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Saturday, 3 March 2012

Industry wants govt to include Ayurveda in health eduction syllabus

The Ayurvedic Medicine Manufacturers Organisation of India (AMMOI) in association with other members from the ayurvedic fraternity, recently sent a resolution to the government demanding them to include ayurvedic principles in the syllabus for health eduction. The association believes that this strategic move will help in sensitising the younger generation about the importance of the ayurvedic system of medicines and will create interest and awareness among them on the same.
The resolution points out that since Ayurveda and other Indian systems of traditional medicines are a vital part of the Indian healthcare system it should also be included in the syllabus for health education. It also demanded the government to include Ayurveda biology in the school curriculum so that the students are better aware of the contemporary relevance of Ayurveda.
According to Dr Ramanathan Devaraj Iyer, president of AMMOI, “At present, there is hardly any course or subject that is dedicated to impart knowledge on Ayurveda or other traditional system of medicines at the primary level of education, leading to a disturbing trend wherein the younger generation is hardly aware about this stream. Thus it is imperative for the government to damage control this situation by taking steps to ensure that from at least now on Ayurveda is not sidelined and is included as a part of health education.”
The association demanded that high priority in government interventions should be given to health eduction based on ayurvedic principles and preventive health practices in order to create public awareness about the capacity of Ayurveda for enhancing public health and in managing non communicable diseases.
Dr Iyer informed that along with conventional education they have also suggested the government to adopt a contemporary model for Ayurveda gurukula on pilot basis at select places where adequate initiatives and complacency are available. He further added, “All these initiatives are essential to ensure that students are well aware of Ayurveda and its principles. This will not only help in better understanding of this healthcare sector to students but will also ensure that growth of this industry as the younger generation will be inspired to know more on this rich traditional field.”
To further the cause it has also asked the government to extend its support to establish an inter disciplinary advanced research centre in the state of Kerala.
These representations were framed by the association and its other contemporaries during the second edition of Ayurveda Keralam 2012 which was held in collaboration with Kerala government in Thiruvananthapuram recently with an aim to strengthen the practise of Ayurveda in country.

Introducing Vegetables into Your Child's Diet Better Than Hiding Them in Food

New research indicates that a better way to increase consumption of vegetables among children is to introduce them gradually into the diet rather than continually hiding them in food.
A survey of adolescents by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System found that only 21 percent of our children eat the recommended 5 or more fruits and vegetables per day.
So not very many children are asking their parents to "pass the peas," and parents are resorting to other methods to get their children to eat their vegetables.
One popular method is hiding vegetables. There are even cookbooks devoted to doing this and new food products promise they contain vegetable servings but don't taste like vegetables.
But this "sneaky" technique has been controversial, as some dietitians, doctors, and parents have argued that sneaking vegetables into food does not promote increased vegetable consumption because children are unaware they are eating vegetables, and are not likely to continue the practice into adulthood.
A study found that informing children of the presence of vegetables hidden within snack food may or may not alter taste preference. Acceptability of the vegetable-enriched snack food may depend on the frequency of prior exposure to the vegetable.
Chickpea chocolate chip cookies or chocolate chip cookies? Investigators from Columbia University enrolled 68 elementary and middle school children and asked just that question.
In each pair, one sample's label included the food's vegetable (eg, broccoli gingerbread spice cake), and one sample's label did not (eg, gingerbread spice cake).
Participants reported whether the samples tasted the same, or whether they preferred one sample. What the children didn't know was that both samples contained the nutritious vegetable. The investigators found that taste preferences did not differ for the labeled versus the unlabeled sample of zucchini chocolate chip bread or broccoli gingerbread spice cake.
However, students preferred the unlabeled cookies (ie, chocolate chip cookies) over the vegetable-labeled version (ie, chickpea chocolate chip cookies). The investigators also assessed the frequency of consumption for the three vegetables involved and chickpeas were consumed less frequently (81 percent had not tried in past year) as compared to zucchini and broccoli.
Lizzy Pope, MS, RD, the principal investigator of this study stated, "The present findings are somewhat unanticipated in that we were expecting students to prefer all three of the "unlabeled" samples. These findings are consistent with previous literature on neophobia that suggests that children are less apt to like food with which they are unfamiliar."
"Since the majority of students had had broccoli and zucchini within the past year (as compared to chickpeas), it appears that there must be some familiarity with a vegetable for the labeling of the vegetable content not to influence taste preference. Considering this then, it is not surprising that the unlabeled version of the chickpea chocolate chip cookies was preferred over the labeled version," Pope added.
Dr. Randi Wolf, PhD, MPH, co-investigator also said, "Food products labeled with health claims may be perceived as tasting different than those without health claims, even though they are not objectively different.
"I've even read studies that have shown children like baby carrots better when they are presented in McDonald's packaging. These prior studies suggest the potential power that food labels can have on individuals. Although anecdotal reports suggest that children may not eat food products that they know contain vegetables, little is actually known about how children's taste preferences may be affected when the vegetable content of a snack food item is apparent on the item's label. This study is important in that it may contribute knowledge of the potential effectiveness of a novel way to promote vegetable consumption in children," he noted.
Based on what the investigators learned from this study, it seems more important to introduce our children to a variety of vegetables rather than continually hiding them.
The results were published in the March/April 2012 issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.

Vegetarian Diet Improves Mood

Planning to switch from a non-vegetarian to a vegetarian diet and not feeling motivated enough? Here is some news that could help you take the decision. A study published in the Nutrition Journal indicates that restricting meat, fish and poultry can help to improve one’s mood.
Fish contains long-chain n-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which have been shown to have mood-protecting effects in some studies. On the other hand, meat contains the long-chain omega-6 (n-6) fatty acid, arachidonic acid. Diets low in fish but high in meat have been associated with depressive symptoms. Vegetarian diets lack both types of fatty acids.
A study was conducted to check the effect of vegetarian and non-vegetarian diet on mood. Thirty-nine individuals who normally consumed meat and/or poultry at least once a day were included in the study. These individuals were divided into 3 groups: The first group referred to as the omnivore group, was allowed to continue eating meat and fish once a day. The second group was asked to eat fish at least 3 or 4 times per week but avoid meat and poultry. The third group was asked to follow a vegetarian diet.
The dietary intake and mood changes were estimated using questionnaires. The study was conducted over a period of 2 weeks.
During this period, the dietary consumption of long chain fatty acids fell to negligible levels in the vegetarian group. The dietary EPA/DHA increased significantly in participants consuming only fish. The fatty acid intake in the omnivorous group remained unchanged.
Mood improved significantly in those consuming only vegetarian food as compared to fish or fish and meat. The results of the study also indicated that people eating vegetarian food may be able to deal with stress better than those eating non-vegetarian food.
Vegetarian diet not only avoids the long chain fatty acids, it is also rich in antioxidants that could have a positive effect on mood.
The study was however conducted on a small group of people and did have its limitations. The authors suggest further studies in this regard to establish the findings of this study.
1. Beezhold BL, Johnston CS. Restriction of meat, fish, and poultry in omnivores improves mood: a pilot randomized controlled trial. Nutrition Journal 2012, 11:9 doi:10.1186/1475-2891-11-9

Vitamin A Pill may Reduce Skin Cancer Risk

A study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology suggests that taking a vitamin A pill every day may reduce the risk of skin cancer among women.
The study was led by Dr Maryam Asgari from the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research in Oakland, who analyzed the effect of vitamin A supplements among 69,600 men and women between 50 and 76 years of age.
The researchers found that a compound, known as retinol, present in vitamin A reduced the risk of skin cancer among women by as much as 60 percent. “Our data suggest a possible interaction between supplemental retinol use and the anatomic site of melanoma, with sun-exposed sites showing a stronger protective effect than sun-protected sites. It may be that retinol's effects may be mediated by sunlight exposure. This intriguing possibility warrants further exploration in future studies”, Dr Asgari said.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Electro Homeopathy nothing but quackery: HC

The Allahabad High Court has rejected a plea for issuing directions to Uttar Pradesh government for recognizing Electro Homeopathy, describing it as an "unrecognised system of medicine which is nothing but quackery". The order was passed by a division bench comprising Justice Sunil Ambwani and Justice Manoj Misra on February 21 when it dismissed a petition filed by New Delhi-based Indian Electro Homeopathy Medical Council. "The court has repeatedly held that Electro Homeopathy is not a recognised system of medicine and cannot be practised for curing diseases". "It is also a well-known principle of human rights that medical research cannot be permitted on human beings unless it is done under strict supervision of experts and with permission from Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR)", the court said. The court pointed out that while no such permission has been given to Electro Homeopathy, the ICMR's representative in an experts committee formed by the Centre in 2003 following a Delhi High Court order had in fact "not accepted Electro Homeopathy as a system of medicine".

