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Saturday, 7 January 2012

Caution! Yoga can wreck your body

Glenn Black, a yoga teacher of nearly four decades, whose devoted clientele includes a number of celebrities and prominent gurus, is in many ways a classic yogi: he studied in Pune, India, at the institute founded by the legendary B. K. S. Iyengar, and spent years in solitude and meditation.
He now lives in Rhinebeck, N.Y., and often teaches at the nearby Omega Institute, a New Age emporium spread over nearly 200 acres of woods and gardens. He is known for his rigor and his down-to-earth style. But this was not why I sought him out: Black, I'd been told, was the person to speak with if you wanted to know not about the virtues of yoga but rather about the damage it could do.
Many of his regular clients came to him for bodywork or rehabilitation following yoga injuries.
At Sankalpah Yoga, the room was packed; roughly half the students were said to be teachers themselves. Black walked around the room, joking and talking. "Is this yoga?" he asked as we sweated through a pose that seemed to demand superhuman endurance. "It is if you're paying attention."
His approach was almost free-form : he made us hold poses for a long time but taught no inversions and few classical postures. Throughout the class, he urged us to pay attention to the thresholds of pain. "I make it as hard as possible," he told the group. "It's up to you to make it easy on yourself." He drove his point home with a cautionary tale. In India, he recalled, a yogi came to study at Iyengar's school and threw himself into a spinal twist.
Black said he watched in disbelief as three of the man's ribs gave way - pop, pop, pop. Then he said something more radical. Black has come to believe that "the vast majority of people" should give up yoga altogether. It's simply too likely to cause harm. Not just students but celebrated teachers too, Black said, injure themselves in droves because most have underlying physical weaknesses or problems that make serious injury all but inevitable.
Instead of doing yoga, "they need to be doing a specific range of motions for articulation, for organ condition," he said, to strengthen weak parts of the body. "Yoga is for people in good physical condition. Or it can be used therapeutically. It's controversial to say, but it really shouldn't be used for a general class."
According to Black, a number of factors have converged to heighten the risk of practicing yoga. The biggest is the demographic shift in those who study it. Indian practitioners of yoga typically squatted and sat crosslegged in daily life, and yoga poses, or asanas, were an outgrowth of these postures. Now urbanites who sit in chairs all day walk into a studio a couple of times a week and strain to twist themselves into ever-moredifficult postures despite their lack of flexibility and other physical problems.
Many come to yoga as a gentle alternative to vigorous sports or for rehabilitation for injuries. But yoga's exploding popularity - the number of Americans doing yoga has risen from about 4 million in 2001 to what some estimate to be as many as 20 million in 2011 - means that there is now an abundance of studios where many teachers lack the deeper training necessary to recognize when students are headed toward injury.
"Today many schools of yoga are just about pushing people," Black said. "You can't believe what's going on - teachers jumping on people, pushing and pulling and saying, 'You should be able to do this by now.' It has to do with their egos."
When yoga teachers come to him for bodywork after suffering major traumas, Black tells them, "Don't do yoga."

Norms on clinical trials of ayurvedic formulations soon

As a first step towards credibility and providing a scientific basis to the therapeutic claims of the alternate traditional medicines, particularly in the international market, India is in the process of standardising protocols for conducting clinical trials of the ayurvedic formulations.
“There are already guiding ethical codes, but the complexities of ASU (ayurveda, siddha and unani) medicines research necessitate a more elaborate set of guidelines that address a physician’s ethical and scientific responsibilities such as obtaining informed consent or disclosing risk during clinical trials,” a senior health official said, on the need for the guidelines.
More necessarily, the move comes in the wake of frequent complaints and rejection of the Indian ayurvedic medicines in the international market due to various grounds with the alleged heavy metal contents being one of them.
“Despite growing popularity of ayurveda medicines from India, the western world has doubted their efficacy in the absence of any scientific test. Hence as for allopathic drugs, a proper format for clinical trials of ayurvedic medicines has been constantly felt,” the official explained.
The clinical trials are a first step towards standardisation. The draft guidelines issued by the Health Ministry’s Ayush Department seek various norms for participants and setting up of ethical committees, compensation to be doled out and nature of tests that can be undertaken for the efficacy of the ayurvedic medicines.
For instance, it says, pregnant or nursing women should in no circumstances be the subject of any research unless the research carries no more than minimal risk to the fetus or nursing infant. However, no compensation amount has been specified in the draft guidelines.
“These guidelines are based on Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) Document on GCP (Good Clinical Practices) Guidelines (2001) for Clinical Trials on Pharmaceutical Products. They should be followed for carrying out all ASU medicines research in India at all stages of drug development, whether prior or subsequent to product registration in India,” said the health official.
In a nutshell, he said, the guidelines seek to establish two cardinal principles: Protection of the rights of human subjects and authenticity of ASU medicine clinical trial data generated.
It is expected that armed with the scientific knowledge Indian ayurvedic manufacturers would be enhance their export potential which is presently pegged at Rs 11,500 crore (Rs 115 billion) while the domestic market size is estimated to be Rs 2,000 crore.
Source:The Pioneer

Publication of International Journal of Ayurveda Research in trouble with inadequate funding

Department of Ayush seems to be not keen on the promotion of Ayurveda research and publications. While it is almost close to stalling the continuation of a peer publication titled ‘International Journal of Ayurveda Research’ (IJAR) published with the support of the department of Ayush, many proposals put forth by the industry to steer growth of the sector have not seen the light of the day.
The situation has led to a complete suspension of activity in the Department of Ayush which has resulted in the deferring of not just funding but any new initiatives, informed sources familiar with the development but did not wished to be named.
With regard to the IJAR, which has been a much-sought after publication may also be discontinued. It is now learnt that its editor has resigned following the low funding extended, making it impossible to publish the Journal in a professional way.
The IJAR website indicates that the publication was chaired by a reputed clinical pharmacologist and has a number well known scientists on its advisory board.
When the Department of Ayush officials were contacted, they were unavailable to comment.
The quantum of financial assistance disbursed this year amounting to around Rs.3 lakh makes it impossible to continue the publication and this is a serious blow to the Ayurveda sector. The publication which has been there for the last 18 months received a fund infusion of Rs.7 lakh when it was approved. Out of this, about Rs.4 lakh was used for publishing and the remaining was allocated for administrative expenses, stated the sources.
The IJAR was a source of information and helped the sector to keep abreast of the events in the areas of research. The Journal was much wanted in India where leading researchers like Dr Ashok Vaidya among others contributed articles that indicated the promising prospects of future of Ayurveda research. IJAR had in its short period of publication received wide recognition, and provided a platform to publish high quality scientific research results on Ayurveda.
Such publications are also needed to promote the skills of scientific writing, as well as good research methodology. Instances are known when some of the papers from India were not accepted by leading international publications and the reasons given were that these would be published only if the word ‘Ayurveda’ was deleted from the content. Therefore the need for a high quality peer reviewed journals like IJAR provided a source expression by leading Ayurveda research scientists and experts in the industry. “Now with the poor funding and the resignation of its editor, the future of IJAR is in peril. The move by the Department of Ayush is despised as it does not understand the importance of research and its publications, in a time when documentation is considered important,” stated the sources.
“The western publications highlighting the importance and indispensability of herbal medicine is biased in content and we required a dedicated high quality Indian publication with the support of the Department of Ayush,” lamented a leading Ayurveda researcher and consultant.

Licorice In The Fight Against Tooth Decay And Gum Disease

Licorice, used extensively in the Chinese traditional and Indian Ayurvedic medicine, could help in the fight against tooth decay and gum disease.Two substances in licorice kill the major bacteria responsible for tooth decay and gum disease, the leading causes of tooth problems, it has been reported in ACS’ Journal of Natural Products.
Stefan Gafner and colleagues explain that the dried root of the licorice plant is a common treatment in Chinese traditional medicine, especially as a way to enhance the activity of other herbal ingredients or as a flavoring. Despite the popularity of licorice candy in the U.S., licorice root has been replaced in domestic candy with anise oil, which has a similar flavor. Traditional medical practitioners use dried licorice root to treat various ailments, such as respiratory and digestive problems, but few modern scientific studies address whether licorice really works. (Consumers should check with their health care provider before taking licorice root because it can have undesirable effects and interactions with prescription drugs.)
To test whether the sweet root could combat the bacteria that cause gum disease and cavities, the researchers took a closer look at various substances in licorice.
They found that two of the licorice compounds, licoricidin and licorisoflavan A, were the most effective antibacterial substances. These substances killed two of the major bacteria responsible for dental cavities and two of the bacteria that promote gum disease. One of the compounds — licoricidin — also killed a third gum disease bacterium. The researchers say that these substances could treat or even prevent oral infections.

