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Health Bulletin


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  1. #581
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    New blood test to detect gastrointestinal disorders

    Scientists have for the first time developed a blood test to determine if a person is suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), or another serious condition such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).

    Researchers have conclusively identified a test for antibodies that form against a particular protein, vinculin, found in the guts of patients, many of whom suffered acute gastroenteritis at some point.

    "This is a major breakthrough. It is the first test with a high specificity for IBS, likely based on a pathological mechanism of the disease," said Cedars-Sinai physician researcher Mark Pimentel, co-author of the study.
    In the study, 221 patients were evaluated; some had a diagnosis of IBS, some were diagnosed with IBD and some were healthy, with no symptoms.
    Anti-vinculin antibodies were significantly elevated in IBS patients as compared to those with IBD or those who were healthy.

    "Until this study, there had been no accurate biomarkers identified specifically for IBS. The new blood test has the potential to distinguish IBS from IBD and reduce the need for unnecessary testing, expense and years of suffering," said Pimentel.

    Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a gastrointestinal disorder characterised by diarrhea, bloating and abdominal pain. However, millions of patients are never diagnosed correctly.

    A simple blood test at the first sign of symptoms means patients who have IBS could get effective treatment sooner.

    The research was presented at the American College of Gastroenterology's 78th Annual Scientific Meeting in San Diego.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Brain gets rid of toxins as we sleep

    It's a wake-up call for an estimated 150 million people who don't get enough sleep. Scientists say sleep is the mechanism through which the body flushes waste from the human brain.

    The brain's method of waste removal — the glymphatic system — is highly active during sleep, clearing away toxins responsible for Alzheimer's disease and other neurological disorders, according to a study.

    Researchers say the brain's cells reduce in size during sleep, allowing waste to be removed more effectively. "This study shows that the brain has different functional states when asleep and when awake," said Maiken Nedergaard of the University of Rochester Medical Centre. "In fact, the restorative nature of sleep appears to be the result of the active clearance of the by-products that accumulate during wakefulness."

    By 2030, the number of adults suffering from sleeplessness is projected to be around 1.57 million, corresponding to over 260 million experiencing sleep problems. Sleep disorders at present affect 5-10 % of Indians.

    The brain's process of clearing waste had long eluded scientists for it couldn't be observed in the living brain till the advent of new imaging technologies like two photon microscopy


  3. #583
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Brain gets rid of toxins as we sleep

    It's a wake-up call for an estimated 150 million people who don't get enough sleep. Scientists say sleep is the mechanism through which the body flushes waste from the human brain.

    The brain's method of waste removal — the glymphatic system — is highly active during sleep, clearing away toxins responsible for Alzheimer's disease and other neurological disorders, according to a study.

    Researchers say the brain's cells reduce in size during sleep, allowing waste to be removed more effectively. "This study shows that the brain has different functional states when asleep and when awake," said Maiken Nedergaard of the University of Rochester Medical Centre. "In fact, the restorative nature of sleep appears to be the result of the active clearance of the by-products that accumulate during wakefulness."

    By 2030, the number of adults suffering from sleeplessness is projected to be around 1.57 million, corresponding to over 260 million experiencing sleep problems. Sleep disorders at present affect 5-10 % of Indians.

    The brain's process of clearing waste had long eluded scientists for it couldn't be observed in the living brain till the advent of new imaging technologies like two photon microscopy


  4. #584
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Osteoporosis a silent killer, say experts

    In the 21st century, with increasing life expectancy, a woman has to spend more than 1/3rd of her life in menopause and among the menopausal problems, osteoporosis is most troublesome as it robs a woman of her independence.

    A gynecologist, Dr Vandana Bansal, said that osteoporosis is known as a silent killer because it itself has no symptoms. Its main consequence is increased risk of bone fracture and typical fragility fracture occurs in vertebral column, ribs, hip and wrist. "Fractures are most dangerous aspect of osteoporosis and acute and chronic pain in elderly is often attributed to fracture from osteoporosis and can lead to further disability and early mortality," she said.

    Experts say that balanced diet is must to have healthy bones and avoid complications related to osteoporosis. Adequate nutrition is important throughout pregnancy. Thus the nutritional needs of both mother and child must be considered. Breast feeding should be encouraged to give children a good skeletal start. Birth weight is linked to adult bone mineral content and there is evidence that low birth weight relates to higer rates of osteoporotic fracture in adult life. Inadequate nutrition in early childhood may have persisting adverse effects on bone. Adults who consumed milk less than once a week in childhood and adolescence have higher rates of osteoporotic fractures later in life.

