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Health Bulletin


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  1. #281
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    This chocolate won't make you pile on pounds

    In some good news for chocoholics, an Indian-origin chocolatier claims to have created low-fat chocolates that contain as little as 20 calories a bar. London-based Aneesh Popat's recipe ditches high-calorie ingredients such as butter, cream and eggs.


    Instead, 25-year-old Popat, a maths graduate, combines flavour-infused water with cocoa to create The Chocolatier, which contain as little as 20 calories a bar, 'The Daily Express' reported. Popat claims his chocolate is as tasty as sugar-packed rivals and comes in flavours from fizzy cola and strawberry mint to chai tea and apple pie.

    "If everything in the world was made of chocolate I'd have eaten it by now. My love of chocolate led me to devote and apply my mathematical and scientific backgrounds to create the most unique flavour combinations with utmost precision and creativity," he said. "Chocolate is good for you if made in the right way," he said.

    Popat's low-fat chocolates are already taking the culinary world by storm. After support from thousands of visitors to his stall at the BBC Good Food Show in Birmingham , he is hoping his chocolate will hit the open market.

    It is already supplied to Michelin star restaurant Apicius in Cranbrook, Kent, and five star hotel Le Meridien in London.

    "As these chocolates boast such a low calorie level and high water content it can be advantageous to people seeking a less naughty treat. But we mustn't forget that chocolate is an occasional treat," nutritional expert Dr Sarah Schenker, of the British Dietetic Association, said. The chocolates cost 11.95 for six truffles and 7.95 for a bar.


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  2. #282
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Biggest regrets of the dying revealed

    A palliative nurse who has counselled the dying in their last days has revealed the most common regrets people have at the end of their lives. Among the top most common regrets of the dying has been "I wish I hadn't worked so hard."

    Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives.

    She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog called Inspiration and Chai, which gathered so much attention that she put her observations into a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, the Guardian reported. The top five regrets of the dying were:

    I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

    I wish I hadn't worked so hard.

    I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.

    I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

    I wish that I had let myself be happier.


  3. #283
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Lingering smoke can harm DNA

    The direct hazards of tobacco are well known and so are the ill-effects of inhaling second-hand smoke. But scientists have now found for the first time that third-hand smoke — residual nicotine that clings to hair, skin, clothes, indoor surfaces like walls, furniture, drapes, bedding, carpets or vehicles long after smoking has stopped — causes significant genetic damage to human cells or our DNA and is an independent causative agent of cancer.

    The finding is significant for children. Parents or elders who smoke in the family fail to realise that opening the window while smoking, for fresh air to blow away the smoke, isn't good enough. Infants are therefore at high risk of tobacco-related health problems when they inhale, ingest or touch substances containing third-hand smoke.

    The study led by researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California has also found that chronic exposure is worse than acute exposure, with the chemical compounds in samples exposed to chronic third-hand smoke existing in higher concentrations and causing more DNA damage than samples exposed to acute third-hand smoke, suggesting that the residue becomes more harmful over time.

    "This is the very first study to find that third-hand smoke is mutagenic," said Lara Gundel, a Berkeley Lab scientist. "Tobacco-specific nitrosamines, some of the chemical compounds in third-hand smoke, are among the most potent carcinogens there are. They stay on surfaces, and when those surfaces are clothing or carpets, the danger to children is especially serious."

    The findings have been published in the journal 'Mutagenesis'.

    Third-hand smoke is particularly insidious because it is extremely difficult to eradicate. Studies have found that it can still be detected in dust and surfaces of apartments more than two months after smokers moved out.

    Common cleaning methods such as vacuuming, wiping and ventilation have not proven effective in lowering nicotine contamination.

    The researchers used two common in vitro assays, the Comet assay and the long amplicon-qPCR assay, to test for genotoxicity and found that third-hand smoke can cause both DNA strand breaks and oxidative DNA damage, which can lead to gene mutation.

    Genotoxicity is associated with the development of diseases and is a critical mechanism responsible for many types of cancer caused by smoking and second-hand smoke exposure.

    "Until this study, the toxicity of third-hand smoke has not been well understood," lead investigator Bo Hang said. "Third-hand smoke has a smaller quantity of chemicals than second-hand smoke, so it's good to have experimental evidence to confirm its genotoxicity."

