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Friday, 19 August 2011

India, Australia to begin joint research in vaccines, medical diagnostics, stem cells

Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science & Research, Australian government, under the Indo-Australian Biotechnology Fund (IABF),will soon start joint research in the priority of areas of vaccines & medical diagnostics, stem cells, transgenic crops and marker assisted breeding and bioenergy.
Under this Round Six of the IABF, to be implemented by Indian scientists in collaboration with the Australian counterparts, both the countries will also begin workshops in the area of biomedical devices and implants; stem cells; transgenic crops and marker-assisted breeding; nutraceuticals and functional foods; bioremediation; bioenergy and biofuels; and vaccines/medical diagnostics.
The DBT has called for proposals for this project from the eligible scientists who could be scientists/faculty members working in regular capacity in universities, national research laboratories/institutes, not-for-profit organization and private R&D laboratory.
The Indo-Australian Biotechnology Fund (IABF) is a platform for bilateral collaboration in science jointly managed and funded by the governments of India and Australia. Since its establishment in 2006, the IABF has supported collaborative, leading-edge research between scientists in Australia and India across a range of agreed priority areas. It has also helped to build linkages between premier research and educational institutions in both countries.
The objectives of the IABF are to increase the uptake of leading edge science and technology by supporting collaboration between Indian and Australian researchers in strategically focussed, leading edge, scientific research and technology projects and strengthening strategic alliances between Indian and Australian researchers; and to facilitate India’s and Australia’s access to the global science and technology system.

Dispur thrust for AYUSH

The Assam government has given a special thrust to popularise alternative medicine and treatment and pushed for prescribing AYUSH (ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy, unani, siddha and homoeopathy) medicines in government hospitals.
In a directive to all the district joint directors of health services recently, the mission director of the state unit of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), J.B. Ekka, asked them to ensure that AYUSH medicines were prescribed by doctors.
Allopathic and AYUSH drugs supplied under the mission are supplied free of cost to patients in government hospitals, dispensaries and public health centres.
The letter said mainstreaming of AYUSH was one of the main components of the rural health mission.
The national mission had appointed 267 ayurvedic and 50 homoeopathic doctors recently, apart from the doctors recruited by the state government, to provide medical services under AYUSH.
While reviewing the utilisation of AYUSH drugs across the state, it was found that the patients were not being prescribed such medicines.
The directive said AYUSH doctors from different parts of the state had earlier complained that they had not been able to practice what they had studied because of the non-availability of medicines where they were posted.
However, since 2009-2010, AYUSH medicines and required medical kits were supplied to hospitals, dispensaries and PHCs where the doctors were posted.
The mission director asked the joint directors of health services in the districts to take up the matter with the doctors. The letter said if AYUSH drugs were not prescribed, the mission might stop supplying the medicines in future.
Following the NRHM directive, the state programme officer for AYUSH, who is also the deputy director of health services, H.H. Islam, last month had asked the districts to furnish details of utilisation and current stock position of ayurvedic and homoeopathic drugs.
Islam also asked for information on the requirement of the drugs.
Joint director health services (Jorhat), Mintu Gogoi, said following the directive, he had reviewed the matter with the doctors posted in the hospitals, dispensaries and PHCs.
Gogoi said there was sufficient stock of AYUSH medicines in the district.
The NRHM move comes after the state government issued a notification regarding the setting up of a separate directorate for AYUSH under the health department earlier this year.
The directorate was being set up to accord special attention to medical education, planning, training and research for the branches of medicine falling under AYUSH.
All the three government homoeopathy colleges and hospitals and the only government ayurveda college in the state will come under the administrative control of the new directorate. The homeopathy colleges and hospitals are in Jorhat, Nagaon and Guwahati, while the ayurvedic one is in Guwahati.
There will be a separate wing of AYUSH in all the civil hospitals of the districts and subdivisions, upto the sub-centre level.
The directorate will promote indigenous, traditional and community medicine research in the state and co-ordinate with various councils of alternative medicines under the AYUSH sector.

