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Friday, 27 May 2011

Sleep can be the best medicine

As an old Irish proverb says, “a good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book”. Sleep at times is the best medicine and sleep is essential for staying healthy.
Older adults need about 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep, but for many reasons they may often be sleep deprived. Sleep deprivation may be caused by day time napping, anxiety, sleep apnea, or movement disorders such as restless leg syndrome, medications, or dementia.
Risks of sleep deprivation include: a decreased ability to fight infection, heart disease (48% greater chance of developing or dying from heart disease), high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, an increase incidence of accidents, impairment of attention, judgment, and problem solving. Lack of sleep contributes to depression, aging of the skin, anxiety, and weight gain. Sleep maybe the fountain of youth but unlike that elusive natural wonder, sleep can be found and embraced.
There are many ways to get better nights sleep. Most important is to minimize sleep during the day. A short daytime nap may be beneficial but multiple naps or extended daytime sleeping affects the quality and quantity of the primary sleep period. Developing habits around bedtime, the waking hour, regular exercise, and a relaxing bedtime routine, help to maximize sleep. Caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and large quantities of liquids and food should also be avoided close
Safe sleep is just as important and good sleep. When getting up in the middle of the night from a sound sleep, disorientation, low blood pressure or generalized weakness may develop. Stay safe at night by keeping a phone with emergency phone numbers close to the bed, having a nightlight in the bathroom, removing area rugs and getting up slowly to make sure strength and balance are present before walking. Falls are the leading cause of injury related visits to the emergency room, most of them happening at night.

'Doggie Kisses' May Have Transmitted Viruses to Humans

Humans and dogs may have exchanged genetic material over the millennia via viruses, scientists conjecture.
Retroviruses — the most infamous example of which is likely HIV, the virus that causes AIDS — have the ability to incorporate their genetic material into that of their hosts. In this manner, these hitchhikers can reproduce when their hosts do.
All mammals and most vertebrates, or creatures with backbones, apparently possess these "endogenous retroviruses" in their genomes. In fact, nearly 1 percent of the human genome consists of these unwelcome guests. Mice and opossums are even more greatly compromised, with these viruses making up about 2 percent of their genomes. [Deadly Diseases that Hopped Across Species]To get a broader picture of how deeply retroviruses have invaded genomes, scientists in Sweden analyzed the first sequenced carnivore genome, that of a female dog of the boxer breed.
The researchers discovered that endogenous retroviruses only seem to make up 0.15 percent of the dog genome, six times less than humans. Dogs may have better mechanisms to protect their genomes against retroviruses, or their genomes may house unknown types ofretroviruses that current techniques can't yet detect, the researchers say.
Intriguingly, the scientists discovered a novel group of retroviral material in dogs that is highly similar to endogenous retroviruses seen in humans. They belong to a type of virus known as gammaretroviruses, the most frequent type found in mammals to date.
This specific group of retroviruses seems to have invaded the dog genome relatively recently. This suggests that dogs and humans may have passed these germs to each other due to close interactions during our millennia of history together, a phenomenon known as "lateral transmission." It remains uncertain how such transmission might have occurred — perhaps from wet doggie kisses, for instance.
"We need to stress that we can only say 'potential for possible lateral transmission between dog and human,'" said researcher Göran Andersson, a molecular geneticist at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.
To shed light on if, when and how much this happened, "DNA from more dogs will be analyzed," Andersson told LiveScience.
Such research might not only discover evidence for such lateral transmission, but also could reveal how dogs might be protecting themselves against retroviruses. Such knowledge might help lead to therapies against retroviruses, including perhaps HIV, Andersson said.
The scientists detailed their findings online May 12 in the journal PLoS ONE.

