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Saturday, 13 August 2011

Warning Issued Over Online Herbal Slimming Remedies

However the agency warned that the products contained the banned prescription-only drug sibutramine which has been found to increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. 
The health regulatory body in Britain has warned the population not to buy herbal slimming remedies online since they contain drugs that are dangerous and have been banned across the continent.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) revealed that people are buying herbal slimming remedies such as Instant Slim and Sport Burner which are being sold online.
MHRA’s group manager for herbal medicines policy, Richard Woodfield warned that just because herbal medicines contain some natural extracts, they should not be assumed to be safe. “We urge people not to take any slimming medicines or products bought online without consulting with a pharmacist or doctor as they risk being supplied with medicines that are not safe or not suitable for them to use”, he said, adding that people should buy only those herbal products that come with Traditional Herbal Registration (THR) logo. 



Yoga competition demands mental toughness

More than a hundred people, many of who could contort their bodies in unbelievable positions, converged on North Central College Saturday for the 2011 Illinois Yoga Asana Championships. Men, women and children yogis from all over the Chicagoland area competed in adult and youth divisions with the hopes of placing first or second and becoming eligible to compete at the USA Yoga National Championship.All styles of yoga were welcome at the competition, which included eight men, thirty women and eight youth vying for titles in their categories. Individuals were required to demonstrate seven postures over three minutes and were judged on strength, flexibility, expression, completion, control, grace, poise and the more ambiguous, “heart of the yogi”. Diedre Rose from Medinah was one woman competing in the event. This was her second competition.“It builds a lot of confidence to go up there,” said Rose, “You black out (everything). It’s a lot of mental strength.”Judges included names well known in yoga throughout both the country and the world, including Rajashree Choudhury, India’s five time inter-school youth yoga champion.Choudhury also spoke to attendees regarding the importance of yoga as a sport, which is how it is regarded in India. There, the government encourages children to practice yoga as a way to adopt a healthy lifestyle into adulthood. Many who are involved in yoga would also like to see yoga as a competition at the Olympics.In addition to the competition, the day started with a Tibetan bowl meditation, had sponsors featuring yoga products, live music between competitions and also featured Bollywood dance performances from Naperville-based Taal Fusion. The dance troupe featured 12 girls, ranging in age from 9 to 16, who performed contemporary interpretative dance based on the art of yoga. Many of the girls in the group had previously taken yoga classes, including All Saints Academy eighth-grader Emily Klesel who said that she appreciated yoga for the strengthening it gave her, which also helps in her dance.“The goal is to get children more involved in yoga which hopefully will make for a healthier future,” said Tam, “We see it as a healthy, non-aggressive sport. Without the youth division there is no validity in the sport.”To accomplish that goal, many who teach yoga would like to see more children take it up. By building up the youth division at competitions such as this one, they hope the interest and numbers will increase the chance of yoga becoming an Olympic event.In previous years, the event has been held primarily at outdoor venues, like Navy Pier, in Chicago. This year’s organizers, which include hosting studio Bikram Yoga Naperville, were hoping that by bringing the championships to Wentz Hall it would add the feel of competition and sport to it.“Anybody who doesn’t believe it’s a sport should come take a yoga class,” said yoga instructor Robyn Riconosciuto, who attended the championships to support some of her students who were competing, “There’s balance, grace and athleticism. I think they deserve recognition for the strength they have.”“The Olympics have everything to do with yoga,” said Nikki Tam, 2011 Illinois Yoga Asana Championships coordinator and also a yoga instructor at Bikram Yoga Naperville, “That one single moment — it’s body, mind and soul.”
By Angela Bender  Source: The Sun  

At Portland conference, Native American doctors urge a return to old ways to cure a population hit by chronic disease

Modern medicine's fractured approach conflicts with traditional holistic healing practices of Native Americans, who have the worst health problems in the nation, said a doctor addressing a conference of Native American physicians in Portland through Sunday. 
"We've gotten away from the art of medicine," said Dr. Donald Warne, member of the Oglala Lakota tribe and director of the Office of Native American Health in Sioux Falls, S.D. "We are focused on the science of medicine.
More than 200 members of the Association of American Indian Physicians at a six-day conference are looking at ways to reduce high death rates afflicting tribes across the country. 

