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Health Bulletin


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  1. #851
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Study finds gene mutations that protect against diabetes

    Here is the best news in the field of diabetes research. Doctors in Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard University have identified mutations in a gene that can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, even in people who have risk factors such as old age and obesity.

    A press release put out by the institutes said that "the first step to developing a new therapy is discovering and validating a "drug target" - a human protein that, if activated or inhibited, results in prevention and treatment of the disease."

    Type 2 diabetes is one of the biggest public health challenges: it affects over 300 million people worldwide and is rising rapidly in prevalence. India alone is home to over 60 million people with diabetes.

    In the new study, researchers describe the genetic analysis of 150,000 patients showing that rare mutations in a gene called SLC30A8 reduce risk of type 2 diabetes by 65 per cent. The results were seen in patients from multiple ethnic groups, suggesting that a drug that mimics the effect of these mutations might have broad utility around the globe. "The protein encoded by SLC30A8 had previously been shown to play an important role in the insulin-secreting beta cells of the pancreas, and a common variant in that gene was known to slightly influence the risk of type 2 diabetes," the release said.

    The study's main author David Altshuler has said that "human genetics is not just a tool for understanding biology, it can also powerfully inform drug discovery by addressing one of the most challenging and important questions - knowing which targets to go after."


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  2. #852
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Liver diseases affect one in 5 Indians

    Mention organ failure and people instantly recall kidney diseases. Unfortunately, there is no such awareness about liver failure and diseases. Liver failure - arising mainly due to cancer or cirrhosis - is a leading cause of death among Indians, say doctors.

    On Monday, Dr A S Soin, renowned liver transplant surgeon from Gurgaon's Medanta City Hospital spoke in Mumbai about how common liver diseases are. Liver diseases are more common than people realize. It affects one in 5 Indians,'' Dr Soin said.

    He said liver diseases may arise due to any infection such as hepatitis B or C viruses. While many of these patients can be managed with medicines, around 5% of them may progress to liver failure. For such patients, a liver transplant is the only answer,'' Dr Soin said.

    While kidney failure patients can prolong life by undergoing dialysis thrice a week to remove toxic accumulated in the body, there is no such alternative for liver-failure patients. A kidney transplant is a life-changing operation but a liver transplant, on the other hand, is a life-saving one,'' said the doctor.
    Experts say the need of the hour is to spread awareness about liver diseases so that people seek medical help before it is too late. Secondly, for patients who have progressed to liver-failure stage, there is a need to spread awareness about the cadaver donation.

    In Mumbai alone, nearly 2,000 patients die annually from liver failure or liver cancer, and 300 are waiting for a liver transplant at any time. "If the current organ donation rate of around 2-3/million here were to become 10 times, it would equal that in the developed West, and be able to provide sufficient organs for the waiting list in Mumbai," said Dr Soin.


  3. #853
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Seaweed that can help bust fat identified

    Scientists at UK's Newcastle University have identified certain seaweed of being very effective at preventing absorption of fat opening up new possibilities for making everyday foods healthier.

    Alginates are already used in foods such as stabilisers in jam and to maintain the head on a pint of beer. But their potential as a food supplement which prevents us from absorbing fat haven't been explored till now.

    Alginate is a natural fibre found in sea kelp and is one of the world's largest commercially-used seaweeds. It could reduce the amount of fat available for the body by around 75% and is far more effective than most anti-obesity treatments currently available over the counter, scientists said.

    "At least 95% to 100% of the fat we eat is digested by lipase, an enzyme that the body uses to break down fats. If we can reduce the amount digested we reduce the amount absorbed," they said.

    New research has identified the chemical properties of alginates which prevent fat from being digested by our bodies and this has allowed scientists to produce a league table of the most effective seaweeds.

    The next step for the team is to test the different seaweeds in a model gut and then to recruit volunteers to study whether the effects they have modelled in the lab can be reproduced in real people, and whether such foods are truly acceptable in a normal diet.

    Professor Jeff Pearson of Newcastle University's Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences said, "We have already added alginate to bread and initial taste tests have been extremely encouraging. Now the next step is to carry out clinical trials to find out how effective they are when eaten as part of a normal diet."


  4. #854
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Passive smoking causes irreversible damage to kids' arteries

    Exposure to second-hand smoke in childhood causes irreversible damage to children's arteries - increasing their risk of heart attacks or strokes when they grow up, according to a large international study published on Wednesday.

    The research, which lends weight to campaigns for smoking to be banned in private cars and homes, found passive smoking leads to a thickening of children's artery walls, adding some 3.3 years to the age of blood vessels by adulthood.

