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Saturday, 11 December 2010

DDT Exposure Reduces Libido, Sperm Production in Men

The controversial insecticide DDT should not be used to fight malaria in Malawi because it reduces men's sexual performance, a newspaper report Friday quoted a government official as saying. 
"The side effects of DDT in men are that men easily get tired, there is reduction in libido and sperm production," Andrew Daudi, principal secretary in the ministry of agriculture, was quoted as saying by the Weekend Times.
The insecticide is banned in Malawi as in most other countries but members of parliament's Committee on Health and Population have called for its return despite its dangers to the environment. 

They say it is more effective than other chemicals used to kill malaria-carrying mosquitoes responsible for the deaths of thousands of people here every year. 
Rabson Chirwa, an MP also quoted in the report, disagreed with Daudi. 
"Should we be dying of malaria because men want to produce more sperm and because men want to have libido? These reasons do not hold water," Chirwa said. 
Neither referred to the chemical's detrimental effect on wildlife, the environment and human health, which led to it being banned by the United States in the 1970s and most other nations subsequently. 
Malawi's campaign to fight malaria by providing free or cheap mosquito nets has failed to curb the number of deaths caused by the disease, the government said in March, prompting some MPs to argue that the use of DDT is merited.

Politicians need ayur care, says Sri Sri

Scams that plague the government, department work that is to be completed, party politics to be taken care of - it's not the techies, but politicians of our country who are probably most stressed, reeling under pressure almost everyday of their career. And Ayurveda is one of the best de-stressers for them, says Art of Living founder, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. 
Sri Sri said he would advise yoga not just for the CM for all ministers. "I would advice every politician to follow Ayurveda. They should at least take Naadi Pariksha once a month and take Panchakarma treatment once a year to detoxify themselves. Most of the ministers are Pitta-Vata prakriti - they get upset fast. Many bureaucrats are Kapha prakriti which makes them procrastinate. I would advice them to follow the diet according to their prakriti," he said. One of the main features of Ayurveda is that it teaches one how to prevent illnesses, he points out. The right combination of yoga, pranayam, meditation, proper food and Ayurvedic herbs can correct one's system, even if practiced infrequently. 
"Stressed people do not get good sleep and their attention span is very less. Herbs like Brahmi Rasayan and Medhya Rasayan which contain Brahmi and Shankhapushpi have proved to be extremely useful. Another important herb, Vacha, can help one balance mood swings. Ayurveda in combination with Pranayama and meditation has proven to combat stress worldwide," he said.



Sri Lankan MPs to take up yoga classes

Sri Lankan members of the parliament are to be offered yoga sessions with an intention to eliminate their high levels of stress, according to the practitioners.
"With peace in Sri Lanka, the most stressed-out people are now the politicians," the BBC quoted the instructor in charge, Chamin Warnakula, as saying.
Warnakula, whose yoga organisation has produced a leaflet entitled "Yoga for MPs - For Mind, Body and Soul", has further said that these politicians would take lessons on breathing and posture exercises, which would "teach them discipline, good behaviour, and how to control themselves in stressful situations".
According to Sanjeewa Perera, a disciple of Warnakula, the sessions would be held at the start of parliamentary sessions and added that they can wear the same outfit for the yoga and for the sittings.
In recent weeks the Speaker, Chamal Rajapaksa, has had to call MPs to order several times. On Wednesday he suspended the proceedings and threatened to go home unless lawmakers behaved in a more professional way, the report said.
An opposition MP, Ranjan Ramanayake, has accused government MPs of constantly trying to intimidate and shout down those of this own party.
"We hope at least that by doing yoga they can learn to respect democracy and be more disciplined," he added. (ANI)


TASUDMA to conduct workshop for members on new Ayush guidelines in Jan

Overexposure to Anti-bacterial Soaps Affects Immunity

Being too clean can actually make people sick, suggests a finding by few researchers. 
All the data required for the study was collected from the 2003-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in America. Certain microorganisms are beneficial for the proper development of our immune system but living in very clean and hygienic environments impacts our exposure to these microorganisms.Overexposure of children and teenagers to antibacterial soaps that contain the chemical triclosan were more likely to be diagnosed with hay fever and other allergies. 

