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Saturday, 11 February 2012

Yoga is Indias gift to the world

Inaugurating the Arogya Expo 2012, Chief Minister DV Sadananda Gowda mentioned that India’s gift to the world is the ancient Yogic science of healing and healthcare. However, he also stressed on how Indians need to start practicing this art form as a daily routine to keep healthy and fit.
In co-ordination with the Department of Ayush, Government of India, seven Yoga and Naturopathy institutes came together at the five day international conference on Yoga and Naturopathy. Policy makers, clinical practitioners, academicians of Yoga and Naturopathy and researchers from across the globe came together at the expo to discuss and explore new treatment methodologies, manage the modern challenges of health care systems and also to prove that Yoga and Naturopathy are strong evidence based medicines.
“The system of Yoga is a gift of India to the world. Both naturopathy and Yoga are very safe and effective combinations of drugless therapy and it needs to be promoted in the interest of the society. There has been a great resurgence in the study of traditional systems of medicine around the world. The altered lifestyle, faulty food habits, stressful life, overuse of chemical medicine, pollution of all kinds have made health to be measured by percentage of diseases,” the CM noted.
“Our government has duly recognized the importance of Yoga in daily life and has given priority for the empowerment of the sector. We have established a full-fledged Yoga and Naturopathy college in Mysore that offers several useful courses. The department of Ayush with the Shantivana trust of Dharmasthala has opened out patient units in ten taluka level hospitals in the state on public private partnership model,” Gowda said.
All the speakers threw light on the increasing international important that the ancient wisdom of Yogic practice has received. “Yoga should be taught at schools and each district in the state should have one yoga and naturopathy stall. This is an important step in the field of Yoga and is sure to bring with it a better understanding and knowledge of this ancient art that is as old as the civilization itself,” noted yogacharya BKS Iyengar.
Dr D Veerendra Heggade, Swami Chidananda Saraswathi, Legislative Assembly Speaker KG Bopaiah, Leader of opposition in the Legislative Assembly Siddramaiah were present at the event.
Attended by over 3,000 enthusiasts, students, NGOs and medical practitioners from across the globe, the five-day conference will showcase various speakers from different fields of healing sciences sharing their wisdom and emphasizing on the need for Yoga and naturopathy in the current scene.
Source:IBN Live

Friday, 10 February 2012

International Ayurveda Foundation urges govt to include Ayush streams in NCHRH

The International Ayurveda Foundation (IAF) has asked the government to reconsider the National Commission for Human Resources in Health (NCHRH) Bill to include the Ayush streams into the bill. The bill, at present, is waiting for passage in the Rajya Sabha.
In a recent representation to Rajya Sabha, the IAF pointed out that the government has been very careless to ignore a huge market like Ayush as 38 per cent of the population in the country depends upon traditional systems of medicine. The association urged the government that the present bill should be put on hold so that the government can re-consider the same keeping in mind the pluralistic health care system in the country.
The objective of the NCHRH is to consolidate the law in certain disciplines of health sector and promote human resources in health sector and provide for mechanism for the determination, maintenance, coordination and regulation of standards of health education throughout the country to ensure adequate availability of human resources in all States.
According to Praful Patel, general secretary, IAF, “Like the modern medicines, Ayush is equally an important branch that needs to be included into the mainstream system of medicine. For the benefit of the industry, at least now steps should be taken to ensure mainstreaming of Ayush in the main health care policy so that Ayush systems are not disengaged from the health care related legislation and its standardisation.”
He further stressed that like the modern medicines even Ayush streams are equally important and should be considered simultaneously, not separately. Through the representation, he suggested that the the Bill should be re-drafted taking into consideration the recommendations sent by the department of Ayush as well.
On NCHRH Bill, Dr S S Savrikar, former vice chancellor of Gujarat Ayurved University whose paper on the bill has been attached with the representation, stated that the vision document of Ayush for 11th five-year plan had emphasised the need for mainstreaming Ayush by designing strategic interventions for wider utilisation of Ayush both domestically and globally making mainstreaming of Ayush major objective of Ayush health policy. He pointed out that if Ayush which is an important discipline of healthcare is not included in NCHRH, it will never be brought in mainstream health service sector.
“Ayush drug will not be included in the definition of drugs, if Ayush remains outside the purview of NCHRH. Thus keeping Ayush outside the NCHRH will give a wrong message to the world community that India is not recognising Ayush as a reliable health care system. Creating a scenario where the world will never take note of Ayush systems putting all attempts to market Ayush drugs as drug in the world market in vain,” Dr Savrikar cautioned.
Source:Pharmabiz

Ayush Dept seeks Rs.450 cr for hospitals, dispensaries during 12th Plan

The Department of Ayush is looking for Rs.450 crore under the scheme of hospitals and dispensaries during the next five-year plan period to complete the works initiated in the current plan period and to set up new hospitals and dispensaries for Indian systems of medicine.
The department was given Rs.162.80 crore during the current plan period. The components under the scheme were All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA), New Delhi (Rs.150 crore); CGHS expansion of Ayush dispensaries (Rs.6.30 crore); Advanced Ayurvedic Centre for Mental Health in NIMHANS, Bangalore (nil allocation) and CGHS Ayurveda Hospital, New Delhi (Rs.6.50 crore).
During the 11th Plan, establishment of AIIA has been taken up vigorously, construction of its buildings started since 2009-10, services of Director, personal staff and Clinical Consultants have been engaged, OPD facility started and several posts got created. The Department has now sought a whopping Rs.300 crore to complete the remaining capital works and make the institute function in the academic and clinical departments, sources said.
During the current plan period, the Ayush dispensaries opened in CGHS could not be made functional due to shortage of medical officers and paramedical staff, apart from non-creation of posts. Mid-term appraisal found the AIIA project on track and recommended necessary action for creation of posts on priority basis for Ayush dispensaries in CGHS as done for NRHM. The Department is looking for Rs.150 crore to expand this scheme.
The expansion and strengthening of Ayush under CGHS would be taken up by creating dedicated administrative set up with provision of Additional Director, CGHS (Ayush), opening new dispensaries/hospitals in various CGHS-covered locations and up-gradation of existing CGHS Ayurveda Hospital, New Delhi, sources explained.
Source:Pharmabiz

Trauma Patients Have High Risk of Vitamin D Deficiency

About 77 percent of trauma patients had deficient or insufficient levels of vitamin D, new research presented at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) has found.
Researchers have linked a lack of vitamin D with muscle weakness, bone fractures, and the inability of bones to fully heal. In a new study, investigators sought to determine the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency among orthopaedic trauma patients.
Investigators reviewed the medical records of 1,830 adult (ages 18 and older) patients at a university Level 1 trauma center from Jan. 1, 2009 to Sept. 30, 2010. Participants with vitamin D levels below 20 ng/mL were categorized as "deficient," and those with levels between 20 and 32 ng/mL, "insufficient" (levels between 40 and 70 ng/mL are considered "healthy.")
Thirty-nine percent of all patients were vitamin D deficient, and another 38.4 percent had insufficient levels of vitamin D. Patients ages 18 to 25 had the lowest levels of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency of any age group, and yet 29 percent were deficient, and 54.7 percent, insufficient.
"Vitamin D deficiency affects patients of all ages and is more prevalent than we thought it was," said Brett D. Crist, MD, lead investigator and co-director of the Orthopaedic Trauma Service, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Missouri. The findings are important "as vitamin D deficiency has been linked to increased incidences of fracture nonunions (bone breaks that fail to heal)."
With the new data showing that a significant number of patients have deficient or insufficient levels of vitamin D, physicians should consider treating fracture patients with a supplement to ensure optimal outcome, said Dr. Crist, who provides vitamin D and calcium supplements to all trauma patients in his care, except to those patients for whom higher levels of calcium are not recommended.
"Although we've gone to treating most patients with weekly high dose vitamin D, in addition to daily vitamin D and calcium, monitoring vitamin D levels can be done to diagnose and monitor levels," said Dr. Crist. Vitamin D deficiency is "easy to manage," and "can prevent future fractures and improve healing of current fractures."
It is extremely difficult to naturally obtain enough vitamin D. An adult needs at least 1,000 International Units (IU) of vitamin D (10 glasses of milk and one fish meal each day), and a child, 400 to 800 IUs for good health, depending on age, weight and growth.
To ensure appropriate levels of vitamin D, a daily supplement is recommended for children and adults.
Source-Eurekalert

