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Saturday, 25 February 2012

In US Medicare covers yoga for heart disease

Frank Korona lives near the West Virginia-Pennsylvania border with his wife Kathy, in a house that he built with his own hands, on the same property where he grew up.
He served in the Army Special Forces in Vietnam. The Koronas have a long, proud tradition of military service, but their family's greatest losses have been to heart disease.
"Our family has shrunk tremendously. We've lost so many people through death," Kathy says.
In 1992, Frank's brother Bob died in his arms, suffering a heart attack on their kitchen floor. Parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins have all died from complications from heart disease, too. The Koronas point them out in a graveyard near their home.
Frank and Kathy have both had heart attacks, and both have stents holding their blood vessels open. The birth of their grandson Caleb led them to try harder to extend their lives. So last year, the couple joined the Dean Ornish Program for Reversing Heart Disease.
Medicare, the government health insurance program for Americans 65 and older, covers the Ornish program, which teaches a plant-based, meatless diet, meditation and regular exercise. The program was officially declared an intensive cardiac rehab program in 2010, and the first patients started in May 2011.
Ornish is a persistent advocate within the halls of government. There are mountains of scientific evidence that his recommended lifestyle changes do reverse heart disease, the No. 1 killer in the United States and worldwide.
Helping patients make these lifestyle changes costs Medicare about $70 per hour, and patients can receive up to 72 one-hour sessions. Proponents of preventative medicine point out that that cost is still much less than operations and medications.
Ornish believes that fear cannot motivate lifestyle change in people long-term. Change has to be about feeling better and having more zest for life. The greater the change, the better the feeling, he says.
That seems to ring true for the Koronas. Despite the grim history of heart disease, they say it's how good they feel that keeps them living the lifestyle that their neighbors sometimes find strange.
"If I was going to be able to participate as a grandparent in his life, that gave me another incentive, that really did," Kathy explains. "But in order to do that, I needed to feel good about myself first."
The Koronas' favorite yoga positions are "cobra" and "fish," and their favorite pizza is meatless meat-lovers, made with soy pepperoni and soy "ground beef."
"Usually at the end of the session, the instructor will say, 'Now the reward, get into the total relaxation pose,' and we do that, and it just feels so good," Kathy says.
Together the Koronas have lost 85 pounds on the program, and Frank is off of four medications.
Hospitals can now bill Medicare for their patient's yoga and group discussion sessions because the Ornish program is an approved intensive cardiac rehab program, a new class of cardiac rehab created by Congress in 2009.
Traditional cardiac rehab, developed in the 1950s and covered by Medicare since 1982, focuses almost exclusively on exercise -- getting patients out of bed and the blood flowing again.
But in the 1970s, Ornish and others began leading experiments to test whether improving diet and stress levels could make a difference for those with heart disease. In the following decades the researchers published volumes of studies in peer-reviewed journals that became the basis of the Dean Ornish Program for Reversing Heart Disease.
There are four components to the program: nutrition, stress management, moderate exercise and group support.
Part of the underlying cause for widespread heart disease, explains Ornish, is chronic loneliness and isolation, which lead to stress and bad habits. When people feel emotionally close to others, they're physiologically healthier, too, so Medicare is paying for it.
In 1997, Highmark Health Insurance Co. became the first insurer to cover the Ornish program, but even today,only three insurance companies will pay for the program. All three are in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
That's expected to change.
"The reason that I spent 16 years working with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to achieve Medicare coverage for our program is that I knew that most insurance companies follow Medicare's lead. In other words, if Medicare covered our program, most other insurance companies would, as well," explains Ornish, who also says he was once naive in thinking that solid science alone would be enough to change health care policy.
"Reimbursement as well as science are primary determinants of medical practice. If it's not reimbursable, it's not sustainable."

India taken off WHO polio list in major milestone

India was taken off a list of polio endemic countries by the World Health Organisation on Saturday, marking a massive victory for health workers battling the crippling disease.
"This gives us hope that we can finally eradicate polio not only from India but from the face of the earth," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said.
The announcement leaves just three countries with endemic polio -- Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.
India, which last reported a fresh polio case more than 12 months ago, now will have to remain polio free for the next two years to be judged to have eradicated the disease, WHO representative in India Natela Menabde said.
"The government of India has coordinated a massive effort to rid our country of the terrible scourge of polio that has scarred the lives of thousands of thousand of children in India," Singh told a polio summit in New Delhi.
But "the real credit" for India's success in tackling polio goes to the volunteers who repeatedly vaccinated children, he said.
They visited slums and railway stations, construction sites and bus stops, using all means of transport to reach even the most far-flung corners of one of the world's most crowded and impoverished countries.
The success of the effort shows that "team work pays," Singh said.
Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said he received a letter stating that the "WHO has taken India's name off the list of polio endemic countries in view of the remarkable progress that we have made during the past one year."
Polio -- which afflicts mainly the under-fives causing death, paralysis and crippled limbs -- travels easily across borders and is transmitted via the fecal matter of victims.
India has been a frequent exporter to other developing countries, but has also been re-infected from abroad. The ancient disease was wiped out from the 1970s in developed countries through successful vaccination campaigns.
In 2009, India accounted for half of all cases in the world, but infections plummeted to 42 in 2010 and none in the last 12 months.
The Indian government has spent $2 billion over the last 10-15 years on polio eradication efforts.