    "You can do some things to reduce the odours, but it's very difficult to really clean it completely," the team said. "The best solution is to substitute materials, such as change the carpet, repaint. Third-hand smoke could become more harmful over time."

    To generate the samples, the researchers put paper strips in smoking chambers. The acute samples, generated at Berkeley Lab, were exposed to five cigarettes smoked in about 20 minutes, and the chronic samples, generated at University of California, San Francisco, were exposed to cigarette smoke for 258 hours over 196 days.

    During that time, the chamber was also ventilated for about 35 hours.

    The researchers found that the concentrations of more than half of the compounds studied were higher in the chronic samples than in the acute. They also found higher levels of DNA damage caused by the chronic samples.

    "The cumulative effect of third-hand smoke is quite significant," Gundel said. "The findings suggest the materials could be getting more toxic with time."

    Hang and coworkers exposed the human cells by first extracting the compounds from the paper with a culture medium and then using the medium to culture the human cells for 24 hours. The concentrations of the compounds were carefully measured.

    "They are close to real-life concentrations, and in fact are on the lower side of what someone might be exposed to," Hang said.

    Residual nicotine can react with ozone and nitrous acid — both common indoor air pollutants — to form hazardous agents. When nicotine in third-hand smoke reacts with nitrous acid it undergoes a chemical transformation and forms carcinogenic tobacco-specific nitrosamines, such as NNA, NNK and NNN.

    Nicotine can react with ozone to form ultrafine particles, which can carry harmful chemicals and pass through human tissue.

    Humans can be exposed to third-hand smoke through inhalation, ingestion or skin contact.


  4. #284
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Common virus tied to Alzheimer's: Study

    Contracting a common virus may play a role in the development of Alzheimer's disease, a new study has found.

    The study of the brains of older adults found an association between patients' immune responses to cytomegalovirus (CMV) and signs of Alzheimer's disease.

    "More studies are still needed to understand how an active CMV infection might be related to this most common form of dementia," said study researcher Dr Julie Schneider, of the Rush University Alzheimer's Disease Center in Chicago.

    The study did not show a cause-and-effect link between CMV and Alzheimer's, LiveScience reported.

    It is possible that other stimulants of inflammation, including other viral infections, might also lead to the brain changes seen in the study, which could cause a decline in cognitive function leading to Alzheimer's disease, researchers said.

    CMV is transmitted through contact with bodily fluids, including sexual contact.

    In the new study, Schneider and her colleagues analysed blood and cerebrospinal fluid (brain- and spinal-cord fluid) samples from the bodies of people who were part of an ageing-and-dementia study during their lives.
    All had passed away, and had mild or probable Alzheimer's disease at the time of their death. Of the participants, 37 had antibodies against CMV, and 22 were CMV-negative.

    The researchers found that 80 per cent of the patients who were positive for a CMV infection had high levels of an inflammation marker in their cerebrospinal fluid, while none of the patients who were negative for the virus had this marker present.

    Such a clear-cut difference supports the idea that CMV may specifically cause inflammation related to Alzheimer's, said study researcher Nell Lurain, professor of immunology at Rush University.

    The patients with higher levels of antibodies against CMV were also more likely to have brain cells with aggregated tau proteins, called neurofibrillary tangles that have been connected to Alzheimer's disease.

    The herpes simplex virus (HSV1), another virus that can infect the brain and spinal cord, has also been linked with Alzheimer's progression. But the new study did not find a connection between HSV1 and markers of Alzheimer's disease in patient samples.

    The study also showed no evidence of a link between higher levels of CMV infection and levels of amyloid-beta - an imperfect marker of Alzheimer's but still the hallmark of the disease that most researchers consider the best indicator.

    However, researchers did see that infecting human cells in lab dishes with CMV, but not HSV1, resulted in an increase in amyloid-beta protein.


  5. #285
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Puzzle of how heart regulates its beat solved

    A long-withstanding puzzle as to how the heart regulates its beat appears to have been solved, paving way for better understanding of heart failure.

    When the heart beats (contracts), the contractile machinery is switched on by an increase in calcium within the cell, according to researchers.
    This increase is produced by a release from intracellular stores activated by a small influx of calcium into the cell during the cardiac electrical signal - known as the action potential, they said.

