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Monday, 18 July 2011

Alcohol In Low Doses Too Is Bad For Your Heart

A new study has found that even low blood concentrations of alcohol can have acute effects on the heart, with very different effects on LV and right ventricular (RV) function, which collectively pump blood to the entire body. 
"Little data exist regarding the acute effects of alcohol on the heart," said Matteo Cameli, a cardiologist at the Cardiologia Universitaria of Siena and co-author for the study.
"Previous studies have reported a reduction in LV performance after an assumption of moderate or high doses of alcohol, but the effects of low doses are still unknown," he said. 
The cardiologist explained that LV and RV function work very differently. 
"They are like two different worlds, both for structure and function of myocardial fibres that they present," he explained. 
"Yet their differences, and the effects that low doses of alcohol have on them, have relevant social implications, given that light drinking is such a common practice. 
"We found that low doses of red wine are associated with acute depression in left ventricular function and acute increase in right ventricular function," Cameli added. 
The results will be published in the October 2011 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.


Meditation Keeps Your Brain Healthy

A study has suggested that people who meditate also have stronger connections between brain regions and show less age-related brain atrophy.
Having stronger connections influences the ability to rapidly relay electrical signals in the brain. And significantly, these effects are evident throughout the entire brain, not just in specific areas.
Eileen Luders, a visiting assistant professor at the UCLA Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, and colleagues found that the differences between meditators and controls are not confined to a particular core region of the brain but involve large-scale networks that include the frontal, temporal, parietal and occipital lobes and the anterior corpus callosum, as well as limbic structures and the brain stem.
"Our results suggest that long-term meditators have white-matter fibers that are either more numerous, more dense or more insulated throughout the brain," said Luders.
"We also found that the normal age-related decline of white-matter tissue is considerably reduced in active meditation practitioners," added Luders.
The study consisted of 27 active meditation practitioners (average age 52) and 27 control subjects. Results showed pronounced structural connectivity in meditators throughout the entire brain's pathways.
"It is possible that actively meditating, especially over a long period of time, can induce changes on a micro-anatomical level," said Luders.
As a consequence, she said, the robustness of fiber connections in meditators may increase and possibly lead to the macroscopic effects seen by DTI.


Scientists and astronaut in homeopathic ‘suicide attempt’

A group of Swedish scientists, headed by astronaut Christer Funglesang, took a massive overdose of homeopathic sleeping pills in an attempt to discredit the alternative medicine and have it banned from the country.
Ten people, including Funglesang, took ten times the recommended dose of Coffea Alfaplex last week, but lived to tell the tale.
“We’re risking our lives for science,” wrote Fuglesang in an opinion piece for Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet before the ‘suicide attempt’. “Either we die, and for the first time the effect of homeopathy will be proven, or we survive, in which case we expect Swedish politicians to rethink their stand on alternative medicine’s use in healthcare,” the piece continued.
The effort was supported by Vetenskap och Folkbildning (VoF), a non-profit organisation that works towards discrediting false science. Homeopathic medicine, which is widely used in Sweden, works on the principle that a remedy becomes stronger as it becomes more diluted with water. VoF believes there should be an outright ban on homeopathy, even though it is already illegal to treat some physical diseases, such as cancer, with the method.
“This is an important matter to debate, since the use of alternative medicine is so common in Sweden,” Dan Larhammar, Professor of Neuroscience at Uppsala University and active member of VoF, told The Local. “We hope the use of homeopathy will cease, seeing as how it’s pure humbug; and above all, the state and country councils should not stand behind such humbug,” he continued.
Source:Ice News


If You Want to Lose Weight, 'Love Your Body'

Research has shown that almost a quarter of men and women in England and over a third of adults in America are obese. 
Obesity increases the risk of diabetes and heart disease and can significantly shorten a person's life expectancy. New research published by BioMed Central's open access journal International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity shows that improving body image can enhance the effectiveness of weight loss programs based on diet and exercise.
Researchers from the Technical University of Lisbon and Bangor University enrolled overweight and obese women on a year-long weight loss program. Half the women were given general health information about good nutrition, stress management, and the importance of looking after yourself. The other half attended 30 weekly group sessions (the intervention plan) where issues such as exercise, emotional eating, improving body image and the recognition of, and how to overcome, personal barriers to weight loss and lapses from the diet were discussed. 

On the behavioral intervention plan women found that the way they thought about their body improved and that concerns about body shape and size were reduced. Compared to the control group they were better able to self-regulate their eating and they lost much more weight, losing on average 7% of their starting weight compared to less than 2% for the control group. 
Dr Teixeira from Technical University of Lisbon, who led the research, said, "Body image problems are very common amongst overweight and obese people, often leading to comfort eating and more rigid eating patterns, and are obstacles to losing weight. Our results showed a strong correlation between improvements in body image, especially in reducing anxiety about other peoples' opinions, and positive changes in eating behavior. From this we believe that learning to relate to your body in healthier ways is an important aspect of maintaining weight loss and should be addressed in every weight control program."  

