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Saturday, 9 July 2011

Infertility, Birth Defects May be Prevented by Limiting Calorie Intake

Many animal studies have shown that restriction of caloric intake helps to reduce age-related health problems and new research shows it can prevent infertility and birth defects too.
Investigators from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) have suggested that from a mice study that this strategy may combat a major cause of age-associated infertility and birth defects. They have shown that restricting the caloric intake of adult female mice prevents a spectrum of abnormalities, such as extra or missing copies of chromosomes, which arise more frequently in egg cells of aging female mammals. 

"We found that we could completely prevent, in a mouse model, essentially every aspect of the declining egg quality typical of older females," Jonathan Tilly, PhD, director of the Vincent Center for Reproductive Biology in the MGH Vincent Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, who led the study, said. 
"We also identified a gene that can be manipulated to reproduce the effects of dietary caloric restriction and improve egg quality in aging animals fed a normal diet, which gives us clues that we may be able to alter this highly regulated process with compounds now being developed to mimic the effects of caloric restriction," he stated. 
The study appeared in this week's online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA.


New Research Points to Type 1 Diabetes Prevention

Increasing a specific protein in areas of the pancreas that produce insulin, blocks the immune attack that causes type 1 diabetes, indicates new research.
The discovery could lead to a drug that prevents the progression of type 1 diabetes in people newly diagnosed who are in the "honeymoon" phase of the disease, when the immune system has not yet destroyed all of the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas.

 The finding could also lead to new drugs for overcoming organ rejection in transplant patients and for improving the survival of transplanted islets - the clusters of cells in the pancreas that contain beta cells. 
Normally, as the immune system successfully defeats an infection, a special type of white blood cell called T-regulatory cells produce chemical signals that turn off the immune response. 
The researchers took advantage of this phenomenon as they sought to protect the beta cells from immune attack. 
They used a modified virus to insert the gene for a protein called CCL22 into the beta cells of a strain of mice known to develop diabetes. The gene caused the beta cells to produce the CCL22 protein. This attracted T-regulatory cells, which blocked the attacking immune cells and prevented most of the mice from developing type 1 diabetes. 
"It's a novel way to turn down the immune system specifically in the region of the beta cells inside the pancreas, and that may be a big advantage over general immune suppression, which can have significant side effects," said Dr. Bruce Verchere, one of the study's principal investigators. He is head of the diabetes research program at the Child and Family Research Institute (CFRI) at BC Children's Hospital, Irving K Barber Chair in Diabetes Research, and professor, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Department of Surgery at the University of British Columbia (UBC). 
The study will be published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.



In-Door Air Pollution Linked To Increased Blood Pressure Among Older Women

In a new study, in-door air pollution has been linked to increased blood pressure among older women.Researchers with University of Wisconsin-Madison conducted their study in a remote area of Yunnan Province, China. As part of the research 280 women in an ethnic minority called the Naxi wore a portable device that sampled the air they were breathing for 24 hours. The Naxi live in compounds including a central, free-standing kitchen that often has both a stove and a fire pit, says Jill Baumgartner, who performed the study with National Science Foundation funding while a Ph.D. student at Wisconsin-Madison. 
“I spent a lot of time watching women cook in these unvented kitchens, and within seconds, my eyes would burn, it would get a little difficult to breathe. The women talk about these same discomforts, but they are viewed as just another hardship of rural life,” Baumgartner says. 
Most women are exposed to this smoke for several hours a day, and even if the cookstove is vented, a second fire is often burning for heat, says Baumgartner, who is now a global renewable energy leadership fellow at the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota. 

Germany Allows Genetic Testing of Embryos

Lawmakers in Germany uphold the right of would-be parents to genetically test embyros after IVF.
The Bundestag lower house of parliament voted to allow so-called pre-implantation genetic diagnosis of embryos when one of the partners had a serious hereditary disease in the family.Each case will also be subject to review by an ethics commission and mandate counselling for the concerned couple before testing can be carried out. 
Parliament took up the delicate issue after a federal court last year allowed testing by partners with a genetic predisposition to serious illnesses.
Such testing, which is expected to apply to a few hundred cases each year, had long been outlawed in Germany.
After a three-and-a-half-hour, at times emotional debate, 326 deputies cast their ballots in favour of allowing genetic testing versus 260 who called for a strict ban. Eight abstained.
The head of the German Medical Association, Frank Ulrich Montgomery, stressed that such testing would in no way become routine in cases of in vitro fertilisation, or used for sex selection.
"There will be no designer babies and also no so-called saviour babies used as spare parts for a sick child," he said.
But the chairman of the Episcopal Conference, Roman Catholic Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, slammed the vote as "a violation of the principle of respecting human dignity" enshrined in Germany’s Basic Law.
Deputy Wolfgang Zoeller of the conservative Christian Social Union, who voted against the law, said he feared it would set a standard that would lead to discrimination against disabled children.
"Parents should not have to apologise if they do not have a so-called perfect baby," he said.



