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Saturday, 15 October 2011

New-age error on vaccines - the perils of homeopathy

ALMOST one in four Australians think natural homeopathic remedies are an adequate substitute for vaccines, despite 94 per cent of people agreeing conventional immunisation is an effective way of preventing the spread of disease.
The belief was revealed in a Newspoll survey of 1200 people, carried out on behalf of the Australian Medicines Industry - which also showed that 15 per cent of people think vaccinations weaken the immune system and 7 per cent believe children do not need to be immunised because the placenta and breast-feeding adequately develop a baby's immune system.
The head of clinical research at the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance, Professor Robert Booy, blamed "new-age thinking" for the current confusion over the effectiveness of natural remedies.
"It is heartening to see that the vast majority of people understand the benefits of vaccination, but it is a bit surprising that so many people have the misconception that natural remedies can be beneficial when there is nothing in terms of evidence to support that belief," Professor Booy said.
"I think it's the result of new-age thinking and of people hoping that natural remedies are better, even though they have not been tested."
Professor Booy said although the nation's child vaccination rate had hovered around the 95 per cent level for several years, there was a danger of new parents becoming complacent.
"Vaccination has in many ways become a victim of its own success," he said.
"Our immunisation program has been so effective in controlling diseases from which children would once die, so people who become parents now have never seen the diseases and often don't understand how dangerous they can be."But these diseases are not eradicated, only under control so if immunisation rates were to fall children would die from these diseases again."
Australian Association of Professional Homeopaths president Dr Shenaz Morkas said she had noticed an increase in the number of parents choosing homeopathy for their children as an alternative to conventional vaccination.
"Particularly for children who have allergies, homeopathic vaccination is seen as a more natural option," she said.
The Australian Medicines Industry spokesman Dr Brendan Shaw said: "Every day, immunisation saves lives and makes it possible for many Australians to live free from the illness and disability caused by many infectious diseases."

Rare transplant gives quadruple amputee two new hands

A 65-year-old quadruple amputee has received two new hands in a rare double transplant operation, Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital said on Friday.
Richard Mangino got the two hands last week in a 12-hour transplant procedure by a team of more than 40 doctors, nurses and other medical staff, the hospital said.
Mangino said he's adjusting to the new hands gradually and said now he won't have to "perform a miracle" every day to do simple things like make coffee and get dressed.
Speaking at a news conference seated in a wheel chair with his arms and hands propped on stack of pillows, Mangino said he prayed for the ability to touch his grandsons' faces, stroke their hair and teach them to throw a ball
Mangino, from Revere, Massachusetts, lost his arms below the elbows and legs below the knees after contracting sepsis, a bloodstream infection, in 2002.
The complicated surgery included transplanting skin, tendons, muscles, ligaments, bones and blood vessels on both forearms and hands, the hospital said.
Doctors said Mangino independently moved fingers just days after surgery and called the results a "resounding success."
His recovery will take many months and doctors expect him to regain sense of touch in six to nine months with ongoing therapy to help him learn to grasp and pick things up.
The double-hand transplant is the second performed by Brigham and Women's, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School.
In May, a team performed a full face transplant and its first double-hand transplant on Charla Nash, a Connecticut woman who was mauled by a chimpanzee in 2009.
The hospital said the hand transplant was successful, but the hands did not thrive after complications from pneumonia and were removed.
There are a few other programs around the country that perform hand transplants.
The first hand transplant was performed in France in 1998, and the first in the United States was completed a year later.
Doctors said about a dozen hand transplants have been done in the U.S. and believe just four of those have been bilateral.

Kerala govt to host six-day mega global Ayurveda festival in Feb

Kerala will host a mega the Global Ayurveda Festival, packed with buyer-seller meet, health expo, expert clinics, international seminar and students meet, from February 9 to 14, 2012 at Thiruvananthapuram.
The event, being organised by the Centre for Innovation in Science and Social Action (CISSA) in association with the Ayurveda Department of the State Government, Ayurveda Medical Association of India (AMAI) and Ayurvedic Medicine Manufacturers Organisation of India (AMMOI), aims at promoting the sector in the country and abroad.
The six-day festival is also an attempt to regain the old glory of Ayurveda in Kerala which is the cradle of this branch of medicine. The grand exhibition will also have medicinal plants, herbal products, food fete, apart from deliberations on regulatory and industry aspects, said CISSA general secretary Dr C Suresh Kumar in a statement.
Different universities, medical colleges and research organisations in the sector will put up programmes to ramp up the public awareness about this branch of medicine. AYUSH(Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, and Homoeopathy) clinics, consultation by traditional practitioners, stalls of resorts that are into Ayurveda medical tourism, Ayurveda food courts along with diet counselling, and display of medicinal plants for herbal formulations will be among other attractions, he added.
The preparations for the event were kicked off on Thursday with Kerala Health Minister Adoor Prakash releasing the brochure. The Minister, while urging the Ayurveda manufacturers not to be led by profit motives, disclosed that the State government was taking pro-active steps including across-the-table negotiations with the pharma companies and market intervention through government agencies to control the prices of essential drugs in the State.

Treatment of Back Pain may be More Clinical as Well as Cost-Effective If Stratified Approach is Used

Back pain is a common symptom for which patients consult their primary care physician. Better treatment options of back pain at the primary health care level is likely to have long term benefits in reducing disability and improving work capacity.
The use of a stratified approach in the treatment of back pain has been suggested. Using this approach, patients are treated according to the likely outcome or prognosis of the condition. In this system of treatment, patients are categorized into low, medium and high risk groups depending on the likely prognosis, and are treated according to different modalities or pathways.
The stratified approach will possibly ensure better and more effective treatment to all types of patients. If this practice is not followed, there could be unnecessary excessive treatment in the low–risk group patients, which could definitely spike up the cost of treatment. On the other hand, it could also result in lesser than required treatment in the medium and high-risk groups and consequently less relief of pain and more chances of suffering from disability.
In a recently published study, researchers compared two approaches to treatment of patients with back pain. The patients were divided into two groups – one in which a stratified approach to treatment was being followed, and the second, which was being treated by the non-stratified approach that is usually followed in clinical practice. The cost effectiveness of the two approaches was also studied.
A total of 851 patients with back pain were included in the study. Their mean age was 50 years and they did not suffer from any serious ailments.
The patients were randomly divided into two groups – an intervention group with a total of 568 patients where the stratified approach was followed, and the control group comprising of 283 patients.
The patients in the intervention group were divided according to the likely outcome for their condition. Accordingly, 221 patients were classified as low risk, 394 as medium risk and 236 as high risk. A baseline assessment was made at the first visit. The patients were treated according to treatments specially designed for the particular group. The control group was treated according to the best practices usually followed at the clinic. The effect of treatment was recorded using a questionnaire at the end of 4 and 12 months. The economic evaluation related to treatment was also carried out.
The results of the questionnaire at the end of 4 as well as 12 months indicated that patients treated via a stratified approach responded better to treatment. The patients who following the stratified treatment appeared to be more satisfied with treatment and took a fewer days off from work due to back pain.
The stratified approach also appeared to be more cost-effective as compared to the non-stratified approach.
The study thus suggests that using a stratified approach in primary care towards treating back pain does improve patient’s clinical outcome. It is also cost-effective, and should be followed.