"We need to address the underlying wounded spirits, the loss of culture, the loss of land and how that affects people's spirits," Warne said.
The doctors are discussing chronic diseases, sudden infant death syndrome, heart attacks,diabetes and other health problems that hit Native Americans harder than the general population. The life expectancy for Native Americans is 63 years compared with 74 for the general population, Warne said. In South Dakota, the median age of death is 81 for the general population; 58 for Native Americans. 
The statistical differences continue: Death rate among Native Americans from diabetes is three times as high as the general population's; six times as high from alcohol; more than two times as high from accidents; and 60 percent higher from suicide. Health providers could help reduce those disparities by adopting some traditional healing practices balance physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health, Warne said. 
A family physician, Warne said he's seen hundreds of Native Americans suffering at once from diabetes, depression and alcoholism. Diabetes fuels depression, which patients try to self-medicate with alcohol, he said. Yet, they are treated by a doctor for diabetes, a therapist for depression and a behavioral counselor for alcohol abuse, he said, and those three providers typically don't talk to one another. 
Warne said a traditional Native American healer addresses all those issues at once with medicine, counseling and prayer in ceremonies that might involve other members of the community or family. Balance is key to traditional Native American health practices, he said. 
"We lost a lot of land, sacred sites, culture, traditional leaders, even language, and a different value system was imposed on us," he said. "Can that create imbalance? Well, yes, it can." 
Drawing on traditional practices to help reduce health disparities that give Native Americans Third World life spans has emerged as a theme in the association's 40th annual conference. 
"We need to address the underlying wounded spirits, the loss of culture, the loss of land and how that affects people's spirits," said Jared Jobe, who is Cherokee and health scientist administrator for the National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute in Maryland. "If we don't address that, we'll continue to have the same issues." 
Jobe said public health leaders also could help Native Americans improve their health by urging them to return to traditional diets and activities, which included fish, berries, nuts, vegetables, and games they invented such as lacrosse. 
"Traditional ways of living are extremely healthy," he said, "and this is the antidote to the harms of losing land and a way of life." 
Members of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde from Oregon welcomed the doctors attending the conference at the Jantzen Beach Red Lion Hotel by canoeing across the Columbia River Thursday evening and docking behind the hotel in a sunset drum and music welcoming ceremony. Cheryle Kennedy, chairwoman of the 6,000-member tribe, said three tribe members are practicing physicians. 
"I feel blessed our people are now reaching this level," she said. 