Friday, 8 July 2011

The Growing Popularity of Ayurveda results a ban in UK

 A ban on Ayurvedic products across Europe. It is a big blow to the rapid growth of traditional Indian medicines abroad.In just less than a decade, Ayurveda has made a huge impact on many people of London, as more of them turn away from invasive allopathic treatment. But the new ruling comes as a blow to both the industry and patients.Ayuspa ayurvedic centre, Director, Muneet Dohil, said, "We have seen the number of practitioners double every year, we now have ayurvedic courses and degrees in London which can train the lay person. There are probably about 600 practitioners as well as clinics in UK. We have been going on for nine years and we have 9,000 clients on our books."The growing popularity of Ayurvedic treatments will suffer, but patients still have some way to get medicated. The EU ruling allows for sale of stock ordered before the ban, and sellers are hoping this will last for at least a year."Practitioners have had to place big orders to make sure they have enough stock to last them for at least one year until the statutory regulation," said Dohil.EU authorisation for each product will take a long time coming, but the only hope now is for traditional treatments to come in under new regulations expected next year.Hundreds of practitioners in Britain will be affected, thousands and thousands of patients will have to suffer, there's a danger that this ancient system of medicine will be wiped off the face of Europe. Expected legal changes offer some hope, but that is uncertain.

Arogya Fair begins in Dehradun

 While inaugurating a four-day ‘Rashtriya Arogya Swasthya Mela’ organized at Parade ground on Friday, the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand Dr. Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ said that it was mandatory to link Ayurveda with employment in order to promote Ayurveda. Besides, special emphasis must be laid upon quality-control at every level, i.e., production, exploitation, and marketing.  He also added that the Government of India must take immediate action for giving Uttarakhand the status of an Ayush state in addition to helping it in establishment of Ayush Research Centre as well as according recognition to Sanjivani Board.
CM Dr. Nishank said that besides being ‘Devbhoomi’, Uttarakhand was also the birth-place of Ayurveda. He added that Uttrakhand was a state that possessed medicinal plants in abundance. The CM said, “Ayurveda has become a part of the life-style of the common people today. It is Ayurveda that has made a special contribution in according us the reputation of being the ‘Vishwa Guru’. It is our responsibility to keep the growing faith of the people all across the world in Ayurveda intact. Thestate government has taken many significant steps to promote Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, and Homeopathy. The state government has decided to include Ayurveda, Yoga, and Naturopathy, in the academic curriculum”. CM Dr. Nishank added that an International Research Centre in the field of Ayush was being established in Uttarakhand in addition to establishing Ayush village at Bhawali.
CM Dr. Nishank said that special emphasis must be laid upon quality-control at every level, i.e., production, exploitation, and marketing, with a view to ensuring that the Ayurvada had its recognition sustained. He added that with a view to linking Ayurveda with employment, the state government had linked 22 thousand farmers with cultivation of medicinal-plants and it was targeted to link 50 thousand more farmers with it. He hoped that such a step would enhance the earning of the farmers. He added that there was the need of dedicated people in the field of Ayurveda. The CM demanded that the Government of India must take immediate action for giving Uttarakhand the status of Ayush Pradesh in addition to helping it in establishment of Ayush Research Centre as well as according recognition to Sanjivani Board.
CM Dr. Nishank added that the state government had taken many significant decisions for promoting Ayush. He added that new researches were needed to cater to the needs of the present age. He added that there were many Ayurvedic medicines that were being used even by the allopathic doctors. The CM also laid emphasis on enhancing production of medicinal-plants, so as to ensure that there should not be any adulteration in Ayurvedic medicines with its growing demand.
Joint Consultant of Ayurveda under Ministry of Health, Government of India, Janardan Pandey said that the Uttarakhand was playing a vital role in promoting Ayurveda.
Principal Secretary, Ayush, Rajiv Gupta said that the objective of the Mela was to publicize Ayush-systems as well as extending its reach to the common public.
Deputy Director of FICCI Pravin Mittal told that free-of-cost heath check-up and Yoga exhibition besides Ayush Medicines Herbal Production and exhibition of medicinal plants would also be there during the course of the Mela.
Secretary Horticulture Vinod Fonia; DG Ayush Pooja Bharadwaj; and Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Health, Government of India Suman Chatterji were also present on the occasion.