    "Exposure to passive smoke in childhood causes direct and irreversible damage to the structure of the arteries," said Seana Gall, a researcher in cardiovascular epidemiology who led the study at the University of Tasmania.

    She said parents, or even those thinking about becoming parents, should quit smoking - both to aid their own health and protect the future health of their children.

    Smoking causes lung cancer, which is often fatal, and is the world's biggest cause of premature death from chronic conditions like heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure.

    On top of the 6 million people a year killed by their own smoking, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says another 600,000 die a year as a result of exposure to other peoples' smoke - so-called second-hand or passive smoking.

    Of the more than 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, at least 250 are known to be harmful and more than 50 are known to cause cancer, the WHO says - and creating 100 percent smoke-free environments is the only way to protect people fully.

    About 40 percent of all children are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke at home, and almost a third of the deaths attributable to second-hand smoke are in children.

    ARTERY WALLS

    This latest study, published in the European Heart Journal, was the first to follow children through to adulthood to look at links between exposure to parents' smoking and thickness of the innermost two layers of the arterial wall, known as carotid intima-media thickness (IMT).

    Researchers from Finland and Australia looked at data from 2,401 people in Finland 1,375 people in Australia who were asked about their parents' smoking habits. The scientists used ultrasound to measure the thickness of the children's artery walls once they had reached adulthood.

    The results showed that carotid IMT in adulthood was 0.015 millimetres thicker in those exposed to both parents smoking than in those whose parents did not smoke.

    Gall said that while this was a "modest" increase, it was nonetheless an important extra and irreversible risk for suffering heart attacks or strokes later in life.

    Since children of parents who smoke are also more likely to grow up to be smokers themselves, and more likely to be overweight, their heart health risks are often already raised, she said, and the second-hand smoke adds yet more risk.

    The researchers said the findings showed reducing children's exposure to smoke is a public health priority.

    "Legislation can reduce passive smoke exposure, with restriction of smoking in public places reducing hospitalisations for cardiovascular and respiratory disease," they wrote, adding that banning smoking in cars with children in them would also have a significant positive effect.

    The United States, Australia and Canada have already banned smoking in cars carrying children, and Britain said last month that it too would be introducing a ban soon.


  5. #855
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Doctors to grow ear, nose from body fat

    British doctors will undertake a path breaking procedure to reconstruct people's faces with stem cells taken from their fat.

    The team has successfully grown cartilage in the laboratory and believe it could be used to rebuild ears and noses.

    Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) and the UCL Institute of Child Health (ICH) say the effectiveness of human stem cell therapies for facial reconstruction has been effectively investigated and shows how stem cells could pose a viable alternative to current approaches to facial cartilage reconstruction such as ear and nose reconstruction.

    GOSH is world renowned for successfully treating patients born with a malformed or missing ear, a condition known as microtia.

    The two-stage ear reconstruction takes cartilage from the patient's ribs and a new scaffold is moulded and placed beneath the skin from it.

    Both the clinical and cosmetic results of this procedure have been very good.

    However, as Patrizia Ferretti, head of developmental biology unit at the ICH and her co-authors demonstrate in their study, the potential application of human stem cells and tissue engineering could further improve results and would obviate the need for this invasive part of the procedure, which leaves a permanent defect in the donor site.

    What the team envisages is taking a tiny sample of fat from the child and stem cells would be extracted and grown from it.

    An ear-shaped scaffold would be placed in the stem cell broth so the cells would take on the desired shape and structure. Chemicals would then be used to persuade the stem cells to transform into cartilage cells.

    This could then be implanted beneath the skin to give the child an ear shape.

    Dr Ferretti said "We used stem cells harvested from the abdominal tissue of young patients affected by craniofacial conditions to explore, in our laboratories, how these might be used in future surgery. The use of stem cells from the paediatric patients themselves circumvents the issue of rejection and would overcome the need for immunosuppressive therapies".

    The study suggests that combining stem cells with scaffolds can be of great value for several applications.

    In addition to ear and nose cartilage reconstruction, they could be used, for example, to improve the quality of tracheal transplants.


  6. #856
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Angry people at increased risk of heart attacks

    Scientists have confirmed hot headed people with outbursts of anger are more prone to heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular problems in the two hours immediately afterwards.

    Five episodes of anger a day would result in around 158 extra heart attacks per 10,000 people with a low cardiovascular risk per year, increasing to about 657 extra heart attacks per 10,000 among those with a high cardiovascular risk.

    The Harvard School of Public Health researchers say the risk with a single outburst of anger is relatively low - one extra heart attack per 10,000 people per year could be expected among people with low cardiovascular risk who were angry only once a month, increasing to an extra four per 10,000 people with a high cardiovascular risk.