By Bill Graves,Source: The Oregonian 

Deepak Chopra on the Science - and Soul - of Business

Deepak Chopra on the Science - and Soul - of BusinessIf anyone can apply the rules of science to the world of business, it’sDeepak Chopra. People have done a lot of work trying to understand business in terms of behavior and psychology, but Chopra goes deeper, applying the rules of biology, neuroscience(and maybe a little philosophy) to corporate leadership.  I had the opportunity to sit down with Chopra for a few minutes before a recent event for his new book, The Soul of Leadership. He explained why it’s possible – even essential – to look to science to help people be better leaders.
You may have noticed that the word “soul” rather than “science” is in the title of his book, but not to worry. Chopra is quick to point out that there’s nothing particularly poetic or religious about his definition of soul. On the contrary, a soul is a person’s awareness, or consciousness, in its most attentive, unstressed form. Chopra explains that being in touch with the this kind of consciousness is what sports players, ballet dancers, and musicians experience when they enter a moment of utter connectedness with their art: the mind is clear, the world appears in slow motion, and all internal dialogue fades away. Long-time meditators commonly experience this state as well. Even better is that this state of consciousness can be witnessed in EEG recordings of the brain as a heightened, synchronous pattern of brain waves (called gamma synchrony).
This, says Chopra, is what soul is all about– and it is what leaders should strive to get in touch with as they lead their businesses and their teams. It may not sound so simple, but his new book outlines the steps one can take to get there (more on this below).
Today’s leadership, he says, is antiquated and broken, and it needs to reexamine itself. He proposes an interesting, certainly sciencey, way to think about the difference between bad and good leadership: The “leadership model today is based on predation, an old masculine thing: Conquer, defeat, win. It has worked, but its life cycle is over.” This classic, stress-mediated form of leadership is governed by the primitive midbrain, he says, the region charged with the “fight-or-flight” response. It has a certain strength, in a brute force kind of way, but it is hypersensitive, over-reactive, and needs to be re-envisioned.Given the archaic nature of present day leadership, Chopra says, it’s not surprising that the corporate world is crumbling from its own brawn. Chopra’s research with Gallup has shown that at least 65% of the U.S. workforce suffers from moderate to severe disengagement with their jobs: people who are “actively disengaged come to work with the express purpose of making other people unhappy.” These are serious signs that we need a new brand of leadership.The alternative, he says, is to go in a more conscious and “soulful” direction. This new variety of leadership is governed by more recently evolved and sophisticated areas of the brain. “The new model of leadership has to be more nurturing, more intuitive, more creative, more in line with feminine traits,” suggests Chopra. The gender analogy is interesting, but not in a war-of-the-genders kind of way. The bottom line is that a flexible, conscious form of leadership needs to replace the static, bulldozerish method of the present day. It just so happens that the traits that are needed are more in line with traditionally feminine qualities.He sums it up by explaining that, by nature, “all biological organisms are self-repairing, self-regulating systems.” The body and brain instinctively balance themselves when they get out of whack. Now, the same return to balance, or consciousness, needs to happen in business. Luckily, as more and more studies are finding, we can actively learn to shift our attention and become more conscious (soulful). When this shift or "rewiring" happens fully in corporate world, it will be in better shape.
Chopra points out that you don’t have to be an employer to make use of his The Soul of Leadership model.  His theory uses business leadership as a framework, but it can be expand to promote leadership in every facet of life.
He uses the acronym LEADERS to illustrate his theory:
L = Look and Listen. Turning one’s awareness inward, and listening internally, can help one tap into profound sense of purpose.
E = Emotional Bonding. Strengthening supportive relationships with the self and others, rather than leading from “crisis mode” and negative reactivity, is crucial.
A = Awareness. A leader should always ask questions about herself/himself; this self-awareness will inspire the same thing in one’s team.
D = Doing. Leading proactively, but flexibly, is a necessary part of good business.
E = Empowerment. Being empowered means that one is receptive to feedback, but not mired by the opinions of other people.
R = Responsibility. Leaders need not only to make the best choices for themselves and their teams, but their biggest responsibility is inspiring greater consciousness in those around them.
S = Synchronicity. This enigmatic capacity is all about being in sync with the universe. People who “have the ability to create good luck and find invisible support” are tapping into the “universal field of consciousness,” says Chopra, which is a fundamental aspect of life.
 Speaking of life, Chopra closed his talk by telling his audience to live it well and embrace it. It’s easier to see life’s beauty if you remember its brevity. “Look back at the prince of death behind you,” he says wryly. “Now look again, and he’s a little bit closer,” he adds with a chuckle. For a medicine man, his delivery is flawless.
By:By Alice G. Walton,Source:Forbes