Study links heavy diesel exhaust to lung cancer

There's new evidence that exposure to exhaust from diesel engines increases the risk of lung cancer.
Diesel exhaust has long been classified as a probable carcinogen. But the 20-year study from the National Cancer Institute took a closer look by tracking more than 12,000 workers in certain kinds of mines — facilities that mined for potash, lime and other nonmetals. They breathed varying levels of exhaust from diesel-powered equipment, levels higher than the general population encounters.
The most heavily exposed miners had three times the risk of death from lung cancer compared to workers with the lowest exposures, said the study released Friday by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
But even workers with lower exposures had a 50 percent increased risk, wrote lead author Debra Silverman, an NCI epidemiologist.
"Our findings are important not only for miners but also for the 1.4 million American workers and the 3 million European workers exposed to diesel exhaust, and for urban populations worldwide," Silverman wrote.
She pointed to some highly polluted cities in China, Mexico and Portugal that in past years have reported diesel exposure levels that over long periods could be comparable to those experienced by miners with lower exposures.
Litigation from some mining companies had delayed release of the study findings.
A separate industry group not involved in that litigation said Friday that the study looked back at mines using decades-old equipment, and there's far less pollution from diesel engines today.
"Diesel engine and equipment makers, fuel refiners and emissions control technology manufacturers have invested billions of dollars in research to develop and deploy technologies and strategies that reduce engine emissions, now ultimately to near zero levels to meet increasingly stringent clean air standards here in the United States and around the world," said Allen Schaeffer of the nonprofit Diesel Technology Forum.

Alzheimer's-Like Memory Loss Reversed in Mice

New research in mice suggests that Alzheimer's disease triggers a protein that contributes to the breakdown of the brain's memory.
If the findings are confirmed in humans, they could solve part of the puzzle of how gunk-like substances in the brain cause Alzheimer's disease and lead to memory loss. It's conceivable that a drug could be developed to turn off the process and reverse memory problems -- as the researchers managed to do with mice.
For now, the research is in its early stages and it could take five to 10 years to get to drug experiments in humans, said study author Johannes Graff, a postdoctoral researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Even if a drug is developed using this knowledge, it would only treat the symptoms of Alzheimer's and not the root cause, he said.
But it could mark a major advance to be able to turn around the memory problems spawned by Alzheimer's, Graff said, adding, "We can show that this is potentially reversible."
There are more than 5 million Americans who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, according to the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).
Researchers believe that Alzheimer's disease begins when the brain becomes clogged by substances known as beta-amyloid plaques and tau tangles. The new research in mice, Graff said, suggests that when a protein known as histone deacetylase 2 (HDAC2) is triggered, it shuts down genes that are crucial to memory. By preventing the buildup of HDAC2 in the brains of mice, the researchers were able to protect against memory loss.
Brain tissue from deceased Alzheimer's patients also showed higher levels of HDAC2 in regions where memory and learning are known to be located, the scientists added, and they theorized that the accumulation of beta amyloid deposits in the brain may be what sends HDAC2 into overdrive.
"If your memory is everything that you know written in a book, then in order to have access, you have to open the book and to turn the pages," Graff said. In Alzheimer's, "this mechanism actually closes your memory book and makes the pages -- the genes -- inaccessible."
The good news is that this latest research suggests that the "blockade" is potentially reversible, Graff said. In other words, the book hasn't been destroyed. "We are proposing to reopen the book and allow it to be more easily read," he said.
There are caveats to the research, said Dr. Brad Dickerson, an associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School.
"This is a very early basic science study in mice and requires substantial additional investigation in order to determine whether it is worth pursuing in patients," he said. "The leap from animal studies to human clinical trials is a big one and always takes many years. Drugs in this class are being studied in various types of cancer, which hopefully will provide an indication of their side effects and other important information about how feasible it would be to give these types of medications to patients with Alzheimer's disease if further studies support the potential value of this approach."
Research like this is important, Dickerson added, because "we need studies like this in animals to begin to prove the concept that new drugs of this sort have potential."
The study, which was funded by NINDS, appeared online Feb. 29 in the journal Nature.
Source:Health Day

Personal Glucose Monitors to Detect DNA

At-home glucose meter can be adapted to a home DNA detector that enables individuals to detect home tests for virus and bacteria in human body fluids, reveals study. The report on this adaptation of the ubiquitous personal glucose monitor, typically used to test blood sugar levels, appears in ACS' journal Analytical Chemistry.
Yi Lu and Yu Xiang point out that developing low-cost tests for the public to use for early diagnosis of diseases, checking the safety of food and other testing that now take days and sophisticated laboratory instruments is one of the greatest challenges in chemistry. Such tests could improve health and reduce costs, especially for people in developing countries or rural areas in developed countries with scant medical resources. Lu and Xiang have been responding to this challenge with adaptations to the home glucose monitor, an essential device for millions of people with diabetes that's inexpensive and simple to use.
In their latest research, the scientists describe how they adapted a glucose meter to monitor DNA. Their test takes place in a liquid containing sucrose (a sugar that isn't detected by glucose meters). First, a bacterial or viral DNA fragment is captured and concentrated on beads. Then, the researchers add an enzyme that is stuck to a different DNA (which can bind to the bacterial or viral DNA). The enzyme, called invertase, turns the sucrose into glucose, which the glucose meter can measure. They detected a hepatitis B virus DNA fragment at concentrations comparable to or in some cases even better than many current DNA measurement systems, which are much more expensive and time-consuming.

Study Says Sleep Gets Better With Age

Sleep quality improves over a lifetime, reveals study.
"This flies in the face of popular belief," said Michael Grandner, PhD, lead author of the study. "These results force us to re-think what we know about sleep in older people – men and women."
The study, appearing in the March edition of the journal Sleep, examined rates of sleep disturbance and daytime fatigue reported by 155,877 adults participating in a randomized telephone survey. Respondents were asked about sleep disturbances and daytime tiredness. The survey also asked about race, income, education, depressed mood, general health and time of last medical checkup. All responses were weighted so that they matched U.S. Census data.
Health problems and depression were associated with poor sleep, and women reported more sleep disturbances and tiredness than men. But except for an uptick in sleep problems during middle age – more pronounced in women than men – sleep quality improved consistently over a lifetime. Or at least that's how people reported their sleep.
"Even if sleep among older Americans is actually worse than in younger adults, feelings about it still improve with age," said Grandner, Research Associate at the Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology at the Perlman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. "Once you factor out things like illness and depression, older people should be reporting better sleep. If they're not, they need to talk to their doctor. They shouldn't just ignore it."
Grandner said the study's original intent was to confirm that increased sleep problems are associated with aging, using the largest and most representative sample ever to address this issue. Instead, the results challenge the conventional wisdom that difficulty sleeping is perceived more by older adults, and challenge the general clinical practice of ignoring sleep complaints from older adults as a normal part of aging.

Study Reveals How Our Brain Responds to Misleading Ads

A new study has suggested that a number of specific regions of the brain get activated in a two-part process when we are exposed to deceptive or misleading advertising.
The research conducted by a North Carolina State University professor opens the door to further research that could help us understand how brain injury and aging may affect our susceptibility to fraud or misleading marketing.
The study utilized functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to capture images of the brain while study participants were shown a series of print advertisements.
The fMRI images allowed researchers to determine how consumers' brains respond to potentially deceptive advertising.
"We did not instruct participants to evaluate the ads. We wanted to mimic the passive exposure to advertising that we all experience every day," said Dr. Stacy Wood, Langdon Distinguished Professor of Marketing at NC State and co-author of a paper describing the research.
Participants were exposed to three pre-tested advertisements that were deemed "highly believable," "moderately deceptive" or "highly deceptive."
The ads were also pre-tested to ensure that they were for products that consumers found equally interesting and desirable - leaving the degree of deception as the only significant variable.
"We found that people have a two-stage process they go through when confronted with moderately or highly deceptive ads," Wood says.
During the first stage, researchers saw increased activity in the precuneus - a part of the brain associated with focusing conscious attention.
"We found that the more deceptive an advertisement is, the more you are drawn to it," Wood said, "much as our attention is drawn to potential threats in our environment."
Specifically, in this study, the more deceptive an ad was, the more precuneus activity was observed.
During the second stage, researchers saw more activity in the superior temporal sulcus (STS) and temporoparietal junction (TPJ) regions of the brain. This suggests increased "theory-of-mind" (ToM) reasoning.
ToM is a type of processing that allows us to distinguish our wants and needs from those of others, particularly as this applies to intuiting the intentions of other people.
In this case, it appears to indicate that participants were trying to determine the truth behind the claims in the potentially deceptive advertisements.What's interesting here is that the moderately deceptive ads cause more activity during this second stage," Wood said.
That may be because highly deceptive ads are screened out more quickly and discarded as not meriting further attention.
Overall, when looking at both stages of brain response, researchers found there was greater brain activation when participants were exposed to moderately deceptive ads.
In a follow-up, behavioral component of the study, researchers interfered with the ToM stage, making it more difficult for participants to determine the intention behind the ads.
As a result, participants more frequently believed moderately deceptive advertising. This suggests that the second stage is an important step that helps protect consumers by allowing them to better discriminate and screen out deceptive ads.
"Now that we've identified these stages of brain response, it may help future researchers identify underlying neural reasons why some populations are more prone to fall prey to deceptive ads," Wood said.
"For example, if these regions of the brain are likely to be affected by aging, it may explain why older adults are more vulnerable to fraud or deceptive advertising. Or how might concussive brain injuries, such as those seen in some sports, affect our long-term discrimination in making good consumer choices?" Wood added.
The paper is published online in the Journal of Marketing Research.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Dept of Ayush proposes Rs.100 cr national institute for Sowa-Rigpa system