Breakfast Experimentation

What's good for breakfast? Do you know what really works with your body?Sometimes people just eat and drink what other people generally do because they want to fit in with them. But is that really the right thing to do for your body?
 You want to find the breakfast that will give your body the most efficiency throughout the morning. You don't want to crash mid-morning.
 Let's try a breakfast experiment. Each day this week, try a new breakfast. One morning have a carb breakfast, next morning try eggs, the next morning try oatmeal, and the next morning try coffee and a muffin. After each breakfast, stay attuned to your body and how it feels.
 Everyone's body functions differently. We all have our own unique chemistry. For one person, eating a bagel and cream cheese is a great breakfast, whereas another person may find that cereal is best. Another person may find that eating some sort of meat energizes them too.
 So, what works for you?
 For me, my body's favorite breakfast is granola cereal with almond milk. It holds me all morning and it gives me a constant energy without crashing.
 The breakfast may change periodically because we are ever-changing beings. Three months later, there may be something else that may work better.
 It's important to always stay attuned to your body. Keep in touch with your feelings and your energy.

Baby’s Long-Term Health Determined Within 1000 Days of Conception

According to lead researcher Professor David Barker, almost all aspects of a person’s health can be linked to when the baby is still in the womb. The researchers identified a number of critical stages in a child’s development and said that if the conditions were not perfect, then it would affect the long term health of the child. 
A baby’s long term health is decided in the first 1000 days of its conception, including the nine months spent in womb, according to a new study conducted by researchers at Southampton University.

For example, a baby had a higher risk of developing heart problems in the future if the birth weight is lighter. The researcher said that a baby weighing 5lb 7oz at birth was twice as likely of dying from a heart problem compared to a baby weighing 9lb 7oz.
Professor Barker said that it was very important for women to maintain their health before and after conceiving. “It is about building a body that the baby can live off. The baby lives off the mother’s body, not what she snacks on during pregnancy. What we are seeing is a window of opportunity where we can make better people”, he said.


Thursday, 18 August 2011

Ten Signs You're Depressed But Don't Know It

Depression is no fashionable affliction. In it is real, insidious, and when in full bloom, debilitating. Yet far too many people are oblivious to their own deep sadness or simply refuse to recognize it. Emotional vulnerability? Verboten--especially among the achiever set. They're more likely to ask for help than Tea Party members are to ask for a tax hike.Depression affects so many people that it is often called the common cold of mental illness. The Centers For Disease Control estimates that 19 million Americans suffer from it. At some point in their lives, 10% to 25% of women and 5% to 12% of men will become clinically depressed. The sputtering economy and tenuousness of the job market doesn't help: The Consumer Confidence Index just plunged to its lowest level since 1980.Ignorance and denial are not cures for depression. They are guarantees that when you finally own up to your sadness, it will kick you a hell of a lot harder than when you started suppressing it.
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Here are 10 ways to detect depression and let the healing begin.
1. You are over-confident and fearless.
Many people--and especially high achievers--cope with depression by acting in ways opposite to how they feel. (Shrinks call this "escapism.") Engaging in daredevil pursuits, be it  mounting a takeover of a rival company or quitting your job to open a restaurant, makes you feel invincible, when you're really in the dumps. There is a method to this madness: The major cause of depressions--those not born of biochemical imbalances, of which there are plenty--is feeling out of control or helpless. Achievers loathe that feeling and fight like hell to deny it through action. But that, ultimately, won't work.
2. You’ve gone from one drink with dinner to three before appetizers.
“Alcohol is the anesthesia by which we endure the operation of life.” Bernard Shaw's observation is as true now as it was then. Drinking alcohol is the most common tactic people take to self-medicate emotional pain. The problem with this strategy is that when you finally recognize the emotional pain driving you to drink, you’ll have two disorders to contend with rather than one.
3. You’re obsessed with achievement in bed.
Have a limp libido? Going on a Hugh-Hefner-like tear may not lift your spirits.  If you find you've traded serial monogamy for seducing any partner that will have you, there is a good chance you're trying to keep depression at bay.
4. Conflicts quickly escalate into fights.
One common but exceedingly dumb way to dull the feeling of helplessness brought on by depression is to show people you’re nobody’s patsy. Get cut off on the highway? Run the bastard off the road. Have an idea shot down at a brainstorming session? Take the opinionated punk outside and pummel him. If you're lucky, maybe you'll have enough bruises to distract you from your emotional pain.
5. You feel nothing.
Rather than be sad, many people would choose to forgo feeling altogether. But some people end up getting stuck in neutral--dooming them to invite the same pain again and again. Worse, this zombie-like approach creates anxiety in those around you and alienates those who care for you.
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6. You can't stop socializing.
Immersing yourself in group activities sounds healthy--and for many people it is. However, if the sole purpose is to keep you from wrestling with your thoughts and feelings, having a brimming social calendar is not the answer (and you probably won't be all that fun a companion anyway). Like the toxic mortgage securities still stinking up bank balance sheets, you have to flush out the dreck before you can start investing anew.
7. You can't concentrate.
Everyone suffers from scattered thoughts now and again. Those who are depressed but who possess too much control to act out recklessly may do so in fantasy. But how to distinguish a healthy daydream from potentially dangerous ones? Healthy dreams involve changes in your life that you can realize in a handful of steps. Unhealthy ones take you from middle-class to movie-stardom overnight.
8. You have trouble accepting praise or goodwill.
Martin Seligman, the psychologist who revolutionized our thinking about depression, studied the behavior of dogs that were given electric shocks. Eventually, they would lay helplessly in their cages, not responding to tugs on their leashes that would have moved them to safety from the shocks. The human corollary: If you find yourself ignoring favorable gestures or simple interpersonal warmth, chances are you’re not a malcontent. You're depressed.
9. You work harder, not smarter.
When people are depressed, they have trouble seeing novel solutions to their problems. Instead, they do more of the same. The classic example is trying to exercise your way to happiness: If you already log a few hours a week at the gym, spending another 30 more minutes every day may briefly lift your spirits. But that relief is ephemeral. When it dissipates, get off the treadmill and get to the root of what's bothering you.
10. You laugh and cry at times that don't call for it.
In psychiatry, the concept "inappropriate affect" refers to behavior that is emotionally out of sync with the stimulus that prompted it. People who are depressed but do not know it exhibit a unique variant of this problem: They over-react to insignificant sadness, and ignore major league bad news.This flavor of depression is called alexithymia. I first came across it when one of my clients told me of taking his children to the movies: “I cried in the theater when a deer lost its mother,” he said, “but when my partner handed me the legal papers demanding a dissolution of our business, I threw them in my ‘In Box’ and proceeded to order lunch.”Abraham Maslow, one of America’s most influential psychologists, observed: "What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself." Fess up to how you feel so you can fight on.You’ll be amazed at how relieved you’ll feel when you do.