Weight-loss Plan Should Include Proper Protein Consumption

Proper protein intake is vital for moderating energy intake, while keeping obesity in check.
Obesity is a growing problem worldwide, but proper protein consumption can help keep it at bay, according to a paper published Oct. 12 in the online journal PLoS ONE. The researchers found that, when subjects were fed a 10% protein diet, they consumed 12% more energy over four days than they did on a 15% protein diet. Moreover, 70% of the increased energy intake on the lower protein diet was attributed to snacking. When the protein content was further increased to 25%, however, the researchers observed no change in behavior relative to the 15% protein diet.
It had previously been suggested that protein content plays an important role in determining overall energy intake, and thus affects obesity, but until this study, experimental verification had been lacking. To test the hypothesis, the researchers tested 16 female and 6 male participants, all lean and in good health. The subjects spent four days on each of the three diets, which were made as similar as possible in factors such as palatability, availability, variety, and appearance, and their intake was monitored.
According to Dr. Alison Gosby, "the results show that humans have a particularly strong appetite for protein, and when the proportion of protein in the diet is low this appetite can drive excess energy intake. Our findings have considerable implications for bodyweight management in the current nutritional environment, where foods rich in fat and carbohydrate are cheap, palatable and available to an extent unprecedented in our history."

Canada moves to update Chinese medicine rules

Federal health authorities in Canada have met with practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine as a first step towards modifying regulations covering the sale of imported Chinese herbal remedies.
Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq held roundtable talks on Friday with Chinese medicine professionals in Vancouver on Canada's west coast.
More than 1,300 traditional Chinese remedies are currently sold in Canada, but the government -- seeing a boom in the market -- says it wants to be sure the laws on sales and prescription reflect current best medical practices.
"We do have legislation in place that is 40 years old," Aglukkaq said
"Our government strongly supports enhancing Canadians' access to a wide range of safe and effective natural health products, including Traditional Chinese Medicines," she said.
Sales of medicines are regulated at the federal level, but health care is governed by the provinces.
Albert Fok, who represents a group of merchants in Vancouver's Chinatown area including several purveyors of traditional Chinese remedies, said federal and provincial authorities should work together to harmonize the legislation.

Indian pharma firms to cut medicine rates in Pakistan by a third

Even as drug makers in Pakistan are reportedly cautioning against the plans of their government to grant Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India in the medicine sector, Indian pharmaceutical industry representatives say that it will bring down medicine prices (in Pakistan) to one-third of the current rates.

The Indian industry also rubbished the claims of the Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA) of possible job losses, arguing that the domestic drug makers are unlikely to set up distribution and sales units in Pakistan and could route their supplies through existing pharmaceutical marketing and distribution channels.
Newspaper reports from Islamabad had stated that PPMA Chairman Khawaja Muhammad Asad had written to Pakistan leadership and industry chambers that expansion of bilateral trade with India under MFN with respect to pharmaceuticals was not positive.
PPMA feels that given the 10 times bigger size of Indian pharmaceutical industry as compared to its Pakistan counterparts, local industry in Pakistan will not survive if MFN status is granted to India. The association also wants all medicines to be in the negative list once India gets MFN status.
According to D G Shah, secretary general, Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance, MFN status to India will do more good to Pakistan patients than to the Indian drug industry.
“Pakistan is a good market as medicine prices there are three to four times higher than that of India. The local pharmaceutical companies in that country are also importers and suppliers of MNC (Multinational Corporation) medicines. If they start importing medicines from India, that may harm the MNC interests,” Shah said.
Stating that cross border trade of medicines is already happening in all areas neighbouring Pakistan borders, Shah said Indian drug companies have high sales in such districts. “The question is whether Pakistan drugs controller will seek fresh registration for each medicine that gets imported from India. Still, patients can get affordable medicines there,” Shah added.
Source:Business Standard

Friday, 14 October 2011

Ayurveda in 21st Century national seminar on Oct 16 in Kottakkal Kerala

A one-day national seminar on the theme 'Ayurveda in 21st Century' organised by Kottakkal Arya Vaidya Sala will be held here on October 16. Speaking to reporters here, K K Warrier, General Manager, Arya Vaidya Sala, said the seminar is part of various academic events being held to celebrate the 90th birthday of Dr P K Warrier,Managing Trustee and Chief Physician,Arya Vaidya Sala, whose contribution to development of ayurveda is recognised. The seminaris envisage showcasing recent trends in ayurvedic development and is intended to provide a platform for ayurvedic professionals and students to interact with subject experts, he said. Dr R Chidambaram, Pricipal Scientific Adviser to the Union Government would inaugurate the seminar. Dr Ashok B Vaidya, Research Director, Kasturba Health Society, Mumbai would preside. Dr M S Valyathan, National Research Professor, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal would deliver the 'Navati oration'. There would be a presentation on topics including multi disciplinary approaches in ayurvedic research-the cases of Rasayana and Prakriti studies' by Dr K Satyamoorthy, Professor and Director, Manipal Life Sciences Centre, Manipal University and 'clinical research in ayurveda-the scope and challenges' by Dr P Rammanohar, Director of Research, the Ayurvedic Trust, Coimbatore.

Enquiry panel to submit report on 20 kids contracting HIV during transfusion soon

The enquiry committee, set up by the Central government to look into the issue of children contracting HIV during blood transfusion from the Junagarh civil hospital, completed their investigation on October 14. They are expected to submit the report to the central and the state government soon.
The investigation was carried on for three days from October 12 to 14 by a team of experts consisting of five members who are part of the enquiry committee. This committee consisted of one member each from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation's (CDSCO), Gujarat Food & Drugs Control Administration's (FDCA) office and three members from the National Aids Control Organisation (NACO).
According to Dr Hemant G Koshia, commissioner, Gujarat FDCA, this team was specifically selected by the centre to jointly undertake the investigation so as to avoid any further controversy.
Recently, the Gujarat state government had been under media glare, as 20 kid's suffering from thalassemia were allegedly reported to have contracted with HIV infection after undergoing blood transfusion from Junagarh civil hospital.
Dr Koshia informed, “Things will be clearer in a weeks time as the investigation is already under process. As of now there have been lot of misrepresentation of the whole issue which has been blown out of proportion. Till now we have never faced a situation where allegedly so many people have been reported to have contracted HIV at this scale due to blood transfusion from a licensed blood bank.”

He added that out of the 20 children reported to be infected with HIV infection, two of them were already found to have an history of HIV as both their parents were tested positive with the same. Now with the enquiry under way it will help the government in getting further information on the causes of contraction on the other 18 children's who are said to be infected with HIV.
Dr Koshia pointed out that there are chances that these remaining children might have contracted the virus somewhere else due to some other reasons. “It is important to notice that there can be many reasons that could have exposed these kid's to a situation that might have lead to contraction of virus. Without proper investigation it would be unfair to blame the hospital or the blood bank,” he added.
Over the years, the state and the central government have jointly cancelled the licences of 15 blood banks in the state as they were found to be flouting the D&C Act. Dr Koshia informed that as of now there are 150 licensed blood banks, belonging to the state government and red cross in Gujarat.
“Gujarat has been very strict on implementing the D&C Act and Rules while granting the licences to the blood banks and we have constantly ensured that they maintain the standards and adhere to the law even after they are granted with license by periodically checking on them. Strict action will be taken against the blood bank and the hospital if they are found to be responsible for any lapses during the investigation,” Koshia said.

