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Health Bulletin


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  1. #801
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Google Glass and robotic surgeries among topics to be discussed at Chennai medical conference

    Indian doctors might be known for their skill and precision, but the general opinion of the global medical community is that they do not write good research papers.

    The Indian Association of Gastrointestinal Endosurgeons (IAGES), which is to host an international conference titled 'Advancing the frontiers of minimally invasive surgeries,' will have an exclusive session in which experts would train medical and engineering students on research paper writing and presentation.

    The four-day conference, which is to be inaugurated on Feb 13, would have thousands of delegates from across the world coming down to discuss the latest technology in minimally invasive surgeries, including OR-1, a modular surgical setup developed by German company.

    The OR-1, which is being flown in from Germany exclusively for this conference, would be the highlight of the programme as the state-of-the-art interface and would transform the way surgeries are done, according to experts.

    "The OR-1 is a complete modular operating theatre that has tough and voice recognition. It can tilt and adjust lights while surgery merely at the sound of the surgeon's voice commands," said Dr Krishna Rau, organizing chairman of the conference.

    IAGES 2014 will include demonstrations and workshops on various topics, including robotic surgery, 3D laparoscopy and surgery using Google Glass.

    "Surgeries performed by 20 international faculty and 60 national faculty would be live streamed in 2D and 3D. Being a part of this conference would help surgeons in avoiding and tackling complications during surgery," said Dr J S Rajkumar, IAGES organizing secretary.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Knee replacement surgery using new technology performed at Apollo Hospitals in Chennai

    A team of surgeons at Apollo Hospitals in Chennai successfully performed a knee replacement surgery with a new technology called 'I assist navigation system' on a patient suffering from arthritis.

    The surgery was conducted at Apollo Specialty Hospitals in Vanagaram on a 57-year-old patient, named Laxmiboy, from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.

    The 'I assist- navigation system' is a computer-assisted stereotactic surgical instrument system that aids in the positioning of orthopedic implant system components intra-operatively. It involves surgical instruments and position sensors to determine alignment axes in relation to anatomical landmarks.

    Dr Madan Mohan Reddy, senior orthopedic surgeon at Apollo Hospitals, said, "Today patients are becoming more demanding and informed, expecting to return to full life with a knee replacement that provides a natural feel and normal function. The personalized knee system is the solution for it and redefines personalization to include both pre-operative patient specificity and intra-operative patient matching."


  3. #803
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Mammograms don’t cut cancer deaths, study says

    One of the largest and most meticulous studies of mammography ever done, involving 90,000 women and lasting a quarter-century, has added powerful new doubts about the value of the screening test for women of any age.

    It found that the death rates from breast cancer and from all causes were the same in women who got mammograms and those who did not. And the screening had harms: One in five cancers found with mammography and treated was not a threat to the woman's health and did not need treatment such as chemotherapy , surgery or radiation.

    The study, published on Tuesday in The British Medical Journal, is one of the few rigorous evaluations of mammograms conducted in the modern era of more effective breast cancer treatments. It randomly assigned Canadian women to have regular mammograms and breast exams by trained nurses or to have breast exams alone.

    Researchers sought to determine whether there was any advantage to finding breast cancers when they were too small to feel. The answer is no, the researchers report.

    The study seems likely to lead to an even deeper polarization between those who believe that regular mammography saves lives, including many breast cancer patients and advocates for them, and a growing number of researchers who say the evidence is lacking or, at the very least, murky. "It will make women uncomfortable, and they should be uncomfortable," said Dr Russell P Harris, a screening expert and professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, who was not involved in the study. "The decision to have a mammogram should not be a slam dunk."

    The findings will not lead to any immediate change in guidelines for mammography, and many advocates and experts will almost certainly dispute the idea that mammograms are on balance useless, or even harmful.