Study Finds Proton Therapy Safe And Effective Against Prostate Cancer

Two new studies have claimed proton therapy to be a safe and effective treatment for prostate cancer.
In the first study, researchers at the University of Florida in Jacksonville, Fla., prospectively studied 211 men with low-, intermediate-, and high-risk prostate cancer.The men were treated with proton therapy, a specialized type of external beam radiation therapy that uses protons instead of X-rays. After a two year follow-up, the research team led by Nancy Mendenhall, reported that the treatment was effective and that the gastrointestinal and genitourinary side effects were generally minimal.
"This study is important because it will help set normal tissue guidelines in future trials," Mendenhall said.
In the second study, researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Loma Linda University Medical Center in Loma Linda, Calif., and the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group in Philadelphia performed a case-matched analysis comparing high-dose external beam radiation therapy using a combination of photons (X-rays) and protons with brachytherapy (radioactive seed implants).
Over three years, 196 patients received the external beam treatments. Their data was compared to 203 men of similar stages who received brachytherapy over the same time period.
The researchers then compared the biochemical failure rates (a statistical measure of whether the cancer relapses) and determined that men who received the proton/photon therapy had the same rate of recurrence as the men who received brachytherapy.
"For men with prostate cancer, brachytherapy and external beam radiation therapy using photons and protons are both highly effective treatments with similar relapse rates," John J. Coen, a radiation oncologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, said.
"Based on this data, it is our belief that men with prostate cancer can reasonably choose either treatment for localized prostate cancer based on their own concerns about quality of life without fearing they are compromising their chance for a cure," he added.
The study has been published in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology-Biology-Physics (Red Journal).

Stephen Hawking May Lose His Voice As Facial Muscles Weaken

Deteriorating facial muscles may make Professor Stephen Hawking to lose his distinctive computerised voice, as it has slowed down his ability to speak to one word per minute.The world's most famous physicist uses technology operated by twitching his cheek to painstakingly write words on a computer.
A tiny infrared sensor on his glasses detects his cheek pulses, and then selects words displayed on a linked-up computer screen. The chosen words are then spoken by a voice synthesiser.
When the 69-year-old theoretical physicist and cosmologist started using the system, he could write 15 words a minute but the motor neurone disease that has left him wheelchair-bound for more than 40 years is advancing, meaning he is often unable to compose more than a couple of paragraphs of text in an hour.
Although faster means of communicating may be available, the Cambridge University academic is concerned he could lose the electronic voice he has had for a quarter of a century.
"His speech has got slower and slower and on a bad day he can only manage about one word a minute," the Daily Mail quoted Judith Croasdell, his personal assistant as saying.
"We think it may be because of the deterioration in his cheek muscle. We are looking to improve the situation and he needs to test out new technology," Croasdell said.
Hawking, the best-selling author of 'A Brief History of Time', caught pneumonia in 1985 and needed a tracheotomy that left him unable to speak.

Low Vitamin D Levels and Depression Linked

A strong link has been identified between low levels of vitamin D and depression. It is believed to be the largest such investigation ever undertaken.Low levels of vitamin D already are associated with a cavalcade of health woes from cardiovascular diseases to neurological ailments. This new study – published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings – helps clarify a debate that erupted after smaller studies produced conflicting results about the relationship between vitamin D and depression. Major depressive disorder affects nearly one in 10 adults in the U.S.
"Our findings suggest that screening for vitamin D levels in depressed patients – and perhaps screening for depression in people with low vitamin D levels – might be useful," said Dr. E. Sherwood Brown, professor of psychiatry and senior author of the study, done in conjunction with The Cooper Institute in Dallas. "But we don't have enough information yet to recommend going out and taking supplements."
UT Southwestern researchers examined the results of almost 12,600 participants from late 2006 to late 2010. Dr. Brown and colleagues from The Cooper Institute found that higher vitamin D levels were associated with a significantly decreased risk of current depression, particularly among people with a prior history of depression. Low vitamin D levels were associated with depressive symptoms, particularly those with a history of depression, so primary care patients with a history of depression may be an important target for assessing vitamin D levels. The study did not address whether increasing vitamin D levels reduced depressive symptoms.
The scientists have not determined the exact relationship – whether low vitamin D contributes to symptoms of depression, whether depression itself contributes to lower vitamin D levels, or chemically how that happens. But vitamin D may affect neurotransmitters, inflammatory markers and other factors, which could help explain the relationship with depression, said Dr. Brown, who leads the psychoneuroendocrine research program at UT Southwestern.
Vitamin D levels are now commonly tested during routine physical exams, and they already are accepted as risk factors for a number of other medical problems: autoimmune diseases; heart and vascular disease; infectious diseases; osteoporosis; obesity; diabetes; certain cancers; and neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, multiple sclerosis, and general cognitive decline.
Investigators used information gathered by the institute, which has 40 years of data on runners and other fit volunteers. UT Southwestern has a partnership with the institute, a preventive medicine research and educational nonprofit located at the Cooper Aerobics Center, to develop a joint scientific medical research program aimed at improving health and preventing a wide range of chronic diseases. The institute maintains one of the world's most extensive databases – known as the Cooper Center Longitudinal Study – that includes detailed information from more than 250,000 clinic visits that has been collected since Dr. Kenneth Cooper founded the institute and clinic in 1970.

Gender Discrimination Sparks Outrage in Israel

Beit Shemesh, a town west of Jerusalem which is home to some 80,000 people -- most of them Orthodox Jews -- has become ground zero in the latest uproar over attempts by some ultra-Orthodox men to impose a regime of strict gender segregation.
The town hit the national spotlight last month when Israeli television reported on a series of spitting attacks and abuse against an eight-year-old girl on grounds she was dressed "immodestly."
Reporters also filmed signs instructing women to walk on different sides of the street from men, and interviewed local residents who justified the imposition of strict segregation.
The broadcasts enraged many in secular Israel, coming in the wake of several weeks of reports about segregation on buses, with women forced to sit at the back -- or face abuse from angry male passengers seated in front.
"While the tension between the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) public and other Israelis is latent, it is undeniable that it has reached new heights," Menahem Friedman, a professor of sociology at Bar-Ilan university, told AFP.
According to demographic projections, Israel's ultra-Orthodox population, which currently makes up around 10 percent of the country, will account for 20 percent of the population within 20 to 30 years.
But Daniel Haik, editor-in-chief of the ultra-Orthodox newspaper Hamodia, warns against generalising about the community.
One of the most radical fringe groups is the "Sicari," which takes its name from a band of first-century Jewish zealots, and numbers around 15,000 people -- about two percent of the country's ultra-Orthodox population.
"The majority of the ultra-Orthodox distance themselves from the violence of the Sicari of Beit Shemesh, which has no more than around a dozen members," Haik told AFP.
"Easy generalisations should be avoided so as not to stigmatise an entire community because of the real extremism of a few."
According to Friedman, the outrage provoked by the gender discrimination imposed by radical activists is a symptom of deeper animosity towards the community among the majority of Israelis.
In particular, secular Israelis are deeply concerned by the staggering growth rates of the ultra-Orthodox community, which is largely dependent on state subsidies because its men spend their lives in studying religious texts and usually do not work.
The women in the community have an average of 7.5 children, Friedman says -- more than double the national average of just under three.
And in Jerusalem, half of all the children in the city are educated at primary schools under ultra-Orthodox supervision.
The ultra-Orthodox are also exempt from military service, and with most of them unemployed, they contribute very little to Israel's tax base.
Despite the strong anti-Zionist and anti-state ideology espoused by parts of the community, it is well represented in the parliament, where the electoral system and coalition instability have given the ultra-Orthodox disproportionate influence, with 18 MPs out of the 120-seat Knesset.
"The Haredim depend on state subsidies to survive, which is what provokes the anger of the rest of the Israeli population, all of whom work, serve in the army and pay their taxes," Friedman said.
"Israelis are increasingly worried by the growth of this inactive sector of society, which could eventually lead to the economic collapse of the country."

Thursday, 5 January 2012

DBT-ICMR to begin collaborative programme on 'HIV/AIDS and Microbicides' to promote HIV/AIDS research

Stressing on accelerating HIV/AIDS prevention related research including vaccines and microbicides development, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) will soon begin collaborative programme on “HIV/AIDS and Microbicides” to promote HIV/AIDS research in the related areas.
The programme aims to support a wide range of anti-HIV candidates including small chemically defined molecules, indigenous compounds, formulations, nucleotides, peptides and proteins targeting a range of relevant targets using a diverse range of delivery systems. In addition to iterative development of candidates, the programme aims to support studies in order to advance the understanding of HIV immunopathogenesis and host immune responses.
The programme also targets to accelerate research that will generate knowledge and develop state-of-the-art technologies to provide the basis for the development of HIV vaccines and novel therapies against HIV including microbicides.
The new collaborative programme will promote HIV/AIDS research in the areas such as 'HIV pathogenesis and vaccine related research' and 'microbicides related research'.
The HIV pathogenesis and vaccine related research will focus on the areas of molecular surveillance of HIV incidence, genetic diversity and anti-retroviral drug resistance mutations; genetic basis for HIV transmission, resistance and disease progression; development of models for HIV infection and their applications in viral pathogenesis and drug discovery; elucidate protective, non-protective and deleterious pathogen and host factors that are important for HIV infection; delineate the balance between virulence and host immune response; define molecular networks including signaling pathways to characterize HIV infection; development of optimized functional and high throughput assays to enable understanding of HIV immunopathogenesis and host immunity; generation of broadly cross-reactive neutralizing antibodies; design and characterization of immunogens; design and development of inhibitors of gene expression in HIV; and development of cost-effective assays and algorithms with improved specificity and reliability for determining HIV incidence through identification of biomarkers.
And the 'microbicides related research' will focus on development of candidate microbicides alone and/or in combination to prevent HIV transmission including indigenous compounds; development of biological and surrogate markers of safety or protection; use of genomics or proteomics to identify novel candidate agents or targets for microbicide strategies; preclinical Pharmacokinetics/Pharmacodynamics; acute, chronic and extended exposure toxicity testing including genotoxicity and carcinogenicity of candidate microbicides; innate, adaptive and mal-adaptive responses in mucosal/epithelial tissues, semen and other secretions before and after the use of microbicides; and measurement of local tissue, target cell systemic absorption following topical microbicide use and relate this to microbicide safety, efficacy and potency.
Scientists working in universities, research institutions, public and private organizations having sound scientific track records are eligible for this programme.