Workshop on naturopathy, yoga in Dharwad Karnataka

Nisarga Trust (Sirsi), in association with Ayush department, will organize a two-day national workshop on naturopathy and yoga atKarnataka Vidya Vardhaka Sangha here from Saturday.
Trust president Venkatramana Bhat said the workshop will feature technical sessions on naturopathy and yoga. Resource persons from across the country will deliver special lectures on relevant topics on both the days. Free consultation will be organized on naturopathy medicines for chronic diseases during the workshop.
After the inauguration, noted dancer Sahana Bhat and troupe will perform a unique blend of Bharatnatyam and yoga.
At the workshop, public can seek information on physiotherapy, acupuncture and other treatment for various diseases.
A training programme on naturopathy and yoga will also be held from July 11 to 15 at Shivalaya in Koppadkeri here from 9am to 6pm.

Vitamin D Rich Diet Cuts Macular Degeneration Risk

Intake of diet high in vitamin D and nutrients betaine and methionine helps reduce the risk of macular degeneration in twins, finds study.
Researchers at the Tufts Medical Center also concluded from a study of identical twins from the US World War II Twin Registry that the more a person smoked, higher were the risks of developing macular degeneration.ed pairs of elderly male twins and used a survey of personal dietary and health habits to determine the variations in the occurrence of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). 
AMD is highly heritable, with genetic factors determining up to 71 pc of the disease's severity, according to the researchers.
It emerged from the questionnaire filled by the twins regarding their nutritional and health behaviours that those, whose macular degeneration was at the early stages, consumed more vitamin D from dietary sources such as fish or milk than their siblings.
The study also found that the twin who was the heavier smoker tended to have more severe case of macular degeneration.
"We wanted to know why, if they have the same genes, do they have different stages of the disease?" said Johanna M. Seddon, Director of the Epidemiology and Genetics Service, Tufts Medical Center and Professor of Ophthalmology, Tufts Universtity School of Medicine. 
"Eat a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, and that can make a difference - even if you have a genetic susceptibility to macular degeneration and, of course, don't smoke," he added.




Regular Intake of Green Tea Lowers 'Bad' Cholesterol Levels

A new study has revealed the major health benefits of consuming green tea regularly. The study adds that regular intake of green tea not only cut levels of "bad" cholesterol, but it leaves "good" cholesterol unchanged, reports the Daily Express.Xin-Xin Zheng and colleagues from Peking Union Medical College in Beijing said the study "showed the administration of green tea beverages or extracts resulted in significant reductions in serum total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol concentrations, but no effect on HDL cholesterol was observed". 
The researchers analysed the results of 14 random trials in which participants drank green tea or took an extract of green tea for periods ranging from three weeks to three months, or were assigned to a placebo group.
On average, green tea was shown to reduce total cholesterol by 7.2 milligrams per decilitre compared with levels seen in those taking the placebo.
LDL cholesterol fell by an average of 2.2 mg/dl, or slightly less than 2 per cent.
The researchers said the cholesterol-lowering effects of green tea might be due to catechins, which decrease the absorption of cholesterol.
The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.


Thumbs down for yoga in colleges of Uttar Pradesh

Yoga may be the in-thing world over but Lucknow colleges have still to wake up to this form of exercise. There is absolutely no provision of yoga classes in any of the colleges in the city. 
In Isabella Thoburn (IT), one of the prestigious girls colleges in the city has no provision for yoga, be it theory or practical sessions. "Yoga is an Indian style for what we call as physical exercises. Yoga is not a new concept, it existed since ever, but has gained the status of a public talk in recent years. Exercise in any form is important, it should not necessarily be yoga,"' said ES Charles, principal, IT Girl's Degree College. 
For keeping stress at bay, IT college organises a physical exercise session every morning which is mandatory for the resident students. But the non-resident students do not even get this. "Exercise is an important part of our life and should be incorporated in our daily routine. But lack of time, and hardy lifestyles, most of us take things easy. Therefore, it is necessary that something of this sort is available to the students,"' added Charles. 
What is interesting is that Shia PG college that has its own department of social work, has no arrangements for yoga classes. "We need to encourage the students to take up yoga classes and inculcate it in their daily life. We will soon begin something of this sort," said principal, Shia PG College, MS Naqvi. 
Even in the Lucknow university that runs two self-finance courses -- MA in human consciousness and yogic sciences, and PG diploma in naturopathy science and yoga, is not updated since years though the number of students are increasing. This year, there has been nearly 35 students for yogic sciences showing their inclination towards yoga. 
"Yoga is not a subject, that is once taught and is over. It needs a continuous updation and innovation. The need to cultivate an inner quiet among oneself is only possible with the practical exposure to yoga. Only then the yoga graph will increase," said Satyendra Mishra, faculty, department of social work, LU. He added that the instructors too need to update themselves with the latest development and then, deliver it to the students. 
Even the University Grants Commission (UGC) in its X plan formulated a scheme for promotion of yoga education and practice. But, the scheme ended with the end of the X plan period. "Few years back, the UGC has taken initiative to organise a three month certificate course in yoga, but it was for a short period and could not survive," said a faculty in the university. 
"Taking into consideration the polluted and adulterated life we are living in, the only thing that can keep us healthy is yoga. Yog is a completely pure thing that can in no way harm our body. To have a healthy life, the students in the educational institutions should have access to yoga, both theoretical and practical," said former president, Lucknow university associated colleges teachers' association (LUACTA), Moulindu Mishra.