New breast cancer guidelines "unsafe": women

 More than eight out of 10 women say new guidelines recommending against routine breast cancer screening of women under 50 are "unsafe," according to a small survey.But most of the women also grossly overestimate their risk of developing the disease, researchers from the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester found."Indeed, they have been exposed to consistent and high profile media campaigns, endorsed by medicine and a variety of interest groups, that have indoctrinated them into the concepts that mammograms lead to early detection and early detection saves lives," the researchers write in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.The controversy over screening mammography flared up in late 2009, when a government-funded group of independent experts decided to change its recommendations.Instead of advising annual mammograms in all women age 40 and above, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) said women shouldn't routinely get screened until they hit 50. And those between 50 and 74 should only have mammograms every two years.What the group didn't say, however, is that no women under 50 should be screened. It left that up to the individual woman and her doctor to decide based on her personal risk factors and preferences.But the USPSTF recommendations flew in the face of many years of aggressive PR campaigns, and met staunch resistance from advocacy groups, news organizations and medical groups alike.To find out what women themselves think, Dr. Autumn Davidson and her colleagues gave questionnaires to 247 women in their 40s, who came to the hospital for an annual well-woman exam.More than eight out of 10 of the woman said they wanted yearly mammograms, felt the new USPSTF guidelines were unsafe, and wouldn't delay screening until they turned 50.Most of them also had an inflated sense of their breast cancer risk. On average, they put US women's lifetime risk of developing the disease at 37 percent.Here's what scientists agree on: over their lifetime, 12 percent, or one in eight women, will get breast cancer.According to Dr. Michael LeFevre of the USPSTF, about 30 out of 1,000 40-year-olds will die from the disease in the absence of screening.If screening is started at 50 and done every two years until the women hit 75, seven of those deaths would be prevented. Starting at age 40 instead would stave off one additional death.From an individual woman's point of view, that extra risk reduction is real, but quite small. And it comes with a price tag.For some women, LeFevre said, mammography is a painful experience, and at least one in two who are screened annually throughout their 40s will trigger a false alarm -- that is, the mammogram shows a suspicious mass that turns out not to be dangerous.In the meantime, the woman has gone through additional testing, which exposes her to more radiation, and sometimes had a painful, invasive and expensive biopsy done."Some women respond with increased stress and anxiety and apprehension," LeFevre told Reuters Health. "The decision should be an individual one."A typical breast biopsy procedure, stereotactic core biopsy, costs $2,000 or more. Surgical biopsies involve general anesthesia and higher costs. About four in five women referred for biopsy based on suspicious mammograms turn out to not have cancer.Yet, according to the new survey, women who'd had false-positive results were less likely to want to delay screening until they turned 50 -- perhaps because they get extra worried about breast cancer, suggested LeFevre.In his view, LeFevre said, advocacy groups have given women an unrealistic perception of how common breast cancer is and to what extent screening is helpful. On the other hand, the groups have undersold the potential harms of screening."To encourage women to have mammography there have been some fairly strong public relations campaigns," he said, "For instance, there has been one in the past saying that if you're not having annual mammography you need more than your breast examined."Elizabeth Thompson, president of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a large advocacy group based in Dallas, Texas, said her organization worried that USPSTF's new recommendations would prevent women in their 40s from being reimbursed for screening.The group, along with many others, recommends that women in their 40s should have a mammogram every year starting at age 40 if they are at average risk."Our advice is always to talk with their doctors about their risk," said Thompson. "Forty percent of the women who are eligible to be screened aren't being screened."She added that the new survey is small, and might not be representative of American women in general."I don't think today that we have fear-mongering when one in three women will be diagnosed with (any form of) cancer in their lifetime and one in two men," Thompson told Reuters Health.The survey also showed that women's opinions are colored by the news they read.After reading two published newspaper articles about the USPSTF's new recommendations, women who were given a story that was favorable to the USPSTF were less likely to believe they should get mammograms in their 40s -- yet more than 80 percent of them still believed they should."As we strive to move toward a more evidence-based system of health care, it would be beneficial for policy makers, health care providers, and media outlets alike to recognize the crucial role the press plays in shaping patients' opinions, and this should be factored in when considering recommending change," Davidson and her colleagues write.
Source:American Journal of OBS and Gyne