Have You Heard of Hair Brushing Syndrome?

Megan was diagnosed with the condition just three years ago after she turned blue and collapsed while her mother combed her hair.   
Most of us may be learning about this syndrome for the first time through the story of a teenager who cannot comb her hair as the very activity can actually kill her.
Brushing hair can spell doom for 13-year-old Megan Stewart, due to a very rare medical condition called hair brushing syndrome. 
Any contact with static electricity is enough for Megan’s brain to completely shut down. 
Clearly, this means she has to completely avoid contact with fabrics like polyester or any shiny material as this could turn life threatening for this teenager. 



Varsity pulls allopathy out of Indian medicine

The allopathy versus traditional medicine crossfire in Tamil Nadu has intensified, with the MGR Medical University pulling out the allopathy content from the traditional medicine syllabus and the Central Council for Indian Medicine(CCIM) threatening to withdraw recognition for such courses.
Caught in melee are 1,200-odd students of siddha, unani, ayurveda and homeopathy courses under the MGR university . The university had deleted allopathy portions from the undergraduate syllabus of traditional medicine courses this year as it wanted to curb traditional medicine practitioners from prescribing allopathic drugs.
CCIM, which prescribes the curriculum and syllabus for courses, is not too pleased. "If the university changes the syllabus , it would be a clear violation of the provisions of the Indian Medicine Central Council Act 1970," CCIM secretary P R Sharma said.
CCIM has demanded that the university reintroduce the removed syllabus within 30 days failing which it will withdraw recognition and the state council will be asked not to register students passing out of the university . University officials confirmed the revision in syllabus.
University vice-chancellor Dr Mayil Vahanan Natarajan said the decision to prune the syllabus was taken on the basis of inputs from six senior allopathic doctors. "We have reduced syllabus for MBBS by 20% because we found that students face an overload of information . In Indian medicine stream, we cut down on the syllabus because we thought there were too many irrelevant things," he said.
Dr Natarajan said the varsity is planning to change the nomenclature of the degrees it awarded to Indian medicine graduates.
Now, an undergraduate in Ayurveda will no more be Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (BAMS) but only Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine (BAM). "Why should they be called surgeons when they don't do any surgery?," he said.
Tamil Nadu State Medical Council president Dr M Prakasam welcomed the university decision. "I am glad the purity of Indian medicine is restored . Allowing non-allopathic doctors to prescribe modern medicines and conduct surgery amounts to state-sponsored quackery," he said.