    Rage often precedes an attack and may be the trigger, say the US researchers who trawled medical literature.

    They identified a dangerous period of about two hours following an outburst when people were at heightened risk.

    The meta-analysis found in the two hours immediately after feeling angry, a person's risk of a heart attack increased nearly five-fold (4.74%), the risk of stroke increased more than three-fold (3.62%).

    Senior Cardiac Nurse at the British Heart Foundation Doireann Maddock said, "This research found that people's risk of heart attack and stroke increased for a short time after they lost their temper. It's not clear what causes this effect. It may be linked to the physiological changes that anger causes to our bodies, but more research is needed to explore the biology behind this.''


  7. #857
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Traces of pesticide in fruits, veggies

    The advice to 'watch what you eat' may no longer apply only to the calorie conscious, with a recent study finding copious quantities of pesticide residue in fruits and vegetables. Of the 345 samples they tested, researchers found pesticide residue in 96 samples.

    The vegetable samples were collected from local vendors and shops from different parts of Pune and were tested from April 2013 to January 2014. Some samples were found to have residues of banned pesticides such as Chlordane, Carbofuron, Captafol and DDT.

    An official from the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) accredited Pesticide Residue Testing Laboratory, Pune (PRTL), which carried out the research, told TOI that pesticides were found in vegetables such as bitter gourd, bottle gourd, brinjal, capsicum, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber and tomatoes and raisins.

    Raisins, cucumbers and tomatoes had the maximum amount of residue of 181 parts per billion (ppb). In one sample of cucumber, the residue was 230 ppb, 192 ppb of Deltamethrin was found in another sample of cucumber along with 108 ppb of Ethofenprox. The maximum residue limit (MRL) of these pesticides in cucumber has not been determined, said the officials.

    In an analysis of vegetables and fruits from April 2013 to June 2013, the minimum quantity of Captafol fungicide in a sample of bitter gourd was 10 ppb, while the maximum was 48 ppb in another sample, when the maximum residue limit is 20 ppb as per the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

    The fruits and vegetables that were analysed included apples, beans, carrots, brinjal, capsicum, mangoes, iceberg lettuce, plums, pears, peas, 'oranges, potatoes, tomatoes, raisins and others. Seven samples of different vegetables and fruits were tested in April last year, 25 were tested in June, 73 in July, 63 in August, 38 in September, nine in October, 11 in November, 31 in December and 88 in January 2014.

    Overall around 54 types of pesticides/fungicides were detected from different samples.

    An official from PRTL said that these vegetables were collected from different markets of Pune, some samples were also provided by individual farmers for testing. "Around 90% of the 345 samples are from the city markets. We have a target of testing around 600 such samples per year. Each pesticide used on each vegetable, fruit and food grain has a different maximum residue limit

    ," the official said. He added that these pesticides are sprayed directly on the crops to control pests.

    The monthly report compiled by PRTL is sent to senior agriculture officers, after which steps are taken to sensitize farmers about minimizing the use of these fungicides and pesticides. "We asked them to maintain a gap of at least 10 to 15 days between spraying pesticides on vegetables/fruits and selling them in markets," the official added.

    PRTL officials added that though the pesticide residue levels were found to be higher than the maximum limits in some of the samples, most pesticides are easily leached out of the human body. "However, care should be taken by farmers to minimise the use of pesticides and fungicides. They should regularly send samples of their crops, fruits/vegetables to PRTL for testing. The consumers should thoroughly wash the vegetable, fruit or food grain with water twice or thrice before use," officials said.

    Experts in the field of toxicology were cautious about commenting on the possible health impacts of pesticide residues in foods, citing lack of studies on humans on the subject. However, scientists at the Indian Institute of Toxicology Research (IITR), Lucknow, said that the amount of pesticide intake from different food products - such as vegetables, fruits, cereals, milk, water - should not exceed the acceptable daily intake or ADI, which is the amount of a substance that can be ingested daily over a lifetime without any significant health risk. "Whatever food commodities are eaten, the total pesticide load in the body should not exceed this acceptable intake. However, some pesticides are carcinogenic and should not be present in the food even in minimal amounts," said a scientist from IITR.

    He added that based on the current status of animal studies, every pesticide can have a health impact. "Pesticides can cause neurotoxicity, damage the brain, can be toxic to the liver, kidney and may even cause hormonal disturbances in humans in cases of long-term consumption in significant amounts," he said.

    Amit Khurana, programme manager, food safety and toxins, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), Delhi, said, "Pesticide levels found below maximum limit are acceptable to the extent of current level of toxicity studies. Even a single pesticide molecule is capable of causing mutation and may lead to cancer. Pesticides are linked to several disease conditions of the immune system, hormonal system and cancers."