Ayush Dept to modify scheme of developing Ayush institutions under 11th Plan

Considering the experience gained from implementation of the centrally sponsored scheme for development of Ayush institutions in the past and inputs given by the independent evaluation, Union ministry of health has decided to modify the scheme under the 11th Plan.
The scheme of development of Ayush institutions has been under implementation since the 10th Plan.
The modifications will be in the form of financial assistance giving grants-in-aid which shall be admissible for infrastructural development of Ayush for under graduate (UG) upto Rs.2 crore and for post graduate (PG) institutions upto Rs.3 crore for the plan period to be released in two instalments.
The scheme also includes assistance for add-on PG, pharmacy, and para medical courses in existing Ayush institutions with funds upto Rs.3 crore for the a pan period to be released in two instalments. It also mentions about the development of model Ayush institutions and centre of advanced studies with investment of upto Rs.5 crore.
The pattern of assistance under the scheme would be for infrastructural development of Ayush for under graduate (UG) and post graduate (PG) institutions by providing 70 per cent grant for the construction of OPD, IPD, teaching, departments, library, laboratories and for girls’ and boys’ Hostel, etc. Whereas 30 percent of the grant will be for getting equipments, furnitures, library books, payment of stipend for PG institution etc.
According to sources, this scheme is designed mainly for development of a centre for advanced studies, training, research in particular specialties depending upon the detailed project report to be appraised by a committee comprising of the principal of the institution, a nominee of the Department and a nominee of the state directorate of ISM&H.
An interesting modification that has been included in this scheme is the one time assistance on 50:50 matching share basis for opening of new Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Homoeopathy institutions and Ayush Universities in States not having such institutions. For this, the centre has proposed to allot funds upto Rs.10 crore. It states, “Where the states contribution includes land or existing building, a certificate from the competent authority on valuation on land and building to be submitted along with the application.”
Most importantly this scheme will be completely a project based proposal to be appraised by a Committee comprising of state secretary or state director of ISM&H, concerned advisers from department and a renowned academician to be nominated by the Department. The revised expenditure under the above components could be borne by the States after the plan period.


Drug Used to Reduce Stress Hormone Levels Erases Impact of Bad Memories

A drug that is used to lower the stress hormone levels can benefit those who suffer from psychological trauma by limiting the long term impact of bad memories.Researchers led by Marie-France Marin from the University of Montreal found that cortisol  hormone, which causes increases stress, is also linked to how a person recalls a memory. The researchers then conducted a study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, on 33 men with no previous history of trauma and gave them metyrapone, which reduces the cortisol levels in the body.
The participants were shown 11 slides each, with slide numbers 5 to 8 showing negative images while the other slides showed neutral images. The participants were then divided into three groups and three days later were given a single dose  of metyrapone, a double dose of metyrapone and the final group was given a placebo.


Thursday, 26 May 2011

Fish oil in pregnancy may not boost babies' vision

 Expectant moms who take fish oil supplements may not be doing much to sharpen their babies' vision, a new study suggests.
The findings fly in the face of some earlier research that had suggested docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which is found in fish oil, improves vision in preterm babies who are given supplements in their first few months of life.
DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid involved in brain and visual development. Since the substance passes through the placenta primarily later in pregnancy, preemies miss out on much of their prenatal supply.
So extra DHA after birth might help make up for that.
In the new study, Australian researchers looked at whether prenatal fish oil helps improve vision in full-term infants.
They tested visual acuity in 185 4-month-olds whose mothers had been randomly assigned to either take DHA-rich fish oil capsules or a placebo (vegetable oil capsules) every day, from mid-pregnancy until delivery.
Overall, there was no benefit of DHA on infants' vision, the researchers report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
It's not clear why the supplements didn't have an impact, despite the benefits seen in preemies given DHA after birth.
But one reason may be that preemies need the extra DHA, whereas full-term babies get all they need for normal visual development while still in the womb, according to Dr. Maria Makrides, the lead researcher on the study.
"I think that if women are well nourished and have a good, varied diet, then supplementation with DHA during pregnancy to enhance visual development for their unborn baby is not necessary," Makrides, of the Women's and Children's Health Research Institute in North Adelaide, Australia, told Reuters Health in an email.
Researchers are still studying whether there might be other benefits for infants' development. But studies so far have come to mixed conclusions.
In a study published last year, Makrides' team found no evidence that fish oil during pregnancy boosted babies' cognitive and language skills at the age of 18 months (see Reuters Health story of October 19, 2010).
Makrides said that this and other studies are pointing out the fact that full-term babies born to well-nourished moms generally do well developmentally -- and it may be hard to improve upon that with DHA supplements.
There may be other benefits of fish oil during pregnancy. Some studies have suggested that it can curb the risk of preterm birth, for example, but the jury is still out on that question.
In general, experts recommend that pregnant women strive for 200 milligrams of DHA per day. Some prenatal vitamins now carry the fatty acid, which is also present in fish -- especially fatty ones like salmon, mackerel and tuna.
However, since fish can be contaminated with mercury, doctors advise pregnant women to limit themselves to two fish meals per week. They should also choose fish that have omega-3s but are likely to have low mercury levels, such as salmon, canned light tuna and shrimp.
Certain fish -- shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish -- should be completely avoided during pregnancy, because they can have high mercury levels.
Makrides said her team is continuing to follow the children in this study to see if fish oil during pregnancy makes any difference in cognitive and language skills at age four.
As for visual development, if fish oil has any benefit for full-term babies, it would be most evident early in life.
"By the end of infancy," Makrides said, "it would be much harder to find differences between groups, as visual development would be well advanced."
Source:Reuters Health