Botanical Formula Suppresses Prostate Cancer Growth

Botanical formula fights prostate cancer without toxicity, say researchers.
Scientists at Indiana University, Methodist Research Institute study a botanical formula that kills aggressive prostate cancer tumours. Their findings are based on experiments in mice using a human prostate cancer tumour model.
This is the third published study from a major university to show significant results of this specific multi-nutrient prostate formula against the invasive behaviour of aggressive prostate cancer cells, tumour growth and metastasis.
The formula combines botanical extracts, phytonutrients, botanically-enhanced medicinal mushrooms, and antioxidants.
"Multiple studies demonstrate that this prostate formula is a possible treatment for hormone refractory (androgen independent) prostate cancer," said lead researcher, Dr. Daniel Sliva.
This study also analyzed the formula for potential toxicity, demonstrating it to be safe with no signs of toxicity at the highest dosages.
"This study is a milestone in the research of this formula, demonstrating its safety and effectiveness in treating human prostate cancer in an animal model," said researcher and formulator, Dr. Isaac Eliaz.
These positive results offer a significant contribution to the field of prostate cancer research, and add to the growing body of published data substantiating the role of natural compounds in the treatment of prostate cancer."
Results of the study show that the oral administration of the formula produced a statistically significant 27 percent suppression of tumour growth, compared to controls.
The study was performed using a xenograft tumor model of human prostate cancer in mice.
Even more important, in addition to significant reduction in tumour volume, results showed inhibition of the expression of several genes involved in cancer proliferation and metastasis.
Three prostate cancer-related genes (IGF2, NRNF2 and PLAU/uPA) that were suppressed by this formula not only control aggressive prostate tumor growth, but also relate to the metastatic potential.
It is metastasis that makes prostate cancer deadly. The formula also significantly increased the expression of a gene that fights against prostate cancer, CDKN1A, which works by specifically inhibiting other cancer promoting cellular mechanisms.
By suppressing specific genes related to aggressive prostate cancer growth and proliferation, and increasing the expression of cancer-fighting genes, this integrative formula demonstrated multiple anti-cancer mechanisms and genetic targets.
This pre-clinical in vivo study confirms previously published in vitro data, which also shows the ability of this formula to decrease the expression of PLAU/uPA genes in aggressive, hormone-independent prostate cancer cells.
The study has been published online in The International Journal of Oncology.
Source-ANI

Make Kerala global hub of Ayurveda: Ravi

Kerala deserves to become the global hub of Ayurveda system of medicine in view of the State's inherent strength in the ancient Indian system of wellness, the Union Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs, Mr Vayalar Ravi, said on Friday.
Inaugurating six-day Global Ayurveda Festival here, Mr Ravi wanted both national and state governments to come forward to promote Ayurveda and traditional systems of medicines on a global scale.
“It is good to see that at last Keralites are coming up with new projects that would promote Ayurveda. It is also important that Kerala is giving greater attention to research in the Ayruveda stream of health care,” he said.
Ayurveda treatment focuses not just on curing diseases but lays emphasis on improving the lifestyle of the person coming for treatment.
The Kerala Agriculture Minister, Mr K.P. Mohanan, said Ayurveda was not a mere system of treating diseases but a science that paid attention to all aspects of life with the aim of maintaining the individual and societal health.
The event, organised by Ayurvedic fraternity with the support of the state and central government and health NGOs, was envisaged to bring together medical practitioners of the country, researchers, students, industry representatives and other stakeholders.
Renowned Ayurveda practitioner Ashta Vaidya Cheriya Narayana Namboothiri was honoured at the inaugural function by the Union Minister.
The Sri Lankan Minister, Mr Amarathunga, and the Health Secretary, Bandhula Gunanayage, and Indian Systems of Medicine Director Dr Anita Jacob were among those present at the function.
An Ayush clinic, which offers free consultation and services of expert doctors, has been opened for the general public as part of the event.
An Ayurveda medical exhibition with 350 stalls on various branches of Ayurveda on natural herbs, medicine production, endangered plants and animals, ancient surgical tools and techniques is a major attraction of the festival.
Source:PTI

Hope of Early Disease Detection Via Metabolic 'Breathalyzer'

Scientists have indicated that a "breathalyser," a non-invasive and sensitive technology may help in early detection and diagnosis of diseases.New research demonstrates a simple but sensitive method that can distinguish normal and disease-state glucose metabolism by a quick assay of blood or exhaled air.
Many diseases, including diabetes, cancer, and infections, alter the body's metabolism in distinctive ways. The new work shows that these biochemical changes can be detected much sooner than typical symptoms would appear - even within a few hours.
"With this methodology, we have advanced methods for tracing metabolic pathways that are perturbed in disease," said senior author Fariba Assadi-Porter, a University of Wisconsin-Madison biochemist and scientist at the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Facility at Madison.
"It's a cheaper, faster, and more sensitive method of diagnosis."
The researchers studied mice with metabolic symptoms similar to those seen in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), an endocrine disorder that can cause a wide range of symptoms including infertility, ovarian cysts, and metabolic dysfunction.
PCOS affects approximately 1 in 10 women but currently can only be diagnosed after puberty and by exclusion of all other likely diseases - a time-consuming and frustrating process for patients and doctors alike.
"The goal is to find a better way of diagnosing these women early on, before puberty, when the disease can be controlled by medication or exercise and diet, and to prevent these women from getting metabolic syndromes like diabetes, obesity, and associated problems like heart disease," Assadi-Porter said.
The researchers were able to detect distinct metabolic changes in the mice by measuring the isotopic signatures of carbon-containing metabolic by-products in the blood or breath.
They injected glucose containing a single atom of the heavier isotope carbon-13 to trace which metabolic pathways were most active in the sick or healthy mice.
Within minutes, they could measure changes in the ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-13 in the carbon dioxide exhaled by the mice, said co-author Warren Porter, a UW-Madison professor of zoology.
One advantage of the approach is that it surveys the workings of the entire body with a single measure. In addition to simplifying diagnosis, it could also provide rapid feedback about the effectiveness of treatments.
"The pattern of these ratios in blood or breath is different for different diseases - for example cancer, diabetes, or obesity - which makes this applicable to a wide range of diseases," explained Assadi-Porter.
The technology relies on the fact that the body uses different sources to produce energy under different conditions.
"Your body changes its fuel source. When we're healthy we use the food that we eat," Porter said.
"When we get sick, the immune system takes over the body and starts tearing apart proteins to make antibodies and use them as an energy source."
That shift from sugars to proteins engages different biochemical pathways in the body, resulting in distinct changes in the carbon isotopes that show up in exhaled carbon dioxide.
If detected quickly, these changes may signal the earliest stages of disease.
The researchers found similar patterns using two independent assays - nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy on blood serum and cavity ring-down spectroscopy on exhaled breath.
The breath-based method is particularly exciting, they say, because it is non-invasive and even more sensitive than the blood-based assays.
In the mice, the techniques were sensitive enough to detect statistically significant differences between even very small populations of healthy and sick mice.
The current cavity ring-down spectroscopy analysis uses a machine about the size of a shoebox, but the researchers envision a small, hand-held "breathalyzer" that could easily be taken into rural or remote areas.
The study has been published online in the peer-reviewed journal Metabolism.
Source-ANI

Breastfeeding Cuts Childhood Obesity Risk

Diabetic pregnant women give birth to children who have a greater risk of childhood obesity, but new research from the Colorado School of Public Health shows breastfeeding can reduce childhood obesity risk.Epidemiologist Tessa Crume, Ph.D., MSPH, and fellow researchers tracked 94 children of diabetic pregnancies and 399 of non-diabetic pregnancies from birth to age 13. They evaluated the influence of breastfeeding on the growth of body mass index (BMI), an indicator of childhood obesity.
"There are critical perinatal periods for defining obesity risk, pregnancy and early infant life," Crume said. "We looked at children exposed to over-nutrition in utero due to a diabetic pregnancy to determine if early life nutrition could alter their risk of childhood obesity."
Children of diabetic pregnancies who were breast-fed had a slower BMI growth as they grew older than those who nursed less than six months. A similar pattern emerged for children of non-diabetic pregnancies.
According to Crume, researchers know that children exposed to diabetes or obesity during gestation are at higher risk for childhood obesity and metabolic diseases. Now they know there is a second critical opportunity to normalize BMI growth by encouraging mothers to breast-feed for at least six months, the time recommended by the Academy of Pediatrics.
"Breast-feeding support represents an important clinical and public health strategy to reduce the risk of childhood obesity," said Crume. She hopes the research will further encourage mothers to breast-feed, especially those who experienced a diabetic pregnancy.
"We can work with pediatricians, obstetricians and the public health community to give these women targeted support immediately following birth," she said.
The research, "The impact of neonatal breast-feeding on growth trajectories of youth exposed and unexposed to diabetes in utero: the EPOCH Study," appears in the latest edition of the International Journal of Obesity. It was conducted as a partnership between the Colorado School of Public Health and Kaiser Permanente of Colorado.
Source-Eurekalert

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Let mother nature cure your illness

Department of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (Ayush), along with other Ayush institutions, is organising a mega international conference, the Arogya Expo-2012, at Gayatri Vihar in Palace Grounds on Thursday.
The expo will have over 300 stalls, showcasing advances in relevant fields. It will create a global platform for yoga, naturopathy, ayurveda, and other ancient practices.
“By 2010, a vast percentage of the population are bound to suffer from non-communicable diseases. This can be attributed to our current life style. Such expos will help in bringing about the much-needed awareness,” said GN Sreekantaiah, director, department of Ayush.
The expo is meant for exhibiting fitness equipment, including services such as traditional treatment of diseases, yoga centres in the city, and therapies for various health problems such as arthritis, muscle problems, diabetes etc.
“Visitors to the expo will benefit from an array of products exhibited by naturopathy and yoga institutions. It will showcase advances in relevant fields, orient students and facilitate interaction between healthcare professionals, therapists, academicians, policy makers, and health educators. It will also help establish yoga and naturopathy as a system of choice to deal with challenges of lifestyle-related diseases,” he said.
“This is a great opportunity to know about the prevention of diseases, and promotion and management of health. This is especially beneficial for lifestyle-related diseases like hypertension, arthritis and obesity,” he said.
The ICYN -2012 will be inaugurated by chief minister DV Sadananda Gowda and Minister for health and family welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad. The Arogya Expo will be inaugurated in the same day by Union minister of state for health and family welfare S Gandhiselvan.
Arogya Expo exhibition will be held as a part of ICYN-2012 from February 9 to February 13.
Source:DNA

