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Health Bulletin


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  1. #701
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Indians adding to world obesity problem: Report

    The general view that obesity is a problem associated with relatively richer Western countries has been turned on its head by a new report which states that middle-income countries like India are now at the heart of a "fat explosion".

    The Overseas Development Institute (ODI), a leading independent think tank, found that Indians form a massive chunk of the one in three adults now overweight or obese, adding up to 1.46 billion across the world.

    For its report titled "Future Diets", London-based ODI selected five middle-income countries - India, China, Egypt, Peru and Thailand - as case studies to illustrate dietary trends in the developing world over the past 50 years.

    The analysis revealed that between 1980 and 2008, those affected in the developing world by obesity had tripled, from 250 million to 904 million.

    The percentage of obese and overweight in India rose from about 9 per cent of the population in 1980 to 11 per cent in 2008.

    "India's consumption of animal products is approaching that of China's in terms of its contribution to the average plate, but here the increase is almost entirely in milk consumption, with only limited increases for meat," the report said.

    "Many Indians are vegetarian, avoiding beef or pork for cultural and religious reasons. The consumption of pulses remains relatively high in India, although it has been on the decline."

    Rising incomes and relatively cheaper food were singled out as the prime driver of national diets, with a marked shift from cereals and tubers to meat, fats, sugar, fruit and vegetables.

    According to the ODI analysis: "Policies to improve diets have been rather timid, with some significant exceptions such as the public distribution system of India or rationing in wartime UK.

    "Politicians are fearful of meddling with diets and alienating farming and food industry interests. It seems that this reflects public opinion, with many stakeholders seeing food choices as matters of personal freedom."

    It stressed that decisive government intervention will become an inevitability in future to encourage people to eat healthier.

    "Increased weight carries significant health risks for some cancers, diabetes, heart diseases and strokes. Politicians need to be less shy about trying to influence what food ends up on our plates," said Steve Wiggins, an ODI research fellow and one of the authors of the report.


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  2. #702
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Vital protein to stop tumour growth identified

    In what can be called a major relief for scientists working on cancer research, a new study has reassured the potential of a protein that can be targetted to stop tumour growth.

    Scientists from the University of East Anglia in Britain have found that researchers should not give up on the beta3-integrin protein, which has been a major target in cancer drug design for the last two decades.

    "These findings have re-established the expression of beta3-integrin as a valid clinical target when treating cancer. Efforts must now be re-focused to either develop new drugs to target beta3-integrin, or figure out how to more effectively use the drugs that already exist," said Stephen Robinson of the School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia.

    The research, published in American Heart Association's journal "Circulation Research", also explained why the most advanced version of avAY3-integrin - a stem cell marker and driver of tumour cell resistance - failed clinical trials to treat aggressive forms of brain cancer.

    "This research helps to explain why these very promising drugs aren't meeting with the success that was anticipated and it suggests a way forward - how to make them work better," Robinson said.

    "We have shown how tumours continue to grow despite treatment which should block blood vessel recruitment. They modulate how they are recruiting their blood vessels by using a different pathway from the one that is being targeted," he said.

    "Our research also shows that timing is critical when targeting the protein beta3-integrin," he added.


  3. #703
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Down’s Syndrome detection with zero risk to mother and baby now in Mumbai

    A new revolutionary technology called NACE (Non-invasive Analysis for Chromosomal Examination) with more accuracy as compared to 1st trimester screening has been introduced in Mumbai. It can detect chromosomally linked diseases like Down's syndrome with a simple blood test. It can precisely tell a pregnant mother, as early as three months into her pregnancy, whether her child suffers from Down's syndrome.

    Currently, tests such as amniocentesis and Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) are widely used to detect any chromosomal abnormality but these tests are invasive and carry a high risk resulting in a miscarriage. The NACE test is performed on the cell free fetal DNA, which is extracted from the mother's blood via a simple blood draw, hence posing zero risk to the baby and to the mother. It is done from the 10th week to the 16th week of pregnancy, giving enough time for the woman to be counseled accordingly.