NIH stops study of niacin to prevent heart attacks

A drug that boosts people's good cholesterol didn't go on to prevent heart attacks or strokes, leading U.S. officials to abruptly halt a major study Thursday.
The disappointing findings involve super-strength niacin, a type of B vitamin that many doctors already prescribe as potential heart protection. The failed study marks the latest setback in the quest to harness good cholesterol to fight the bad kind.
"This sends us a bit back to the drawing board," said Dr. Susan Shurin, cardiovascular chief at the National Institutes of Health.
The bad kind of cholesterol, called LDL, is the main source of artery clogs. Popular statin drugs, sold under such names as Zocor and Lipitor, plus generic forms, are mainstays in lowering LDL. Yet many statin users still have heart attacks, because LDL isn't the whole story.
HDL cholesterol, the good kind, helps fight artery build-up by carrying fats to the liver to be disposed of. That's one reason that people with too little HDL also are at risk of heart disease. So scientists are testing whether giving HDL-boosting drugs in addition to statins could offer heart patients extra protection.
The newest study tested Abbott Laboratories' Niaspan, an extended-release form of niacin that is a far higher dose than is found in dietary supplements. The drug has been sold for years, and previous studies have shown it does boost HDL levels. But no one knew if that translated into fewer heart attacks.
Researchers enrolled more than 3,400 statin users in the U.S. and Canada who had stable heart disease and well-controlled LDL, but were at risk because of low HDL levels and too much of a different bad fat, triglycerides. They were given either Niaspan or a dummy pill to add to their daily medicine.
As expected, the Niaspan users saw their HDL levels rise and their levels of risky triglycerides drop more than people who took a statin alone. But the combination treatment didn't reduce heart attacks, strokes or the need for artery-clearing procedures such as angioplasty, the NIH said.
That finding "is unexpected and a striking contrast to the results of previous trials," said Dr. Jeffrey Probstfield of the University of Washington, who helped lead the study.
But it led the NIH to stop the study 18 months ahead of schedule.
Adding to the decision was a small increase in strokes in the high-dose niacin users — 28 among those 1,718 people given Niaspan, compared with 12 among the 1,696 placebo users. The NIH said it wasn't clear if that small difference was merely a coincidence; previous studies have shown no stroke risk from niacin. In fact, some of the strokes occurred after the Niaspan users quit taking that drug.
What's the message for heart patients?
Statin users who have very low LDL levels, like those in this study, don't need an extra prescription for niacin, said Dr. Robert Eckel, a University of Colorado cardiologist and American Heart Association spokesman who wasn't involved with the study.
But it's not clear if niacin would have any effect on people at higher risk or those who don't have a diagnosis of heart disease yet but take niacin as a preventive, said study co-leader Dr. William Boden of the University at Buffalo.
"We can't generalize these findings ... to patients that we didn't study," he said.
Eckel said it's "really hard to envision exactly what's going to happen in physicians' offices" in coming weeks as they discuss niacin with patients. The NIH urged people not to stop high-dose niacin without consulting a doctor.
Nor do the findings end hope that raising HDL eventually will pan out, Eckel said. While two other drugs have failed as well, he is closely watching some much stronger HDL-boosters, including a Merck & Co. drug named anacetrapib, that are under development.

