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  1. #731
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Our brain good at vision multitasking: Study

    When it comes to vision, the brain can perform more than one function without sacrificing time or accuracy.

    Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) and the University of Bristol in Britain have shown that during visual sampling - the act of picking up bits of visual information through short glances - the brain can handle various visual functions simultaneously.

    To support their findings, they looked at two vision processes: foveal analysis and peripheral selection.

    When something catches your attention, you swing your gaze to it - allowing for closer inspection - known as foveal analysis.

    This process helps you read, examine and search for specific objects or people. Whatever falls outside that narrow zone becomes blurry and less distinct, said the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Plus.

    But when looking for something - say, a specific book among a group of books on a shelf, or a prescription in a medicine cabinet, or even a friend in a crowd, you use peripheral vision.

    "Though you might not be aware, your brain is evaluating and deciding where to direct your gaze as you decide whether or not the thing you are focused on is the object you have been seeking," said Miguel Eckstein, professor in the department of psychological and brain sciences at UCSB.

    Eckstein, along with professors Casimir JH Ludwig and J Rhys Davies of University of Bristol, discovered that the human brain has the capacity to perform both functions - foveal analysis and peripheral selection - rapidly and accurately, at the same time and independently.

    Using an eye-tracker, they monitored the accuracy of both the observers' foveal and peripheral perceptual judgments and their point of gaze.

    The researchers visualized how the brain utilizes information through time to direct the gaze and to influence the foveal perceptual judgments.

    "The brain would have to either do one task at a time - slowing the total time to complete both - or do both at the same time but not as well on each of them," said Eckstein.

    However, the results of these tests demonstrated that neither process was interrupted or slowed by the other.

    This specialized ability to perform both tasks involved in visual sampling may have to do with the sheer amount of time humans spend visually sampling their environment.

    A normal human being performs nearly 10,000 eye movements daily, much of which is spent doing both foveal analysis and peripheral selection.

    "We do not know if this is innate or arises from experience in early life, or both," said Eckstein.


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  2. #732
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Google contact lens will monitor blood glucose, help diabetics

    The crazy engineers inside Google X are hard at work. And this time they have come up with a contact lens that will measure the glucose level of a person in real time. The product is still in early stage of development. For now Google is testing prototypes and how they can be best used. But if successful, this contact lens may help diabetics say goodbye to painful needles that they have to use several times a day to successfully monitor their blood glucose level.

    In a blog post explaining the contact lens, Google said that glucose level in a human body can be measured from tears. "But as you can imagine, tears are hard to collect and study. At Google X, we wondered if miniaturised electronics—think: (silicon) chips and sensors so small they look like bits of glitter, and an antenna thinner than a human hair—might be a way to crack the mystery of tear glucose and measure it with greater accuracy," the blog post explained.

    Google X is special division inside the web company that works on future technologies. It is headed by Google co-founder Sergei Brin. Google Glass, which is essentially a small computer with a tiny head-mounted display, also came out of Google X. Glass too started as a prototype but last year it was sold to early adopters. It is likely to be widely available in retail stores this year.

    For now, Google has not shared any details on the availability of the contact lens. "We're in discussions with the FDA (the US government that regulates health products), but there's still a lot more work to do to turn this technology into a system that people can use," said a Google spokesperson. The company hinted that this glucose-monitoring contact lens, whenever it comes to the market, will likely sold by "partners who are experts in bringing products like this to market".

    The current prototype of the contact lens can record the glucose level every second. "The product measures glucose levels in tears using a tiny wireless chip and miniaturized glucose sensor that are embedded between two layers of soft contact lens material. We're testing prototypes that can generate a reading once per second. We're also investigating the potential for this to serve as an early warning for the wearer, so we're exploring integrating tiny LED lights that could light up to indicate that glucose levels have crossed above or below certain thresholds," explained the official blog post.