    This apparently simple process raised an important question, since the trigger signal was smaller than the release and both involve calcium how could the system be graded - since once the release is started it should overcome the trigger signal and be fully regenerative.

    Researchers led by Professor Mark Cannell from the University of Bristol's School of Physiology and Pharmacology with Dr Laver from Hunter Medical Research Institute in Australia constructed a 3-dimensional computer model of the release machinery incorporating measurements of the calcium sensitivity of the release mechanism.

    They found that the key to this puzzle is in the calcium dependence of the closed time of the channels that release calcium and the microscopic domain in which they reside. This model showed automatic release termination without having to invoke any other mechanism a process they called "induction decay".

    Therefore, a key piece of the puzzle as how the heart regulates contraction appears to have been solved, and this paves the way to improved understanding of what goes wrong when the heart fails - because there is good evidence that the calcium release mechanism becomes faulty in heart failure.

    "These intracellular processes only occur on the molecular scale which is difficult, if not impossible, to image and study within living cells. Thanks to sophisticated computer modelling, we have been able provide the necessary insight into the complex behaviour of this fundamental system," Cannell said.


  6. #286
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Eating chicken may stave off colon cancer in teens

    Teens who eat more chicken and fish may lower their risk of developing colon cancer, a new study has claimed.

    In a study of nearly 20,000 women, those who ate more chicken during their teen years had lower risks of developing colorectal adenomas, which are benign tumours that may progress into colon cancer.
    The researchers did not find a direct relationship between red meat intake and adenomas, but the results showed that replacing one serving per day of red meat with one serving of poultry or fish may reduce the risks of rectal and advanced adenomas by about 40 per cent, LiveScience reported.


    "Among different cancers, colorectal cancer is the most influenced by diet. Compared to something like smoking, diet is not a large cancer risk factor, but it does have an impact," said study researcher Dr Katharina Nimptsch.

    Previous research has found that a diet high in red and processed meat may increase risks of colon cancer.

    However, earlier studies have investigated diet during adulthood, rather than focusing on what people eat earlier in life, and their future cancer risk.
    "Colorectal carcinogenesis is a long process that can take several decades, and the initial steps of carcinogenesis may occur at young ages," researchers wrote in the new study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

    In the study, women ages 34 to 51 answered questions about their diet during high school. Over the following 10 years, 1,494 of the women were diagnosed with colorectal adenomas. Of these adenomas, 305 were in an advanced stage.

    "Our findings do not suggest an association between red meat intake during adolescence and colorectal adenomas later in life, but higher poultry intake during this time was associated with a lower risk of colorectal adenomas," researchers said.

    Eating more poultry and fish in adulthood didn't seem to change the risk, according to the study.

    "Before recommendations are made based on these findings, it is necessary that results are confirmed," Nimptsch said.


  7. #287
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Antidepressants during pregnancy could affect babies

    Some popular antidepressants in early pregnancy could double the risk of an unborn child developing a heart defect, an expert has warned.

    Professor Stephen Pilling of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), said that evidence suggests that there is a risk associated with the Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), the BBC reported.

    He said that a lot of effort is put in to dissuade women from smoking or drinking alcohol during pregnancy, however, its not the same with antidepressant medication, which may be carrying similar - if not greater - risks.

    Pilling said that the guidance is now going be rewritten to take in to account evidence that the SSRI antidepressants, as a group, are associated to heart defects in babies.

    He asserted that the risk of a child being born with a heart defect is around two in 100; but the new evidence shows that if the mother took an SSRI during early pregnancy the risk rises to around four in 100.


  8. #288
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    A ‘switch’ to curb alcohol craving

    Researchers have identified and deactivated a brain pathway linked to cravings for alcohol in rats, a finding that could lead to treatment for alcohol abuse.

    Scientists at the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center at University of California, San Francisco, were able to prevent the addicted animals from seeking alcohol and drinking it, the equivalent of relapse.

    "One of the main causes of relapse is craving, triggered by the memory by certain cues ," said lead author Segev Barak. The researchers found that just a small drop of alcohol presented to the rats turned on the mTORC1 pathway.