    Dr Richard C Wender, chief of cancer control for the American Cancer Society, said the society had convened an expert panel that was reviewing all studies on mammography, including the Canadian one, and would issue revised guidelines later this year. He added that combined data from clinical trials of mammography showed it reduces the death rate from breast cancer by at least 15% for women in their 40s and by at least 20% for older women. That means that one woman in 1,000 who starts screening in her 40s, two who start in their 50s and three who start in their 60s will avoid a breast cancer death, Dr Harris said.

    Dr Wender added that while improved treatments clearly helped lower the breast cancer death rate, so did mammography , by catching cancers early.

    But an editorial accompanying the new study said that earlier studies that found mammograms helped women were done before the routine use of drugs like tamoxifen that sharply reduced the breast cancer death rate.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Men have bigger brains than women, research reveals

    A new study of thousands of brains from more than 20 years of neuroscience research has revealed the structural differences between male and female brains.

    The meta-analysis of more than 126 articles published between 1990 and 2013 is the first of its kind to be conducted, and shows that on average male brains have a total volume that is between eight and 13 per cent larger than that of females.

    The team from Cambridge University, led by doctoral candidate Amber Ruigrok and Professors John Suckling and Simon Baron-Cohen from the Department of Psychiatry, looked at a wide range of demographics, covering all ages from babies to pensioners to reach their conclusions.

    "This is the first meta-analysis of sex differences in brain structure and in this study we summarized all the evidence we could find and tried to give an overview of what is known from the current literature," Ruigrok told The Independent.

    "Certain areas were larger in men, certain areas were larger in women, with a lot of these differences originating from in the limbic system - parts of the brain such as the amygdala and the hippocampus."

    Professor Suckling noted that "the sex differences in the limbic system include areas often implicated in psychiatric conditions with biased sex ratios such as autism, schizophrenia, and depression."

    "This new study may therefore help us understand not just typical sex differences but also sex-linked psychiatric conditions," he added.

    However, the research does not draw any direct links between brain structure and function, and the team from Cambridge stressed that the difference in volume does not have direct implications for the gender bias in psychiatric conditions.

    "Previous research has shown that the prevalence, age of onset, and symptomatology of many neurological and psychiatric conditions also differ between males and females," said Ruigrok.

    "Future research should test whether sex differences in brain structure underlies skewed sex ratios of neurological and psychiatric conditions and whether brain differences that characterise such conditions are caused by the development of typical sex differences in the brain."


  5. #805
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    New compound may halt Parkinson's disease symptoms

    Scientists have developed a novel compound that may protect against developing movement problems associated with Parkinson's disease (PD).

    Parkinson's disease, which affects an estimated 4 million to 10 million people worldwide, is a progressive movement disorder with no known cure.

    It is not known for certain what causes the disease, but research has shown that it's linked with the loss of nerve cells in the brain that secrete dopamine, a chemical that is involved in movement and emotion.

    To find a potential new therapy for PD, researchers from South Korea searched for a way to shield these brain cells.

    They made 56 compounds and tested them to see which ones boosted the production of proteins that protect dopamine-releasing neurons from damage.

    Of those, one, which they call "12g," proved to be the most active. Interestingly, it protected mice from developing PD-like symptoms in one laboratory test.

    "Taken together, 12g was found to effectively prevent the motor deficits that are associated with PD," researchers said.

    The study appears in American Chemical Society's Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.


  6. #806
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Math activates same brain region as great art or music

    People who appreciate the beauty of mathematics activate the same part of their brain when they look at aesthetically pleasing formula as others do while cherishing art or music, scientists say.

    The findings suggest that there is a neurobiological basis to beauty, researchers said.

    Mathematicians often describe mathematical formulae in emotive terms and the experience of mathematical beauty has often been compared by them to the experience of beauty derived from the greatest art.

    Researchers from the University College London (UCL) used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to image the brain activity of 15 mathematicians when they viewed mathematical formulae that they had previously rated as beautiful, neutral or ugly.

    The results showed that the experience of mathematical beauty correlates with activity in the same part of the emotional brain - namely the medial orbito-frontal cortex - as the experience of beauty derived from art or music.

