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Saturday, 14 January 2012

Cure for Flat Feet Caused by High Heels

A new study has revealed gradual "stretching out" over time of a tendon near the ankle bone from wearing high heels and standing or walking for long periods may cause flat feet.
Scientists claim that high heels are the reason women are more likely to develop the agonising condition than men - and say their risk is increased further if they spend a lot of time standing up.
But before you resign yourself to a lifetime of sensible footwear, the researchers also say they are close to finding a cure.
Working with surgeons and scientists at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge and the University of Bristol, the team led by the University of East Anglia (UEA) researchers showed that the structure and composition of tendon specimens had changed and found evidence of increased activity of some proteolytic enzymes.
The scientists, from the University of East Anglia, believe that flat feet come about when tendons in the feet are weakened by proteins that occur naturally in the body.
This causes the arch of the foot to fall, which can lead to excruciating pain and difficulties walking.
And they say their discovery could lead to the development of new drugs to combat these proteins, called enzymes, and stop them weakening the tendons.
"Our study may have important therapeutic implications since the altered enzyme activity could be a target for new drug therapies in the future,' Graham Riley, the study leader, said.
"We have shown that similar changes also take place in other painful tendon conditions such as Achilles tendonitis, so this advance may ultimately result in an effective alternative to surgery for many patients," he said.
The study has been recently published in the journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

India marks milestone in fight against polio

India will celebrate a full year since its last reported case of polio on Friday, a major victory in a global eradication effort that seemed stalled just a few years ago.
If no previously undisclosed cases of the crippling disease are discovered, India will no longer be considered polio endemic, leaving only Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria on that list.
"This is a game changer in a huge way," said Bruce Aylward, head of the World Health Organization's global polio campaign.
The achievement gives a major morale boost to health advocates and donors who had begun to lose hope of ever defeating the stubborn disease that the world had promised to eradicate by 2000.
It also helps India, which bills itself as one of the world's emerging powers, shed the embarrassing link to a disease associated with poverty and chaos, one that had been conquered long ago by most of the globe.
The government cautiously welcomed the milestone as a confirmation of its commitment to fighting the disease and the 120 billion rupees ($2.4 billion) it has spent on the program.
"We are excited and hopeful. At the same time, vigilant and alert," Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said in a statement. Azad warned that India needed to push forward with its vaccination campaign to ensure the elimination of any residual virus and to prevent the import and spread of virus from abroad.
The polio virus, which usually infects children in unsanitary conditions, attacks the central nervous system, sometimes causing paralysis, muscular atrophy, deformation and, in some cases, death.
With its dense population, poor sanitation, high levels of migration and weak public health system, India had been seen as "the perfect storm of polio," Aylward said. Even some vaccinated children fell ill with the virus because malnutrition and chronic diarrhea made their bodies too weak to properly process the oral vaccine.
In 2009, India had 741 cases. That plunged to 42 in 2010. Last year, there was a single case, an 18-month-old girl named Ruksana Khatun who fell ill in West Bengal state Jan. 13. She was the country's last reported polio victim.
Part of the sudden success is credited to tighter monitoring that allowed health officials to quickly hit areas of outbreaks with emergency vaccinations. Part is also attributed to the rollout of a new vaccine in 2010 that more powerfully targeted the two remaining strains of the disease.
Under the $300 million-a-year campaign the government runs with help from the WHO and UNICEF, 2.5 million workers fan out across the country twice a year to give the vaccine to 175 million children.
They hike to remote villages, wander through trains to reach migrating families and stop along roadsides to vaccinate the homeless.
Philanthropist Bill Gates, whose foundation has made polio eradication a priority, hailed India's achievement as an example of the progress that can be made on difficult development problems.
"Polio can be stopped when countries combine the right elements: political will, quality immunization campaigns and an entire nation's determination. We must build on this historic moment and ensure that India's polio program continues to move full-steam ahead until eradication is achieved," he said in a statement.
Health officials are working to make polio the second human disease eradicated, after smallpox. But while smallpox carriers were easy to find because everyone infected developed symptoms, only a tiny fraction of those infected with the polio virus ever contract the disease. So while no one in India is reported to have suffered from polio in a year, the virus — which travels through human waste — could still be lingering.
That's why the country will not be certified as completely polio-free until at least three full years pass without a case. And it is why public health advocates warn against complacency in the massive vaccination efforts.
"We are at a threshold. If we take a long step, we may be in trouble," said Dr. Yash Paul, a pediatrician in the northern city of Jaipur who was a member of the Indian Academy of Pediatrics' polio eradication committee until it was dismantled last year because the academy felt it was no longer needed.
Paul also appealed to public health officials to begin switching from the oral vaccine, which is easy to administer but contains live virus that can cause the disease in rare cases, to an injectible vaccine that uses dead virus.
The last time a country came off the endemic list was Egypt in 2006. If India succeeds in getting removed from the list in the coming weeks, only Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria will remain. All three saw a rise in cases last year over 2010, and Pakistan is suffering a particularly explosive outbreak, Aylward said.
In addition, 22 other countries that had eradicated the disease suffered new outbreaks. However, some of those outbreaks stemmed from polio imported from India, so getting rid of the virus here is expected to lessen such outbreaks in the future.
Dr. Donald Henderson, who headed WHO's smallpox eradication program and had long been skeptical of the possibility of eradicating polio, said Thursday he was now hopeful the disease could be conquered across the world by the end of next year.
"You look at a series of dominoes, this is the big one. The others are definitely easier. If we can do it in India, than I'm more optimistic that we can do it in these other countries," he said. "I'm celebrating a bit. I'll certainly drink a glass tomorrow ... and keep my fingers crossed."
Aylward hopes India's success will spur donors to dedicate more money to the polio fight, partly because full eradication could free up funds for other global health issues.
The WHO program needs another $500 million to fund operations for the rest of the year, and some programs could run out of funding by March, he said.
"If we fail at this point, it's an issue of will," he said.

Low Iron Intake During Teens Impacts Brain in Later Life

Researchers have found that low intake of iron during adolescence can have a negative impact on the brain years later.
Iron is a popular topic in health news and doctors prescribe it for medical reasons, and it's available over the counter as a dietary supplement.
While it's known that too little iron can result in cognitive problems, it's also known that too much promotes neurodegenerative diseases.
Paul Thompson and his colleagues from the University of California, Los Angeles, measured levels of transferrin, a protein that transports iron throughout the body and brain, in adolescents.
They discovered that these transferrin levels were related to detectable differences in both the brain's macro-structure and micro-structure when the adolescents reached young adulthood.
The researchers also identified a common set of genes that influences both transferrin levels and brain structure. The discovery may shed light on the neural mechanisms by which iron affects cognition, neurodevelopment and neurodegeneration, they said.
Iron and the proteins that transport it are critically important for brain function. Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide, causing poor cognitive achievement in school-aged children.
Since both a deficiency and an excess of iron can negatively impact brain function, the body's regulation of iron transport to the brain is crucial. When iron levels are low, the liver produces more transferrin for increased iron transport. The researchers wanted to know whether brain structure in healthy adults was also dependent on transferrin levels.

"We found that healthy brain wiring in adults depended on having good iron levels in your teenage years," Thompson said.

"This connection was a lot stronger than we expected, especially as we were looking at people who were young and healthy - none of them would be considered iron-deficient.

"We also found a connection with a gene that explains why this is so. The gene itself seems to affect brain wiring, which was a big surprise," he said.

To assess brain volume and integrity, Thompson's team collected brain MRI scans on 615 healthy young-adult twins and siblings, who had an average age of 23. Of these subjects, 574 were also scanned with a type of MRI called a "diffusion scan", which maps the brain's myelin connections and their strength, or integrity.

Myelin is the fatty sheath that coats the brain's nerve axons, allowing for efficient conduction of nerve impulses, and iron plays a key role in myelin production.