College Students Don't Eat Enough Fruits and Veggies: Study

A new study found college students are not eating enough fruits and vegetables. The study shows students aren't even eating one serving per day, far from the recommended five daily servings.
The study by Oregon State University researchers surveyed the eating habits of 582 college students, a majority of which were first-year students. The study, now online in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, compares male and female students, but found that both were not getting the proper amount of fruits and vegetables. Male students had about five servings a week, slightly higher than female students who self-reported eating about four servings of fruits and vegetables. 

Female students had lower fiber intake, while males tended to consume more fat in their diet. Overall, the females had better eating habits, including skipping fewer meals, eating in the college dining halls more frequently, and reading food labels. 
"We found that students skipped meals fairly frequently, which could account for some of the lack of fruits and veggies," said Brad Cardinal, a professor of exercise and sport science at Oregon State University and one of the study's authors. 
"Still, even accounting for fewer meals consumed, the students were on average not always eating even one serving of fruits or vegetables per day, far below the USDA guidelines." 
Both males and females were consuming more than 30 percent of their calories from fat, which exceeds the American Dietetic Association's recommendation of no more than 30 percent a week.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

FICCI & CII in discussion with Centre to frame guidelines for minimum regulation in diagnostic industry

Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) are in discussion with the Planning Commission to frame regulation for the diagnostic industry.
The regulation will help the Indian diagnostic industry to forge a path for the private labs to work with the public sector and help improve the standards of diagnostics. Talks are on with the government and there are some sectors of the government that are keen to put some regulation in place, but nothing has really moved forward yet. The government should make accreditation mandatory and not optional. We urgently need to have a body that registers and governs all laboratories, Ameera Shah, MD & CEO of Metropolis Healthcare Ltd & co-chairman for FICCI Healthcare Committee told Pharmabiz.
The Indian diagnostic industry is a fragmented industry with hundreds of thousands of labs and very little consolidation. The government has put no regulation in place that mandates even a minimum standard for laboratories, she added.
As of now, the changes are still on the discussion board. It will take time to actually to implement them. Meanwhile, the Government has passed The Clinical Establishment Act which is unfortunately, an optional act and only five states have opted to accept it. So, we are hoping that all the states will accept at least the mandate of minimum requirement of registering laboratories and putting certain standards, stated Shah.
The business model of international tests being off loaded to India under the umbrella to contract diagnostics is on the upswing. Samples from the Middle East and Sri Lanka are sent to India because many advanced tests are not available in these countries. There is economies-of-scale in terms of cost and time too. But outsourcing of tests from western countries to India is still distant, going by the lack of a formal regulation in the field, she pointed out.
The diagnostic and pharmaceutical industry in India interface in the area of conducting clinical trials which cover from phase I studies through Post Marketing Surveillance projects. Many international clinical research organizations have established offices in India directly or through affiliates to offer cost-effective solutions to their sponsors. The major central labs have invested in high-end technologies and instruments to offer esoteric testing, biomarkers, genomic testing, molecular diagnostics and DNA extraction techniques. The Central Laboratories actively contribute in drug development process by bringing these technologies at their doorstep and thus cutting back time for drug development. This is where Metropolis has expanded operations globally, either through direct presence or through alliance with global central laboratories, she stated.
The pharmaceutical industry in the country has given a boost to clinical studies done in India, as well as internationally. India is a preferred destination for clinical research because of diverse patient pool availability and sponsors would save around 30 per cent cost if they conduct studies in India. “But when it comes to Central Laboratory sponsors cannot expect a 30 percent cost saving. This is because global testing standards, internationally-accepted automated testing instruments do not come at 30 per cent reduced cost. The fixed cost of running and managing instruments are globally same. However, best possible efforts are made to keep pricing at optimum level with no compromise in quality,” pointed out Shah.