Lok Sabha takes up Transplantation of Human Organs Bill for discussion

The clearance of the much-awaited Transplantation of Human Organs (Amendment) Bill during this ongoing session of  Parliament is almost certain now as the Bill has already been taken up in Lok Sabha for discussion.
The Bill, which is an amendment to the Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994, seeking to make the organs transplantation more transparent and patient friendly, and also for imposing stringent penalties on persons and hospitals violating the provisions of the Act, was taken up for discussion in Lok Sabha by Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on August 11.
In fact, the Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha way back on December 18, 2009 and it was referred to the Parliamentary standing committee attached to the Union health ministry for its scrutiny. After examining the Bill in detail, the standing committee laid the report on the Table of Lok Sabha on 4 August, 2010. For the tentative list of transaction of business for the ongoing session of Parliament, which started on August 1, the Bill was listed for 'consideration and passing'.
Since the Lok Sabha has already taken up the Bill for discussion, it is now certain that it may get the final Parliament nod. Once the Bill is passed in Parliament, it will be sent to the President for her consent. Once the President signs the Bill, it becomes an Act of Parliament and will come into effect in the country.
The government took the initiative to amend the law, which was originally framed around 16 years back, as there were repeated reports about a thriving human organ trade in the country and the consequential exploitation of economically weaker sections of the society. There was an increasing perception among the common people that while the Act has not been effective in curbing commercial transactions in organ transplant, it has thwarted genuine cases due to the complicated and long drawn process involving organ donation.
As the voice against the Act became louder, the central government held a national consultation on the need to have an effective regulation of organ transplantation in the country. State governments and various sections of civil society were also consulted during the process. Ultimately, a proposal to comprehensively amend the Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994, was submitted to the Union cabinet for its consideration.

Health ministry goes big on yoga, funds studies on its benefits

Yoga is now the Union health ministry's buzz word. The ministry is giving funds for several important studies being conducted to see how yoga actually benefits our health.
While around Rs 19 lakhs were sanctioned in 2010-11 under department of Ayush's extra mural research scheme, over Rs 70 lakhs were sanctioned under the clinical research scheme being implemented by the Central Council for Research in Yoga and Naturopathy.
The department has funded St Johns' Research Institute (Bangalore) to see the effects of yoga on stress and cognitive functions in 7-9 years old school going children and Yoga Bhavan (Mumbai) to see stress management in mothers of students appearing for competitive examinations through yoga.
Baba Farid Centre for Special Children in Punjab is being funded to see the effects of yoga on stress and quality of life of caregivers of subjects suffering from autism and Vidyasagar Technology Institute of Physical Education in Uttar Pradesh on the effects of yoga on C-Reactive protein and other biomarkers in coronary atherosclerosis.
Nisarga Naturapathy Yoga hospital has been sanctioned Rs 5 lakhs to see the effect of yoga on diabetes. Swami Vivekananda Yoga Samsthan in Bangalore is working on seeing the effect of yoga in prevention of complications in high risk pregnancies while ALN Rao Memorial Ayurvedic Medical Colleges has been given around Rs 4 lakhs to study the efficacy of yogic postures in varicose vein.
All Life in Hyderabad is studying the effect of yoga on non Hodgkins Lymphoma while Yoga and Nature Care Home in Manipur is looking at yoga's beneficial role in post-stroke rehabilitation.
The Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga, a fully funded autonomous body under the department of Ayush, has already set up 132 training centres for spreading yoga education in the states. The institute is also planning to set up 200 more such centres in the country in the next two years.
Meanwhile, the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) has completed documenting 1,300 'asanas' which will soon be uploaded making them "public knowledge" in order to protect them from western pirates. Around 250 of these 'asanas' have also been made into video clips with an expert performing them.
According to the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the department of Ayush, "Once the database is up online, patent offices across the world will have a reference point to check on every time a yoga guru claims patent on a particular asana."
Nine well known yoga institutions in India have helped with the documentation. TKDL will have photos and explanation of the postures. "Experts have screened through several ancient books like Srimad Bhagwat Gita, Vyas Bhashya, Yogasava Vijana, Hatha Praditika, Gheranda Samhita, Shiva Samhita, Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and Sandra Satkarma to exactly document all known asanas and yoga references.
Till now, there are estimates that the US patent office alone has issued over 200 yoga-related copyrights. Experts say yoga has become a $225 billion market in the West. Americans supposedly spend about $3 billion a year on yoga classes.


Taste Buds in Obese Individuals Lose Sensitivity

A new study conducted by a group of Australian researchers suggest that taste buds in obese people are less sensitive to tasting fat which in turn makes them to eat more and gain weight. 
Researchers at Deakin University had earlier stated that the taste buds can identify a “sixth taste” responding to the fat content in the food. The researchers now said that the taste buds of healthy people are more sensitive to the fat content compared to the taste buds in obese people.
The researchers added that sensitivity to fat allowed safety hormones to make us stop eating or increase the time between eating events. However this sensitivity to taste fat decreases among obese people which makes them overindulge in eating fat content. 