New Avatar of Ayurveda

AyurVAID hospital group is leading the transformation of ayurveda into a mainstream healthcare system beneficial to all segments of society, increasing both the quality and the accessibility of treatment available, reports M Neelam Kachhap
What do you expect to see when you walk through the doors of an ayurvedic hospital? Indian ambience, massage rooms, neatly dressed receptionist but not a certificate from the National Board of Accreditation for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers (NABH) adorning the front wall. Yes! An NABH certification captures your attention as soon as you enter India’s unique ayurvedic hospital ‘AyurVAID’.
This is not the only landmark achieved by this three-year-old hospital, located at Domlur, Bangalore. The hospital has recently been approved by the Karnataka Government to provide cashless facility for ayurvedic treatment to all state government employees and their families. With this AyurVAID has become the first and only ayurvedic hospital in India to receive quality accreditation and government approval for its facility.
The Hospital

Rajiv VasudevanCEO,
AyurVAID Hospitals
AyurVAID is run by the umbrella company Kerala First Healthcare Services. The brain child of Rajiv Vasudevan, AyurVAID Hospitals integrates classical ayurvedic with modern allopathic practice to treat chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, arthritis and stroke. The first two hospitals are in Kerala: a 15-bed one at Ernakulum and a 30-bed one at Aluva.
 With a current strength of six hospitals and health centers across five states in India, AyurVAID has grown to be a chain of hospitals, providing in-patient and out-patient facilities with pharmacy, consultation and a healthy ayurvedic diet. It not only provides curative but also preventive treatment for severe chronic diseases. AyurVAID has also introduced a low-cost hospital format called AyurSEVA, located in poor communities such as Dharavi, a slum of Mumbai, featured in the Bollywood film, 'Slumdog Millionaire'. However, all the hospitals abide by the same standards of service. “AyurVAID is patient-centric and uses standardised processes to deliver safe, effective and affordable care to all strata of society especially poor communities,” informs Rajiv Vasudevan, CEO, AyurVAID Hospitals.
Courtesy:Express Health Care

Panchkarma therapy revives Ayush centre in Panchkula Haryana

After the initial lukewarm response of patients to the Ayush centre at Sector-6 General Hospital in Panchkula in Haryana, there is an influx of patients coming for panchkarma therapy these days. 
The centre now gets 30 patients suffering from arthritis, backache, gout, cervical spondylosis and sciatica every day. The hospital authorities said the residents were apparently not aware of the centre earlier. 
According to doctors, the maximum number of patients opting for ayurveda treatment are from the city as it is easier for them to come for sittings daily, compared to those coming from peripheral areas. 
With sedentary lifestyle resulting in more people getting cervical spondylosis and arthritis, panchkarma therapy is gaining popularity. ''There are five kinds of therapies meant for skin diseases, blood-related problems and ENT problems,'' said Madhu Gupta, an Ayurveda medical officer. 
Similarly, 60 patients on an average come to the homoeopathy and yoga centres at the hospital daily for treatment of renal calculi, warts, corns, vitiligo and leucorrhoea. 
''These days we are seeing a huge rush at the centre. Now, people with joint pain too are coming to here,'' said Anju Gupta, a homoeopath. 
She said patients get drugs and consumables at lower rates in the hospital. 
Meanwhile, CMO Usha Gupta said gynaecology facilities and eye surgeries are already being provided free of cost in the hospital. We have fixed very nominal charges for therapy and will provide more facilities at the centre.'' 
Sedentary lifestyle makes it popular 
With sedentary lifestyle resulting in more people getting cervical spondylosis and arthritis, panchkarma therapy is gaining popularity. ''There are five kinds of therapies meant for skin diseases, blood-related problems and ENT problems,'' said Madhu Gupta, an Ayurveda medical officer. ''These days we are seeing a huge rush at the centre. Now, people with joint pain too are coming to here,'' said Anju Gupta, a homoeopath.


