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Health Bulletin


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  1. #361
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Tooth loss may affect memory in elderly

    Tooth loss may be associated with memory problems in elderly, a new study has found. Elderly who have fewer natural teeth remaining perform more poorly on memory tests, according to the study.

    Researchers looked at 273 people ages 55 and older, and found a modest but significant relationship between a person's number of natural teeth and his or her performance on memory tests. The link held when researchers took subjects' ages into account. In other words, it wasn't simply that both teeth and memory abilities tend to disappear with age, 'LiveScience' reported.

    While the reason for the link isn't entirely clear, the new findings are in line with previous animal and human studies, suggesting that the presence of natural teeth has an impact on cognitive function, and having fewer teeth may be regarded as a risk factor for memory problems in the elderly, researchers said. Studies have shown that rats whose teeth were pulled out showed memory and learning problems. The study will be published in European Journal of Oral Sciences.


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  2. #362
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Tooth sensor to reveal lies to dentist

    Scientists have developed a sensor that when embedded in a tooth could tell doctors if patients have ignored medical advice to give up smoking or eat less.

    The sensor works by maintaining a record of how people use their teeth. Built into a tiny circuit board that fits in a tooth cavity, it includes an accelerometer that sends data on mouth motion to a smartphone.

    Machine learning software is taught to recognize each telltale jaw motion pattern. Then it works out how much of the time someone is chewing, drinking, speaking, coughing or smoking, the 'New Scientist' reported.

    The device, developed by Haohua Chu and colleagues at National Taiwan University in Taipei, can be fitted into dentures or a dental brace, and the team plan to miniaturize the device to fit in a cavity or crown. In tests on eight people with a prototype implant, the sensor showed "great promise" , the researchers said.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    People living longer, staying healthier: Study

    Due to medical advances, people are not only living longer, they are also enjoying a healthier old age, Harvard researchers including one of Indian origin have found.


    The UK study shows that even as life expectancy has increased over the past two decades, people have become increasingly healthier later in life.

    "With the exception of the year or two just before death, people are healthier than they used to be," David Cutler from the Harvard University, said.

    "Effectively, the period of time in which we're in poor health is being compressed until just before the end of life. So where we used to see people who are very, very sick for the final six or seven years of their life, that's now far less common. People are living to older ages and we are adding healthy years, not debilitated ones," said Cutler.

    The study results are based on data collected between 1991 and 2009 from nearly 90,000 individuals who responded to the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS).

    Cutler reported these findings in work with Mary Beth Landrum of Harvard Medical School and Kaushik Ghosh of the National Bureau of Economic Research.

    To understand whether people are becoming healthier, Cutler first had to answer a question that, at least initially, seemed impossible to solve: How far are people from death?

    "There are two basic scenarios that people have proposed about the end of life," he said.

    "The first argues that what medical science is doing is turning us into light bulbs - that is, we work well until suddenly we die. This is also called the rectangularisation of the life curve, and what it says is that we're going to have a fairly high quality of life until the very end.

    "The other idea says life is a series of strokes, and medical care has simply gotten better at saving us," he said.

    While researchers have tried to tackle the question of which model is more accurate, different studies have produced competing results.

    One reason for the confusion, Cutler suggested, is that such efforts are simply looking at the wrong end of someone's life.

    By comparing that data with survey responses on how well people were able to care for themselves - whether they were able to cook, clean, bathe themselves, dress themselves, walk and manage money - Cutler was able to determine how healthy people were relative to how close or far away they were from dying.


  4. #364
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Calcium intake crucial during pregnancy and lactation: Study

    Pregnancy is an extremely important stage in the life of every mother as the care taken during this period directly reaps good health for her and her child, post-delivery. And diet is one of the foremost aspects of ensuring good health which should be paid heed to during this phase as well as during lactation. Although it is imperative that a balanced diet should be followed to meet the daily requirements of all essential nutrients, there are few among those that need special attention. And among those essential nutrients, calcium definitely tops the list.

    According to a PubMed study, calcium intake is especially crucial during pregnancy and lactation because of the potential adverse effects on maternal bone health if calcium stores are depleted.

    "Insufficient milk or calcium intake during breast feeding period can drain the bone-calcium levels enormously, especially if a woman has pre-existing low bone density," said Dr Lalit Kaushal Medical superintendent and Sr. Orthopaedic Surgeon, Mother Teresa Saket Orthopaedic Hospital, Panchkula "Calcium supplements become absolutely essential for such women otherwise there is high probability of osteoporosis during later years of life."