MUHS to introduce 6-month certificate course in clinical nutrition from Feb

Maharashtra University of Health Sciences (MUHS), Nashik will be introducing a six months certificate course in clinical nutrition from the first week of February 2012 for the professionals working in medical, Ayurveda, Unani, Homoeopathy in the specialties of paediatrics, gynaecology, medicine and oncology, physiotherapists and nursing in the university.

Dr Arun Jamkar, Hon’ble vice chancellor, MUHS said that there are many courses in nutrition which gives basic information about the nutrition. But these courses lack in clinical correlation. He further added, “We are starting such an integrated course in clinical nutrition for the first time which will give holistic approach to nutritional training to all the health professionals which will help to prepare them for future career opportunities in a public health nutrition.”

This course aims to help the clinicians in the early diagnosis and intervention in nutritional disorders, knowledge would be of help in setting up a nutrition counselling cell, as this will be a major stepping stone to enter in the nutrition field of national and international research.
The objectives of the course is to provide a sound understanding of the science of nutrition and diseases, to provide advanced knowledge and skills in management of nutrition related problems, to provide a scientific basis for assessment and management of nutritional problems of vulnerable populations, to build capacities to undertake research projects in the area of nutrition, to enhance knowledge and skills for improving patient care, management and evaluation of community programmes in nutrition.
Dr Jamkar informed that this will be the foundation course in nutrition which will help the candidates to pursue future courses in Masters Public Heath (MPH) in Public Health Nutrition and research programmes designed for the degree of M Phil and PhD, which the Department of Genetics, Immunology Biochemistry and Nutrition is planning to start and they can also be able to enter in the field of research in nutrition.
The clinical nutrition course integrates basic and clinical nutritional principles as well as outlines the diagnosis and evaluation of nutritional disorders. This will require basic knowledge of pathophysiology, biochemical and clinical knowledge relevant to the most common nutritional diseases affecting different health systems. The participants will be given a thorough knowledge of basic nutrition and nutritional diseases which will help them in diagnosing nutritional disorder. They can plan special diet in malnutrition, obesity, cancer and HIV.

Stephen Hawking to turn 70, defying disease

British scientist Stephen Hawking has decoded some of the most puzzling mysteries of the universe but he has left one mystery unsolved: How he has managed to survive so long with such a crippling disease.
The physicist and cosmologist was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease when he was a 21-year-old student at Cambridge University. Most people die within a few years of the diagnosis, called motor neurone disease in the U.K. On Sunday, Hawking will turn 70.
"I don't know of anyone who's survived this long," said Ammar Al-Chalabi, director of the Motor Neurone Disease Care and Research Centre at King's College London. He does not treat Hawking and described his longevity as "extraordinary."
"It is unusual for (motor neurone disease) patients to survive for decades, but not unheard of," said Dr. Rup Tandan, a neurology professor at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. Still, Tandan said many longtime survivors had ventilators to breathe for them — which Hawking does not.
Hawking first gained attention with his 1988 book "A Brief History of Time," a simplified overview of the universe. It sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. His subsequent theories have revolutionized modern understanding of concepts like black holes and the Big Bang theory of how the universe began.
To mark his birthday Sunday, Cambridge University is holding a public symposium on "The State of the Universe," featuring talks from 27 leading scientists, including Hawking himself. For 30 years, he held a mathematics post at the university previously held by Sir Isaac Newton. Hawking retired from that position in 2009 and is now director of research at the university's Centre for Theoretical Cosmology.
Hawking achieved all that despite being nearly entirely paralyzed and in a wheelchair since 1970. He now communicates only by twitching his right cheek. Since catching pneumonia in 1985, Hawking has needed around-the-clock care and relies on a computer and voice synthesizer to speak.
A tiny infrared sensor sits on his glasses, hooked up to a computer. The sensor detects Hawking's cheek pulses, which select words displayed on a computer screen. The chosen words are then spoken by the voice synthesizer. It can take up to 10 minutes for Hawking to formulate a single sentence.
"The only trouble is (the voice synthesizer) gives me an American accent," the Briton wrote on his website.
It took Hawking four years to write his last book, "The Grand Design," missing his publisher's original deadline.
Hawking declined requests from The Associated Press for an interview, but his personal assistant, Judith Croasdell, spoke to the AP. She described her boss as remarkably patient.
"The way he communicates can seem frustratingly slow to most people but he doesn't let that impede his thinking," she said.
After a brief hospital stay, Hawking told her that he spent the time thinking about black holes.
Hawking typically comes into the office after a big breakfast and reading the news, Croasdell said. "He's not an early morning person, but he does stay quite late," until about 7 or 8 in the evening, she said.
Hawking's rooftop university office is crammed full of memorabilia: family photos, a miniature NASA shuttle, and a signed picture of himself with President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle. On top of physics books sits a disability access guide for the university.
Hawking's fame has led to guest appearances on some of his favorite television shows including "The Simpsons" and "Star Trek." His animated likeness from "The Simpsons" has even been turned into an action figure — one of which sits proudly on his office desk. There's also a Homer Simpson clock that Hawking is known to glare at when visitors are late for an appointment.
"He's a big ham, he loves the spotlight," said Kitty Ferguson, who's written two biographies of the physicist.
She said he has a wry sense of humor and has programmed his computer to respond to random encounters with people who ask if he's Stephen Hawking. "No, but I'm often mistaken for that man," his voice synthesizer deadpans.
Lou Gehrig's disease, also called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, attacks motor neurons, cells that control the muscles. Patients typically suffer muscle weakness and wasting, become paralyzed and have problems talking, swallowing and breathing. Only about 10 percent of patients live longer than a decade.
People who are stricken at a young age, as Hawking was, generally have a better chance of surviving longer. Most people are diagnosed between 50 and 70. Life expectancy generally ranges from two to five years after symptoms like slurred speech, difficulty swallowing and muscle weakness set in. Hawking's personal physicians don't discuss his condition with the press, Croasdell said.
For some reason, the disease has progressed more slowly in Hawking than in most. Al-Chalabi and colleagues are analyzing a DNA sample from Hawking, along with those of other patients, to see if there is something rare about his disease or any genetic mutations that could explain his long survival and if that information could be used to help others.
Some experts said the type of care Hawking has, including about a dozen health workers 24 hours a day, may have extended his life expectancy.
"The disease can sometimes stabilize and then the kind of care delivered may be a factor in survival," said Virginia Lee, a brain disease expert at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "Remaining mentally alert is also extremely important and he has clearly done that."
Hawking says he tries not to think about his limitations.
"I have had (Lou Gehrig's disease) for practically all my adult life," he says on his website. "Yet it has not prevented me from having a very attractive family and being successful in my work," he writes. "I try to lead as normal a life as possible and not think about my condition or regret the things it prevents me from doing, which are not that many."
From the office pictures documenting his achievements, that certainly seems to be the case. Framed photos show the physicist with several popes and on memorable trips to China and Easter Island.
He has even flown in a space simulator. In 2007, Hawking took a zero-gravity flight in Florida, the first time in 40 years he abandoned his wheelchair.
"That was the happiest I've ever seen Stephen," said Sam Blackburn, Hawking's graduate assistant, who accompanied him on the ride along with about a half-dozen others, including two doctors. "He just had the biggest grin on his face."
Hawking has also been married twice and has three children and three grandchildren. With his daughter Lucy, he has written several children's books on physics.
Al-Chalabi said most patients with Lou Gehrig's disease succumb after their breathing muscles stop working. He had no predictions for what the biggest health risks to Hawking's future might be.
"He is truly remarkable," Al-Chalabi said. "This is someone who's managed to find ways around every single problem the disease has thrown at him."