    While it started as a web search engine and still makes most of its money from displaying web advertisements, in the recent years Google has become very ambitious, arguably the most ambitious technology company. It is working on several technologies that are straight out of future. The company is developing driverless cars, which use sensors, cameras and virtual map technologies, to travel on roads without any assistance from humans.

    Google is also stepping up its game in robotics and in the last one year has acquired several companies, including Boston Dynamics which makes robotic cheetah and dogs, that are working on next-generation of robots. Recently, it acquired Nest, maker of a smart internet-connected thermostat, most likely in a bid to explore the concept of web-connected homes and appliances that would be controlled with a smartphone.

    A few months earlier, Google CEO Larry Page said in an interview that his company was looking to fundamentally change the world. "We have all this money, we have all these people, why aren't we doing more stuff? I feel like there are all these opportunities in the world to use technology to make people's lives better. At Google we're attacking maybe 0.1 percent of that space. And all the tech companies combined are only at like 1 percent. That means there's 99 per cent virgin territory. If you're not doing some things that are crazy, then you're doing the wrong things," said Page.

    However, the growing reach of Google is making consumers and industry watchers uncomfortable. Recently, when the company acquired Nest, which can collect a lot of data on how you use appliances inside your home and can sense whether you are in your room or not, it led to a lot of outrage on social media sites. There were reports that some Nest consumers decided to stop using the thermostat over privacy concerns.

    On Friday Danny Sullivan, who has watched Google since late 1990s, tweeted, "Google smart contacts also mean if you wondered if there was area Google wouldn't go into, stop. It has no limits."


  3. #733
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Google contact lens will monitor blood glucose, help diabetics

    The crazy engineers inside Google X are hard at work. And this time they have come up with a contact lens that will measure the glucose level of a person in real time. The product is still in early stage of development. For now Google is testing prototypes and how they can be best used. But if successful, this contact lens may help diabetics say goodbye to painful needles that they have to use several times a day to successfully monitor their blood glucose level.

    In a blog post explaining the contact lens, Google said that glucose level in a human body can be measured from tears. "But as you can imagine, tears are hard to collect and study. At Google X, we wondered if miniaturised electronics—think: (silicon) chips and sensors so small they look like bits of glitter, and an antenna thinner than a human hair—might be a way to crack the mystery of tear glucose and measure it with greater accuracy," the blog post explained.

    Google X is special division inside the web company that works on future technologies. It is headed by Google co-founder Sergei Brin. Google Glass, which is essentially a small computer with a tiny head-mounted display, also came out of Google X. Glass too started as a prototype but last year it was sold to early adopters. It is likely to be widely available in retail stores this year.

    For now, Google has not shared any details on the availability of the contact lens. "We're in discussions with the FDA (the US government that regulates health products), but there's still a lot more work to do to turn this technology into a system that people can use," said a Google spokesperson. The company hinted that this glucose-monitoring contact lens, whenever it comes to the market, will likely sold by "partners who are experts in bringing products like this to market".

    The current prototype of the contact lens can record the glucose level every second. "The product measures glucose levels in tears using a tiny wireless chip and miniaturized glucose sensor that are embedded between two layers of soft contact lens material. We're testing prototypes that can generate a reading once per second. We're also investigating the potential for this to serve as an early warning for the wearer, so we're exploring integrating tiny LED lights that could light up to indicate that glucose levels have crossed above or below certain thresholds," explained the official blog post.

    While it started as a web search engine and still makes most of its money from displaying web advertisements, in the recent years Google has become very ambitious, arguably the most ambitious technology company. It is working on several technologies that are straight out of future. The company is developing driverless cars, which use sensors, cameras and virtual map technologies, to travel on roads without any assistance from humans.

    Google is also stepping up its game in robotics and in the last one year has acquired several companies, including Boston Dynamics which makes robotic cheetah and dogs, that are working on next-generation of robots. Recently, it acquired Nest, maker of a smart internet-connected thermostat, most likely in a bid to explore the concept of web-connected homes and appliances that would be controlled with a smartphone.