Global polio summit from Feb 25 to commemorate India’s efforts

o-day global Polio Summit to commemorate India’s achievement of polio-free year and discuss the risks ahead will begin here on February 25.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will inaugurate the two-day meet to be attended by health ministers of polio endemic countries like Pakistan and Nigeria, along with the health ministers of neighbouring Sri Lanka and Nepal, according to an official release.
“India completed a year without reporting any case of polio in January 2012, a major achievement and unprecedented progress which needs to be sustained with continued intensive efforts until polio is eradicated. To commemorate India’s trailblazing effort and focus on the risks and way forward, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Rotary International are organizing the ‘Polio Summit 2012’. Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad will preside while the Ministers of State for Health and Family Welfare Sudip Bandyopadhyay and S Gandhiselvan, Rotary International President Kalyan Banerjee and the Rotary Foundation Chairman William Boyd will be the guests of honour at the Summit,” the release said.
Senior health officials from various States, Principal Secretaries, Mission Directors NRHM and State Immunization Officers, heads and representatives of key partner organisations - Rotary International, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization- National Polio Surveillance Project and UNICEF will participate in the Summit. Representatives of the huge polio workforce are among the nearly 1,200 participants expected at the Summit.
“Over the two days, the Summit will deliberate on how to build synergies to ensure that the present momentum against polio is maintained until the disease is eradicated. The last bastions of polio in India – Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal – are expected to present their efforts and challenges. The Summit is expected to provide a platform for sharing and learning lessons. The World Health Organizations’ assistant director-general for Polio, Emergencies, Dr Bruce Aylward, will present the global scenario and China’s response to the recent poliovirus importation as a case study of emergency response, which would be a key strategy for India in the years ahead. WHO’s South East Asia Regional Office will lead the discussions around the challenges and way forward for polio free certification of the region,” it said.
Polio Summit 2012 will be a platform for all the key players in the end game strategy for polio eradication – government, partners, donors and frontline workers – to renew and reinforce their commitment to eradicate polio in India.

Experts Concerned Over Lack of "Condom Sense"

Researchers from across the globe have expressed concern over the prevalence of improper use of condom.
They say problems with the correct use of the male condom have become a major concern as many men are not wearing it throughout sex or putting it on upside down .
An unprecedented collection of condom use studies, published in the journal Sexual Health, provides a global perspective on condom use problems and errors, along with new research on factors influencing correct condom use, how condom use programs can be more effective, and the promotion of the female condom.
Led by The Kinsey Institute Condom Use Research Team, or CURT, more than 20 researchers from around the world examine and discuss issues such as safe-sex behaviours by American adults, counterfeit condoms in China and use of female condoms in South Africa.

"The articles in the special issue illustrate both commonalities and differences relative to the use and promotion of male condoms around the world," said William L. Yarber, professor of applied health science at IU and member of CURT.
"It provides a resource for sexual health professionals to use for strategizing ways to increase cultural and individual acceptance of condom use," he stated.
CURT, which has studied condom use for a decade, is a research team of scholars from Indiana University, the University of Kentucky, the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, and the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom.
The CURT researchers suggest that closing the gap between the ideal way condoms should be used and the more typical manner is critical to reducing unplanned pregnancies and the spread of sexually transmitted infections such as HIV. Condoms are inexpensive compared to costly HIV and AIDS medications, which often are inaccessible to the people most at risk.
"While we'd like to think the AIDS epidemic is going away, it's not. In the U.S, it's getting worse," said Richard Crosby, a member of CURT, professor at the University of Kentucky and lead editor for Sexual Health's special issue.
"We keep looking to medical doctors for the solution to the epidemic, but it's the wrong paradigm. We can prevent small pox, SARS, cholera and a host of other infectious diseases. The prevention of the disease is the modern solution to the AIDS pandemic, and we need to begin applying that solution in earnest," added Crosby.
The special issue represents the first time condom use research from around the globe has been compiled in one place. CURT researchers want to get the information into the hands of global AIDS prevention organizations, such as the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S.
"Condoms are the vaccine we've been waiting for," Crosby suggested.
He said the gap between the correct use of condoms and the more typical use, which increases its fail rate, points to a need for better education and instruction regarding condom use.
Making condoms accessible to people who need them is important, but improved clinic-based counselling, public education and Internet-based education efforts are all key requirements to their correct use.
This involves talking openly about such things as erections, semen, lubricant and other aspects of sex that can make people uncomfortable. Crosby said this lack of education and detail because of embarrassment or discomfort comes at the cost of individuals' health and lives.
"We chronically underestimate how complicated condom use can be," he said.
"It involves the use of a condom, while negotiating the condom use and sex with a partner all at the same time. There is a complex triad of the sex act, condom use and partner dynamics that must constantly be navigated by condom users," he noted.
The research articles highlight problems and barriers to effective condom use and make suggestions for improving access to condoms, addressing cultural issues that can interfere with their efforts, specific populations that should receive more attention programmatically, and areas where more research is needed.