Even as the government is finalising a notification to formally recognise within the definition of Indian medicine the Sowa-Rigpa system that is practised in the sub-Himalayan regions in the country, the Department of Ayush is planning to set up a national institute to promote the studies in the sector.
The National Institute of Sowa-Rigpa is being planned at a total cost of Rs.100 crore and the Department has sought the fund from the Planning Commission for the same. The Department is also exploring to acquire for upgrading the one Sowa-Rigpa institute currently under the Department of Culture as the national institute.
The educational system of Sowa-Rigpa is presently in the hands of some institutes run by the Tibetan bodies in trans-Himalayan region of India. Some sort of financial support is provided to these institutions from Government. However, the infrastructural facilities there are not sufficient to meet the aspirations of the students who choose to study Sowa-Rigpa for a professional career, according to the concept note by the Department.
“As Sowa-Rigpa has been accorded state patronage, a dedicated institute of the system is required that may lead to develop benchmark standards of education, patients’ care and postgraduate research and impart professional training to produce skilled manpower. The proposed national institute will have facilities of UG & PG education, paramedical training and provision of clinical services through a well-equipped hospital,” the proposal said.
Meanwhile, the Health ministry is still finalising a notification to formally recognise the Sowa-Rigpa system after the Parliament passed a bill amending the Indian Medicine Central Council (Amendment) Act more than one year ago.
The government will also give special attention to the composition of the formulations and labelling of these drugs which will have also good export potential, against the backdrop of complaints raised about the ayurvedic drugs in some countries.

Regular Screening Boosts Survival Chances in Cervical Cancer Patients

Regular smear tests can substantially boost survival chances in women who are suffering from cervical cancer, claims a study published on BMJ.
The authors from the Centre for Research and Development in Gävle and the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden, studied all 1230 women diagnosed with cervical cancer nationwide between 1999 and 2001.
In the study, which is the first to estimate chances of surviving cervical cancer, both screen-detected cancers (those with an abnormal smear result one to six months before cancer diagnosis) and symptomatic cancers (all remaining cases) were tested. The objective of the paper was to see if the detection of cervical cancer by screening resulted in better prognosis or just resulted in earlier diagnosis, without postponing the time of death.
For women of screening age there was a 92% cure rate after a screen-detected diagnosis, which decreased to 66% for symptomatic diagnosis. This result shows a substantial increase in chances of cure for women who attended cervical screening compared to those who did not. The chances of cure were also higher for women who attended screening following an invitation, compared to those who were overdue for an examination.
Furthermore, three quarters of the 373 women who died from cervical cancer had not had a cervical smear in the recommended time frame.
The authors conclude that screening both reduces the risk of cervical cancer and is associated with improved cure. They state that “detection of invasive cancer by screening implies a very favorable prognosis compared to cases detected by symptoms”. The authors recommend that the effect on the cure for cervical cancer should be included when evaluating screening programs.

Older Women Eating Fried Food Face Greater Stroke Risk

Older women who consume high amounts of fat that goes into fried foods and baked goods face a greater risk of stroke than women who eat lower fat diets, a US study suggested.
However, aspirin use could cut those risks, said the researchers from University of North Carolina whose findings are published in the Annals of Neurology.
The data came from the largest study to date of post-menopausal women and their eating habits, and included 87,025 women between the ages 50 and 79 who were generally in good health at the time of enrollment.
Women who reported eating diets high in trans-fatty acids, or 6.1 grams a day, showed a 39 percent greater incidence of stroke due to a blocked artery than women who ate 2.2 grams per day of such fats.
The researchers did not find any significant links between stroke risk and how much total fat the women consumed, or their level of dietary cholesterol.
But aspirin use was shown to slim down the link between trans fat intake and stroke, which affects nearly 800,000 people in the United States per year and is the fourth leading cause of US death.
"Our findings confirm that postmenopausal women with higher trans fat intake had an elevated risk of ischemic stroke, but aspirin use may reduce the adverse effects," said lead author Ka He of the UNC School of Public Health.
"We recommend following a diet low in trans fat and adding an aspirin regimen to help women reduce their risk of stroke, specifically following the onset of menopause."
Trans fat is on the decline in the United States due to a public health and legislation campaign which has banned its use in many fast food restaurants and in food preparation.
But it hasn't disappeared altogether.
"Trans fats are rare in living nature, but can commonly occur in foods as a result of food processing called partial hydrogenation when a liquid vegetable oil is turned into a solid fat," said Nancy Copperman, director of public health initiatives at North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System in New York.
Copperman, who was not involved in the study, added that the behaviors of women who ate lots of trans fat were also unhealthy, including decreased physical activity, smoking, and higher levels of diabetes.
"Encouraging and supporting women consume a balanced diet avoiding trans fat and including healthy oils and daily physical activity can be a major step in preventing stroke and other lifestyle related diseases," she said.

Study Finds Women With Bulimia Have Both an Eating Disorder and a Weight Disorder

Though development of bulimia is associated with significant weight loss, researchers at Drexel University have found that a majority of women with bulimia nervosa reach their highest-ever body weight after developing their eating disorder.
The new study, published online last month in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, adds to a body of recent work that casts new light on the importance of weight history in understanding and treating bulimia.
"Most patients lose a lot of weight as part of developing this disorder, and all dedicate significant effort, including the use of extreme behaviors, to prevent weight gain," said Jena Shaw, a clinical psychology doctoral student in Drexel's College of Arts and Sciences who was lead author of the new study. "In spite of this, we found that most women also regain a lot of weight while they have bulimia. We want to find out why that is."
Working with Dr. Michael Lowe, a professor of psychology at Drexel, and other collaborators, Shaw examined data from two study populations of women with bulimia, including a group of 78 women who were patients at the Renfrew Center in Philadelphia studied over two years, and a group of 110 women from a Harvard study who were interviewed at six-month intervals for eight years.
"Most of the women we studied reached their highest weight ever after developing bulimia and before remission," Shaw said. A total of 59 percent of women in the two-year study population, and 71.6 percent of women in the eight-year study population, showed this weight history pattern. These weights were even higher than their weights before developing bulimia, despite the fact that their pre-bulimia weights were overall already higher than average.
The researchers also explored group differences between women who reached their highest weight after onset of bulimia, and those whose highest weight preceded the eating disorder. The women who reached a new highest weight during bulimia had generally developed the disorder at an earlier age, and struggled with it for a longer period of time.
These findings add to a body of work led by Lowe that emphasizes the importance of weight and weight history in the outcomes and treatment of bulimia. Lowe's research has quantified relationships between personal weight history and the symptoms and outcomes of eating disorders.
"Bulimia nervosa was first medically described in 1979 among patients whose body weight generally appeared 'normal,' but who, in most cases, had weighed substantially more in the past," said Lowe. "Yet relatively few studies have considered weight history or the fear of becoming overweight again as a possible perpetuating factor for the disorder."
In his eating disorder studies, Lowe has examined a variable called "weight suppression," which is the difference between a person's past highest weight and her current weight. Most people with bulimia have higher weight suppression values than their peers without bulimia. His studies have shown correlations between higher weight suppression in bulimic women and undesired outcomes including greater likelihood of dropping out of treatment, less likelihood of abstaining from binge/purge behaviors, greater weight gain and longer time to remission. Recently, other researchers have found a relationship between weight suppression and metabolism in healthy women, suggesting that people with higher weight suppression must eat fewer calories to maintain their weight than women of similar weight who have always been close to their current weight.
By clarifying the connections between women's weight history and the course of their eating disorder, researchers may identify ways to use productive discussion of weight and weight history to improve treatments, Lowe said.

