percent. Asthma, hay fever and eczema were all associated with higher rates of overweight or obesity.

    The association with hypertension and high cholesterol exists separately from obesity. Inflammation occurring in asthma and hay fever might contribute to the higher rates of cardiovascular disease.

    Also, children with profound asthma are typically more sedentary, which also may have a harmful effect and drive up blood pressure and cholesterol, Silverberg said.

    The study was published in the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology.


  5. #2265
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Blame genes for impulsive choices: US researchers


    The tendency to take a smaller reward now rather than waiting for a larger one available later is strongly influenced by genetics, which means it can be inherited, a new study has found.

    Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine studied 602 twins and found that such 'delay discounting' gradually improves as teens get older, such that 18-yearolds have a greater ability or tendency to wait for the larger delayed reward, as compared to younger teens.

    Apart from age, genes accounted for about half of the difference among individuals in their level of delay discounting, researchers said. Preliminary data suggest that these 'impulsivity genes' may include genes coding for enzymes that synthesise the neurotransmitter serotonin and receptors where serotonin binds in the brain.

    "It is tantalising to speculate that the associations between delay discounting and serotonin-related genes may ultimately point the way to new treatments for addictions and other disorders involving impulsive choice," said researcher Andrey Anokhin .


  6. #2266
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    One in four young docs may have the blues


    More than one in four doctors in the early stages of their careers has signs of depression, according to a new study that suggests gruelling years of training for a medical career are partly to blame.

    That is bad news not just for the young doctors themselves, but also for the patients they care for now and in the future. Depressed doctors are known to be more likely to make mistakes or give worse care, researchers said.

    The findings come from a careful investigation of 50 years' worth of studies that looked for depression symptoms in more than 17,500 medical residents. By collecting and combining data from 54 studies done around the world, the researchers concluded that 28.8% of physicians-in-training have signs of depression. There was a small but significant increase in the rate of depression over the five decades covered by the study.

    "The increase in depression is surprising and important, especially in light of reforms that have been implemented over the years with the intent of improving the mental health of residents and the health of patients," said Srijan Sen, senior author of the study from the University of Michigan Medical School. Sen worked with the study's lead author — Douglas Mata, of Harvard University — and the other authors to pull together and analyse a wide range of studies.

    They focused on the first post-medical school training years, called internship and residency. Those years are marked by long hours, intensive on-the-job learning, low rank within a medical team, and a high level of responsibility for minute-to-minute patient care.

    While the percentage of residents with possible depression found by any one study ranged from 20% up to 43%, the bottom line when all the data were equalised and tallied together came out to 28.8%. Having a definitive number, and definitive evidence that the proportion of new doctors with depression symptoms increases over time, should help spur action to help address these issues, Sen said.

    While many medical schools and teaching hospitals have begun to address student and trainee mental health more completely in recent years, more needs to be done, researchers said.

    "Our findings provide a more accurate measure of the prevalence of depression in this group, and we hope that they will focus attention on factors that may negatively affect the mental health of young doctors, with the goal of identifying strategies to prevent and treat depression among graduate medical trainees," Mata said.

    The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.


  7. #2267
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Happiness doesn't bring good health, study finds

    Go ahead and sulk. Unhappiness won't kill you.

    A study published on Wednesday in The Lancet, following 1 million middle-aged women in Britain for 10 years, finds that the widely held view that happiness enhances health and longevity is unfounded.

    "Happiness and related measures of well-being do not appear to have any direct effect on mortality," the researchers concluded.

    "Good news for the grumpy" is one way to interpret the findings, said Sir Richard Peto, an author of the study and a professor of medical statistics and epidemiology at the University of Oxford. He and his fellow researchers decided to look into the subject because, he said, there is a widespread belief that stress and unhappiness cause disease.

    Such beliefs can fuel a tendency to blame the sick for bringing ailments on themselves by being negative, and to warn the well to cheer up or else.

    "Believing things that aren't true isn't a good idea," Peto said in an interview. "There are enough scare stories about health."

    The new study says earlier research confused cause and effect, suggesting that unhappiness made people ill when it is actually the other way around.

    The results come from the Million Women Study, which recruited women aged 50 to 69 from 1996 to 2001, and tracked them with questionnaires and official records of deaths and hospital admissions. The questionnaires asked how often the women felt happy, in control, relaxed and stressed, and also instructed them to rate their health and list ailments like high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, arthritis and depression or anxiety.

    The researchers included questions about happiness "because it's something a lot of people were interested in," Peto said.

    When the answers were analyzed statistically, unhappiness and stress were not associated with an increased risk of death. It is not clear whether the findings apply to men.

    Peto said particularly important data came from 500,000 women who reported on their baseline surveys that they were in good health, with no history of heart disease, cancer, stroke or emphysema. A "substantial minority" of these healthy women said they were stressed or unhappy, he said, but over the next decade they were no more likely to die than were the women who were generally happy.

    "This finding refutes the large effects of unhappiness and stress on mortality that others have claimed," Peto said.

    Unhappiness itself may not affect health directly, but it can do harm in other ways, by driving people to suicide, alcoholism or other dangerous behaviors, he warned.

    This type of study, which depends on participants' self-assessments, is not considered as reliable as a rigorously designed experiment in which subjects are picked at random and assigned to a treatment or control group. But the huge number of people in this study gives it power.

    Still, some observers noted that measuring emotions is more nuanced and complex than simply declaring happiness or unhappiness.

    "I would have liked to see more discussion of how people translate these complicated feelings into a self-report of happiness," said Baruch Fischhoff, a psychologist at Carnegie Mellon University who studies decision-making, who was not involved in the study. "Think about everything that's going on in your life and tell me how happy you are. Happiness is a squishy measure."