    The cost of healthcare for osteoporosis continues to rise. It is important to diagnose this preventable and treatable disease early. A comprehensive medical examination and assessment of risk factors for fracture are necessary. Whereas, laboratory tests help to exclude secondary causes of osteoporosis. Dual energy X-ray remains the main standard for osteoporosis diagnosis. Low bone density is highly predictive of future fracture risk in early and late post-menopausal women.

    Talking on the issue, gynaecologist Dr Amita Tripathi said that a woman, left untreated, is predicted to have a 50% chance of suffering from an osteoporotic fracture sometime in her life. India is one of the highest affected countries in the world and Indian women suffer from osteoporosis 10 to 20 years earlier as compared to western counterparts.

    It is important for every person to grow a strong skeletal framework in youth. There are certain risk factors for developing osteoporosis wherein some are non-modifiable like age, female gender, genetics, Asian & European race, small and thin build while others are modifiable like excess alcohol, vitamin D deficiency, tobacco smoking, malnutrition and soft drinks.

    Another expert said that a woman's risk of developing osteoporosis related hip fracture is equal to her combined risk of developing breast, uterine & ovarian cancer. Hip fracture acutely impairs mobility and may require surgery.

    Nutritious diet with plenty of protein and minerals is must to avoid complications related to osteoporosis. Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits to improve acid-base status and supply vitamin C, consume calcium-rich foods every day, select low-fat dairy products. One should limit intake of salt, alcohol and prefer calcium-rich beverages. People at risk should mineral supplements if energy intake is low. Post-menopausal women at risk of osteoporosis should take 1,500 mg of calcium daily.


  5. #585
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Low back pain tied to flat feet

    Women who walk with flat feet are 50 percent more likely than those with normal or high arches to have low back pain, a new study suggests.

    "The key takeaway from the study is that if women have low back pain, it may not be just the back," said senior author Marian Hannan of the Institute for Aging Research at Hebrew SeniorLife in Boston.
    "It turns out that feet are important for the back."

    Past research has hinted that low back pain, which affects roughly one in five people worldwide, could be related to the shape of the foot's arch in the standing position.
    This study, published in Rheumatology, focused on the arch while a person walked.
    Among 1,930 men and women recruited from Framingham, Massachusetts, pronated feet - which tend to roll inward as a person walks - were linked to lower back pain in women only.

    "There has been only weak correlation between pronated feet and low back pain so I was happy to see some evidence of this in the study," said Christopher Kevin Wong.

    He is an associate professor of rehabilitation and regenerative medicine at Columbia University in New York City and was not involved with the current study.

    For their study, Hannan and her colleagues measured each person's arch in the standing position. Then participants walked across a mat with embedded sensors to measure pressure from the heel to the tip of the foot while walking.

    "It's a method that shows promise, and will need to be validated against other measures of motion analysis," Wong told Reuters Health.

    For example, another method includes marking a person's leg with ink at the joints in order to detect under- or over-pronation movements.

    Women in the study were in their 60s, on average. About 38 percent overall reported having low back pain.

    Dr. Stephen Pinney, an orthopedic surgeon at St. Mary's Medical Center in San Francisco, called the size of the study "impressive."

    He told Reuters Health future studies should follow participants with different arches forward in time to confirm these findings. Research should also determine what effect, if any, interventions such as orthotics might have on who develops back pain.

    "We've known that putting a patient in a foot cast after surgery, for example, can lead to lower back pain because this creates asymmetric forces on the back," said Pinney, who didn't participate in the new research.
    Hannan said the body may use other muscles to help make up for flat feet when a person walks, which could explain the link to back pain.

    Standing and walking use the foot in different ways. Both a flat foot in standing position and a pronated foot walking could be something to consider during a doctor's visit, Hannan said.

    She and her team suggested reasons why women could be more affected by flat feet while walking than men.

    For example, women's pelvic bones are wider and not as flexible as men's. In general, women rotate their hips more than men while walking. Women also move their upper bodies more than men when they walk.
    "Women probably don't know if their foot function contributes to low back pain, but they can find out about it," Hannan told Reuters Health.

    She suggested people with low back pain visit a doctor or physical therapist.
    One simple trick to strengthen muscles in the feet is to lay a towel on a flat surface and then scrunch the toes together in order to pick up the towel and lower it back down. Foot orthotics are another option.