Eight to 12 years before the current imaging study, researchers measured the subjects' blood transferrin levels. They hoped to determine whether iron availability in the developmentally crucial period of adolescence impacted the organization of the brain later in life.
"Adolescence is a period of high vulnerability to brain insults, and the brain is still very actively developing," Thompson said.
By averaging the subjects' transferrin levels, which had been assessed repeatedly - at 12, 14 and 16 years of age - the researchers estimated iron availability to the brain during adolescence.
The team discovered that subjects who had elevated transferrin levels - a common sign of poor iron levels in a person's diet - had structural changes in brain regions that are vulnerable to neurodegeneration. And further analyses of the twins in the study revealed that a common set of genes influences both transferrin levels and brain structure.
One of the genetic links - a specific variation in a gene called HFE, which is known to influence blood transferrin levels - was associated with reduced brain-fiber integrity, although subjects carrying this gene variant did not yet show any symptoms of disease or cognitive impairment.
"So this is one of the deep secrets of the brain," Thompson said.
"You wouldn't think the iron in our diet would affect the brain so much in our teen years. But it turns out that it matters very much. Because myelin speeds your brain's communications, and iron is vital for making myelin, poor iron levels in childhood erode your brain reserves which you need later in life to protect against aging and Alzheimer's.
"This is remarkable, as we were not studying iron deficient people, just around 600 normal healthy people. It underscores the need for a balanced diet in the teenage years, when your brain's command center is still actively maturing," he added.
The study has been published in the online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Grape-enriched Diet may Prevent Age-related Blindness

Grape consumption might slow or help prevent the onset of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a debilitating condition that affect millions of elderly people worldwide, a new study finds.
The study compared the impact of an antioxidant-rich diet on vision using mice prone to developing retinal damage in old age in much the same way as humans do. Mice either received a grape-enriched diet, a diet with added lutein, or a normal diet.
The researchers found that grapes proved to offer dramatic protection - the grape-enriched diet protected against oxidative damage of the retina and prevented blindness in those mice consuming grapes. While lutein was also effective, grapes were found to offer significantly more protection.
"The protective effect of the grapes in this study was remarkable, offering a benefit for vision at old age even if grapes were consumed only at young age," Silvia Finnemann, the principal investigator from Fordham University in New York, said.
Finnemann noted that results from her study suggest that age-related vision loss is a result of cumulative, oxidative damage over time.
"A lifelong diet enriched in natural antioxidants, such as those in grapes, appears to be directly beneficial for RPE and retinal health and function," she said.
Age-related macular degeneration is a progressive eye condition, leading to the deterioration of the centre of the retina, called the macula. It is the leading cause of blindness in the elderly. Aging of the retina is associated with increased levels of oxidative damage, and oxidative stress is thought to play a pivotal role in the development of AMD.
This study showed that adding grapes to the diet prevented blindness in mice by significantly decreasing the build-up of lipofuscin and preventing the oxidative damage to the RPE, thus ensuring optimal functioning of this critical part of the retina.
"Preserving eye health is a key concern as we age and this study shows that grapes may play a critical role in achieving this," Kathleen Nave, president of the California Table Grape Commission, said.
"This is good news for consumers of all ages who enjoy grapes, and adds to the growing body of evidence that grapes offer an array of health benefits," Nave added.
The study has been published in Free Radical Biology and Medicine.

Steroid from Mustard Can Help Improve Physical Fitness: A North Carolina Study

In addition to adding an excellent and pleasant flavor to meals, our traditional herb mustard can help one go from fat to fit.
A recent research conducted by Debora Esposito and colleagues from the Human Health Institute at North Carolina University in Kannapolis, USA, suggested that a compound called homobrassinolide, found in plants like mustard, helps to increase the lean body mass, muscle mass and physical performance in mammals.
28-Homobrassinolide (HB) is a brassinosteroid (steroid found in plants from Brassica family) that has a potent plant growth promoting property but has no known function in mammals. The researchers of this study, however, found that homobrassinolide produces an anabolic effect in mammals as well, that is, it helps increase protein synthesis within cells resulting in the build up of cellular tissue which in turn increases appetite and muscle mass along with the number and size of muscle fibers in animals.
The study involved healthy rats receiving an oral administration of hemobrassinolide daily for 24 days. Changes in their body weight, food consumption, and body composition were measured using dual emission X ray absorptiometry analysis. The analysis showed an increased muscle mass in treated animals over those who were not treated.
An increase in the muscle mass means a higher basal metabolic rate. A high BMR assists in a greater caloric burning even at rest and thus helps one to stay lean and fit.
Homobrassinolide was seen to increase protein synthesis and inhibit protein degradation. The research clearly exhibited an increase in the number and size of muscle fibers which is important for increased physical strength and endurance.
Although the above study and results are cited to be still a little unexplored, the study does bring forth many future interventions and prospects in the medical and nutrition science.
Experts suggest that plants like mustard could be engineered for a higher brassinosteroid content producing functional foods which could help one stay lean, increase muscle mass and prevent disease.
In future supplements or medicines incorporating brassinosteroids could also be developed to provide a safe and effective cure for age and disease associated muscle loss. It could also be used as a safe alternative to synthetic steroids with minimal or no side effects by the general population or athletes to build strength and endurance.
In terms of caloric content also mustard leaves score high as they are extremely low in calories. They are high in antioxidants and have anti inflammatory properties. They are also a good source of dietary fiber, iron, magnesium, phosphorous and selenium.
Mustard could be an integral part of the diet in the form of the vegetable prepared with the leaves or seeds used in salads, curds and for tempering. Conscious efforts could be made to consume at least 1 teaspoon of mustard with water or as a part of food to enjoy its benefits.
Reference: Esposito D, Komarnytsky S, Shapses S, Raskin I. Anabolic effect of plant brassinosteroid. FASEB J. 2011 Oct;25(10):3708-19. Epub 2011 Jul 11.

13 Surprising Facts About Testosterone

More than a male hormone
When most people hear the word testosterone, they think of aggressive behavior.
There is a link between the two—at least in competitive situations, such as with a peer or for a sexual partner.
However, there appears to be a subtler interplay between testosterone and behavior in other types of situations—in both men and women.
Here are a few facts about the "male hormone."
1.Women in love have more
Women in love have higher testosterone for the few months after a relationship starts than women who are single or in long-term relationships, a small Italian study suggests.
The opposite is true for men; those newly in love have lower testosterone than men flying solo or with a long-term partner.
As with early passion, though, the changes don't last. When the researchers tested the study participants again one to two years later, the differences had disappeared.
2.It can shrink your belly
Men whose levels of testosterone are below normal may lose their spare tire when treated with testosterone.
"Most of the studies show there's a reduction of abdominal obesity in men who are given testosterone," says Adrian Dobs, MD, a professor of medicine and oncology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in Baltimore.
Because the long-term effects of testosterone therapy have not been well studied, however, it is generally only recommended in men with below-normal testosterone levels and symptoms such as fatigue, muscle or bone-mass loss, or sexual dysfunction.
3.Making money affects it
Young men who are futures traders get a testosterone spike on days when they make an above-average profit, British researchers found.
And on the mornings when men's testosterone levels were higher than average, their average afternoon profits were higher than on their low-testosterone days, suggesting a possible cause-and-effect relationship.
More experienced traders showed an even stronger tie between testosterone and profits.
4.Too much can shrivel testicles
In men, taking steroid hormones such as testosterone as performance boosters can cause testicles to shrink and breasts to grow. For women, it can cause a deeper voice, an enlarged clitoris, hair loss from the head, and hair growth on the body and face.
In both genders, steroid abuse can cause acne, mood swings, aggression, and other problems.
Men working with an experienced doctor to treat low testosterone or women taking small amounts of testosterone under medical supervision are unlikely to have testosterone-overdose symptoms.
5.Sports fans get a winner's boost
In the run-up to a competition, whether it's wrestling or chess, a man's testosterone levels rise, studies have shown.
After the game, the winner's testosterone will increase even more. And fans' hormone levels seem to mirror those of their athletic idols. In a group of 21 men watching a Brazil vs. Italy World Cup match, the Brazil fans' testosterone levels increased after their team won, but the Italy fans' testosterone fell.
6.Fat can lower testosterone
Obese men tend to have lower testosterone than thinner men, Dr. Dobs says. It's not clear why, she adds, although one possible reason is that obesity promotes a state of widespread inflammation in the body.
"When there's fat cells, there's a lot of inflammatory factors," she says. "These inflammatory factors have been associated with suppression of testosterone synthesis."
7.Hands reveal hormone secrets
In men and boys, the right pointer finger is shorter in relation to their right ring finger than it is in girls.
This has even been found in other five-fingered creatures, such as rats. Scientists have found that the difference is a clear marker for fetal exposure to testosterone. The higher your testosterone level before birth, the lower your pointer-finger-to-ring-finger ratio.
Men with the lowest ratios made the most money and stayed in business for the longest time, according to the U.K. study of traders and testosterone.
8.It's hard to measure accurately
Men are often diagnosed with low testosterone after a single test. This is a big problem, says Neil Goodman, MD, an endocrinologist and professor of medicine at the University of Miami School of Medicine.
"If I take blood on a guy and I send it to three labs, I'm going to get three different levels," he says.
Efforts are underway to standardize blood tests. In the meantime, testosterone should be checked more than once, Dr. Goodman says, and done in the morning when testosterone is highest.
9.It's not the fountain of youth
It would be great if an aging man's vigor, muscle power, and sex drive could be restored with testosterone.
But it is not clear whether therapy will do anything for the 75% to 80% of men over 65 who have normal levels of testosterone.
Men with below-normal levels, however, may get a boost in libido, sexual function, and bone mass from supplemental testosterone. And it may help diabetic men with low testosterone build lean muscle mass.
10.Taking it doesn't cause prostate cancer
It has long been thought that taking testosterone increases the risk of prostate cancer. Testosterone treatment can boost levels of prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, a nonspecific marker for prostate cancer, which may lead to more prostate biopsies and more prostate-cancer diagnoses, Dr. Goodman says.
There are now, however, major questions about whether it's worthwhile to treat—or even diagnose—prostate cancers in older men, given that they're common and often slow-growing.
11.Low levels are linked to sleep apnea
Men with sleep apnea are more likely to have low testosterone, and treating sleep apnea can help return it to normal.
But if a man with sleep apnea is diagnosed with low testosterone alone, taking the supplemental hormone can worsen sleep apnea. That's why it's crucial for men with low testosterone to get a thorough workup by an endocrinologist so underlying conditions that can cause low testosterone, such as sleep apnea or pituitary-gland tumors, don't go undiagnosed, Dr. Goodman says.
12.It may hurt men's hearts
In 2010, researchers halted a study of testosterone therapy in older men because of a higher rate of cardiovascular problems such as heart attack in the group taking testosterone instead of placebo.
The reason isn't clear, but caution should be used in prescribing testosterone to older men in poor health, Dr. Goodman says. Declining testosterone in men is associated with health problems, but this doesn't mean giving older men testosterone will extend lifespans, he says.
13.Too much may kill brain cells
It's only known to happen in a petri dish, but Yale researchers showed that nerve cells exposed to high levels of testosterone were more likely to self-destruct. The hormone boosted a "cell suicide" mechanism known as apoptosis, which, under normal circumstances, is supposed to help the body wipe out cancerous or otherwise abnormal cells.
And the higher the testosterone level in the dish, the shorter lived the cells were. Exposure to low levels of testosterone, however, had no effect on the cells.
By:Anne Harding
Source:Yahoo Health

