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Health Bulletin


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  1. #641
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    India home to over 6.3 cr diabetics

    India needs an effective jab to control its rising diabetics count. Figures released by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) are not encouraging. India has grabbed second spot, after China, in the list of nations with a high number of diabetics.

    India's is a progressive story: from 5.08 crore diabetics in 2010, to 6.1 crore in 2011, the figure scaled up to over 6.3 crore in 2012. Urbanization, diet, a sedentary lifestyle and lack of awareness have contributed in a big way to these galloping figures.

    Raising concern levels, India is also the largest contributor to regional mortality with 10,13,057 deaths due to diabetes in 2012. Correspondingly, there were 9,83,000 deaths in 2011. Over half of these were under 60, which is consistent with the global figure.

    The IDF Atlas points out that the epidemic is hitting younger people in middle-income countries and causing early death and disability.

    "No doubt, these numbers are alarming. Apart from a rising number of diabetics, there's a disturbing trend of people catching the disease early. People are contracting the disease in their 20s and 30s too," says Dr Nidhi Garg, consultant diabetologist, Narayana Health Group of Institutions.

    "Diabetes is a disease of development," says the Atlas. According to the report, urbanization, changes in lifestyle and developing health systems combine to increase a person's risk for diabetes substantially.

    "The current trend of low-fibre, high-fat diet is the culprit. Lethargic lifestyles also contribute to the increase in the number of cases in India. Moreover, awareness about the disease has surged, so more cases are coming to light," says Dr Rajeshwari Janakiraman, endocrinologist, Columbia Asia Referral Hospital.

    Worldwide, a staggering 50% of people with diabetes don't know they have the disease, points out the IDF report. Awareness levels are the lowest in Africa (81%), followed by the Western Pacific (58%) and Middle East and North Africa (53%). The undiagnosed percentage is 51% in Southeast Asia.

    "Regions where the overall prevalence of diabetes is relatively low, such as Africa, have some of the highest percentages of people who are undiagnosed. This is often because of a complete lack of awareness of the disease, both in the public and health community," says the Atlas.

    Stigma, depression come with diabetes

    Once contracted, the disease brings along various psychological challenges, apart from ruining health, says a study.

    The Diabetes Attitude Wishes and Needs (DAWN2) study done on 900 persons in India, including 280 healthcare professionals, 500 diabetics and their 120 family members, shows that 27% respondents felt discriminated against because of the disease, 12% reported depression and 52% said they experience diabetes-related stress.

    "Diabetics face discrimination in schools, at work and in society. While conducting the survey, we came across various cases of discrimination. In one case, a girl was not allowed to participate in a school dance competition because she was diabetic. Teachers feared she would collapse due to her low sugar level," says Dr Sanjay Kalra, consultant, Bharti Hospital, Karnal, Haryana, one of the investigators of DAWN2 in India.

    The study, done in 17 countries, also reflects that when it comes to self-management, healthcare facilities and awareness about the disease, India ranks low on the list. "Only 23% respondents had participated in a diabetes education programme, as compared to the median of 59% for other countries. Quality of self-management among patients is also pathetic," says Dr Sanjay.

    DAWN2 was conducted in China, Japan, India, Turkey, Algeria, Canada, USA, Mexico, Russia, Denmark, Netherlands, UK, France, Italy, Spain, Poland and Germany.

    DAWN2 was carried out by healthcare firm Novo Nordisk.


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  2. #642
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Australian scientists find new breast cancer gene

    Australian scientists have claimed to have identified a genetic "switch" which indicates whether a woman's breast cancer will spread.

    Teams from Queensland's QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute and the Institute of Molecular Bioscience have found that a particular RNA (Ribonucleic acid) molecule goes missing in aggressive cancers.

    QIMR Berghofer's Nicole Cloonan said the finding could provide a clearer prognosis for breast cancer patients, and ultimately open the door for new treatments.

