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Health Bulletin


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  1. #231
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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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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Know how meditation helps to reduce anxiety

    Is has been known for years that meditation can reduce anxiety, but how it works has been unclear - until now. Now, scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have succeeded in identifying the brain functions involved in it.

    "Although we've known that meditation can reduce anxiety, we hadn't identified the specific brain mechanisms involved in relieving anxiety in healthy individuals," said Fadel Zeidan, Ph.D., postdoctoral research fellow in neurobiology and anatomy at Wake Forest Baptist and lead author of the study.

    "In this study, we were able to see which areas of the brain were activated and which were deactivated during meditation-related anxiety relief," Zeidan added.

    For the study, 15 healthy volunteers with normal levels of everyday anxiety were recruited for the study. These individuals had no previous meditation experience or anxiety disorders. All subjects participated in four 20-minute classes to learn a technique known as mindfulness meditation. In this form of meditation, people are taught to focus on breath and body sensations and to non-judgmentally evaluate distracting thoughts and emotions.

    Both before and after meditation training, the study participants' brain activity was examined using a special type of imaging - arterial spin labeling magnetic resonance imaging - that is very effective at imaging brain processes, such as meditation. In addition, anxiety reports were measured before and after brain scanning.

    The majority of study participants reported decreases in anxiety. Researchers found that meditation reduced anxiety ratings by as much as 39 percent. "This showed that just a few minutes of mindfulness meditation can help reduce normal everyday anxiety," Zeidan said.

    The study revealed that meditation-related anxiety relief is associated with activation of the anterior cingulate cortex and ventromedial prefrontal cortex, areas of the brain involved with executive-level function. During meditation, there was more activity in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain that controls worrying. In addition, when activity increased in the anterior cingulate cortex - the area that governs thinking and emotion - anxiety decreased.

    "Mindfulness is premised on sustaining attention in the present moment and controlling the way we react to daily thoughts and feelings. Interestingly, the present findings reveal that the brain regions associated with meditation-related anxiety relief are remarkably consistent with the principles of being mindful," Zeidan said.

    Research at other institutions has shown that meditation can significantly reduce anxiety in patients with generalized anxiety and depression disorders. The results of this neuroimaging experiment complement that body of knowledge by showing the brain mechanisms associated with meditation-related anxiety relief in healthy people, he said.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Want to keep the dentist away? Say yes to cheese to fight cavity

    Consuming cheese and other dairy products may help protect teeth against cavities, a new study led by an Indian-origin researcher has claimed.


    Consuming dairy products is vital to maintaining good overall health, and it is especially important to bone health. However, there has been little research about how dairy products affect oral health in particular. The new study published in the General Dentistry, the peer-reviewed clinical journal of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), sampled 68 subjects ranging in age from 12 to 15, and the authors looked at the dental plaque pH in the subjects' mouths before and after they consumed cheese, milk, or sugar-free yogurt.

    A pH level lower than 5.5 puts a person at risk for tooth erosion, which is a process that wears away the enamel (or protective outside layer) of teeth.

    "The higher the pH level is above 5.5, the lower the chance of developing cavities," said Vipul Yadav, lead author of the study.

    The subjects were assigned into groups randomly. Researchers instructed the first group to eat cheddar cheese, the second group to drink milk, and the third group to eat sugar-free yogurt.

    Each group consumed their product for three minutes and then swished with water. Researchers measured the pH level of each subject's mouth at 10, 20, and 30 minutes after consumption.

    The groups who consumed milk and sugar-free yogurt experienced no changes in the pH levels in their mouths. Subjects who ate cheese, however, showed a rapid increase in pH levels at each time interval, suggesting that cheese has anti-cavity properties.

    The study indicated that the rising pH levels from eating cheese may have occurred due to increased saliva production (the mouth's natural way to maintain a baseline acidity level), which could be caused by the action of chewing.

    Additionally, various compounds found in cheese may adhere to tooth enamel and help further protect teeth from acid.