Brains of Breast-Feeding Moms More Responsive to Baby's Cries

In a finding that won't surprise many mothers, a new study says breast-feeding may help secure the bond between mother and child. But the study also offers one explanation how: through a change in the mother's brain.
The brains of breast-feeding mothers show a greater response to the sound of their babies' cries than do the brains of mothers who do not breast-feed, the study researchers say.
This boost in brain activity is seen in brain regions associated with mothering behaviors.The finding adds to a growing list of the benefits of breast-feeding. Breast milk is considered the best source of nutrition for babies, and breast-feeding has been linked with better test scores and better health for the child later in life.
The results suggest this brain activity facilitates greater sensitivity from the mother toward her infant as the baby begins to socially interact with the world, the researchers say.
The study may help people to "recognize that it's important to support mothers who do want to breast-feed," said study researcher Pilyoung Kim, of the National Institute of Mental Health.
That's not to say that women must breast-feed. Some women choose not to breast-feed, while others can't, either because of biological problems or other issues, including constraints imposed on them by their jobs. Kim herself has a 1-year old son and has had difficulties with breast-feeding.
"I understand the challenges mothers have," Kim said. "Regardless of their decision, I think it is critical during this early postpartum period that they seek support and encouragement from others, especially when they feel very stressed and challenged by the new demands because of the new parenting experience."
An infant's cry
Kim and her colleagues examined 17 new mothers. Nine of the mothers breast-fed while the other eight used formula to feed their babies.
Two to four weeks after giving birth, the mothers had their brains scanned using a functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) machine while they listened to recordings of both their own baby's cries and the cries of newborns who weren't their children.
Mothers who breast-fed showed greater activity in several brain regions, including the superior frontal gyrus, striatum and amygdala. Studies on animals have found links between these brain regions and parenting behavior.
The researchers also examined the mothers' behavior in the home. The women were videotaped interacting with their 3- to 4-week-old infants. The researchers rated the mothers on how affectionate, or sensitive, they were toward their babies. The ratings were based on factors such has returning a smile to the infant or responding appropriately when the infant was stressed, Kim said.
Regardless of whether the mothers breast-fed or formula-fed their babies, increased activity in the mothers' superior frontal gyrus and amygdala was associated with greater maternal sensitivity, the researchers say.
Developing empathy
The brain regions activated in the study may be responsible for empathy. So high activity in these regions may contribute to the breast-feeding mother's ability to understand how her own infant is feeling and respond in an appropriate way, the researchers say.
These brain regions are "definitely doing something to help process the information and perhaps motivate the mothers to exhibit more caregiving behaviors," Kim said.
It's possible hormones released during breast-feeding, such as oxytocin, may contribute to brain and behavioral changes in the mother. Research is needed on larger groups of people to better understand the relationship between breast-feeding and brain responses, Kim said.
A better understanding of this relationship may help researchers learn why some mothers have trouble forming an emotional bond with their child, and perhaps lead to a treatment or intervention for those mothers, Kim said.
The study was published online April 18 in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.
Source:My Health News Daily

Sedentary Jobs Helping to Drive Obesity Epidemic

As Americans sit -- literally -- in more sedentary jobs, they're packing on the pounds, and it's this inertia that's a major contributor to the obesity epidemic, new research suggests.
Staring at the computer for hours rather than hoeing the fields means Americans are burning 120 to 140 fewer calories a day than they did 50 years ago.
So promoting any kind of physical activity needs to have an even greater emphasis in this war on weight, according to a study in the May 25 online edition of the journal PLoS ONE.
"It's all about calories in and calories out, and we're putting more calories in than we're taking out," said Dr. Robert Graham, a primary care physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
A tilt towards calories in has resulted in two-thirds of U.S. adults now being overweight or obese.
Although both eating habits and exercise have been studied in relation to the obesity epidemic, these researchers, from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La., said much of the blame for the extra poundage has been placed on calorie intake.
That's because the amount of leisure-time physical activity hasn't really changed over the years.
But what about the physical demands of work, where so many people spend most of their waking hours?
These researchers cross-referenced U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on the prevalence of different jobs with a large national database that includes information on body weight.
Fifty years ago, about half of private-industry jobs in the United States involved some kind of physical activity, things such as farming, mining, construction and manufacturing. Today, that number is less than 20 percent, thanks to the dominance of jobs in retail, education and business.
The authors estimated that 100 fewer calories going out every day would result in a weight gain in line with what the U.S. population has seen since 1960.
Yet, if Americans were following federal guidelines for physical activity (150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of more vigorous activity), those extra calories would have been evened out.
Only one in four Americans is doing the recommended level of exercise, the authors stated.
"We need to encourage physical activity even more, especially given that we sit more during the day than we did 100 years ago," said Keri Gans, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association and author of The Small Change Diet.
"The demands of everyday life are competing with exercise," Graham added. "We just have to make time for it."
Gans recommends that people move at work even if they have what amounts to a desk job. That could mean taking the stairs when you can, walking over to a co-worker's desk when you can and going for a walk at lunchtime. And if your company happens to have a gym or exercise program, by all means, partake.
Courtesy:Health Day