    "Essentially, this particular gene fragment, or microRNA, normally acts like an emergency brake in our genetic programme, ensuring our cells continue to reproduce normally," Cloonan said.

    "But we've identified that this 'emergency brake' fails in invasive, aggressive tumours. It's sudden absence in cancer tests would be a clear marker that a tumour is likely to spread," Cloonan said adding, "And we know that primary breast cancer rarely kills; it is those aggressive tumours that spread, or metastasise, which result in poor outcomes."

    Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women.
    Survival can depend on when the cancer is diagnosed; once it has metastasised there is a five-year survival rate of only 21 per cent.
    "But this research has wider implications too. Although we focused on breast cancer, its clear this microRNA is also missing in aggressive liver, stomach, brain and skin cancers, and potentially others too. What we've uncovered seems to be a common cellular process which could be a new drug target," Cloonan said.

    "These microRNAs were once thought the 'junk' of our genetic programmes, something that finetuned pathways but that was all. But in recent years, we've come to appreciate the driving role they play in cancer, and as this work shows, a key role in preventing breast cancer cells from migrating throughout a person's body," Cloonan said.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    This 3D video game boosts recovery of stroke victims

    Scientists have developed a therapeutic at-home 3D gaming programme to help stroke patients overcome motor weakness, which affects 80% of patients.

    Hemiparesis is defined as weakness of or the inability to move one side of the body, and can be debilitating as it impacts everyday functions such as eating, dressing or grabbing objects, said researchers at the Ohio State University (OSU) Wexner Medical Center. Constraint-induced movement therapy (CI therapy) is an intense treatment recommended for stroke survivors, and improves motor function, as well as the use of impaired upper extremities. Less than 1% of those affected by hemiparesis receive the beneficial therapy.

    "Lack of access, transportation and cost are contributing barriers to receiving CI therapy. To address this, we made a gaming system to deliver CI therapy to patients at home," said Lynne Gauthier of Ohio State University's College of Medicine. Gauthier's, principal investigator of the study and a neuroscientist, is collaborating with a multi-disciplinary team comprised of clinicians, computer scientists, an electrical engineer and a biomechanist team created a video game using ingredients of CI therapy.

    The patient-gamer will be immersed in a river canyon environment, where he or she will receive high-repetition motor practice targeting the affected hand and arm. The taks will include rowing down a river and fishing.pti

    Throughout the intensive training schedule, the participant wears a padded mitt on the less affected hand for 10 hours daily, to promote the use of the more affected hand.

    To ensure that motor gains made through the game carry over to daily life, the game encourages participants to reflect on their daily use of the weaker arm and engages the gamer in additional problem-solving ways of using the weaker arm for daily activities.

    "This novel model of therapy has shown positive results for individuals who have played the game. Gains in motor speed, as measured by the Wolf Motor Function Test, rival those made through traditional CI therapy," said Gauthier.

    "It provides intense high quality motor practice for patients, in their own homes. Patients have reported they have more motivation, time goes by quicker and the challenges are exciting and not so tedious," Gauthier added.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    An ‘alcohol pill’ to get you drunk without hangover

    A new drug which mimics the effects of being drunk without any health risks such as addiction or hangovers is being developed.

    Professor David Nutt, the Edmond J Safra professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London, has identified candidate molecules that reproduce the pleasurable effects of alcohol but are much less toxic.

    He is looking for investors to help develop the product and bring it to the market.

    Alcohol mimics a chemical called GABA which is produced in the brain, but it also acts on receptors for other brain chemicals, researchers said.

    The alcohol substitute would be designed to target GABA receptors very selectively , avoiding undesirable side effects such as hangovers and loss of coordination.

    An antidote could also be made to block the receptor, allowing drinkers to sober up quickly. Nutt told the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 that he first tested such a compound many years ago, but even better substitutes could be developed.

    "There's no question that you can produce a whole range of effects like alcohol by manipulating this system in the brain," he said.