    "Once you have back pain, you'll want to do core muscle exercises and perhaps take anti-inflammatory medication, but anything that is contributing to asymmetry - you will also want to address that," Pinney said.

    "There are a bunch of different reasons for getting low back pain, and this adds another category for people to consider," he said.


  6. #586
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Clock that measures aging found hidden in our DNA

    In a step towards unraveling the mystery of aging, a US scientist has discovered a human body clock tucked away in body's DNA. It measures the age of cells, tissues and organs.

    Steve Hovarth of the University of California, Los Angeles found that different parts of the body were aging at different speeds - some faster, others slower. Significantly, diseased organs showed ages many years in ahead of the rest of the normal body. Hovarth's study is reported in the scientific journal Genome Biology on Monday.

    "The big question is whether the biological clock controls a process that leads to aging," Horvath said. "If so, the clock will become an important biomarker for studying new therapeutic approaches to keeping us young."

    Theoretically, it is possible to reverse aging if one understands how it is taking place. Horvath's work is a clear identification of a biochemical process linked to aging. By understanding how Hovarth's clock works, it may be possible to get the key to aging, and perhaps develop ways of stopping or slowing it down.

    While earlier clocks have been linked to saliva, hormones and telomeres, the new research is the first to identify an internal timepiece able to accurately gauge the age of diverse human organs, tissues and cell types. Unexpectedly, the clock also found that some parts of the anatomy, like a woman's breast tissue, age faster than the rest of the body.

    To create the clock, Horvath focused on methylation, a naturally occurring process that chemically alters DNA. Horvath sifted through 121 sets of data collected previously by researchers who had studied methylation in both healthy and cancerous human tissue. Analysing 8,000 samples of 51 types of tissue and cells taken from throughout the body, Horvath charted how age affects DNA methylation levels from pre-birth through 101 years. To create the clock, he zeroed in on 353 markers that change with age and are present throughout the body. He tested the clock's effectiveness by comparing a tissue's biological age to its chronological age. Repeated tests showed that the clock was accurate.

    "It's surprising that one could develop a clock that reliably keeps time across the human anatomy," he admitted. "My approach really compared apples and oranges, or in this case, very different parts of the body: the brain, heart, lungs, liver, kidney and cartilage."

    While most samples' biological ages matched their chronological ages, others diverged significantly. For example, Horvath discovered that a woman's breast tissue ages faster than the rest of her body.

    "Healthy breast tissue is about two to three years older than the rest of a woman's body," said Horvath. "If a woman has breast cancer, the healthy tissue next to the tumor is an average of 12 years older than the rest of her body."

    The results may explain why breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. Given that the clock ranked tumor tissue an average of 36 years older than healthy tissue, it could also explain why age is a major risk factor for many cancers in both genders.

    Horvath next looked at pluripotent stem cells, adult cells that have been reprogrammed to an embryonic stem cell-like state, enabling them to form any type of cell in the body and continue dividing indefinitely.

    "My research shows that all stem cells are newborns," he said. "More importantly, the process of transforming a person's cells into pluripotent stem cells resets the cells' clock to zero."

    Horvath also found that the clock's rate speeds up or slows down depending on a person's age. At birth, the clock is faster and continues like that till adolescence. But after about 20 years age it slows down to a constant rate for the rest of the life.


  7. #587
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Multidisciplinary approach can help manage pain in elderly: Experts

    Managing pain among the elderly becomes tricky because of their vulnerable emotional, mental and physical health. Experts opine that it can be dealt with in a better way through a multidisciplinary approach, involving counselling, alternative and faith medicine depending on the patient's requirement.

    On World Ostoperosis Day, the new team of Geriatric Society of India's Vidarbha chapter was formed under the leadership of anaesthesiologist Dr Bhau Rajurkar. During the function they discussed about the ways to manage pain among the elderly. A CME on the topic was organized with the help of the city chapter of Indian Society for Study of Pain (ISSP). Former president of ISSP and pain interventionalist at Mumbai's Tata Memorial Hospital, Dr PN Jain was the chief guest.

    "Persistent, chronic pain is a common complaint made by senior citizens. Cardiac trouble and cancer are the major causes. However, it is a highly neglected area which makes it necessary to at least initiate a discussion on it," said Dr Rajurkar while talking about the topic.

    Not only is pain a symptom, but it can also cause problems like sleep disruption, reduced appetite and anxiety, he added. Dr Jain said that despite high prevalence of chronic pain among older individuals, studies related to pain assessment for them have never been done in India.