Polypill Successfully Reduces Risk of Heart Disease

A new study published in the journal PLoS One revealed that a combination of four commonly used drugs can go a long way in lowering cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of heart diseases.World Health Organisation and the Wellcome Trust conducted a global trial in various countries including UK, US, Australia, Brazil and India and found that combining four commonly used drugs, aspirin, two blood pressure drugs and a cholesterol drug, can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke by more than 50 percent. 
The polypill has been widely researched in the past decade after Professors Sir Nicholas Wald and Malcolm Law authored an article stating that such a pill can reduce the risk of heart disease by as much as 80 percent.


Ash Cloud may Not be Good for Asthmatics

A charity has issued a warning to asthma victims as well as those suffering respiratory problems to keep their medications handy as the ash cloud could is expected reach UK.
When the ash cloud reaches it can reduce air quality and many people can suffer health problems.Dr Keith Prowse, of the British Lung Foundation, said: "In light of the latest news that ash from the volcanic eruption in Iceland could reach the UK by Tuesday, we would advise people living with a lung condition in affected areas to carry their medication as a precaution." 


Best Weight Loss Diet - Just Fruits

A day long diet of fruit salads and fruit snacking will help you lose weight in a healthy way, a new book on diet reveals. 
Co-authors Dian Griesel, and Tom Griesel, of the new book, 'TurboCharged: Accelerate Your Fat burning metabolism Get Lean Fast and Leave Diet and exercise  Rules in the Dust' (BSH, 2011) proposed a significant amount of fruit in the diet . They even recommended that sometimes days of just fruit ."Fruits which are so commonly restricted in most "weight-loss" diets and lacking in most everyday diets are essential for optimal health along with plenty of fresh vegetables, nuts, seeds, and animal proteins like meat, fish, eggs and cheese," said Griesels.

"The plethora of benefits delivered by fruit will continue to be proven in scientific studies.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

UN puts off destroying last smallpox viruses

 Health ministers from around the world agreed Tuesday to put off setting a deadline to destroy the last known stockpiles of the smallpox virus for three more years, rejecting a U.S. plan that had called for a five-year delay.After two days of heated debate, the 193-nation World Health Assembly agreed by consensus to a compromise that calls for another review in 2014.The United States had proposed a five-year extension to destroying the U.S. and Russian stockpiles, arguing that more research is needed and the stockpiles could help prevent one of the world's deadliest diseases from being used as a biological weapon.But other ministers at the decision-making assembly of the World Health Organization said they saw little reason to retain the stockpiles, and objected to the delay in destroying them.Dr. Nils Daulaire, head of the U.S. Office of Global Health Affairs and the chief American delegate to the assembly, expressed some disappointment but said the compromise was satisfactory."Three years is a reasonable time period in terms of the next review," he told reporters. "Obviously during that time period, we expect there will be meaningful progress in the research on anti-virals and vaccines and diagnostics."The assembly declared smallpox officially eradicated in 1980, and the U.N. health agency has been discussing whether to destroy the virus since 1986.Then in 2007, the assembly asked WHO's director-general to oversee a major review of the situation so that the 2011 assembly could agree on when to destroy the last known stockpiles.WHO officials said in a statement that the assembly "strongly reaffirmed the decision of previous assemblies that the remaining stock of smallpox (variola) virus should be destroyed when crucial research based on the virus has been completed."But the assembly won't again have to grapple with a decision over exactly when to do that until three years from now.The assembly, like the U.N. General Assembly, is a world forum whose decisions aren't legally binding but do carry moral weight. So even if the assembly finally sets a date for destroying the stockpiles, it can't force the United States and Russia to comply.

Ampio premature ejaculation drug shows promise

 Ampio Pharmaceuticals Inc said its drug to treat premature ejaculation showed statistically significant results in a late-stage trial in Europe.The drug, called Zertane, is taken as needed before sexual activity and is not required to be taken on a daily basis.Ampio said "the analysis of the trial results exceeded our expectations." The company expects the data from this trial will allow it to file for European regulatory approval for the drug. In its statement today, the company did not mention plans to market Zertane in the U.S.The active ingredient in Zertane is tramadol hydrocloride, which has been used for pain relief since the mid-1990s. Ampio specializes in "repositioning" drugs, that is, in testing previously approved drugs to find treatments for new indications.Ampio said in a statement that premature ejaculation is the most common male sexual dysfunction, afflicting about 23% of all men between the ages of 18 and 75 years old.

