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Health Bulletin


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  1. #421
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Biggest heart attack risks for Indians

    Indian researchers have conducted a data mining exercise to find out important risk factors in increasing the chances of an individual having a heart attack.

    The authors confirm that the usual suspects high blood cholesterol, intake of alcohol and passive smoking play the most crucial role in 'severe,' 'moderate' and 'mild' cardiac risks, respectively.

    Subhagata Chattopadhyay of the Camellia Institute of Engineering in Kolkata used 300 real-world sample patient cases with various levels of cardiac risk - mild, moderate and severe and mined the data based on twelve known predisposing factors: age, gender, alcohol abuse, cholesterol level, smoking (active and passive), physical inactivity, obesity, diabetes, family history, and prior cardiac event.

    He then built a risk model that revealed specific risk factors associated with heart attack risk.

    Chattopadhyay explained that the essence of this work essentially lies in the introduction of clustering techniques instead of purely statistical modeling, where the latter has its own limitations in 'data-model fitting' compared to the former that is more flexible.

    He said that the reliability of the data used, should be checked, and this has been done in this work to increase its authenticity. I reviewed several papers on epidemiological research, where I'm yet to see these methodologies, used.

    The study has been published in International Journal of Biomedical Engineering and Technology.


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  2. #422
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Cure to jet lag comes closer to reality

    Having problem with sleep disorders? A new research suggests that these common sleep disturbances can one day be put to bed.

    Overnight flights across the Atlantic, graveyard shifts, stress-induced insomnia are all prime culprits in keeping us from getting a good night's sleep.

    In the new study, researchers have identified how a fundamental biological process called protein synthesis is controlled within the body's circadian clock - the internal mechanism that controls one's daily rhythms.

    Their findings may help shed light on future treatments for disorders triggered by circadian clock dysfunction, including jet lag , shift work disorders, and chronic conditions like depression and Parkinson's disease.
    "To understand and treat the causes and symptoms of circadian abnormalities, we have to take a closer look at the fundamental biological mechanisms that control our internal clocks," study co-author Dr. Shimon Amir, professor in Concordia University's Department of Psychology, said.
    To do so, Amir and co-author Dr. Nahum Sonenberg, a James McGill professor in the Dept. of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, at the Goodman Cancer Research Centre at McGill University, studied how protein synthesis is controlled in the brain clock.

    "We identified a repressor protein in the clock and found that by removing this protein, the brain clock function was surprisingly improved," Dr. Sonenberg said.

    The research is published in the journal Neuron.


  3. #423
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    ‘Super’ bajra fights malnutrition

    There seems to be new hope for millions of malnourished kids in India. According to a just-published study, conducted in Karnataka, just 100 gm of pearl millet or bajra, bred to contain more iron, could reduce iron deficiency in children.

    Anemic children under the age of 3 who ate upma, sheera and roti made from high-iron bajra absorbed more iron than from ordinary bajra flour, enough to meet their daily iron requirements, according to the study published in the Journal of Nutrition. It was conducted by researchers from the University of Colorado in Denver and Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College in Belgaum, Karnataka.

    The new bajra variety, called Dhanshakti, has been developed through biofortification by the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in collaboration with HarvestPlus, a Washington-based NGO. Biofortification involves enhancing the nutritional value of staple crops through selective breeding or genetic modification. Parminder Virk, manager, crop development, at HarvestPlus, clarifies that the Dhanshakti, which also has high zinc, "is not a GM crop, but one developed with selective breeding".

    Erick Boy, head of nutrition at HarvestPlus, adds, "Biofortification is intended to deliver daily doses of iron, zinc and vitamin A through staple foods at no additional costs and without the need to modify consumer behaviour. It is specifically intended for women and children who reside in rural farming communities which are typically outside the regular reach of delivery systems for the other interventions."

    The high-iron bajra, which is also high-yielding and drought-resistant, was commercialized in 2012 in Maharashtra. According to Binu Cherian, head of delivery of pearl millet in India at HarvestPlus, "Around 30,000 farmers, mostly in Maharashtra and a few parts of Karnataka and UP, have planted this variety do far."

    The challenge, of course, is to convince the market and the consumers. Boy is optimistic: "The new high iron and zinc varieties look, smell, feel and taste the same as any other pearl millet. In fact, they've been bred using local varieties through traditional plant breeding. So, we do not expect resistance in local markets."

    Cherian adds that the new variety would also be cheaper than conventional bajra. He hopes to build networks with food companies and NGOs to increase access to the new grain. "We would love to work with the public distribution system and mid-day meal schemes too," he adds. Meanwhile, in the offing are biofortified varieties of rice, wheat, sorghum and cow peas, also for the Indian market.