Health ministry to establish four more AIIMS-Like Institutions during the next five years

The Union health ministry is aiming at setting up of four more new AIIMS Like Institutions (ALIs) under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY), aside from completing the ongoing works on the six such institutions.
The Ministry is also considering creation of an apex team to monitor the progress of the works and establishment of new institutions during the next five year plan period, sources said. The proposed apex team will facilitate new projects under PMSSY. The team would develop sound governance and management system in view of the time over-runs and cost over-runs in the implementation of PMSSY.
The regions for the new ALIs will be decided based on geographic location, physical infrastructure, connectivity as well as the health indicators and local disease burden.
Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved the PMSSY scheme in March 2006 for Rs.332 crore per institution. The cost, however, escalated to Rs.820 crore per institution in March 2010. Works are in progress for these new six ALIs at Patna (Bihar), Raipur (Chattisgarh), Bhopal (MP), Jodhpur (Rajasthan), Bhubaneswar (Orissa) and Rishikesh (Uttrakhand).
“The construction work at these six sites commenced during 2007-2008 and work of housing complexes, at Jodhpur and Raipur has already been completed. However, the construction work of Medical College and Hospital Complex has only been completed to the extent of 23-36 per cent and 10-21 per cent, respectively at various sites. It is expected that all civil works (housing; medical college; and hospital) will be completed by September 2012. The construction at other four sites would also be completed by May 2012,” sources said.
PMSSY was first launched with the primary objective of correcting the imbalances in availability of affordable/reliable tertiary level healthcare in the country in general and to augment facilities for quality medical education in the under-served States.
The pattern of governance and management of ALIs was approved by the Union Cabinet in August 2010. It was decided that each of these institutions would be registered under a society. These societies will be functional till the ALIs are brought under an Act of Parliament. It is noteworthy that a High Powered Committee was set up recently to review the Governance and HR practices at the AIIMS. The experience of the review indicates that the existing Institutions would also need similar review to optimize their functioning,

Birla Group to invest Rs.704-cr to build global integrated Ayurveda Complex in Andhra Pradesh

The Birla Research & Life Sciences Ltd has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with government of Andhra Pradesh to build a Global Integrated Ayurveda Complex in the state. Under the MoU, the Birla Group will invest Rs.704 crore in the state to construct the state-of-the-art complex.

Earlier, as part of its partnership summit-2012 held in Hyderabad at HICC (Hyderabad international convention centre), the state government had signed Memorandum of Understandings with different companies. On the first day, the government had reached agreements worth Rs.76,000 crore with top reputed global companies. The event was organized for two days by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in association with government of Andhra Pradesh and central governments. It is expected that the summit will help bring investments worth Rs.5 lakh crore to the state.

The GMR Holdings Pvt Ltd is planning to invest Rs.30,000 crore on a Refinery cum Petrochemicals Complex in the state. Further, the GMR Infrastructure Ltd is also planning to invest Rs.3,000 crore on a multi-products SEZ. Similarly, the UAE based B R Shetty of UUAE Exchange and NMC Group have also reached an understanding with the state government to invest Rs.30,000 crore on a Petroleum Refinery at the PCPIR Region in Visakhapatnam. The Birla Surya Ltd too has agreed to invest in the Advanced Solar Photovoltaic with an investment of Rs.22,000 crore.
Apart from its investment in the global integrated Ayurveda complex, the Birla group is also investing worth Rs.2000 crore in education, employment, Technology, infrastructure and Industry development. Meanwhile, the Hyderabad based GVK Power and Infrastructure has also agreed to sign a MoU with the government for setting up 2400-MW thermal power plant in coastal Andhra. The company will invest around Rs.10,000-crore on the project. It will import coal from its Hancock coal mine in Australia for the new plant.
The partnership summit has brought in a new enthusiasm among the industry especially the pharma sector, because it was almost more than 9 years for such a summit to happen in Hyderabad. From government point of view the summit is a great success as it will rebuild the state’s image as a friendly investment destination. During the past two years the state had seen a series of continuous disturbances---the Telangana agitation, internal political disturbances among parties and adding to this, the global economic meltdown and the ensuing corporate scams like Satyam, Maytas etc.
The partnership summit was attended by more than 1200 delegates, including 350 foreign delegates from 43 countries. Trade and economic ministers from 15 countries have also attended.

Chlorophyll Offers Protection Against Cancer

Researchers have found that chlorophyll in green vegetables can help protect against modest carcinogen exposure levels commonly found in the environment. The negative aspect is that the chlorophyll increases the number of tumors at very high carcinogen exposure levels.
Beyond confirming the value of chlorophyll, the study at Oregon State University raises serious questions about whether traditional lab studies done with mice and high levels of toxic exposure are providing accurate answers to what is a real health risk, what isn't, and what dietary or pharmaceutical approaches are useful.The findings were done using 12,360 rainbow trout as laboratory models, instead of more common laboratory mice. Rodent studies are much more expensive, forcing the use of fewer specimens and higher carcinogen exposures.
"There's considerable evidence in epidemiologic and other clinical studies with humans that chlorophyll and its derivative, chlorophyllin, can protect against cancer," said Tammie McQuistan, a research assistant working with George Bailey, a professor emeritus in the Linus Pauling Institute at OSU.
"This study, like others before it, found that chlorophyll can reduce tumors, up to a point," McQuistan said.
"But at very high doses of the same carcinogen, chlorophyll actually made the problem worse. This questions the value of an approach often used in studying cancer-causing compounds," she stated.
In one part of the study, trout were exposed to fairly moderate levels of a known carcinogen, but also given chlorophyll. This reduced their number of liver tumors by 29-64 percent, and stomach tumors by 24-45 percent.
But in another part of the study, using much higher and unrealistic doses of the same carcinogen, the use of chlorophyll caused a significant increase in the number of tumors.
In other words, traditional research with small numbers of animals fed very high doses of a carcinogen might conclude that chlorophyll has the potential to increase human cancer risk. This study, and other evidence and trials, concludes just the opposite.
It also found that the protective mechanism of chlorophyll is fairly simple - it just binds with and sequesters carcinogens within the gastrointestinal tract until they are eliminated from the body. At the lower carcinogen doses and cancer rates relevant to humans, chlorophyll was strongly protective.
"The central assumption of such experiments is that intervention effects at high carcinogen dose will apply equally at lower carcinogen doses," the researchers wrote in their report.
"Contrary to the usual assumption, the outcomes in the major target organ were strikingly dependent on carcinogen dose.
"Results derived at high carcinogen doses and high tumour responses may be irrelevant for human intervention," they concluded.
The study was published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology.