Amoeba blamed for swimming death in Florida

Courtney Nash died Saturday, 10 days after she, her brother and four friends went swimming August 3 in the St. Johns River on Florida's east coast, her uncle, Thomas Uzel, said at a news conference.

"They were having fun just like any other kid would out in the water," he said.
The amoeba, officially known as Naegleria fowleri, is a single-cell, microscopic organism found in such freshwater bodies as lakes, rivers, hot springs and, occasionally, in neglected, unchlorinated swimming pools.
The amoeba typically enters a swimmer's nose and invades the brain causing an almost always fatal infection, according to Jonathan Yoder, an epidemiologist at the CDC in Atlanta.
Out of 118 people reported to have had the amoeba infection since 1962, only one survived, Yoder said. Most reported cases have been in the southern states of Florida and Texas, he said.
Yoder said the average age of the amoeba victims is 12. He said experts believe young people are more susceptible because they are more likely to jump into the water, dive to the bottom and otherwise play underwater in ways that force water, and potentially amoebas, up their noses.
Researchers report that the amoebas proliferate when the water temperature reaches 80 degrees Fahrenheit, but they also survive at cooler temperatures.
Anti-fungal drugs are effective against the amoeba in the laboratory, but the infection in humans typically cannot be diagnosed quickly enough to save the patient.
A dangerous amoeba that thrives in warm, freshwater bodies in the heat of summer caused the recent death of a 16-year-old Central Florida girl, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control confirmed on Monday.


Fish Oil Supplements Improve Cognitive Functioning

Fish oil supplements improve cognitive functioning, confirm researchers at the Rhode Island Hospital’s Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders Center. The user’s brain structure also undergoes some striking changes.
The results were reported at the recent International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease, in Paris, France. The study was led by Lori Daiello, PharmD, a research scientist at the Rhode Island Hospital Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders Center. Data for the analyses was obtained from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI), a large multi-center, NIH-funded study that followed older adults with normal cognition, mild cognitive impairment , and Alzheimer’s Disease for over three years with periodic memory testing and brain MRIs. 
The study included 819 individuals, 117 of whom reported regular use of fish oil supplements before entry and during study follow-up. The researchers compared cognitive functioning and brain atrophy for patients who reported routinely using these supplements to those who were not using fish oil supplements.
Daiello reports that compared to non-users, use of fish oil supplements was associated with better cognitive functioning during the study. However, this association was significant only in those individuals who had a normal baseline cognitive function and in individuals who tested negative for a genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s Disease known as APOE4. This is consistent with previous research.
The unique finding, however, is that there was a clear association between fish oil supplements and brain volume. Consistent with the cognitive outcomes, these observations were significant only for those who were APOE4 negative.


Poor Lifestyle Causes Brain Shrinkage, Mental Decline

People who have lifestyle issues may be at risk for brain shrinkage and mental decline. 
 According to a recent report based on the Framingham Heart study that has been going on since 1948 on the residents of Masachusetts town, factors such as diabetes, smoking, hypertension and obesity increased the risk for brain shrinkage and dementia.
 Method - The study, which was published in the journal ‘Neurology’ was carried out on 1,352 people who were on an average about 54 years old. Their risk factors (overweight, high cholesterol levels, smoking, diabetes and high BP) were assessed during middle age. 
When the subjects were between 61 and 67 years of age their brains were scanned using and MRI. Cognitive skill study was also carried out on them.
Observation - Middle aged diabetics, smokers and over-weight people lost brain volume or experienced shrinkage at a faster pace in comparison to normal people.
Diabetics experienced shrinkage of the hippocampal region of the brain which is related to memory, while smokers and obese individuals experienced whole brain shrinkage.
It was observed that those with high BP developed change in the “white matter” of the brain, or blood vessel damage within the brain.It was also observed that their decision making ability and planning skills depleted at a faster rate.
Smokers also experienced white matter changes at a faster rate than other people.
“Our findings provide evidence that identifying these risk factors early in people of middle age could be useful in screening people for dementia and encouraging people to make changes to their lifestyle before it’s too late,” says Charles DeCarli, MD, of the University of California-Davis in Sacramento. The study hopes to unravel the mechanisms involved in the development of dementia.
Recommendations - Modifying the risk factors by bringing about life style changes is likely to reduce the chances developing dementia as one gets older.
Make sure you walk for at least 30 minutes each day, five days a week.
Monitor what goes into your mouth. Keep those fries away.
Opt for a low-fat, high protein diet and don’t forget your daily fiber!
Keep stress at bay by chosing some remedial measures such as mediation, long drives or reading.
Engage in mind-stimulating games such as scrabble.
Monitor your health status by going for regular health check ups and yearly screenings.
All these measures if diligently followed will ensure that your memory is intact for a long, long time and that you live a long and healthy life !