Researchers Working on Infection-Prediction Test

A team of scientists, including one of Indian-origin, is reporting on a detection method, which could be used to detect harmful bacteria in our bodies before an infection takes over.
This could potentially prevent the overuse of antibiotics and the development of drug-resistance, as well as save lives.
In vivo tests, lead author Associate Professor Niren Murthy and team injected bacteria into the thigh muscle of rats. They then injected maltodextrin-based imaging probes into the rat's jugular vein so that they could spread throughout the body.
Sixteen hours later, they used a fluorescence imaging system to take photos of the infection site. The bacteria and extent of infection was clearly distinguishable, reports ABC Science.
Moreover, the MDPs could detect bacterial concentrations 100-fold lower than other imaging agents.
Murthy expects it will be at least five years before his team begins human clinical trials.
The study has been published in the journal nature Materials.


Sunday, 17 July 2011

Man's Penis Cut Off By Wife: How Could Doctors Make a New One?

A man from southern California may undergo surgery to reattach or reconstruct his penis after it was reportedly cut off by his wife and thrown in the garbage disposal.
If most of the penis is salvageable, it could be reattached, said Dr. Andrew Kramer, a urologist and surgeon at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
"As bad as it may be, that’s always the best option," said Kramer, who is not involved in treating this patient.
For this operation to be successful, the penis would have to be put on ice and ideally attached within 24 hours, Kramer said. Because the incident allegedly happened Monday night, it may be too late for reattachment. But if the penis cannot be recovered, or it is in many pieces, as may be the case with the California man, a new penis will need to be constructed, Kramer said.
This would be done by taking a graft from a muscle, typically the forearm or thigh, and attaching it to the pelvic area. The muscle needs to be connected so it receives an adequate blood supply. Then the muscle would be covered with skin taken from another part of the body, Kramer said.
Such a penis would typically be sexually functional — the man could achieve an erection. A prosthetic device known as a penile implant could be placed inside the penis to help this, said Kramer, who specializes in erectile dysfunction treatments and penile implants.
However, aesthetically, the new penis will likely not look normal, he said.
"It's tricky — a lot of times it doesn’t look like the real thing," Kramer told MyHealthNewsDaily.
If the urethra, which is the tube that connects the bladder to the penis, has been cut off, it will need to be reconstructed somewhere else. Typically, surgeons reconstruct it lower down, under the scrotum, Kramer said. This would mean the man would have to urinate sitting down, he said.
The man would be able to have an orgasm because the nerves involved in orgasm are still intact. However he would not be able to ejaculate, Kramer said. If the man wanted to father children, he could have sperm extracted from his testicles and used in vitro fertilization.
Source:Health News Daily

3 die at UK hospital where saline was contaminated

British police are investigating whether three hospital patients died as a result of receiving saline solution contaminated with insulin.Detectives were hunting Saturday for the person who tampered with a batch of saline at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport, northwest England.The contamination was discovered earlier this week after a nurse reported a higher-than-normal number of patients with unexplained low blood sugar levels.Detectives are awaiting post-mortem results to determine whether three patients — a 44-year-old woman and two men aged 71 and 84 — died as a result of the contamination.Eleven other patients who received the contaminated saline were mildly affected and will be interviewed by police, along with all the hospital's medical staff."(The investigation) is at a very early stage and we don't know what effect, if any, the solution has had to the well-being of any patients," said Assistant Chief Constable Terry Sweeney."That said, we have someone deliberately contaminating saline in the one place that people should feel they are being most cared for," he said. "I want to reassure everyone connected to the hospital — staff, patients, visitors and the wider community — that we are determined to prevent further harm and to bring the offender to justice. "Hospital officials said they had increased security at the facility, 150 miles (250 kilometers) northwest of London.

Ayurvedic sector has glorious past - Prime Minister of Srilanka

"The Ayurvedic sector in Sri Lanka has a glorious past as a traditional curing and healing method for both physical and mental ailments," Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne said.
The Prime Minister was speaking at the inauguration of 'Ayurveda Expo 2011' international indigenous healthcare exhibition and symposium at the Sirimavo Bandaranaike Exhibition and Convention Centre yesterday.