Soy Nutritional Supplement Containing S-equol Reduces Hot Flash, Other Menopausal Symptoms

Daily doses of a soy germ-based nutritional supplement that contains S-equol significantly improves menopausal symptoms, including greatly reducing hot flash frequency after 12 weeks according to a placebo-controlled study in postmenopausal Japanese women published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Women's Health.
"It is believed that S-equol, produced from the isoflavone daidzein during the fermentation of soy germ, interacts with specific estrogen receptors to promote the improvement in menopausal symptoms. Data from this study and other clinical studies, including those done in U.S. women, shows that the supplement SE5-OH containing S-equol may serve as a promising alternative for reducing the frequency of hot flashes and perhaps other menopausal symptoms," said Belinda H. Jenks, Ph.D., director of Scientific Affairs & Nutrition Education at Pharmavite LLC, the makers of NatureMade® vitamins and minerals.
In the double-blind, randomized study, the daily frequency of the women's hot flashes after 12 weeks of treatment decreased by 58.7 percent (-1.9 ± 1.8 daily compared to 3.2 ± 2.4 daily at the study start) for the 66 women receiving a daily dose of 10 milligrams (mg) of S-equol contained in SE5-OH , significantly more than the 34.5 percent reduction (-1.0 ± 2.0 daily vs. 2.9 ± 2.1 daily at study start) experienced by the 60 women receiving a placebo (P=0.009). Of the 34 women who enrolled with at least three hot flashes daily, the women receiving SE5-OH had a 62.8 percent reduction in their daily hot flash frequency (-2.9 ± 2.0), significantly greater than 23.6 percent reduction experienced by the 28 women in the placebo group (-1.2 ± 2.9) (P=0.009).
Moreover, the women in the SE5-OH with S-equol group experienced significant decreases in the severity of their hot flashes (P=0.012), as measured by the Climacteric Symptom Evaluation Form Checklist, which measured the severity of 22 menopausal symptoms as well as the hot flash frequency. The women recorded the severity of their menopausal symptoms in a diary at the study start, and at the end of the treatment (week 12) using a four-point scale (0: none, 1: mild, 2: moderate and 3: severe). A decrease in a symptom score of one or more points was classified as an improvement.
The women receiving SE5-OH with S-equol had significant improvements in the severity of their neck or shoulder muscle stiffness scores compared to those in the placebo group (P=0.004). Of note, women in Japan in general experience fewer hot flashes but experience more neck and shoulder stiffness than women in the United States.
The severity of hot flashes, sweating, sleeplessness, depression, and neck or shoulder muscle stiffness, were measured by the validated assessment tool, the Visual Analog Scale(VAS). The VAS indicated a significant decrease in neck and shoulder stiffness for women receiving SE5-OH with S-equol compared to those in the placebo group (-11.9 ± 26.7 mm vs. -1.6 ± 17.1 mm, P=0.007). Also, scores on the sub-scales of the Greene Climacteric Scale revealed a significant difference on the somatic subscale in the SE5-OH group compared to the placebo group (P=0.043) and a strong positive trend on the vasomotor subscale score the SE5-OH group, compared to the placebo group (P=0.052). The women also rated their quality of life using a standardized Short Form 36 Health Survey, its general health perception scale scoring trended positively toward improvement in the SE5-OH containing S-equol group compared to the placebo group (P=0.090).
The trial also evaluated safety and adverse treatment-related effects. No adverse events were reported in this study and the supplement was well tolerated. The use of SE5-OH containing S-equol showed no serious treatment-related adverse effects on the women's hormones including sex hormones, gonadal, and thyroid hormones, which is in agreement with the results of other clinical trials of SE5-OH containing S-equol.

Because the large placebo effect typically observed in clinical trials of hot flashes often complicates interpretation of results, this trial included a four-week placebo run-in period. Participants reported the severity of their symptoms as well as their frequency of hot flashes at both the start and end of the run-in period, and those who had less than one hot flash per day, low menopause symptom scores or a positive placebo response were excluded from the study, as were women who were S-equol producers.
S-equol [7-hydroxy-3-(4'-hydroxyphenyl)-chroman] is a compound resulting -- when certain bacteria are present in the digestive tract -- from the natural metabolism, or conversion, of daidzein, an isoflavone found in whole soybeans. Not everyone can produce S-equol after soy consumption, as the production depends on the types of bacteria present in the large intestine and may be influenced by the amount of soy consumed. About 50 percent of Asians and 20 to 30 percent of North Americans and Europeans, who in general consume less soy than Asians, have the ability to produce high levels of S-equol.
The trial, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study, enrolled 160 post-menopausal Japanese women aged 45 to 60 years, all of whom were S-equol non-producers. The enrolled women did not take hormonal drugs or menopause symptom treatments. The postmenopausal enrollment criteria included estrogen levels of less than 21 picograms per milliliter (ml), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) values greater than 30 milli international units (mIU)/ml, a minimum of one hot flash daily, body mass index between 18.6 and 25 and S-equol non-producer status, based on results of a soy challenge test during the screening period.
The trial used supplement tablets which each contained 5 mg of S-equol, and the trial participants took one tablet twice daily. SE5-OH is the product of fermentation of soy germ by the bacterial strain Lactococcus 20-92 using a patented and proprietary process by the Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. The process results in the conversion of the daidzein to S-equol. SE5-OH is created under current Good Manufacturing Practices. Following fermentation, the bacteria undergo heat denaturation and are deactivated. The process is designed to produce a S-equol-rich product, or nutraceutical ingredient. The ingredient has self-affirmed GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) status. Development and ongoing research of SE5-OH containing S-equol is conducted by the Saga Nutraceuticals Research Institute of Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. Pharmavite, a subsidiary of Otsuka, is studying SE5-OH containing S-equol as a dietary supplement for the management of menopausal symptoms.
Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. supported the study. The study data were presented in an oral presentation at the North American Menopause Society annual meeting in October 2009.
Preliminary evidence from other, observational studies suggests that Japanese women who produce S-equol naturally may have fewer menopausal symptoms. Controlled clinical trials have documented that SE5-OH containing S-equol reduces the frequency of hot flashes as well as muscle discomfort associated with menopause, both in women in Japan and the United States.
S-equol binds to the same estrogen receptors as naturally occurring estrogen, but with a stronger affinity for the estrogen beta receptor. On binding to these receptors, S-equol mimics some, but not all, activities of estrogen. The safety of SE5-OH containing S-equol previously was confirmed by standard animal testing, including a study documenting that S-equol itself, as well as SE5-OH containing S-equol, did not increase or stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells. Studies involving postmenopausal women who consumed SE5-OH containing S-equol have not observed any safety problems, including analysis of breast and reproductive tissues and of hormone levels.

The Great Divide Between Men and Women is Actually Wider

Distance between Mars and Venus is wider than previously thought, of course the reference is between the sexes.In research published Wednesday, three European psychologists, using a new model for analyzing personality differences between men and women, claimed the gap between the genders has been sorely underestimated in previous studies.
"The idea that there are only minor differences between the personality profiles of males and females should be rejected as based on inadequate methodology," they wrote in the online journal PLoS ONE (
Led by Marco Del Giudice of Italy's University of Turin, the researchers took a 1993 survey of 10,000 men and women in the United States and re-crunched the numbers.
That survey, famous among psychologists as the Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire, quizzed its participants on such traits as warmth, dominance, sensitivity, vigilance, self-reliance, perfectionism and tension.
Comparing the overall profiles of men and women, and taking multiple traits into account, they discovered very large differences between the sexes -- differences which had seemed to be smaller when each trait was looked at individually, without correction for measurement error.
"These are extremely large differences by psychological standards," wrote Del Giudice and colleagues Tom Booth and Paul Irwing of the University of Manchester in England.
By way of conclusion, they called for further research in order to build "a solid foundation for the scientific study of psychological sex differences and their biological and cultural origins."

Time’s Gift of Healing, Clarified

The phenomenal gift of how time heals wounds has been identified by scientists.According to Toshikazu Kondo and colleagues at Wakayama Medical University, in Wakayama, Japan, wound healing requires complex interactions between cells resident at the damaged site and infiltrating immune cells.
As healing progresses, the growth of new blood vessels is critical to provide nutrients and oxygen.
Endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) are cells that come from the bone marrow and are key to the production of new vessels, but the signals that direct their emigration from the bone marrow are unknown.
In the study, the researchers demonstrate that the chemokine CCL5 helps to direct the recruitment of EPCs to sites of wounding by acting on the chemokine receptor CCR5.
Mice that don't express CCR5 display delayed wound healing.
The findings of this study suggest that humans who carry mutations in CCR5 may also experience problems with wound healing, and identify the CCR5 or CCL5 as a potential clinical target to promote healing.