  4. #234
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    For mind power, do 20 minutes of yoga

    A single, 20-minute session of yoga can significantly improve brain function, a new study led by an Indian-origin researcher has found.


    University of Illinois student Neha Gothe and her colleagues found that a 20-minute session of Hatha yoga improved participants' speed and accuracy on tests of working memory and inhibitory control, two measures of brain function associated with the ability to maintain focus and take in, retain and use new information.

    Participants performed significantly better immediately after the yoga practice than after moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise for the same amount of time.

    The 30 study subjects were young, female, undergraduate students.

    "Yoga is an ancient Indian science and way of life that includes not only physical movements and postures but also regulated breathing and meditation," said Neha Gothe, who led the study while a graduate student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

    "The practice involves an active attentional or mindfulness component but its potential benefits have not been thoroughly explored," said Gothe, now a professor of kinesiology, health and sport studies at Wayne State University in Detroit.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Bone tumour found in 120,000-year-old Neanderthal’s ribs

    Scientists have recorded the first case of a bone tumour of the ribs in a Neanderthal specimen which suggests that at least one Neanderthal suffered a cancer that is common in modern-day humans.


    The cancerous rib, which dates back to more than 120,000 years, was recovered from Krapina in present-day Croatia.

    It is an incomplete specimen, and thus the researchers were unable to comment on the overall health effects the tumour may have had on this individual. This discovery of a fibrous dysplasia predates previous evidence of this tumour by well over 100,000 years.

    Prior to this research, the earliest known bone cancers occurred in samples approximately 1,000-4 ,000 years old.


  6. #236
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Bone tumour found in 120,000-year-old Neanderthal’s ribs

    Scientists have recorded the first case of a bone tumour of the ribs in a Neanderthal specimen which suggests that at least one Neanderthal suffered a cancer that is common in modern-day humans.


    The cancerous rib, which dates back to more than 120,000 years, was recovered from Krapina in present-day Croatia.

    It is an incomplete specimen, and thus the researchers were unable to comment on the overall health effects the tumour may have had on this individual. This discovery of a fibrous dysplasia predates previous evidence of this tumour by well over 100,000 years.

    Prior to this research, the earliest known bone cancers occurred in samples approximately 1,000-4 ,000 years old.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    17% of urban Indians have kidney disease: Study

    In a worrying fallout of the rising diabetes and hypertension cases in urban India, a study across 12 cities found 17 out of every 100 people suffering from kidney disease. Of this, 6% had stage III kidney disease which necessitates medical attention and, in some cases, costly treatment like dialysis or transplant.


    The study used data from 13 hospitals, both private and government, across 12 cities — making it the largest screening study of kidney disease in the country.

    The most surprising finding, said doctors, was that a majority of individuals diagnosed with different stages of chronic kidney disease (CKD) had not undergone any kidney function test before.

    "In India, younger people do not go for preventive check-ups. This results in delayed diagnosis. In our study, we found 64.5% of the patients suffering from CKD also suffered from hypertension, 4.7% from anemia and 31.6% from diabetes," said one of the authors, Dr Sham Sunder, head of the nephrology department at Ram Manohar Lohia hospital in New Delhi.

    Dr Sunder said most patients suffering from CKD visit hospitals when their kidneys functioning had already reduced to half of its capacity. "If the disease can be diagnosed early, in stage I and II, the progression can be halted with medicines. Those with a family history of kidney failure, recurrent urinary tract infection, diabetes and hypertension must get themselves tested periodically," he added.

    The cities included in the Screening and Early Evaluation of Kidney Disease (SEEK) study were Varanasi, Kanpur, Delhi, Ludhiana, Bhopal, Nadiad (Gujarat), Mumbai, Mysore, Bangalore, Cochin and Vishakhapatnam.

    "The highest prevalence of CKD was observed in Vishakhapatnam (46.8%) followed by Kanpur (41.7%) and Delhi (41%). The lowest prevalence were in Mysore (4.2%) and Bangalore (4%)," said Dr D S Rana, chairman, department of nephrology at Sir Ganga Ram hospital (SGRH).