Study Finds Women With Bulimia Have Both an Eating Disorder and a Weight Disorder

Though development of bulimia is associated with significant weight loss, researchers at Drexel University have found that a majority of women with bulimia nervosa reach their highest-ever body weight after developing their eating disorder.
The new study, published online last month in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, adds to a body of recent work that casts new light on the importance of weight history in understanding and treating bulimia.
"Most patients lose a lot of weight as part of developing this disorder, and all dedicate significant effort, including the use of extreme behaviors, to prevent weight gain," said Jena Shaw, a clinical psychology doctoral student in Drexel's College of Arts and Sciences who was lead author of the new study. "In spite of this, we found that most women also regain a lot of weight while they have bulimia. We want to find out why that is."
Working with Dr. Michael Lowe, a professor of psychology at Drexel, and other collaborators, Shaw examined data from two study populations of women with bulimia, including a group of 78 women who were patients at the Renfrew Center in Philadelphia studied over two years, and a group of 110 women from a Harvard study who were interviewed at six-month intervals for eight years.
"Most of the women we studied reached their highest weight ever after developing bulimia and before remission," Shaw said. A total of 59 percent of women in the two-year study population, and 71.6 percent of women in the eight-year study population, showed this weight history pattern. These weights were even higher than their weights before developing bulimia, despite the fact that their pre-bulimia weights were overall already higher than average.
The researchers also explored group differences between women who reached their highest weight after onset of bulimia, and those whose highest weight preceded the eating disorder. The women who reached a new highest weight during bulimia had generally developed the disorder at an earlier age, and struggled with it for a longer period of time.
These findings add to a body of work led by Lowe that emphasizes the importance of weight and weight history in the outcomes and treatment of bulimia. Lowe's research has quantified relationships between personal weight history and the symptoms and outcomes of eating disorders.
"Bulimia nervosa was first medically described in 1979 among patients whose body weight generally appeared 'normal,' but who, in most cases, had weighed substantially more in the past," said Lowe. "Yet relatively few studies have considered weight history or the fear of becoming overweight again as a possible perpetuating factor for the disorder."
In his eating disorder studies, Lowe has examined a variable called "weight suppression," which is the difference between a person's past highest weight and her current weight. Most people with bulimia have higher weight suppression values than their peers without bulimia. His studies have shown correlations between higher weight suppression in bulimic women and undesired outcomes including greater likelihood of dropping out of treatment, less likelihood of abstaining from binge/purge behaviors, greater weight gain and longer time to remission. Recently, other researchers have found a relationship between weight suppression and metabolism in healthy women, suggesting that people with higher weight suppression must eat fewer calories to maintain their weight than women of similar weight who have always been close to their current weight.
By clarifying the connections between women's weight history and the course of their eating disorder, researchers may identify ways to use productive discussion of weight and weight history to improve treatments, Lowe said.

Scientists Discover Bacterium That Could Lead to a Vaccine Against HIV

Scientists have found a harmless bacterium which could form the basis of a potential vaccine against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
A new study involving two Simon Fraser University scientists has found that Rhizobium radiobacter has on its surface sugar molecules that resemble those on the surface of HIV.
This resemblance gives scientists a basis for developing a preventative vaccine, putting our immune system on guard against HIV.
HIV's sugar molecules act as a cloaking device, preventing our immune system from detecting the virus until it has created several variant generations of itself.
By the time our immune system's recognition has kicked in, weeks have elapsed, and HIV is several steps ahead of our body's efforts to eliminate it.
Ralph Pantophlet, a Faculty of Health Sciences assistant professor, and Kate Auyeung, his senior research assistant and lab manager at SFU, and scientists in Italy believe the sugar molecules on Rhizobium radiobacter could be used to trigger our immune system to immediately recognize those on HIV, prompting more immediate awareness of the virus' invasion.
"The irony of our discovery is not lost on us. We've found that a harmless species of a bacteria family that can cause tumours in the roots of legume plants could become a vital tool in the fight against one of the deadliest infectious diseases," said Pantophlet.
Before Rhizobium radiobacter can become the basis of an anti-HIV vaccine, the scientists need to find a protein to which they can attach the bacterium's sugar molecules.
The protein is needed to properly trigger our immune system's development of antibodies to the sugar molecules. Such antibodies would then recognize and target HIV's sugar molecules because they resemble those on the bacterium.
This method of triggering antibodies' development has led to the invention of successful sugar-based vaccines against diseases such as meningitis and childhood pneumonia.
"Two known proteins, tetanus toxoid and CRM197, a nontoxic recombinant variant of diphtheria toxin, are commonly used to develop these kinds of vaccines," explained Pantophlet.
"So a lot of the groundwork is there for us to be able to have a vaccine that could be tested in a lab first and then in clinical trials later on," he stated.
Pantophlet and his colleagues are seeking grant funding from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research to continue their research.
If they get the grant, they hope to attach Rhizobium radiobacter's sugar molecules to a protein and create vaccine candidates for testing within the next one to two years.
Their research has been recently published in the journal Chemistry and Biology.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Does Yoga Really Drive People Wild with Desire?

An article about sex scandals in yoga is heating up the New York Times most-emailed list. Writer William Broad, author of a new book on the popular practice, details the latest transgression: It involves the guru John Friend, the founder of the popular Anusara style of yoga, who recently resigned from teaching to pursue “self-reflection, therapy and personal retreat,” following revelations that he had sexually betrayed multiple girlfriends and lied to many.
But Friend isn’t the first yogi to have failed to master his desire for his female disciples, Broad notes. Yoga has been racked with a lengthy history of such problems.
According to Broad, it’s because of yoga’s ability to enhance sex that so many respected gurus have fallen. He explains that Hatha yoga, the style of yoga now practiced widely in the West, originated in an Indian practice called Tantra. Disciples of Tantra strove to unite the cosmic male and female principles in a state of ecstasy. The practice sometimes involved group sex and the worship of prostitutes.
Broad goes on to cite research that supports the idea that yoga can improve sex life. But this is where the argument falters. The quality of the data is questionable: the studies he references are either old, uncontrolled or published in obscure journals. Two studies examine the effects of fast breathing, rather than yoga itself, finding that this does enhance genital arousal in women. Broad also claims that yoga can increase a woman’s ability to “think off” — or experience orgasm without any physical stimulation.
However, while it’s possible that there’s something about yoga that is inherently sexy — perhaps it’s the scantily clad people exercising in close quarters? — Broad neglects to explore a critical issue. It’s not only powerful figures in yoga who have a tendency to stray.
From John Kennedy and Newt Gingrich to Jimmy Swaggart and Warren Jeffs, top dogs — none of them yoga gurus — have long been known to take advantage of their position. It doesn’t take a yoga pose to arouse sexual appetites. Indeed, evolutionary psychologists would argue that men seek status and leadership itself primarily because it gives them access to more women. As that noted sexpot Henry Kissinger once said: “Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.”
Consequently, the fact that yoga gurus from Woodstock’s Swami Satchidananda onward are frequently caught with their pants down probably says less about the practice than it does about men, women and power. While yoga might improve your libido, fortunately it’s not likely to make you uncontrollably driven to cheat. And when considering connections between behaviors like sexual impropriety and yoga — or associations between drugs and certain side effects or other reported outcomes — it’s important to remember that correlation isn’t necessarily cause.
Source:Maia Szalavitz (a health writer at )

Health Ministry seeks increased budget allocation to regularise medical devices sector

With the industry keenly waiting for more sops to the growing medical devices industry in the budget, the Union health ministry has sought increased allocation from the Finance Minister to put in place required manpower and infrastructure as proposed by the pending bill in this regard.
Sources said the Ministry has forwarded its proposals to be included in the Union Budget based on the inputs from the industry. Apart from additional manpower, the Ministry has also suggested setting up of a few medical devices testing laboratories at a cost of Rs.40 crore each. “We are expecting increased allocation in the budget to strengthen the regulatory framework for the medical devices sector,” a senior official disclosed.
Ministry is learnt to have forwarded to the Finance Ministry the demands of the industry to exempt life-saving medical devices and consumables used with devices in special life-saving treatment procedures from the customs duty.
Patient monitoring systems & image guidance systems, pacemakers, image guided system, external defibrillators, ENT surgery products, deep brain stimulation implants, drug pumps, heart lung machines, heart valves, respirators and masks and dialysis equipments have been included among the life-saving devices seeking customs duty exemption, sources said.
Custom duty waiver has also been sought for radiopharmaceuticals used in diagnostics like Imaging and Scanning (PET-& SPECT) & Therapy as many of them like Iodine 131, MIBG 131, Lutetium 177, Yttrium 90, Ge-68-Ga 68 generator, cold Kits for Tc 99m, Rubidium 82 are not manufactured in India, sources said.
The industry has also sought rationalisation of duty exemptions to bring in more clarity and less disputes, as different medical devices have either partial or full exemption under various entries in different notifications. Another suggestion was to reduce excise duty from current 10 per cent to nil on locally purchased input for the manufacture of medical equipment, spares, accessories etc.