Science of everyday living

Ayurveda or ayurvedic medicine is a system of traditional medicine native to India and a form of alternative medicine. In Sanskrit, the words ayus, means “longevity”, and veda, means “related to knowledge” or “science”.
The earliest literature on Indian medical practice appeared during the Vedic period in India. Over the centuries, ayurvedic practitioners have developed a number of medicinal preparations and surgical procedures for the treatment of various ailments. Practitioners contend that Ayurveda is as relevant in modern times as it was earlier when it all began.
“Ayurveda offers all answers for holistic and healthy living. It’s not that other streams don’t work, but as a doctor, if I have to advocate health, I would recommend Ayurveda,” says Dr Prashanth S Acharya, cofounder of ARTH (Ayurvedic Health Center Trust).
Ask him about the relevance of Ayurveda in today’s times and he offers an interesting comparison.
“A car that we see today, has come a long way from the first model and has incorporated several changes. However, its basic design is the same. Similarly, Ayurveda remains the same intrinsically, though its forms may have changed.
A person’s health is the focus of our treatment; to relieve the doshas (constituents) rather than a particular disease. People are conceptualising treatment but the fact is that barring surgical processes, Ayurveda can treat almost any disease according to the basic constituents of a person so as to bring about equilibrium,” states Dr Acharya.
Perhaps this is the strongest fact about Ayurveda – that it is a truth of science, which has answers to all lifestyle-related disorders.
From telling you when to brush your teeth to which perfumes work best in a particular season, Ayurveda deals with the science of everyday living. Says Dr Acharya, “There was a time when incidence of infections like smallpox was high.
Antibiotics were widely used to treat patients and they became popular.
However, today lifestylerelated disorders are on the rise, not infections.
Besides, every system has its advantages and disadvantages. Understanding one system and complementing the differences in it from other streams of medicine, is the way forward.”
Ayurveda deals with correcting lifestyle disorders, forging positive thinking and creating equilibrium between one’s senses and bodily functions.
“We can treat practically every disease, though limitations may arise in the forms of medicine and the time of treatment which depends on the depth and duration of an ailment. The other unique aspect is that Ayurveda is the only stream of medicine that detoxifies the body – using panchakarma therapy. Sometimes, you don’t need medicines, a cleansing will do just fine,” Dr Acharya explains.
With fitness taking precedence nowadays, awareness about a holistic approach to life has also grown.
“Modern medicine has specialised to such an extent that superspecialisation is quite the norm. But Ayurveda believes that a disease is psychosomatic, involving both physical and mental abilities,” says Dr Acharya.
“Today, health encompasses physical, mental, social and spiritual wellbeing.
Ayurveda grew in India as a holistic science because of strong support systems and the culture of ensuring overall well-being,” he further adds.
Despite the argument leaning in favour of Ayurveda, many people don’t seem too keen to follow its principles. While some find it tedious, others discontinue treatment citing diet restrictions. However, Dr Acharya is quick to allay doubts.
“People are living life on the go and want instant results in everything. But Ayurveda asks you to invest in health over a long-term period. It is not difficult to follow a diet that your body can handle; and not all treatments have severe diet restrictions. Besides, Ayurveda is affordable; the time of treatment may vary.
All it requires is a shift in thinking.”
Source:IBN Live

Tart Cherries Can Help Overcome 'Fruit Fatigue'

Experts have recommended tart cherries as a potent means to add variety, flavor and unique health benefits to a daily menu and help beat America's "Fruit Fatigue."According to experts, eating a variety of rich-colored fruits is essential for an overall healthy diet, but most Americans are falling far short of the daily recommended consumption of fruit as only one in five Americans is currently getting the recommended 1 to 2 cups of fruit each day.
"It's challenging to get the recommended amount of fruit, and a variety of fruit, so finding new ways to incorporate fruit in your daily eating plan is key to fighting what I call "Fruit Fatigue,"" Elizabeth Ward, author of 'How to Feed Yourself and Your Family Better,' said.
"The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the USDA's MyPlate icon encourage Americans to "make half their plate fruits and vegetables," and to do that we need to think about variety, taste and form when focused on fruit," she stated.
Tart cherries have a unique sweet-tart taste that can help fight the "Fruit Fatigue" and the powerful antioxidants in them have been linked to anti-inflammatory benefits, along with being a good source of much-needed potassium.
"As a dietitian whose goal is to help improve America's health and nutrition, I know that people need a variety of fruit every day, but getting the fruit they need should be easy, like choosing tart cherries," she added.

Green Veggies Vital in Boosting Body's Immune Defences

Researchers have found that consuming green vegetables is important to a fully functioning immune system. They do this by ensuring that immune cells in the gut and the skin known as intra-epithelial lymphocytes (IELs) function properly.
"After feeding otherwise healthy mice a vegetable-poor diet for two to three weeks,I was amazed to see 70 to 80 percent of these protective cells disappeared," said Marc Veldhoen of The Babraham Institute in Cambridge.
Those protective IELs exist as a network beneath the barrier of epithelial cells covering inner and outer body surfaces, where they are important as a first line of defense and in wound repair. Veldhoen's team found that the numbers of IELs depend on levels of a cell-surface protein called the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), which can be regulated by dietary ingredients found primarily in cruciferous vegetables.
The new work found that mice fed a synthetic diet lacking this key compound experience a significant reduction in AhR activity and lose IELs.
With reduced numbers of these key immune cells, animals showed lower levels of antimicrobial proteins, heightened immune activation and greater susceptibility to injury.
When the researchers intentionally damaged the intestinal surface in animals that didn't have normal AhR activity, the mice were not as "quick to repair" that damage.
As an immunologist, Veldhoen says he hopes the findings will generate interest in the medical community, noting that some of the characteristics observed in the mice are consistent with those seen in patients with inflammatory bowel disease.
The findings were reported online in the journal Cell, a Cell Press publication, on October 13th.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Homosexuality Gaining Wider Acceptance in the U.S.

Younger generations are leading the way toward greater tolerance and social acceptance of gays and lesbians in the United States, according to new research.
While the nation remains deeply divided on gay marriage, the vast majority of Americans support basic civil liberties and freedom of expression for homosexual people.
This wasn't always the case. In 1973, 70 percent of Americans felt homosexuality was "always wrong," the report revealed. By 2010, the percentage of those who felt that homosexuality was "always wrong" had dropped to 44 percent.
The findings show a clear "trend toward greater tolerance regarding homosexuality," said Tom W. Smith, director of the General Social Survey at NORC and author of the NORC report, in news release last week.
The researchers found a dramatic increase in support for same-sex marriage over the last 20 years, jumping from an 11 percent approval rate in 1988 to 46 percent in 2010. Meanwhile, 40 percent remain opposed.
"There is a large generation gap on the issue [of same-sex marriage]," noted Smith. While 64 percent of those under age 30 support gay marriage, just 27 percent of those aged 70 or older feel the same.
The findings, based on a national survey of more than 2,000 people, also showed more general acceptance of homosexuality among younger people. In 2010, only 26 percent those under age 30 said they believed same-sex behavior is "always wrong." However, 63 percent of those 70 and older held that belief.
Public attitudes on the issue are highly polarized, the researchers found. Although 44 percent of those surveyed felt that sex between two adults of the same sex is "always wrong," 41 percent thought such behavior was "not wrong at all." Only 11 percent of the people surveyed fell somewhere in the middle.
Although the nation remains divided on feelings towards homosexuality, a significant increase occurred in support for civil liberties for gays and lesbians over the past two decades.
Support for a gay person's right to speak publically jumped to 86 percent in 2010 -- up from 62 percent in 1972. Meanwhile, support for homosexuals teaching at colleges or universities rose to 84 percent in 2010, up from 48 percent in 1973. The researchers also found more people approved of library books that cast a favorable light on homosexuality. Support for these books rose from 54 percent in 1973 to 78 percent in 2010.