    Dr. Kaushal further explained, "Since calcium absorption in the body starts diminishing after a woman reaches 30 years of age, it is all the more vital to ensure recommended calcium intake if the pregnancy is taking place after age of thirty."

    The typical daily loss of calcium in breast milk has been estimated to range from 280-400 mg2. This calcium demand is met chiefly by resorption (bone resorption is the process by which osteoclasts break down bone and release the minerals, resulting in a transfer of calcium from bone to the blood) or demineralization of calcium from maternal bones and also by decreased renal calcium losses and increased intestinal absorption of calcium which is doubled during pregnancy.

    These mutual adjustments within the body do not cause long-term consequences to the maternal skeleton unless the mother already has poor stores of calcium, which may then lead to severe depletion of skeletal mineral content coupled with increased skeletal fragility.

    "Considering the possibility of future bone-related health problems like osteoporosis and fractures, pregnant and nursing mothers should ensure intake of the recommended calcium intake of 1000 mg every day to compensate for the calcium demands of growing foetus and neonate," says Dr. Lalit Kaushal.

    Given that the foetus in the mother's womb and then the newly born baby through breast-feeding depend on maternal sources for the development of skeletal mass, adequate maternal calcium intake can also influence the baby's bone health positively in addition to preserving maternal bone health.

    Proper calcium consumption can be achieved through the diet by intake of dairy products, green leafy vegetables, certain seafoods like salmon and sardines, fortified foods and calcium-containing supplementary products available in the market.

    Child-birth is undoubtedly a landmark event in every woman's life. Every mother wants to give the best to her little one, however it is also that period of time when she should acquire the best in terms of nutrients and diet in order to ensure her baby's as well as her own future health. Since bones are the very framework of the body, negligence in their care might impose heavy burden, manifested in the form of brittle bones and frequent fractures in later life.


  5. #365
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Soybean compound may inhibit HIV

    A compound found in soybeans can be used in new treatments to inhibit the deadly HIV infection, scientists claim. Researchers from George Mason University in the US found that genistein, derived from soybeans and other plants, may become an effective HIV treatment without the drug resistance issues faced by current therapies.

    Genistein is a "tyrosine kinase inhibitor" that works by blocking the communication from a cell's surface sensors to its interior. Found on a cell's surface, these sensors tell the cell about its environment and also communicate with other cells. HIV uses some of these surface sensors to trick the cell to send signals inside. These signals change cell structure so that the virus can get inside and spread infection.

    But genistein blocks the signal and stops HIV from finding a way inside the cell. It takes a different approach than the standard antiretroviral drug used to inhibit HIV.

    "Instead of directly acting on the virus, genistein interferes with the cellular processes that are necessary for the virus to infect cells," said Yuntao Wu, a professor with the George Mason-based National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases and the Department of Molecular and Microbiology.

    "Thus, it makes the virus more difficult to become resistant to the drug. Our study is currently in its early stage. If clinically proven effective, genistein may be used as a complement treatment for HIV infection," Wu said. Researchers caution that this doesn't mean people should start eating large amounts of soy products.

    "Although genistein is rich in several plants such as soybeans, it is still uncertain whether the amount of genistein we consume from eating soy is sufficient to inhibit HIV," Wu said. Wu sees possibilities in this plant-based approach, which may address drug toxicity issues as well. Because genistein is plant-derived, it may be able to sidestep drug toxicity, a common byproduct of the daily and lifelong pharmaceutical regimen faced by patients with HIV to keep the disease at bay, Wu said.

    Typically, patients take a combination of multiple drugs to inhibit the virus. The frequency can lead to drug toxicity. Plus, HIV mutates and becomes drug-resistant.

    Wu and his team are working at finding out how much genistein is needed to inhibit HIV. It's possible that plants may not have high enough levels, so drugs would need to be developed, Wu said.


  6. #366
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    New device uses handwriting to detect neurological disorders

    Researchers have developed a novel device that detects neuro-degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's by recording signals from a patient's hand muscles during handwriting.

    Detecting a nuero-degenerative disorder that attacks the central nervous system, causing tremors, rigidity, slowness of movement and loss of balance can be difficult, especially in early stages, researchers said.

    They said that motor neurons transmit electrical signals to muscles to make them contract.