Internet Addiction can Cause Damage to Brain : Study

Internet addiction disorder may be characterized by abnormal white matter structure in the brain, reveals report published in PLoS ONE. These structural features may be linked to behavioral impairments, and may also provide a method to study and treat the disorder.
Previous studies of internet addiction disorder (IAD), which is characterized by an individual's inability to control his or her Internet use, have mostly focused on psychological questionnaires. The current study, on the other hand, uses an MRI technique to investigate specific features of the brain in 18 adolescents suffering from IAD. The researchers, led by Hao Lei of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Wuhan, found that IAD is characterized by impairment of white matter fibers connecting brain regions involved in emotional generation and processing, executive attention, decision making, and cognitive control, and suggest that IAD may share psychological and neural mechanisms with other types of impulse control disorders and substance addiction.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids Could Protect and Treat Damaged Nerve Cells

Omega-3 fatty acids have the potential to protect nerves from injury, suggests research.
When nerves are damaged because of an accident or injury, patients experience pain, weakness and muscle paralysis which can leave them disabled, and recovery rates are poor.
The new study, published this week in the Journal of Neuroscience*, suggests that omega-3 fatty acids could play a significant role in speeding recovery from nerve injury.
The study focused on peripheral nerve cells. Peripheral nerves are the nerves which transmit signals between the brain and spinal cord, and the rest of the body.
These nerves have the ability to regenerate but, despite advances in surgical techniques, patients usually only have good recovery when their injury is minor.
Omega-3 fatty acids are vital for the body's normal growth and development and have been widely researched for their health benefits. Because the body cannot manufacture omega-3 fatty acids, they have to be consumed in foods such as oily fish.
In the new study, researchers first looked at isolated mouse nerve cells. They simulated the type of damage caused by accident or injury, by either stretching the cells or starving them of oxygen. Both types of damage killed a significant number of nerve cells but enrichment with omega-3 fatty acids in cells gave them significant protection and decreased cell death.
Next the researchers studied the sciatic nerves of mice. They found that a high level of omega-3 fatty acids helped mice to recover from sciatic nerve injury more quickly and more fully, and that their muscles were less likely to waste following nerve damage.
The research was carried out by a group led by Adina Michael-Titus, Professor of Neuroscience at Barts and The London Medical School and lead of the Neurotrauma and Neurodegeneration group in the Centre for Neuroscience and Trauma, Queen Mary, University of London.
She explained: "Our previous research has shown that these fatty acids could have beneficial effects in a number of neurological conditions. This new study suggests that they could also have a role in treating peripheral nerve injuries.
"More work is needed but our research indicates that omega-3 fatty acids can protect damaged nerve cells, which is a critical first step in a successful neurological recovery."

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Inspired by his own success, an Ayurvedic doctor has turned full time water conservationist

Little drops of water make a mighty ocean. That adage was proved right by Anil Joshi, an Ayurveda doctor in Fatehgarh village in Madhya Pradesh, who collected one rupee each from one lakh people and constructed a check dam across a local seasonal river called Somli and changed the life of the farmers.
The doctor, who repeated the success story of Fatehgarh by building 11 such dams across rivers and nullahs around the areas, has now turned a full-time water conservationist and is all out to build 100 more such check dams in other villages having water shortage.
Anil Joshi’s wife and children give their total support to his work
In Fatehgarh, the dam, constructed in 2010, permanently altered the face of the village – from a drought stricken one into a well-irrigated one.
Joshi, who had a clinic in the village since 1994, had developed familial ties with the local people and was concerned about them when successive droughts led to abject poverty in the village.
“Some of my patients were farmers who obtained 100-200 quintals of food grain during harvesting season but after eight years of meager rains, they were in a very bad situation and had to buy food grain to feed their family,” said 39-year-old Joshi. The situation was so bad that his patients did not even have money to pay his fees.
As a resident of Mandsaur, the district headquarters, Joshi has seen the good old days when rains were sufficient and farmers harvested enough to sustain themselves. Things began to change after 1999 as rainfall began to decrease.
In 2008, the village faced the worst drought and water scarcity made life difficult for farmers. Joshi felt building a check dam across the river Somli would help the villagers, as it would raise the ground water table in the area.
However, when he shared the idea with his farmer friends they treated it as a joke and many just laughed it off. But Joshi was undeterred and went ahead with his plan.
He borrowed about a thousand empty cement sacks from a friend and filled them with sand. He himself stood in the middle of the Somli river with a rope tied around his waist and his friends held the rope on either ends.
“Though the river was dry, there was always a stretch where water flowed with strong current. As I stood amidst the running water, I could gauge its force and realized what a challenging task I had in my hand. The barrier that we planned to put up across the river had to withstand the force of the water,” he recalls.
With the help of few friends, Joshi put all the sand filled sacks across the river in a row. Within fifteen days, it rained and there was water in the check dam, which in turn recharged the ground water in surrounding areas.
The hand pumps that had run dry began to yield water again. “The farmers were so happy. As farms got irrigated there was a good crop that year after years of drought,” says Joshi.
Joshi's check dams have raised the ground water table in the area
Elated by this success, Joshi sold his wife’s jewels the next year and borrowed some money to construct another check dam on the SomIi river. His wife was fully supportive of his work.
“Even today when I get involved in the house we are constructing, she motivates me to go and build check dams instead and not worry about our house,” says Joshi. Even his two little daughters – one studying in nursery and the other in class seven – are proud of their father’s service.
It was in 2010 that Joshi hit upon the idea of taking one rupee from each villager for constructing a permanent check dam across the Somli river. He felt such a dam would permanently end the drought situation of the village.
Joshi was able to collect Rs 36 in just three hours on the first day, as he went from door-to-door seeking support. The next day’s collection was Rs 120. However, some people began to question him on his motive for collecting money from the people.
But thanks to a reporter of a leading Hindi daily, who wrote about his work, the tide turned in his favour. “After the media wrote about the check dams I had built, more people started to support me,” says Joshi. Two teachers, Sundarlal Prajapat and Omprakash Mehta, extended their support in a big way.
Joshi and his dedicated team collected Rs one lakh in three months and a permanent check dam was built at a cost of Rs 92000. The villagers voluntarily provided their labour.
Following the success at Fatehgarh, Joshi has helped to build eleven more check dams on rivers and ‘nullahs’ (smaller channels of water) in eleven villages within a 10 km radius of Fatehgarh.
He now aims to plant trees along the 120 km road to Sawaliya Dham to provide shade for the barefoot pilgrims visiting the Krishna temple there and build 100 check dams within few years.
“Constructing check dams by collecting one rupee from each person in a drought stricken village has now become my mission and I will make this effort a continuous process,” says Joshi, who is now becoming known more as a water conservationist and less as a medical practitioner.
Source:The Weekened

Controversy Over Suggestion to Implant Two Embryos

A new study published in The Lancet has been gathering controversy after its authors suggested that the government should allow fertility clinics to implant two embryos if the mother, her partner and the clinic believe that it is in their best interests.
Currently implanting more than one embryo is banned in some countries such as Sweden and Belgium while the British government too is slowly moving towards the one embryo policy as it is believed that implanting two or more embryos increases the possibility of twins being born.
However Bristol University’s Professor Debbie Lawlor and Glasgow University’s Professor Scott Nelson said that implanting two embryos increased the chances of a successful treatment. Both the researchers analyzed more than 124,000 IVF treatments and found that the chances of successful births were more among those patients who had been implanted with two embryos.
Speaking to The Guardian, Professor Lawlor said that while implanting three embryos should be banned, there should be no legislation against implanting two embryos. “In terms of UK policy, we would say you shouldn't transfer three to women of any age, but I think there should not be legislation to try to enforce transferring one to younger women and two to older women. Guidance should be based on prognostic indicators”, she said.

Th Research Finds Newly Diagnosed Diabetics Have 1-Year to Control BP Without Drugs

A new study has revealed that middle-aged adults who are recently diagnosed with diabetes and hypertension have at least one year time to try to learn how to control their high blood pressure without medications. However further delay can increase damage.The consequences of delaying effective hypertension treatment for up to a year were small-a two-day reduction in quality-adjusted life expectancy-according to University of Chicago researchers
But as the delay gets longer, the damages multiply. A ten-year delay decreased life expectancy by almost five months.
"For newly diagnosed patients, this means we have time," said study author Neda Laiteerapong, MD, instructor of medicine at the University of Chicago.
"Most patients would prefer to control their blood pressure through diet and exercise rather than with medications, and it can take months to learn how to change old habits and master new skills. Our results indicate that it's OK to spend from six months to a year, perhaps even longer, to make the difficult lifestyle changes that are necessary and will pay off in the long run," she explained.
The study was published online for the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

No Link Between Marathon Participation and Cardiac Arrest

A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine said that participating in marathons did not increase the risk of cardiac arrests.The study was conducted by researchers led by Jonathan Kim from Massachusetts General Hospital who collected data from various sources regarding deaths caused by cardiac arrests following long distances races and found that among 11 million participants, there were 59 deaths due to cardiac arrests.
The researchers said that while the number of deaths has increased in recent years, it was only due to the increased number of participants in marathons and the risk of cardiac arrests were lower when compared to other physical activities such as college sports and triathlons.
“The risk associated with long-distance running events is equivalent to or lower than the risk associated with other vigorous physical activity”, the researchers wrote.