Prostate testing's dark side: Men who were harmed

Terry Dyroff's PSA blood test led to a prostate biopsy that didn't find cancer but gave him a life-threatening infection.
In the emergency room several days later, "I didn't sit, I just laid on the floor, I felt so bad," said Dyroff, 65, a retired professor from Silver Spring, Md. "I honestly thought I might be dying."
Donald Weaver was a healthy 74-year-old Kansas farmer until doctors went looking for prostate cancer. A PSA test led to a biopsy and surgery, then a heart attack, organ failure and a coma. His grief-stricken wife took him off life support.
"He died of unnecessary preventive medicine," said his nephew, Dr. Jay Siwek, vice chairman of family medicine at Georgetown University. "Blood tests can kill you."
Since Friday, when a task force of independent scientists said routine PSA testing does more harm than good, urologists who make a living treating prostate cancer have rushed to defend the test, as have patients who believe it saved their lives.
Less visible are men who have been harmed by testing, as Dyroff and Weaver were. The harm is not so much from the test itself but from everything it triggers — biopsies that usually are false alarms, and treatments that leave many men incontinent or impotent for cancers that in most cases were not a threat.
Once a PSA test suggests a problem, many men can't live with the worry that they might have cancer. And once cancer is found, most men feel they have to treat it, usually at the urging of their urologist.
"There are many men who have had serious consequences from treatment. Those stories don't get told and they are not uncommon," said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, which thinks the task force reached "an appropriate conclusion" about the PSA test.
"I'm not going to criticize men who believe that their lives have been saved by this test," because that's what doctors have told them, Lichtenfeld said. "If you're sitting there and you wet your pants three times a day, you've got to believe it's worth it, that it saved your life."
Many men who agree to a PSA test do not understand what it is. Some common misconceptions:
— It shows cancer. In fact, PSA is just a measure of inflammation, and it can be elevated for many reasons besides cancer: normal enlargement of the prostate with age, an infection, even recent sex, a strenuous bike ride or horseback riding.
— It's been proven to save lives. Only two large, well-done studies have looked at this, the task force says. The American study found annual screening did not lower the chances of dying of prostate cancer. However, cancer fear is so great, and belief in the value of screening so ingrained, that half the men assigned to the group not offered PSA tests got one anyway. That made comparisons to the group given annual screening difficult. For that reason, some doctors don't believe the study's conclusion.
The other study, conducted in Europe, found a small benefit for certain age groups screened every two to seven years — not annually. However, one Swedish center had such rosy results that scientists think it may have biased the whole study. If that center is excluded, no benefit from the PSA test is seen.
— The task force's stance goes against past advice. Routine PSA testing has been supported by some advocacy groups and by urologists, the doctors who do the tests and treatments. But it has not been pushed by major scientific groups, the American Cancer Society or the government.
— It finds cancer early so you're more likely to survive. About 90 percent of prostate cancers found through screening are early-stage. Most will grow so slowly they will never threaten a man's life, but there's no good way to tell which ones will. Research suggests that tumors causing symptoms are more likely to warrant treatment than those that are not. Also, finding aggressive prostate tumors early may not affect how lethal they prove to be; the PSA test may just let men learn of them sooner than they otherwise would.
The task force said that in the European study, the rate of overdiagnosis from PSA screening — finding cancers that do not need to be treated — was estimated to be as high as 50 percent. Based on that study, 1,410 men would have to be screened, and 48 patients would have to be treated, just to save one life from prostate cancer.
Yet the public perception is that if PSA testing finds a cancer early, it must be good.
"Most people tend to think 'if it may help, I'm all for it.' But we don't know if it will help," said Siwek, the Georgetown doctor whose uncle died.
Once a PSA test suggests a problem, "it's hard to stop the conveyor belt or the cascade effect" that leads to more testing and treatment, said Siwek, who also is editor of the journal American Family Physician. "The inclination is, 'I've got to do something about it.'"
Dyroff, the retired professor, agreed to a biopsy after a blip in his PSA. Days later, he ran a high fever, felt weak and faint, and spent three days in the hospital fighting a bloodstream infection. A week later he relapsed and required a combination of intravenous antibiotics to finally recover.
A recent Johns Hopkins University study found surprisingly high rates of hospitalization after prostate biopsies and a 12-fold greater risk of death in those who develop infections.
Tony Masraff, a Houston restaurant owner, reluctantly agreed to a biopsy and then was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1999. His urologist pushed surgery and balked when Masraff asked about other options such as radiation. After some research, Masraff decided just to monitor his tumor, and has seen his PSA rise very slowly over more than a decade.
Now 74, he hasn't had treatment "and I never will," he said. "I'm not concerned because I don't want the debilitative effects — I don't want to wear a diaper, and I like women."
"There's a huge number of people that are being operated on that don't need treatment," said Masraff, who formed a foundation for research into less invasive options.
The need to find a better screening tool is the real message from the task force, said Dr. Christopher Logothetis, prostate cancer research chief at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. It may even be that there are better ways to use the PSA — employing it as a baseline test and tracking its rise over time — that might prove better than annual testing.
"If the debate gets reduced to 'there's a right and a wrong,' we will lose what we are being told here, which is to search for the path forward," he said.
The cancer society's Lichtenfeld agreed. "Maybe it's time to listen to evidence instead of hope," he wrote in his blog.

Close Relationship with Mom Affects Teen Sexual Attitudes

Teen boys who watch a lot of TV and also have a close relationship with their mother are more susceptible to harmful stereotypical views of women and sex, a new study shows. For girls glued to the boob tube, however, a strong attachment to mom acts as a buffer against television's negative effect on sexual views.
Previous studies have shown that mothers play a role in children's opinions regarding mainstream sexual attitudes and sexual responsibility. Researchers from the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium set out to determine whether a close relationship with mom can protect teens from the negative effects that TV has on sexual attitudes.
The researchers surveyed 1,026 16-year-olds from nine schools in Belgium, asking them questions about their views on commitment in relationships, casual sex and traditional gender roles. The teens also anonymously answered questions abThe researchers found that, on average, the teenagers watched more than 23 hours of TV a week, or more than three hours a day. And the more TV they watched — especially the boys — the more likely they were to support casual sex, agreeing with statements, such as, "It's OK to have ongoing sexual relationships with more than one person at a time." The TV-watchers were also more likely than those who watched less TV to agree with gender stereotypes, such as, "Males are sexually dominant."
The study authors noted that TV shows in both Belgium and the U.S. often contain messages regarding recreational sexual activities, but hardly mention the risks and responsibilities associated with sex. Most TV shows, the authors found, also depict traditional gender roles, with "males portrayed as dominant, sexually obsessed characters and females as attractive sex objects," the authors wrote in a recent issue of the journal Sex Roles.
Overall, among teens who didn't watch as much TV, maternal attachment was shown to have a positive influence on their sexual attitudes. For these teens, the more attached an adolescent was to his or her mother, the less they agreed with statements about stereotypical gender roles and casual sex.
The researchers found that, overall, the girls had a greater maternal attachment than boys, and that boys held a more recreational attitude toward sex than girls. Boys were also significantly more likely than girls to agree with statements regarding male sexual dominance.
When mothers were brought into the mix, however, a gender difference was found for TV watchers. Teen girls who were more securely attached to their mothers appeared to be less susceptible to TV's influence on sexual attitudes. However, a close relationship with their mothers did not have the same positive effect on the teen boys: those who were more securely attached to their mothers were actually more susceptible to the negative influence of TV-viewing on attitudes toward casual sex and gender role stereotypes.
The researchers aren't sure why having a close relationship with mom makes teen boys more susceptible to the gender stereotypes and sexual messages they see on TV, though they offer a couple of possibilities. For instance, teen girls who watch TV may have a defensive reaction to the traditional sex roles portrayed. In addition, the stereotypes used in study were of males, and teen guys may identify more with male characters and so would easily identify with and support these stereotypes.
The researchers suggest further research is needed to tease out the reasons behind the gender differences found in the study.out the amount of TV they watched a day as well as their level of attachment to their mother.
By:Remy Melina
Courtsey:Live Science