Medical tourism: Sweet pill for Kerala

World class hospitals, cost-effective treatment and ample opportunities to relax in the scenic landscape of 'God's own country' -- medical tourism promises to be the next big money spinner in Kerala, with a steady stream of overseas patients flocking to the state.The few nationally and internationally accredited hospitals in the state are doing brisk business, with foreign nationals making a beeline for procedures like knee replacement, weight reduction surgery, liver transplant, cardiac care, ophthalmic care and dentistry.Most of the foreign patients are from Canada, the Gulf countries, the Maldives and many are also second generation Malayalis settled in the US and Britain.While there are no official state-wide figures, E.M. Najeeb, founder of KIMS Hospital here, says the institute treated around 40,000 overseas patients last year."International insurance companies look for international accreditation if they have to pay their clients, and hospitals interested to get favourable treatment from giant insurance companies have to meet international standards in providing quality healthcare," said Najeeb.In terms of expenditure, a knee replacement in Kerala costs Rs.2.5 lakh ($5,600), less than half of what it would cost in the US or Europe.Similarly, a liver transplant here can be done at a cost of Rs.1.5 million ($33,700), while in the West, a patient has to shell out anywhere above Rs.7 million ($157,000).Speaking to IANS, Tourism Minister A.P. Anil Kumar said Kerala has the potential to cash in on the twin benefits of cost and quality."One main reason why we are getting a huge number of foreign nationals, mostly from the Middle East, is because our own people act as ambassadors of our hospitals in the Middle East. I have just become the tourism minister and we will promote medical tourism in a big way abroad," he said.S. Sudhindran, a surgeon with Kochi-based Amrita Hospital, has treated many liver transplant patients from abroad.The hospital treated around 10,000 foreign patients last year."Yes, the response from abroad has been good. The state government also has to do its bit by framing rules that will help foreign nationals have a smooth stay and not get caught in numerous paper works," he said.According to Ashley Jacob, medical director of Mulamoottil Eye Hospital in central Kerala, eye care is all set to become a key revenue earner for the flourishing medical tourism industry."The totally blade-free LASIK (Laser Assisted In-Situ Keratomileusis) surgery costs Rs.60,000 here and Rs.85,000 in Bangalore. The same procedure will cost $2,200 (Rs.97,000) in the US and 1,500 pounds (Rs.100,000) in the UK," said Jacob.Jancy Joseph, who has been running a private dental clinic in the state capital for 15 years, gets a steady stream of foreign patients, mostly from the West and Middle East."Most of my non-resident patients are referred here by their friends and relatives in India. They have told me that dentistry rates in the West are 10 times higher, compared to here," said Joseph.John Muthoot, who owns two plush resorts in the state, said he has decided to venture into the medical tourism industry to cash in on the trend."Our first venture into the medical field is through a 50-bed hospital coming up in Kottayam. Medical tourism is one segment which we are keen to tap because we already in the tourism industry, and thus have a huge clientele," said Muthoot.There has been an 18 percent growth in the arrival of foreign tourists in Kerala, with the numbers touching 659,265 last year.
Source:IBN Live

Patients throng ayurvedic health centre

The age-old ayurvedic system of healing and rejuvenating human body — treatment with herbal 'jadibooti' — is fast coming in vogue in the city. So much so that the state's lone ayurvedic health centre, 'Healing Veda Health Solutions', has received over 10,000 clients during the last six years. 
This Kerala-headquartered naturopathy treatment centre is running under the private-public partnership (PPP) mode under a Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation (BSTDC) initiative. 
"The number of clients visiting this centre has swelled from 1,000 to over 2,500 every year," Healing Veda's Dr T Shaji said, adding the increase in demand has led to the opening of two more branches in the city. It has branches at Rajgir and Bodh Gaya as well. 
Most patients come for the treatment of lower back pain, spondylosis and diabetes. This centre also provides treatment for digestive problems and allergies, migraine, sinusitis, hypothyroidism, cerebral palsy, bronchitis, asthma, liver disorder, chronic constipation, sciatica, osteo arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, menstrual difficulties, facial paralysis and chest congestion, the doctor said. The centre also provides cure for acne baldness, cellulite, wrinkles, and blackheads. Its wellness therapy covers hypertension, anxiety, impotence, insomnia, obesity, depression and stress. Besides, it also provides special packages for body purification, slimming, spine and neck care and rejuvenation. 
The medicated oil baths, massage and a wide variety of other therapeutic ayurvedic treatments are done by experts from Kerala. One of the patients taking treatment for spondylosis said, "I was suffering from spondylosis for the last seven years; in just eight days, I am experiencing change in the intensity of pain." The treatment period varies from three days to 28 days, depending on the intensity of the disease. 
The treatment involves herbal medication, dietary changes, cleansing procedures like bathing, yoga postures, exercises and even breathing techniques. 