Ayurvedic Expo 2011, an international exhibition, trade fair and conference for the preservation of indigenous medicine was ceremonially inaugurated by President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the BMICH yesterday. Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne, Indigenous Medicine Minister Salinda Dissanayake, Deputy Minister Pandu Bandaranayaka, Sri Lanka National Chamber of Commerce chairman Ashoka Hettigoda and Sri Lanka Export Development Board chairman Janaka Rathnayaka were also present. Picture by Chandana Perera
The exhibition and symposium was opened by President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday. It is open to the public till July 17.
The exhibition will show the ayurvedic heritage of the country to the world while making people aware of the latest treatment methods and products.
The exhibition is organized by the National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka and Sri Lanka Export Development Board in association with several ministries, such as, Indigenous Medicine, Economic Development, External affairs and Industry and Commerce.
The Prime Minister said that the origins of Ayurveda go back to over 5,000 years.
"The word 'Ayurveda' in Sanskrit connotes Ayu - life and veda - wisdom. So Ayurveda is wisdom of life. The Ayurveda form of medical treatment for various ailments of the people was very popular in ancient Sri Lanka. Even today Ayurveda plays a significant role," the Prime Minister added.
He pointed out that the Ayurveda medical practice in Sri Lanka flourished as a family tradition during the period of ancient kings. Accordingly, every village had a Ayurveda doctor who was invariably groomed by the head of the family to learn in depth the medical practice of the family from the young.
"As a result of Western influence, the western medical practice superseded the indigenous medical practice. However, Ayurveda practice did not die in the remote villages of the country even during foreign rule. After independence in 1948, Ayurveda practice regained its former status. Ayurveda hospitals with government patronage were established while Ayurveda education was popularized through Ayurveda colleges," Prime Minister Jayaratne said.
He noted that new researches in Ayurveda pursued by enterprising Ayurveda practitioners have yielded good results. Accordingly, new methods of treatment and new Ayurveda medical products have come into the market, attracting not only locals, but also foreigners as well. As a result of this situation, there are increasing numbers of foreigners visiting Sri Lanka to avail themselves of Ayurvedic treatment.
The Ayurvedic exhibition and trade fair will popularize the indigenous medical system among foreign visitors.
In addition, the event would provide a better platform for Ayurveda related professionals, service providers, manufacturers of Ayurveda products, exporters, importers and retailers of different countries to interact with each other and enhance their businesses for their mutual benefit, the Prime Minister noted. 
Courtesy:Daily News Srilanka

U.S. study shows efficacy of Ayurveda medicines in rheumatoid arthritis cure

Personalised Ayurvedic interventions have demonstrated clinically significant improvement in rheumatoid arthritis on a par with allopathy treatment with the added advantage of lesser side-effects, according to a study. The study was conducted by the University of Washington, Seattle, and the University of Los Angeles, California, with funding from the National Institutes of Health in the U.S. and the Arya Vaidya Pharmacy (AVP), Coimbatore.The project, to evaluate the efficacy of Ayurvedic medicines, was a randomised double-blinded, placebo (inert tablets)-controlled study, which is the gold standard for clinical research in modern medicine, said the research team headed by P. Ram Manohar, Director, Research, AVP and principal investigator (Indian side).“We cannot make any tall claims with the results since it was a pilot study and the sample size was small. However, the study got a major stimulus when Dr. Edzard Ernst, the first professor of complementary medicine, called it a blueprint for research in Ayurveda,” Dr. Ram Manohar told over telephone.The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology in June 2011 can be accessed through PubMed of the United States National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health. This provides the Ayurveda stream of medical management with a much-needed boost for its hitherto lack of evidence-based medicine techniques.The nine-month treatment and evaluation period had three groups with about 15 patients each, who were treated with the focus on rheumatoid arthritis. While one group was given only Ayurvedic medicines along with a placebo of allopathic medicine, another group was administered only allopathic medicines with placebos of Ayurvedic medicines and the third group was given a combination of Ayurveda and allopathic medicines.Even the doctors prescribing the medicines were not aware of the medicines being given, said K. G. Ravindran, treating physician at the AVP, who was part of the research project.It was a challenge to make standardised placebos for Ayurvedic medicines, said Reshmi Sarin, research co-ordinator at the AVP. In fact, the PubMed abstract mentions the development of the placebos as a unique feature of the study. Different combinations of internal and external Ayurvedic medicines were prescribed to the patients but the allopathic treatment consisted of standard doses of the drug Methotrexate. All patients were treated in the out-patient ward and no massage or ‘dhara' or any other in-patient treatment method was applied.While the study was specific to rheumatoid arthritis, it also looked into whether complex Ayurvedic interventions could be studied in a clinical trial. The double-dummy, double-blind randomised clinical study has clearly shown the feasibility of further studies of this kind.With a grant of Rs. 1.2 crore, the three-year study, begun in 2005 and completed in 2008, was fully published in June. Two milestones were a poster presentation of the study in November 2010 at the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Rheumatology and a research letter in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.Daniel E. Furst, Master of American College of Rheumatology, was the clinical lead investigator who designed the study. Another principal investigator from the U.S. was Cathryn Booth, University of Washington, Seattle. P.R. Krishna Kumar, MD of the AVP was the project director, and Dr. Manorama Venkatraman, University of Washington, Seattle, was the programme director.
 Source:The Hindu