BHU to organise 2-day symposia on recent advances in ayurvedic pharmaceutics

The Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Varanasi is organising a 2-day international conference on recent advances in ayurvedic pharmaceutics 2011 (ICRAAP-11) on October 14 and 15, 2011 for the students of ayurvedic, pharmaceutics, medical and pharmacy background at the university campus.
The event will focus on the increasing demand for ayurvedic formulations, standardization, quality control and safety as these became essential requirements for ayurvedic formulations.
The co-ordinators of the event said that the Department of Rasa Shastra of the BHU has decided to conduct ICRAAP-11for finding a protocol and guidelines for ayurvedic formulations by incorporating recent advances in this field.
The conference will be inaugurated by the chief patron Prof. D P Singh, vice-chancellor, Banaras Hindu University. Prof. B D Singh, patron and Rector, Banaras Hindu University, Prof. T M Mohapatra, director and vice patron, IMS, Prof. C B Jha, chairman and dean, faculty of Ayurveda, Dr KRC Reddy, organising secretary and Dr L N Gupta, joint organising secretary will be part of this event.
Source from the Department of Rasa Shastra informed that the department and faculty of Ayurveda will provide the demands of ayurvedic formulations which has raised globally because of which commercialisation of ayurvedic drug manufacturing took place.
Resource persons of the concerned field i.e. ayurvedic pharmaceutics, will deliver lectures focused on the issues related to collection, procurement and storage of raw material, different aspects related to manufacturing of ayurvedic medicines, quality control and quality assurance of ayurvedic formulations, safety and efficacy studies of ayurvedic formulations and global scenario of ayurvedic formulations.

Registration of Ethics Committees to become mandatory for clinical trials

After two years of making the registration of clinical trials mandatory, the union health ministry will soon make the registration of Ethics Committees attached with the Clinical Trial Organisations mandatory.
According to sources, a decision to this effect was taken by the Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB), the highest decision-making body under the Union health ministry on technical matters, which held its comprehensive meeting on October 10 under the chairmanship of Director General of Health Services (DGHS), who is the ex-officio chairman of the Board.
The DTAB's decision to make registration of Ethics Committees mandatory comes in the wake of widespread complains that the Ethics Committees at most of the clinical trial sites are not independent and also not active with no monitoring of the trials.
So far, only the registration of clinical trials with the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) is mandatory in the country. Independent ethics committees are constituted by the individual companies and it is not registered. For starting any clinical trial, the approval of the ethics committee is crucial as without which the DCGI will not provide his sanction for beginning the study in the country.
There should be at least five members in the ethics committee, consisting of a doctor, preferably a pharmacologist, a lawyer, an atheist, a housewife and a scientist. All of them should be provided training in good clinical practices (GCP) to get a firsthand knowledge about the clinical activities.
According to sources, with the cases of trial related deaths and injuries registering a steady increase in the country, the health ministry wanted to streamline the clinical trial sector which by and large remains unregulated in the country.
Sources also said that the immediate provocation for the ministry to further streamline the clinical trial sector is the recent irregularities reported in conducting of clinical trials by Axis Clinicals, a Hyderabad based CRO in which the company is alleged to have conducted clinical trials of a breast cancer drug on nearly 30 illiterate agriculture labourers after luring them with Rs.10,000 each.
Subsequently, the investigations by the DCGI had revealed various irregularities in conduct of the studies by the company with respect to subject recruitment process, informed consent process, independence of the Ethics Committee and its review and decision making process.
Sources said that DTAB at its meeting on October 10 examined the issue in detail and decided to make the registration of Ethics Committees mandatory.

Global Ayurveda Festival in THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

The THIRUVANANTHAPURAM will host the Global Ayurveda Festival, a mega event to promote the Ayurveda system of medicine, at Kanakakkunnu Palace from February 9 to 14 next year.
The event, which includes a series of seminars, exhibitions, and events showcasing the potential of Ayurveda, will be organised by the Centre for Innovation in Science and Social Action (CISSA), with the cooperation of the Department of Ayurveda.
Health Minister Adoor Prakash will release the brochure of the event at a function to be held at Hotel South Park here on Thursday by handing over the first copy to Palode Ravi, MLA, who is also the chairman of the reception committee of the event.
Apart from the Department of Ayurveda, representatives and professional bodies from Ayurveda-based industries and the Ayurveda Medicine Manufacturers' Association are associating with the event.


Seminars involving international Ayurveda experts, clinics by renowned practitioners, workshops, outreach programmes, job fair, exhibitions showcasing the latest in Ayurveda research and development, medicinal plants and herbal products, Ayurveda food fete, and expert deliberations on industry practices and regulatory affairs will be part of the six-day festival.


A health expo with over 300 stalls is being planned. It will have various displays on advancements in the field of ayurveda. Government agencies and private sector players will take part in the expo of Ayurveda medicines, medicinal plants, herbal cosmetics, books, and journals. Ayurveda health-care practitioners will be available for consultations.

The event will focus on raising public awareness of the Ayurveda system of medicine and its possibilities. AYUSH (Ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and homoeopathy) clinics, traditional practitioners of Ayurveda, and representatives from the hospitality industry promoting Ayurveda-based tourism will also participate in the festival.


An organising committee has been formed with eminent Ayurveda physician P.K. Warrier as chairman, former director of Ayurveda Medical Education M.R. Vasudevan Nampoothiri as secretary-general, and Director of the Institute of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, Bangalore, G.G. Gangadharan as working chairman.
For details, contact C. Suresh Kumar, general secretary, CISSA (ph: 9447 205913).

Rheumatoid Arthritis and The Role of a Single Monocyte

An estimated 1.3 million people in the United States suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. The causes behind this chronic disease — which can exhibit itself as pain, swelling, stiffness, deformation, and loss of function in the joints — have eluded scientists for centuries. A new study by UNC researchers offers tantalizing glimmers about the roles of a gene called CCR2, an immune system cell called Th17 cell, and a missing monocyte.The study contributes to a better understanding of the disease mechanism and has implications to guide the clinical trial strategy, said lead researcher Peng Liu, MD, PhD, research assistant professor at the UNC Thurston Arthritis Research Center. Her team's findings were reported online in PLoS One on Oct. 4.The mystery began several years ago when arthritis researchers zeroed in on a gene called CCR2. CCR2 is highly expressed in the joints of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, which led researchers to believe it might contribute to the disease. "Scientists thought that if you inhibited CCR2 you would have a beneficial effect," said Liu. "But actually, the result was the opposite." Studies revealed that suppressing CCR2 in fact cannot ameliorate joint inflammation, in some cases, it leads to disease exacerbation.
Intrigued, Liu and her team used mice to investigate how CCR2 affects immune system cells. The immune system is critical because rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, in which the immune system attacks the body's own tissues, causing inflammation.