Fat Around Heart Boosts Coronary Disease

Fat around heart promotes atherosclerosis, reveals study published in the journal Radiology. 
New results from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) show that pericardial fat is more strongly related to coronary artery plaque than either body mass index (BMI) or waist circumference.
When plaque forms in the arteries, it deposits in an irregular manner, causing thickening of the artery wall on one side, but not the other. The ratio of the thick side to the thin side is referred to as plaque eccentricity and is a strong indicator of heart disease. 
According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. In 2010, an estimated 785,000 Americans had a new heart attack, and about 470,000 had a recurrent attack. Every 60 seconds, one person in the U.S. dies from a heart attack. 
While previous studies have looked at the relationship of pericardial fat to atherosclerosis in patients with severe coronary disease, this is the first study to determine the association of pericardial fat on coronary artery plaque burden in asymptomatic individuals. 
"The individuals in this study had no symptoms and were otherwise healthy," said senior author David A. Bluemke, M.D., Ph.D., director of Radiology and Imaging Sciences at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Care. "They did not have significant coronary artery narrowing. Yet, despite this, they had coronary plaque that could be detected by MRI."


Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Contrary to earlier findings, excess body fat in elderly decreases life expectancy

While some past studies have shown that persons carrying a few extra pounds in their 70s live longer than their thinner counterparts, a new study that measured subjects' weight at multiple points over a longer period of time reveals the opposite.
Research from Adventist Health Studies recently published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Societyshowed that men over 75 with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 22.3 had a 3.7-year shorter life expectancy, and women over 75 with a BMI greater than 27.4 had a 2.1-year shorter life expectancy. Generally, a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered normal weight, and a BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight. A BMI of 30 or more is considered obese.
Previous work in this area by others found a protective association for a high body weight among the elderly. Pramil N. Singh, DrPH, lead author of the paper and an associate professor in the School of Public Health at Loma Linda University, says the data from many past studies is problematic because only a single baseline measure of weight was taken, which does not account for weight changes or how weight changes affect life expectancy. Additionally, most past studies had mortality surveillance of fewer than 19 years, which analyses have shown to be an inadequate amount of time to study risks associated with weight.
"We had a unique opportunity to do 29 years of follow-up with a cohort that was also followed for mortality outcomes," Dr. Singh said. "Across this long period of time, we had multiple measures of body weight, which provided a more accurate assessment."
The study looked at 6,030 adults who never smoked and who were free of major chronic diseases at enrollment. It then examined only those adults who maintained a stable weight. This was done in an effort to exclude individuals who, for example, were in the normal weight category because they experienced significant weight loss due to a disease. Therefore their death would not have been related to their normal weight, but rather to the disease that caused them to reach normal weight.
"When you control for confounding by disease-related weight loss, overweight and obesity remain a risk for persons over the age of 75," Dr. Singh said. "This suggests that elderly individuals of normal weight should continue to maintain their weight."
Researchers noted a difference between genders in that men had a higher sensitivity to body fat than women. Men started to experience a greater risk of mortality at a BMI of 22.3, while this risk did not appear for women until a BMI of 27.4. One possible reason for the difference between genders, Dr. Singh said, is that body fat is the primary source of estrogen in post-menopausal females, and a minimum level of estrogen in those years can be protective against heart disease and hip fractures.
"This is not to say that extra weight is good for women over 75," Dr. Singh said, "but rather that the negative effects of extra weight in women over 75 appear at a higher weight than in males."
The study population itself is unique in that all were Seventh-day Adventists, who, because of church recommendations, are lifelong non-smokers, consume little if any alcohol, are more physically active, and consume less meat than the general population. This means those who maintained a lower BMI did so intentionally with healthy lifestyle choices rather than as a result of smoking for weight control or as a result of poverty-related factors. Dr. Singh said further studies are needed to understand the positive and negative effects of lifestyle patterns that help individuals maintain low body weight over long periods of time.