  4. #424
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Volunteering may boost mental health

    Volunteering can improve mental health and help you live longer, new research has claimed.

    The research by University of Exeter, pooled and compared data from multiple experimental trials and longitudinal cohort studies, and concluded that volunteering may be good for health.

    Some observational evidence pointed to around a 20 per cent reduction in mortality among volunteers compared to non-volunteers in cohort studies.
    Volunteers also reported lower levels of depression, increased life satisfaction and enhanced well-being, although the findings have yet to be confirmed in trials, researchers said.

    Dr Suzanne Richards at the University of Exeter Medical School and colleagues analysed 40 papers which reported data from 9 experimental trials and 16 cohort studies to arrive at their conclusions.

    The causal mechanisms underlying the potential health benefits of volunteering are unclear. Some people hypothesise that physical benefits, for example, could be explained by the fact that volunteers spend more time out of the house. But the relationship with mental health may be trickier.

    Although people tend to volunteer for altruistic reasons, if they do not feel they are 'getting something back', then the positive impact of volunteering on quality of life is limited.

    "Our systematic review shows that volunteering is associated with improvements in mental health, but more work is needed to establish whether volunteering is actually the cause," Richards said.

    "It is still unclear whether biological and cultural factors and social resources that are often associated with better health and survival are also associated with a willingness to volunteer in the first place.

    "The challenge now is to encourage people from more diverse backgrounds to take up volunteering, and then to measure whether improvements arise for them," Richards said.

    The study is published in the journal BMC Public Health.


  5. #425
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Higher intake of veggies may cut cancer risk

    Researchers have claimed that a greater consumption of fruits and vegetables may help lower the risk of invasive bladder cancer in women.

    The investigation was conducted as part of the Multiethnic Cohort (MEC) Study, established in 1993 to assess the relationships among dietary, lifestyle, genetic factors, and cancer risk.

    Park and her fellow researcher's analyzed data collected from 185,885 older adults over a period of 12.5 years, of which 581 invasive bladder cancer cases were diagnosed (152 women and 429 men).

    After adjusting for variables related to cancer risk (age, etc.) the researchers found that women who consumed the most fruits and vegetables had the lowest bladder cancer risk.

    For instance, women consuming the most yellow-orange vegetables were 52 percent less likely to have bladder cancer than women consuming the least yellow-orange vegetables.

    The data also suggested that women with the highest intake of vitamins A, C, and E had the lowest risk of bladder cancer. No associations between fruit and vegetable intake and invasive bladder cancer were found in men.

    Their findings have been published in The Journal of Nutrition.


  6. #426
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    'Female sperm' & 'male eggs' a possibility

    Researchers have suggested that it may be possible in the future to create sperm from women and eggs from men - a feat, that if achieved, could revolutionize infertility treatments.


    Katsuhiko Hayashi of Kyoto University in Japan and his senior professor Mitinori Saitou used skin cells from mice to create primordial germ cells or PGCs. PGCs are the common precursor of both male and female sex cells. These cells were then developed into both sperm and eggs. Scientists used these to create live-births via in-vitro fertilization.

    The technique offers numerous possibilities for reproductive medicine. It may allow infertile women to have babies by creating eggs from their skin cells, and also make it possible for sperm and eggs cells to be created from either males or females, 'The Independent' reported. In the technique, pluripotent stem cells were extracted from early-stage embryos and somatic cells, and were then converted into PGCs using signalling molecules. These germ cells were transplanted into the ovaries and testes of living mice to develop. Once these cells were mature they were extracted and used to fertilise one another in vitro.

    The initial research took place in October last year, with researchers claiming that the live-births were merely a 'side effect' of the research to demonstrate that the creation of PGCs had been successful.

    Other researchers have replicated the production of PGCs but could not succeed in producing live births. The scientists involved also have many other hurdles to overcome including the production of 'fragile' and 'misshapen' eggs, wrote David Cyranoski in 'Scientific American'.

    The Japanese team is now working on monkey embryos and believe they could repeat the mouse work in monkeys within 5-10 years, with the creation of human PGCs following shortly after.

    While making PGCs for infertility treatment will be a huge jump, many scientists are urging caution as embryonic stem cells frequently pick up chromosomal abnormalities, genetic mutations and epigenetic irregularities during culture. Hayashi has also said that a viable infertility treatment could be 10 or even 50 years in the future. "My impression is that it is very far away. I don't want to give people unfeasible hope," he said.


  7. #427
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    A sprayable coffee to give you caffeine buzz

    Soon, you will be spraying your coffee instead of drinking it! A spray that can give coffee lovers their much needed caffeine fix, without having to drink it at all, has been developed by a Harvard researcher.