Triclosan is an antimicrobial agent. It is widely used in products such as antibacterial soaps, toothpaste, medical devices and diaper bags. 
The study also found that an adult’s immune system may be weakened because of over exposure to higher levels of the chemical bisphenol A (BPA). BPA is believed to affect the human hormones. 
It is used to make many types of plastics and other consumer products. 
When the levels of triclosan and BPA in the urine were compared with cytomegalovirus (CMV) antibody levels and diagnosis of allergies or hay fever in adults and children over age 6 years, it was found that people over 18 years who were over exposed BPA had higher levels of CMV antibody. This finding suggests that their cell-mediated immune system may not be functioning properly. This triclosan finding among the younger children and teenagers may support the hygiene hypothesis 

Allergy Treatments Complemented by Chinese Herbs

Complementary medicine along with traditional therapies would give allergy and asthma patients new treatment options, claim allergists. They discussed how herbal treatments might be integrated into conventional allergy treatments, including a novel Chinese herbal formula for treating all types of food allergies."Integrative therapies blend the art and science of medicine," said allergist William Silvers.
"This exciting area of medicine offers a variety of complementary approaches, so each patient receives truly individualized care," Silvers said.
One promising remedy is the Food Allergy Herbal Formula (FAHF-2), a Chinese herbal formula currently being tested for use to treat food allergies.
Early research showed significant reduction in peanut-induced anaphylaxis in mice. Phase I clinical studies have shown that FAHF-2 is safe in humans.
"FAHF-2 has been shown to have a prolonged preventive effect up to 40 weeks," said allergist Helen Chan.
"It has also been shown to be safe, with very few side effects, and is a one-course treatment for all allergens," Chan said.
"The use of substances found in nature, such as herbs, foods and vitamins, can be helpful in treating various allergies when combined with traditional therapies," said Dr. Silvers.
"It is very important that patients consult their allergist before adding complementary modalities to their treatment plan," Dr. Silvers added.
The findings were announced at the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) in Phoenix, Nov.

Ayurvedic Remedies to Help Relieve Stress Among Techies

Techies today are continuously stressed due to their hectic schedules. Many have to face problems like back pain, migraine and fatigue. To tackle these problems modern India is looking for solutions to ancient India.
 Ayurvedic Remedies to Help Relieve Stress Among TechiesA study on the diseases affecting this urban community was conducted by a medical team headed by Dr. L. Mahadevan, consultant, Sharada Ayurvedic Hospital, Chennai. This study was conducted by seven ayurvedic doctors from Chennai and Kerala. Their reports will be submitted to Ayush (the department of ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy, unani, siddha and homoeopathy).
During the study 150 techies in Bangalore and Chennai were investigated. The initial findings indicated that majority of them had cervical problems and lumbar problems. Many suffered from back pain and neck pain. The most common problem among them was chronic fatigue.
Insomnia, migraine, infertility and obesity (which could lead to diabetes) were the other ailments that were noticed during the study. Diabetes and heart diseases are rampant among other communities also but IT professionals are more vulnerable to these diseases because of their sedentary lifestyle.
Dr. L. mahadevan, an ayurvedic consultant says "Infections can be treated. But chronic diseases like these can be avoided only through changes in lifestyle. Whatever diseases people generally suffer from between 55 and 60, IT professionals get by the age of 45."
Taking into consideration the findings of the study doctors have suggested meditation, suryanamaskar, regular exercises, quarterly detoxification program, low-calorie and high-fibre foods and consumption of at least three liters of water daily. The doctors are of the opinion that doing stretching exercises after every hour during work will prove to be helpful.



Friday, 10 December 2010

Families Shrink as One in Five Women Childless at 45 Years of Age

Official figures show that about one in every five women born in 1964 is reaching their middle age without having any child. While only one in eight women born in 1937 was childless. These figures were obtained from the Office for National Statistics. The average family size has become smaller. This could be attributed to the number of childless women. The average family size for women born in 1964 is down to 1.9 children when compared with an average of 2.4 for those women born in 1937. 
As compared to the yesteryears, women have made careers their first priority and have put their families second. Many have chosen to postpone their families or lose the opportunity to have children due to the pressures of careers, mortgages and rocky relationships. While some others have delayed having children as they cannot face the high costs or due to the uncertainty about the commitment of their live-in male partners. 
The report also found that the average age for men to have children has gone up to 32.4 compared to 29.8 in 1979. Previous data has shown that on an average nowadays women give birth for the first time when they are 29.4 years old. 


FDA Approves First Anti-Obesity Drug In A Decade

An advisory panel to the US Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday gave its approval to an anti-obesity drug, in what could be the first new approved drug for losing weight in more than a decade. 
Contrave, a drug developed by the California-based Orexigen Therapies, was given the nod by a 13-7 vote by the FDA expert panel, which advises the US regulatory body.
The FDA usually follows its recommendations, and is expected to make a final decision in January. 