Lead researcher Professor Russell Keast said that this finding could be used in combating obesity. He said that making obese people to indulge in low fat diet increases their sensitivity to fat and thereby make them eat less fat content. 
“The good news out of the low-fat diet was that everybody responded equally, so it didn't matter if you were healthy weight or overweight obese, if you went onto the low-fat diet, you became more sensitive to fat”, he said. 


Thursday, 11 August 2011

Earth Factors Behind Migraine

Experts at the University Clinic for Neurology have highlighted the key earth factors that contribute to most headaches. 
 They said that menstruation, genetic aspects and a sudden relief from stress mattered more than changes in the weather like temperatures, the strength of the wind, atmospheric pressure levels and the amount of rain.
The combined study with Vienna's Central Agency for Meteorology and Geodynamics based its findings on diaries kept by 238 people. 
It was just the latest shot in the back and forth argument over how much influence the weather plays in causing headaches. 
There is conflicting evidence in medical research. In one study involving 7,000 patients published by doctors in the US, investigators found that higher ambient temperatures increased the risk of headaches. 
For every five degrees Celsius rise in temperature, there was a 7.5 per cent increased risk of an emergency department visit for severe headache.


Reducing Salt Intake Would Save Millions of Lives Globally

 Reducing Salt Intake Would Save Millions of Lives GloballyCutting the intake of salt in people's diets will save millions of lives and public money, experts warn adding that its time for the governments around the world to decide how best to reduce population salt consumption.
 Speaking ahead of a United Nations High Level Meeting on non-communicable diseases, Professor Francesco Cappuccio and colleagues argue that lowering dietary salt intake has the potential to substantially reduce levels of stroke and heart disease and save millions of lives globally. Studies also show that reducing salt intake is cost saving. 
The question, they say, is not whether to reduce salt intake but how to do so. 
The World Health Organisation has set a global goal to reduce dietary salt intake to less than 5 g (about one teaspoon) per person per by 2025, yet salt intake in many countries is currently much higher than this. 
The authors say this could be done through mass media campaigns and engagement with the food industry to set limits on the salt content of processed foods. 
For example, in the UK a reduction of 3 g salt intake per day would prevent up to 8,000 stroke deaths and up to 12,000 coronary heart disease deaths per year. 
A similar reduction in the USA would result in up to 120,000 fewer cases of coronary heart disease, up to 66,000 strokes and up to 99,000 heart attacks annually. It would also save up to $24 billion annually in health care costs.

Dark Beer Richer in Iron Than Pale Beer

According to the analysis carried out by the University of Valladolid (UVa) on 40 types of beers from all 5 continents, dark beers have an average free iron content of 121 ppb (parts per billion) compared to 92 ppb in pale beers and 63 ppb in non-alcoholic beers. 
After analyzing 40 brands of beer, a team of researchers from the University of Valladolid (Spain) have discovered that dark beer has more free iron than pale and non-alcoholic beers. Iron is essential to the human diet, but also helps oxidize the organic compounds that give these beverages stability and flavour.
"Although these quantities are very small, the differences are apparent and could be due to the production processes or raw materials used in manufacturing," stated Carlos Blanco, professor of Food Technology at UVa and co-author of the study.
The study, published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, indicates that higher iron content in dark beer could be explained by the malt and hop extracts used to produce it.
However, pale beer production includes a filtering stage in which diatomaceous earth is used. This sedimentary rock is a porous material with micro-algae used to lighten the beer; it traps the iron, causing its concentrations to decrease.
Non-alcoholic beer undergoes vacuum evaporation processes to remove the alcohol. This operation also removes iron ions given that they are dragged by the volatile molecules.