    "In some experiments, the effect is indistinguishable from alcohol," said Nutt.

    "What we want to do is get rid of any of the unwanted effects of inebriation, like aggression and memory impairment , and we just want to keep the pleasure and the sense of relaxation.

    "We think by clever molecular modelling we can get rid of the risk of addiction as well," said Nutt.

    Nutt hopes to make a range of cocktails containing his synthetic alcohol substitute . He has spoken to investors about taking the product to market, but many are wary that the drug might be controlled by legislation.

    "I would like the government to make a recommendation that we try to improve on the health of our people by allowing these kind of substitute alcohols to be legal," said Nutt. Alcohol is responsible for 2.5 million deaths worldwide each year. Making safer alternatives available could reduce the harms significantly , Nutt argued.

    "I think this would be a serious revolution in health benefits, just as the e-cigarette is going to revolutionize the smoking of tobacco. I find it weird that we haven't been talking about this before because it's such an obvious target for health improvement," said Nutt.

    One of the biggest benefits to Nutt's alcohol substitute would be to remove addiction as a drinking problem.

    The scientist said 10% of drinkers become addicted, and that addicts account for most of the one and a half million people killed by alcohol every year.

    The professor said that the drug would be taken in the form of a range of cocktails, and added: "I've done the prototype experiments myself many years ago, where I've been inebriated and then it's been reversed by the antagonist . That's what really gave us the idea. There's no question that you can produce a whole range of effects like alcohol by manipulating the brain."


  5. #645
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Guinness bagged for screening 1.6k feet

    With more than 65.1 million diabetics in India, according to the latest International Diabetes Federation (IDF) statistics, the disease is reaching pandemic proportions. Its incidence is growing each passing day as a result of sedentary lifestyle. Based on studies, experts say that every 30 seconds, one person loses a leg to diabetes across the world.

    In line with this thought, the Times of India, Novo Nordisk Education Foundation (NNEF) and the Diabetic Foot Society of India (DFSI) organized the world's largest 'Diabetic Foot Screening Programme' in 27 locations across India on Thursday. A total of 1660 people with diabetes were screened for foot care in eight hours on the occasion of World Diabetes Day, according the event a place in the Guinness World Records. Cities that became part of this historical event included Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Kolkata, Kochi, Puducherry, Varanasi, Lucknow and Kanpur.

    Speaking on the occasion, Melvin D'souza, managing trustee Novo Nordisk Education Foundation and MD, Novo Nordisk India, said diabetes related foot care was an issue that had been largely ignored despite the growing number of cases witnessed among people with diabetes. "The Guinness World Records achievement is just one step towards creating a mass movement and favorable opinion on diabetes among people in India."

    Dr Vijay Viswanathan, DFSI secretary and head and chief diabetologist of MV Hospital for Diabetes, elaborated the risks faced by diabetics with foot complications and said people with diabetes were 25 times more likely to lose a leg than those without the condition. "But reports from IDF have shown that almost 85% of all diabetic foot-related problems are preventable if appropriate measures are taken," he added.

    The previous record for the largest number of foot screenings is held by Kaiser Permanente, San Diego — 521 screenings in 11 locations. M Fortuna Burke, adjudicator from the Guinness World Records said that for the current record, screenings took place simultaneously across 27 locations, including rural and remote areas, and more than 1,600 people benefited. Several patients who got their feet tested for free during the camp said such screening camps would go a long way in reducing the number of amputations that are done as a result of diabetics foot complications.


  6. #646
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Guinness bagged for screening 1.6k feet

    With more than 65.1 million diabetics in India, according to the latest International Diabetes Federation (IDF) statistics, the disease is reaching pandemic proportions. Its incidence is growing each passing day as a result of sedentary lifestyle. Based on studies, experts say that every 30 seconds, one person loses a leg to diabetes across the world.