Parkinson's Patients Doing Tai Chi Achieve Better Balance: Study

People with Parkinson's disease practicing the Chinese martial art tai chi for six months showed better balance than counterparts who did other forms of exercise, a US study observed Wednesday
A total of 195 people took part in the randomized study in four different cities in the western state of Oregon, according to the results published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Subjects were assigned to twice weekly sessions of 60 minutes each in either tai chi, resistance-training or stretching.
Those who did tai chi outperformed the stretching and resistance-training groups in tests of balance and length of stride when walking.
The tai chi group also showed experienced fewer falls than the stretchers, and just as many falls as the resistance-trainers.
"These results are clinically significant because they suggest that tai chi, a low-to-moderate impact exercise, may be used, as an add-on to current physical therapies, to address some of the key clinical problems in Parkinson's disease," said lead author Fuzhong Li of the Oregon Research Institute.
"The improvements in the balance and gait measures that we demonstrated highlight the potential of tai chi-based movements in rehabilitating patients with these types of problems."
Tai chi entails regular practice of deep breathing and relaxation techniques, combined with slow and gentle movements.
It is based on tenets in Confucian and Buddhist philosophies that there are two opposing life forces, yin and yang, which govern health.
Ill health results from an imbalance in these forces, but it can be corrected by tai chi, according to these beliefs.
Parkinson's is a progressive motor-system disorder which usually affects people over the age of 50, although it can strike earlier, often causing severe symptoms including body trembling, stiffness and loss of balance.
Source-AFP

Fasting Weakens Cancer in Mice

Fasting may weaken tumors and help chemotherapy work better, scientists said on Wednesday analyzing early research on mice with cancer.While it remains unknown if the same approach could work in humans, or if it would even be safe, researchers said the findings suggest a promising new route of study for improving response to cancer treatment.
In the mice experiments, "the combination of fasting cycles plus chemotherapy was either more or much more effective than chemo alone," said senior author Valter Longo, professor of gerontology and biological sciences at the University of Southern California (USC).
Longo and colleagues previously published findings in 2008 that showed how fasting protected normal cells against chemotherapy in a study that focused on one type of cancer and a single chemo drug.
The latest study expands on that research to show that fasting makes cancer cells more vulnerable, and spanned several different types of cancer in mice.
Types of cancers studied included breast cancer, melanoma, glioma and human neuroblastoma.
All cancers studied showed that fasting combined with chemotherapy improved survival, slowed the growth of tumors and/or limited their spread.
The study appears in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
"We don't know whether in humans it's effective," Longo said, adding that for now fasting should be "off-limits" to cancer patients, although they should feel they can ask their doctors about the possibility.
In 2010, a small study of 10 human cancer patients who tried fasting cycles with their drug treatment showed that they perceived fewer side effects from chemo, according to self-reported data. The study was published in the journal Aging.
The results of a phase 1 trial assessing the safety of fasting two days before and one day after chemotherapy in patients with breast, urinary tract and ovarian cancer, conducted at the USC, have been submitted for presentation at the annual meeting of the American Society of Cancer Oncologists later this year.
"A way to beat cancer cells may not be to try to find drugs that kill them specifically but to confuse them by generating extreme environments, such as fasting that only normal cells can quickly respond to," Longo said.
Source-AFP

Effective Weight Loss With Anti-obesity Drugs and a Modified Lifestyle: Study

Anti-obesity drugs coupled with lifestyle advice are effective in reducing weight and BMI, a study led by the University of Leicester has revealed.Dr Laura Gray and colleagues from the Department of Health Sciences at the University of Leicester have published a paper in the journal Obesity Review which looks at the effectiveness of anti –obesity drugs and a modified lifestyle on weight loss and body mass index. The research was funded by an National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment (NIHR HTA) programme.
The review was based on 94 studies including over 24,000 individuals and assessed how effective the drugs were in terms of weight loss and body mass index at 3, 6 and 12 months. Two of the included drugs (sibutramine and rimonbant) were withdrawn from use during the review due to possible side effects.
The research also looked at the effect of lifestyle advice on weight loss. Lifestyle advice alone led to weight loss at 6 and 12 months but had less effective results in comparison to the anti-obesity drugs.
Laura Gray, lead author of the report said: "This is the first review to combine all available evidence for anti-obesity drugs in a single analysis. In clinical practice, orlistat should be considered to aid weight reduction with lifestyle interventions in those individuals who have not been successful in reducing their weight with lifestyle alone. The effectiveness of the withdrawn interventions – sibutramine and rimonabant – suggests that more effective drugs may be available in the future if the side effect risk can be alleviated."
Researchers recognize that although drugs are effective, all drugs can lead to several side effects and it is advised that a modified lifestyle is a beneficial way to prevent weight gain and to reduce body weight.
Professor Kamlesh Khunti from the University of Leicester added: "Our study shows that some of the medications that we were using for weight management were beneficial, however, they have had to be withdrawn because of side effects. We are therefore limited in terms of drug treatment for weight reduction. Nevertheless, it is reassuring to note that lifestyle interventions (diet and exercise) were also effective, especially in people with diabetes at reducing weight in our study. Lifestyle interventions should therefore be promoted for weight reduction as they also have many other benefits as well."
Source-Eurekalert

Questions Help Tell Memory Loss from Dementia

On the 21-item Alzheimer's Questionnaire, patients having trouble remembering the day, month, year, and time of day were almost 18 times more likely to have amnestic mild cognitive impairment, a precursor to dementia (OR 17.97, 95% CI 2.63 to 122.77, P=0.003), according to Michael Malek-Ahmadi, MSPH, and colleagues from the Banner Sun Health Research Institute in Sun City, Ariz.
Those who often repeated questions, statements, and stories on the same day also were at very high risk (OR 13.12, 95% CI 3.02 to 57.66, P=0.001), the researchers reported online in BMC Geriatrics.Distinguishing mild cognitive impairment, particularly when associated with memory loss rather than loss of other functional domains, can be clinically challenging and time consuming, and brief screening tools are sorely needed as the aging population expands, according to the researchers."Additionally, as new therapies for Alzheimer's disease transition from being symptomatic to disease-modifying, identifying individuals who are at risk or in the earliest stages of the disease will be crucial in determining and improving disease outcome," they wrote.
A pilot study by these researchers recently showed good sensitivity and specificity for the Alzheimer's Questionnaire, with responses about various aspects of memory and related cognitive concerns being provided by caregivers or other informants.
To see if certain components of the questionnaire were particularly accurate in pinpointing these types of impairments, Malek-Ahmadi's group compared responses among 47 patients who had been diagnosed with amnestic mild cognitive impairment and 51 controls who were participants in a program involving posthumous brain and body donation.
The diagnosis of cognitive impairment had been made clinically and with neuropsychological testing, with scores on verbal memory recall measures falling 1.5 standard deviations below normal ranges for age and educational attainment.
Cognitively normal participants all scored higher than 1.5 standard deviations on the neuropsychological tests.
A simple questionnaire can help differentiate individuals experiencing normal age-related memory loss from those at risk for developing dementia, most notably by their orientation to time and patterns of repetitive speech, researchers found.
The Alzheimer's Questionnaire assesses memory, language, orientation, visuospatial competence, and functional capacity by a series of yes/no questions such as, "Does the patient have trouble remembering to take medications?"
On almost all questions, significantly more "yes" responses were seen for the cognitive impairment group.
Regression analysis determined that, along with repetitive speech and disorientation as to time, two other questions were highly predictive.
One was whether the patient has trouble dealing with financial matters such as paying bills (OR 11.60, 95% CI 2.10 to 63.99, P=0.005), and the second was if the patient showed an impaired sense of direction (OR 5.84, 95% CI 1.09 to 32.30, P=0.04), according to the researchers.
Further analysis indicated that the coefficient of determination (R2) was 0.71, which meant that the four identified items could account for a substantial proportion of the variance between patients with amnestic mild cognitive impairment and those who were cognitively normal.
The researchers then calculated that the four items together had a sensitivity of 80.3% and a specificity of 81.8%, with the area under the curve being 0.94.
"These data indicate that problems with orientation to time, repeating statements and questions, difficulty managing finances, and trouble with visuospatial orientation may accompany memory deficits in amnestic mild cognitive impairment," the researchers stated.
Limitations of the study included the wide confidence intervals for the four items' odds ratios and the possibility of bias in the R2 approximation.
In addition, the study sample was ethnically homogeneous.
Primary source: BMC Geriatrics
By Nancy Walsh for MedPage Today