Excessive Prostate Cancer Treatment in Few Elderly Men

Medical treatment for elderly men with prostate cancer and a scant life span is not always warranted, Yale School of Medicine researchers report in the Feb. 27 Archives of Internal Medicine.
"Treatment can do more harm than good in some instances," said senior author on the study Cary Gross, M.D., associate professor of internal medicine at Yale School of Medicine. "Among men who are older and have less aggressive forms of prostate cancer, their cancer is unlikely to progress or cause them harm in their remaining years."
Gross and his team analyzed nine years of Medicare data and found that over the past decade, there has been a trend towards higher use of curative treatment for prostate cancer among men with certain types of tumors and a short life expectancy. The study included 39,270 patients between the ages of 67 and older.
These results suggest that cancer treatment was increasingly aggressive in patients who had the lowest likelihood of seeing clinical benefits, Gross said, noting that while not treating potentially fatal cancer can reflect poor-quality care, aggressively managing disease that is unlikely to progress puts patients at risk for complications and increases costs without medical benefits.
"We found that the percentage of men who received treatment for their prostate cancer treatments increased over time from 61.2% to 67.6% from 1998 through 2007," said Gross, who is a member of Yale Cancer Center. "However, we were surprised to find that the biggest increase was among men with moderate-risk prostate cancer who had the shortest life expectancy. On the other hand, cancer treatment decreased among men with low-risk tumors and longer life expectancy."
Treating patients with shorter life expectancy may add costs or complications without contributing to quality of life, he said. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network practice guidelines in oncology recommend actively monitoring patients as an alternative to medication for patients with less aggressive tumor types and shorter life expectancies.
Gross said that the use of cancer therapies should be guided by clinical evidence and patient preferences. "Future work should explore how better to incorporate both cancer characteristics and patient life expectancy into decision making," said Gross.

Key to Immortality may be Found in Asexual Worms

Scientists have found that a species of flatworm can overcome the process of ageing and these immortal worms pave way for humans to stay fit and avoid ageing.
The discovery may elucidate the possibilities of alleviating ageing and age-related characteristics in human cells.
Planarian worms have amazed scientists with their apparently limitless ability to regenerate.
Researchers have been studying their ability to replace aged or damaged tissues and cells in a bid to understand the mechanisms underlying their longevity.
"We've been studying two types of planarian worms; those that reproduce sexually, like us, and those that reproduce asexually, simply dividing in two," Dr Aziz Aboobaker from the University's School of Biology, said.
"Both appear to regenerate indefinitely by growing new muscles, skin, guts and even entire brains over and over again. Usually when stem cells divide - to heal wounds, or during reproduction or for growth - they start to show signs of ageing.
"This means that the stem cells are no longer able to divide and so become less able to replace exhausted specialised cells in the tissues of our bodies. Our ageing skin is perhaps the most visible example of this effect. Planarian worms and their stem cells are somehow able to avoid the ageing process and to keep their cells dividing."
One of the events associated with ageing cells is related to telomere length.
In order to grow and function normally, cells in our bodies must keep dividing to replace cells that are worn out or damaged. During this division process, copies of the genetic material must pass on to the next generation of cells.
The genetic information inside cells is arranged in twisted strands of DNA called chromosomes. At the end of these strands is a protective 'cap' called a telomere.
Telomeres have been likened to the protective end of a shoelace, which stops strands from fraying or sticking to other strands.
Each time a cell divides the protective telomere 'cap' gets shorter. When they get too short, the cell loses its ability to renew and divide. In an immortal animal we would therefore expect cells to be able to maintain telomere length indefinitely so that they can continue to replicate.
Dr Aboobaker predicted that planarian worms actively maintain the ends of their chromosomes in adult stem cells, leading to theoretical immortality.
Dr Thomas Tan performed a series of challenging experiments to explain the worm's immortality. In collaboration with the rest of the team, he also went some way to understanding the clever molecular trick that enabled cells to go on dividing indefinitely without suffering from shortened chromosome ends.
Previous work, leading to the award of the 2009 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, had shown that telomeres could be maintained by the activity of an enzyme called telomerase.
In most sexually reproducing organisms the enzyme is most active only during early development. So as we age, telomeres start to reduce in length.
This project identified a possible planarian version of the gene coding for this enzyme and turned down its activity. This resulted in reduced telomere length and proved it was the right gene.
They were then able to confidently measure its activity and resulting telomere length and found that asexual worms dramatically increase the activity of this gene when they regenerate, allowing stem cells to maintain their telomeres as they divide to replace missing tissues.
However, what puzzled the team is that sexually reproducing planarian worms do not appear to maintain telomere length in the same way.
The difference they observed between asexual and sexual animals was surprising, given that they both appear to have an indefinite regenerative capacity.
The team believe that sexually reproductive worms will eventually show effects of telomere shortening, or that they are able to use another mechanism to maintain telomeres that would not involve the telomerase enzyme.
"Asexual planarian worms demonstrate the potential to maintain telomere length during regeneration. Our data satisfy one of the predictions about what it would take for an animal to be potentially immortal and that it is possible for this scenario to evolve," Dr Aboobaker said.
"The next goals for us are to understand the mechanisms in more detail and to understand more about how you evolve an immortal animal."
"This exciting research contributes significantly to our fundamental understanding of some of the processes involved in ageing, and builds strong foundations for improving health and potentially longevity in other organisms, including humans," Professor Douglas Kell, BBSRC Chief Executive, added.
The study has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Study Says Ladies in Red Appear More Attractive to Men

Red color makes women more attractive to men, claims recent study.
According to scientists from the University of Rochester in New York, men really do prefer a lady in red because they are less likely to be rejected.
The finding of this study may help to explain why red is the hue most associated with love and romance in popular culture.
For the study, the researchers asked men to rate photographs of women framed by different coloured borders - and the same women in red were consistently rated more attractive.
The men were then shown women wearing shirts of different colours, and asked how receptive they thought the woman would be to romantic and sexual propositions.
Another question asked "imagine that you are going on a date with this person and have 100-dollar in your wallet. How much money would you be willing to spend on your date?"
Women in red scored more highly on both of these points.
The authors of the study said that this response to red probably stems from biological instincts rather than simply social perception of the vibrant colour.
Research has shown that non-human male primates are particularly attracted to females displaying red.
Female baboons and chimpanzees, for example, redden conspicuously when nearing ovulation, sending a clear sexual signal designed to attract males.
The colour is always popular on the catwalk and is regularly worn to star-studded events by the world's most attractive female celebrities.
"We find it fascinating that merely changing the colour of a woman's shirt can have such a strong influence on how she is perceived by men," the Daily Mail quoted Adam Pazda, a social psychologist from the university as saying.
The study, which tested 96 men from the United States and Austria, also found that the men felt the women in red would respond positively to their advances.
Pazda said the idea that women wear red clothing more when they are interested in sexual encounters appeared to be on target, and preliminary evidence suggests that this is indeed happening".
"From a pragmatic standpoint, our results suggest that women may need to be judicious in their use of red clothing.
"More generally, our finding that female red carries sexual meaning will likely be of considerable interest to fashion designers, marketers, and advertisers," he added.
The authors concluded that "as much as men might like to think that they respond to women in a thoughtful, sophisticated manner, it appears that at least to some degree, their preferences and predilections are, in a word, primitive."
The study has been published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

We are So Much Like Orang-utans During Free Running

A recent research has revealed the similarities humans share with orang-utans especially while climbing and jumping.
Thought to be huge and remotely acrobatic, as compared to humans who are lithe on their feet, orang-utans use the same basics in climbing and jumping as humans do, the research by biologists at the universities of Birmingham and Roehampton concludes.
Free runners mimic moves used by orang-utans to travel through the treetops in their tropical forest habitat, using the momentum created by their bodies to help them.
Biologists at the Universities of Birmingham and Roehampton asked a group of free-runners to vault, climb and jump over obstacles using as little energy as they could, while having their oxygen consumption measured, the Telegraph reports.
Their aim was to estimate how much energy apes use while getting around in the wild, according to a Birmingham statement.
The scientists found that the ways in which the athletes swung across gaps, used walls to gain height and moved over obstacles using all four limbs were all similar to orang-utan movements.
"Free runners try to move as efficiently and as smoothly as possible through their environment," said study co-author Susannah Thorpe, senior lecturer in bio-mechanics at the University of Birmingham.
"This is exactly what orang-utans are trying to do when they are moving around in the forest. It is a complex environment with gaps in the canopy, branches and some open spaces, so they have to move through this using as little energy as possible to get between food sources.
"When moving along a beam that mimics a branch, the free-runners use all four limbs to support themselves and we see this with orang-utans in the wild. The way they climb is also very similar," concluded Thorpe.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Poor Patients Less Likely to Sue Doctors, Analysis Shows

Poor people are less likely to sue their doctor than patients with more money are, a new study shows.
This finding may come as a surprise to many physicians who think otherwise due to an "unconscious bias" they have against low-income patients, according to study author Dr. Ramon Jimenez, of the Monterey Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Institute in California, and colleagues. The researchers added that this kind of stereotype could make some doctors less willing to treat poor patients or lead them to care for their low-income patients differently.
For the study, the investigators reviewed previous research to analyze litigation rates and medical malpractice claims among low-income patients, and compared them with other groups of patients.
The research team found that poor people are less likely to sue because they do not have access to legal resources and they may not have enough money to initiate a medical malpractice claim, according to the report published in the Feb. 25 online edition of Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research.
The study authors pointed out that some doctors may not treat low-income patients because they are concerned about getting paid for their services. These doctors -- either consciously or unconsciously -- might justify their decision to avoid seeing patients who are potentially hard to collect payment from by accepting the assumption that poor patients are more likely to sue.
By making an effort to be more culturally sensitive, doctors can overcome any bias they have, even unconscious bias, the researchers suggested.
"Helping doctors to become more culturally competent, [that is] able to treat or relate better to a patient from a different race, ethnicity, sex, socio-economic status or sexual orientation, may help overcome these misperceptions," Jimenez explained in a journal news release.
"In addition, improving education and training for the delivery of culturally competent care, and empowering patients to play more meaningful roles in their health care decisions are proven strategies that can positively impact health disparities, the quality of medical care, physician satisfaction and the incidence of medical malpractice litigation," he added.