    In line with this thought, the Times of India, Novo Nordisk Education Foundation (NNEF) and the Diabetic Foot Society of India (DFSI) organized the world's largest 'Diabetic Foot Screening Programme' in 27 locations across India on Thursday. A total of 1660 people with diabetes were screened for foot care in eight hours on the occasion of World Diabetes Day, according the event a place in the Guinness World Records. Cities that became part of this historical event included Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Kolkata, Kochi, Puducherry, Varanasi, Lucknow and Kanpur.

    Speaking on the occasion, Melvin D'souza, managing trustee Novo Nordisk Education Foundation and MD, Novo Nordisk India, said diabetes related foot care was an issue that had been largely ignored despite the growing number of cases witnessed among people with diabetes. "The Guinness World Records achievement is just one step towards creating a mass movement and favorable opinion on diabetes among people in India."

    Dr Vijay Viswanathan, DFSI secretary and head and chief diabetologist of MV Hospital for Diabetes, elaborated the risks faced by diabetics with foot complications and said people with diabetes were 25 times more likely to lose a leg than those without the condition. "But reports from IDF have shown that almost 85% of all diabetic foot-related problems are preventable if appropriate measures are taken," he added.

    The previous record for the largest number of foot screenings is held by Kaiser Permanente, San Diego 521 screenings in 11 locations. M Fortuna Burke, adjudicator from the Guinness World Records said that for the current record, screenings took place simultaneously across 27 locations, including rural and remote areas, and more than 1,600 people benefited. Several patients who got their feet tested for free during the camp said such screening camps would go a long way in reducing the number of amputations that are done as a result of diabetics foot complications.


  7. #647
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Fatty acid produced by gut bacteria boosts immunity

    Researchers have found that a by-product of the digestion of dietary fibre by gut microbes boosts the immune system.

    Researchers from the RIKEN Center for Integrative Medical Sciences in Japan found that the by-product butyrate acts as an epigenetic switch that boosts the immune system by inducing the production of regulatory T cells in the gut.

    Previous studies have shown that patients suffering from inflammatory bowel disease lack butyrate-producing bacteria and have lower levels of butyrate in their gut.

    However, butyrate's anti-inflammatory properties were attributed to its role as main energy source for the cells lining the colon.

    This study is the first to provide a molecular basis for the role of butyrate on the production of regulatory T lymphocytes.

    Researchers, lead by Dr Hiroshi Ohno from RIKEN in collaboration with the University of Tokyo and Keio University, investigated the molecular mechanisms by which commensal microbes augment the number of regulatory T cells (Treg cells) present in the colon of mice that were bred germ-free.

    Their research demonstrates that butyric acid, a short-chain fatty acid produced by commensal bacteria acts on naive T cells to promote their differentiation into Treg cells.

    It achieves this through epigenetic changes that regulate the expression of the genes responsible for differentiation of naive T cells into Treg cells.

    The study shows that mice suffering from colitis see their levels of Treg cells increase and their symptoms improve after administration of butyrate as part of their diet.

    "Regulatory T cells are important for the containment of excessive inflammatory responses as well as autoimmune disorders. Therefore these findings could be applicable for the prevention and treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), allergy and autoimmune disease," said Ohno.

    The study is published in the journal Nature.


  8. #648
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Researchers find better way to treat hookworm infections

    US researchers have reported preliminary success using genetically engineered probiotics against hookworms, an intestinal parasite which infects millions of people, particularly pregnant women and children in the developing world.

    Hookworms are found in soil that has been contaminated with human feces. People get infection by walking bare-foot. These worms can linger inside the intestines for years, where they feed on blood and tissue, robbing people of iron, protein, and interfering with absorption of nutrients. They frequently cause stunting and cognitive delays in infected children, reports Xinhua.

    Currently, the only drugs available to treat hookworms in humans were originally developed to combat parasites which infect farm animals. According to researchers from the University of California, San Diego, they are now insufficiently effective, and resistance is rising.