    The researchers then set out to see if they could prevent reconsolidation of memory of alcohol by inhibiting mTORC1, thus preventing relapse . When mTORC1 was inactivated , there was no relapse to alcohol-seeking next day.


  9. #289
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Govt bans popular diabetes drug and analgin

    The government has banned three popular medicines—the widely prescribed anti-diabetes drug pioglitazone, painkiller analgin and anti-depressant deanxit—in the wake of health risks associated with them. While it's believed that pioglitazone can cause heart failure and increases the risk of bladder cancer, analgin has been discarded the world over on grounds of patient safety. Deanxit, on the other hand is a harmful combination, which has been long banned even in Denmark, its country of origin.

    This decision comes in the wake of a strong stand by the government on suspending marketing of all drugs prohibited for sale in other countries like the US, the UK, EU and Australia.

    The ministry of health and family welfare has suspended the manufacture and sale of all three drugs under Section 26A of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 with immediate effect, through a notification issued on June 18, informed sources told TOI. While the ministry has been dilly-dallying on withdrawing analgin and deanxit for years now, despite pressure from a parliamentary panel, the decision on the diabetes drug pioglitazone has taken the industry completely by surprise.

    The decision to ban pioglitazone and its combinations will hit the Rs 700-crore market for such drugs and adversely impact a clutch of companies including Abbott, Sun Pharma, USV, Lupin, Ranbaxy and Wockhardt.

    Pioglitazone combination is a bigger market than plain pioglitazone itself which is has posted a strong double-digit growth, with over 30 companies marketing the drug. The top-selling brands of posiglitazone include Pioz MF G and Pioz (USV), Gemer P (Sun Pharma), Tribet (Abbott), Tripride (Micro Labs) and Gluconorm PG (Lupin). (See chart)

    Popular pain-reliever analgin is a relatively small market with brands like Baralgan and Novalgin (Sanofi Aventis), as most companies fearing a ban have already pulled out from the market, industry experts said. The third drug, a combination of Flupenthixol and Melitracen sold as Deanxit (Lundbeck), Placida (Mankind), Franxit (Intas) and Restfull (Lupin) is facing a ban because deanxit is prohibited for sale in Denmark, its country of origin, and also, the combination is not sold in major countries.

    Under the Drugs and Cosmetic Rule 30-B, the import and marketing of any drug the use of which is prohibited in the country of origin, is banned in India. A parliamentary panel report on health earlier this year had rapped the government for dilly-dallying on withdrawing deanxit and analgin, which are not sold in markets globally.

    The family of 'glitazones', used for blood glucose lowering properties, has been mired in controversy since the beginning, with many drugs under the class having already been banned globally, and in India. Three years back, another drug from this family, rosiglitazone, marketed by a host of companies including GSK India was banned, following a decision taken in Europe.


  10. #290
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Rise in use of designer drugs alarms UN

    The UN drug control agency on Wednesday sounded the alarm on the spread of designer drugs, which are sold openly and legally and sometimes result in deadly highs, while reporting that global drug use generally remains stable.


    Such substances "can be far more dangerous than traditional drugs", the agency said in a statement accompanying its annual report. "Street names, such as 'spice', 'meow-meow' and 'bath salts' mislead young people into believing that they are indulging in low-risk fun".

    A six-page summary of the report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime warned that "the international drug control system is foundering, for the first time, under the speed and creativity" of their proliferation.

    It said countries worldwide reported 251 such substances by mid-2012, compared with 166 at the end of 2009. The problem, said the report, is "hydra-headed" in that as fast as governments ban the drugs, manufacturers produce new variants.

    Nearly 5% of European Union residents aged between 15 and 24 have already experimented with such drugs, said the report.

    In the US, 158 kinds of synthetic drugs were circulating during 2012, more than twice as many as in the EU, and use was growing in East and Southeast Asia, including China, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

    Gil Kerlikowske, director of the US Office of National Drug Control Policy, said the US faces "continuing challenges with prescription drug abuse and new synthetic drugs". ap

    Nearly 5% of EU residents aged between 15 and 24 have already experimented with synthetic drugs, said a UN report.

    In the US, 158 kinds of synthetic drugs were circulating during 2012 and use was steadily growing in East and Southeast Asia.


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