    Biochemist Ben Yu in collaboration with Venture Capitalist Deven Soni created 'Sprayable Energy,' which they say delivers the same caffeine buzz as coffee. The Sprayable Energy spray consists of water, caffeine and an amino acid that helps the body absorb it. Four squirts of the odourless spray on a person's neck or wrists can provide roughly the same caffeine as a small cup of coffee, 'New York Daily News' reported.

    However, because the product is absorbed through the skin, it is claimed that the spray gives less of a jolt and fewer lingering jitters than an average drink. "We definitely recommend four or five sprays, and no more than 20 per day," Soni said.

    "Skin has a saturation point, and there are only a few places on the body with the concentration of blood vessels where the product will work best," she said. Soni and Yu hope that they can attract enough people who are put off by the adverse physical effects of coffee and artificial ingredient list in energy drinks, the report said.


  8. #428
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    How to find clarity in face of trauma

    A new research has claimed that the best method to make sense of a tragedy is to turn away from reports in the news and social media and adopt a more simple understanding of the event.

    According to new research from The University of Texas at Austin, in the wake of a negative event, people are more likely to find clarity by considering the larger picture.

    Lead author Jae-Eun Namkoong, marketing graduate student in Red McCombs School of Business, said that such a firm understanding helps to diffuse negative emotions and the feeling of a lack of control.
    He said that certainty about what causes tragic events not only helps people feel better, but also gives them a sense of direction for action.
    Namkkong said that people launching petitions for government actions, constituents voting for policies, or even consumers boycotting against products that malfunction are all motivated by their certainty of the causes behind negative events.

    As part of the study, the researchers presented 196 participants with information about the Sandy Hook shooting and altered their sense of time by framing the incident around different reference points.

    For example, the shooting appears to be much more recent when compared with the Sept. 11 attacks of 2001. But in comparison with a similar incident that occurred just two weeks prior, the Sandy Hook shooting seems much farther away.

    According to the results, the participants who perceived the shooting as farther away in time were more confident in their understanding about why the event happened.

    Marlone Henderson, assistant professor of psychology and co-author of the study, said that as time passes, people naturally gain more certainty about events.

    He said that if a person is trying to give themselves a feeling of meaning, they can distance yourself from the incident with time and space. And this also applies to personal problems, such as troubles at work, a broken appliance, or even a bad breakup.

    In another experiment, the researchers presented 202 participants with a list of potential causes of the Sandy Hook shooting that were frequently mentioned in the media and public discourse (e.g., suspect's poor social support, weak security in elementary schools, shooter's personality disorder, loose gun control). They were then asked to assign a percentage value to each cause.

    The results: Those who perceived the shooting as a distant memory were likely to attribute the event to one or two possible causes. However, the participants who perceived the incident as much closer in time associated the causes to a multitude of factors.

    The study has been published online in Social Psychological and Personality Science.


  9. #429
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Eat kiwifruit to ward off fatigue and depression

    Researchers found people who ate two kiwifruit daily had significantly less fatigue and depression than those who consumed half a kiwifruit daily.

    The finding came out of a University of Otago, Christchurch study which involved 54 young male university students who generally eat little fresh fruit and vegetables.

    They also felt they had more energy, Stuff.co.nz reported.

    These changes appeared to be related to the optimising of vitamin C intake with the two- kiwifruit dose. Kiwifruit are an exceptional source of vitamin C.

    Vitamin C helped activate enzymes in the body that enhanced the levels of metabolic energy and different neurochemicals in the brain, Professor Margreet Vissers, of the university's Centre for Free Radical Research said.
    The findings were published in the Journal of Nutritional Science.


  10. #430
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Washing chicken before cooking 'more deadly than healthy'

    A new research has broken the common belief that washing raw chicken before cooking is safe, or even prevents food-borne illness, claiming that the rinse can actually be doing more harm than good.

    Food safety researchers have released four short video stories to promote the "Don't Wash Your Chicken" campaign.

    In each of the campaign's mini-drama videos, a knowing family member - wife, granddaughter, daughter and mother - explains to a well-intentioned home cook that the common practice of rinsing raw poultry before cooking is actually unsafe.

    An animated "Germ-Vision" graphic then shows that washing chicken only risks splattering and spreading bacteria that then can cross-contaminate other foods and kitchen surfaces.

    Food safety researcher Dr. Jennifer Quinlan, an associate professor at Drexel University, who helped develop the campaign, said that you should assume that if you have chicken, you have either Salmonella or Campylobacter bacteria on it, if not both.

    These two bacteria, she noted, are the leading causes of food-borne illness.
    Quinlan said that if you wash the chicken, you're more likely to spray bacteria all over the kitchen and yourself and rinse water is not hot enough to kill bacteria anyway.

    The study was published in the Journal of Food Protection.


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