Nesfatin-1 Protein Might Help in Monitoring Appetite and Blood Sugar Levels

The researchers, led by Suraj Unniappan, who is an associate professor in York’s Department of Biology, Faculty of Science & Engineering, said that the protein, known as nesfatin-1 is present in large quantities in brain and can have a positive metabolic effect on the body. The report has been published in the Journal of Endocrinology. 
Researchers at York University announced that they have identified a protein that can effectively monitor appetite and blood sugar, raising hopes that the finding can be used to keep both obesity and diabetes in check.
The researchers found that the rats that had been injected by the protein ate less and instead made more use of stored fat in order to remain active. The protein was also found to be responsible for increase secretion of insulin leading to hopes that it can be used to control diabetes.
“The rats actually ate more frequently but in lesser amounts. In addition, they were more active and we found that their fatty acid oxidization was increased. In other words, the energy reserve being preferably used during nesfatin-1 treatment was fat. This suggests more fat loss, which could eventually result in body weight loss”, Unniappan said.



Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Homeopathy can root thyroid disorder out

Thyroid is a small gland located in the midline and base of the neck just below the voice box. Thyroid disorders can range from a small, harmless goitre to life-threatening cancer. They are more common in women than men. They hit almost 15% of the population in Pakistan. The thyroid gland cells alone can absorb iodine from many kinds of food and supplements to produce thyroid hormones T3 and T4. The normal thyroid gland produces about 80% of T4 and 20% of T3. These hormones travel through the bloodstream in our body and control metabolism (food burning and waste elimination) growth and development. Hormones also control the way we respond to our surroundings.
They help provide the proper amount of energy and nutrition, which the body needs for function. Thus thyroid gland influences almost all the processes that are essential for maintaining harmony of various body functions.
The most common thyroid problem is abnormal production of thyroid hormones. So excess of thyroid hormones or their less production has grave implications for the body.
The condition when thyroid gland produces too much hormones is known as hyperthyroidism or overactive thyroid disease. Its signs in patients appear in the shape of fast heart rate, muscle weakness, trembling hands, weight loss, hair loss, staring gaze, warm moist skin and a lump in the neck (Goitre).
Hypothyroidism is the condition in which thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones required for optimal functioning of the body.
This may cause sweating, anxiety, excitability, high blood pressure insomnia, weight loss, coldness, aching limbs and muscles, dizziness, constipation, severe fatigue and many other symptoms. Hypothyroidism is the most common form of thyroid problems.
In conventional medicine, the only treatment available for hypothyroidism is the Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). It only compensates the insufficiency for the hormone that the thyroid gland is unable to produce.
The thyroid gland becomes more sluggish, because its work is being done from outside. It eventually stops producing hormones and the patient becomes dependent on HRT for the rest of his life.
Scientific studies have pointed out HRT side effects particularly faced by women such as irregular menstrual cycles, infertility and diseases like ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids etc. These studies have also warned about the relation between HRT and cancer.
A review of clinical trials says, 47 women out of 1000, who used HRT for up to 5 years, develop breast cancer and 51 women out of 1000, who used HRT for 10 years, got breast cancer. This ratio rises as the period of HRT use increases.
BBC News reported on January 7, 2005 that the rate of heart disease was 30% higher in women who used HRT.
The American Cancer Society reported in 2002 that the stroke (brain haemorrhage) rates were 41% higher and blood clot rates were more than doubled in those who got HRT.
We human beings are extremely different from chauffeur driven cars. Our organs cannot be fixed like the engine parts. We have feelings, sensations, happiness, sorrow, vision and so on. Our body is not just the combination of organs.
Unless our health problems are not treated with the holistic approach, it is impossible to cope with the health issue. You must have observed that during the treatment of an organ the other organ may start showing some malfunction. For example during the treatment of liver one’s kidney is affected. Similar is the case with other organs. So number of patients is increasing day by day due to this mechanical approach.
Our body has an endocrine system — a complex group of glands that make hormones. Impaired production of thyroid hormones like most of the other endocrinological (hormonal) disorders cannot be viewed in isolation. It must be viewed as a derangement in the harmony of the entire hormonal balance of the person.
Homeopathy has a marvellous record in curing patients with chronic and acute diseases. Homeopathic remedies actually stimulate the thyroid gland to produce normal amounts of hormones to cure the thyroid disorders permanently. These remedies are prepared from a wide range of natural products and prescribed in extremely minute doses without any side effects.
I myself have successfully treated several such patients with the grace of God. I have maintained a complete record of these patients. After treatment these patients are passing their lives without taking any kind of medicine.