    Dr R K Sharma, head of the nephrology department at Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow, said, "Once a person has suffered from kidney failure, the only treatment options are life-long dialysis or a transplant. Both are costly and tedious. Also, in India, we have only about 1,000 kidney specialists or nephrologists. This means if preventive measures are not adopted, we will face a national crisis."

    Experts say CKD is associated with metabolic abnormalities and bone disease and is also an important risk factor for peripheral vascular disease, cardiovascular disease and stroke, all of which cause mortality.

    Doctors also stress on the need for promoting cadaver donation to meet the growing need for kidneys for transplants. Approximately 1,75,000 kidneys are needed for transplantation in India every year. At present, just about 4,000 transplants are conducted annually. More than 90% of the donors are family members.

    According to data released by the health ministry, the number of diabetes cases - a risk factor for CKD - had increased by 12% in a single year - from 50.8 million in 2011 to 61 million in 2012.


  8. #238
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    17% of urban Indians have kidney disease: Study

    In a worrying fallout of the rising diabetes and hypertension cases in urban India, a study across 12 cities found 17 out of every 100 people suffering from kidney disease. Of this, 6% had stage III kidney disease which necessitates medical attention and, in some cases, costly treatment like dialysis or transplant.


    The study used data from 13 hospitals, both private and government, across 12 cities — making it the largest screening study of kidney disease in the country.

    The most surprising finding, said doctors, was that a majority of individuals diagnosed with different stages of chronic kidney disease (CKD) had not undergone any kidney function test before.

    "In India, younger people do not go for preventive check-ups. This results in delayed diagnosis. In our study, we found 64.5% of the patients suffering from CKD also suffered from hypertension, 4.7% from anemia and 31.6% from diabetes," said one of the authors, Dr Sham Sunder, head of the nephrology department at Ram Manohar Lohia hospital in New Delhi.

    Dr Sunder said most patients suffering from CKD visit hospitals when their kidneys functioning had already reduced to half of its capacity. "If the disease can be diagnosed early, in stage I and II, the progression can be halted with medicines. Those with a family history of kidney failure, recurrent urinary tract infection, diabetes and hypertension must get themselves tested periodically," he added.

    The cities included in the Screening and Early Evaluation of Kidney Disease (SEEK) study were Varanasi, Kanpur, Delhi, Ludhiana, Bhopal, Nadiad (Gujarat), Mumbai, Mysore, Bangalore, Cochin and Vishakhapatnam.

    "The highest prevalence of CKD was observed in Vishakhapatnam (46.8%) followed by Kanpur (41.7%) and Delhi (41%). The lowest prevalence were in Mysore (4.2%) and Bangalore (4%)," said Dr D S Rana, chairman, department of nephrology at Sir Ganga Ram hospital (SGRH).

    Dr R K Sharma, head of the nephrology department at Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow, said, "Once a person has suffered from kidney failure, the only treatment options are life-long dialysis or a transplant. Both are costly and tedious. Also, in India, we have only about 1,000 kidney specialists or nephrologists. This means if preventive measures are not adopted, we will face a national crisis."

    Experts say CKD is associated with metabolic abnormalities and bone disease and is also an important risk factor for peripheral vascular disease, cardiovascular disease and stroke, all of which cause mortality.

    Doctors also stress on the need for promoting cadaver donation to meet the growing need for kidneys for transplants. Approximately 1,75,000 kidneys are needed for transplantation in India every year. At present, just about 4,000 transplants are conducted annually. More than 90% of the donors are family members.

    According to data released by the health ministry, the number of diabetes cases - a risk factor for CKD - had increased by 12% in a single year - from 50.8 million in 2011 to 61 million in 2012.


  9. #239
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Cell therapy may regenerate liver cells

    Researchers have shown that cell therapy may be used in liver disease to regenerate liver cells, says a study.

    Investigators discovered that a human embryonic stem cell can be differentiated into a previously unknown liver progenitor cell, an early offspring of a stem cell, and produce mature and functional liver cells, reports Science Daily.