    "NACE test has a 99% specificity of either confirming or ruling out genetic disorders such as Down's syndrome. In case NACE confirms the possibility of a genetic disorder; invasive amniocentesis can be done to validate the results. The main advantage of using NACE is that it is non-invasive and it poses zero risk to fetus and has no risk of abortion," said Dr Ashish Parulekar, gyanecologist and IVF specialist. He added that the test is especially suitable for women with a high risk of chromosomal abnormalities after the 1st trimester screening (scan and hormonal analysis, double and triple marker test) or who have had a previous pregnancy resulting in Down's syndrome, Edward's syndrome, Patau's syndrome or sex linked abnormalities.

    Every year approximately 23,000 to 29,000 children are born in India with Down's syndrome in India. Around 85-90% of such cases can be detected if pregnant mothers opt for genetic screening.

    According to Dr Pere Mir, medical director of Iviomics, "NACE is a revolutionary screening test offering a highly accurate analysis by using the latest next-generation sequencing technology. This simple and safe analysis averts the risk of fetal loss present in amniocentesis procedure, hence available for every pregnant woman."


  4. #704
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Now, taste food shown on your computer screen

    Scientists have developed a digital device that can recreate on your tongue the taste of food and drinks you view on your screen. The device, developed by Nimesha Ranasinghean from the National University of Singapore, generates signals transmitted through a silver electrode touching the tip of the tongue to produce salty, sweet, sour and bitter tastes.

    By combining different levels of electrical currents and varying the temperature of the electrode, simulation of the tastes can be reproduced , researchers said.

    In experiments, sour, salty and bitter sensations were reported from electrical stimulation, while minty, spicy and sweet sensations were reported through thermal stimulation. The latter group represented minor sensations, requiring further work to intensify tastes.

    The researchers have developed a taste-over-internet protocol for taste messaging , a format that allows delivery of information on recreating different tastes. They said diabetics could use the device for a taste of sweetness without affecting blood sugar levels.

    E-tongue to check grape ripeness

    Spanish scientists have developed cheap electronic tongues that measure grape ripeness by analyzing acidity of the fruit and amount of sugar in it. The team measured the maturity of eight types of grapes in several vineyards.


  5. #705
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Allergy-free yogurt from plant ‘milk’

    Scientists have developed an alternative to conventional yogurt made from plant-based 'milks' . Researchers at the Universitat Politecnica de Valencia in Spain and colleagues used plantbased 'milks' to create products fermented with probiotic bacteria from grains and nuts.

    The alternative products are specially designed for people with allergies to cow's milk, lactose or gluten intolerance, as well as children and pregnant women. Through in-vitro studies, researchers found that some of the products have anti-inflammatory properties in intestine cells, which could alleviate allergic reactions caused by food, and increase the bioavailability of iron.

    The caseins of cow's milk, besides being on the list of allergen components, hinder the absorption of iron. "The results we have obtained also show that the 'milks' studied are a good matrix for the growth and viability of probiotic bacteria for the lifetime of the product, especially after their intake," said Chelo Gonzalez, a researcher at the Universitat Politecnica de Valencia.

    The team has worked with almonds , oats and hazelnuts and will soon evaluate the use of walnuts and chestnuts as raw material for these new products. These plant 'milks' are characterized by healthy fatty acids and carbohydrates with low glycaemic index (suitable for diabetics).

    Moreover, they constitute an important source of vitamins B and E, antioxidant compounds (phytosterols and/or polyphenols ) and dietary fibre, which helps to improve intestinal health. They are also rich in potassium and very low in sodium.


  6. #706
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Tax beverages in India to curb rising obesity and diabetes, study suggests

    This is sure to cause a headache to beverage companies. Concerned with the rising epidemic'' of diabetes in the country, health researchers have for the first time advocated imposing a substantial tax on fizzy colas in the country.

    India's health issues of rising obesity, overweight and incidence of diabetes may be tackled by imposing a substantial tax of 20% on sugary soda, a new study published in the medical journal, PLOS Medicine says. While the link between sugar sweetened beverages and overweight and diabetes has been established earlier, a study for the first time advocates a substantial tax in India to mitigate increase in type 2 diabetes and obesity levels.