Courtesy :Dr Asghar Ali Shah 
Homeopathic Physician

Source:International The News

Sleep apnea linked to memory decline, dementia

 Older women who have sleep apnea may be more likely to develop memory problems and dementia, according to a new study.It's not clear yet whether treating the sleep apnea can help prevent that memory decline -- but researchers say future studies should address that question."It makes sense that good sleep is going to be protective to the brain," said Dr. Robert Thomas, who studies sleep at Harvard Medical School in Boston and was not involved in the new study.But, he added, clear answers have been lacking on the link between problem sleeping and memory. "We simply don't have data to answer many of the simple questions people may have in the sleep clinic," he told Reuters Health.To try to shrink that gap, Dr. Kristine Yaffe of the University of California, San Francisco and colleagues gave an overnight sleep apnea test to 298 women without dementia, who were an average of 82 years old. The test looks for changes in breathing and oxygen flow during the night, as well as for the short, frequent breaks in sleep that are signs of sleep apnea.Just over a third of the women had sleep apnea -- which is especially common in older, overweight people.About five years later, the researchers brought those same women in for a set of thinking and memory tests, and doctors evaluated any of the women who showed signs of memory decline.In total, a little over a third (36 percent) of the women were diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment or dementia.Among women who had shown signs of sleep apnea on their overnight tests five years earlier, 45 percent had developed thinking and memory problems, compared to 31 percent of women who didn't have sleep problems.When Yaffe and her colleagues took factors such as race, weight, and other diseases and medications into consideration, women with sleep apnea were almost twice as likely to test positive for cognitive impairment or dementia, according to findings published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.Sleep apnea has also been linked to a host of other health problems, including high blood pressure and cholesterol. Researchers pointed to lower blood flow to the brain during sleep as a possible culprit in cognitive problems down the line.Indeed, when the authors looked at the specific factors that went into a diagnosis of sleep apnea, they found that the lack of steady oxygen overnight was related to thinking and memory problems, not how much total sleep women got or how many times they woke up during the night.Thomas said that not everyone with sleep apnea has symptoms, which include fatigue and snoring, and that people who are overweight or have heart and blood pressure diseases should also consider getting tested.But researchers still don't know to what extent treatment -- which involves wearing a mask that delivers pressurized air from a "CPAP" machine to ease breathing at night -- can prevent the complications of sleep apnea, including cognitive decline."The single biggest hole in sleep apnea (research) is: what are the outcomes of treatment?" Thomas said.Yaffe agreed. "That's obviously a next step and important question," she told Reuters Health.Seva Polotsky, a sleep apnea researcher from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, said it's important nonetheless that people with sleep apnea follow whatever treatment regimen their doctor recommends. Still, "there's only one cure for apnea so far we've found, and this is weight loss," he told Reuters Health.People with sleep apnea should also try to be tested occasionally for signs of cognitive decline, Yaffe concluded.
Source:Reuters Health

Long work hours linked to alcohol abuse: study

Long working hours can more than triple the risk of alcohol abuse and addiction, New Zealand research has found.An Otago University study of more than 1,000 people aged 25-30 found a statistically significant link between the amount of hours worked and alcohol abuse."Individuals working 50 or more hours per week had rates of alcohol-related problems that were 1.8 to 3.3 times higher than those for individuals who were not employed," study leader Sheree Gibb said.The research, to be published in the British peer-reviewed journal "Addiction", found the figures were similar for males and females.Gibb said increased alcohol abuse among those who worked long hours might be an attempt to reduce stress associated with their jobs.She also suggested that social contact with workmates might make people more likely to abuse alcohol."Individuals who work longer hours may have more social contact with co-workers, and workplaces where long hours are commonplace may experience a more sociable atmosphere that involves a greater level of alcohol use," she said.Gibb said the study showed there was a need for anti-alcohol abuse programs targeting people who worked long hours.