    In the new detection system, a test subject attaches Electromyography (EMG) surface electrodes to his or her hand and wears a glove to hold the electrodes in place, 'LiveScience' reported.

    EMG is a process that records and graphs such electrical activity to yield information about the condition of a subject's muscles and the nerve cells that control them.

    The subject then writes on a tablet, repeating simple, stereotyped hand movements that involve two basic motor components: firmly holding a pen by the fingers and moving the hand and the fingers to produce written text.

    The results are obtained from both the tablet and the surface EMG electrodes.

    An analytical programme generates the result of muscle activity during this controlled set of movements and finds essential differences in the writing and writing behaviour of patients with Parkinson's disease and older healthy control subjects.

    Therefore, a clinician would be able to detect and study neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's.

    The developers of the system included National Science Foundation-funded engineers at Norconnect, led by its chief scientist Michael Linderman.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Gum disease tied to Alzheimer's risk

    People with poor dental hygiene or gum disease may be at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study.

    Researchers at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) in UK studied brain samples from deceased dementia patients and found that they contained unusually high levels of Porphyromonas gingivalis, a type of bacteria which causes gum disease.

    Although the bacteria live in the mouth, they can enter the bloodstream during eating, chewing, tooth brushing or dental surgery, and potentially reach the brain, experts said.

    Inflammation caused by gum disease-related bacteria has already been linked to various health problems including diabetes, heart disease and stroke, 'The Telegraph' reported. The arrival of the bug in the brain could cause the immune system to release chemicals which kill brain cells, causing the confusion and memory loss associated with Alzheimer's.

    "We are working on the theory that when the brain is repeatedly exposed to bacteria and/or their debris from our gums, subsequent immune responses may lead to nerve cell death and possibly memory loss," Dr Sim Singhrao, one of the authors of the study, said.

    "Our hypothesis is that this is a chronic assault. It is not happening overnight, it is a build-up over years. But all we have shown so far is that bacteria from the gum region get into the brain. We haven't proven that they cause Alzheimer's disease," said Professor St John Crean, dean of the school of medicine and dentistry at UCLan.

    Earlier research has linked dementia to other bacteria and viruses, such as the Herpes simplex virus type 1, but the new study is the first to identify Porphyromonas gingivalis in the brains of dementia patients.

    "We don't know whether the presence of these bacteria in the brain contributes to the disease and further research will be needed to investigate this," said Dr Simon Ridley, of Alzheimer's Research UK. The study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.


  8. #368
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    First detailed guidelines on sex after heart attack issued

    The European Society of Cardiology and the American Heart Association has come up with a document based on a consensus between doctors on how to resume a healthy sex life after having suffered a heart attack.

    The statement issues a strict no for extramarital sexual encounters after heart disease. It says sexual activity should be in a comfortable room temperature and with the usual partner as it adds less stress to the heart.

    The statement is the first to provide "how to" information about resuming sexual activities and applies to patients who have had a heart attack, heart transplant, stroke, received an implanted heart device or have other heart conditions, as well as their partners.

    Elaine Steinke, lead author of the statement and professor of nursing at Wichita State University in Kansas said "It is the first scientific statement to offer detailed guidance for patients. Patients are anxious and often afraid sex will trigger another cardiac event - but the topic sometimes gets passed over because of embarrassment or discomfort."

    The recommendation focus on when to resume sex, risks with sex and managing medications. Doctors have reached a consensus that the setting and environment for sexual activity are important and patients with heart disease must not try sex in unfamiliar surroundings.

    "This is based on data from a study with pathological analysis of deaths that occurred during sexual activity in which almost all deaths occurred in men (92.6%), with the majority of the deaths occurring during extramarital intercourse. Only 19 of the fatal events occurred in the victim's home or the home of a long time partner," the document said.

    It says that studies from Asia have shown that men are the major victims of sudden death in the context of extramarital relations and their underlying cardiovascular diseases contributes to mortality.

    "It is presumed that secret sexual activity in an unfamiliar setting may significantly increase blood pressure and heart rate, resulting in sudden death or cardiovascular events. The risks, however, appear to be very low, and the increase in risk attributed to coitus was found to be far less than that associated with anger and unaccustomed physical exercise," the document said.

    There was however no consensus on what kind of position the patient should assume for sexual activity.