    A few months earlier, Google CEO Larry Page said in an interview that his company was looking to fundamentally change the world. "We have all this money, we have all these people, why aren't we doing more stuff? I feel like there are all these opportunities in the world to use technology to make people's lives better. At Google we're attacking maybe 0.1 percent of that space. And all the tech companies combined are only at like 1 percent. That means there's 99 per cent virgin territory. If you're not doing some things that are crazy, then you're doing the wrong things," said Page.

    However, the growing reach of Google is making consumers and industry watchers uncomfortable. Recently, when the company acquired Nest, which can collect a lot of data on how you use appliances inside your home and can sense whether you are in your room or not, it led to a lot of outrage on social media sites. There were reports that some Nest consumers decided to stop using the thermostat over privacy concerns.

    On Friday Danny Sullivan, who has watched Google since late 1990s, tweeted, "Google smart contacts also mean if you wondered if there was area Google wouldn't go into, stop. It has no limits."


  4. #734
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Now, a headband to control your dreams

    A new headband that can measure brain waves and eye movement activity to allow a sleeping person to take control of their dreams has been developed.

    The headband works by determining when a person enters REM sleep — a stage of sleep characterized by rapid eye movement where dreams are more likely to occur — by measuring brain waves and eye movement activity. Then, it emits a series of lights that will not wake up the user, but instead allow them to realize they are dreaming.

    Users can then enter into a lucid dream state and control their dreams, 'Fox News' reported .


  5. #735
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw's Biocon develops new breast cancer drug

    Biopharmaceutical major Biocon has launched a new injectable drug for the treatment of a highly prevalent form of breast cancer and has priced its product 25 per cent lower than existing drugs in the market.
    After cervical cancer, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among Indian women, with 1.5 lakh new patients being diagnosed with the disease every year. Of that, nearly 25 per cent are diagnosed with a particular type of breast cancer known as HER2-positive breast cancer.

    This type of breast cancer is said to be the most aggressive and fast growing, having a much higher risk of early recurrence and death. Biocon's new drug, called CANMAb and priced at Rs 57,500 for a 440 mg vial and Rs 19,500 for a 150 mg vial, has been developed for the treatment of HER2-positive breast cancer.

    The drug has been jointly developed by Biocon and US-based generic pharmaceutical major Mylan and is expected to hit the Indian market in early February. The drug will be manufactured in Biocon's facility in Bangalore.

    CANMAb will compete with Herceptin, an existing drug priced at Rs 75,000 for a 440 mg vial, which is also the innovator (original) product for the treatment of HER2- breast cancer developed by Swiss pharma company Roche. The global sales for Herceptin stood at $6.4 billion in 2012; in India it was $21 million.

    "Biocon intends to make a significant difference in the treatment paradigm for HER2-positive breast cancer in India by enhancing access to more affordable treatment with CANMAb, which offers the same level of safety and efficacy as the reference product (Herceptin)," said Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, CMD, Biocon.


  6. #736
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    After smallpox, now Guinea worm disease to be eradicated

    There were just 148 people worldwide in 2013 with the highly debilitating Guinea worm disease going by provisional estimates. This is a historic low, which holds out the promise that this could be the first disease to be eradicated after small pox.

    This was announced by the Carter Center established by former US president Jimmy Carter. The centre has been leading a campaign to eradicate this disease since 1986 when there were an estimated 3.5 million cases of this disease spread across 21 countries in Asia and Africa. The number of cases had been reduced by 99.9% to just 542 cases in four endemic countries by 2012. By 2013 end, it fell by a further 73% to just 148.

    The vast majority of cases, about 113 cases, are in South Sudan, the newly formed country torn by civil strife. 14 cases were reported from Chad, 11 from Mali and seven from Ethiopia.

    India was certified a Guinea worm disease free country in February 2000 by the World Health Organisation. The population across 7 states, an estimated five million people, mostly poor, illiterate and living in remote communities, were believed to be at risk from the disease. In the 1980s, over 40,000 cases of the disease were reported. The national guinea worm eradication programme was launched in 1983. Banwari Lal, a 25 year old man from the Jodhpur district in Rajasthan, was India's last reported case of guinea worm disease, in July 1996.