Weight Loss Drug Has Killed At Least 1,300 in France

Benfluorex, commonly known as Mediator, a diabetes drug that was widely prescribed as a slimming aid, has been responsible for thousands of hospitalizations and deaths in France before it was withdrawn.Mahmoud Zureik of the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm), who co-led the probe, told AFP that around 3,100 people had required hospitalisation during the 33 years during which the drug was sold.
However, these figures could well be an "underestimate," he said.
The study, appearing in the specialised journal Pharmacoepidemiology & Drug Safety, finetunes an estimate by Zureik in 2010 that the death toll from the scandal was between 1,000 and 2,000.
Mediator, known by its lab name as benfluorex, was initially licensed to reduce levels of fatty proteins called lipids, with the claim that it helped diabetics control their level of blood sugar.
But it also suppressed appetite, which meant it gained a secondary official use to help obese diabetics lose weight.
In fact, it was widely sold on prescription for non-diabetics wanting to slim.
In 2009, Mediator was pulled from the European market amid evidence that it damaged heart valves and caused pulmonary hypertension.
Its French manufacturer, Servier, is being probed on suspicion of dishonest practices and deception.
The new study is an extrapolation based on figures for deaths from faulty heart valves, although not from hypertension, among major users of the drug.
The main data comes from France's national health insurance system, which said that 303,000 patients used Mediator in 2006.
According to Mediator, 145 million packets of Mediator were sold on the French market before the drug was pulled.
The Mediator case came to light after a scandal involving a similar type of anti-obesity drug, fenfluramine, in the late 1990s.
Source-AFP

Study Sheds Light on Psychiatric Symptoms and Functional Outcomes in HIV-Infected Youth

There is little evidence of an association between specific antiretroviral therapy and the severity of psychiatric disorders in children and adolescents who had been infected at the time of their birth with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), says a new study.The report is published Online First by Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.
A major concern for health professionals is the possibility that the severity of HIV illness or use of specific highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) regimens may be associated with increased risk for mental health problems, the researchers note.
The study by Sharon Nachman, M.D., of Stony Brook University in New York, and colleagues is a cross-sectional analysis of entry data from an observational, prospective two-year study. Participants included 319 children and adolescents with HIV between the ages of 6 and 17 years enrolled in the International Maternal Pediatrics Adolescent AIDS Clinical Trials Group (IMPAACT) study.
A third of the patients included in the study met the criteria for at least one targeted psychiatric disorder in the study, which reviewed HIV illness severity markers and the severity of some psychiatric symptoms.
"Analyses of HIV disease variables and severity of psychiatric symptoms revealed few specific associations, and we feel compelled to emphasize that findings were variable, mixed and at times counterintuitive," the researchers comment. For example, they note a lower entry CD4 (cells that help fight off infection) percentage was associated with less severe depression, but a higher entry RNA viral load was associated with more severe depression.
The authors cite previous research that did not find a significant association between HIV illness severity and development of psychiatric illness, and another study that suggested an association between a past Centers for Disease Control and Prevention AIDS-defining illness (class C [CDC-C)] and an increased risk of psychiatric impairment.
Researchers in the current study noted some evidence of an association of certain HIV variables (such as lower nadir CD4 percentage) with quality of life and cognitive, social and academic functioning.
"We found that more severe HIV disease (indicated by the nadir CD4 percentage) was associated with worse cognitive functioning and social skills, but our analyses do not allow us to make causal inferences about these associations," the researchers comment. "Our data, in conjunction with findings from other groups, suggest that receptive language, word recognition and educational problems are common in youth with perinatal HIV infection regardless of virologic suppression."
Source-Eurekalert

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Link absent between antidepressant and youth suicide

In 2004, concerns about antidepressant drugs increasing suicidal thoughts and behaviors in young patients prompted the FDA to issue a rare "black box warning." Now, a new analysis of clinical trial data finds that treatment with the antidepressant fluoxetine did not increase — or decrease — suicidality in children compared to placebo treatment.
An analysis built on data from 41 trials and more than 9,000 patients also found that two different popular antidepressant drugs were effective at reducing suicidal behavior and depressive symptoms in adult and geriatric patients. The findings are published online Monday in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry.
The failure to replicate the link between antidepressants and suicide should reassure doctors about prescribing these drugs to depressed patients, said first author Robert Gibbons, professor of medicine, health studies, and psychiatry at the University of Chicago Medicine.
"The key finding here, when we re-analyze all the patient-level longitudinal records in these studies, is that antidepressants neither increase nor decrease suicidal thoughts or behavior in children," Gibbons said.
The FDA decision on the black box warning was based on retrospective data from 25 clinical trials of newer antidepressant medications, including the serotonin reuptake inhibitor drug fluoxetine, marketed as Prozac or Sarafem. A meta-analysis combining adverse event data (primarily based on self reports of suicidal thoughts) from the trials revealed a small, but significant, increase in suicidal thoughts and behavior in children and young adults up to the age of 25.
For the new analysis, Gibbons and colleagues from the University of Illinois at Chicago, the University of Miami and Columbia University obtained individual-level, longitudinal clinical trial data — some of it unpublished — from pharmaceutical producers and a large National Institute of Mental Health study of fluoxetine and venlafaxine.
The data included weekly screening of each trial subject for depression and suicidal thoughts, allowing researchers to compare the effect of drug or placebo over time on these measures.
In the analysis of the adult and geriatric trials testing fluoxetine or venlafaxine, both antidepressants were found effective in reducing suicide risk and depression symptoms. These two effects were also found to be statistically associated, suggesting that the drugs reduced suicidality by alleviating depression. Therefore, Gibbons said, effective treatment of major depressive disorder is important for a patient's safety.
"Basically, the results say that the mechanism by which the antidepressants affect suicide rates is by decreasing depression," Gibbons said. "It follows that if a treatment is not working for an individual, the risk for suicidal behavior remains high."
To analyze the effects of antidepressants in children, the researchers used four trials of fluoxetine, which until recently was the only antidepressant approved for pediatric use. Once again, a reduction in depressive symptoms was observed in the drug-treated population compared to placebo. However, no significant change in suicide risk was detected between the two patient groups.
"I think that this paper supports the general idea that the effects of antidepressants in kids and adults are not really the same, since we don't see anything but beneficial effects of antidepressants in adults and geriatrics," Gibbons said. "In kids, we don't see a harmful effect, but we do see a disassociation between the beneficial effects on depression and the potential beneficial effect on suicide."
"This raises continued questions about what's going on in children," he said. "Maybe children think about suicide in part because of depression, but also maybe due to other reasons not related to depression that are not affected by antidepressants."
Gibbons, who sat on the Food and Drug Administration panel that considered placing the black box warning on antidepressants, said he hoped the new results would reassure clinicians about the safety of the drugs.
Source:my SA

Allopathic doctors community supports ISM sector's plea to be part of NCHRH

In their efforts to incorporate the Indian systems of medicine to the NCHRH Bill, the Ayurveda doctors community and practitioners of other Indian system of medicines in the country have received support from an unexpected quarters. In their support, the private allopathic doctors and hospital managements’ association, QPMPA, has also urged the union health ministry and the chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on health & family welfare to incorporate the Indian systems to the NCHRH Bill.
The Qualified Private Medical Practitioners Association (QPMPA), after gathering signatures from all of its members, submitted a memorandum to the authorities asking them to review their decision. The allopathic doctors argue that there is no need of a separate Commission/Council for the ISM sector. According to them, all disciplines of health services should be under one umbrella. Regarding research and development in the field of medical or health education, the new bill does not give any direction or idea, the association observed.
Speaking to Pharmabiz, QPMPA secretary Dr Kishore Kumar said the NCHRH Bill does not give a clear picture about how to enhance and promote the standard of education in the health sector. It also fails to facilitate the growth of adequate human resources to the services of hundred crore plus Indian population. While framing the bill the policy makers have forgotten the importance of academic excellence. He said without the association of Indian systems, it is not possible to manage the health needs of the rural India.
As a suggestion to the policy makers of India, Dr Kishore Kumar said for promoting national education on health, the government must conduct a national common admission test and MBBS be made as the minimum qualification to treat a sick person, except dentistry. The MBBS degree holders can specialize in various segments of alternative medicines and follow that line. He pointed out that since the minimum qualification is MBBS, nobody will question or raise suspicion over the methods of treatment and the dignity of the practitioners could be maintained. He alleged that the present NCHRH bill was following the lines of imperial rulers of British colonialism and the Union government should immediately intervene in the matter.
Further, QPMPA suggested that the university concept itself has to be changed provided a national body to control the medical education is realized. All the councils and universities are just to satisfy a group of academicians and politicians. To strengthen the medical education, all the courses should be conducted by respective colleges and those pass out can register with the national body to practice their discipline. It is suggested that NCHRH bill should specifically contain a national common agenda for health education and human resources irrespective of western or Indian systems.
The QPMPA will gather suggestions from doctors of all the states and union territories in support of its decisions and suggestions.
The Confederation of Ayush community in Kerala had earlier submitted a memorandum to the union government requesting inclusion of ISM in the Bill.
Source:Pharmabiz