    Rising levels of obesity and risk of diabetes have prompted many states in the US to have food taxes that affect sugar-sweetened drinks, while some countries have started restricting sales, and even substantially tax sugary soft drinks.

    The study led by Sanjay Basu says that a 20% soda tax may lead to a reduction of 3% in obesity (or prevent 11.2 million new cases) , and a 1.6% decline in type 2 diabetes, or prevent 400,000 cases., over a decade 2014-2023.

    The study used consumption and price variation data from a nationally representative survey of 100,855 Indian households. Researchers and doctors first calculated how changes in price of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) alter their per capita consumption, and to the extent substitution with other beverages happens. They incorporated trends in sales of beverages, body mass index (BMI), and diabetes incidence data stratified by age, sex, income, and urban/rural residence into a validated microsimulation of caloric consumption, glycemic load, overweight/obesity prevalence, and type 2 diabetes incidences among Indian subpopulations facing a 20% SSB excise tax.

    However, acceleration in SSB consumption trends consistent with industry marketing models would be expected to increase the impact efficacy of taxation, averting 4.2% of prevalent overweight/obesity and 2.5% of incident type 2 diabetes from 2014-2023, the study adds.

    Dr Anoop Misra, chairman of Delhi-based Fortis-C-DOC said "I think it is a good study and first one of its kind in India. Both approaches are important to curb diabetes, bottom up (awareness, screening) and top down (legal provisions for taxation on offending food items, less tax on green vegetables and fruits, legal ban on junk food in schools etc). The evidence is there for all to see, regarding link between sugar-sweetened beverages and obesity/diabetes. We need not reinvent the wheel and wait for further evidence. A firm political commitment is a must to achieve this".

    An earlier study led by Misra had established the ill-effects of colas on children: "approximately 1.8 cans of cola per week (540 ml/wk) per person consumption was noticed (1 can or 300 ml = 132 kcal and 33-40 g sugar) among children and adolescents, which would result in nearly 1.3 kg (3 lb) weight gain per child per year. "

    Researchers in the soda tax study concluded that a sustained SSB taxation at a high tax rate could mitigate rising obesity and type 2 diabetes in India among both urban and rural subpopulations.

    "Given current consumption and BMI distributions, our results suggest the largest relative effect would be expected among young rural men, refuting our a priori hypothesis that urban populations would be isolated beneficiaries of SSB taxation", it says.

    The findings come at a time when health researchers have advocated a combination of awareness, and disincentives should be used to curb the consumption of soft drinks and fatty foods.

    A global market database suggests that sales of soft drinks in India have increased by 13% year-on-year since 1998. The new study suggests that at this growth rate, the prevalence of overweight people or obesity among adults between 24 and 65 years of age would increase from 39 to 49%, and type-2 diabetes would increase from 319 to 336 per 100,000 people per year between 2014 and 2023.

    The researchers analysed soft drink consumption from over 100,000 households during 2009-2010, studying how they responded to price changes in the past, then using that information to predict how a tax on soft drinks would influence consumption trends.


  7. #707
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Cannabis-like drug to beat arthritis pain

    Scientists have developed an artificial cannabis-like molecule that could reduce pain and joint inflammation in osteoarthritis. Researchers from the University of Nottingham developed the synthetic compound which inhibits a pain-sensing pathway in the spinal cord known as the cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2).

    Although cannabis can effectively relieve pain, its medicinal use is limited. The compound, called JWH133, is synthetic but is designed to target CB2 in a similar way to the drug. Levels of the CB2 receptor in the spinal cord have been shown to be linked to the severity of pain among osteoarthritis sufferers.


  8. #708
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    India home to second highest number of women smokers globally

    Indian women have now figured right on top in an infamous list - smoking.

    In a shocking trend, India has now more female smokers - over 12.1 million - than any country except the United States.

    In 2012, female smoking prevalence was 3.2%, which is virtually unchanged since 1980.

    Smokers in India consumed an average of 8.2 cigarettes per day as tobacco claims a million lives every year in the country.