Restorative Functions of Sleep Disrupted With Alcohol

Alcohol is known to increase slow-wave sleep during the first half of sleep, but then become disruptive.A new study of the relationship between sleep and heart rate variability (HRV) during sleep has found that alcohol interferes with the restorative functions of sleep. Large amounts of alcohol are known to shorten sleep latency, increase slow-wave sleep, and suppress rapid eye movement (REM) during the first half of sleep. During the second half of sleep, REM increases and sleep becomes shallower. A study of the acute effects of alcohol on the relationship between sleep and heart rate variability (HRV) during sleep has found that alcohol interferes with the restorative functions of sleep.Results will be published in the November 2011 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View. Alcohol affects overall sleep architecture," said Yohei Sagawa, a medical doctor in the department of neuropsychiatry at the Akita University School of Medicine. "Normally, during physiologic nocturnal sleep in humans, the parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for 'rest-and-digest' activities, is dominant over the sympathetic nervous system, responsible for stimulating activities. We wanted to investigate how alcohol may change this complementary relationship.""I believe that the approach used in this study is unique," added Seiji Nishino, director of the Sleep & Circadian Neurobiology Laboratory
 at Stanford University School of Medicine. "Although there are several studies monitoring HRV during sleep, as far as I know there is no report describing the effects of alcohol on autonomic nervous system during sleep using this parameter."

Chinese Herb may Help Fight H1N1 Infection

Researchers in China suggest that there could be a herbal remedy for H1N1 virus after they compared popular prescription medicine, Tamiflu to a common herbal remedy known as maxingshigan-yinqiaosan.
Researchers at Beijing’s Chao-Yang Hospital compared the effectiveness of maxingshigan-yinqiaosan with Oseltamivir, which is sold under the brand name Tamiflu. Over 410 people, between 15 to 59 years of age, infected with H1N1 virus took part in the study.
The researchers divided the participants into four groups, the first group was given a 75mg dose of oseltamivir twice a day, the second group underwent the maxingshigan-yinqiaosan therapy, and the third group was given both oseltamivir and the herbal remedy while the fourth group acted as a control group without any intervention.
All three combinations resulted in significant reductions in the estimated median time to fever resolution as compared to the control group. The time to fever resolution was reduced by 19% with oseltamivir plus maxingshigan–yinqiaosan compared with oseltamivir alone. The study concluded that based on these findings, maxingshigan–yinqiaosan may be used as an alternative treatment of H1N1 influenza virus infection.
The study details appear in the latest issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.


Biggest Same-Sex Mass Wedding in Taiwan

About 60 lesbian couples will tie the knot in Taiwan's biggest same-sex mass wedding in the hope that the island will soon follow New York to legalise gay marriage, an organiser said Tuesday.
Around 1,000 people have purchased tickets for the private event, which will take place at an overnight party in Taipei later this month, including visitors from China, Thailand and the US, said organiser AJ Wang.
 Biggest Same-Sex Mass Wedding in Taiwan"We are celebrating the recent legalisation of gay marriage in New York and we hope that Taiwan will make the same move in the near future," she said.
"We also want the public to see that so many gay couples are committed to each other and they deserve to be recognised and treated fairly."
New York became the sixth and most populous US state to approve gay marriage in late June, with 659 same-sex couples tying the knot on the first day the law took effect.
Even though gay marriage is not legal in Taiwan, the organisers do not expect a government crackdown.
Taiwan is becoming more open-minded towards its homosexual population, and the island's gay rights groups last year said they had hosted Asia's biggest gay pride parade, with a turnout of 30,000.
The cabinet in 2003 drafted a controversial bill to legalise same-sex marriages and allow homosexual couples to adopt children, the first in Asia to promise to do so, but it has not yet been reviewed by parliament.
President Ma Ying-jeou has said that he respected same-sex unions but public consensus was needed to be reached before the government can move ahead with the legislation.


