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Health Bulletin


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  1. #221
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Tobacco responsible for rise in head, neck cancer cases: GCRI

    An estimated 35 per cent of the 45,000 new cancer cases registered in Gujarat every year are that of the head and neck due to high tobacco consumption, according to Gujarat Cancer Research Institute (GCRI).


    "An estimated 30-35 per cent of cancer cases, recorded in the state every year, are that of head and neck cancer. More than 50 per cent men in the state show symptoms of this cancer because of high tobacco consumption," Associate Professor, Department of Community Oncology GCRI, Dr Parimal Jivrajani said.

    In Ahmedabad district, more rural women are prone to head and neck cancer cases than urban women, according to Ahmedabad Cancer Registry (ACR), maintained by the GCRI.

    "While 18 per cent women in urban areas of Ahmedabad are prone to head and neck cancer cases, in rural areas, the figure goes up to 20 per cent," Dr Jivrajani said.

    Jivrajani said 55 per cent men in urban and rural areas of Ahmedabad district were affected by head and neck cancer cases.

    Senior consultant and director at Health Care Global (HCG) Cancer Centre, Dr Rajendra Toprani said that, with young people getting addicted to tobacco these days at a very early age, there has also been a rise in young population showing symptoms of head and neck cancer cases.

    Overall, 90 per cent of head and neck cancer cases are tobacco-related, caused by chewing of smokeless tobacco, inhaling nicotine among others; head and neck cancer surgeon of Apollo Hospital in Gandhinagar Dr Vishal Choksi said.

    In Gujarat, close to 60 per cent men are tobacco-addicted while the percentage of women addicted to tobacco is 8.40, Dr Jivrajani said.

    The symptoms of this type of cancer vary from ulcers in mouth, lump in neck, change of voice to eating difficulties, among others.

    Head and neck cancer refers to cancer of mouth and neck region that start in the lip, oral cavity (mouth), nasal cavity (inside the nose) and paranasal sinuses.


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  2. #222
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Oral sex caused my mouth cancer, Michael Douglas says

    Hollywood actor Michael Douglas told British newspaper Guardian that Human papilloma virus (HPV) transmitted through oral sex led to his throat cancer.

    The Basic Instinct star told the Guardian that his throat cancer which was diagnosed on stage 4 was apparently caused by performing oral sex.

    Cancer Research UK says oral sex, especially with multiple partners leads to oral cancers caused by HPV infection. Cancer Research data shows men are actually more prone to get infected with HPV through oral sex than women. Cancer Research UK says HPV infection is more common in men who have oral sex with multiple partners.

    "Most sexually active adults will be infected with at least one type of HPV at some time during their life. For many people, the virus causes no harm and goes away without treatment. Only a very small percentage of people with HPV develop oropharyngeal cancer. HPV infection of the mouth is more common in men than in women. The risk of HPV infection in the mouth and throat is linked to certain sexual behaviours, such as open mouth kissing and oral sex. The risk increases with the number of sexual partners a person has. Smoking also increases the risk of HPV infection in the mouth," Cancer Research said.

    Including cancers of the lip, tongue and mouth, are about 6,500 people diagnosed in the UK each year. Overall, about 2 out of every 100 cancers diagnosed (2%) are mouth or oropharynx cancers. As with most cancers, mouth and oropharyngeal cancers are more common in older people

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  3. #223
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    What is thyroid cancer?

    In 2012, it was estimated that 42 million Indians are affected till date with thyroid cancer.

    It is a growing trend among women to be affected with breast, gallbladder and thyroid cancer. Dr. J.B. Sharma, Senior Consultant in Medical Oncology at Action Cancer Hospital, Delhi sheds light on this developing cancer, what are the symptoms of thyroid cancer and ways to prevent it.

    Cancer prevention: What is thyroid cancer?

    The thyroid is a gland that lies in front of the windpipe (trachea), just below the voice box. The gland uses iodine from food to make thyroid hormones. When the normal cells in the Thyroid Gland change into abnormal cells and grow out of control spreading to another organ, it results in Thyroid Cancer. Although it is an uncommon form of cancer but there are different types of thyroid cancer like Papillary thyroid cancer (PTC), Follicular thyroid cancer (FTC), Medullary thyroid cancer (MTC), Anaplastic carcinoma and Thyroid lymphoma.