    The consensus among the world's top cardiologists is that anal sex can be a pleasurable sexual activity enjoyed by both heterosexual and homosexual couples.

    "However, anal penetration stimulates the vagus nerve, which leads to a slowed heart rate, rhythm, impulse conduction, and coronary blood flow which can result in diminished cardiac performance and chest pain. Therefore, sexual counselling might include the avoidance of anal sex until the cardiac condition is stabilized and after further evaluation of the safety of sexual activity".


  9. #369
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Drinking milk after breakfast may ward off cavities

    Drinking a glass of milk after having sugary cereals for breakfast can prevent tooth cavities, scientists, including one of Indian-origin, have found.

    Dry ready-to-eat, sugar-added cereals combine refined sugar and starch. When those carbohydrates are consumed, bacteria in the dental plaque on tooth surfaces produce acids, said principal investigator of the study, Christine Wu, professor of pediatric dentistry and director of cariology at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry.

    According to the new research, published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, consuming a glass of milk after eating sugary breakfast cereal reduces plaque acid levels and may prevent damage to tooth enamel that leads to cavities.

    The new study, performed by Wu's former graduate student Shilpa Naval, involved 20 adults eating 20 grams of dry Froot Loops cereal, then drinking different beverages - whole milk, 100 per cent apple juice, or tap water.

    Plaque pH, or acidity, was measured with a touch microelectrode between the premolar teeth before eating; at two and five minutes after eating; and then two to 30 minutes after drinking a liquid.

    The pH in plaque dropped rapidly after consuming cereal alone, and remained acidic at pH 5.83 at 30 minutes. A pH below 7 is acidic; a pH greater than 7 is basic. Pure water has a pH close to 7.

    Participants who drank milk after eating sugary cereal showed the highest pH rise, from 5.75 to 6.48 at 30 minutes. Those who drank apple juice remained at pH 5.84 at 30 minutes, while water raised the pH to 6.02.

    Fruit juices are considered healthy food choices, but the added sugar can be a risk to dental health, Wu said.

    "Our study results show that only milk was able to reduce acidity of dental plaque resulting from consuming sugary Froot Loops," said Naval, who is currently a fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

    "We believe that milk helped mitigate the damaging effect of fermentable carbohydrate and overcome the previously lowered plaque pH," Naval said.

    Milk, with a pH ranging from 6.4 to 6.7, is considered to be a functional food that fights cavities because it promotes tooth remineralisation and inhibits the growth of plaque, Wu said.

    Wu said most consumers think that since milk is considered to be cavity-fighting, acid production by plaque bacteria can be minimised by mixing it with cereal.

    However, in an unpublished study in her lab, it was discovered that the combination of Froot Loops and milk became syrupy. Eating cereal combined with milk lowered plaque pH to levels similar to that obtained after rinsing with a 10 per cent sugar solution.

    Eating sugar-added cereal with milk, followed by drinking fruit juice is thus a highly cavity-causing combination, Wu said.


  10. #370
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Found: A switch to turn off cancer of testis and ovary

    Researchers from Cambridge have discovered a molecular "switch" that can turn off a highly virulent cancer of the testis and the ovary. The scientists found that all malignant germ cell tumours, like the type which typically occurs in the testes and ovaries, contain large amounts of a protein called LIN28.

    This results in too little of a family of tiny regulator molecules called let-7 .

    In turn, low levels of let-7 cause too much of cancerpromoting proteins in cells. The cancer-promoting proteins include LIN28 itself, so there is a vicious cycle that acts as an "on" switch to promote malignancy.

    The researchers have likened these changes to a "cascade effect" , extending down from the large amounts of LIN28 to affect many properties of the cancer cells. They also discovered that by reducing the amount of LIN28 or by directly increasing the amount of let-7 , it is possible to reverse the vicious cycle.

    Both ways reduced levels of the cancer-promoting proteins and inhibited cell growth. Because the level of LIN28 itself goes down, the effects are reinforced and act as an "off " switch to reduce cancerous behaviour.

    Cambridge scientists therefore identified the "on/ off " switch and have published their findings in the journal Cancer Research. Malignant germ cell tumours arise in sperms — or egg-forming cells and usually occur in the reproductive organs, the testes or ovaries.

    The cancerous tumours are seen in patients of all ages , both in childhood and adulthood. Although many patients do well after treatment , chemotherapy can have severe long-term side effects , including hearing loss and damage to the kidneys.


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