Alzheimer's Patients Treated With Blue-green Light

Light treatment proves effective for patients with Alzheimer's disease, reveals study.Caregivers said patients receiving the treatment seemed more awake and alert, were more verbally competent and showed improved recognition, recollection and motor coordination, reported LuAnn Nowak Etcher, Ph.D., assistant professor of nursing at Wayne State University.
They also said patients seemed to recapture their personalities and were more engaged with their environment. Patients' moods also were described as improved.
Etcher's work is inspired by her interest in a phenomenon known as "sundowning," when Alzheimer's patients sleep during the day, wake up later and may be up all night long.
Part of her doctoral research was to utilize light, a common intervention for circadian disorders, to regulate the rest-activity patterns of women with Alzheimer's.
The study involved 20 women older than age 65 with Alzheimer's dementia from nursing homes in southeast Michigan. Each patient was assigned randomly to an experimental group receiving blue-green light treatments or a control group receiving dim red light.
Although blue-green light recipients comprised the active experimental group, Etcher said she was surprised when some recipients of red light - the placebo group - also were reported as showing improvements, with caregivers saying their patients were calmer and had reduced resistance to care.
The level of effects varied, Etcher said, noting that while the blue-green group recipients were largely reported by caregivers as showing improvement, a few showed little to no effect from the treatments.
"Some of the rest-activity pattern disruptions that we see associated with Alzheimer's dementia may not necessarily be circadian based," Etcher said.
"They may be due to unmet needs, pain or other phenomena, and therefore would not respond to an intervention aimed at regulation of the circadian system," the researchers added.
Calling her study preliminary, Etcher said this new treatment needs to be studied with a larger sample and different demographics.
The study was published recently in the Western Journal of Nursing Research.

Traditional Chinese Remedies May Pump Up Fertility Treatments

Blend of Traditional Chinese Medicine (known as TCM in West) and intrauterine insemination (IUI) develops efficacy of fertility treatments, reveals a new study.Chinese traditional remedies, which have long been used to ease pain, treat disease, boost fertility, and prevent miscarriage, include herbal preparations and acupuncture.
In the first study that measures the effectiveness of both herbs and acupuncture in combination with IUI infertility treatment, Dr. Shahar Lev-Ari and Keren Sela of TAU's Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the Tel Aviv Medical Center said that the results show a significant increase in fertility when the therapies are administered side-by-side.
The method is as "close to nature" as possible and can be used by women employing sperm donors, or after a partner's sperm is centrifuged to enhance its motility in the uterus.
In a retrospective study, Dr. Lev-Ari and Sela followed the progress of 29 women between the ages of 30 and 45 who were receiving IUI treatment combined with TCM therapy, and compared their results to a control group of 94 women between the ages of 28 and 46 who were undergoing IUI treatment alone.
In addition to their IUI treatments, the 29 women in the first group received weekly sessions of acupuncture and a regime of Chinese medicines, which consisted of powdered or raw Chinese herbs such as PeoniaAlbae and Chuanxiong, designed to meet each woman's specific needs.
In terms of both conception and take-home baby rates, the test group fared far better than the control group. Out of the 29 women in the test group, 65.5 percent conceived, and 41.4 percent delivered healthy babies. In the control group, only 39.4 percent conceived and 26.9 percent delivered.
The vast difference in success rates is even more surprising when the age of the average participant was taken into account, Dr. Lev-Ari and Sela noted.
"The average age of the women in the study group was 39.4, while that of the control group was 37.1. Normally, the older the mother, the lower the pregnancy and delivery rates," they explained.
The study has been published in the Journal of Integrative Medicine.

Herbal Medicines for Arthritis Not Backed by Evidence

There is little evidence to support the widespread use of herbal medicines to relieve the symptoms of osteoarthritis, according to a review of these products.
Osteoarthritis is a painful condition that involves damage to cartilage and other structures in and around the joints, particularly the fingers, knees and hips. It differs from rheumatoid arthritis, which is an immune-based disorder.
Devil's claw, cat's claw, ginger, nettle, rosehip, turmeric, willow bark, Indian frankincense and vegetable extracts of avocado or soybean oils are all among the herbal medicines traditionally used to treat osteoarthritis.
"Unfortunately, a large number of people suffer from osteoarthritis pain," said one expert, Dr. Robert Graham, an internist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
"Current pharmacological management is largely focused upon reduction of pain and of inflammation with the use of NSAIDs [painkillers] and Tylenol, offering only temporary pain relief at the expense of known adverse effects associated with NSAID use," he added. "Patients have and will continue to use herbal and dietary supplements with hopes of finding the 'cure' for osteoarthritis pain, many times without sharing this with a conventional medical professional."
However, few studies on the use of herbal medicines for osteoarthritis have been conducted, according to the authors of the review in the January issue of the journal Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin. Many of the studies that have been carried out had design flaws and limitations, included too few patients, or weren't long enough, according to a journal news release.
The available clinical trial evidence suggests that the vegetable extracts, Indian frankincense and rosehip may be effective and produce few unwanted side effects, but more "robust data are needed," according to the journal.
Evidence in favor of the use of other herbal medicine is at best equivocal or unconvincing, the review found.
"Use of herbal supplements comes up a lot in the treatment of joint pain," said Dr. Victor Khabie, chief of surgery and sports medicine at Northern Westchester Hospital Center, in Mount Kisco, N.Y. "I have never seen a study that has convinced me that its use is beneficial."
The journal also warned that herbal medicines can interfere with other medicinal products and prescription drugs. For example, extensive use of nettle can interfere with drugs used to treat diabetes, lower blood pressure and depress the central nervous system. Willow bark can cause digestive and kidney problems.
"Herbal medicines have traditionally been used for the relief of osteoarthritis symptoms. However, there is a lack of licensed herbal medicinal products on the market for such symptoms, and none specifically licensed for osteoarthritis," the journal concluded.
"Also the efficacy and safety of such products is generally under- researched and information on potentially significant herb-drug interactions is limited," the release added.
For his part, Graham said that some patients do seem to be helped by herbal remedies.
"In some cases patients may be able to lower or stop the use of NSAIDs and to avoid the adverse effects of NSAIDs," he said. "Unfortunately, the [review] authors did not review the popular dietary supplements glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate alone or in combination, which has been shown to be effective in a subgroup of patients with moderate-to-severe pain.
"Although prospective studies are needed, I do believe that their use should be discussed with [patients'] physicians and physicians should consider integrating some of the more promising and/or safest herbals and dietary supplements into their standard of practice -- their patients are already doing it," Graham said.
Khabie agreed that certain herbals might seem to work for some patients, although the reasons remain uncertain. "I do have patients who tell me that various supplements have relieved their joint pain, and it is unclear whether they are responding to a placebo effect," he said. "Some herbal supplements can act as blood thinners, which could complicate upcoming surgery, so I usually ask my patients to discontinue their use two weeks prior to their procedure."
Doctors treating patients with osteoarthritis should routinely ask them if they are taking any herbal products, the journal suggested.


Urine Test to Diagnose Acute Kidney Failure

A simple urine test helps diagnose acute kidney failure (AKI), shows study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.Physicians typically measure a patient''s creatinine levels to determine kidney function. But creatinine levels can remain normal for several hours after acute kidney damage, and an accurate assessment requires measurements taken over a period of 1-3 days. This limits their usefulness in an emergency room. Urinary biomarkers, however, require only a half hour or so to obtain a measure of the severity of kidney damage, explains Thomas Nickolas, MD, MS, assistant professor of clinical medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and a kidney specialist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/The Allen Hospital.
In an international, multi-center study, researchers at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center; Staten Island University Hospital; and Charité-Universitätsmedizin, Max Delbruck Center for Molecular Medicine, and Helios Clinics, Berlin, Germany, took a single measure of five urinary biomarkers from 1,635 emergency room patients upon their admission to the hospital. Although all five biomarkers were elevated in cases of iAKI (intrinsic AKI, the most severe form of AKI), the biomarker called uNGAL was most accurate in the diagnosis of iAKI and best predicted its duration and severity. uNGAL, along with another biomarker, called Kim-1, most accurately predicted death or the need to start dialysis during hospitalization. uNGAL was discovered at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center and at Cincinnati Children''s Hospital; it was measured in this study by Abbott''s ARCHITECT-NGAL assay, which is available commercially outside the US.
"The ability to identify acute kidney damage while the patient is in triage is especially important in busy urban hospitals, where patients cannot wait for repetitive measures of creatinine and are frequently lost to follow-up," said senior author Jonathan Barasch, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine and of anatomy and cell biology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and a kidney specialist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/The Allen Hospital. "The use of urinary biomarkers could also be of great use to the military, at disaster sites, and in other situations where quick medical decisions must be made."
"Combining urinary biomarkers such as uNGAL with the current standard marker creatinine will significantly improve the identification of patients at risk of death or dialysis in the hospital," added Dr. Kai Schmidt-Ott, MD, a kidney specialist at Charité Berlin, research group leader at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine, and adjunct assistant professor at Columbia University Medical Center. "Identifying these patients at the earliest possible time in the emergency room may enable us to introduce new treatment options to improve their outcomes."