    What are the symptoms of thyroid cancer?

    Initially, people are unable to notice any symptoms at initial stages. But as a thyroid cancer grows and develops, it is more likely to cause symptoms like:

    - Hoarseness in voice or being unable to talk
    - Lump in the neck
    - Enlargement of the neck
    - Trouble in breathing
    - Trouble in swallowing
    - Coughing up blood

    All of these symptoms can also be caused by conditions that are not thyroid cancer.

    What are the causes of thyroid cancer?

    Radiation exposure: the most important risk factor for the development of differentiated thyroid cancer is a history of radiation exposure during childhood. Potential sources of radiation exposure include medical uses of radiation (eg, treatment of childhood malignancies) or environmental exposure secondary to atomic weapons (eg, Nagasaki/Hiroshima, Japan), or nuclear power plant accidents (eg, Chernobyl).

    Family history: a history of thyroid cancer in a first-degree relative or a family history of a thyroid cancer syndrome increases the risk that a nodule may be malignant.

    Other: there are a number of other possible (but not proven) risk factors that have been reported. Their relative importance appears to be small, but not completely defined. Potential risk factors include the following:
    - Occupational and environmental exposures
    - Hepatitis-C-related chronic hepatitis
    - Increased parity and late age during the first pregnancy

    What are the treatments for thyroid cancer?

    Thyroid cancer is usually treated in the following ways:

    Surgery: In most cases, thyroid cancer is treated with surgery to remove the cancer. Doctors remove a part or all of your thyroid gland. At times the nearby lymph nodes are also removed, which are bean-shaped organs that help in the body's infection-fighting system.

    Radioactive iodine: Radioactive iodine (also called "radioiodine therapy") comes in the form of a pill or liquid that can be swallowed. It has a small amount of radiation and can destroy much of the thyroid gland.

    Thyroid hormone: Doctors prescribe thyroid hormone medicines after surgery or radioactive iodine treatment. That way, the body receives the correct amount of thyroid hormone.

    External-beam radiation therapy: This treatment uses high doses of X-rays, called radiation, to kill cancer cells. The radiation comes from a machine that is outside the body.

    Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is a drug treatment that uses chemicals to kill cancer cells. It is typically given as an infusion through a vein. Although, Chemotherapy is not commonly used in the treatment of thyroid cancer, but it may benefit some people who don't respond to other, more standard therapies.

    Finally Dr. J.B. Sharma concludes, "To avoid the cancer from coming back after a treatment, regular follow-up tests including examinations, blood tests, and imaging tests are a must. Doctors will also perform regular follow-up blood tests to keep a check on the thyroid hormone levels."


  4. #224
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Simple vinegar test to prevent cervical cancer death

    A simple vinegar test could prevent 73,000 deaths from cervical cancer worldwide each year, the authors of a large-scale study of women in India said on Sunday. The research effort was led by Dr. Surendra Shastri of Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai.


    Wealthy countries have managed to reduce cervical cancer deaths by 80 per cent thanks to the widespread use of regular Pap smears. But cervical cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death among women in India and many other developing countries lacking the money, doctors, nurses or laboratories for widespread screening. The vinegar test, while not perfect, offers a solution to that problem.

    A primary health care worker swabs the woman's cervix with vinegar, which causes pre-cancerous tumors to turn white.The results are known a minute later when a bright light is used to visually inspect the cervix. Aside from the cost savings,the instantaneous results are a major advantage for women in rural areas who might otherwise have to travel for hours to see a doctor. Usha Devi, one of the women who participated in the study, says it saved her life. "Many women refused to get screened.Some of them died of cancer later,"Devisaid."NowI feel everyone should get tested. "

    This low-tech visual examination cut the cervical cancer death rate by 31 percent, the study found. It could prevent 22,000 deaths in India and 72,600 worldwide each year, researchers estimate. "That's amazing. That's remarkable. It's a very exciting result,"said Dr.Ted Trimble of the National Cancer Institute in the US, the main sponsor of the study.

    India has nearly one-third of the world's cases of cervical cancer - more than 140,000 each year. "It's not possible to provide Pap smear screening in developing countries. We don't have that much money or staff or equipment, so a simpler method had to be found, Shastri said.