    Guinea worm disease is also known as dracunculiasis, which in Latin means affliction with little dragons. In Africa it is also called empty granary as it erupts around harvest time debilitating the farmer and thus affecting the local food supply. It is a parasitic disease caused by the roundworm parasite Dracunculus medenesis. The affliction has been around for thousands of years and is so ancient that it has even been found in Egyptian mummies. It got its name Guinea worm after the Europeans saw the disease on the Guinea coast of West Africa in the 17th century.

    The disease is contracted when people drink water from stagnant sources containing water fleas that harbour the infective Guinea worm larvae. Inside a person's stomach, the Guinea worm larvae mate and the female worms mature and grow, some about one metre or more, leaving the host bedridden and often destitute.

    After a year of incubation, these thin long worms erupt usually from the legs or feet of the victim after forming a painful lesion that bursts when the worm comes out. It is so intensely painful that the victim rushes to immerse the affected limb in a water source to relieve the burning sensation. When it comes in contact with water, the worm releases its larvae into the water to start the cycle of contamination all over again. The infection does not create immunity and so people could be infected with the worm many times throughout their lives.

    The most effective way to prevent the disease and disrupt its life cycle is through behaviour change, provision of clean drinking water and the treatment of contaminated water sources with larvicides. It has to pass through a human host to be able to survive. If eradicated, it would be the first parasitic disease to be eradicated. And it would also be the first disease to be eradicated without any vaccines or medical treatment, just through behaviour changes and good practices.


  7. #737
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Data paucity on menopause leading to over-treatment

    When 52-year-old Shruti complained of profuse bleeding, she was asked by her doctor to undergo a removal of uterus. It was feared that she might undergo some complications following her menopause. But this was not so. Shruti did fall in the bracket of the menopause age, but had not yet attained it. In fact, it was the over-treatment in her case, the removal of the uterus. The case of Shruti is not the only one. With no Indian data collected so far on the age of menopause, medical practitioners rely on western medical literature. This results in over-treatment (removal of uterus etc) and the consequent ill-effects.

    To gather age data, and also to spread awareness among women before the onset of menopause, the Indian Menopause Society, along with the Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India (Fogsi), is setting up comprehensive clinics throughout the country. The first such clinic has come up in the city recently. "As such, women seldom come for a regular health check-up. It is mandatory to get a few tests done after you reach the age of 40. This includes mammography and dexa scan. With such clinics, there will be prevention of such complications," said Dr Ritambhra Bhalla, gynaecologist in the comprehensive clinic for menopause women in the city.

    There have been no epidemiological studies on the menopause age, which is assumed to be between 45 and 55 years, according to western data. "Besides prevention, these clinics will be imparting training to medicos and also collecting data for the age of menopause," said Dr Maninder Ahuja, vice-president of Fogsi.

    According to experts, early menopause is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis, whereas delayed menopause has been associated with increased risk of breast cancer and endometrial cancer. The side-effects of menopausal transition can begin as early as age 35, which remain subtle, and most women become aware of the transition in their mid to late-40s. "Indian women are known to seek medical help only after their endurance capacity has been crossed, thus ending up in advanced diseases," said Dr Ahuja.


  8. #738
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Smoking 'pregnant' mums 'can turn babies gay'

    A leading neuroscientist has claimed that smoking and drug use during pregnancy could raise the chance of having a baby who would turn out to be gay.

    According to Britain's Sunday Times, Dr Dick Swabb, professor of neurobiology at Amsterdam University, said that the brain development during pregnancy and early childhood is directly linked to the kind of people we become in adulthood.

    Dr Swabb's new book, 'We Are Our Brains,' has cited multiple academic studies showing how a pregnant mother's lifestyle can possibly affect her child, News.com.au reported.