    Most people above the age of sixty have health problems like diabetes, blood pressure, heart trouble or others. "This makes it a little difficult to treat them as certain medicines cannot be given to them due to the fear of adverse effects. Some others may damage their organs. They may be also having weaker bones or sensory loss which can make pain assessment difficult," informed Dr Jain.

    This calls for the use of alternative medicine, including addressing the psychological needs of the patients, he said. "Several times, the pain may just be a physical manifestation of the troubles people are going through. At least 30 per cent of the times, all an elderly person, who is complaining of pain, requires is to be heard and be spoken to. Also, when they are emotionally relaxed, pain due to any other reason also eases out a bit," said Dr Jain.

    At times, pain may also be the first marker of dangerous diseases like cancer, he said. "For example in case of prostate cancer, pain is experienced by 50 per cent of the patients in the initial stages of the disease," said Dr Jain.


  8. #588
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Children’s medicines can bolster hyperactivity: Study

    Some of the most popular children’s medicines contain E numbers (which are codes for chemicals that can be used as food additives) withdrawn from food and drink products because of links to children’s hyperactivity. Products from leading brands such as Calpol and Boots are among 52 children’s medicines that have at least one of the “Southampton Seven” — a group of additives that were proven to increase hyperactive behaviours.


    In 2008, the Food Standards Agency imposed a “voluntary ban” on the six E number colourings included in the Southampton study, a move which led most supermarkets and food manufacturers to withdraw them. Synthetic colourings in food and drink targeted at children under 36 months old are subject to a European ban. However, medicines fall under a different regulatory regime, and the substances are still commonly found in products for children. An investigation by the campaign group Action on Additives found that four of the six colourings—quinoline yellow (E104), sunset yellow (E110), carmoisine (E122) and Ponceau 4R (E124) — are used in children’s medicines, including products for infants as young as two months.

    It called on the Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency to ban the additives from food and medicines altogether. “We’re not advising parents not to buy these medicines,” the group’s spokesman, Lizzie Vann Thrasher said. The agency said it was aware some additives could cause “an unwanted reaction”, and urged parents to report concerns about medicine safety.


  9. #589
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Children’s medicines can bolster hyperactivity: Study

    Some of the most popular children’s medicines contain E numbers (which are codes for chemicals that can be used as food additives) withdrawn from food and drink products because of links to children’s hyperactivity. Products from leading brands such as Calpol and Boots are among 52 children’s medicines that have at least one of the “Southampton Seven” — a group of additives that were proven to increase hyperactive behaviours.


    In 2008, the Food Standards Agency imposed a “voluntary ban” on the six E number colourings included in the Southampton study, a move which led most supermarkets and food manufacturers to withdraw them. Synthetic colourings in food and drink targeted at children under 36 months old are subject to a European ban. However, medicines fall under a different regulatory regime, and the substances are still commonly found in products for children. An investigation by the campaign group Action on Additives found that four of the six colourings—quinoline yellow (E104), sunset yellow (E110), carmoisine (E122) and Ponceau 4R (E124) — are used in children’s medicines, including products for infants as young as two months.

    It called on the Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency to ban the additives from food and medicines altogether. “We’re not advising parents not to buy these medicines,” the group’s spokesman, Lizzie Vann Thrasher said. The agency said it was aware some additives could cause “an unwanted reaction”, and urged parents to report concerns about medicine safety.


  10. #590
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Cardiac diseases, cancer top killers in India: Report

    Cardiac diseases and cancer have emerged as the top causes of mortality in India, while 70 percent of cancer patients die within the first year, a study has found.

    The paper brought out by the Healthcare Federation of India in association with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) was released today and also highlighted the long term need for finance in the health care sector.

    The paper said cardiac diseases and cancer have emerged as the top causes of mortality in India, while 70 per cent of cancer patients die within the first year.

    It further stated that India requires a capital investment of Rs 162,500 crore to fulfil the projected bed requirements of 6.5 lakh by 2017.

    As per the report, 70 per cent of India's healthcare infrastructure is concentrated in the top 20 cities.

    Member Planning Commission Sayeda Hameed released the report in the presence of Additional Secretary, Ministry of health and WHO representative of India, C K Mishra.

    Leading healthcare service providers including hospitals and insurance companies have launched a forum, Healthcare Federation of India, which will work towards formulating policies and developing infrastructure in the health sector.


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