    Starting in 1998, researchers enrolled 75,360 women to be screened every two years with the vinegar test. Another 76,178 women were chosen for a control, or comparison group that just got cancer education at the start of the study and vouchers for a free Pap test - if they could get to the hospital to have one. Women in either group found to have cancer were offered free treatment at the hospital. Still, this quick and free cancer screening was a hard sell in a deeply conservative country. Social workers were sent into the slums to win people over.

    "We went to every single house in the neighborhood assigned to us introducing ourselves and asking them to come to our health talks. They used to come out of curiosity, listen to the talk but when we asked them to get screened they would totally refuse," said one social worker, Vaishnavi Bhagat. "The women were both scared and shy. There was a sense of shame about taking their clothes off. Sometimes just the idea of getting tested for cancer scared them," said Urmila Hadkar, another health worker.

    The study was planned for 16 years, but results at 12 years showed lives were saved with the screening. Hence independent monitors advised offering it to the women in the comparison group.

    However, an ethics controversy developed during the study. The US Office for Human Research Protections faulted researchers for not adequately informing participants in the comparison group about Pap tests for screening. A letter from the agency in March indicated officials seemed to accept many of the remedies study leaders had implemented.

    Others defended the study. "We looked at the ethics very carefully" and felt them to be sound, and visited the project in India, said Trimble of the National Cancer Institute.

    "There really was no wrongdoing there,"said Dr. Sandra Swain, a cancer specialist at Medstar Washington Hospital Center.

    More progress against cervical cancer may come from last month's announcement that two companies will drastically lower prices on HPV vaccines for poor countries. Pilot projects will begin in Asia and Africa; the campaign aims to vaccinate more than 30 million girls in more than 40 countries by 2020.


  5. #225
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Next epidemic? Outbreak of drug-resistant bugs

    Government officials, drug companies and medical experts, faced with outbreaks of antibiotic-resistant " superbugs" , are pushing to speed up the approval of new antibiotics , a move that is raising safety concerns among some critics.

    The need for new antibiotics is so urgent, supporters of an overhaul say, that lengthy studies involving hundreds or thousands of patients should be waived in favour of directly testing such drugs in very sick patients . Influential lawmakers have said they are prepared to support legislation that allows for faster testing.

    The health and human services department last month announced an agreement under which it will pay $40 million to a major drug maker, GlaxoSmith-Kline , to help it develop medications to combat antibiotic resistance and biological agents that terrorists might use. Under the plan, the federal government could give the drug company as much as $200 million over the next five years. "We are facing a huge crisis worldwide not having an antibiotics pipeline," said Dr Janet Woodcock, director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at the Food and Drug Administration. "It is bad now, and the infectious disease docs are frantic. But what is worse is the thought of where we will be five to 10 years from now."

    Annually, tens of thousands of Americans die from infections , largely acquired in hospitals, that are resistant to antibiotics, experts say.

    Doctors, faced with dwindling options and little time to decide, are often left with agonizing choices over how to save a patient's life. For example, some doctors, in extreme cases, are again using Colistin, an older antibiotic that was largely abandoned years ago because of the damage it can cause the liver.

    "A drug like Colistin would not be developed today because it is too toxic," said Dr Helen W Boucher, an infectious disease expert at Tufts University in Boston . Under a plan proposed by a professional medical group, the Infectious Disease Society of America, new antibiotics approved through quicker testing would carry a special label specifying that their use be limited to very sick patients.

    But critics of the plan argue that merely putting a restrictive label on a medicine is not enough, and that limited tests might not be adequate to determine a drug's safety and effectiveness . They say they worry that the new medications, without the more comprehensive testing, could then be used on healthier patients who do not necessarily need them.

    The overuse of antibiotics in people and animals, often for conditions for which the drugs are ineffective or not needed, is seen as a driving force in the development of resistant bacteria. As these organisms have evolved and developed resistance, the development of new drugs has not kept pace.


  6. #226
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    WHO approves first circumcision device to slow AIDS spread

    The World Health Organization (WHO) has approved a first-of-its-kind, non-surgical circumcision device to forestall the spread of AIDS.

    The device called PrePex is the only adult circumcision method, aside from conventional surgery, to gain WHO approval to date.