    One of the studies compared women whose moms were given synthetic oestrogen while they were pregnant between 1939 and 1960 in order to cut the miscarriage risk.

    Dr Swabb said that pre-birth exposure to both nicotine and amphetamines boosts the chance of lesbian daughters.

    He said that pregnant women suffering from stress are likelier to have homosexual kids of both genders as their raised level of the stress hormone cortisol affects the production of foetal sex hormones. (ANI)


  9. #739
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Exertion at end of a run could trigger cardiac arrest: Doctors

    Two marathoners and a non-participant-all younger than 40-suffered cardiac arrest as their hearts suddenly stopped during the Sunday race. Two of them continue to be serious and on ventilator. Should their condition scare other runners?

    No, says a preventive cardiologist, who staunchly supports that these cases are "a one-off"; less than five people have suffered cardiac arre-s-ts in the past 10 years of Mumbai Marathon. Some doctors, though, say more men with underlying heart problems, less physical agility and inappropriate training could be participating.

    "When one is about to finish the race, he or she may exert and overdo the process. This can often result in some plaque (cholesterol deposition) getting ruptured. Though unlikely, a person with a healthy heart may also suffer a cardiac arrest," said cardiologist Dr Anand Rao, who consults with Holy Family Hospital, Bandra.

    One of the marathoners, Amit Kasat (37), had undergone a health check only last November. "He was certified as fit to run," his wife had earlier told TOI. His co-runners said Kasat had the arrest just two to three kilometres before the half-marathon's finish line.

    "Occurrences have to be seen in perspective. One has to understand that exertion can be a trigger but seldom a cause of cardiac arrest," the doctor said.

    A 2012 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine had evaluated cardiac arrests during marathons between January 2000 and May 2010. It found that out of roughly 11 million runners, there were 59 cases; of these, 42 were fatal. The rate was found to be higher am-ong full-marathon runners than half-marathoners. It translated into one cardiac arrest per 1.8 la-kh participants.

    Experts say the reason probably lies elsewhere. Heart speci-al-i-sts emphas-ize that Ind-ian men aged under 40 are four times mo--re vulnerable th-an their wes-te-rn counterparts when it co-mes to coronary heart diseases. "The fact th-at a bystander suffe-red a cardiac arrest wi-thout any exertion of a runner should drive home the point that anyone can get it anywhere," said a preventive cardiologist.

    The bystander, Vijay Kowale (38), who was clicking marathoners, continues to be very serious. Marathoner Atul Singh (40), who suffered ventricular fib-rillation (a stage before cardiac arrest) is improving though his ki-d-neys are in a bad shape.

    Cardiologist Dr B K Goyal, who is treating all three, said underlying heart problems could be at the root of it. "Small clots may often be missed in routine diagnosis. Runners should always go for specific preventive tests before participating in long runs."


  10. #740
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Want to ward off diabetes? Eat chocolates, drink red wine

    A compound found in chocolate and red wine may guard people against the risk of diabetes, a new study suggests. Eating high levels of flavonoids including anthocyanins and other compounds - found in berries, tea, and chocolate — could offer protection from type 2 diabetes — according to research from the University of East Anglia (UEA) and King's College London.

    The findings reveal that high intakes of these dietary compounds are associated with lower insulin resistance and better blood glucose regulation. The study of almost 2,000 people also found that these food groups lower inflammation which, when chronic, is associated with diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

    "Our research looked at the benefits of eating certain sub-groups of flavanoids. We focused on flavones, which are found in herbs and vegetables such as parsley, thyme, and celery, and anthocyanins, found in berries, red grapes, wine and other red or bluecoloured fruits and vegetables," said professor Aedin Cassidy from UEA's Norwich Medical School. "This is one of the first large-scale human studies to look at how these powerful bio-active compounds might reduce the risk of diabetes. Laboratory studies have shown these types of foods might modulate blood glucose regulation - affecting the risk of type 2 diabetes," said Cassidy.


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