Ginger Reduces Risk of Colon Cancer

Including ginger in your diet can reduce the risk of colon cancer by as much as 28 percent, a new study conducted by researchers at University of Michigan Medical School reveals.The study was conducted on a small scale involving just 30 participants, half of whom were given two grams of ginger root supplement daily for four weeks while the other half received a placebo.
The researchers found that taking ginger supplements for four weeks reduced the risk of colon cancer by 28 percent compared to those who had taken placebo.
Stating that more research needs to be done in order to ascertain the exact benefits of ginger, lead researcher Suzanna Rick said, “Interest in this is only going to increase as people look for ways to prevent cancer that are nontoxic, and improve their quality of life in a cost-effective”. The report has been published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research.

Air Pollution Leads To Smaller Babies

In the University of Western Australia study, researchers monitored traffic emission levels in a region with relatively low industrial activity, and compared it with the birth records of over 1,000 mothers over a period of six years between 2000 and 2006.
The research was led by Assistant Professor Gavin Pereira, and the UWA’s affiliate, The Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, was also involved in the project.
The results published today in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health show that a neonate who would have otherwise attained an optimal birth weight of 3.5 kg would be expected to be born 58 g lighter. The results reflect about half of the effect observed for maternal smoking during pregnancy among this group.
Assistant Professor Pereira, whose research interests are in traffic, air pollution and childhood health, said the results were surprising because these effects were observed when air quality guidelines met national standards.
"International studies have found some associations but this is the first time we have seen a specific link between normal suburban traffic pollution and its effect on the fetal growth."
He said while the results should not cause alarm, the warning signs should not be ignored.
"There is a message to be taken from this research. We all have a responsibility to keep emission levels down - drive less, catch public transport, cycle more, walk more. The health benefits of active travel add to the health benefits of not contributing to traffic emissions," he said.

Regenerating Eyes Using Stem Cells from Hair

A young scientist has used stem cells from hair follicles to treat eye surface disease has been named the winner of the Young Investigator Award by the journal Stem Cells. Dr. Ewa Meyer-Blazejewska will be presented with her award at The Stem Cell Symposium. The $10,000 prize is awarded annually to a young scientist whose paper has been judged to be of worldwide significance by a global jury.Dr. Meyer-Blazejewska, from the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, in Germany, won the award for her research into Limbal stem cell deficiency (LSCD), a condition which causes the cornea to become cloudy and develop a rough surface causing pain and leading to blindness.
Currently, treatments focus on harvesting limbal cells from a patient's healthy eye or from cadaveric tissue. In her pioneering research, Dr. Meyer-Blazejewska considered the potential use of stem cells harvested from hair follicles to reconstruct damaged tissue for patients who suffer from LSCD in both eyes.
"Tissue engineering has become a rapidly growing field of research and it is expected to reveal the potential for the application of adult stem cells in clinical practice," said Dr. Meyer-Blazejewska. "I hope the results in our paper will be instrumental for the advancement of research in the areas of stem cell niche, stemness and differentiation, which will aid in the treatment of LSCD as well as other ocular and non-ocular diseases."
Dr. Meyer-Blazejewska's team demonstrated that in the right microenvironment stem cells from hair follicles do have the capacity for cellular differentiation, the process whereby a less specialized cell becomes a more specialized cell type, in this case the cells of the corneal epithelial phenotype.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

‘Centre ready to help Ayurveda’

The Union minister of state for home affairs, Mr Mullappally Ramach-andran, emphasised on Sunday, the need for greater awareness among people about the effective health remedies available in ancient Kerala Ayurveda, and said that the Central government was ready to extend all logistic and financial support to indigenous medicine.The Union minister of state for home affairs, Mr Mullappally Ramach-andran, emphasised on Sunday, the need for greater awareness among people about the effective health remedies available in ancient Kerala Ayurveda, and said that the Central government was ready to extend all logistic and financial support to indigenous medicine.
Inaugurating the Kerala Ayurveda hospital at Golagamudi village of Venkatachalam mandal of SPSR Nellore district here, Mr Ramachandran said that Kerala Ayurveda was held in high regard throughout India and its efficacy had even spread to other countries.
“Malayalis are known for their service-oriented nature, having made rapid strides in the field of nursing and other vital sectors of social life. Nurses from Kerala have proved that they are a great asset to the nation. There is no place on earth without the presence of a Malayali,” he said.
He appreciated the AP state government for providing one acre to the local Malayalees Foundation for construction of the Kerala Ayurveda hospital. “Thousands of people from all over India and abroad come to picturesque locations in Kerala to seek a cure for their uncured ailments through Kerala Ayurveda. Setting up branch hospitals elsewhere in the country will help patients,” he said.
Ongole MP, Mr Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy, asked the hospital management to live up to the expectations of the people of Nellore district. He expressed hope that the hospital would soon achieve name and fame at the national and international levels.
Local leaders and some prominent Ayurveda practitioners from Nellore took part in the function.
Source:Decaan Herald

Osteoporosis Management in Women - Lifestyle Approach

Osteoporosis affects 200 million women worldwide according to a WHO Technical Report, 2007.
Osteoporosis, or ‘porous bones’, is a silent disease occurring because of reduced bone formation and increased bone resorption. Bone is a living, growing tissue made up of collagen, a protein network that gives the bone its tensile strength and framework, and calcium phosphate, a mineral that gives the bone its hard skeletal framework. More than 99 percent of the body’s calcium is present in the bones and teeth.
Old bones are constantly being removed throughout a woman’s lifetime and simultaneously being replaced by new bones. This gives the body a healthy bone structure. During bone resorption, cells called osteoclasts dissolve small amounts of bone, and then, cells called osteoblasts initiate formation of new bones. Now, when the woman crosses the age of 30 years, bone resorption occurs faster than bone formation leading to ‘net bone loss. Bone loss is most rapid in the first few years of menopause and continues into the menopausal years. This is the reason why the bones in post menopausal women become weak and are more likely to break. Bones in the hip, spine and wrist are more prone to breaking at this stage.
According to the North American Menopause Society (NAMS), ‘Management strategies for osteoporosis in postmenopausal women require assessment of risk factors for bone mineral density (BMD)-defined osteoporosis and osteoporotic fracture, followed by institution of measures that focus on reducing risk factors’. They specify two approaches to management of osteoporosis – one is the lifestyle approach and the other is the pharmacological approach, only if indicated.
The lifestyle approaches to management of osteoporosis include:

1. Nutrition – Considering the fact that weak bones are the main risk factors for fractures, a healthy diet for all post menopausal women must include enough calcium and vitamin D to make the bones strong.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases estimated that ‘people get less than half the calcium they need’. The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) recommends at least 1200mg of elemental calcium per day for postmenopausal women over 50 years of age and 800 to 1000 IU of vitamin D per day for women 50 years and older.
The calcium supplementation should be taken twice daily to achieve maximal absorption. Generally, calcium carbonate supplements (Caltrate, OsCal, Rolaids, Tums, Viactiv) available over the counter have about 40 percent of elemental calcium. Constipation, bloating and flatulence are the common side effects of these products.
Caution: These products should be separated from medications such as iron, tetracyclines and fluoroquinolones since they can interfere with absorption.
Food sources that contain calcium are low fat milk and low fat dairy products (yogurt, cheese, etc) and fish. Fortified milk, orange juice, cereals, and fish have high vitamin D content as well. Cod liver oil and margarine are especially rich in vitamin D. A daily 15-minute exposure to sunlight increases vitamin D synthesis in the body leading to increased concentrations.
The NOF also recommends incorporating vegetables and fruits into daily diet for women with osteoporosis.
2. Exercise plan - Exercising is very important for women with osteoporosis. However, women need to consult a doctor and discuss an exercise regimen with the fitness trainer that will not aggravate the osteoporosis condition. The NOF suggests a minimum of 30 minutes of either aerobic or weight bearing and muscle strengthening exercise three times per week for post menopausal women. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends exercising in the form of walking, hiking, jogging, climbing stairs, lifting weights, playing tennis and dancing to increase bone strength in women with osteoporosis.
3. Smoking cessation and reducing alcohol consumption - Women with osteoporosis need to quit smoking and reduce excessive drinking. Smoking is bad not only for the heart and lungs but for the bones as well. It has been established that people with excessive alcohol consumption are more prone to bone loss and broken bones because of risk of falling and poor eating habits.
4. Fall prevention - The best way to avoid fractures is to avoid a fall. Global data reveals that an osteoporotic fracture occurs every 3 seconds and one in three women over 50 years of age experience osteoporotic fractures. To minimize the risk of falls, the NIH suggests

• Regularly monitoring vision and hearing.
• Clearing indoor and outdoor walkways.
• Carefully using the walkways for wheelchairs and bicycles because the incline (up or down) may lead to fall.
• Paying attention to the floor in public buildings, especially where the floors are slippery (highly polished marble or tile) or wet.
• Wearing warm boots with rubber soles outdoors for added traction when it is cold or snowy; and wearing supportive shoes without high heels even at home.
• Using bright lighting at home and ensuring that stairs have plenty of light and there are handrails on both sides.
• Using a rubber bath mat in the shower or tub so the chance of slipping is reduced.
• The bottom line is to preserve the bone mass and density and a person has to decrease the risk of broken bones (osteoporotic fractures) and disability’, say orthopedists. However, in case the fall cannot be prevented, the American Society of Orthopedic Professionals recommends the following steps to lessen the chances of breaking a bone if a fall occurs. In their words -
• ‘Try not to fall sideways or straight down because a hip fracture is more likely to occur than if the fall is in other directions. If possible, try to fall forward or to land on the buttocks.
• Even though a broken arm or wrist may result, try to land on the hands because a broken arm has fewer complications than a broken hip.
• Break a fall by grabbing onto counters or other surfaces around.
• Walk carefully, especially on hard or slippery surfaces.
• When possible, wear protective clothing for padding or wear hip (trochanteric) pads. Talk to a doctor about hip padding.’
Certain medications such as sedatives, anticholinergics, benzodiazepines, tricyclic anti-depressants and anti-hypertensives that cause hypotension can affect balance. So, it is best to limit the use of such medications as far as possible.
The pharmacologic options approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for women with osteoporosis include bisphosphonates, calcitonin, hormone therapy, raloxifene, and parathyroid hormone (PTH 1-34).
It is very important to get professional counseling on safe use of medications for osteoporosis. Medical adherence and monitoring of BMD (bone-mass density) is critical to reduce the risk of fracture and to monitor the progression of osteoporosis.

Drinking Green Tea may Help Prevent Obesity

Food scientists have found another health benefit of green tea - it can help you to lose weight. Drinking green tea may slow down weight gain and serve as another tool in the fight against obesity.Mice that were fed Epigallocatechin-3-gallate-EGCG-a compound found in most green teas, along with a high-fat diet, gained weight 45 percent more slowly than the control group of mice eating the same diet without EGCG.
"Our results suggest that if you supplement with EGCG or green tea you gain weight more slowly," said Joshua Lambert, assistant professor of food science in agricultural sciences.
In addition to lower weight gain, the mice fed the green tea supplement showed a nearly 30 percent increase in fecal lipids, suggesting that the EGCG was limiting fat absorption, according to Lambert.
"There seems to be two prongs to this, first, EGCG reduces the ability to absorb fat and, second, it enhances the ability to use fat," he said.
The findings were reported in the current online version of Obesity.

Why Saturated and Unsaturated Fats Are Different For Your Health

A new study shows that saturated fats activate a key metabolic pathway associated with the development of type 2 diabetes, while polyunsaturated fats like omega-3s shut this pathway down.
The finding may explain why animal-derived saturated fats like lard and butter are strongly linked to adverse health effects, while unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from plants and cold-water fish like salmon and mackerel are not.
The research revealed that saturated fat blocks the cell membranes at the molecular level, causing abnormal cell signalling that ultimately throws basic metabolism out of whack.
According to the research conducted at the University of California, San Diego, saturated fats tend to be solid at room temperature as they contain fatty acids that are saturated with hydrogen atoms and the carbon atoms are bonded to as many hydrogen atoms as possible, whereas unsaturated fats contain fatty acids with a lower ratio of carbon to hydrogen, Live Science reported.
For more than a decade, researchers have known that saturated fats activate enzymes associated with developing insulin resistance and atherosclerosis, or clogged arteries, unsaturated fats can block these enzymes within our cells and the enzymes, called Jun kinases, work at a subcellular level.
Working on this prior knowledge, a UCSD team led by Michael Karin speculated that something in cell membranes must be able to differentiate between saturated and unsaturated fats, activating or deactivating Jun kinases and in their new study, the team ultimately identified yet another enzyme, called c-Src, which resides within a cell membrane.

Study: Antivirulence Drugs Stop Infections Without Causing Resistance

Antivirulence drugs show promising results to fight infection without causing drug resistance, finds study published in the online journal mBio.Traditional antibiotics aim to kill or stop the growth of pathogens, but antivirulence drugs prevent disease by neutralizing virulence factors, the specific proteins or toxins that a pathogen uses to establish an infection. Scientists have long thought such a strategy could prevent pathogens from developing drug resistance, since antivirulence drugs don't kill the pathogens that are susceptible and leave a wide opening for the few resistant organisms that may be left. Thus, in theory, antivirulence drugs don't offer much benefit to the pathogens that get around the drug. However, these ideas have never been tested.
The study coming out this week provides evidence that antivirulence drugs have the potential to suppress resistance if they are applied in the right way. Brett Mellbye and Martin Schuster from Oregon State University carried out laboratory simulations to determine the effect antivirulence drug-resistant strains could have on therapy. They found that in pathogens that rely on cell-to-cell communication and cooperation, resistant strains will not overtake sensitive strains, allowing antivirulence therapies that target social interactions to work even when resistance arises.
"It's a very important demonstration of the principle that social effects can slow or even halt the spread of resistance to antivirulence drugs," says Sam Brown, of Edinburgh University, Invited Editor on the study. "Their results align with our understanding of social evolution."