Scientists follow ancient literature to seek treatment for Parkinson's

A new trend is emerging in modern medicine. Scientists across the country working on developing new drugs seem to be looking towards ayurveda for remedies. They are trying to obtain molecules from known ayurvedic herbs, to make drugs to treat diseases that do not have cures in modern medicine. Some of the diseases being targeted include heart problems, diabetes, tuberculosis, Parkinson's etc.
The trend was more than evident from the presentations by scientists at the three-day annual conference of Society for Neurochemistry (SNCI) titled 'Rejuvenation neurochemistry: bedside to bench and back to bedside' hosted by the research lab of Central India Institute of Medical Sciences (CIIMS).
In Charaka Samhita, an ancient literature on Indian medicine, certain herbs are known to work well in treatment of Parkinson's disease. But the mechanism of these herbs is yet to be fully understood by modern medicine. However, scientists at the Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (IICB), Kolkata, have identified harmful as well as beneficial molecules, which can stop the progression of Parkinson's disease in patients.
Though it is too early now to pronounce that the beneficial molecule can actually be developed into a drug, the research so far has shown that the herb contains a good molecule which can arrest the effect of the disease in animals. KP Mohanakumar, chief scientist at IICB, told TOI that he had first identified the bad molecule from the herb (phenylethylamine) from its plant extract. The harmful molecule is also known to be present in chocolates and wine.
But there are other molecules (not being disclosed yet as patent is pending) which are being tried on human cell lines. The Levo Dopa (allopathic medicine) is a good molecule present in the extract, a medicine that is used to check the symptoms of Parkinson's. L dopa is a precursor of dopamine, a neurotransmitter which is lost during the disease in brain.
Mohanakumar has also used Hyascyamus niger to remove beneficial molecules. Development of a drug based on the beneficial molecule may take many years, but even identifying the molecule and trying it on human cells is a promising indication of drugs for Parkinson's in future.
Brain stroke is another brain disease which could have extremely bad, irreversible changes in the body. While scientists like Prakash Babu, head of the department of biotechnology school of life sciences of University of Hyderabad, are trying stem cell therapy to treat the diseases, others like Pawan Kumar from National Institute of Ayurveda, Jaipur, are using herbs like Fagonia Arabica, commonly known as Dhamasa, to act as a neuro-protector and treat clots in deep veins.
Human trials of these drugs are showing good results. Babu says a drug developed from the plant can act as a very cheap replacement to streptokinase. Curcumin, an active component of turmeric, also has neuro-protector abilities. Capscain (derived from chilli) has proved to be a good pain reliever.
Dr Jayant Deopujari, an ayurvedic practitioner from CIIMS, has also been working on Dhamasa and got good results in animal models. He has characterized the molecule, obtained from partially purified extract of the whole plant, that can act as a clot dissolver.
Paturu Kondaiah, a scientist from Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, working on tumours and Dr Rajpal Kashyap, senior research consultant at CIIMS laboratory, also presented papers on the first day. Kashyap presented his work on tuberculosis of the brain and the kits developed by his lab for detection of latent tuberculosis.

Walnuts Help Fight Bad Cholesterol

Walnut consumption helps ward off bad cholesterol and diseases, claims study.
Walnuts contain very high levels of polyphenol, an anti-oxidant that can protect the body from molecules which damage tissue.
They found that the dry fruit contains the most polyphenol out of a list of nine commonly eaten types of nuts, tests revealed.
Brazil nuts and pistachios were close behind, and cashews and hazelnuts had slightly lower levels of antioxidants.
Professor Joe Vinson, from the University of Scranton, Pennsylvania, said that walnuts inhibit the growth of 'bad' cholesterol.
"Walnuts rank above Brazil nuts, pistachios, pecans, peanuts, almonds, macadamias, cashews and hazelnuts," the Daily Mail quoted him as saying.
"Walnuts had the highest free and total polyphenols in both the combined and roasted samples," he added.
Despite the "superfood" potential of walnuts, peanuts are the favourite with consumers and account for 45 percent of the nuts bought in Europe.
The study also found that the antioxidants in peanut butter were considerably lower than in roasted peanuts.

Karnataka plans meet on naturopathy, yoga

Karnataka, in association with various other organizations is organizing an International Conference on Yoga, Naturopathy and Arogya Expo 2012 from February 9 to 13 at Palace Grounds in Bangalore.

More than 5,000 delegates from 30 countries are expected to participate in the event. The conference is jointly funded by both the State and Central governments and event sponsors, S A Ramdas, minister for medical education told reporters.
He said about 300 delegates from USA, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore have already confirmed participation in the Expo which will also have 300 stalls showcasing various health products.
About 500 papers on Yoga and Naturopathy would be presented during the event, which would see Bollywood actor Hema Malini and Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, yoga expert B K S Iyengar among others take part, he said.
“The first international conference on yoga and naturopathy will be a global platform for all stakeholders to engage in intellectual exchange to strengthen the evidence based practice of yoga and naturopathy,” he added.
It ould enable the professionals to network with each other and to reaffirm their sense of purpose to establish yoga and naturopathy as a system of choice to deal with challenges of lifestyle diseases,” Ramdas said.
The event would see showcasing of advances in relevant fields, orients students and facilitates policymakers, saints and health educators, he added.
Source:Business Standard

Soon, Cell Phones Could Help Lose Weight

Soon, cell phones may help you shed those extra kilos.
Researchers with Calit2's Center for Wireless and Population Health Systems (CWPHS) and the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, at University of California, San Diego are expanding a previous study aimed at finding out if cell phone technology can help with weight loss.
For one year, researchers with the "ConTxt" study will evaluate the use of cell phone text messages to remind participants to make wise nutritional choices throughout the day.
Participants randomized to the intervention conditions will also be given tailored messages for weight loss and lifestyle changes as well as a pedometer to monitor their daily activity.
"ConTxt is an innovative, yet straightforward approach to getting people to monitor their diet and physical activity," said CWPHS project principal investigator Kevin Patrick, MD, MS, professor of Family and Preventive Medicine, UC San Diego School of Medicine.
"We are trying to make this as pain free as possible. People won't stick to something that's too difficult and they're all multi-tasking anyway. We're doing this study to increase what we know about using the cell phone to get messages to busy people on the go."
ConTxt is recruiting more than 300 participants for the study.
As a part of tailoring of the program, surveys completed during baseline visit will help assess the participant's lifestyle, for example, assessing nearby grocery stores, finding opportunities for physical activity and possibly enlisting the support of friends or family.
The intervention is designed to send "prompts," text or picture messages, with specific suggestions or tips regarding diet and improving lifestyle habits.
"It seems like everybody has a cell phone. Those who do usually carry it with them at all times," explained ConTxt study coordinator Lindsay W. Dillon, MPH, CHES.
"We want to see if we can use that same technology to get people to think differently," Dillon added.

Height Loss, Fracture Risk Linked

In older women, height loss is associated with an increased risk of fractures and death, reveals study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.The study found that women 65 and older who lost more than two inches over 15 years were 50 percent more likely to both fracture a bone and to die in the subsequent five years, compared to women who lost less than two inches in height.
"Most women do lose height as they age, but we found that those who lost more than two inches were at higher risk of breaking a bone and of dying," said lead author Teresa Hillier, MD, MS, an endocrinologist and senior investigator at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore. "These women were at higher risk of dying from a fracture, but they were also at higher risk of dying from more common causes, including heart disease."
Height loss may be an indicator of osteoporosis, a weakening of the bone that can lead to fractures of the spine, hip, wrist and other bones. Hip fractures are the most debilitating. Nearly 300,000 people are admitted to the hospital each year with a hip fracture, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As many as 20 percent of them will die within a year after the fracture and many others will become disabled, previous research has shown.
"We need to do everything we can to prevent these fractures and our study suggests that clinicians don't need to wait until they have two height measurements before they can be proactive," Hillier said. "Most older women remember how tall they were in their mid 20s, and if they measure two inches shorter than that, clinicians should consider bone density testing, counseling, and possible treatment to help prevent fractures."
Prior studies have reported that significant height loss puts men at higher risk for heart disease and death, but this is the first study to find an association between height loss and death in women. Another study to be published in the same issue of the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research found that men over 70 who lost two inches or more were at greater risk for fracturing a hip, compared with men who lost less height.
The main analysis for the new Kaiser Permanente study involved 3,124 women who were 65 and older during the mid-1980s, when they were recruited for the landmark Study of Osteoporotic Fractures. The study has been going on for more than two decades and includes women from Baltimore, Minneapolis, Portland, Ore., and the Monongahela Valley near Pittsburgh.
Height loss was determined by comparing height measurements taken during an initial clinic visit with measurements taken during a clinic visit 15 years later. A stadiometer was used to measure height. Spine fractures were detected through X-rays, and bone density was measured using a standard bone scan.
In addition to the clinic visits, women filled out health questionnaires every four months and were asked if they'd broken a hip or other bone. Those who didn't fill out the mailed questionnaires were contacted by phone. Public death records were used to confirm mortality.
In addition to the main analysis, researchers also conducted a sensitivity analysis among all 9,704 women in the SOF study and looked at the significance of height loss that had occurred before the women entered the study at age 65 or older. At the beginning of the study, women were asked to recall how tall they were at age 25, and that height was compared to their actual height. Researchers found that women who reported losing more than two inches in the previous 40 years were also at higher risk for fractures and death.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