    The nonsurgical circumcision device relies on a rubber band and was approved by the WHO recently, opening the way for its widespread use in Africa, The New York Times reported.

    Dr Eric P Goosby, the US Global AIDS Coordinator, said that it would "truly help save lives" and that he was prepared to use funds from the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief for it.

    For a heterosexual man in countries where Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is common, being circumcised lowers the chance of contracting HIV or getting infected by the virus by about 60 per cent, according to the report.

    The US has paid for more than two million circumcisions in Africa in the past few years. The WHO's goal is 20 million by 2015. PrePex can be quickly put in place by a two-nurse team.

    The foreskin dies from the pressure of the rubber band in a grooved ring, and drops off or is clipped off a week later, the report said.

    The procedure uses only topical anaesthesia and is safer than surgery.


  7. #227
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Tool to fight malaria: Stinky feet

    For decades, health officials have battled malaria with insecticides, bed nets and drugs. Now, scientists say there might be a potent new tool to fight the deadly mosquito-borne disease: the stench of human feet.

    In a laboratory study, researchers found that mosquitoes infected with the tropical disease were more attracted to human odours from a dirty sock than those that didn't carry malaria. Insects carrying malaria parasites were three times more likely to be drawn to the stinky stockings.

    The new finding may help create traps that target only malaria-carrying mosquitoes, researchers say. "Smelly feet have a use after all," said Dr James Logan, who headed the research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. "Every time we identify a new part of how the malaria mosquito interacts with us, we're one step closer to controlling it better." The sock findings were published last month in the journal, PLoS One.

    Malaria is estimated to kill more than 600,000 people every year, mostly children in Africa.

    Experts have long known that mosquitoes are drawn to human odours, but it was unclear if being infected with malaria made them even more attracted to us. Infected mosquitoes are believed to make up about 1% of the mosquito population.

    Using traps that only target malaria mosquitoes could result in fewer mosquitoes becoming resistant to the insecticides used to kill them. And it would likely be difficult for the insects to evade traps based on their sense of smell, scientists say. "The only way mosquitoes could (develop resistance) is if they were less attracted to human odours," said Andrew Read, a professor of biology and entomology at the University of Pennsylvania, who was not part of Logan's research. "And if they did that and started feeding on something else — like cows — that would be fine."

    Logan said the next step is to identify the chemicals in human foot odour so that it can be made synthetically for mosquito traps. But given mosquitoes' highly developed sense of smell, getting that formula right will be challenging. "You have to get the mixture, ratios and concentrations of those chemicals exactly right otherwise the mosquito won't think it's a human," he said.


  8. #228
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Lie detectors, guilt tests defective way to identify criminals: Study

    Brain scans that claim to be able to determine whether a criminal is guilty of a crime can be fooled.

    British research has now shown that people can intentionally suppress incriminating memories and thereby avoid detection in brain activity guilt detection tests. Brain activity guilt detection tests are promoted as accurate and reliable measures for establishing criminal culpability.

    The University of Cambridge says such tests, which are commercially available in the US and are used by law enforcement agencies in Japan and India, are based on the logic that criminals will have specific memories of their crime stored in their brain. When presented with reminders of their crime, their brain would automatically and uncontrollably recognise these details.

    Using scans of the brain's electrical activity, this recognition would be observable, recording a 'guilty' response.

    An international team of psychologists from the universities of Cambridge, Kent and Magdeburg as well as the Medical Research Council has now shown that some people can intentionally and voluntarily suppress unwanted memories. Dr Zara Bergstrom, expert of cognitive psychology at the University of Kent and principal investigator on the research said "Our research has shown that this assumption that brain scans can pinpoint guilt is not always justified. Using these types of tests to say that someone is innocent of a crime is not valid because it could just be the case that the suspect has managed to hide their crime memories."

    Dr Jon Simons of the Department of Psychology at the University of Cambridge added "Our findings would suggest that the use of most brain activity guilt detection tests in legal settings could be of limited value. Of course, there could be situations where it is impossible to beat a memory detection test, and we are not saying that all tests are flawed, just that the tests are not necessarily as good as some people claim. More research is also needed to understand whether the results of this research work in real life crime detection." During the study, researchers had participants conduct a mock crime.