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Helping the body heal itself

The Alternative Medicine Centre at Mae Fah Luang University Hospital in Chiang Rai promotes the practise of naturopathy
If you suffer from a headache or back pain that comes from working in front of a computer all day, you may want to consult naturopath William Shwetzer and listen to his recommendations.
He's currently working at the Alternative Medicine Centre in Chiang Rai and offers a manipulation course for patients suffering from headache as well as pain in the back, waist, neck, shoulders and the muscles. What he does is similar to chiropractic, in which a doctor adjusts the bones to a correct position.
Similarly, if you're not feeling well but don't know why, Shwetzer can give you a treatment that's based on naturopathy and Chinese medicine. Any consultation will be based on looking at the cause of symptoms and you won't be given any medicine.
"If you have a headache and a doctor prescribes you medication again and again, this is not effective. Medicine can save your life in a emergency but if you have problems with the thyroid, digestive system or you are not sleeping well, the medicine does not work," Shwetzer explains.
"Why? Essentially, because medicines only suppress symptoms: they do not treat the illness. The heart of natural therapy and Chinese medicine is to restore function and balance the body." Shwetzer says there are four things you should do in daily life for good health: "diet" (eat only good food); "detox" (clean toxins from the body); "supplements and herb therapy" (using natural products like vitamins from fruits and vegetables) and "exercise" (at least 15 minutes every day).
"Many people think ‘if I feel okay , I'm healthy'. That's not true. Chinese medicine and natural medicine identify why we have pain. They correct the imbalance your body. They restore and help you have normal functions," says Shwetzer. "If you're healthy you can do everything and you have energy for your family."
Shwetzer says we should also avoid using electric devices, such as mobile phones, over prolonged periods, as they are not good for the health. He cities the various studies carried out in Europe about gamma rays damaging the brain. He also cautions against keeping phones in trouser pockets, as they are dangerous to the ovaries and scrotum.
"The easy way to detox by yourself is to eat radish, says Shwetzer. "For good health, you should eat protein and fat but reduce carbohydrate intake as it will increase cholesterol."
Courtesy:The Nation

New Gel Offers a Pain-free Way to Get Rid of Your Wrinkles

Here is some good news for those who want to get rid of wrinkles without the pain of needles!
A new topical gel containing the same ingredient as Botox could soon be within reach to help you get rid of wrinkles without the needles, doctors say.The product, created by Revance Therapeutics in California, has undergone two clinical studies, and has shown promising results with few side effects, reports the New York Daily News.
For the product to take effect, a patient needs to sit with the gel around the eye area for 30 minutes so that it can penetrate the skin to "relax" the underlying muscles, before it is wiped off.
Also, the gel needs to undergo another round of trials before reaching approval from the Food and Drug Administration.
The study will be presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons in Denver, Colorado.

Inflammation Generated by Oxidative Stress can be Blocked by Immune Mechanism

Increased oxidative stress has been strongly linked to conditions like atherosclerosis and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) -- the most common cause of blindness among the elderly in western societies. Oxidative stress is the process in which proteins, lipids and DNA damaged by oxygen free radicals and related cellular waste accumulate, prompting an inflammatory response from the body's innate immune system that results in chronic disease.rtant insights into how the innate immune system responds to oxidative stress and might be exploited to prevent and treat AMD and other chronic inflammatory diseases.
Specifically, Binder, Joseph L. Witztum, professor of medicine at UC San Diego, and colleagues in Austria, Germany, England and Maryland discovered that when lipids (fats) in cell membranes degrade through oxidative stress, they produce a number of reactive products, including a compound called malondialdehyde (MDA), which in turn modifies other molecules to create novel oxidation-specific epitopes, the part of antigens that draws the attention and inflammatory response of the innate immune system.

Workplace Sabotage Caused by Envy, Disengagement

Employees who envy co-workers are more likely to sabotage their work, says a new study.
The researchers from the University of British Columbia also found that envious employees are more likely to undermine peers if they feel disconnected from others.So managers should keep all team members connected and engaged in the workplace and guard against allowing workers to feel alienated, says co-author Prof. Karl Aquino of the Sauder School of Business.
"We often hear that people who feel envious of their colleagues try to bring them down by spreading negative rumours, withholding useful information, or secretly sabotaging their work," he said.
Aquino, who conducted the study with colleagues from the University of Minnesota, Clemson University in South Carolina and Georgia State University, says envy is only the fuel for sabotage.
"The match is not struck unless employees experience what psychologists call 'moral disengagement' - a way of thinking that allows people to rationalize or justify harming others," he said.
The researchers explain that moral disengagement is most likely to occur when an envious co-worker feels disconnected from others in the workplace.
To obtain data, the researchers conducted two field studies. They first used a sample of 160 employees from a mid-west American hospital to test whether a person's lack of identification with colleagues increases their likelihood to act on envy.
In a second study, the researchers explored how the working environment can influence employees to undermine one another.

Facebook Refuses To Remove Controversial 'Rape Joke' Page

Despite facing heavy criticism, social networking giant Facebook has refused to remove a controversial page for making jokes about rape. But victim support groups have called the page "disgusting," and said that it trivialises and jokes about rape.
Many victim support charities have started a petition calling for the page to be removed, and have claimed that the page breaches the social network's own rules that forbids users from posting content that is hateful, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.
Facebook has, however, refused to take it down saying the site wanted to 'allow freedom of expression,' the BBC reports.
"It is very important to point out that what one person finds offensive another can find entertaining, just as telling a rude joke won't get you thrown out of your local pub, it won't get you thrown off Facebook," a statement said.
"Groups or pages that express an opinion on a state, institution, or set of beliefs - even if that opinion is outrageous or offensive to some - do not by themselves violate our policies," the statement said.
"These online discussions are a reflection of those happening offline, where conversations happen freely in people's homes, in cafes and on the telephone," it added.
Meanwhile, some of the big companies, such as Sony, American Express and BlackBerry, which pay Facebook to advertise on the social networking site have asked for their adverts to be removed from the group.

Severe hypoglycaemia cause found

The cause of a rare and severe form of hypoglycaemia - or very low levels of sugar in the blood - is genetic, say researchers.The life-threatening condition means the body does not have enough energy to function.Scientists at the University of Cambridge say mutations in the AKT2 gene are to blame.Writing in the journal Science, they say there are already cancer drugs which target a similar process.Hypoglycaemia can be caused by a disruption in the balance between the hormone insulin and sugar. Insulin lowers the level of sugar in the blood.
The condition is commonly associated with Type 1 diabetes, when the patients inject too much insulin, miss a meal or drink alcohol.
However, one-in-100,000 babies are born with a genetic defect which means they develop hypoglycaemia even when there is no insulin in the blood. In theory they should have very high blood sugar levels.
These patients have to have a feeding tube inserted directly into the stomach to prevent fits while they are asleep.
One of the researchers, Dr Robert Semple, said: "Fear of low blood sugar has dominated the lives of these patients and their families."
Scientists analysed the genetic code of three children with the condition. All had a mutation in the AKT2 gene.
AKT2 acts as an interpreter for the hormone insulin. With the mutation, the interpreter acts as though insulin is always present, lowering blood sugar levels.
Lead researcher Prof Stephen O'Rahilly told the BBC that cancer drugs were available which targeted AKT1 and which also act against AKT2.
"There are actual pills that can be swallowed by humans, there could be a treatment in a year."
Courtesy:BBC News

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