The panel said the drug was only modestly effective and was found to cause slight boosts in blood pressure and pulse. It also urged a wider trial to assess potential heart attack risks. 
The FDA earlier this year acted on the panel's recommendations and denied two new obesity drugs, Qnexa and Lorcaserin, over cancer and heart risks. 
The same agency in October requested US pharmaceutical company Abbott Laboratories pull its obesity drug Meridia from the US market after European tests found the key ingredient increased the risk of serious heart problems. 
About one third of Americans are obese, and the only FDA-approved prescription diet pill on the market is Switzerland-based Roche Holding AG's Xenical, which was approved by the FDA in 1999.


Time to see food as preventive medicine

Hippocrates, the father of medicine, believed he could treat most of his patients by modifying their diets. Food as medicine is not something new to a nation like ours. The fundamentals of using edible herbs, barks, seeds, stems and leaves to treat illnesses is well documented in our ancient texts including Charaka Samhita, formulated 3,000 years ago. It is an integral part of Ayurvedic medicine. But the system suffers due to lack or research and controlled clinical trials. This is in conflict with the concept of “evidence based” medicines fundamental to modern western medicine. Modern medicine and food science recognises that food also deals with the regulation of physical condition of the body. This led to the formulation of special category of foods called Functional foods. Functional foods are defined as foods which provide special health benefits which go beyond their nutritional components like energy, vitamins, minerals etc. They are natural or formulated foods that enhance physiological performance or prevent diseases.Other terms used to describe natural products being developed for health benefits include nutraceuticals, pharmafoods, designer foods, vitafoods and foodaceuticals. The promise of functional foods has emerged at a time when limitations of modern medicines is felt and consumer interest in diet and health is at an all-time high. Taken from many cultures, herbs and plants commonly used to treat specific disorders have been carefully identified. Over 10,000 physiologically active constituents in diet have been identified now some of which have been developed into medicines. It was the Japanese in 1980s who developed and commercialised the concept of functional foods in response to the burden of disease and escalating healthcare costs. Its health ministry initiated a regulatory system to approve certain foods with documented health benefits. Thus was born FOSHU - Foods For Specified Health Use. By 2007, there were over 700 products in the Japanese food market which had FOSHU status, to secure which, there must be adequate evidence of effectiveness of the product, identification of active constituents and guarantee of its safety. FOSHU food benefits range from cholesterol lowering and blood pressure regulating foods, foods to improve bowel and gastro-intestinal health and bone health – to name a few. Interestingly, the positive health correlations of functional foods are not on the basis of nutrient content. Non-nutrient constituents contribute to beneficial physiological effects which either retard or prevent disease. Allyl sulfides in garlic and onions prevent heart disease, phytates in grains and legumes protect against cancer and heart disease; carotenoids in mangoes, carrots, apricots, pumpkin, green leafy vegetables and lignans in flaxseeds have protective effect against cancers; isoflavones in soy protect against osteoporosis, cancer and heart disease; indoles and isothiocynates in cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli too have protective effect against cancer; ellagic acid in grapes, strawberries, raspberries and nuts function as antioxidant and anticancer substances. Prebiotics in garlic, barley, oats & probiotics in fermented milk and yogurt help in improving gut function and immunity.Besides, there are functional foods obtained from animal sources like dairy products, which contain CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) and fish which provides Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). The CLA has been shown to inhibit cancer – particularly cancer of colon, ovaries, prostate, breast, blood, bone marrow (leukemia) and skin (melanoma). One per cent CLA in regular diet has been reported to reduce the breast cancer incidence by nearly 60 per cent. CLA also helps lower cholesterol and prevents heart diseases by exhibiting its antioxidant activity and inhibiting formation of free radicals. In India, a wealth of knowledge lies in our ancient texts. Many people have been consuming majority of these foods for thousands of years to prevent and treat specific health conditions. As there is little recorded history of actual outcomes, dose controls or identification of possible contaminants, this has put them under uncontrolled and questionable categories. They often come under dubious tags like herbal medicine, naturopathy, alternative therapy or untested folk medicine. But consumer demand for foods capable of promoting good health and preventing or alleviating diseases is growing. It is likely to increase as baby boomers strive to manage the chronic health problems with aging and seek low cost alternatives to drugs. It is time we too establish and put in place a regulatory system for such foods to promote safety and health.

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