Rosemary Scent Helps Boost Brain Performance, Mood Levels

Rosemary, which has been hailed for its medicinal properties since ancient times, have also shown to improve brain performance and mood levels.Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is one of many traditional medicinal plants that yield essential oils. But exactly how such plants affect human behavior is still unclear. Mark Moss and Lorraine Oliver, working at the Brain, Performance and Nutrition Research Center at Northumbria University, UK designed an experiment to investigate the pharmacology of 1,8-cineole (1,3,3-trimethyl-2-oxabicyclo[2,2,2]octane), one of rosemary's main chemical components.
The investigators tested cognitive performance and mood in a cohort of 20 subjects, who were exposed to varying levels of the rosemary aroma. Using blood samples to detect the amount of 1,8-cineole participants had absorbed, the researchers applied speed and accuracy tests, and mood assessments, to judge the rosemary oil's affects.
Results indicate for the first time in human subjects that concentration of 1,8-cineole in the blood is related to an individual's cognitive performance – with higher concentrations resulting in improved performance. Both speed and accuracy were improved, suggesting that the relationship is not describing a speed–accuracy trade off.
Meanwhile, although less pronounced, the chemical also had an effect on mood. However, this was a negative correlation between changes in contentment levels and blood levels of 1,8-cineole, which is particularly interesting because it suggests that compounds given off by the rosemary essential oil affect subjective state and cognitive performance through different neurochemical pathways. The oil did not appear to improve attention or alertness, however.
Terpenes like 1,8-cineole can enter the blood stream via the nasal or lung mucosa. As small, fat-soluble organic molecules, terpenes can easily cross the blood–brain barrier. Volatile 1,8-cineole is found in many aromatic plants, including eucalyptus, bay, wormwood and sage in addition to rosemary, and has already been the subject of a number of studies, including research that suggests it inhibits acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and butyrylcholinesterase enzymes, important in brain and central nervous system neurochemistry: rosemary components may prevent the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
"Only contentedness possessed a significant relationship with 1,8-cineole levels, and interestingly to some of the cognitive performance outcomes, leading to the intriguing proposal that positive mood can improve performance whereas aroused mood cannot," said Moss.
Typically comprising 35-45% by volume of rosemary essential oil, 1,8-cineole may possess direct pharmacological properties. However, it is also possible that detected blood levels simply serve as a marker for relative levels of other active compounds present in rosemary oil, such as rosmarinic acid and ursolic acid, which are present at much lower concentrations.

Scientists Identify Motivation Center in Brain

The part of the brain, which triggers motivation during actions that combine physical and mental effort, has been identified by researchers.According to the study, the results of an activity (physical or mental) partly depend on the efforts devoted to it, which may be incentive-motivated.
For example, a sportsperson is likely to train with "increased intensity" if the result will bring social prestige or financial gain. The same can be said for students who study for their exams with the objective of succeeding in their professional career.
Mathias Pessiglione and his team from Inserm unit 975 "Centre de recherche en neurosciences de la Pitie-Salpetriere" examined whether mental and physical efforts are driven by a motivation 'centre' or whether they are conducted by different parts of the brain.
The researchers studied the neural mechanisms resulting from activities that combine both action and cognition.
To this end, a series of 360 tests, combining mental and physical effort, were performed whilst being monitored by a scanner.
The 20 voluntary participants were placed in the supine position, with their heads in a functional MRI scanner. They then had to complete a series of tasks through which they could accumulate winnings.
However, in each series the winnings were limited to the first incorrect response. The tasks combined cognitive and motor actions.
The participants had to find the highest number from among different-sized numbers and then select it by squeezing a handle located by their left or right hand (depending on the number's location).
At the end of the test, a winnings summary was displayed to motivate the participant.
3D representation of motivational system (striatum ventral) activated during physical or mental effort.
Using images obtained from the MRI scans taken during the test, Pessiglione and his team identified a general motivational system in the depths of the brain, i.e. a structure capable of activating any effort type, both mental (concentrating on the task in hand) or physical (lifting a load).
The researchers observed that the ventral striatum was activated in proportion to the amount of money involved: the higher the degree of motivation, the higher the activation level.
Furthermore, the ventral striatum is connected to the median part of the striatum (the caudate nucleus) when the task to be performed is cognitively difficult (when the physical size and the numerical value of the numbers did not correspond).
This ventral region solicits the lateral part of the striatum (the putamen) when the difficulty is motor-related (when the handle had to be squeezed very tightly).
The researchers suggest that the expectation of a reward is encoded in the ventral striatum, which can then drive either the motor or cognitive part of the striatum, depending on the task, in order to boost performance.
"The ventral striatum may commute connections in accordance with the request, i.e. enhance the neuronal activity in the caudate nucleus for a cognitive operation and in the putamen for a physical action," Pessiglione added.
The study has been published in PLoS Biology.

The smile of Ayurveda

The recently concluded Global Ayurveda Festival in the city had Ayurveda doctors working in Germany and Italy lamenting on the ignorance of the Western World in their refusal to trust this ancient medical system.
Be it in India, or be it abroad, Ayurveda has always been under pressure to prove itself, to identify that particular compound that cures a particular illness, to isolate it, purify it and again prove the chemical pathway by which it acts and so on and so forth.
Why should the wisdom of the ancient science of Ayurveda be translated into the language of Allopathy? Evolved from a deep understanding of creation, by observing the fundamentals of life and the deepest truths of human physiology and health, Ayurveda takes a holistic view of creation, to heal the sick, maintain health in the healthy and prevent diseases.
Often in the scientific hunt for the tiniest molecule that cures a disease, this holistic approach gets lost. Same with modern quick-fix methods to make Ayurvedic medicines. A paper published in the latest issue of the ‘International Journal of Biological Macromolecules’ just underlines this point.
A group of scientists from the Biotechnology and Microbiology Departments of the Kannur University decided to check out whether the long, sluggish process of fermentation as prescribed by the Ayurveda texts in the production of ‘arishtam’ and ‘asavam’ could be cut short using modern techniques.
The team comprising M Haridas, C Sadasivan, A Sabu, G K Prasanth, Abhilash Joseph and D Naveen Chandra first identified the plants that are used in anti-arthritis Ayurvedic medicines. They found that all of them had in common a high content of the compound berberine, which was acting as the curing agent.
Then they explored how berberine actually brought down the inflammation. They knew that it was a villain enzyme, by name Phospolipase, that destroys the cell membrane units, thus triggering an inflammatory pathway. And, the Kannur team found that berberine from plants blocks the activity of Phospholipase, thus bringing down inflammation.
But they had another more important finding. The medicine was effective only when it was fermented for the prescribed number of days as per the Ayurveda texts. Only then does demethylation (removal of methyl groups) of berberine happens and it is the demethylated berberine that is most active.
A shorter, easier method, will have the same amount of alcohol in the medicine all right, but will not be as active as when processed by the time-consuming traditional method.
"It is not the amount of alcohol, but demethylation of berberine that is important. If you go by the amount of alcohol, the medicine would not be effective,’’ said M Haridas, who headed the study. So now you know why some of the ayurvedic medicines are not effective.
No other system of medicine uses fermentation technology as in Ayurveda; however, the Ayurveda texts, as a general character and unlike Allopathy, do not provide reasons for adopting the technique. Just as it would not tell you about the specific compounds that would come out of the plant when different kinds of firewood are used to heat the stove.
It would take hundreds of years for the mortal man to find all the answers. And all the while, this grandmother of a medical system would have a smile on her face. The smile of a thousand years of wisdom.
Source:IBN Live