Latest Weight Loss Tip

Consuming desserts for breakfast can help you shed weight and stay slim, suggests study.
Attempting to avoid sweets entirely can create a psychological addiction to these same foods in the long-term, explains Daniela Jakubowicz, professor at Tel Aviv University's Sackler Faculty of Medicine, who led the study.
Over the course of a 32-week-long study, participants who added dessert to their breakfast - cookies, cake, or chocolate - lost an average of 40 pounds more than a group that avoided such foods, the journal Steroids reports.
What's more, they kept off the pounds longer. A meal in the morning provides energy for the day's tasks, aids in brain functioning, and kick-starts the body's metabolism, making it crucial for weight loss and maintenance, according to a Tel Aviv statement.
And breakfast is the meal that most successfully regulates ghrelin, the hormone that increases hunger, explains Jakubowicz. While the level of ghrelin rises before every meal, it is suppressed most effectively at breakfast time.
These findings were based on 193 clinically obese, non-diabetic adults, who were randomly assigned to one of two diet groups with identical caloric intake - the men consumed 1,600 calories daily and the women 1,400.
However, the first group was given a low carbohydrate diet including a small 300 calorie breakfast, and the second was given a 600 calorie breakfast high in protein and carbohydrates, always including a dessert item (i.e. chocolate).
Halfway through the study, participants in both groups had lost an average of 33 pounds per person. But in the second half of the study, results differed drastically.
The participants in the low-carb group regained an average of 22 pounds each, but participants in the group with a larger breakfast lost another 15 pounds each.
At the end of the 32 weeks, those who had consumed a 600 calorie breakfast had lost an average of 40 pounds more per person than their peers.
Jakubowicz conducted the study with Julio Wainstein and Mona Boaz from Tel Aviv and Oren Froy of Hebrew University Jerusalem.
Source-IANS

Aerobic Exercise Benefits Fibromyalgia Patients

Aerobic exercise helps improve cognitive performance in fibromyalgia patients, say Georgetown University Medical Center researchers They say the changes indicate brain functioning is more streamlined after an exercise intervention because less of the brain’s resources is devoted to processing bothersome fibromyalgia perceptions such as pain.The study, presented at the Society of Neuroscience’s annual meeting, Neuroscience 2011, used functional MRI scans to assess changes in the brain. Researchers observed a decrease in brain activity in areas responsible for memory and pain control after fibromyalgia patients took part in an exercise regimen.
“The decreased brain activity we see in the area of cognition suggests that the brain is working more efficiently,” explains Brian Walitt, M.D. M.P.H., director of the Fibromyalgia Evaluation and Research Center at Georgetown University Medical Center and senior study author. “We also see less brain activity in areas responsible for pain processing which might be aiding that efficiency.” Walitt cautions that more research needs to be conducted before suggesting a change in clinical care for fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is a medical disorder characterized by widespread pain, fatigue, disordered sleep, and cognitive changes.
It is regarded as an interoceptive disorder in that it has no apparent cause, Walitt says. “In conditions like this, the body perceives something by mistake.” The pain is not psychosomatic, but is real and likely produced by the central nervous system, he says.To that end, the research team used fMRI to “provide a definitive measure of cognitive functioning, so that we can more scientifically measure the effect of exercise,” says Manish Khatiwada, M.S., who will be presenting the results. “This is a novel approach to the study of fibromyalgia.” (Khatiwada is working in the laboratory of co-author John VanMeter, Ph.D., director of the Center for Functional and Molecular Imaging.
For this study, the researchers enrolled eighteen women with fibromyalgia, and gave them a baseline fMRI to assess working memory and questionnaires about their well-being and pain while they were on medication. They then were told not to use their medications for a “washout” period, and had a second fMRI and memory testing. After six weeks, they had another assessment. The final scan was taken after the volunteers engaged in a six-week period of exercise, which involved three 30-minute sessions of aerobic exercise each week with a trainer.Memory and pain typically worsen in patients after stopping their medication — which was the experience of patients in this study. After six weeks of exercise, however, patients reported an improvement in overall well-being. However, their performance in the memory task did not change significantly when compared to their baseline study measurements. Despite a change in memory test performance, brain activity in the memory task and pain processing areas of the brain decreased. “What we see is a less interference by pain activity which could be contributing to the decrease in activity in the memory section. Basically, the brain is using less energy for the same task,” Walitt says.

Source-Eurekalert

Scientists Reveal 1 in 100 People Have Natural Genetic Resistance to HIV, Malaria, Leprosy, Hepatitis

One per cent of the population have a natural genetic resistance to deadly diseases like HIV, malaria, leprosy and hepatitis, scientists have revealed.The findings came after research into anthrax found susceptibility to the acute disease caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis varied from person to person.
There are effective vaccines against anthrax and some forms of the disease respond well to antibiotic treatment.
However, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine in the United States have discovered that susceptibility to anthrax toxin is a heritable genetic trait.
Professor Stanley Cohen, the senior author of the new study, and his colleagues found that variation in the level of expression of a gene that produces a cell-surface protein called CMG2 affects the success of the anthrax toxin in gaining entry into human cells.
The research suggests that analogous effects may occur in people exposed to anthrax bacteria.
Anthrax disease is caused by infection with the anthrax bacteria. Spores of the bacteria exist naturally in the environment.
When inhaled by humans or animals, the spores are transported by immune cells to lymph nodes, where the bacteria begin to multiply and are secreted into the bloodstream.
Once in the bloodstream, the bacteria begin to produce the anthrax toxin that infiltrates and kills host cells.
Many lethal pathogens - including HIV (pictured) malaria, leprosy and hepatitis - rely on interactions with host genes to infect and replicate within human cells
Untreated, anthrax infection can cause widespread tissue damage, bleeding and death.
The researchers studied immune cells called lymphocytes collected from 234 people of varying ethnic and geographic backgrounds: 84 Nigerians, 63 Americans whose ancestors came from northern and western Europe, 44 Japanese and 43 Han Chinese.
They found that, of the 234 samples, lymphocytes from three individuals of European ancestry were thousands of times more resistant to killing by an engineered hybrid toxin brought into the cells by protective antigen.
In addition, they observed that cells isolated from parents and their children responded similarly, indicating that toxin sensitivity is an inherited trait.
The researchers noted that the finding has implications beyond anthrax exposure.
"Our findings, which reveal the previously unsuspected magnitude of genetically determined differences in toxin sensitivity among cells from different individuals, suggest a broadly applicable approach for investigating pathogen susceptibility in diverse human populations," the Daily Mail quoted Prof Cohen as saying.
The research was published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Source-ANI

Study Says Punishment Makes Children More Aggressive

Punishment makes kids more aggressive, reveals study.
"Virtually without exception, these studies found that physical punishment was associated with higher levels of aggression against parents, siblings, peers and spouses," write study co-authors Joan Durrant and Ron Ensom.Durant and Ensom from University of Manitoba and Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, respectively, based their findings on analysis of a number of researches over the past 20 years.
However, when parents in more than 500 families were trained to reduce their dependency on physical punishment, the difficult behaviours in the children also declined, the Canadian Medical Association Journal reports.
"Results consistently suggest that physical punishment has a direct causal effect on externalizing behaviour, whether through a reflexive response to pain, modeling or coercive family processes," write the study authors.
Physical punishment is also associated with a variety of mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety and use of drugs and alcohol, according to a Manitoba statement.
It may change areas in the brain linked to performance on IQ tests and increase vulnerability to drug or alcohol dependence, as recent neuroimaging studies suggest.
Attitudes toward the use of physical punishment have changed, and many countries have shifted focus to positive discipline of children and have legally abolished physical punishment.
Physicians can play an important role in advising parents on constructive approaches to discipline, based on evidence, to enhance children's healthy development.
Source-IANS

Untangling the benefits, and hype, surrounding yoga

William Broad, a New York Times science writer, has a lot of nice things to say about yoga. There's good reason, he says, that this mix of stretching, bending and deep breathing, with roots in ancient Indian meditation, has attracted some 20 million Americans.He also has some bad things to say, and said many of them in a recent story titled "How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body." It focused on yoga's "potential to inflict blinding pain." and it caused a lot of online outrage among dedicated yogis.
But the piece was an excerpt from a book out this week with the more even-handed title The Science of Yoga: The Risks and Rewards. And the author is no yoga-hater: Broad has practiced it since 1970 and just spent five years researching it.
His conclusion, conveyed in a phone interview: "There's a lot of good stuff in yoga, but there's also a lot of hype."
How to choose a yoga class, teacher
There’s no scientific formula for choosing a safe, appropriate yoga class. Different branches of yoga have different criteria for teacher training, individual teachers and classes vary — and so do student needs and goals. But you can:
Ask about teacher credentials. Many will have a certificate showing 200 or 500 hours of training. Others will have several years of training, required by some yoga groups.
Ask if you can watch a class or attend a trial class before committing.
Be especially wary if an instructor adjusts your position without your permission or urges you to do anything that hurts, says Christina Geithner, a yoga teacher who is a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine and a professor of human physiology at Gonzaga University, Spokane, Wash.
The good (and bad) stuff is revealed in studies Broad unearthed and in new ones published nearly every week. And the hype is evident in marketing behind all those yoga pants, snacks, videos and classes that have spread to nearly every cruise ship, senior center and YMCA across the land.Science has yet to show what, if anything, yoga pants do. But here's a sampling of what the science, much of it detailed in Broad's book, says about yoga itself:
•It's not a total fitness plan. Even vigorous forms don't raise heart rates high enough, consistently enough to qualify as aerobic exercise on par with running, swimming or brisk walking. Yoga does help with flexibility and includes proven strength-building moves (yoga's "plank" pose looks and works a lot like a push-up).
•It's not a weight-loss plan. A typical session doesn't burn a lot of calories, and it slows metabolism, which might even spur weight gain. But there's a big caveat, Broad says: Yoga's stess-reducing powers might reduce unhealthy eating.
•It may have heart health benefits. Most notably, it has been shown to reduce blood pressure.
•It has mental health benefits. One review of 80 studies found it equaled or surpassed other forms of exercise in reducing stress, anxiety and fatigue, lifting moods and improving sleep.
•It can ease some pains and inflict others. Broad tells gruesome stories of people crippled by yoga, including some who suffered strokes. But studies show yoga often soothes common aches — though one recent study on back pain showed that a specialized stretching class (which skipped the poses and breathing exercises unique to yoga) worked just as well.Karen Sherman, a researcher from Group Health Research Institute in Seattle, led that study and says it remains possible that yoga has extra pain-calming powers. Sherman, who does yoga, also wonders "what would happen if we had depressed people with high blood pressure and lots of pain and they all did yoga. … Yoga might start to look better."
The bottom line for Broad, 60, who also swims and lifts weights, is that he still practices yoga (albeit more carefully) and marvels at its potential.
He writes that yoga "can turn our bodies into customized pharmaceutical plants that churn out tailored hormones and nerve impulses that heal, cure, raise moods, lower cholesterol, induce sleep and do a million other things."
Others who have looked at yoga research are not bowled over. Yoga is a glorified form of "light resistance training," says Timothy Caulfield, a health law and policy professor at the University of Alberta in Canada, who has written his own book on diet, fitness and alternative medicine called The Cure for Everything: Untangling Twisted Messages About Health, Fitness and Happiness, to be published in the USA in April.
Like any form of exercise, yoga has benefits, he says. "But is there something special, unique or magical about it? No."
For Neal Pollack, an Austin writer whose books include Stretch: The Unlikely Making of a Yoga Dude, "the real benefits of yoga are mental." He says he has stopped using antidepressants and lost weight since starting yoga eight years ago: "It gives you an ability to slow down the pace of your life, calm your mind, and control your emotions. That's got to be good for your health."
He has been injured, he says, but "even after a bad yoga class, I feel better than when I went in."
Kaitlin Quistgaard, editor of Yoga Journal, says that may be yoga's greatest strength: "There's this intangible benefit. It makes people feel good so they keep coming back for more."
Source:USA Today