    These people were later tested on their crime recognition while having their brain activity monitored using electroencephalography (EEG). Critically, when asked to suppress their crime memories, a significant proportion of people managed to reduce their brain's recognition response and appear innocent. If suspects can intentionally suppress their memories of a crime and evade detection, the research calls into question the reliability of brain activity guilt detection tests, and suggests careful consideration is needed before such evidence is introduced in criminal trials.

    Dr Michael Anderson from the Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge said "Interestingly, not everyone was able to suppress their memories of the crime well enough to beat the system. Clearly, more research is needed to identify why some people were much more effective than others."


  9. #229
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Blood vessels behind eyes are secret to the age of the human brain

    The secret behind the actual age of your brain is inside your eyes.

    Scientists have found that the width of blood vessels in the retina, located at the back of the eye, may indicate brain health years before the onset of dementia.

    Retinal blood vessels share similar size, structure, and function with blood vessels in the brain and can provide a way of examining brain health in living humans.

    Individuals who had wider retinal venules showed evidence of general cognitive deficits, with lower scores on numerous measures of neuropsychological functioning, including verbal comprehension, perceptual reasoning, working memory and executive function.

    Surprisingly, the data revealed that people who had wider venules at age 38 also had lower IQ in childhood, a full 25 years earlier.

    Younger people who score low on intelligence tests, such as IQ, tend to be at higher risk for poorer health and shorter lifespan, but factors like socioeconomic status and health behaviours don't fully account for the relationship.

    Psychological scientist Idan Shalev of Duke University wondered whether intelligence might serve as a marker indicating the health of the brain, and specifically the health of the system of blood vessels that provides oxygen and nutrients to the brain.

    Having wider retinal venules was linked with lower IQ scores at age 38, even after the researchers accounted for various health, lifestyle, and environmental risk factors that might have played a role.

    Shalev used digital retinal imaging to gain a window onto vascular conditions in the brain by looking at the small blood vessels of the retina, located at the back of the eye.

    The researchers examined data from 1000 people born between April 1972 and March 1973 in Dunedin, New Zealand. The results were intriguing.

    Its "remarkable that venular caliber in the eye is related, however modestly, to mental test scores of individuals in their 30s, and even to IQ scores in childhood," the researchers observe.

    The findings suggest that the processes linking vascular health and cognitive functioning begin much earlier than previously assumed, years before the onset of dementia and other age-related declines in brain functioning.

    "Digital retinal imaging is a tool that is being used today mainly by eye doctors to study diseases of the eye," Shalev notes. "But our initial findings indicate that it may be a useful investigative tool for psychological scientists who want to study the link between intelligence and health across the lifespan."

    The current study doesn't address the specific mechanisms that drive the relationship between retinal vessels and cognitive functioning, but the researchers surmise that it may have to do with oxygen supply to the brain.

    "Increasing knowledge about retinal vessels may enable scientists to develop better diagnosis and treatments to increase the levels of oxygen into the brain and by that, to prevent age-related worsening of cognitive abilities," they conclude.


  10. #230
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Why do women recall faces better than men?

    There's no need to be surprised over the fact that women can remember faces better than men. And that's because they spend more time studying features without even realising it, opines a recent Canadian research.

    In fact, this technique is believed to help improve anyone's memory. The results of the study help answer questions about why some people can remember faces easily while others quickly forget someone they've just met.

    The study
    The findings provide new insights into the potential mechanisms of episodic memory and the differences between the sexes. The researchers discovered that women look more at new faces than men do, which allows them to create a richer and more superior memory.

    Eye-tracking technology was used to monitor where study participants looked — be it eyes, nose or mouth — while they were shown a series of randomly selected faces on a computer screen. Each face was assigned a name that participants were asked to remember.

    One group was tested over the course of one day, while another was tested over four days.

    The results
    The study found that women fixated on the features far more than men, but this strategy operates completely outside of our awareness. Individuals don't usually notice where their eyes fixate, so it's all subconscious.

    The implications of the results are exciting because it means anyone can be taught to scan more and potentially have better memory.

    Also, the results reveal the possibility that changing our eye movement pattern may lead to better memory. Increased scanning may prove to be a simple strategy to improve face memory in the general population, especially for individuals with memory impairment like older adults.


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