Thursday, 7 July 2011

Pushing Western medicine with fear in India

If you sleep less than six hours a night, you're increasing your risk of developing or dying from heart disease by 48 percent. At least, that's what U.S.-based pharmaceutical giant Abbott would have 1.2 billion people in India believe.

But doctors say the grim message, which appeared in a newspaper ad in India earlier this year, is baseless.In fact, they worry Abbott's marketing campaign may be the bigger threat, scaring healthy people into buying potentially harmful sleeping pills they don't need -- such as the company's own drug Zolfresh."They are implying that taking sleeping pills may help you live longer, whereas the data shows that taking sleeping pills is associated with increased mortality," said Dr. Daniel F. Kripke, a psychiatrist at the University of California, San Diego.Industry insiders say the ad points to a bigger problem: According to Benjamin England, an attorney formerly with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), drugmakers have lower standards for how they operate in emerging markets like India and China, where government oversight is poor."You already feel like you are in the Wild West," said England, founder of the international consulting firm "There is not likely to be anybody who is going to take them to task.""If there is nobody paying that much attention to what people are saying about the product, then they'll push the envelope and say things they would not have gotten away with here," he told Reuters Health.And it doesn't matter that Abbott refrains from mentioning drugs directly, which would have been illegal in India, said another lawyer formerly with the FDA."I would argue that if the company making the claim has a sleep product for sale in India, then this is an implicit ad for the product," the lawyer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters Health."In the U.S., companies cannot put out a scare notice without substantiation simply because they do not mention their product in the communication."


With soaring incomes, expanding insurance coverage and more and more chronic disease, India has become a big draw for global drugmakers. According to one McKinsey report from last year, the country's drug market will be worth $55 billion by 2020.Promoting sleeping pills, a staple of Western medicine, is one way to tap into that potential. Last year U.S. doctors prescribed the drugs nearly 60 million times, with sales exceeding $1.9 billion, according to the research firm IMS Health.In India, a pack of zolpidem -- the generic form of Abbott's Zolfresh -- sells for just a couple of dollars. Despite the low price, getting just a small fraction of the large population to buy sleeping pills could mean a sizable profit for drugmakers."Insomnia is an area where you will find a huge untapped market," said Ram Bala, a marketing expert at the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, who has consulted for companies like Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca.He said drugmakers appear to be stepping up their efforts to win over emerging markets, although it's an uphill battle as many Indians still prefer herbal remedies or are largely unaware of modern medicine."There is a lot of public resistance to treating insomnia, because they don't think it is such an important condition," Bala told Reuters Health. "If you bombard them with enough information about insomnia, maybe they may at some point decide, 'Hey, you know what, there are so many people telling me that insomnia is important, maybe I should go to the doctor and check it out.'"Indeed, Abbott's ad encourages readers to see their doctor if they can tick off just one of 10 statements, including "I feel sleepy during the day" and "I have a feeling that my sleep is unrefreshing.""This is so dramatic and ridiculous," said Dr. Adriane Fugh-Berman of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., who runs PharmedOut, a think tank that studies drugmakers' influence on prescribing."It is really advertising, but it is disguised as education," she told Reuters Health. "Industry calls it disease awareness, those of us who are public health advocates call it disease-mongering -- making people believe that they are sick when they are normal."Abbott declined to discuss the purpose of its campaign.But McKinsey's India report bolsters Fugh-Berman's point: "The acceptability of modern medicine and newer therapies will increase due to aggressive market creation by players," it notes. "Investments in increasing patient awareness and education will impact diagnosis and treatment levels ... In addition, patients will show greater propensity to self-medicate."