Nestle to use Ayurveda knowhow in India R&D centre

Nestle believes it will be stronger, better and faster with R&D deployment in India. “We will be quicker to market once the R&D centre comes up,” said Mr Patrice Bula, global head of sales and marketing, Nestle during his recent visit to India.
According to him, Nestle's upcoming Rs 230 crore R&D centre at Manesar will become operational by last quarter of 2012.
Mr Bula said by bringing R&D closer to the consumer, it would help the company develop more relevant products for India. “If our customer wants Bhuna Masala, by getting closer, we can offer it faster,” he said.
He hinted that just like Nestle's R&D centre in China uses knowhow from Chinese medicine, the Manesar centre here in India could be using local knowhow from Indian Ayurveda traditions. R&D would be around basic food science, nutrition, and agriculture developments. It would also focus on developing affordable fortified popularly positioned products (PPPs) such as calcium enriched Maggi noodles.
Nestle SA will directly control the R&D centre in India, and is looking at a team of about 100 people.
This will be Nestle's 30{+t}{+h} R&D centre worldwide. Interestingly, Nestle which is only 25 years old in China has already got R&D going there, while it has taken the company hundred years of presence in India to set up a research centre here.
Mr Bula, who has been market head for China earlier, pointed out that both the countries offer a combination of scale and high growth for Nestle. But, he said, “Managing organisations through high growth environment is a challenge.”
He also pointed out that increasingly in both countries, Nestle is meeting new competition — the local player, who understands the consumer well. “And that is a new paradigm. Because of the size, the local companies are also getting very big.” But we embrace this challenge, he said. “Competition is good. It makes you come up with new ideas.”
Source:Businessline

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Sperm Test to Hit Drugstore Shelves

SpermCheck Fertility, a male fertility test, is set to hit drugstores in April. (Amazon)
A home sperm test is set to join dozens of female fertility predictors on drug store shelves this spring.
Walgreen's and CVS are already selling the sperm-counting kit, called SpermCheck Fertility, online. Now they're banking on men - and their mates - favoring a quick pick-up at the drug store over a trip to the urologist.
"There is nothing like it on the shelf," Maeve Egner of Fusion Marketing, the company hired to help market SpermCheck, told Bloomberg. "It's plugging a gap."
The $40 test is set to hit stores in April. To use it, a man mixes his semen with a solution in the kit and drops it onto a test strip. A reddish line means the sperm count is above 20 million per milliliter, which is considered normal. A negative test shows no color and means the man should "should consult a physician about a complete fertility evaluation," according to the kit's instructions.
Studies have found that SpermCheck Fertility correctly counted sperm 96 percent of the time compared with laboratory sperm- counting methods. But some doctors say sperm count is only one aspect of male fertility.
"There are four major things we look for," said Dr. James Goldfarb, a fertility specialist at UH Case Medical Center in Cleveland: The number of sperm; their shape; their mobility; and the volume of the ejaculate. "This test only measures one thing."
While a low sperm count may signal a problem, Goldfarb said a count of 15 million per milliliter - considered "low normal" by the latest criteria - can be more than enough if the other three fertility factors are in place.
"The biggest risk of this test is that a guy who gets a very low sperm count might panic and end up getting more intervention than he really needed," said Goldfarb. "It might reassure some couples, but it might scare some couples, too."
Sperm counts can vary widely from week to week, Goldfarb said. So a man who rings in at 15 million per milliliter one week could hit 40 million the next. If the sperm count stays low, however, there are options.
"First we would look for anatomical problems," said Goldfarb, describing varicose veins in the scrotum or blockages to the penis that thwart sperm release. "Then we can look at hormonal things… If the problem can't be found or corrected, the simplest solution is to concentrate sperm and do intrauterine insemination. That way, there are more sperm getting closer to the fallopian tubes."
And if that doesn't work, in vitro fertilization allows a single sperm to fertilize an egg."We always try the simpler things first," said Goldfarb. "But if the couple is willing to be very aggressive, then we can still get a very good pregnancy success rate even if a man has a very low sperm count."
Source:abcNews

India asks South Asian countries to share innovative methods to tackle health problems

India has asked the members of the South Asian Forum for Health Research (SAFHeR) to explore ways for strengthening collaboration by sharing innovative methods for tackling the problems faced by the countries.
“Be it poverty, be it disease, be it natural disaster, the destiny of South Asia is interlinked and we must, therefore, work together to deal with these challenges”, said Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad while inaugurating the fourth meeting of SAFHeR hosted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) here on February 4.
Delegates and Officials from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Thailand representing their health and medical research councils, are attending the three day conference on the theme of “Empowering through Sharing – Working towards Implementation of Regional Health Priorities”.
Azad said India would do everything to facilitate regional cooperation among the member countries for addressing common health problems towards sustainable solutions. He hoped that the deliberations would help arrive at concrete plans to initiate actual projects in selected areas in terms of exchange of personnel, trainings or multi-lateral research projects.
This regional meeting is discussing a wide range of subject areas like Vector borne diseases; cholera and other diarrhoeal diseases; drug resistance; influenza, health problems due to heavy content of arsenic & fluorides; continued challenge of malnutrition and high maternal and child morbidity & morality; non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cancer and for finding the determinants that may be common and affordable solutions, an official release said.
South Asian Forum for Health Research (SAFHeR) was established in 2003 as a mechanism for enhancing regional cooperation and partnership in Health Research among South Asian countries. The Nepal Health Research Council (NHRC) had earlier organised three such meetings during 2008 and 2010. Indian Council of Medical Research, the apex research body in India completed its 100 years of existence very recently in November, 2011 and has now accepted to host the SAFHeR Secretariat for the period 2012-2014. Dr. V.M. Katoch, Secretary, Department of Health Research, Government of India has assumed the charge of President of SAFHeR.
Source:Pharmabiz

Vaccine Against Drug Addiction

In Mexico, a vaccine against heroin addiction has been patented and will be ready for human use in next few years, say sources.
Health Secretary Salomon Chertorivski said laboratory experiments have been carried out on rats and "the next step is testing on humans".The vaccine, however, must undergo a "normal development process" and therefore at least another five years of work will be required before it can be used by human beings, he said.
"We can be very proud of our scientists at the National Institute of Psychiatry because they've achieved something that hasn't been achieved in other areas of the world," the official said.
"And it's not only heroin... that's what's been patented so far but we're advancing rapidly on cocaine and methamphetamines," he said.
Source-IANS