Assam unveils AYUSH body to increase effectiveness in medical treatment

There was a time when India earned renown for alternative routes for curing diseases. Yogis and ayurved practitioners had an enviable following, as “return to Nature” was the mantra that gained popularity.
Taking a leaf from that wellness mode, the Assam government has sanctioned the establishment of a new separate directorate for AYUSH (Ayurvedic, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy).
Commissioner and secretary of the health and family welfare department J.C Goswami, in a notification issued in the name of Governor J.B. Patnaik, said the new directorate was being set up to accord special attention to medical education, planning, training and research for the branches of medicine falling under AYUSH.
The notification said all the three government homoeopathy colleges and hospitals and the only government ayurved college in the state would come under the administrative control of the new directorate. The homeopathic colleges and hospitals are in Jorhat, Nagaon and Guwahati, while the ayurvedic one is in Guwahati.
There will be a separate wing of AYUSH in all the civil hospitals of the districts and subdivisions, upto the sub-centre level.
It also said the directorate would be set up to increase effectiveness in government and private health service delivery, production and monitoring quality of drugs and implementation of government policies regarding alternative systems of medicines.
The notification said the new directorate would look after the infrastructure and manpower planning and execution with regard to building, personnel, equipment and supplies of the institutions and offices it will govern. The directorate will also deal with all issues related to governance and workforce management (promotions and transfers of non-gazetted employees) of the AYUSH sector.
It said the directorate will promote indigenous, traditional and community medicine research in the state and co-ordinate with various councils of alternative medicines under the AYUSH sector.
The notification included a letter by the deputy secretary of the health and family welfare department, C. Barua, to the accountant general of Assam, which said the government had given the financial approval to create 23 posts to run the new directorate.
The list of new posts includes one director, one joint director, two deputy directors, one financial and accounts officer, one superintendent, two upper division clerks, one accountant, one cashier, four lower division clerks, one stenographer, three typist-cum-computer operators, one chowkidar and four peons-cum-chowkidars.
Official sources said the government had taken the decision to accord priority to the AYUSH sector with a rise in the popularity of medicines of non-allopathic drugs.
The Centre had established a department of Indian system of medicine and homoeopathy in March 1995 and renamed it AYUSH in November 2003, under the Union health and family welfare ministry.
The aim was to provide special attention to the development of research in the fields of AYUSH and upgrade the educational standards, quality control and standardisation of drugs, improve the availability of medicinal plant materials and create awareness about AYUSH systems, domestically and globally.
Source:The Telegarph

Delhi HC allows use of human placental extract for 2 indications

The Delhi High Court has asked the union health ministry to allow the use of human placental extracts for two indications in the country. The two indications include topical application for wound healing and injectibles for pelvic inflammatory diseases.
Accordingly, the ministry will soon amend its notification dated February 10 this year in which it had banned several controversial drugs including human placental extract following the Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB)'s recommendation to the ministry. Other controversial drugs banned by the ministry on February 10 included non-steroid anti-inflammatory drug nimesulide suspension, gastroprokinetic agent cisapride and decongestant drug Phenylpropanolamine (PPA).
After examining the reports submitted by the 9-member expert committee, which went into the issue of efficacy and safety data of human placental extract, the court ordered that human placental extracts should be allowed for two indications. In India, human placenta extract sold as Placentrex lotion, gel and injection is being actively promoted as a remedy for a variety of unrelated disorders such as vitiligo, wound dressing, prevention of adverse effects due to radiotherapy, fallopian tube blockage, female infertility, scarring, post-phlebitic ulcers, scars due to acne, etc.
Earlier on April 6 this year, hearing a petition by the Kolkatta-based pharma company Albert David Ltd, which was a pioneer in human placental extract therapy in the country, the Delhi High Court had asked the union health ministry to constitute an expert panel to go into the issue.
As per the high court order, the government constituted a 9-member expert panel headed by renowned pharmacologist Dr YK Gupta of AIIMS. Other members of the committee included Dr Ajay Kumar of IMA, Dr Vijay Kumar of IDRI, Dr Sharma of ICMR, Dr Kotwal of AIIMS, Dr VK Tiwari, Dr VK Chakravorthy, Dr CM Sharma and Dr Lakhbir Dhaliwal of PGI, Chandigarh.
The committee was asked to submit a report on the matter by May 15 this year. After examining the drug in detail, the panel submitted its report to the court.
Human Placenta extract was never permitted for use as medicine in the western countries such as US, UK, Australia, Canada and European Union states due to lack of efficacy and safety data. However, some companies in US were importing products containing human placenta as dietary supplements. However, on April 14, 2008, all products containing human placenta extracts even for use as cosmetics have been banned by the US government.