Friday, 24 February 2012

Study links high fiber to healthy gums in older vets

U.S. researchers who followed healthy male veterans for up to 24 years found that older men who ate more high-fiber fruits were less likely to show signs of gum disease.
For more than 600 men participating in a long-running Veterans Affairs dental study, each serving of high-fiber food was linked to an almost 30 percent lower likelihood of lost teeth and a 24 percent lower risk of bone loss associated with receding gums.
The apparent benefit wasn't seen in men younger than 65, and when the researchers looked more closely at the types of foods that made a difference, high-fiber fruits like bananas, apples or prunes were the only ones that seemed to offer protection, they report in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
Approximately 10 percent of U.S. adults suffer from moderate to severe gum disease, which can include bleeding gums, receding gums, tartar build-up and tooth loss.
The problem becomes more common with age, and is thought to affect roughly 20 percent of Americans over 75.
Although previous research has demonstrated that dietary fiber can help lower cholesterol, control blood sugar and aid weight loss, less is known about how eating high-fiber foods may impact dental health.
The new study, led by Elizabeth Krall Kaye, an epidemiologist at the Boston University School of Dental Medicine, followed 625 healthy men from the Boston area for an average of 15 years.
Researchers first assessed participants' dental health in 1984 and every three to five years after that.
Before each examination, men filled out a questionnaire about their daily intake of certain high-fiber foods -- those that contained more than 2.5 grams of dietary fiber per serving.
That list includes bananas, apples, oranges, blueberries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, spinach, peanuts, oatmeal and other grains.
In men aged 65 and older, the researchers found that each additional serving of high-fiber fruit was associated with a 14 percent lower risk of erosion of the part of the jaw bone that supports the teeth, a five percent lower risk of gum recession and a 12 percent lower likelihood of tooth loss.
Eating high-fiber vegetables and grains did not significantly reduce the men's risk of gum disease.
The study doesn't prove that the high-fiber fruits lowered the men's gum-disease risk. A fruit-filled diet could be a sign of some other factor -- such as high vitamin intake, an overall healthy lifestyle, more frequent flossing, or even less smoking -- any of which could be at work.
Kaye's team is not yet clear about why high-fiber foods, especially fruits, would lead to less gum disease if they are playing a role. One possibility is that foods high in fiber, which often require more chewing, could increase saliva production, which would remove harmful bacteria from the mouth.
Dietary fiber might also help reduce gum disease by controlling blood sugar and lowering blood pressure -- poorly controlled blood sugar and high blood pressure are both risk factors for gum disease.
Eating high-fiber foods should not be a substitute for seeing the dentist, according to Dr. Marjorie Jeffcoat, a gum disease specialist at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine in Philadelphia.
Good oral health is key to preventing gum disease, said Jeffcoat, who was not involved in the VA study.
Kaye agrees that her results are too preliminary to recommend relying on apples and oranges in place of good dental care.
Furthermore, over 95 percent of the study participants were white, non-Hispanic men, she notes. Though the mechanism at work is most likely the same in women and minorities, "we should be cautious in generalizing these results to other segments of the population until there is further research," Kaye told Reuters Health.
SOURCE: Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, online February 8, 2012.

India intensifies measures along Pakistan borders to keep polio virus at bay

After India became polio-free for the last one year, health authorities have taken special measures to check spread of virus from China and Pakistan, and thereby keeping the track record of the country intact.
The last polio case was reported from India on January 13, 2011 and the country celebrated the one year of becoming polio free last month. However, as precautionary measures to keep polio virus at bay, now the authorities have mounted special arrangements in the places bordering China and Pakistan, sources said.
“The poliovirus detected in China in 2011 is most closely related to the poliovirus currently circulating in Pakistan. Surveillance for polio has been intensified through active case search in the health facilities in Amritsar and other nearby districts and blocks of Punjab, Rajasthan, J&K and Gujarat that share a common border with Pakistan,” a Health Ministry spokesman said.
“In addition continuous vaccination of children is carried out at Attari train station and Wagah border (in Punjab), Munabao train station (in Rajasthan) and at Kaman PHC and Chak da Bagh on a routine basis,” he added.
“India has not had a case of wild poliovirus nor detected the virus in sewage sampling since January 13, 2011. When all pending samples have cleared laboratory testing, India will be considered to have interrupted transmission of indigenous wild poliovirus. The country has an aggressive agenda to strengthen routine immunization and maintain supplementary activities in order to maintain high immunity. In addition, sensitive surveillance and emergency response plans are in place in every state to detect and swiftly respond to importations,” according to the WHO official website monitoring the polio cases around the world.
In Pakistan, two new cases were reported in the past week also. Both cases had onset of paralysis in 2012, bringing the total number of cases in 2012 to nine. The most recent case had onset of paralysis was on January 20. The total number of cases in 2011 remains 198, WHO statistics said.