Why some TB cells resist antibiotics

A new study led by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers provides a novel explanation as to why some tuberculosis cells are inherently more difficult to treat with antibiotics. The discovery, which showed that the ways mycobacteria cells divide and grow determine their susceptibility to treatment with drugs, could lead to new avenues of drug development that better target tuberculosis cells.
The study appears Dec. 15 in an online edition of Science.
“We have found that the consequences of the simple and unexpected patterning of mycobacterial growth and division means some bacterial cells have the capacity to survive in the face of antibiotics,” said Bree Aldridge, a postdoctoral fellow at HSPH and co-first author of the study.
Tuberculosis is an infectious disease that kills more than 1.5 million people annually. It is a difficult disease to treat; people are prescribed a combination of antibiotics to be taken daily for six to nine months, a regimen that is hard for patients to follow and for nurses and doctors to administer. Even after beginning appropriate treatment, it appears that some of the infectious cells survive for long periods of time.
The HSPH researchers, led by Aldridge, co-first author and visiting scientist Marta Fernandez-Suarez, and senior author Sarah Fortune, assistant professor of immunology and infectious diseases, along with colleagues from Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital, set out to determine what distinguishes a cell that lives from one that dies. They designed a unique microfluidic chamber in which they grew Mycobacterium smegmatis cells (which behave similarly to Mycobacterium tuberculosis cells) and filmed their growth with a live-cell imaging system.
The researchers thought that the M. smegmatis cells would divide evenly into similar-sized daughter cells, as bacteria such as E. coli do. Instead, they were surprised to find that the M. smegmatis daughter cells were incredibly diverse, with highly variable sizes and growth rates. They found that this diversity arises because M. smegmatis grow in an unusual fashion, elongating from only one end. When an asymmetric mother cell divides, it creates daughter cells that are very different from one another in fundamental ways, including their growth properties.
The researchers speculated that these physiologically distinct subpopulations of cells would translate into differences in their susceptibility to antibiotics, which target processes essential for growth and division. To test this hypothesis, they treated the cells with different classes of antibiotics and observed how subpopulations of daughter cells responded.
The results showed that the different daughter cells exhibited varying susceptibilities to the treatments, strong evidence that populations of mycobacterial cells contain cells that are inherently tolerant of antibiotics and providing an important piece to the puzzle of why tuberculosis is such a difficult disease to treat.
“It is surprising to discover that mycobacteria differ from other bacteria such as E. coli in such a fundamental way,” said Fortune. “It is easy to assume that most bacteria work in a similar fashion. While that’s true sometimes, this study shows that bacterial species, such as TB, may be strikingly different from each other and thus require different methods of treatment.” The researchers hope that their findings lead to the development of treatment regimens in which antibiotics are combined to specifically target tolerant subpopulations of cells.
Support for this study was provided by a National Institutes of Health Director’s New Innovator Award, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the United States Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity, the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, and the Massachusetts General Hospital Executive Committee on Research.
Source:Harvard Science

Meditation found to increase brain size

People who meditate grow bigger brains than those who don’t.
Researchers at Harvard, Yale, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found the first evidence that meditation can alter the physical structure of our brains. Brain scans they conducted reveal that experienced meditators boasted increased thickness in parts of the brain that deal with attention and processing sensory input.
In one area of gray matter, the thickening turns out to be more pronounced in older than in younger people. That’s intriguing because those sections of the human cortex, or thinking cap, normally get thinner as we age.
“Our data suggest that meditation practice can promote cortical plasticity in adults in areas important for cognitive and emotional processing and well-being,” says Sara Lazar, leader of the study and a psychologist at Harvard Medical School. “These findings are consistent with other studies that demonstrated increased thickness of music areas in the brains of musicians, and visual and motor areas in the brains of jugglers. In other words, the structure of an adult brain can change in response to repeated practice.”
The researchers compared brain scans of 20 experienced meditators with those of 15 nonmeditators. Four of the former taught meditation or yoga, but they were not monks living in seclusion. The rest worked in careers such as law, health care, and journalism. All the participants were white. During scanning, the meditators meditated; the others just relaxed and thought about whatever they wanted.
Meditators did Buddhist “insight meditation,” which focuses on whatever is there, like noise or body sensations. It doesn’t involve “om,” other mantras, or chanting.
“The goal is to pay attention to sensory experience, rather than to your thoughts about the sensory experience,” Lazar explains. “For example, if you suddenly hear a noise, you just listen to it rather than thinking about it. If your leg falls asleep, you just notice the physical sensations. If nothing is there, you pay attention to your breathing.” Successful meditators get used to not thinking or elaborating things in their mind.
Study participants meditated an average of about 40 minutes a day. Some had been doing it for only a year, others for decades. Depth of the meditation was measured by the slowing of breathing rates. Those most deeply involved in the meditation showed the greatest changes in brain structure. “This strongly suggests,” Lazar concludes, “that the differences in brain structure were caused by the meditation, rather than that differences in brain thickness got them into meditation in the first place.”
Lazar took up meditation about 10 years ago and now practices insight meditation about three times a week. At first she was not sure it would work. But “I have definitely experienced beneficial changes,” she says. “It reduces stress [and] increases my clarity of thought and my tolerance for staying focused in difficult situations.”
Controlling random thoughts
Insight meditation can be practiced anytime, anywhere. “People who do it quickly realize that much of what goes on in their heads involves random thoughts that often have little substance,” Lazar comments. “The goal is not so much to ‘empty’ your head, but to not get caught up in random thoughts that pop into consciousness.”
She uses this example: Facing an important deadline, people tend to worry about what will happen if they miss it, or if the end product will be good enough to suit the boss. You can drive yourself crazy with unproductive “what if” worry. “If, instead, you focus on the present moment, on what needs to be done and what is happening right now, then much of the feeling of stress goes away,” Lazar says. “Feelings become less obstructive and more motivational.”
The increased thickness of gray matter is not very much, 4 to 8 thousandths of an inch. “These increases are proportional to the time a person has been meditating during their lives,” Lazar notes. “This suggests that the thickness differences are acquired through extensive practice and not simply due to differences between meditators and nonmeditators.”
As small as they are, you can bet those differences are going to lead to lots more studies to find out just what is going on and how meditation might better be used to improve health and well-being, and even slow aging.
More basic questions need to be answered. What causes the increased thickness? Does meditation produce more connections between brain cells, or more blood vessels? How does increased brain thickness influence daily behavior? Does it promote increased communication between intellectual and emotional areas of the brain?
To get answers, larger studies are planned at Massachusetts General Hospital, the Harvard-affiliated facility where Lazar is a research scientist and where these first studies were done. That work included only 20 meditators and their brains were scanned only once.
“The results were very encouraging,” Lazar remarks. “But further research needs to be done using a larger number of people and testing them multiple times. We also need to examine their brains both before and after learning to meditate. Our group is currently planning to do this. Eventually, such research should reveal more about the function of the thickening; that is, how it affects emotions and knowing in terms of both awareness and judgment.”
Slowing aging?
Since this type of meditation counteracts the natural thinning of the thinking surface of the brain, could it play a role in slowing – even reversing – aging? That could really be mind-boggling in the most positive sense.
Lazar is cautious in her answer. “Our data suggest that one small bit of brain appears to have a slower rate of cortical thinning, so meditation may help slow some aspects of cognitive aging,” she agrees. “But it’s important to remember that monks and yogis suffer from the same ailments as the rest of us. They get old and die, too. However, they do claim to enjoy an increased capacity for attention and memory.”
Source:Harvard Science

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

FDA prohibits class of antibiotics in animals

Health regulators on Wednesday banned a class of antibiotics for use in animals to prevent the rise of drug-resistant bacteria that also infect humans.
The Food and Drug Administration issued an order to prohibit cephalosporin, a popular class of antibiotics, for use in cattle, swine, chickens and turkeys from April 5, with some exceptions.
Health officials argue that the widespread use of the drug by livestock farmers could lead to resistance when the drug is used to treat people.
Bacteria learn to outsmart antibiotics when repeatedly exposed to the medicines. Humans then pick up drug-resistant bacteria when they eat or handle contaminated meat.
Cephalosporins are commonly used to treat people with pneumonia and skin and soft tissue infections, the FDA said.
"We believe this is an imperative step in preserving the effectiveness of this class of important antimicrobials that takes into account the need to protect the health of both humans and animals," said Michael Taylor, the FDA's deputy commissioner for foods.

Study in monkeys raises hope for HIV vaccines

An experimental vaccine helped protect monkeys from an especially deadly form of the AIDS virus, raising new hope for an effective vaccine in people, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday.
The vaccine reduced the risk of infection by 80 percent among monkeys exposed to a primate version of the virus, while monkeys that became infected had lower amounts of the virus in their blood, the team reported in the journal Nature.
"It is an important advance in knowledge," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a telephone interview.
Scientists are especially excited because the study helped identify a key part of the immune system that is needed to offer protection from the human immunodeficiency virus or HIV that causes AIDS.
"It is nailing down in a more precise way what kind of an immune response a vaccine needs to induce to protect against the acquisition of infection as well as suppression of virus if someone happens to get infected," Fauci said.
The result is promising enough that the researchers are planning to test the vaccine in humans next year.
Efforts so far to make an AIDS vaccine have not been successful but a 2009 study in Thailand involving 16,000 people showed for the first time that a vaccine could safely prevent HIV infection in a small number of volunteers.
The researchers used weakened versions of two viruses commonly used in vaccine development -- a common cold virus called an adenovirus and a smallpox virus -- to deliver the primate version of the HIV antigen into the body and trigger an immune response.
"The vaccines we tested have had very extensive experience in the clinic, which means the transition from the animal work to the human work will be very easy," said Colonel Nelson Michael, director of the U.S. Military HIV Research Program at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, who worked on both the study in Thailand and the latest effort.
After vaccinating the monkeys, the team exposed the animals to an aggressive version of simian immunodeficiency virus, or SIV.
"This was really a high bar to get over," Michael said in a telephone interview. "We were excited to see these vaccine types protected these animals."
After repeated exposure to SIV, eventually most of the animals did become infected but even then, the vaccine appeared to offer added protection.
"We saw two things that were really important. A protection against infection but even in animals that became infected, we saw reduced levels of virus," Michael said.
Next, the team did a series of tests to see what parts of the monkeys' immune system became active. They found that a key portion of a gene called an envelope, which the virus uses to get inside cells, was critical to protecting the animals.
"This is going to be the anchor for a next generation of vaccines that will propel us past Thailand," Michael said.
He cautioned that the studies so far are in monkeys and the real test will be human trials, which he expects to start in January 2013.
The group is working closely with vaccine maker Crucell, a unit of Johnson & Johnson.
There is no cure for AIDS but cocktails of drugs can keep the disease at bay for many years. New research shows they can prevent the virus from spreading to sexual partners.
But because HIV is spread in so many ways -- during sex, on needles shared by drug users, in breast milk and in blood -- there is no single easy way to prevent infection and a vaccine is still considered the best hope for conquering the virus.
Some 34 million people globally are infected with HIV and more than 25 million people have died of AIDS, according to the United Nations agency UNAIDS.