    In the study, each subject was given 60 mathematical formulae to review at leisure and rate on a scale of -5 (ugly) to +5 (beautiful) according to how beautiful they experienced them to be.

    Two weeks later they were asked to re-rate them while in an fMRI scanner.

    The formulae most consistently rated as beautiful (both before and during the scans) were Leonhard Euler's identity, the Pythagorean identity and the Cauchy-Riemann equations.

    Leonhard Euler's identity links five fundamental mathematical constants with three basic arithmetic operations each occurring once and the beauty of this equation has been likened to that of the soliloquy in Hamlet.

    Mathematicians judged Srinivasa Ramanujan's infinite series and Riemann's functional equation as the ugliest.

    "We have found that activity in the brain is strongly related to how intense people declare their experience of beauty to - even in this example where the source of beauty is extremely abstract. This answers a critical question in the study of aesthetics, namely whether aesthetic experiences can be quantified," Professor Semir Zeki, lead author of the paper from the Wellcome Laboratory of Neurobiology at UCL, said.

    "We have found that, as with the experience of visual or musical beauty, the activity in the brain is strongly related to how intense people declare their experience of beauty to be - even in this example where the source of beauty is extremely abstract," Zeki added.

    (The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.)


  7. #807
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Pizza ingredient may ward of virus causing food-borne diseases

    A pizza ingredient may help ward off the notorious winter vomiting bug, new research has claimed.

    Carvacrol, the primary active component in oregano oil, effectively kills norovirus, a common cause of foodborne illness outbreaks in hospitals, schools and cruise ships, researchers said.

    The study led by University of Arizona researcher Kelly Bright has found that carvacrol - the substance in oregano oil that gives the pizza herb its distinctive warm and aromatic smell and flavour - is effective against norovirus, causing the breakdown of the virus' tough outer coat.

    Norovirus, also known as the winter vomiting disease, is the leading cause of vomiting and diarrhoea around the world. "Carvacrol could potentially be used as a food sanitiser and possibly as a surface sanitiser, particularly in conjunction with other antimicrobials," said Bright. "

    We have some work to do to assess its potential but carvacrol is an interesting prospect," she said. Bright and her team - former graduate student Damian Gilling, former visiting scholar Masaaki Kitajima and current doctoral student Jason Torrey - determined whether oregano oil and carvacrol, the primary active component in oregano oil, were effective against mouse norovirus.

    In the experiments, oregano oil had limited efficacy, but carvacrol resulted in a nearly 10,000-fold reduction in viral infectivity within an hour. In other words, it is 99.99 per cent effective against the virus.

    "Carvacrol does not act as quickly as bleach, which will act in minutes or even seconds, but it is still effective," Bright said. Since carvacrol is a plant compound, it is generally regarded as safe for human consumption, Bright added.

    This is also the first study that looks at the mechanism of breakdown in detail of a plant antimicrobial on a non-enveloped virus, Bright said.
    Nonenveloped viruses like noroviruses tend to be the ones that target the gastrointestinal tract. Their tough outer protein shell - called the capsid - makes them resistant against stomach acid and allows them to travel through the gastrointestinal tract unharmed.

    Bright's research revealed the exact mechanism of how this plant compound kills a nonenveloped virus. "Carvacrol acts directly on the virus' outer shell and breaks it down," she said.


  8. #808
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    2k paediatric heart surgeries performed in Mumbai in a year

    The city is no longer a laggard as far as paediatric heart surgery is concerned.

    The number of paediatric cardiac surgeries performed in Mumbai has been going up steadily. This is in contrast to the situation a few years ago when Mumbaikars rushed to the southern states for corrective operations of their kids. It is estimated that the city witnessed 2,000 paediatric cardiac surgeries between 2013 and 2014.

    In 2013, the civic-run KEM Hospital was in the news for the death of several children who were listed in the hospital's waiting list for corrective surgeries. NGOs such as Dorabji Tata Trust and Being Human then extended financial support to various hospitals, including KEM Hospital, to perform these operations. "Mumbai no longer lags behind. The most complex surgeries are now performed here," said Dr Suresh Rao from Kokilaben Ambani Hospital in Andheri.