    "The discovery of the novel progenitor represents a fundamental advance in this field and potentially to the liver regeneration field using cell therapy," said the study's senior author, Valerie Gouon-Evans, PharmD, Ph.D., assistant professor in the department of developmental and regenerative biology, black family stem cell institute, at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

    "Until now, liver transplantation has been the most successful treatment for people with liver failure, but we have a drastic shortage of organs. This discovery may help circumvent that problem."

    The study has been published in the journal Cell Stem Cell Friday.


  10. #240
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    MRI scans confirm breastfeeding boosts babies' brain growth

    Breast milk - known as the mother of all diets, greatly improves brain development of infants. And the definitive evidence now comes from the first ever MRI done on human brains to prove it.

    A study using brain images from quiet MRI machines has confirmed that breastfeeding improves brain development in infants.

    Breastfeeding alone produced better brain development than a combination of breastfeeding and formula, which produced better development than formula alone.

    The new study by researchers from Brown University finds more evidence that breastfeeding is good for babies' brains.

    The research found that by age 2, babies who had been breastfed exclusively for at least three months had enhanced development in key parts of the brain compared to children who were fed formula exclusively or who were fed a combination of formula and breast milk.

    The extra growth was most pronounced in parts of the brain associated with language, emotional function, and cognition, the research showed.

    This should come as a wakeup call for Indian mothers.

    At present, of the 26 million Indian women who give birth every year, about 20 million do not follow optimal breastfeeding practices till the time the infant is six months old.

    Only 24% of the women begin breastfeeding as per recommendations within one hour of birth. Experts believe that if 90% of the women followed breastfeeding practices, more than 2.5 lakh baby deaths could be avoided every year.

    India recommends infants must be breast-fed exclusively for the first six months of their life. This means that any other fluid, including water, is a strict no-no.

    In India, however, only 46% of infants are exclusively fed on mother's milk. This is one reason why two million Indian children die before their fifth birthday.

    The latest study made use of specialized, baby-friendly MRI to look at the brain growth in a sample of children under the age of 4.

    This isn't the first study to suggest that breastfeeding aids babies' brain development. Behavioral studies have previously associated breastfeeding with better cognitive outcomes in older adolescents and adults.

    But this is the first imaging study that looked for differences associated with breastfeeding in the brains of very young and healthy children, said Sean Deoni at Brown and the study's lead author.

    "We wanted to see how early these changes in brain development actually occur," Deoni said. "We show that they're there almost right off the bat."

    Deoni and his colleagues used quiet MRI machines that image babies' brains as they sleep. The MRI technique looked at the microstructure of the brain's white matter, the tissue that contains long nerve fibres and helps different parts of the brain communicate with each other. Specifically, the technique looked for amounts of myelin, the fatty material that insulates nerve fibres and speeds electrical signals as they zip around the brain.

    Mean myelin content - the fatty material that insulates nerve fibres and speeds electrical signals - rises with breastfeeding. The changes to developing brains happen early, almost from the start.

    The team looked at 133 babies ranging in ages from 10 months to four years. All of the babies had normal gestation times, and all came from families with similar socioeconomic statuses.

    The study showed that the exclusively breastfed group had the fastest growth in myelinated white matter of the three groups, with the increase in white matter volume becoming substantial by age 2.

    The group fed both breast milk and formula had more growth than the exclusively formula-fed group, but less than the breast milk-only group.

    "We're finding the difference in white matter growth is on the order of 20 to 30%, comparing the breastfed and the non-breastfed kids," said Deoni. "I think it's astounding that you could have that much difference so early."

    Deoni and his team then backed up their imaging data with a set of basic cognitive tests on the older children. Those tests found increased language performance, visual reception, and motor control performance in the breastfed group.

    The study also looked at the effects of the duration of breastfeeding.

    The researchers compared babies who were breastfed for more than a year with those breastfed less than a year, and found significantly enhanced brain growth in the babies who were breastfed longer - especially in areas of the brain dealing with motor function.


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