Researchers Detect Toxic Aldehydes in Reheated Oil Researchers Detect Toxic Aldehydes in Reheated Oil

The presence of certain aldehydes in food, which are believed to be related to some neurodegenerative diseases and some types of cancer has been discovered by researchers from the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU, Spain).These toxic compounds can be found in some oils, such as sunflower oil, when heated at a suitable temperature for frying.
"It was known that at frying temperature, oil releases aldehydes that pollute the atmosphere and can be inhaled, so we decided to research into whether these remain in the oil after they are heated, and they do" María Dolores Guillén, a lecturer in the Pharmacy and Food Technology Department at the UPV, tells SINC.
The researcher is a co-author of a project that confirms the simultaneous presence of various toxic aldehydes from the 'oxygenated α, β-unsaturated group' such as 4-hydroxy-[E]-2nonenal. Furthermore, two have been traced in foods for the first time (4-oxo-[E]-2-decenal and 4-oxo-[E]-2-undecenal).
Until now these substances had only been seen in bio-medical studies, where their presence in organisms is linked to different types of cancer and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
The toxic aldehydes are a result of degradation of the fatty acids in oil, and although some are volatile, others remain after frying. That is why than be found in cooked food. As they are very reactive compounds they can react with proteins, hormones and enzymes in the organism and impede its correct functioning.
The research, which is published in the Food Chemistry journal, involved heating three types of oil (olive, sunflower and flaxseeds) in an industrial deep fryer at 190 ºC. This was carried out for 40 hours (8 hours a day) in the first two, and 20 hours for the linseed oil. The latter is not normally used for cooking in the west, but it has been chosen due to its high content in omega 3 groups.
After applying gas chromatography/mass spectrometry techniques, the results show that sunflower and linseed oil (especially the first) are the ones that create the most toxic aldehydes in less time. These oils are high in polyunsaturated fats (linoleic and linolenic).
Adversely, olive oil, which has a higher concentration of monounsaturated fats (such as oleic), generate these harmful compounds in a smaller amount and later.
In previous studies, the same researchers found that in oils subjected to frying temperatures, other toxic substances, alkyl benzenes (aromatic hydrocarbons) were found. They concluded that of the oils studied, olive oil is the one that creates the least.
The dose makes the poison
"It is not intended to alarm the population, but this data is what it is, and it should be taken into account" Guillén highlights, who points out the need to continue researching to establish clear limits regarding the risk of these compounds. "On some occasions the dose makes the poison" the researcher reminds us.
Spanish regulations that control the quality of heated fats and oils establish a maximum value of 25% for polar components (degradation products coming from frying). Nonetheless, according to the new study, before some of the oils analysed reach this limit, they already have a "significant concentration" of toxic aldehyde.
The study counts all the aldehydes (not the just the harmful ones) that are generated during frying. Furthermore, the authors present a model that allows the prediction of how any hypothetical oil will evolve in the same conditions, if they know its initial fatty acid composition.

Skipping Meals for Two Days a Week may be Beneficial

Skipping meals for a day or two every week may be beneficial to your health after researchers found that it may protect against brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.Researchers at the National Institute on Ageing in Baltimore said that while eating a restricted diet has already shown to extend the life span of laboratory mice by 40 percent, they found that not only was this true even in humans but it also reduced the effects of conditions that affect the brain.
The researchers said that cutting down your daily calorie intake by 500 calories twice a week can have positive effect on your brain health. The researchers speculated that the benefit could be a link to our ancestors’ scrounging capabilities.
“When resources became scarce, our ancestors would have had to scrounge for food. Those whose brains responded best – who remembered where promising sources could be found or recalled how to avoid predators — would have been the ones who got the food. Thus a mechanism linking periods of starvation to neural growth would have evolved”, Professor Mark Mattson, head of the institute's laboratory of neurosciences, said.

Salivary PH a Potential Biomarker for Risk of Heart Disease

A Canadian study analyzed the association between salivary pH and plasma adiponectin levels, in women and found a linear relationship between the two.Adiponectin a protein hormone, constituting around 0.01% of the plasma proteins is produced by the fat tissue and regulates the metabolic activities like glucose regulation and fatty acids catabolism. It has also been found to have anti-inflammatory effects and reduce insulin resistance and the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
It is an established fact that adiponectin level is greatly reduced with increased body fat percentage. And higher fat percentage is correlated with increased risk of type2 diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular diseases.
A study tried to establish the association between adiponectin and salivary pH in women. The salivary pH in women is lesser than that compared to men and is affected by the menopausal status.
The study included 151 Caucasian women with 53 pre-menopausal women in one group and 98 menopausal women in the other. Salivary pH and plasma adiponectin levels were analyzed in both the groups.
The researchers found that the salivary pH varied in proportion to the plasma adiponectin levels in women in both the groups but showed a prominent linear relationship in menopausal women.

There were certain limitations to the findings.
• Previous conditions like insulin resistance and hyperlipidemia, which could influence the adiponectin levels and salivary pH, were not taken into account.

• The study involved only women and was based on the menopausal status thus limiting the use of salivary pH as a biomarker in health assessment.

With obesity, type2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases becoming a worldwide epidemic, saliva sampling could prove to be an easy and inexpensive diagnostic and screening method for health assessment. Further studies are required in this regard.
Reference: Salivary pH as a Marker of Plasma Adiponectin Concentrations in Women; Monique et al; Diabetology and Metabolic Syndrome 2012.