Climate Response to Volcanic Eruptions may be Undervalued by Tree Rings

Researchers have said that some climate cooling caused by past volcanic eruptions may not be evident in tree-ring reconstructions of temperature change. This is because huge temperature plunges lead to greatly shortened or even absent growing seasons.The climate researchers compared tree-ring temperature reconstructions with model simulations of past temperature changes.
"We know these tree rings capture most temperature changes quite well," said Michael Mann, professor of meteorology and geosciences and director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center.
"But the problem appears to be in their response to the intense short-term cooling that occurs following a very large volcanic eruption. Explosive volcanic eruptions place particulates called aerosols into the stratosphere, reflecting back some fraction of incoming sunlight and cooling the planet for several years following the eruption."
Tree rings are used as proxies for climate because trees create unique rings each year that often reflect the weather conditions that influenced the growing season that year.
For reconstructing climate conditions, tree-ring researchers seek trees growing at the extremes of their growth range. Inferring temperature changes required going to locations either at the tree line caused by elevation or at the boreal tree line, the northern most place where the trees will grow.
"The problem is that these trees are so close to the threshold for growth, that if the temperature drops just a couple of degrees, there is little or no growth and a loss of sensitivity to any further cooling. In extreme cases, there may be no growth ring at all," said Mann.
"If no ring was formed in a given year, that creates a further complication, introducing an error in the chronology established by counting rings back in time."
The researchers compared temperature reconstructions from actual tree-ring data with temperature estimates from climate models driven with past volcanic eruptions.
Comparing the model-simulated temperatures to the Northern Hemisphere temperatures reconstructed from tree-ring thickness, Mann, working with Jose D. Fuentes, professor of meteorology, Penn State, and Scott Rutherford, associate professor of environmental science, Roger Williams University, found the overall level of agreement to be quite good.
However "there is one glaring inconsistency; the response to the three largest tropical eruptions - AD 1258/1259, 1452/1453 and the 1809+1815 double pulse of eruptions - is sharply reduced in the reconstruction."
Following the 1258 eruption, the climate model simulations predict a drop of 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit, but the tree ring-based reconstruction shows only about a 1 degree Fahrenheit dip and the dip occurs several years too late. The other large eruptions showed the same type of discrepancy.
Using a theoretical model of tree-growth driven by the simulated temperature changes, the team determined that the cooling response recorded by the trees after a volcanic eruption was limited by biological growth effects.
Any temperature drop exceeding roughly 1 degree Fahrenheit would lead to minimal tree growth and an inability of trees to record any further cooling.
When growth is minimal enough, it is likely that a ring will not be detectable for that year.
The potential absence of rings in the first one to three years following eruption further degrades the temperature reconstruction.
Because tree-ring information is averaged across many locations to obtain a representative estimate of northern hemisphere temperature, tree-ring records with and without missing rings for a given year are merged, leading to a smearing and reduced and delayed apparent cooling.
The researchers also noted that aerosol particles forced into the air by volcanoes block some direct sunlight causing cooling and they produce more indirect, scattered light at the surface. Trees like indirect sunlight and grow better under those conditions.
However, this effect is small compared to that of lower temperatures and shorter growing seasons.
By accounting for these various effects in the tree growth model, the researchers were able to reproduce the reduced and smeared cooling seen in the actual tree-ring temperature reconstruction, including the near absence and delay of cooling following the massive 1258 eruption.
"Our findings suggest that past studies using tree-ring data to infer this sensitivity have likely underestimated it," Mann added.
The study has been published in Nature Geoscience.

Source-ANI

Spoon-Feeding Babies Makes Them Overweight

A new study by psychologists at The University of Nottingham has suggested that weaning babies on solid finger foods rather than spoon-feeding purees helps them to develop healthier food preferences and could prevent them becoming obese in later childhood. The study implies that the weaning method has an impact on food preferences and health in early childhood.
The study found that baby-led weaning in which the babies are allowed to feed themselves from a selection of foods are more likely to prefer carbohydrates than babies who are spoon-fed. The spoon-fed babies tend to have a sweet tooth even if these children are offered carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, proteins and whole meals. Early self-regulation of what to eat keeps the self-fed babies slim.
The authors said, "Our results suggest that infants weaned through the baby-led approach learn to regulate their food intake in a manner which leads to a lower BMI (body mass index) and a preference for healthy foods like carbohydrates. This has implications for combating the well-documented rise of obesity in contemporary societies."
The study is published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

Using Pancreas to Taste Fructose

The tongue’s taste receptors aids in telling apart between safe food and spoilt food or toxic. Nevertheless taste receptors are now being discovered in other organs, also. In a study published online the week of February 6 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, researchers at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute (Sanford-Burnham) discovered that beta cells in the pancreas use taste receptors to sense fructose, a type of sugar. According to the study, the beta cells respond to fructose by secreting insulin, a hormone that regulates the body's response to dietary sugar."Before this study, fructose's effect on insulin release was not appreciated. Fructose, and especially high-fructose corn syrup, is found in everything from sodas to cereals, but it remains to be seen whether dietary fructose is good or bad for beta cells and human metabolism," said Björn Tyrberg, Ph.D., adjunct assistant professor in the Diabetes and Obesity Research Center at Sanford-Burnham's Lake Nona campus in Orlando and senior author of the study.
After a meal, beta cells in the pancreas typically respond to the suddenly high levels of glucose, another type of sugar, in the blood by releasing insulin. Insulin then binds to receptors present on many cells in the body. Like a key unlocking a door, insulin binding allows glucose to enter the cell and be used for energy. But most meals are a mix of different types of sugar. This study shows that glucose is not the only sugar that triggers insulin secretion—fructose also plays a role.
Using human and mouse pancreatic cells, Tyrberg, along with postdoctoral researchers George Kyriazis, Ph.D. and Mangala Soundarapandian, Ph.D., found that fructose activates sweet taste receptors on beta cells. Together with glucose, fructose helps amplify insulin release. To substantiate this observation, the team took a look at cells genetically engineered to lack the taste receptor gene. Without the gene, fructose did not stimulate insulin release, underscoring the role beta cell taste receptors play in insulin signaling.
Source-Eurekalert

Monday, 6 February 2012

Karnataka CM praises ayurveda system

Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda reached out to Ayurvedic practitioners’ community in his own style on Sunday.
The CM, who inaugurated the Ayurveda Doctors Conference here, spoke in Malayalam and appreciated the ancient Indian practice and its practitioners for having taken their service to the next level.
The Ayurveda is in practice from five thousand years and has done wonders in the medical field, the CM said and sought sustainable growth of home grown medicinal and Ayurvedic plants.� “Our government will give support to the Ayurveda and will vouch for its comprehensive development in all districts in the State and its studies,” Sadananda Gowda stated.
He said 45 lakh people in the State are being treated through Ayurveda. Later, speaking to media persons he said, “There will not be any cut in the existing 27% reservation for the OBCs to accommodate Muslims.” However, he preferred not to comment on Centre’s 4.5 reservation to Muslims.
Source:IBN Live

Role of Determination in Dieting

People all over America are resolving to better manage their weight and have a more healthy lifestyle in the New Year.According to a new study, those starting new weight loss programs may be surprised to find out that both location and level of experience may influence their success. A recent article published in The Journal of Black Psychology (a journal from the Association of Black Psychologists, published by SAGE) finds that African American women beginning a new group weight loss program are more successful if they are less experienced with weight management and if the program meets in a church.
The authors of this new study monitored two groups of women in the same weight loss program. One group met weekly at a university and the other group met in a church. After 13 weeks, they found that the women meeting in the church setting lost a greater percentage of weight than those who met at the university. Additionally, those women who set out to change their eating and exercise practices for the first time lost a greater percentage of weight than women who had experience managing their weight.
Researchers Tracy Sbrocco, Robyn Osborn, Robert D. Clark, Chiao-Wen Hsiao, and Michele M. Carter studied 55 African American women, ages 18 to 55, involved in a 13-week weight-management program designed to promote long-term diet and exercise practices that produce moderate but lasting weight loss. Of these 55 women, 19 met together in a church and 36 met at a medical school in the area. All participants were weighed and had physical fitness tests at pre- and post-treatment.
The authors provided possible explanations for their findings by stating that women with weight-loss experience may find it more difficult to lose weight when starting a new program because they are less likely to seek and accept social support for their efforts and are unable to shake the bad habits that they have learned in past weight-loss programs. Furthermore, they explained that churches are familiar environments that are conducive to lending encouragement and support.
"Church-based groups have a built-in social support system that allows members to see each other, check in, and follow up on behavior changes," noted the authors. "Whereas individuals who attended the university often rushed into groups as they began and left as soon as the groups ended, individuals in the church setting were more likely to linger before and after group times."
Source-Eurekalert

CIAS urges govt to include Ayush streams in NCHRH Bill

The Centre for Integration of Ayush Systems (CIAS), a forum constituted by the leaders of the professional organizations of Indian System of Medicines in Kerala, has strongly condemned the union government for its move to exclude Ayush streams from the National Commission for Human Resources in Health (NCHRH) Bill which is waiting for passage in the Rajya Sabha currently.
The Bill will shortly come to the consideration of the Parliamentary Standing Committee for Health & Family Welfare.
Foreseeing a setback to the growth of the systems in future if the Bill is passed in its present form, the CIAS demanded to the central government to incorporate the Ayush streams (Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha, Homoeopathy and Naturopathy) into the NCHRH Bill.
In a memorandum to the chairman of the Standing Committee of Parliamentary Affairs for Health and Family Welfare, CIAS has urged the government to make changes in the draft bill and include Ayush in order to accommodate the professionals in the field into the classified disciplines among modern medicines, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy and para-medicals.
According to the professional body, the exclusion of Ayush streams would degenerate the growth and benefit of the country’s traditional methods of treatment. The traditional and alternative medicines play a major role in the national healthcare delivery of India because of its easy access, affordability and cost effectiveness. More than 30 per cent of the Indian population seeks traditional, complementary and alternative systems for their health needs. This massive acceptance of Indian medicines emphasizes the need to accommodate Ayush streams into the larger umbrella of healthcare academics and its standardization envisioned under NCHRH.
In the representation it is said that the fundamental agenda of healthcare delivery such as prevention, promotion, cure, preservation of health and rehabilitation is grossly compromised by excluding Ayush from common fronts of healthcare related HR legislation and its standardization. CIAS feels that the credibility of the traditional medicines will be at stake if it is excluded from the Bill. If researches and studies are to be continued in future, the NCHRH should be inclusive of Ayush systems and brought under one umbrella. Further, the Ayush exclusion from NCHRH would permanently close doors for inter disciplinary education in healthcare and integrated approaches, which is a priority area of development in healthcare academics.
The memorandum to the parliamentary committee says that the NCHRH is constituted to regulate about 5000 health sciences higher education colleges among the approximately 22000 total higher education colleges in our country. These 5000 institutions are spread under the health science universities, a few Ayush universities and in certain places under the regional universities. Out of these 5000 health sciences institutions, Ayush institutions come around 500 only. So there is no need of a separate Commission or Bill to regulate these 500 institutions. The efforts and the infrastructure to build up a separate Commission for 500 Ayush institutions will become monotonous.
The physicians of Indian systems observed that in USA and Europe, Ayush was part and parcel of their curricula under integrative medicine. In view of this, inclusion of Ayush in NCHRH is necessary in the national healthcare, education and research strategy.
Dr Vijayan Nangelil (Ayurveda) has been made the chairman of the association and Dr Sreevals G Menon (Homoeopathy) the general convener. Dr Induchoodan (Ayurveda), Dr Stanly Johns (Siddha), Dr K R Jayakumar (Naturopathy) and Dr K T Ajmal (Unani) are the conveners.
Source:Pharmabiz