Insomnia facts and its homeopathic cure

Insomnia is a common condition in which one has trouble falling or staying asleep. 
This condition can range from mild to severe, depending on how often it occurs and for how long.-
 Statistics * Women are up to twice as likely to suffer from insomnia than men.* 90% of people who suffer from depression also experience insomnia.* Approximately 10 million people in the U.S. use prescription sleep aids.* People who suffer from sleep deprivation are 27% more likely to become overweight or obese. There is also a link between weight gain and sleep apnea.* A National Sleep Foundation Poll shows that 60% of people have driven while feeling sleepy (and 37% admit to having fallen asleep at the wheel) in the past year.- Financial implications of insomnia* The Institute of Medicine estimates that hundreds of billions of dollars are spent annually on medical costs that are directly related to sleep disorders.* The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics show that 100,000 vehicle accidents occur annually due to drowsy driving. An estimated 1,500 die each year in these collisions.

- Homeopathic cure of patients with insomnia

Firstly we should determine if the patient’s insomnia has occurred recently and is considered an acute condition, lasting less than three months or the patient has been suffering from the problem for more than three months so should be approached as a chronic health problem. 
Thus we should do a brief case taking and physical exam in acute conditions but a thorough case taking and examination in chronic cases. Then the patient’s symptoms and signs are converted to homeopathic symptoms called rubrics. The rubrics are analyzed by homeopathic software called Radar, afterward. In the next step, proper remedy is selected according to the list presented by Radar and homeopath’s knowledge of Materia Medica, i.e. homeopathic pharmacology.
Always the best remedy is the most similar to patient’s characteristics and symptoms, i.e. totality of symptoms. 
The next step is to determine the potency and dosage of the chosen remedy. In classical homeopathy only a single remedy is selected and prescribed by homeopath. In acute cases we should select the minimal effective dosage and the most appropriate potency, to prevent aggravation and to have the best result.Dosage and potency selection depends on factors such as sensitivity of patient to odors, lights, noises, allergies, weather the patient is a man or woman. Men are usually less sensitive than women, therefore they can tolerate larg doses and higher potencies. 

- Case No.1
A young man was visited by professor George Vithoulkas, one of the leaders of classical homeopathy in the world, during a live case-taking course at Alonissos, Greece, in June 2009, where the author had taken part, too. Anyway the professor took his case thoroughly, then his symptoms were analyzed by Vithoulkas homeopathic software and Coffea cruda was selected as his proper remedy.After taking the case, George Vithoulkas discussed the remedy with the present homeopaths in the class to confirm the diagnosis of Coffea cruda. The professor decided to prescribe him a single dose of Coffea cruda with 50 m potency. The day after prescribing the remedy the patient was asked about his recent condition. He had slept very well without taking any other medicine. Thus he was cured with a single dose of Coffea cruda.  
The patient complained of chronic insomnia. He was a strong and muscular man, coming from one of the European countries. 

- Case No.2
A divorced woman ,aged 52, was visited by the author because of chronic insomnia. After taking her case, Nat-m 30c was chosen as her proper remedy. 
She used to take 4 tablets of alprazolam before using Nat-m. 2 months after taking Nat-m, she reported of an inner calmness and a better sleep. Besides  three and a half of her sleep pills were tapered (decreased). She is now under the treatment, after about four months of taking the remedy.  

- Conventional method of treating insomniac patients
Chemical sleep pills have shown to exert several side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness, appetite disorder and parasomnias.Parasomnias are behaviors and actions over which you have no control, like sleepwalking. During a parasomnia, you are asleep and unaware of what is happening.Parasomnias with sleeping pills are complex sleep behaviors and may include sleep eating, making phone calls, or even having sex while in a sleep state. 

Sleep driving, which is driving while not fully awake, is another serious sleeping pill side effect. Though rare, parasomnias are difficult to detect once the medication takes effect.

- Conclusion

Insomnia, a very common sleeping disorder puts the patients in risky situations like car accident and death. Hundreds of billions of dollars have been so far spent annually on medical costs that are directly related to sleep disorders by U.S. government. While sleep pills have shown to exert several side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness, appetite disorder and parasomnias, homeopaths have experienced very good results in curing insomniac patients. So it is suggested by the author that conventional Medicare become more familiar with the method in order to use homeopathic remedies to cure their patients.
Dr. Seyedaghanoor Sadeghi
Source:Tehran Times

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