    Smoking has emerged as the third top risk for health loss in India.

    Between 1980 and 2012, smoking prevalence among Indian men decreased from 33.8% to 23%.

    In 2012, 967 million people smoked every day globally compared with 721 million in 1980.

    Around three in 10 men (31%) and one in 20 women (6%) now smoke daily compared with four in 10 men (41%) and one in 10 women (10%) in 1980.

    These are the findings of the study "Smoking Prevalence and Cigarette Consumption in 187 countries, 1980-2012," which was published on January 8 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

    India has been found to have made progress in reducing the prevalence of daily smoking among men, according to new research from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).

    However tobacco use (excluding second-hand smoke) led to 6.1% of years of life lost due to premature death, and 5.1% of health loss in India.

    "Smoking rates remain dangerously high for men and there is more work to be done to drive these rates lower," said Dr K Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India, in response to the findings.

    "The high number of female smokers in India is also troubling," he added.

    "Despite the tremendous progress made on tobacco control, much more remains to be done," said IHME director Dr Christopher Murray. "We have the legal means to support tobacco control, and where we see progress being made we need to look for ways to accelerate that progress. Where we see stagnation, we need to find out what's going wrong."

    The number of cigarettes smoked annually has grown to more than 6 trillion. In 75 countries, smokers consumed an average of more than 20 cigarettes per day in 2012.

    Data released earlier had found that smoking is eight times more prevalent among Indian men than women.

    However, an average Indian female smoker puffs more cigarettes a day (7) than male (6.1).

    Over one in five (21%) Indian male tobacco users smoke daily as against only around 3% of women.

    Nearly half of Indian men (47.9%) aged 15 years and above consume tobacco. Nearly 206 million Indians use smokeless form of tobacco (loose-leaf chewing tobacco and snuff). Smokeless tobacco use is high among Indian men at 32.9%.

    One in every five female tobacco users in India uses the smokeless form as against one in 10 who smoke. Also, an average Indian woman is taking up smoking at 17.5 years as against 18.8 years among men. These were the new estimates of global tobacco use, published in the medical journal the Lancet few months ago.

    The quit rate was low in India with less than 20% of adults who had ever smoked saying they had given up.


  9. #709
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Sleeping pills ups risk of heart attacks by 50pc

    A new study suggests that sleeping pills taken by tens of thousands of Britons can increase the risk of heart attacks by up to 50 percent.

    Scientists found that zolpidem, which is sold under the brand name Stilnoct in the UK, is linked with a dramatic rise in the number of life threatening cardiac events, the Daily Express reported.

    Four standard dose pills a year of35 milligrams ,send the risk soaring by around 20 percent.

    People taking the equivalent of 60 tablets a year could see the threat jump by half.

    The study presented to the world's biggest cardiology conference ,is the first to connect the drug with cardiovascular problems.

    Scientists cannot be fully certain yet that sleeping pills are causing heart problems and the manufacturers say there are no known adverse cardiac reactions to zolpidem.

    However, the researchers say the results from a study of more than 5,000 people are sufficiently worrying for "further large scale and in depth investigations".


  10. #710
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    New causes of diabetes discovered

    Researchers have discovered two new genetic causes of neonatal diabetes.
    The new research by the University of Exeter Medical School has provided further insights on how the insulin-producing beta cells are formed in the pancreas.

    The team discovered that mutations in two specific genes which are important for development of the pancreas can cause the disease.
    These findings increase the number of known genetic causes of neonatal diabetes to 20.

    Lead author, Dr Sarah Flanagan, said that neonatal diabetes is diagnosed when a child is less than six months old, and some of these patients have added complications such as muscle weakness and learning difficulties with or without epilepsy.

    She sad that their genetic discovery is critical to the advancement of knowledge on how insulin-producing beta cells are formed in the pancreas, which has implications for research into manipulating stem cells, which could one day lead to a cure.

    Neonatal diabetes is caused by a change in a gene which affects insulin production. This means that levels of blood glucose (sugar) in the body rise dangerously high.


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