    Explaining the term 'biomonitoring,' Mathur said, "The concept of capping limits from all food sources is possibly limited in its design in a country like India with several food habits and dietary choices. Biomonitoring measures environmental toxins including pesticides and heavy metals in the human tissues. It takes care of all possible sources. Implementation is an issue. However, it still helps in regulating individual source of unwanted pesticide ingestion."


  8. #858
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Eating too much meat and eggs is ‘just as bad as smoking’, claim scientists

    Middle-aged people who eat protein-rich food are four times more likely to die of cancer than someone who only eats a little, according to a new study. The researchers said eating a lot of protein increased the risk of cancer almost as much as smoking 20 cigarettes a day.

    They reached their findings, published in the journal Cell: Metabolism, after tracking thousands of people over 20 years.

    "We provide convincing evidence that a high-protein diet — particularly if the proteins are derived from animals — is nearly as bad as smoking for your health," one of the academics behind the work, Dr Valter Longo, of the University of Southern California, told Daily Telegraph.

    A high-protein diet was defined as one in which 20 per cent of the calories came from protein. They recommended eating 0.8g of protein per kilogram of body weight a day during middle age.

    However, the researchers said protein had benefits during later life.

    Dr Eileen Crimmins, a co-author of the study, said: "We also propose that at older ages, it may be important to avoid a low-protein diet to allow the maintenance of healthy weight and protection from frailty."

    However Dr Gunter Kuhnle, a food nutrition scientist at the University of Reading, criticized the study for making a link to smoking.

    "While this study raises some interesting perspectives on links between protein intake and mortality ... It is wrong, and potentially even dangerous, to compare the effects of smoking with the effect of meat and cheese," he said.

    "The smoker thinks: 'Why bother quitting smoking if my cheese and ham sandwich is just as bad for me?'"

    And Professor Tim Key, of Cancer Research UK, said: "Further research is needed to establish whether there is any link between eating a high protein diet and an increased risk of middle aged people dying from cancer."


  9. #859
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Antibiotic prescribing puts patients at risk
    The American Centers for Diseases Control (CDC) has pointed out that poor prescribing practices for antibiotics puts hospital patients at risk for preventable allergic reactions, super-resistant infections, and deadly diarrhea.

    Stating that these practices also drive antibiotic resistance, CDC said that about one-third of the time patients in American hospitals are given drugs without proper testing or evaluation, or were given drugs for too long.

    "Clinicians in some hospitals prescribed three times as many antibiotics as clinicians in other hospitals, even though patients were receiving care in similar areas of each hospital," said a special CDC report brought out on Wednesday.

    The report also said that, in hospitals, a 30 % reduction in use of the antibiotics could reduce associated diarrheal infections by more than 25 percent.

    "Improving antibiotic prescribing can save today's patients from deadly infections and protect lifesaving antibiotics for tomorrow's patients," said CDC director Tom Frieden. "Healthcare facilities are an important part of the solution to drug resistance and every hospital in the country should have a strong antibiotic stewardship program," he said.


  10. #860
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Avoid replacing total knee, just resurface it

    Not every patient with arthritis needs a total knee replacement. In fact, a majority of the patients who need surgery may only require a unicompartmental resurfacing, say doctors.

    "The knee is divided into three compartments. Typically, arthritis starts in the medial compartment first. If this compartment alone is re-surfaced with artificial metal and polyethylene surfaces — called unicompartmental resurfacing — the other compartments do not develop arthritis for 10-15 years and the person does not need a knee replacement," said orthopedic surgeon Dr Arun Mullaji, who consults at Hinduja Surgical Healthcare Hospital in Khar in central Mumbai.

    Knee replacement or resurfacing are needed due to arthritis, which affects 1 in 6 people. Arthritis essentially means wear and tear of the cartilage lining of the knee, leading to bones rubbing against each other.

    A unicomparmental resurfacing is, however, not offered by many surgeons. "It is a delicate operation that needs a lot of skill. Barely a handful of orthopaedic surgeons in Mumbai offer it. Most prefer to change the entire knee instead of doing a resurfacing," said Dr Mullaji.

    To popularise the operation, he held a workshop in Hinduja Hospital last week. "We had nearly 100 surgeons from around India and also from Malaysia," he added. The workshop focused on a new kind of replacement device that only needs a two-inch incision.

    The advantage of a resurfacing is that most persons can walk the same evening after surgery and go home the next day. "There is no need for blood transfusion, physiotherapy or a big cut. All ligaments are preserved and patients can sit on the floor and sit cross-legged. Future knee replacement if required (in less than 15%) is easy to perform," Dr Mullaji added.


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