    "We need to find a safe, affordable and effective way against hookworms and other intestinal parasites that currently infect more than 1.5 billion people," Yan Hu of the university said.

    Hu and colleagues presented the latest research on probiotics treatment in Washington at the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

    In the study, the researchers deliberately infected hamsters with human hookworms, which were later divided into two groups.

    One group received a common strain of the bacteria Bacillus subtilis, which is often marketed as a "probiotic", a dietary supplement consumed as a pill or added to food that is intended to promote digestive health, they said.

    The other group received the same probiotic, except that the researchers modified it to express a protein derived from a closely related bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt, which is known to be safe for humans but potentially lethal for the intestinal worms.

    "Five days after we administered the bacteria, we examined the animals' intestines," Hu said. "We found no worms in the animals that received the modified probiotic, while those that did not receive the modified probiotic remained infected."

    Hu said the next step will be to conduct tests in different types of animals and against different types of parasitic worms. If, the probiotic continues to perform well against multiple intestinal parasites and is proved to be safe, then researchers would consider testing it in humans, she added.

    "This probiotic is a food-grade bacterial product that can be easily produced in large quantities in a simple fermenter, and it can be manufactured in a form that has a long shelf-life," said Raffi Aroian, principal investigator of the study.


  9. #649
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Vegetable oils increase heart disease risk

    A new study has revealed that some vegetable oils that claim to be healthy may actually increase the risks of heart disease.

    Replacing saturated animal fats with polyunsaturated vegetable oils has become common practice because they can reduce serum cholesterol levels and help prevent heart disease.

    "Careful evaluation of recent evidence, however, suggests that allowing a health claim for vegetable oils rich in omega-6 linoleic acid but relatively poor in omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid may not be warranted," Drs. Richard Bazinet, Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Toronto and Michael Chu, Lawson Health Research Institute and Division of Cardiac Surgery, Western University, London, Ontario said.

    Corn and safflower oil, which are rich in omega-6 linoleic acid but contain almost no omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid, are not associated with beneficial effects on heart health according to recent evidence.

    In the study the intervention group replaced saturated fat with sources of safflower oil or safflower oil margarine (rich in omega-6 linoleic acid but low in omega-3 a-linoleic acid).

    They found that the intervention group had serum cholesterol levels that were significantly decreased (by about 8percent-13percent) relative to baseline and the control group, which is consistent with the health claim.

    However, rates of death from all causes of cardiovascular disease and coronary artery disease significantly increased in the treatment group.

    The study is published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.


  10. #650
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Probiotics could control depression

    A study from Ireland suggests that probiotics could control depression and other psychiatric illnesses.

    Probiotics, which are essentially live bacterial that help maintain a healthy digestive system, have emerged as a nutritional fad in the last decade. They are being increasingly prescribed by doctors across India for patients taking antibiotics as well as for children with diarrheal infections.

    In a press release last week, Timothy Dinan and his colleagues from University College Cork in Ireland, said that their studies showed that probiotics could function as a psychobiotic and check depressive behaviour. They defined a psychobiotic as a "live organism that, when ingested in adequate amounts, produces a health benefit in patients suffering from psychiatric illness."

    Their theory is that the gut, which contains approximately 1 kg of bacteria, can be modulated by diet and many other factors. So, a psychobiotic with anti-inflammatory effects (new research says that depression and stress are both associated with inflammation in the body) could alleviate psychiatric illnesses. According to the authors, "the intestinal microbial balance may alter the regulation of inflammatory responses and in so doing, may be involved in the modulation of mood and behavior."

    The researchers studied the effects of a specific probiotic, B infantis, in rats displaying depressive behavior due to maternal separation. ``The probiotic treatment normalized both their behavior and their previously-abnormal immune response,'' said the press release. "What is clear at this point is that, of the large number of putative probiotics, only a small percentage have an impact on behaviour and may qualify as psychobio


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