Why Yoga Is So Misunderstood: How it Has Gone From the Sane to the Bizarre

Yoga has come a long way from its roots in the East. As it has become more popular in the West teachers have added their own twist -- both literally and figuratively. In the process of becoming so widespread, however, it often gets misunderstood by both teachers and practitioners.
Yoga is a way of life, the uniting of the body, mind and spirit. Its real purpose is not just to become physically fit or mentally relaxed but also to deepen our own spirituality, enabling us to be more caring and aware, ultimately leading to self-realization. It is about making friends with our world, true inner happiness, and having a clear mind that is free from delusion.
Developed thousands of years ago, yoga has many different aspects: ethics, discipline, relaxation, service, meditation, devotion, and knowledge, as well as movement, in order to develop every aspect of our being and bring awakening. And it is in some of these other areas that we are seeing a lack of awareness, real misuse, and even abusive behavior.
In the early days, when yoga first became known in the West, the only way to train was by going to India or by a Swami or yoga master coming from India. They were the experts who embodied the wisdom of the ancients. For instance, Ed trained at the respected Bihar School of Yoga in India in 1968, in an unbroken lineage of yoga masters. He was initiated as a Swami by Paramahamsa Satyananda, whose guru was the renown Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh.
Nowadays, trainee teachers are being taught in "yoga schools" by western teachers, many, sadly, without the benefit of the traditional lineage. As a result, misunderstandings get passed on from teacher to student, in particular the idea that yoga is basically just exercise, without the addition of the rest of the teachings. For example, relaxation is sometimes included just for the last five minutes of a class, whereas the practice of yoga nidra (pratyahara), a deep, dynamic relaxation also known as yogic or conscious sleep, is traditionally practiced for at least 20-30 minutes. Similarly with dharana (concentration), and dhyana (meditation), that are rarely emphasized enough and yet are main teachings.
We went into one yoga center near us and no one there had heard of any of the "other" yoga teachings, they just knew and taught hatha yoga as an exercise class. This is not unusual, but hatha is only one aspect of a rich and expansive system and these teachings are there for a reason: to develop conscious awareness.
In particular, we see yoga teachers wanting to be the most well known -- my yoga, my meditation, my practice is the best. And even though the traditional methods are well proven over thousands of years, in an attempt to stand out from the crowd many create their own "brand" of yoga, often loosing the essence of the original meaning. It's gone so far that, as reported in the UK Daily Mail: "Babies left screaming in terror as they are swung around head of 'baby yoga' guru who claims it is good for them."
Being in the role of a teacher is a position laden with responsibility. As notoriety grows we see how easily the ego can get involved and how deluding power can become. Some teachers use their role in order to make more money (a lot of it!), to have sex with students, or, as reported in a recent case, to use students to receive drugs. Gone are the teachings of yama and niyama, instructions on how to live an ethical and caring life through practicing harmlessness (ahimsa), being truthful, not being greedy, or indulging in addictions, as well as the importance of self-reflection so that we become aware of our own habits and mental tendencies.
Anyone can be a teacher as long as we chose that person to guide us, which doesn't mean that person has practiced all of the teachings or is living a yogic life. Those that have tasted the beauty of yoga and embodied the depth, breadth, and full intent of its different forms could not harm, use or abuse another. They will have realized the beauty within themselves and be able to bring that out in their students. There is really no true yoga without love. A teacher with a loving heart is like a precious jewel.
By:Ed and Deb Shapiro

Study supports use of RFA of lateral branches for patients suffering from sacroiliac joint pain

Researchers from Cleveland Clinic report at the American Academy of Pain Medicine's 28th Annual Meeting that there is no evidence that the degree of pain relief from intraarticular steroid injections of the sacroiliac joint predicts the outcome of radiofrequency ablation (RFA) of the lateral branches in patients suffering with low back pain.
The study was presented by Jianguo Cheng, MD, PhD, Professor of Anesthesiology and programme director, Cleveland Clinic Pain Medicine Fellowship Programme, Departments of Pain Management and Neurosciences.
Spinal pain is a significant problem in the United States and sacroiliac joint (SIJ) pain is a challenging condition affecting 13 - 30 per cent of patients with axial low back pain. “The major barrier to treat this pain effectively is that we don't have a good understanding of the pain and its mechanism, and therefore many different modalities of treatment have been tried in the last 50 years, but none of them have been quite successful,” comments Dr Cheng.
One of the modalities often used to relieve low back pain has been the sacroiliac joint (SIJ) intraarticular steroid injection, which is both diagnostic and pain relieving. The length of time the procedure provides pain relief varies greatly and may not be an effective long-term option for many patients. However, the degree of pain relief from intraarticular steroid injections is often used to determine if the patient is a good candidate for radiofrequency ablation (RFA).
Radiofrequency ablation of the lateral branches is often considered if the patient has had more than 50 per cent pain reduction from the SIJ intraarticular steroid injection, which may provide better pain relief and for longer periods of time. Researchers aimed to determine if the degree of pain relief after a sacroiliac joint steroid injection is predictive of the duration of pain relief after radiofrequency ablation of the lateral branches. “We believe that patients who may have relatively good pain relief with radiofrequency ablation are often excluded from this modality because they do not meet the criteria of 50 percent or more pain relief from the SIJ steroid injection. We are seeing more and more insurers deny this treatment option because they didn't meet this criteria,” Dr Cheng states.
After Institutional Review Board approval, the researchers collected data from 80 patients undergoing radiofrequency ablation. The patients were grouped according to the degree of pain relief as a result of their previous SIJ injection, with 60 patients reporting greater than 50 percent relief, and the remaining 20 patients reporting 25 - 49 percent pain relief. After adjusting for variables such as age, modes of pain onset, multiple pain complaints, and responses to extension or axial rotation of the lumbar spine in the multivariable proportional hazards model, the difference in duration of post-RFA pain relief between the groups was insignificant (p = 0.91, hazard ratio [95% confidence interval] of 0.96 [0.49, 1.90]).
The researchers concluded that the degree of pain relief within the range of 25 – 100 percent from a sacroiliac joint intraarticular steroid injection (SISI) does not predict the outcomes of radiofrequency ablation of the lateral branches. The duration of pain relief post-RFA of the lateral branches is independent of the degree of pain relief within the range of 25 – 100 percent after SISI.
“This study provides another piece of evidence to support our practice of pain medicine, to help guide patient selection, and to improve clinical outcomes. For many who are denied RFA, there are not many other alternatives, and many people end up on chronic opioids, which often create other possible opioid-related problems,” Dr Cheng concludes.
The American Academy of Pain Medicine is the premiere association for 2,400 pain physicians and their treatment teams. Its mission is to optimize the health of patients in pain and eliminate it as a major public health problem by advancing the practice in the specialty of pain medicine.

Ayurveda is a science of positive health

The use of plants as source of medicine dates back to about 4000 to 5000 B.C. The Indian and Chinese were the pioneers in using plants as valuable sources of medicine.
Ayurveda is a science of positive health and its origin is almost as old as human race. Ayurvedic system of medicine deals with maintainance of health, prolongation of healthy and qualitative lifeand prevention of diseases. The Ayurvedic system of medicine is the integral part of the Indian tradition in which plants and herbs are used not only tocure the diseases, but also to provide a source of minerals and vitamins whichgive proper health and nutrition to human being. Though, the sources ofmedicine are plant kingdom, animal kingdom and minerals and metals, yet plantsare easily available in nature and can be used according to needs.
India is one of the few developing countries which has initiated institutions like the Centre for Medicinal andAromatic Plants (CIMAP), the Regional Research Laboratories (RRL) at Jammu,Bhubaneshwar and Jorhat, the All India Co-ordinated Project on the Improvementof Medicinal and Aromatic Plants of the ICAR, National Botanical Gardens,Forest Research Institutes, State Cinchona Directorates in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, and in addition, many Agricultural Universities have been working on the technological advancement of this group of crops. However, except for CIMAP and few other centres under ICAR who have taken over a few selected crops for improvement, the replenishment of renewable inputs like quality planting material of improved varieties, developing extension literature, organizingtraining and quality testing, are very limited. _ Drug plants had been extensively described by Aristotle, Theophrastus and others as early as 77 B.C. Dioscorides (64-1600 B.C.) in his famous book ‘De Materia Medica’ has given invaluable and authoritative references about drug yielding plants.
Folk medicine utilise 1600 species which are newly identified as drug yielding plants and are well known for their use in about 4000 drug industries of various Indian systems of medicine like Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha (South Indian System) and Homeopathy, it is about 12% of present Indian flora. About 80% of the raw materials of medicinal plants are still now collected mainly from 75.17 million hectares of forest coverage.