Alternative Medicine Is Not Pseudoscience, Groups Tell Friends Of Science In Medicine in Australia

Alternative medicine practitioners in Australia are fighting claims by a 400-strong lobby group, called the Friends of Science in Medicine, that techniques such as acupuncture and homeopathy are pseudoscience.
A group of 400 doctors, medical researchers, and scientists, called the Friends of Science in Medicine (FSM), says universities that are awarding degrees in alternative medicine should be named and shamed.
Formed in December 2011, the group, which includes biologist Sir Gustav Nossal and Gardasil vaccine researcher Professor Ian Frazer, has written to university vice-chancellors, saying they should back evidence-based science rather than give “undeserved credibility to what in many cases would be better described as quackery.”
Co-founder Professor John Dwyer said 19 universities across the country were currently offering “degrees in pseudoscience,” in courses such as homeopathy, iridology, naturopathy, acupuncture, and energy medicine.
Alleged offenders include well-established universities such as the University of Sydney, RMIT, and the University of Queensland.
Alternative medicine practitioners fight back
The lobby has come under fire from alternative medicine practitioners such as the Australian Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine Association Limited (AACMA) and the National Herbalists Association of Australia (NHAA), which have called it a “witch hunt,” with the intention of stripping complementary medicine of its credibility and standing in Australia.
James refuted Prof. Dwyer’s claim that subjects such as healing touch therapies, energy medicine, iridology, and homoeopathy were being “taught as science” in universities. Rather, bona fide practices such as acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine were taught at the bachelor level for more than 16 years and should be protected, James said.James said that from July 1 this year, the Chinese medicine profession has been scheduled for inclusion in the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme for the Health Professions. A more constructive approach to dealing with egregious conduct, she said, was to support the introduction of Codes of Conduct and negative licensing approaches adopted in New South Wales and South Australia.
In addition, NHAA defended the need for private health insurance providers to continue providing rebates for CM treatments.
An increase in popularity in AustraliaNew research from the University of Adelaide has shown that when diagnosed with cancer, more than 50 percent of Australian men are turning to alternative medicine to help find a cure, or to improve their health.
The study, published recently in the Annals of Oncology, is based on an Adelaide questionnaire of 400 men with various types of cancer, and was carried out by psychology graduate student Nadja Klafke.
According to Klafke, published data shows that acupuncture and acupressure may relieve chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, hypnosis and massage are beneficial for cancer-related pain, and meditation and relaxation techniques can relieve fatigue.
Source: AACMA; Sydney Morning Herald; Friends of Science in Medicine.

Diet supplements recalled on unlabeled drug worries

Healthy People Co is recalling 15 lots of seven different dietary supplements because they contain appetite suppressants or a drug for male erectile dysfunction, the Long Beach, California, company said.
The seven brands of supplements were sold at the company's store at 13105 Ramona Boulevard, Irwindale, California, Healthy People said in a Friday statement carried on the Food and Drug Administration's website.
Five of the supplements -- Mince Belle, Everlax, Ever Slim, Ever Slim Shake Mix Dietary Supplement Strawberry, and Ever Slim Shake Mix Dietary Supplement Chocolate -- contain sibutramine, an appetite suppressant.
Sibutramine can increase blood pressure or heart rate and has been withdrawn from the U.S. market, the statement said.
Two other supplements -- Perfect Men Dietary Supplement and Herbal Drink Acai-man Mangosteen Dietary Supplement -- contain tadalafil, used to treat male erectile dysfunction.
Tadalafil may interact with nitrates in prescription drugs such as nitroglycerin and may dangerously lower blood pressure, the statement said.
The statement did not say if any deaths or injuries had resulted from their use.
Source:Reuters

Aspirin, Warfarin Fare Equally for Heart Failure Patients

A major head-to-head trial finds that aspirin is equally as good as warfarin in preventing stroke and death in heart failure patients.
The researchers said that, all things being equal, the findings raise questions about the wisdom of routinely using warfarin (Coumadin), which can cause dangerous bleeding. The findings were presented Friday at the annual meeting of the American Stroke Association in New Orleans.
Heart failure patients are at increased risk for blood clots, stroke and death.
The study is the largest and longest of its kind to date and included more than 2,300 patients averaging 61 years of age. All patients had heart failure and a normal heart rhythm, and were followed for up to six years (average 3.5 years).
The patients were randomly assigned to receive either 325 milligrams a day of aspirin or warfarin doses meant to achieve a pre-specified degree of blood thinning.
Death, ischemic stroke (caused by blockage of an artery carrying blood to the brain) or bleeding inside the brain (intracerebral hemorrhage) occurred in about 8 percent of the patients taking aspirin and about 7.5 percent of those taking warfarin. This difference was not deemed to be statistically significant, the research team said.
Among patients who were followed for more than three years, strokes occurred in 0.72 percent of those taking warfarin and in 1.36 percent of those taking aspirin, according to the study. While warfarin users had half the stroke risk of those on aspirin, the overall risk for stroke for patients in either group was considered low.
On the other hand, the researchers found that major bleeding (other than intracerebral hemorrhage) occurred in 0.9 percent of the patients on aspirin each year, compared with 1.8 percent of those on warfarin. That was a statistically significant difference, the team said.
"Although there was a warfarin benefit for patients treated for four or more years, overall, warfarin and aspirin were similar," lead author Dr. Shunichi Homma, a professor of medicine at Columbia University in New York City, said in a stroke association news release.
"Given that there is no overall difference between the two treatments and that possible benefit of warfarin does not start until after four years of treatment, there is no compelling reason to use warfarin, especially considering the bleeding risk," Homma noted.
One expert said the study provides valuable information to doctors and patients.
"There has always been a question about whether warfarin or aspirin is better when treating heart failure in patients with normal heart rhythms, so this is a very important study," noted Dr. Kenneth Ong, a cardiologist at The Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York City.
"Until now, we considered warfarin a more potent anti-clotting drug than aspirin, though each affects a different mechanism of clotting," he explained. "In the past, the only reason to put heart failure patients on warfarin was in the case of patients with a history of strokes, transient ischemic strokes (TIA or 'mini-stroke') or an irregular heart rhythm. This study confirms current standards of treatment. Aspirin is just as effective as warfarin in the treatment of heart failure, but warfarin is indicated for high-risk patients."
Homma's team said that they are currently analyzing whether certain subgroups of patients benefited more from either aspirin or warfarin.
Because this study was presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Source:HealthDay

No 'Facebook fatigue' for longtime users - survey

A survey released on Friday shows that people who have used the social networking site over a long period - since its founding in 2004, say - show no sign that they have become tired of posting pictures, updating weekend plans or just relaying random thoughts.The Pew Research Center report, based on a U.S. phone survey, logs and data from November 2010, sheds light on Facebook's possible long-term popularity as the company founded by Mark Zuckerberg heads for a $5 billion initial public offering.Ahead of the IPO, one concern about Facebook has been that users will simply bore of it after a while, a phenomenon known as "Facebook fatigue." The Pew research suggests those worries may be unfounded.
The longer that people have used Facebook site, the more frequently they hit the "like" button, commented on friends' content, posted status updates and tagged their friends in photos, the report showed.
It also concluded that having more Facebook friends kept users more involved with the social networking site.
"The more Facebook friends users have, the more they perform every activity that we explored: friending, liking, private messages, commenting, posting, photo tagging, joining groups and poking," Pew said regarding the survey by its Internet & American Life project.
Facebook users on average can reach 156,569 other network users through friends of friends. The number is skewed by Facebook users with especially large friend lists, and the median is 31,170 people reached through friends of friends.
"This examination of people's activities in a very new realm affirms one of the oldest truths about the value of friendship," said Lee Rainie, head of Pew's Internet project. "Those who are socially active have a better shot at getting the help and emotional help they need."
The survey was based on a phone survey of 2,255 U.S. adults that was conducted in November 2010. Respondents were asked to share logs of their Facebook activity, and about 269 respondents let Facebook release data on their use.
Facebook says it has 845 million active users today.
Source:Reuters

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