Pregnant Women Should Minimize Usage of Electrical Devices

Pregnant women using daily household electrical items could be at increased risk of their children developing asthma.
A study led by Dr. De-Kun Li, a reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist at the Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California USA, claims that children of  pregnant women who have been exposed to magnetic energy emnating from electrical items such as hair dryers, microwaves and vacuum cleaners have a greater risk of developing asthma.
The study has been  published in the online Journal - Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.  It is the first to  link maternal exposure to magnetic energy and asthma in children.
Previous Studies - There have been earlier studies that have linked exposure to magnetic energy (generated by common sources such as power lines and electrical appliances) to miscarriage, poor semen quality, immune disorders and cancer.
Various other studies pointed fingers at microwaves ovens, hair dryers and vacuum cleaners. However, these studies lacked consistency, as they required to be carried out over a long period of time.
Study Method: 
For the recent  prospective study, De-Kun Li and his group of researchers  examined the daily magnetic field exposure of 801 pregnant women who resided in Northern California.
The scientists then analyzed the medical records (for 13 years) of the children born to these women, to check for asthma.
During their pregnancy the  subjects wore on their person a small monitor for 24 hours to record their magnetic field exposure from daily household items such as  microwaves, fans, coffee grinders, hair dryers, vacuum cleaners, and fluorescent light bulbs, transformer stations and power lines.
Observation :
"In this study we observed a dose-response relationship between mother's MF (Magnetic Field) level in pregnancy and the asthma risk in her offspring.In other words, a higher maternal MF exposure during pregnancy led to a higher risk in offspring." Dr De-Kun Li  said.
According to Li, for the average population, children of women whose level of exposure was in the range of the bottom 10 percent would have approx. 13.6 percent absolute risk of developing asthma while women whose exposure was in the highest range carry a 33 percent risk of producing children who developed asthma during the 13-year study period.
Although Li said it is not very clear about the connection between exposure to power lines and asthma, he mentioned that prior studies by his team established a link between high exposure to electromagnetic fields and risk of miscarriages.
He also said that some animal studies indicated that electromagnetic field exposure can affect immune response, which could in turn predispose a person to asthma.
Recommendations :
Dr Li suggested that daily, wide- spread exposure  to magnetic fields (such as through home appliances) caused  a  serious public health concern.
He recommended that pregnant women minimize their exposure to known magnetic field sources . 

Low Vitamin D Levels Could Cause Liver Disease

 We are all aware that low levels of vitamin D can cause weak bones. A recent study indicates that it could be associated with liver disease as well!
Researchers claim that low vitamin D could be one of the reasons behind the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).  NAFLD occurs due to accumulation of triglycerides in the liver cells
Outpatients of suspected metabolic syndrome with normal liver enzymes, no excessive alcohol intake, negative for hepatitis B and hepatitis C, no cirrhosis or chronic liver disease were subjected to liver ultrasound to estimate the presence and degree of fatty liver disease.  25(OH) vitamin D levels were measured to estimate any deficiency of vitamin D. 
The researchers found that patients with NAFLD had low levels of 25(OH) vitamin D.  They also found that the lower 25(OH) vitamin D levels, the worse is the degree of fatty liver disease.  This association was independent of other possible influencing factors like age, sex, triglycerides, HDL and fasting blood glucose levels.
Vitamin D suppresses fibroblast (cell from which connective tissue develops) proliferation and collagen production, thus acting as an immune-modulator.  It also appears to have a beneficial effect in patients with hepatitis C on treatment with interferon.
Vitamin D normally plays a role in the metabolism of free fatty acids.  Thus, the researchers suggest that in people with low vitamin D levels, the excess free fatty acids flow in the blood stream.  These deposit in the liver, resulting in NAFLD.  Vitamin D’s anti-inflammatory properties and reduction in insulin resistance could also play an important role.
Further studies are warranted to evaluate whether administration of vitamin D in patients with NAFLD could help to treat it, thus firmly establishing the association between fatty liver disease and vitamin D.
Barchetta I et al Strong association between non alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and low 25(OH) vitamin D levels in an adult population with normal serum liver enzymes; BMC Medicine 2011; 9:85.

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