What People Regret Most in Life

A survey has revealed that most people regret not working harder at school and not saving enough money during their career.
Starting smoking, not exercising enough and not seeing more of the world are also in the top five biggest regrets revealed by Electric Zebra, the company that makes cigarette substitutes.
Three-quarters of the 2,000 people quizzed by the "electronic" cigarette firm also said that they did not believe it was possible to live a life without regrets, the Daily Express reported.
On average people in Britain spend 44 minutes every week thinking about things we should have done differently.
The survey found that the biggest area of regret is love lives (20 per cent), family (18 per cent), career (16 per cent), health and finance (both 14 per cent).
But two-thirds said their regrets led them to think more positively and they learnt from their mistakes.
Nearly half said regrets influenced the way they live.
"It's significant that 64 per cent of people list taking up smoking as one of their biggest regrets," said Dr Sarah Brewer, medical adviser to Electric Zebra.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Protect the Aging Brain

Middle-aged and elderly adults who regularly eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids may slow the mental decline that leads to dementia, according to a new study.
Researchers found that people with the highest blood levels of these essential fatty acidsfound in fish such as salmon and tunawere more likely to perform well on tests of mental functioning and to experience less age-related brain shrinkage.
"We feel fatty-acid consumption exerts a beneficial effect on brain aging by promoting vascular health," said the study's lead author, Dr. Zaldy Tan, associate professor at the Easton Center for Alzheimer's Disease Research and the division of geriatrics at the University of California, Los Angeles. This might include reducing blood pressure and inflammation, he added.
Previous research linked dementia risk with the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in blood plasma, which reflects how much people had eaten in the past few days. But in the current work, researchers could estimate the amount of omega-3s that participants had consumed in the past several months by looking at how much had built up in their red blood cells.
"This represents their average intake of fatty acids, not just a snapshot," Tan said.
The study, published in the Feb. 28 issue of the journal Neurology, did not prove that omega-3 fatty acids prevent mental decline, merely that there may be an association between consumption of fatty acids and brain health.
For the study, researchers measured the red blood cell level of fatty acids in 1,575 dementia-free people whose average age was 67. About three months later, participants underwent mental-functioning tests and MRI scans that examined brain size and blood supply in the brain.
The participants were in the Framingham Offspring Study, which is predominately white. Whether the association would apply to other ethnic and racial groups needs to be explored, the authors said.
The researchers found that those with the lowest levels of omega-3s had worse scores on tests of visual memory, attention and abstract thinking than people who ranked in the top 75 percent for fatty-acid levels.
Adults in the bottom 25 percent also tended to have smaller brain volume overall. The decrease in brain volume was enough to make their brains appear two years older than those of people in the top three-quarters for fatty-acid levels.
Brain scans also showed signs of less blood supply in the brains of people with the lowest omega-3 levels. This suggests they may play a role in promoting general vascular, or blood vessel, health in the brain, similar to how they are thought to help heart health, rather than acting on just one brain area, Tan said.
The researchers took into account various health and lifestyle factors, including age, education and body mass index, to explore whether other differences among the people with low levels of omega-3s could help explain their more rapid brain aging.
But after controlling for those risk factors, "the difference [in brain aging] is still there so we conclude that omega-3 fatty acids likely explain them," Tan said.
Tan added, however, that it remains possible that factors they did not control for, such as fruit and vegetable consumption, are really responsible for the brain benefits. Another possibility is that the slight mental decline that the people in the older brain group were experiencing caused them to eat less healthy omega-3-rich foods, instead of vice versa.
"This is a strengthening of the argument that people with less [omega-3 fatty acids] have higher risk of dementia," said Dr. Nikolaos Scarmeas, associate professor of clinical neurology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City.
But questions remain over whether fatty-acid levels really influence changes in brain size, Scarmeas added. A clinical trial comparing high and low intake of omega-3s in relation to brain imaging would help answer those questions, he said.
In the meantime, fish is "a good prescription for other things and we have a hint it might be helpful for the brain," Scarmeas said.
That the current study reported a difference in brain health between people with omega-3 fatty-acid levels in the bottom 25 percent and top 75 percent suggests that there is a threshold level of consumption to attain brain gains.
A previous study in which participants filled out food surveys found decreased risk of vascular brain problems among those who ate at least three servings of fish a week.
Source:Health Day News

Common sleeping pills linked with higher death risk

Commonly-prescribed sleeping pills are linked to a more-than fourfold risk of premature death, according to an American study published in the journal BMJ Open on Monday.
These medications were also associated at higher doses with a 35-percent increased risk of cancer as compared with non-users, but the reason for this is unclear.
Doctors led by Daniel Kripke of the Scripps Clinic Viterbi Family Sleep Center in La Jolla, California, looked at the medical records of more than 10,500 adults living in Pennsylvania who were taking prescribed sleeping aids.
These were compared against more than 23,600 counterparts, matched for age, health and background, who did not take these drugs.
The study ranged over two and a half years, and looked at widely-prescribed sleeping pills, including benzodiazepines, non-benzodiazepines, barbiturates and sedatives.
The overall number of deaths that occurred during this period was small in both groups, being less than a thousand in total.
But there was a striking difference in mortality, the researchers found.
Those who took between 18 and 132 doses of the pills per year were 4.6 times likelier to die than the "control" group.
Even those who took less than 18 annual doses were more than 3.5 times likelier to die.
"Rough order-of-magnitude estimates... suggest that in 2010, hypnotics (sleeping pills) may have been associated with 320,000 to 507,000 excess deaths in the USA alone," says the study.
Details of how individuals died were not disclosed, and the authors stress that they have found a statistical link but not a cause.
But they sound the alarm, given the vast number of people who take these drugs.
"We estimate that approximately six to 10 percent of US adults used these drugs in 2010 and the percentages may be higher in parts of Europe," they write.
The average age of the people in the study was 54. The researchers say they took into account factors that could skew the comparison between the two groups, such as whether an individual smoked or had a pre-existing health condition.
However, they were unable to take depression, anxiety and other emotional factors into account, as these diagnoses are kept secret under Pennsylvania law.
Previous research into sleeping pills has found a link with car accidents and serious falls, "night-eating syndromes" of bingeing on food, regurgitation in the oesophagus and peptic ulcer disease.

If You Feel O.K., Maybe You Are O.K.