Regular medication can ease severe asthma attacks

A quarter of severe asthma attacks could be averted if only patients took their prescribed medication regularly, according to a new study by the Henry Ford Hospital
“Our findings demonstrated a relationship between medication adherence and asthma events in a manner that accounts for the changing patterns of inhaler use over time,” says study co-author Keoki Williams, an Internal Medicine physician and associate director of Henry Ford’s Center for Health Policy and Health Service Research.
Henry Ford researchers say this is the first time that asthma medication use has been tracked closely over time and related to the likelihood of severe asthma attacks
More than 20 million Americans suffer from asthma, which accounts for nearly half a million hospitalizations in the US annually, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
Inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) medication is the most effective treatment for controlling symptoms and preventing attacks, which can lead to a visit to the emergency department or hospitalization or death if left untreated.

DHR scheme to promote medical research as career among young students

omote medical research as a career among young scientists and medical students and also to attract and retain the young to a career in health research, the Department of Health Research (DHR) has launched a scheme “Human Resource Development for Health Research” which is a scheme for fellowship/training programme.
The main components of the scheme are development of researchers at critical and high focused areas; programme to promote medical research as a career among young scientists and medical students; creation of a national initiative in partnership with relevant stakeholders to attract and retain the young to a career in health research; schemes for focused programme on human resource development in medical colleges; and programme to establish an online teaching facility and web portal on health research for students, faculty and other researchers.
The DHR, a newly-created department in the ministry of health & family welfare (MoHFW) for the purpose of promoting health research in the country, has invited applications from faculty/researchers working in the medical colleges/ research institutions for the fellowships training in Indian/foreign institutes for the three categories such as long term fellowship training in foreign institutes in identified areas, long term fellowship training in Indian Institutes in identified areas and specially designed short term orientation training in identified areas.

The identified areas for the long term fellowship training in foreign institutes are toxicology, genomics, proteomics, geriatrics and stem cell research.
The identified areas for the long term fellowship training in Indian Institutes are toxicology, genomics, proteomics, geriatrics, stem cell research, clinical trials, good clinical practices (GCP), good laboratory practices (GLP), quality control (QC) and quality assurance (QA), modern biology, biotechnology, genetics, drugs chemistry, operational research, health informatics, medical ethics, disease modeling, health economics, environmental health and any other area which is considered important by the fellow/applicant or the parent institute.
And the identified areas for the specially designed short term orientation training include toxicology, genomics, proteomics, geriatrics, stem cell research, clinical trials, good clinical practices (GCP), good laboratory practices (GLP), quality control (QC) and quality assurance (QA), modern biology, biotechnology, genetics, drugs chemistry, operational research, health informatics, medical ethics and any other area which is considered important by the fellow/applicant or the parent institute.
Besides, the DHR has also invited applications from various medical and biomedical scientific institutions who can provide training courses/programmes (both conventional and online in these areas) for short term and long term durations. Universities, medical colleges, postgraduate institutions, recognized research and development laboratories and NGOs are eligible to apply.

High-calorie, Low-protein Combo Increases Body Fat: Study

Eating too much of a high-calorie, low-protein diet tends to add more body fat than overeating high amounts of protein, US researchers said Tuesday.
A study published in the January 4 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association included 25 people in Louisiana who agreed to live as in-patients in a weight-gain experiment for a 56-day period.
Over the course of about two months, they were overfed by about 1,000 calories per day.
Some were fed a diet that was five percent protein, some ate 15 percent protein -- considered a normal level -- and others ate 25 percent protein, or a high amount.
The researchers' aim was to uncover how different levels of protein might affect overall weight gain, body fat and energy expenditure.
They found that people on the low-protein diet gained less weight overall, but that more of their extra energy was stored as fat than people on the mid-level and high-protein diets.
Low-protein eaters gained about half as much as the others -- putting on an average of 3.16 kilograms (seven pounds) during the study compared to 6.05 kg in the normal protein group and 6.51 kg in the high-protein group.
But a lot of that extra weight was in the form of lean body mass, which people on the mid- and high-level protein diets gained while those on the low-protein regime lost.
Ninety percent of the extra energy consumed by people on the low-protein diet was stored as fat, compared to about 50 percent in the other two groups.
"The key finding of this study is that calories are more important than protein while consuming excess amounts of energy with respect to increases in body fat," said the research, led by George Bray of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Risk Factors in Rising Trend of Liver Cancer Identified

Recent studies offer clear picture of the rise of hepatocellular carcinoma or liver cancer.
"The studies illuminate the importance of identifying people with risk factors in certain populations to help catch the disease in its early, treatable stages," said W. Ray Kim, M.D.a specialist in Gastroenterology and Hepatology and principal investigator of one study.
Dr. Kim's research group looked at several decades of records in the, a database that accounts for an entire county's inpatient and outpatient care. The study found the overall incidence of HCC in the population (6.9 per 100,000) is higher than has been estimated for the nation based on data from the National Cancer Institute (5.1 per 100,000). The study also found that HCC, which two decades ago tended to be caused by liver-scarring diseases such as from alcohol consumption, is now occurring as a consequence of infection.
"The liver scarring from hepatitis C can take 20 to 30 years to develop into cancer," Dr. Kim says. "We're now seeing cancer patients in their 50s and 60s who contracted hepatitis C 30 years ago and didn't even know they were infected."
Eleven percent of cases were linked to obesity, in particular fatty liver disease.
"It's a small percentage of cases overall," Dr. Kim says. "But with the nationwide obesity epidemic, we believe the rates of liver cancer may dramatically increase in the foreseeable future."
Another study looked exclusively at the Somali population, which is growing in the U.S., particularly in Minnesota, where as many as 50,000 Somalis have settled in the last two decades. The East African country is known to have a high prevalence of hepatitis B, a risk factor for HCC.
Researchers investigating records in the Mayo Clinic Life Sciences System confirmed that hepatitis B remains a risk factor, but they were surprised to find that a significant percentage of liver cancer cases in the population are attributable to hepatitis C, which had not been known to be significantly prevalent.
"The study suggests that screening for hepatitis C would be helpful for the Somali population and would enable close surveillance of liver cancer among those at risk," says lead author Abdirashid Shire, Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic researcher. "That would greatly improve treatment and survival of Somalis with this type of cancer."

Health fair during PBD to promote traditional medicines

To make the most of the opportunity opened up by the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD), the state government in collaboration with FICCI has decided to organize a health fair promoting ayurveda, unani and homeopathy at the SMS Investment Grounds from January 6 to 9.
Outlining the objective of the fair, health minister A A Khan said the popularity of traditional medicines is on the rise worldwide, and therefore, the fair has been timed in a manner that the NRIs coming for the meet can also attend the health fair.
"A lot of doctors are expected to come during the PBD. These doctors may also want to explore the fair. We have made bus service available to ferry the guests from Birla Auditorium to the fair venue," Khan said.
The fair will also focus on ailments and diseases that are a result of the modern lifestyle, officials said.
Principal secretary (ayurveda) Ashok Shekhar said, "We have called experts, who will talk about the increasing cases of diabetes, hypertension and depression among urban residents."
Experts from Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh and other states will take part in the fair, he added.
Besides, companies selling ayurveda, unani and homeopathy medicines will also put up stalls at the fair.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

UK co bid to patent ginger cure foiled

India has foiled an attempt by a British pharmaceutical company to claim a patent on using ginger for the treatment of cough and cold.
NicholasJohn Larkins,London,filed a patent application (no. GB2436063), titled, “Pharmaceutical composition for the treatment of excess mucous production”, on March 16, 2006, at the British patent office. It claimed the usefulness of ginger (Zingiber officinale) and kutki plant (Picrorhiza kurroa) for the treatment of cough andlung diseasestobeits novel and unique finding.
However, Indians have been gulping down steaming hot a d r a k c h a i to cure a bad cough or cold for centuries. The department of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) intervened and provided evidence from age-old ayurveda and unani books, dating back to the 18th century, which spoke about ginger and kutki being used alone or in conjunction with other ingredients for the treatment of cough, bronchial asthma and lung diseases.
“Within a periodof twoweeksof India providing evidence, the five-year-old attempt to pirate India’s traditional medicinalknowledgewasstruckdown by theUK patentofficein 2011,” a health ministry officialsaid.Thebooksthatwere referredto as evidence by CSIR included I l a a j- a l-A mr a a z (18th Century), B h a i s a j y a R a t n av a l i and B h a r a t a B h a i s a j y a R a t n a k a r a (1000 BC), B ay a a z-e-K a b i r(1938 AD), M u h e e t-e-A z a m (19th century) and K h a z a a i n-a l-A d- v i afrom the 20th century.
“India throughtheTraditionalKnowledgeDigitalLibrary (TKDL)submittedits prior art evidences on April 25, 2011. The examiner terminated the patent application before grant,” added the official. Ginger has been a popular Indian home remedy for treating cough and cold. Ginger tea consumedhotisknown to provide reliefto the throat. At times, it is mixed with lemon and honey. The high concentration of vitamin C in the drink improves resistance levels, lowers toxicity of the infection and reduces duration of the cold.
Till about 10 years ago, about 2,000 wrong patents concerning indigenous systems of medicine were being granted annually at international level due to lack of evidence provided by India. TKDL has been a real boon for India. Over 2.26 lakh rare medical formulations which were part of the ancient Indian texts have been dug out, transcribed, documented and digitized into the path-breaking TKDL to protect them from bio-pirates.
This includes 1.22 lakh unani, 90,000 ayurveda and15,000 Siddha formulations, which have been transcribed by the department of AYUSH and CSIR from ancientIndian textswritten originally in Sanskrit, Arabic, Urdu, Persian and Tamil.