DRDO's Rs.7 cr tulsi project finds anti radiation properties of tulsi extracts in animal trials

There are more revelations coming to light about the home grown tulsi plant’s medicinal values. In a recent research conducted by scientists at DRDO’s (Defence Research Development Organization) Institute of Nuclear Medicines and Allied Sciences and Department of Radiobiology, Kasturba Medical College, Manipal, the scientists have successfully tested tulsi extracts on mice for its anti-radiation and anti-cancer properties. The DRDO is spending Rs.7 crore on the tulsi project.
Earlier, the research students at the department of biotechnology of Vignan College in Guntoor, in Andhra Pradesh, had also revealed that Tulsi extracts had useful medicinal ingredients which can treat diabetics and cancerous ailments in humans.
Now as the scientists have discovered one more medicinal value in tulsi extract which can be used as an anti-radiation agent, it is evidently proved that the ancient Indian tradition of growing tulsi (Ocimum Santum) in the backyard is not without scientific backing.
With this new revelation, it can be said that tulsi plant is embedded with multiple medicinal values, as it can be used not only to treat diabetics, but also can be used for treating cancer and now as an anti-radiant substance.
Research shows that the tulsi or Indian basil contains a chemical called glutathione which mitigates the ill-effects of radiation and can protect cells in patients undergoing radiation therapy for cancer.
In fact when anybody is subjected to radiation, it affects the bone marrow first and thus the immunity level comes down. This will make the human body vulnerable for contracting diseases easily.
Initially the scientists used tulsi extract on mice and they successfully found that the bone marrow of radiation exposed rodents was not affected and their immunity levels were intact. With this new success, the DRDO is now preparing a herbal concoction from tulsi that will serve to prevent and cure the ill-effects of radiation.
Dr W Selvamurthy, chief controller (research and development) revealed that now DRDO is planning to take up human trials. “We need to conduct a few more tests and take up phase II trials before it is released for general use,” said Dr Selvamurthy.
In fact, the research on the anti-radiation effect of tulsi in animals has been going on in India since the past 40 years and it is only in the recent years that scientist have been coming out with concrete evidence of tulsi’s mythic medicinal values.

Y-Chromosome Shrinking Across Species, But Men Unlikely To Become Extinct!

Researchers from The Australian National University have discovered that the male-specific Y-chromosome is shrinking – and it’s happening at different rates across species.
The research team discovered that a marsupial’s Y-chromosome is genetically denser than the human Y-chromosome, meaning that animals like the tammar wallaby are bounds ahead on the ‘manliness’ scale. However, even though the Y-chromosome is shrinking, in this case size doesn’t matter.
Derivatively then, men need not worry much. They are unlikely to become extinct anytime soon because of this phenomenon.
The international study, led by Dr Paul Waters from the ANU Research School of Biology, analysed DNA samples from tammar wallabies and found more genes on the male chromosome than expected.
“There were lots of genes that we weren’t expecting to find,” said Dr Waters. “These genes have been lost from the Y-chromosome in placental mammals like humans but, for some reason, they have been retained in marsupials.
“This means there are different rates of gene loss on the Y-chromosome across species.”
The Y-chromosome is one of two sex chromosomes carried in males from most mammal species. It contains male-specific genes including the testis determining gene, which triggers male sexual development. Dr Waters said that researchers have known for some time that the Y-chromosome is losing genetic material.
“It’s shrinking. It gets physically smaller as it loses genes,” said Dr Waters. “The Y-chromosome can theoretically lose chunks at a time – 50 genes, 100 genes – depending on how big the deletion is.
“When these genes are lost, the function they played is lost altogether. But genes will only be lost from the Y-chromosome if they no longer have a function of importance for males. If they do have some sort of male-specific role, such as in sperm production, they will be retained.”
Dr Waters added that despite the shrinking chromosome, there is no risk of men becoming extinct.
“Y-chromosomes have been completely lost in other species, such as in some rodents, and genes important for male development have moved somewhere else in the genome. The master switch that turns on male development can change and move around the genome, but the result will remain the same.
“Men will always be men, irrespective of the size of the Y-chromosome.”

New Protein Target For Psoriasis Treatment

Swedish researchers believe that targeting the psoriasin protein (S100A7) could be an effective treatment for psoriasis, a skin disease for which there is no cure at the moment.
About 300 000 Swedes suffer from the difficult to treat disease, which manifests itself in scaly and often itchy patches on the skin. The reason is that cells divide without restraint as new blood vessels form in the deeper layers of the skin.
Now the psoriasin protein (S100A7) is found in abundance in psoriasis-affected skin but rarely in normal skin. The same protein is also assumed to be a factor in the development of breast cancer. The research team, led by associate professor Charlotta Enerbäck, Linköping University, have now illustrated that, in a study on cultured skin cells, the interaction between psoriasin, oxygen free radicals and vascular endothelial growth factors (VEGF) leads to significantly increased cell division and growth of new blood vessels (angiogenesis). When we blocked the formation of psoriasin, the expression of VEGF also decreased.
Published in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment,have now illustrated that, in a study on cultured skin cells, the interaction between psoriasin, oxygen free radicals and vascular endothelial growth factors (VEGF) leads to significantly increased cell division and growth of new blood vessels (angiogenesis). When we blocked the formation of psoriasin, the expression of VEGF also decreased.
Published in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, the results open new possibilities for the effective treatment of this crippling disease.
“We want to examine the ability of psoriasin as a target for therapy. By inhibiting psoriasin, we believe we can reduce vascular formation and thus the proliferation of the disease’s magnitude and intensity,” says Charlotta Enerbäck.
Previous studies in mice have shown that angiogenesis inhibitors reduce not only neovascularization but also inflammation and excessive cell division. Attempts to inhibit the growth factor VEGF have resulted in unwanted side effects because it exists in normal tissue where it contributes to wound healing.
“Since psoriasin expresses itself specifically only in the diseased psoriatic skin, we expect that inhibitors against this are highly selective and effective against the disease, and that the risk for side effects is minimal,” says Charlotta Enerbäck.
Presently, palliative treatments with vitamin D, cortisone, light and low doses of chemotherapy are used. More recently, some “biological”, antibody-based drugs arrived on the market, however they are very expensive and not free from side effects.
In the circumstances, the new finding could offer fresh hopes.

Disruption Of Biological Clock Could Mean Premature Death

Disruption of biological clock could mean premature death, say Oregon researchers.
The study at Oregan State University and Oregon Health and Science University has been published in Neurobiology of Disease. Prior to this, it wasn’t clear which came first – whether the disruption of biological clock mechanisms was the cause or the result of neurodegeneration.
“In these experiments, we showed through both environmental and genetic approaches that disrupting the biological clock accelerated these health problems,” said Kuntol Rakshit, an OSU graduate fellow.
“There’s a great deal of interest right now in studies on circadian rhythms, as we learn more about the range of problems that can result when they are disrupted,” Rakshit said. “Ultimately we hope that this research will be taken from the laboratory to the bedside.”
These studies were done with fruit flies, but the OSU scientists said previous research has indicated there are close parallels between them and humans. Some of the genes regulating circadian rhythms in flies are so important that they have been preserved through millions of years of separate evolution and still do the same thing in humans.
The biological clock, in humans and many other animals, is a complex genetic mechanism tuned to the 24-hour day and regular cycles of light, dark and sleep. It influences a wide range of biological processes, from fertility to hormone production, feeding patterns, DNA repair, sleep, stress reactions, even the effectiveness of medications. In humans, researchers have found strong correlations between disrupted clock mechanisms, aging, and neurologic diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease.
The fruit flies used in this research carried two mutations, one that disrupts circadian rhythms and another that causes flies to develop brain pathologies during aging. These double mutants had a 32-50 percent shorter lifespan, lost much of their motor function, and developed significant “vacuoles” or holes in their brains far sooner than flies with a functional clock.
The decline and loss of clock function may be just the beginning of a damaging, circular process, said Jadwiga Giebultowicz, an OSU professor of zoology, member of the OSU Center for Healthy Aging Research and project leader.
“When the biological clock begins to fail, rhythms that regulate cell function and health get disrupted, and we now know that this predisposes the brain to neurodegeneration,” Giebultowicz said. “But that neurodegeneration, in turn, may cause more damage to the clock function.
“A healthy biological clock helps protect against this damage,” she said. “When the clock fails, the damage processes speed up.”
Aging is closely associated with this process, Giebultowicz said, but it’s not clear exactly how. Molecular clock oscillations decline during aging. Finding ways to restore them might form a possible therapy for biological clock damage and help to prevent disease, and work in that area will be part of future research.