Vitamin C Vital For Brain

Vitamin C could prove vital for the brain to function properly, scientists believe. The new hypothesis comes in the wake of the discovery that nerve cells in the eye require the vitamin.
The findings of a study by scientists at Oregon Health & Science University have been published in the Journal of Neuroscience.  “We found that cells in the retina need to be ‘bathed’ in relatively high doses of vitamin C, inside and out, to function properly,” said Henrique von Gersdorff, Ph.D., a senior scientist at OHSU’s Vollum Institute and a co-author of the study. “Because the retina is part of the central nervous system, this suggests there’s likely an important role for vitamin C throughout our brains, to a degree we had not realized before.” 
The brain has special receptors, called GABA-type receptors, that help modulate the rapid communication between cells in the brain. GABA receptors in the brain act as an inhibitory “brake” on excitatory neurons in the brain. The OHSU researchers found that these GABA-type receptors in the retinal cells stopped functioning properly when vitamin C was removed. 
Because retinal cells are a kind of very accessible brain cell, it’s likely that GABA receptors elsewhere in the brain also require vitamin C to function properly, von Gersdorff said. And because vitamin C is a major natural 
antioxidant, it may be that it essentially ‘preserves’ the receptors and cells from premature breakdown, von Gersdorff said.



New Diabetes Therapy Possible Via 'Memories' of Adult Stem Cells

The 'memories' of stem cells generated from adult cells is being used by a team of researchers from Tel Aviv University to bring new hope to sufferers of juvenile or type 1 diabetes. 
 Prof. Shimon Efrat of TAU's Department of Human Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine, said these 'induced pluripotent stem cells', derived from adult cells, represent an embryonic-like state.
To some degree, he found, the cells retain a "memory" of what they once were - when created from pancreatic beta cells, the cells responsible for the production of insulin, these pluripotent cells prove more efficient than their embryonic counterparts in creating insulin-producing cells. 
Prof. Efrat says that this discovery promises to advance the development of cell replacement therapy for diabetics, possibly leading to an effective alternative to organ transplants. 
The study was recently published in the journal Cell Stem Cell.

Condom Use Not Mandatory for Porn Actors, Says L.A. Court

The Los Angeles County public health officials do not need to require porn actors to wear condoms to protect against the spread of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, an appeals court has confirmed. 
 The Second District Court of Appeals upheld an earlier ruling that dismissed a petition from AIDS activists to force the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to mandate condoms during the filming of hardcore pornography, reports the LA Times.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation had gone to court to compel county officials to act, arguing that they had "passively observed an ever-growing epidemic" within the porn industry. 
 The foundation argued that the health department had documented thousands of sexually transmitted diseases among adult film stars and attributed the epidemic "to a lack of protection equipment for performers, including condoms." 
 A Superior Court judge decided to dismiss the case in 2009, ruling that county officials had broad discretion over how they manage public health matters. 
 The appeals court agreed, saying it could not compel the county health department to implement AIDS Healthcare Foundation's "agenda" to combat sexually transmitted diseases.

Study Says The Brain Continues to Remember Even After Loss of Cognitive Skills

The damaged brain continues to process information even when the patient has lost his cognitive skills, says a new study. 
 Dr Stephane Simon and collaborators in Professor Alan Pegna's laboratory at Geneva University Hospital, studied a patient brain damaged in an accident who had developed prosopagnosia, or face blindness. They measured her non-conscious responses to familiar faces, using different physiological measures of brain activity, including fMRI and EEG. 
The patient was shown photographs of unknown and famous people, some of whom were famous before the onset of her prosopagnosia (and others who had become famous more recently). 
Despite the fact that the patient could not recognize any of the famous faces, her brain activity responded to the faces that she would have recognized before the onset of her condition. 
"The results of this study demonstrate that implicit processing might continue to occur despite the presence of an apparent impairment in conscious processing," stated Professor Pegna. 
"The study has also shed light on what is required for our brain to understand what we see around us. 
"Together with other research findings, this study suggests that the collaboration of several cerebral structures in a specific temporal order is necessary for visual awareness to arise," he added. 
The study was reported in the July 2011 issue of Elsevier's Cortex.


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