Flushing the Toilet Can Be Deadly

Going to the bathroom these days just isn't as easy as it used to be. Not only are there rules about the toilet seat being left up (or down), now there is a real danger of contracting a deadly disease by simply using the toilet.
ABC News reported the C. difficile bacteria were commonly spread in hospital bathrooms without toilet seat covers, but also is spread at home by those who practice improper flushing techniques. I didn't know there were proper flushing techniques, so it looks like public school isn't doing a good job of educating our kids about the hazards of going to the bathroom.
According to the report, the bacteria were detected in the bathroom air nearly 90 minutes after the toilet was flushed, and exacerbated in bathrooms where the toilet contained no lid. How many people actually remember to close the lid before they flush the toilet? The survey found considerable contamination in household bathrooms as well as public ones.
While the study focused on hospital bathrooms, flushing any toilet without closing the lid risks exposure to the bacteria and contamination of the entire bathroom, including personal hygiene items. Studies have shown that water can spray up to 10 feet across the room from a traditional flushing toilet. It frequently contaminates toothbrushes and surfaces with tiny fecal particles, which could include the C. difficle bacteria.
Experts said that exposure to the bacteria can lead to severe diarrhea and life-threatening inflammation of the colon. CBC reported that patients exposed to the bacteria spend an average of six additional days in the hospital. That's a pretty mean little bug there - all because improper toilet flushing is practiced.
So, what's the solution? Experts advise people to close the lid prior to flushing the toilet. Then, of course, don't forget to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. But, that's probably not enough. Disinfectant cleaning of all bathroom surfaces and a healthy disinfectant aerosol spray to cleanse the air is helpful too. Before long, people will have to get into a decontamination suit just to use the potty. What is this world coming too?

Flouting norms, allopaths conducted ayurvedic drug trials

Tossing the Indian Council of Medical Research's (ICMR) ethical guidelines out of the window, allopathic doctors in Indore and eight other cities in India had put scores of patients under clinical drug trials for ayurvedic and herbal remedies.
Two city-based doctors had carried out this trial for the drug manufacturers, in their private clinics in Indore, others did it in several parts of the country. The drugs involved were an ophthalmic medicine, Opthacare, and a novel herbal molecule.
The trials were done on patients reporting with chronic conjunctivitis migraine. As many as 116 patients were tested with Opthacare and another 214 patients were given the herbal molecule by allopathic doctors, across nine cities of country.
The issue had first come in to notice after Congress MLA Pratap Grewal raised a question in the MP Assembly asking for information on herbal medicine clinical trials conducted by allopathic doctors. In response, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had said that 116 patients were put under trial for herbal eye drop Opthacare by allopathic and government doctors. As the trial was conducted at private clinics, no answer was provided in the assembly whether ICMR guidelines were followed or not.
Significantly, the trials did not include any competent Ayurveda, Siddha or Unani physician as a co-investigator in the entire process. This is expressly required by ICMR guidelines, which say that any allopathic doctor conducting any clinical trial using an Ayurvedic or other herbal drug on patients guidelines should have a co-investigator from those disciplines.
This is what the ICMR guidelines say : It is essential that such clinical trials (using Ayurveda or herbal drugs) be carried out only when a competent Ayurveda, Siddha or Unani physician is a co-investigator.......... It would neither be ethically acceptable nor morally justifiable, if an allopathic physician, based on references in ancient literature of.....traditional systems of Medicine, carries out clinical evaluation.. without any concept or training in these systems of medicine. Hence, it is necessary to associate a specialist from these systems and the clinical evaluation should be carried out jointly by following the outcome parameters prescribed in each system.....''.
Terming such clinical trials illegal and an act of quacksery, ayurveda doctors are angry. Dr Mahesh Gupta, state president, National Integrated Medical Association (NIMA) pointed out : , "Allopathic doctors lack any knowledge of herbal remedies and medicinal plants"

Menstrual Blood Banking: Scope and Future

Till date women have been discarding menstrual blood as an unwanted and unsanitary waste. However, a new research has found that menstrual blood is a rich source of stem cells that have the ability to multiply and differentiate into any kind of cells.Earlier, blood from umbilical cord was regarded as the ultimate reserve for stem cells. Only those who have given birth at anytime of their life were able to preserve the stem cells as they were obtained from umbilical cord. But researchers have now discovered and successfully harvested stem cells from menstrual blood making it possible for all the women including those who have never given birth to preserve stem cells for themselves. The discovery of stem cells in the menstrual blood has given a new meaning to menstruation for women who earlier considered menstruation as nothing but a painful and necessary evil.
Stem cells have the unique quality of differentiating into any type of cell. As these cells are immunologically immature in nature, they are able to contribute successfully in the cell survival after a transplant. Researchers have harvested stem cells from menstrual blood under laboratory conditions and the harvested cells were successfully differentiated into nerve cells in vitro under lab culture conditions that were controlled. When the differentiated cells were infused into an animal model of stroke, these cultured stem cells reduced behavioral impairments in the stroke model.
It is now established that endometrial wall of the uterus has unique quality of regeneration. There is a thick growth of blood cells which are dispelled every month and the uterus prepares a new endometrial lining and prepares itself for pregnancy. The shed blood contains varied cells some of which have regenerative properties. Researchers tried to find out the practicality and feasibility of collecting menstrual blood in order to harvest the stem cells. They performed several types of analysis of the shed blood and found that these cells can not only be harvested but they also differentiated into specific cells like cartilage, neural tissue or adipose tissue. When menstrual stem cells were induced to the adipogenic lineage, chondrogenic or osteogenic lineage, they displayed histological characteristics such as the presence of fat vacuoles in adipocytes or calcium deposits for bone.
The Menstrual stem cells (MeSC’s) have a great importance for clinical translation of regenerative therapies. The studies demonstrate that these are a unique population of cells that can be safely isolated and can provide us with an expandable source of stem cells from women until they reach menopause. Considering their relevance and importance in treatment of rare diseases including certain neuro disorders, it becomes crucial for women to preserve their menstrual blood in the Menstrual Blood Bank.

Menstrual Blood Banking enables women to store their menstrual blood under required conditions and preserve it for future. These banks charge minimal annual fee for storage and preservation and allows you to have lifelong benefits from them. Although Menstrual Blood banking is still new and lot of research is still going on menstrual blood, if its benefits are utilized, it can prove to be very beneficial for all women who want to give themselves the gift of good health. The process for collection of menstrual blood is simple; like tampon, a silicone cup is inserted in the vagina on the day of heaviest flow. The cup needs to be placed inside the vagina for at least three hours so as to collect approximately 20 milliliters of blood. This is then poured in the collection kit and is sent back to the menstrual blood bank laboratory where it is processed, frozen and stored. What makes this method user friendly is that it is completely painless and non invasive. Also, any woman who wants to preserve stem cells for future can do so without having to wait for delivery of baby.
Menstrual Blood Banking has a wide scope as the need for regenerative therapies incorporating cells that can engraft and differentiate is vast. Though Menstrual Stem Cell technology is yet to be utilized in human treatments and therapies, the research has established the beneficial properties of these cells and their potential use in treatment of several medical conditions like atherosclerosis, diabetes, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson disease and many more. Alongside, menstrual blood can overcome the problem of immune rejection during the transplant, allowing the female patients to use their own stem cells for the treatment. Thus, it can be said that Menstrual Blood Banking has a vast scope in future and is the next big thing in the medical world.
Reference: Multipotent Menstrual Blood Stromal Stem Cells: Isolation, Characterization, and Differentiation by Amit N. Patel, Eulsoon Park, Michael Kuzman, Federico Benetti, Francisco J. Silva, and Julie G. Allickson.

Age doesn't necessarily quench the sexual appetite.