Despite Its Muslim Majority, WHO Names Malaysia as World's 10th Largest Alcohol Consumer

World Health Organisation (WHO) has named Malaysia as the world's tenth largest consumer of alcohol.
A new WHO report has said Malaysia spent over 500 million dollars (RM1.5bil) on alcohol with a per capita consumption of seven litres, while its beer consumption is 11 litres per capita, The Star reports.Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Heng Seai Kie expressed concern that this problem is getting serious.
"Alcohol is not only causing a lot of health issues but is also contributing to a significant number of accidents," she said after attending a seminar on "Promote Healthy lifestyle: Reduce Alcohol harm.
She, however, assured that her ministry would organise a campaign through the National Population and Family Development Board to spread awareness on the danger of alcohol abuse by holding ten seminars nation wide this year. "The public has to understand that alcohol is not part of our culture and it will bring harm if it is abused," she added.


Prostate Tumor Battle Gets New Boost With 'Turkey Tail' Mushroom

A new research from New Queensland University of Technology (QUT) has shown that a mushroom used in Asia turned out to be completely successful in suppressing prostate tumour development in mice during its early trials.
 A compound, (PSP), which is extracted from the 'turkey tail' mushroom, was found to suppress tumour formation in mice, according to an article by Dr Patrick Ling, from the Australian Prostate acncer research centre  Centre-Queensland and Institute for Biomedical Health and Innovation (IHBI). 

During the research trial  which was done in collaboration with The University of Hong Kong and Provital Pty Ltd, transgenic mice that developed prostate tumours were fed polysaccharopeptide (PSP), which was extracted from the turkey mushroom, for 20 weeks.


Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Average Drug Label Lists Whopping 70 Side Effects

If you feel overwhelmed by the list of potential side effects on your medication, that's understandable. Drugs, on average, each list a mind-numbing 70 potential drug reactions, researchers say.
Such a lengthy list is more likely the product of cautious manufacturers, who want to protect themselves from lawsuits, rather than the inherent dangers of the drugs themselves, the researchers say. But the large number of side effects may make it hard for doctors to know which medications to select for their patients.
"Having a high number of side effects on a drug's label should not suggest that the drug is unsafe. In fact, much of this labeling has less to do with true toxicity than with protecting manufacturers from potential lawsuits," said study researcher Dr. Jon Duke, assistant professor of medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine."But having all these labeled side effects can overwhelm doctors who must weigh the risks and benefits when prescribing a medication," Duke said. "The Food and Drug Administration has taken steps to discourage such 'overwarning,' but at present, information overload is the rule rather than the exception," Duke said.
Using a computer program, Duke and his colleagues analyzed 5,600 drug labels and more than 500,000 labeled effects.
They found the more commonly prescribed drugs averaged around 100 side effects each, with some drugs containing as many as 525 listed reactions.
The greatest number of side effects was found in antidepressants, antiviral medications and newer treatments for restless legs syndrome and Parkinson's disease. In general, medications typically used by psychiatrists and neurologists had the most complex labels, while drugs used by dermatologists and ophthalmologists had the least.
Modern technology should be used to assist patients in understanding which of the side effects may be most relevant to them, the researchers say.
"With current technology, drug labels could be transformed from lengthy static documents to dynamic resources, capable of delivering personalized patient information. Such labels could take into account the individual patient's medical conditions and highlight those side effects that could be especially dangerous," Duke said.
"We can't stop the growing wave of drug information," Duke said, "but we can do a better job of presenting it efficiently to health-care providers."
The study is published today (May 23) in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine. It was funded by the National Library of Medicine and the Regenstrief Institute, a non-profit healthcare research organization afflicated with the Indiana University School of Medicine.
Courtesy:Health News Daily

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