New Strategy to Tackle Infectious Diseases: Study Asserts

Latest research illustrate that infectious disease-fighting drugs are probably designed to obstruct a pathogen's entry into cells instead of killing the bug itself.
Historically, medications for infectious diseases have been designed to kill the offending pathogen. This new strategy is important, researchers say, because many parasites and bacteria can eventually mutate their way around drugs that target them, resulting in drug resistance.
In this study, scientists showed that using an experimental agent to block one type of an enzyme in cell cultures and mice prevented a specific parasite from entering white blood cells, a step required for the parasite to cause infection. This method applies to pathogens that must enter a host cell to survive and do their damage. Some bugs can thrive in a host body outside cell walls.
The researchers tested the experimental drug against Leishmania parasites, which are transmitted by the bite of infected sand flies. The pathogen causes a parasitic skin infection common in tropical and subtropical regions of the world, with an estimated 1.5 million new cases diagnosed each year worldwide.
"This represents a new way of thinking about treatment for infectious diseases. This was a proof of concept to see whether this emerging strategy is viable," said Abhay Satoskar, professor of pathology at Ohio State University and senior author of the study. "We aren't claiming we have a new drug for treatment. If we know this strategy works, then drugs can be developed that target different pathways in the host that could be important for pathogen invasion and survival."
The research appears online this week in the early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Leishmania essentially hijacks a host's white blood cells to cause a skin infection called cutaneous leishmaniasis, characterized by sores of various sizes that may or may not be painful.
The standard compounds used to treat the skin disease must be injected and can cause damage to veins and a host of unpleasant symptoms. The side effects, combined with the need to receive daily shots for three weeks, lead to poor patient compliance – which can then allow the parasites to develop resistance to the drugs.
To work around pathogens' abilities to circumvent treatment, scientists have begun developing agents that target specific elements of the infection process inside the host body. One such experimental drug is called AS-605240, and it targets one type of an enzyme that is activated when white blood cells recognize an intruder and the host body initiates an immune response.
This enzyme, PI3K gamma, controls cell movement as well as changes to a cell membrane that enable a pathogen to penetrate the cell wall. AS-605240 blocks the activity of the gamma form of the enzyme, which in turn is expected to reduce the number of cells recruited to an infection site and allow few pathogens to enter into the cells that are recruited.
Satoskar and colleagues ran a series of experiments on animal cell cultures to demonstrate that the PI3K gamma enzyme does indeed control white blood cell activity in the immune response to Leishmania mexicana infection and that the presence of the experimental agent significantly reduced the ability of the parasites to penetrate white blood cell walls. The agent also reduced the number of phagocytes – one type of white blood cell – that were recruited to the infection site, meaning the parasites had fewer chances to find cells that could host them.
Additionally, the researchers tested these same responses in mice, with the same results. They then compared AS-605240 treatment of Leishmania infection in mice with the current standard drug treatment, sodium stibogluconate. After two weeks of treatment of lesions on the mice, the effects of both the experimental agent and the standard treatment were very similar, and both treatments reduced the number of parasites within skin lesions when compared with untreated lesions. When the treatments were combined, the healing effects were stronger than they were in mice that received just one type of treatment.
From here, Satoskar wants to fine-tune the strategy and consider other host-based pathways that could be safely manipulated to prevent pathogens from causing infection. The findings in this work suggest that such a strategy could be used not just for treatment, but for prevention as well.
"There is no prevention for these kinds of diseases," Satoskar said. "If we had a drug that would reduce the amount of phagocytes coming to the site of infection after parasites enter the skin, that would lead to a less severe infection that the body could probably control on its own."
Some people can self-heal from a Leishmania infection, but the time it takes is unpredictable so infections are typically treated, he said.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Electronic Contact Lens to Monitor Blood Sugar

Researchers at Microsoft are in the process of developing electronic contact lenses with glucose sensor to monitor sugar levels wirelessly.The initiative by Microsoft Research and the University of Washington, would be a big help to people with Type I diabetes patients, who must keep a check on their blood sugar on a daily basis by actually drawing blood several times a day.
Although tear film can show blood sugar levels but getting it from the eye is extremely difficult.
A contact lens designed to analyze enzymes from glucose in tears could solve that problem.
"Professor Zhang's lab has been largely using nanostructured optical probes embedded in hydrophilic hydrogen lenses, and they've had some successes recently," Discovery News quoted Microsoft Researcher Desney Tan as telling Gizmag.
"As the enzyme interacts with the tear fluid, specific measurements are made by observing the change in current measured by bio-compatible electrodes on the contact lens," Tan added.

Maharashtra to control unqualified practitioners

The Maharashtra government is planning to crack down on and regulate unqualified practitioners who pass off as naturopaths or yoga experts.
The state Medical Education Department will now move a proposal before the Cabinet to set up a council to regulate these two streams by setting up a yoga and naturopathy council on the lines of the councils for other branches of medicine.
Maharashtra Medical Education Minister Dr Vijaykumar Gavit told Express that the council would have the powers to make it mandatory for the naturopaths and yoga practitioners to register themselves with it and also receive and act on complaints against them.
“It is necessary to lay down some guidelines in this regard,” said Gavit, a former teacher in a government medical college, who later entered politics from tribal Nandurbar in north Maharashtra, admitting that there was a significant proportion of people who practiced and taught naturopathy or yoga without complete knowledge of the subject. The council may also lay down tests for the nature care practitioners to appear for before being granted registration. Officials from the department admit that there are also instances of naturopaths passing themselves off as medical doctors. The proposal will be moved before the meeting of the state Cabinet which will take place after the code of conduct in force for the ongoing elections to the municipal corporations, panchayat samitis and zilla parishads in Maharashtra ends, he added.
Once this came through, the state government will have to table a Bill in the Maharashtra Legislature to set up the council. Gavit, however, said later that they may also hand over these powers about prescribing syllabus and educational standards and holding examinations to the council set up for nurses and paramedics.
Source:The Indian Express

Chinese Herbal Medicine May Help To Treat Alcoholism

Researchers have identified a component in Chinese herbal anti-hangover medicine which may help to thwart acute alcohol intoxication and dependence, paving way for new therapeutic treatments.
A UCLA research team found that dihydromyricetin, isolated from the plant Hovenia, blocks the action of alcohol on the brain and neurons and also reduces voluntary alcohol consumption, with no major side effects, in an early study with rats.
Specifically, dihydromyricetin inhibited alcohol's effect on the brain's GABAA receptors, specific sites targeted by chemicals from brain cells.
Alcohol normally enhances the GABAA receptors' influence in slowing brain cell activity, reducing the ability to communicate and increasing sleepiness - common symptoms of drunkenness.
The next stage of the research will involve human clinical trials, the researchers said.

Tips for Getting Pregnant in 2012 Include Less Medical and More Holistic Treatments

Hopeful mothers that are struggling to get pregnant will often turn to modern medicine for help, but guides with tips for getting pregnant: could sway the trend. Many people that are undergoing medical treatment to help them get pregnant find that not only can treatment can be very uncomfortable and sometimes even painful, but the success rate of treatment is not particularly high.
Modern medicine still recommends such treatments however because at the moment in time, they are about the most effective thing they have.Instead, people are turning to ancient methods of conceiving such as natural ingredients that are known to contain certain properties.
Guides have been published that collate a great deal of information on natural medicines and use that information to offer valuable and effective tips for getting pregnant: . "Natural medicines have been used for generations and many have been found to be very effective in the treatments they offer", said Lisa Olson, author of Pregnancy Miracle.
In addition to offering tips and advice on what natural holistic treatments can help a woman to conceive, the guides also give more generic advice on how to eat healthily in a way that will encourage the right conditions for conception.
Certain foods can affect the body in ways that may make conditions more or less conducive for conception and the guides offer tips for getting pregnant by way of suggesting diets that can help. Of course, eating a healthy diet can not only help to improve the chances of a woman getting pregnant but it will also help to improve their overall health which is an added bonus to women that follow the advice that is given.
Many women that are trying to get pregnant may be inadvertently taking courses of action that are harming the chances of conception occurring. The obvious examples are things like smoking and drinking but there are many other less obvious factors that should be taken into consideration.
Ashley Spencer, author of Getting Pregnant System, remarked: "Sometimes the reason a woman may be struggling to get pregnant can be a simple thing that is easily addressed. It could be something as simple as stopping eating a particular food, or perhaps taking a single natural medicine could make the difference".
The tips for getting pregnant guides are seeing success rates as high as an astonishing 100%. With such high success rates it is not difficult to see why so many women are turning to ancient holistic treatments for pregnancy rather than modern medicines and techniques.
The natural medicines contain no drugs whatsoever so they are very safe to use. The natural ingredients also contain properties that can help encourage a general all round well-being that will give both mother and unborn child a better way of life.
The guides on tips for getting pregnant are accessible to anybody so fewer mothers will have to go through the anguish of not being able to conceive. The books are readily available on the internet and are available at prices that represent excellent value for money.
With such an excellent proven track record of success the guides are sure to help hopeful mothers that are trying to get pregnant.
Source: How To Get Pregnant In 30 Days

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