Of course, Western medicines like antibiotics and vaccines have helped countless people across the globe. But in the case of Abbott's sleeping pills, doctors say the company has gone too far.In the ad, a smiling Bollywood actress is seen standing next to the words, "Hard Work Never Kills. Lack of Sleep Can."It continues, "Research shows that sleeping less than 6 hours at night leads to 48% increase in developing or dying from heart disease."Dr. Francesco Cappuccio, whose research Abbott cites, did not answer requests for comments. But his work, like other research, only demonstrates an association -- not that a lack of shuteye is at the root of heart problems."They can't make any claims about the cause," said Dr. Ana C. Krieger, who directs the Center for Sleep Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. "We don't know if people who sleep four to five hours are environmentally stressed because they work multiple jobs, and then get anxiety and insomnia, or because they are sicker to begin with."This may seem like a technical nuance, but it makes all the difference."A patient that comes to the office, for instance, saying, 'I have insomnia and I need my Ambien so I don't die of heart disease' -- that just doesn't fly, we can't justify that," Krieger told Reuters Health. "It's really an extrapolation, which can be kind of dangerous because there are side effects for any medication that we give to people."Those side effects include sleepwalking -- risking falls and other accidents -- as well as impaired memory and driving skills.According to the FDA, the drugs may also cause bizarre behaviors like "sleep-cooking" and "sleep-driving." The latter rose to national attention in 2006, when then-Representative Patrick Kennedy crashed his car into a barricade on Capitol Hill in the middle of the night.Kennedy had been taking Sanofi's Ambien, the same chemical that Abbott sells as Zolfresh in India, as well as an anti-nausea pill that also acts as a sedative.Krieger said she does prescribe sleeping pills to a few of her patients, but only for short periods of time and when changing their behavior doesn't help."We want people to naturally increase their sleep," she explained. "We don't know if an unnatural sleep, like what the medication would do, would really be beneficial for them."In fact, people taking sleeping pills turn out to have a higher risk of death than those not on the drugs, even after taking into account other diseases they might have.While that doesn't prove the medications kill people, the science hints at it, said UCSD's Kripke, a long-term critic of sleeping pills."The use of sleeping pills, including zolpidem, is associated with higher mortality, and there are 18 studies that show that," he told Reuters Health.And the extra rest patients get from the medications, recorded through brainwaves and eye movements and other objective tools, is modest at best. Pooling the available research, one 2007 study estimated zolpidem and similar drugs add just 11 minutes of total sleep time per night.


Abbott's ad includes a link to a website showing a picture of Zolfresh, despite the fact that direct-to-consumer advertising is illegal in India.The company would not discuss its marketing activities over the phone and declined to comment on its claims."Abbott and other health care companies support disease awareness education programs for health conditions where there is an unmet need and where awareness about these conditions is low," spokesman Scott Davies said in an emailed statement.He noted that the campaigns "commonly incorporate education on lifestyle factors such as diet, stress and exercise," although there was no such information in the ad that Reuters Health found.The firm also said it follows the local regulations wherever it runs campaigns.However, not even the FDA regulates what drugmakers can and cannot say in the name of disease awareness. And in emerging markets like China and India, experts say marketing claims are unlikely to be put under the microscope."Only in the United States and in more developed regulatory markets do we have the privilege to worry about what you said,"'s England told Reuters Health. "In China, they are like, I don't care what you said, just don't sell something that has melamine in it!"England would not comment on the legality of Abbott's marketing, but noted that the ad is clearly meant to promote the company's sleeping pills."This is just the beginning of the marketing," he said. "It's the door opener."
Source:Reuters Health

Smoking bans on the rise but more needed: WHO

Anti-smoking measures have become so widespread that they now affect some 3.8 billion people -- just over half the world's population, the World Health Organization said Thursday.But the WHO called for more action, warning that tobacco use could kill a billion people or more over the course of the 21st century "unless urgent action is taken.""If current trends continue, by 2030 tobacco will kill more than eight million people worldwide each year, with 80 percent of thesepremature deaths among people living in low- and middle-income countries," it added.The WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic was launched in Uruguay as the health body sought to highlight the country's legislation against smoking that now faces a lawsuit by tobacco giant Philip Morris."The tobacco epidemic continues to expand because of ongoingtobacco industry marketing, population growth in countries where tobacco use is increasing, and the extreme addictiveness of tobacco that makes it difficult for people to stop smoking once they start," said Ala Alwan, WHO assistant director-general for noncommunicable diseases and mental health.He noted that tobacco remains the biggest cause of preventable death worldwide, killing nearly six million people and costing hundreds of billions of dollars in economic damage each year.Health warnings on cigarette packs protect more than a billion people in 19 countries, almost double the figures over the past two years, according to the report.It said graphic ads were more effective than those only containing text, especially in countries with low literacy rates, and recommended that images be changed periodically to ensure they have an impact.The size of the warning also has an effect, and the WHO noted that Uruguay had the largest images on cigarette packs, covering 80 percent of the surface, followed by Mexico (65 percent) and Mauritius (also 65 percent).In Canada, the first country to introduce large health warnings on cigarette packs in 2001, three out of 10 former smokers said they were motivated to quit by the labels while a quarter said they helped them quit, according to the report.Similar trends were also noted in Australia, Brazil, Singapore and Thailand.Tobacco advertising and sponsorship, a favorite target of critics, saw comprehensive bans passed in ChadColombia and Syria between 2008 and 2010. And nearly 28 percent of the world's population -- 1.9 billion people in 23 countries -- are now exposed to national anti-smoking campaigns.Some 425 million people in 19 countries -- six percent of the world's population -- are now "now fully protected against tobacco industry marketing tactics," 80 million more than in 2008, according to the WHO report."The number of people now protected by tobacco control measures is growing at a remarkable pace," said Alwan.He attributed the progress to the growing impact of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Entered into force in February 2005, the treaty has 168 signatories and 174 parties.While 101 countries ban tobacco print, television or radio advertising, both direct or indirect, the WHO considers the number to still be insufficient, noting that 74 countries (38 percent) have no or minimal restrictions on advertising.