    The results of earlier studies have been mixed, with some finding that unhappiness causes illness and others showing no link, Fischhoff said.

    "It looks to me like people have collected a lot of data without finding a clear signal," he said. "So if there is some correlation out there, it's not very big."

    An editorial accompanying the study in The Lancet noted that it had "the largest population so far in happiness studies," and praised its statistical methods. But it also said more research was needed.

    Peto said he doubted that the new study would change many minds because beliefs about the perils of unhappiness are so ingrained. "People are still going to believe that stress causes heart attacks," he said.


  8. #2268
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    World’s 1st dengue vaccine cleared for use in Mexico

    The world's first dengue vaccine has won regulatory approval in Mexico, raising hopes that it could prevent more than 100 deaths there a year and eventually millions around the world.

    Globally, dengue affects about 400 million people every year, according to the World Health Organization.

    The Dengvaxia vaccine is being manufactured by French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi. The company has requested regulatory approval in 20 countries across Asia and Latin America, but Mexico was the first to green flag it.

    While the price tag has yet to be decided, the vaccine is likely to generate more than $1billion a year in revenue for Sanofi, said Olivier Charmeil, head of the company's vaccines division. "It's the innovation of the decade," he said.

    Mexico's National Vaccination Council will meet to decide whether Dengvaxia will be among the vaccines the government distributes without cost, the head of the health regulatory agency, Mikel Arriola, said. Mexican health authorities estimate the vaccine could prevent 8,000 hospitalizations and 104 deaths per year.

    Scientists have long been stumped by dengue, which has four separate strains, forcing researchers to find a drug able to fight all of them at once. Clinical tests, carried out on 40,000 people from 15 countries, have found Dengvaxia can immunize two-thirds of people aged nine years and older, rising to 93% for the more severe form of the disease, dengue hemorrhagic fever.


  9. #2269
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Life's beautiful: Wrinkle, wrinkle little star


     In its quest of timeless aging, science has ac cepted that we still don't live in an age of eternity of life. From the obvious greying of hair to the wrinkling of skin, from the opacification in ca aracted lenses to the decrease in auditory decibels, man has come to accept that everything from the special senses to the creaking bones and oints, has a finitely programmed lifespan. Success in at empts to punctuate this re entless progression of the body towards degeneration and decay have definitely prolonged longevity and partially resolved the geriatric puzzle but victory over Mother Nature's diktat and Father Almighty's design still seems far.

    Biologically all creatures have been programmed to blossom, procreate and then wither away . Whether it is the spider who is killed after mating or the cats who have a fertility finish, human, the ultimate in the evolution cycle is not any different. With the ad vent of hormonal therapy and supplemental medicine, scientists have started replenishing phased out body parts with substitutes or by reverse flow technology .From mundane tasks like applying dye to hair and cream to dried skin which was dismissed as cosmetic, to re placing calcium in the bones and lenses in the eye which is accepted as routine, medicine has progressed to transplanting kidneys and growing tissue from stem cells.

    Medicine has evolved from treating communicable diseases to addressing lifestyle metabolic issues, from preserving dwindling physiology to pumping fresh supplements and from surgically removing dead anatomy to refashioning it with innovative implants-all with a view to increase the quality of life along with quantity.

    Today hearing aids can enhance impaired hearing and silicone uplift sagging breasts. Drugs can arouse blunted potency and pace makers can reprogram the ticktock of the withered heart. It is with bated breath that we await the remedy for retardation in memory and reversal of dementia. The experienced and matured mind is still to cope with the tardiness in mental activity that slowly but surely crawls in over the years. The preservation and replenishment of the "grey" cells in the brain still remains a "grey" area in this pursuit. Likewise the ability to anticipate cancer and forecast its strike is being hotly pursued but has yet to meet with the expectation of cutting edge technology . Once straddled in the body , to successfully eradicate the plethora of malignancies in different organs is a distant dream.

    In this single-minded avarice to grab the golden pot at the end of life's rainbow, man will need to shrug off and learn to choose necessity from the availability , the required from the extra and resist material and bodily temptations to fulfil his longevity aspirations. Otherwise, he could succumb to lifestyle diseases like diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia etc.

    Dr Hemant Thacker


  10. #2270
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Scientists develop device that stimulates tears to treat 'dry eyes'


    Scientists have developed a tiny device to electronically stimulate tear production, which could help sufferers of dry eye syndrome, one of the most common eye diseases in the world.


    The device, 16mm long, 3-4mm wide and 1-2mm thick, was implanted beneath the inferior lacrimal gland in rabbit eyes. It was activated wirelessly, and shown to increasing the generation of tears by nearly 57 per cent.


    'Dry eye' - deficiency of the tear film on the surface of the cornea leading to inflammation of the cornea and conjunctiva - is one of the most common eye disease, affecting 5-6 per cent of the population. Currently it does not have an effective treatment. The researchers also discovered that the afferent neural pathway - the neural pathway from sensory neurons to the brain which activates the reflex tearing - offered an even more efficient way to enhance tear production.


    "Initially we only planned to stimulate the lacrimal gland. The biggest surprise for us was discovering that stimulating the afferent neural pathway provided a more potent and long-lasting tear response," said Daniel Palanker, a professor at the Stanford University in US.


    The next phase of the research will be to evaluate the 'quality' of the tears produced, as in addition to volume, protein and lipid content are important. The device is currently undertaking clinical trials.


    "I hope to see it on the market in the next year. Meanwhile, we're continuing research into the mechanisms of the tearing response, its enhancement and quality of the tears produced by neural stimulation," said Mr Palanker.

    The study was published in the Journal of Neural Engineering.


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