Eating Oranges, Grapefruit Cut Stroke Risk in Women

A compound in citrus fruits has been found to reduce stroke risk in women. According to a US study, regular consumption of fruits such as oranges and grapefruit could lower the risk of blood-clot related stroke in women.Researchers looked at 14 years of data from a US nurses survey that included 69,622 women who reported what they ate, including details on fruit and vegetable consumption, every four years.
The aim was to study the effects of flavanoids -- a class of compounds present in fruits, vegetables, dark chocolate and red wine -- on health.
While total flavanoid consumption across all six main types found in the typical US diet did not show a benefit in preventing stroke, those who ate lots of orange and grapefruit and their derived juices showed a 19 percent lower stroke risk than their counterparts in the study.
"Studies have shown higher fruit, vegetable and specifically vitamin C intake is associated with reduced stroke risk," said Aedin Cassidy, lead author of the study in the Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.
"Flavonoids are thought to provide some of that protection through several mechanisms, including improved blood vessel function and an anti-inflammatory effect," added Cassidy, a professor of nutrition at Norwich Medical School in the University of East Anglia.
The researchers called for more studies to better understand the apparent link, and urged women to consume oranges and grapefruit rather than their juices to avoid high sugar content from drink additives.

Exercise Benefits Obese People

People who are overweight and have diabetes benefit from exercise, say researchers.
Daniel Green professor at The University of Western Australia School of Sports Science said although bariatric (weight loss) surgery was being promoted, exercise was still valuable for overweight and obese people.
"Exercise is good for you whether you lose weight or not, because it can help increase muscle mass, improve artery function and decrease the risks of heart attack, stroke and diabetes," said Green, reports the Medical Journal of Australia.
"Recent studies suggest that obese people who develop some level of fitness have a lower cardiovascular disease and death risk than those who are lean but unfit, according to a Western Australia statement.
"Exercise is especially good at preventing diabetes in obese people, who are at higher risk of developing this disease," added Green.
Green said experts recommended comprehensive weight management programs should be available for obese patients and those with Type 2 diabetes.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

NMPB looks for four-fold hike at Rs.1700 cr to expand central scheme to promote medicinal plants

The National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB), formed for promoting the cultivation of medicinal plants in the country, has sought nearly four-fold increase in its allocation for the next Five Year Plan period with a view to expand the ongoing schemes and promote related trade.

The NMPB which has been implementing a Centrally Sponsored Scheme during 11th Plan with an outlay of Rs.485 crore has now asked for Rs.1710 crore which is 3.53 times hike from the earlier plan, sources said.

The scheme is primarily aimed at supporting market driven medicinal plants cultivation on private lands with backward linkages for establishment of nurseries for supply of quality planting materials and forward linkages for post-harvest management, processing, marketing infrastructure, certification and crop insurance in project mode. This is being achieved by cultivation of medicinal plants in identified zones/clusters within selected districts of States having potential for cultivation of certain medicinal plants and promotion of such cultivation following good agricultural practices.
The NMPB has so far set up 636 nurseries of medicinal plants, covering 51308 hectares of land for cultivation of medicinal plants under the scheme. Support was provided to 25 post-harvest infrastructure units while putting in place 5 processing units and 2 market promotion units.
“As the commercial scale cultivation of medicinal plants is critical for assured supply of quality raw materials to the industry, the support being provided for this purpose needs to be enhanced for covering large projects and more species of medicinal plants. Also, facilities for supply of quality seedlings and saplings and processing of medicinal plants with forward & backward linkages, quality certification and support for collection and marketing of plant-based raw materials are essentially required to attract farmers towards cultivation of medicinal plants and promote the related trade,” sources said while justifying increased allocation.
The allocation will be used to expand the cultivation status of medicinal plants over 2,00,000 hectares of land (Rs.600 crore), for induction of voluntary certification scheme for medicinal plants (Rs.30 crore), for expansion of organic produce certification scheme (Rs.50 crore), for development of 20 Medicinal Plants Processing Zones (Rs.400 crore), for raising 2000 nurseries (Rs.480 crore), and for providing minimum support price to the collectors of medicinal plants and marketing support to the farmers (Rs.150 crore), sources said.
The work will be taken up through State Medicinal Plants Boards, Forest Departments, Horticulture Missions, Special Purpose Vehicles of Industries, Quality Council of India and Agencies of Ministry of Tribal Affairs-Agriculture-Forests & Environment.

Non-surgical aortic valve treatment for patients suffering from cardiac disease soon in Hyderabad

The doctors have made a major breakthrough in the cardiac treatment for the patients suffering from aortic valve dysfunction. While attending an advanced course in clinical cardiology which was conducted in collaboration with Yashoda Hospital, Hyderabad and Cleveland Clinic, USA, the group of doctors revealed that the main aortic valve can now be replaced without surgery and in a few months the technology will be available in India.
This new advancement in cardiac treatment will be particularly beneficial for patients for whom surgery is risky. It is estimated that in India at least 4 per cent population suffers from narrowing of the aortic valve.
In a forecast survey it is said that by the year 2015, there would be 50 million people in India with cardiac disease. Heart ailments were taking epidemic proportions in the country.
Dr Samir Kapadia from Cleveland Clinic said there had been significant advancement in cardiac technology. Imaging technology too had made rapid advancement in assessing the heart’s function non-invasive and patient-specific therapy had also evolved.
While the mitral valve repair without surgery is in its clinical trial stage, replacement of the aortic valve without surgery has started in the US and in the next six months the technology will be available in India.
Explaining about the merits, a senior cardiologist Dr Mandeep Bhargava said, “This transcather aortic valve replacement scores over conventional methods as older patients do not have to withstand the risk of surgical intervention.”
The main cause of the aortic valve dysfunction in patients is mainly due to calcium deposits. The biventricular pacemakers could be placed in certain patients to increase the efficiency of the heart for end-stage heart failures, revealed another doctor from Cleveland Clinic.