Tainted Bottled Water Sales Stopped in Beijing

In the latest food scare to hit China, authorities in Beijing have halted the sale of 31 brands of bottled water after they failed safety tests, the government reported.
Random market inspections found bacteria colonies in the water, the Beijing Administration for Industry and Commerce said on its website, citing a joint study with the capital's product quality bureau.
"In order to prevent these substandard products from entering the distribution chain, the product quality bureau has taken measures to halt sales," the administration said in a statement Wednesday.
Tests on one brand of bottled water -- Yiqun -- found that bacteria levels were 9,000 times above safety standards, while those in Tianxing Special Water were 560 times higher, a report in the state-run Beijing Times said.
The tests were carried out on large barrels of water and did not include the smaller bottles of water normally bought in supermarkets, the report said.
Drinking the tainted water could lead to bouts of diarrhoea, dizziness and vomiting, it added.
Part of the problems stemmed from quality controls at factories, including the failure to clean and sterilise water pipes and replace and disinfect filters, the paper said.
China is regularly hit by food scares. In 2008, authorities found that milk tainted with melamine killed at least six babies and left more than 300,000 sick with kidney stones, in a scandal that caused huge outrage.


Simple Urine Test Gives Accurate Prediction of Ovulation

Women trying to conceive should make use of the urine test over the more commonly used calendar method, said the makers of the test.
"The calendar method is good to help women to start to understand how their cycle works, but if women are really trying to conceive ... it's not really the best method to use," said Jayne Ellis, head of scientific and medical affairs at SPD Swiss Precision Diagnostics, which makes the Clearblue ovulation test.According to a study conducted by the company, the calendar method predicted ovulation correctly in only one in four women, while the test "predicted correctly in 99 percent of women over the same period," the authors of the study said in a statement.
The calendar method, which uses the previous cycle length and subtracts 14 or 15 days to give an estimate of the day of ovulation, is used by about 35 percent of women, the researchers found, pointing out that many websites and mobile phone applications offer calculation assistance.
Ellis and her team had asked a group of 101 women to collect daily urine samples for a total of 895 cycles, and then compared the accuracy with which the calendar method and the Clearblue test predicted peak fertile days.
"We found that the calendar method was inaccurate in preditcing ovulation and therefore the peak fertile days," Ellis said in the statement, adding that "this is because it uses data from previous cycles which are naturally variable in many women."


Eggs For A Healthy Heart – And To Prevent Cancer too

Eggs have antioxidant properties and hence are good for the heart. Perhaps they can prevent cancer too, say Canadian researchers. 
Already eggs are known to be an excellent source of proteins, lipids, vitamins and minerals. But their antioxidant value is a newly discovered virtue.Jianping Wu, Andreas Schieber and graduate students Chamila Nimalaratne and Daise Lopes-Lutz of the Department of Agricultural Food and Nutritional Science, University of Alberta,  examined egg yolks produced by hens fed typical diets of either primarily wheat or corn. They found the yolks contained two amino acids, tryptophan and tyrosine, which have high antioxidant properties. 

After analyzing the properties, the researchers determined that two egg yolks in their raw state have almost twice as many antioxidant properties as an apple and about the same as half a serving (25 grams) of cranberries.
However, when the eggs were fried or boiled, antioxidant properties were reduced by about half, and a little more than half if the eggs were cooked in a microwave.
“It’s a big reduction but it still leaves eggs equal to apples in their antioxidant value,” said Wu.
The findings were published in the peer-reviewed journal Food Chemistry.
The discovery of these two amino acids, while important, may only signify the beginning of finding antioxidant properties in egg yolks, said Wu, an associate professor of agricultural, food and nutritional science.
“Ultimately, we’re trying to map antioxidants in egg yolks so we have to look at all of the properties in the yolks that could contain antioxidants, as well as how the eggs are ingested,” said Wu, adding that he and his team will examine the other type of antioxidant already known to be in eggs, carotenoids, the yellow pigment in egg yolk, as well as peptides.


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