Older women seem to experience arousal and orgasm frequently, showing age doesn't necessarily quench the sexual appetite.Researchers evaluated sexual activity and satisfaction as revealed by 806 older women who are part of the Rancho Bernardo Study (RBS) cohort, a group of women who live in a planned community near San Diego and whose health has been tracked for medical research for 40 years.
In their collaborative work, scientists at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System sought to measure the prevalence of current sexual activity; the characteristics associated with sexual activity including demographics, health, and hormone use; frequency of arousal, lubrication, orgasm, and pain during sexual intercourse; and sexual desire and satisfaction in older women.
The median age in the study was 67 years and 63% were postmenopausal. Half the respondents who reported having a partner had been sexually active in the last 4 weeks. The likelihood of sexual activity declined with increasing age. The majority of the sexually active women, 67.1%, achieved orgasm most of the time or always. The youngest and oldest women in the study reported the highest frequency of orgasm satisfaction.
40% of all women stated that they never or almost never felt sexual desire, and one third of the sexually active women reported low sexual desire. Lead investigator Elizabeth Barrett-Connor, MD, Distinguished Professor and Chief, Division of Epidemiology, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, comments, “Despite a correlation between sexual desire and other sexual function domains, only 1 in 5 sexually active women reported high sexual desire. Approximately half of the women aged 80 years or more reported arousal, lubrication, and orgasm most of the time, but rarely reported sexual desire. In contrast with traditional linear model in which desire precedes sex, these results suggest that women engage in sexual activity for multiple reasons, which may include affirmation or sustenance of a relationship.”
Regardless of partner status or sexual activity, 61% of all women in this cohort were satisfied with their overall sex life. Although older age has been described as a significant predictor of low sexual satisfaction, the percentage of RBS sexually satisfied women actually increased with age, with approximately half of the women over 80 years old reporting sexual satisfaction almost always or always. Not only were the oldest women in this study the most satisfied overall, those who were recently sexually active experienced orgasm satisfaction rates similar to the youngest participants. “In this study, sexual activity was not always necessary for sexual satisfaction. Those who were not sexually active may have achieved sexual satisfaction through touching, caressing, or other intimacies developed over the course of a long relationship,” says first author Susan Trompeter, MD, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine. Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Staff Physician at the VA San Diego Healthcare System.
“Emotional and physical closeness to the partner may be more important than experiencing orgasm. A more positive approach to female sexual health focusing on sexual satisfaction may be more beneficial to women than a focus limited to female sexual activity or dysfunction,” Trompeter concludes.
The findings appear in the January issue of the American Journal of Medicine.

Bacteria-based Sensor to Detect Glucose Levels

A biological system that help people with diabetes monitor their glucose levels has been developed by scientists.
The biological system developed by the Missouri University of Science and Technology students uses segments of DNA embedded in bacteria to detect glucose.They believe their development could lead to a new type of test strip for diabetics.
"We designed DNA so that bacteria that have DNA would sense a change in osmolarity due to the presence of glucose," said Erica Shannon of Wildwood, Mo., a senior in biological sciences at Missouri S and T and president of the campus's iGEM chapter- the International Genetically Engineered Machine Foundation.
Osmolarity refers to the concentration of a compound - in this case, glucose - in a solution.
For their project, the students designed genes that allow the bacteria - a non-virulent strain of E. coli - to sense the presence of the simple sugar glucose. The bacteria emit a yellow glow when glucose is present. As glucose concentrations become higher, the glow becomes brighter.
It would require replacing the fluorescent gene with one that would cause the bacteria to change colour based on glucose levels. This in turn could lead to the development of diabetes blood test strips that could indicate glucose levels based on various colours.
For example, a test strip might turn green if glucose levels are within normal ranges, yellow if borderline and red if elevated.
"All you would have to do is put the DNA inside a bacteria and you've got your test strip," says Shannon.

Studies Show That TSH Is Unreliable in the Diagnosis of Hypothyroidism

TSH testing, the gold standard in hypothyroid diagnosis, may be misleading according to the studies quoted in a new article titled Hormone Replacement Therapy in the Geriatric Patient: Current State of the Evidence and Questions for the Future. Estrogen, Progesterone, Testosterone, and Thyroid Hormone Augmentation in Geriatric Clinical Practice. The article, independently written and published, is a broad study of hormone replacement in geriatric patients. In the thyroid section, written by Kent Holtorf M.D., it details the difference between serum thyroid hormone levels and tissue thyroid hormone levels, particularly in cases of chronic and acute stress.
According to the study models presented in the article, physiological stress, caused by aging or illness, means patients can present with typical hypothyroid symptoms but with serum testing that shows normal TSH and even T3. "As a result, when relying on serum tests only, clinicians do not treat patients presenting with this thyroid picture assuming they are euthyroid," reads the article. However, those same patients may be experiencing diminished T3 levels within the peripheral tissues, due to reactive changes at the cellular level. According to the authors, this leaves "a gaping hole" and misses "the opportunity to help the patients' condition."
The article also addresses the possible benefits of marking reverse T3 levels in serum testing as a means of determining the overall health of the "hypothalamic–pituitary–thyroid– cellular axis," and it warns of the suppression of TSH serum levels in some patients with nonthyroidal illness or who are on medication. This kind of "confusion" only serves to undermine further the reliability of standard thyroid testing.
The article concludes with a summary of treatment options, citing T3 preparations as more effective in cases of chronic or age-related stress. "Many symptomatic patients with low tissue thyroid levels with normal TSH and T4 levels may benefit from T3 thyroid replacement, often with significant improvement in fatigue, depression, weight gain and obesity, heart failure, fibromyalgia, cholesterol levels, and numerous other chronic conditions." Additionally, some of the long-held fears of significant side effects associated with hormone supplementation may be overstated.
Source: Article Contributed by Kent Holtorf, M.D. in Clinical Geriatrics,Dr. Holtorf is the founding director of the Bioidentical Hormone Initiative as well as the National Academy of Hypothyroidism and the medical director of the Holtorf Medical Group, Center for Hormone Imbalance, Hypothyroidism, and Fatigue, located in Los Angeles, Pasadena and Foster City, CA and Philadelphia, PA. He founded the Holtorf Medical Group in 2001 and continues to treat patients from across the country and abroad.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Yoga simply helps breast cancer

Research demonstrates yoga is an alternative therapy that works
Yoga has been revealing its ability to help with a host of conditions from pain and headaches to depression and fatigue.
As far back as 2009, yoga was demonstrated to provide significant benefits to women fighting breast cancer. Wake Forest University School of Medicine researchers conducted a study on the effects of yoga and breast cancer. A survey of a randomized group of 44 women all with breast cancer and were actively undergoing cancer treatments like chemotherapy with the other already completed treatment of some type. Half of the women had participated in a ten week program of 75 minute Restorative yoga classes.
Those who participated in yoga had shown a great improvement in overall mental health especially in the areas of less depression and having more positive outlook. They also experience less problems with fatigue.
Another study presented at the 34th Annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium had shown that patients with metastatic breast cancer just may benefit from the practice of yoga.
This small randomized trial had been conducted by yogis and physicians which included Dr. S.K. Gopinath, M.D., of the Department of Surgical, Medical and Radiation Oncology at the HCG-BIO Super Specialty Center in Bangalore, Karnataka, India.
This randomized study consisted of 45 women who had daily yoga and 46 who had standard supportive counseling.
Researchers had found that those who participated in the yoga intervention was remarkably effective. Following the study period, those who had yoga had significant decreases in anxiety, depression, perceived stress, fatigue severity and interference. They also had significant improvements in emotional, role and cognitive function and quality of life. The researchers had concluded in view of foregoing laboratory values that yoga just may improve the quality of life for those with metastatic breast cancer. Researchers also had written “Metastatic breast cancer patients experience tremendous psychological distress due to treatment, disease, and uncertainty of their survival.”
Yoga also helps the effects of women undergoing radiotherapy for breast cancer. University of MD Anderson Cancer Center had shown that women who participated in yoga classes during radiotherapy had the most favorable cortisol rhythms and heart variability at six months after diagnosis remarkably better than those women in stretching class or on a control group wait list.
This study in part had been funded by the National Cancer Institute. Participants were 18 years of age or older with no metastatic diseases. Excluded were women who had practiced yoga or had taken classes one year prior to study and those with active non-canalized deep vein thrombosis.
Now comes a new study just presented December 16th in the journal Cancer. This study was conducted by UCLA researchers who suggest that yoga could help breast cancer survivors overcome post-treatment fatigue.
According to the Mayo Clinic many breast cancer survivors experience fatigue during and after treatment which can last for years.
In the UCLA study, 31 breast cancer survivors had participated for treatment for their fatigue for over a 12 week period at UCLA Medical Center, where each woman had been randomly assigned to participate in either two ninety minute yoga classes each week or two hour health classes once a week.
When the study at began all women had similar scores on a questionnaire which gauged fatigue levels.
The group in which participated in the health classes had experienced about the same amount of fatigue and energy throughout the initial study period. Those who had taken part in the yoga classes had reported around a 26% reduction in fatigue and 55% increase in energy after the twelve weeks.
Even after the classes had stopped, the women who had participated in yoga still reported remarked improvements in fatigue three months later. Researchers did note that all women had about the same expectations that the treatments would help them, therefore, the placebo effect is not a likely reason for the benefits seen in the yoga group.
Research has been demonstrating that yoga just may be helping breast cancer patients when it comes to fatigue, improving physical functioning, reducing stress, improving sleep and quality of life.
When seeking a yoga instructor find one that has experience teaching. You can also check with practitioner for recommendations for yoga instructors that have worked with breast cancer patients.

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