Blood Pressure Components and Renal Disease

High blood pressure has always been associated with kidney diseases. Even in those with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), controlling high BP helps to prevent the onset of end-stage renal disease (ESRD).Proteinuria is a condition seen in those with kidney disease, where serum proteins are present in urine. Some clinical studies had earlier revealed that lower BP levels are linked to slow progression of CKD to ESRD, especially among those with proteinuria. Based on these studies a BP goal of less than 130/80 (rather than 140/90) is being recommended for those with CKD to prevent the onset of ESRD.
It is very difficult to control hypertension in those with CKD. In most cases, three to four medications are employed to keep BP under control in these patients.
Use of various medications to control BP has resulted in disproportionately lowering diastolic blood pressure (DBP), thus widening the pulse pressure (PP) in CKD patients. Pulse pressure is the difference between the systolic and diastolic pressures; it is the amount of pressure required to create the feeling of a pulse. Low DBP and high PP reportedly leads to cardiovascular events in patients and this has caused anxiety among doctors regarding aggressive treatments.
Very few studies have actually looked into the link between BP parameters, such as systolic blood pressure (SBP), diastolic blood pressure, and ESRD risk.
A study was modulated to assess the risk of developing ESRD in those with CKD, and its association with SBP and DBP in those who participated in the kidney early evaluation program (KEEP). An attempt was also made to assess if PP had a role in ESRD risks.
KEEP is a health program that attempts to raise awareness in those with CKD. In this study adult older than 18 yrs who either have kidney disease, diabetes or hypertension or those who have a family history of kidney disease were used as study subjects. Those studied had established stage 3 disease (glomerular filtration rate lower than 60mL/min/1.73m2) and their blood pressure readings were recorded. A sample size of 16129 was studied.
If the SBP was 140 Hg or higher or, if the diastolic reading was 90 Hg or higher, then the readings were repeated and an average was made between the two reading. The difference between SBP and DBP gave the pulse pressure reading.
Each patient was followed from the time of screening to the development of ESRD.
The KEEP study also used a standardized questionnaire to assess the age, sex, race/ ethnicity and smoking history of the subjects. History of CVD and diabetes were recorded. The BMI for each patient was recorded. The urine measures of albumin to creatinine ratio were procured.
It was observed in those with chronic kidney disease (especially those whose systolic values were higher than 140 mm HG) SBP was independently associated with increased risk of ESRD. Those with a DBP value of 90mm Hg were also at high risks. PP was not independently linked to ESRD risks.
The study clearly indicates that those with SBP greater than 140hg mm and DBP greater than 90hg mm belonged to the high -risk group. One third of the subjects had uncontrolled hypertension and belonged to the highest risk group. Most of them suffered from systolic hypertension.
This inference has note worthy implications as it suggests aggressive treatment for those with the value above 140 mm Hg and also eases the dilemma faced by clinicians in treating those with CKD. Some of the challenges include:

• BP level of 130/80 mm Hg is attainable only in 45% of those with CKD.

• A combination of 3-4 medications is used in treating CKD patients with high BP. The treatment strategies used remain controversial as they have plenty of side –effects.

This community- based study carried out on subjects from a screening program showcases the need for more such studies carried out on a wider scale.


• Increased SBP and DBP associated with ESRD risks.

• Higher PP value associated with higher ESRD

• Wider PP also indicates arterial stiffness and worse cardiac outcomes.

• Use of more than 3 anti hypertensives was associated with lowering DBP rather than SBP.

• Prevalence of increased hypertension is common in those with CKD

• New strategies must be tried to manage CKD, including those to reduce arterial thickness

• A BP goal of 140/90 Hg mm may help to protect kidneys in those with CKD.

• Strategies to control BP must focus on controlling SBP in particular.

• It was also inferred from the study that age, African-American ethnicity, history of diabetes mellitus and albuminuria were important indicators of isolated increased SBP.

Reference: Archive of Internal Medicine, Vol 172 no 1. Jan 9th 2012.

Work Boredom Leads to Employees Calling in Sick

According to researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, participants in the study were 2.5 times more likely to call in sick on days they expected to have a light workload, compared with days when they had a normal workload.
They found that the risk for was even higher if workers' doldrums had started the day before they called in sick.
"Our results indicate that nonmedical factors may have trigger effects on short-term sick leave," the researchers said.
One reason for the findings may be that employees are less satisfied with their jobs when they're twiddling their thumbs, and so they're less motivated to show up to work when feeling ill.
Another idea is that bosses might encourage their coughing and sneezing employees to stay home when the workload is light.
In addition, the findings may not be generalizable to people in all work fields - employees in the study who worked for a manufacturing plant were more likely to have slow days than those who worked in the health care field or office workers.
The researchers said that larger studies are needed to determine the effect of workload on employee sick days in different occupations.
The study involved 1,430 employees at six Swedish workplaces who were followed for three to 12 months. Of these, 546 took a day off over the study period.
Employees were interviewed during their time off, and asked whether they had experienced a slow work day anytime during the two-week period prior to the sick day, and on the sick day itself.
The researchers noted having a light workload was not common among participants. Of those who took sick leave, 88 percent said they had not experienced a slow work day in the two weeks leading up to their sick day.
They said that this suggests that the effect of a light workload on taking sick leave, while real, may be quite small.
The study has been published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.