    Director of Fortis Hospital in Mulund, Dr S Narayani, said, "Of the approximate 2,000 child heart surgeries carried out last year in Mumbai, around 400 were carried out by our Child Heart Mission initiative." The hospital had tied up with Being Human to perform the surgeries.

    The hospital's paediatric heart surgeon Dr Vijay Agarwal said, "The key lies in funding these operations. Bangalore and Hyderabad have robust government funding mechanism and can hence perform many operations."

    Dr K Shiv Prasad, who heads the paediatric cardiac surgery programme in SevenHills Hospital, said that the emergence of the state government's Rajeev Gandhi Arogya Yojana had helped a great deal. "Our hospital has done 1,000 operations since 2010. With the emergence of government and insurance sector, we plan to increase up to 600 operations a year," he said.

    But there is still a long way to go. "Every year, 40,000 operations are performed in India, but 2 lakh children are born with heart disease every year," said Dr Rao. Dr Prasad said the real bottleneck in Mumbai was the delay in detection of heart defects in newborns.


  9. #809
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Porn not an addiction, increases pleasure: Study

    There is no such thing as porn addiction and those who say it actually ignore the positive benefits it holds, shows research.

    New study has found very little scientific data - if any at all - to support some of the purported negative side effects of porn 'addiction'.

    "There was no sign that use of pornography is connected to erectile dysfunction or that it causes any changes to the brains of users," explained David Ley, a clinical psychologist and executive director of New Mexico Solutions - a large behavioural health programme.

    Despite the furore, the use of sexually explicit material explains very little of the variance in adolescents' behaviours, he added.

    Slapping such labels onto the habit of frequently viewing images of a sexual nature only describes it as a form of pathology.

    According to researchers, it can improve attitudes towards sexuality, increase the quality of life and variety of sexual behaviours and increase pleasure in long-term relationships.

    "It provides a legal outlet for illegal sexual behaviours or desires, and its consumption or availability has been associated with a decrease in sex offenses, especially child molestation," observed Ley.

    "We need better methods to help people who struggle with the high frequency use of visual sexual stimuli, without pathologising them or their use thereof," wrote Ley.

    "The 'porn addiction' concept seems to feed an industry with secondary gain from the acceptance of the idea," he noted in a study published in Springer's journal Current Sexual Health Reports.


  10. #810
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Breast milk contains natural stress hormone

    A hormone that is released when someone is under physical or emotional stress has been found in breast milk and appears to affect babies differently depending on their sex, a study of laboratory monkeys has shown.

    A hormone that is released when someone is under physical or emotional stress has been found in breast milk and appears to affect babies differently depending on their sex, a study of laboratory monkeys has shown.

    Scientists found that levels of the stress hormone cortisol in breast milk can vary between mothers and that it affects sons and daughters in a different way. The researchers believe the same is likely to be true for human breast milk.

    Female babies fed on breast milk with relatively high concentrations of cortisol showed behavioural changes, such as irritability, fear, anger and discomfort, which were not shown in sons fed on breast milk with similar concentrations of the hormone, said Katie Hinde, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

    The findings lend further support to the idea that "breast is best" and that formula milk does not provide the same nutritional benefits as breast milk. However, when formula milk is unavoidable, the results also suggest that its make-up might be altered depending on whether the baby is a boy or a girl, Dr Hinde said.

    "We have good reason to be sceptical of one size fits all for formula milk," she told the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

    "These studies are showing that mother's milk affects behaviour and there seems to be differences in that effect for sons and daughers," she told the meeting

    "Our study is a step forward in that it integrates the food aspect of milk as well as the signal from the hormone," she said.

    Cortisol receptors, which are activated in the presence of the hormone, are present in the lining of the gut wall of a baby as well as within the brain. The presence of the hormone in breast milk suggests its plays an important role in influencing the behaviour of breast-feeding infants, depending on the baby's gender, Dr Hinde said.


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