Beware of Extremely Tight Belts, Jeans and Neckties

Wearing an ill-fitting bra can cause back strain while cinched belts and tight tutus can compress the lateral, femoral cutaneous nerve that runs from the abdomen to the outer thigh, according to an article in Wall Street Journal.
In the article, experts wrote that middle-aged or older men wearing jeans a size or two too small often suffer from abdominal discomfort, distention, heartburn and belching a few hours after eating, the Discovery News reported.
"The diagnosis can be made easily in the office by comparing the size of the trousers with the abdominal girth. There is usually a discrepancy of 7.5 centimeters or more," Dr. Octavio Bessa wrote in an Archives of Internal Medicine report.
Experts told the WSJ that tight shirt collars and neckties can reduce circulation to the brain and increase intraocular pressure - a risk factor for glaucoma.
Those men you're planning on having kids should better stop wearing bike shorts and switch to boxers as experts say compression may hinder sperm count.
They have also warned against too-tight socks and mittens for kids. They say the elastic that keeps those tiny mittens and socks on your toddler's wrists and ankles can leave lasting marks.
Women who love high heels also need to consider their fashion.
Teetering around in heels higher than two inches can shorten the Achilles tendon, the article said.
A study also found that flip-flop wearers clench their toes, which can cause sore calf muscles and alter your natural gait, potentially leading to long-term ankle and hip problems.
Experts also said carrying heavy bags can throw your back out of whack.In addition, the article noted body piercing could lead to bacterial infections while hair extensions can cause bald spots.


Meditation Proved Effective In Curing Mental Illness

Brain scans have proved meditation's efficacy in treating mental illness, which was once dismissed as pretentious.The buzzword is mindfulness. Meditation, which is practiced a lot in India and in parts of Islington, is an NHS-approved treatment that combines conventional psychotherapy with meditation techniques, breathing and yoga.
It is sitting around trying to think about nothing and letting out the occasional "ommmm".
Meditation has been around since the Seventies, but in the past decade there has been growing evidence that it is highly effective. Researchers at Britain's most respected medical centers have found that it can halve the risk of relapse for those with depression.
"Psychotherapy involves patients analyzing thoughts and feelings, with the hope that by understanding them some kind of change can be made. Mindfulness has some of this but it also involves meditation," the Daily Mail quoted Mark Williams, professor of clinical psychology at the University of Oxford's Department of Psychiatry and co-developer of one of the many variants, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), said.
"Meditation, which is an ancient practice and part of Eastern spiritual philosophy, involves sitting, usually in silence, and focusing on one thing, such as the sensations of breathing in and out.
"The mind wanders, so you invite your attention to come back to the thing you are focusing on. People who do this regularly feel very calm. And due to modern scanning techniques that measure activity in the brain, we are beginning to understand why," he said.
Williams's colleagues in the US and Canada have been able to pinpoint the parts of the brain that undergo changes during meditation, and the results are astonishing.
"Meditation helps to reduce the activity of part of the brain called the amygdala, which governs feelings of stress. Those who are more stressed and anxious have an amygdala that is overactive. Meditating reduces this.
"And there is an effect on the insula, the part of the brain involved in deep emotions, including love.
"We know from other studies that the insula allows us to feel emotions, so when we are heartbroken we really do experience a kind of pain.
"Normally activity in this area is closely linked to the part of the brain involved in analytical thought. So if we have a fight with our partner, we not only feel dreadful but we start to think about why, what this says about our relationship and what might happen if we don't put it right," Williams said.

In those with mental illness, this loop becomes overactive - the thinking feeds the emotions, which feeds more thinking until it becomes overwhelming.

"Meditating breaks this cycle by reducing the links between the insula and the parts of the brain that analyze, as we have seen on brain scans.
"It doesn't stop a person from feeling or thinking but it uncouples these two parts of the brain, giving the patient more control.
"Further to that, we've discovered in clinical trials that mindfulness works as well as antidepressants in preventing relapse of depression. It can also be used alongside drugs," he said.
Janet Jones, 48, was diagnosed with severe depression 10 years ago. The mother of two was introduced to mindfulness in 2008.
"I was very skeptical at first. But gradually it became part of my everyday life," she said.
"I would find it difficult to get out of bed and when I got to work, I would feel miserable. Once I committed to mindfulness, my approach changed and my life improved. Mindfulness has given me more control over my life. I now know that no matter how painful something is, it will pass," Jones added.

This is a Sure Shot Wake-up Alarm for All Those Heavy Sleepers

The Ramos Alarm Clock, designed by Paul Sammut, is so stubborn that it won't turn off until the slumbering victim physically leave bed and enter a PIN code into a wireless panel to silence the buzzer.If you are thinking that you can merely fly out of bed, hit any old number, and retreat back under the warm covers, then you are wrong.
The PIN code has to be entered correctly - and, in a custom version, could be programmed so that the code had to be entered a number of times - or the buzzer will merrily continue to wake up the entire house, the Daily mail reported.
The unusual clock comes in three models: a standard desk-top LED Ramos (100 pounds) in sustainably-harvested birch box; a vertically mounted teak clock with USSR-style nixie tubes for around 200 pounds; and the custom-made version (to your own warped specifications) starting at around 500 pounds.
Each version is wirelessly paired with a 'defuse panel', powered by a 9-volt battery and featuring a 12-digit push-button keypad.
Each morning, the sleepy customer will be asked to enter the day's date into the keypad.
The clocks can also be programmed to flash up an ever-changing four-digit code on the LED - forcing the foggy brain to work harder and subsequently get into gear quicker.
A long-range version of the clocks mean that the panel can be placed 100ft away.
Sammut has even found a solution to those who habitually wake up before their alarm goes off, and change the alarm time for a longer lie in.
The Ramos can be programmed to feature a lock-down mode, where the clock will no longer permit any alteration to the alarm settings 30 minutes before the pre-set time - unless its owner types in a code at the defuse panel.

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