EARLY diagnosis has become one of the most fundamental precepts of modern medicine. It goes something like this: The best way to keep people healthy is to find out if they have (pick one) heart disease, autism, glaucoma, diabetes, vascular problems, osteoporosis or, of course, cancer — early. And the way to find these conditions early is through screening.
It is a precept that resonates with the intuition of the general public: obviously it’s better to catch and deal with problems as soon as possible. A study published with much fanfare in The New England Journal of Medicine last week contained what researchers called the best evidence yet that colonoscopies reduce deaths from colon cancer.
Recently, however, there have been rumblings within the medical profession that suggest that the enthusiasm for early diagnosis may be waning. Most prominent are recommendations against prostate cancer screening for healthy men and for reducing the frequency of breast and cervical cancer screening. Some experts even cautioned against the recent colonoscopy results, pointing out that the study participants were probably much healthier than the general population, which would make them less likely to die of colon cancer. In addition there is a concern about too much detection and treatment of early diabetes, a growing appreciation that autism has been too broadly defined and skepticism toward new guidelines for universal cholesterol screening of children.
The basic strategy behind early diagnosis is to encourage the well to get examined — to determine if they are not, in fact, sick. But is looking hard for things to be wrong a good way to promote health? The truth is, the fastest way to get heart disease, autism, glaucoma, diabetes, vascular problems, osteoporosis or cancer ... is to be screened for it. In other words, the problem is overdiagnosis and overtreatment.
Screening the apparently healthy potentially saves a few lives (although the National Cancer Institute couldn’t find any evidence for this in its recent large studies of prostate and ovarian cancer screening). But it definitely drags many others into the system needlessly — into needless appointments, needless tests, needless drugs and needless operations (not to mention all the accompanying needless insurance forms).
This process doesn’t promote health; it promotes disease. People suffer from more anxiety about their health, from drug side effects, from complications of surgery. A few die. And remember: these people felt fine when they entered the health care system.
It wasn’t always like this. In the past, doctors made diagnoses and initiated therapy only in patients who were experiencing problems. Of course, we still do that today. But increasingly we also operate under the early diagnosis precept: seeking diagnosis and initiating therapy in people who are not experiencing problems. That’s a huge change in approach, from one that focused on the sick to one that focuses on the well.
Think about it this way: in the past, you went to the doctor because you had a problem and you wanted to learn what to do about it. Now you go to the doctor because you want to stay well and you learn instead that you have a problem.
How did we get here? Or perhaps, more to the point: Who is to blame? One answer is the health care industry: By turning people into patients, screening makes a lot of money for pharmaceutical companies, hospitals and doctors. The chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society once pointed out that his hospital could make around $5,000 from each free prostate cancer screening, thanks to the ensuing biopsies, treatments and follow-up care.
A more glib response to the question of blame is: Richard Nixon. It was Nixon who said, “we need to work out a system that includes a greater emphasis on preventive care.” Preventive care was central to his administration’s promotion of health maintenance organizations and the war on cancer. But because the promotion of genuine health — largely dependent upon a healthy diet, exercise and not smoking — did not fit well in the biomedical culture, preventive care was transformed into a high-tech search for early disease.
Some doctors have long recognized that the approach is a distraction for the medical community. It’s easier to transform people into new patients than it is to treat the truly sick. It’s easier to develop new ways of testing than it is to develop better treatments. And it’s a lot easier to measure how many healthy people get tested than it is to determine how well doctors manage the chronically ill.
But the precept of early diagnosis was too intuitive, too appealing, too hard to challenge and too easy to support. The rumblings show that that’s beginning to change.
Let me be clear: early diagnosis is not always wrong. Doctors would rather see patients early in the course of their heart attack than wait until they develop low blood pressure and an irregular heartbeat. And we’d rather see women with small breast lumps than wait until they develop large breast masses. The question is how often and how far we should get ahead of symptoms.
For years now, people have been encouraged to look to medical care as the way to make them healthy. But that’s your job — you can’t contract that out. Doctors might be able to help, but so might an author of a good cookbook, a personal trainer, a cleric or a good friend. We would all be better off if the medical system got a little closer to its original mission of helping sick patients, and let the healthy be.
Source:New York Times
Author:H. Gilbert Welch, a professor of medicine at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, is an author of “Overdiagnosed: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health.”

Human trials on cancer vaccine molecule may start by end of next month

India’s efforts to manufacture a therapeutic vaccine against cancer are right on the track and are expected to hit the markets in a couple years time as the human trials are beginning very soon on the candidate molecule, Department of Biotechnology (DBT) sources said.
“The candidate target molecule was invented at National Institute of Immunology (NII) under the DBT, and was tried on rodents using different cancer cell lines. Clinical trials have been fixed for Cancer Institute (WIA) Adyar in Chennai and will start soon,” a senior official of DBT disclosed.
The institute had received one round of approval from its ethics committee and is waiting for the clearance from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) and the trial on 18 patients with stage III cervical cancer will start by end of the next month.
The vaccine, once in the markets, may prove to be a boon to those suffering from breast, ovarian, cervical, thyroid and blood cancer. The vaccine centres around a new cancer treatment modality called dendritic cell therapy, in which a patient's own immune cells are used to fight cancer. These cells, which are a kind of immune cells, are present in the body in small quantity. The therapy involves taking out blood cells from the patient and processing them in the laboratory to produce the dendritic cells in large quantities and with improved efficacy, sources said.
Besides the Chennai institute, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre in the US will also carry out the trials under an agreement between NII and the National Cancer Institute under the US government's National Institutes of Health (NIH). Chennai leg of trials will focus on cervical cancer, while that in the US on ovarian cancer.

Exercise Crucial To Stay Mentally Fit

Avoiding exercise could be bad for our mental health too, pushing us into the pit of depression and causing burnout at work.
Sharon Toker, management expert at the Tel Aviv University, with Michal Biron from the University of Haifa, discovered that employees who did engage in physical activity were less likely to experience a deterioration of their mental health, including symptoms of burnout and depression.
The best benefits were achieved among those exercising for four hours per week - they were approximately half as likely to experience deterioration in their mental state as those who did no physical activity.
Toker and Biron say that employers will benefit from encouraging fitness of their employees. If the fight against obesity is not enough of an incentive, inspiring workers to be physically active lessens high health costs, reduces absenteeism, and increases productivity in the workplace, the Journal of Applied Psychology reports.
Though depression and burnout are connected, they are not the same, says Toker. Depression is a clinical mood disorder and burnout is defined by physical, cognitive, and emotional exhaustion, according to a Tel Aviv statement.
But both contribute towards a "spiral of loss" where the loss of one resource, such as a job, could have a domino effect and lead to the loss of other resources such as one's home, marriage, or sense of self-worth.
Originally designed to examine the relationship between depression and burnout, the study assessed the personal, occupational, and psychological states of 1,632 healthy Israeli workers in both the private and public sectors.
Participants completed questionnaires when they came to medical clinics for routine check-ups and had three follow-up appointments over a period of nine years.
The participants were divided into four groups: one that did not engage in physical activity; a second that did 75 to 150 minutes of physical activity a week; a third that did 150 to 240 minutes a week; and a fourth that did more than 240 minutes a week.
Depression and burnout rates were clearly the highest among the group that did not participate in physical activity. The more physical activity that participants engaged in, the less likely they were to experience elevated depression and burnout levels during the next three years.
The optimal amount of physical activity was a minimum of 150 minutes per week, where its benefits really started to take effect.

Too Much Tweeting Bad for Health

Spending hours on twitter is unhealthy, says Twitter's creative director.
Biz Stone, who is also the creative director the micro-blogging site, said users should visit the site for information but leave once they had found it.
Speaking at a business conference in Montreal, Canada, Stone said that using Twitter for hours at a time "sounds unhealthy".
"I like the kind of engagement where you go to the website and you leave because you've found what you are looking for or you found something very interesting and you learned something," the Guardian quoted him as telling the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal on Wednesday.
"I think that's a much healthier engagement. Obviously, we want you to come frequently," he stated.
As reported by Montreal Gazette, the social networking guru also said there were no plans to increase Twitter's 140-character limit.

The animal products in your medicine cabinet

Most of us put a good deal of thought into the food we put in our bodies. But do we ever consider the food in our medicine?
That's right, the food in our medicine.
While television and print ads alike are loaded with messages about potential serious side effects, prescription drug disclaimers are issued to warn against possible unintended consequences resulting from a drug’s active ingredient(s).
But what you may not know is that the bulk of your prescription pill is made up of inactive ingredients, known as “excipients," and that your drugs couldn’t be made without them. Quite simply, excipients are what encapsulates your capsule or forms your pill into a solid as opposed to a powder.
Here’s the rub: One of the most common excipients used is gelatin, which is almost universally of animal origin. This presents a problem, as you might imagine, to those living within religious or dietary restrictions.
According to a new study released Monday in the BMJ Postgraduate Medical Journal, 43.2% of the study population “would prefer not to take animal product-containing medication, even if no alternative were available.” 500 people participated in the study.
Of the study participants with dietary restrictions, 88% said they would prefer to take oral medication containing only vegetable products. Of the patients who preferred vegetarian-only treatment, 85.2% said they would not take any oral medication which contained animal products, though more than half said they would do so if no alternatives were available.
Perhaps most surprising, less than a quarter of those patients with dietary restrictions specifically asked the doctor who prescribed the drug or the pharmacist who dispensed it about its composition.
Previous studies have shown that doctors do not regularly discuss a medication's inactive ingredients with their patients, and very few patients think to ask.
Of the participants who were surveyed, those who followed a Halal diet and those who designated themselves as pure vegetarian/vegan were far more like to ask about a drug’s constituents than those who avoided only certain animal foods, such as chicken, beef, or pork.
The data from the study shows that the majority of the people who were surveyed found it completely acceptable that their medications contained gelatin, an animal by-product. But if it's important for you to know and to control exactly what food is entering your body, the takeaway here is simple: ask your doctor - or your pharmacist.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Report: Women have rare egg-producing stem cells

For 60 years, doctors have believed women were born with all the eggs they'll ever have. Now Harvard scientists are challenging that dogma, saying they've discovered the ovaries of young women harbor very rare stem cells capable of producing new eggs.
If Sunday's report is confirmed, harnessing those stem cells might one day lead to better treatments for women left infertile because of disease — or simply because they're getting older.
"Our current views of ovarian aging are incomplete. There's much more to the story than simply the trickling away of a fixed pool of eggs," said lead researcher Jonathan Tilly of Harvard's Massachusetts General Hospital, who has long hunted these cells in a series of controversial studies.
Tilly's previous work drew fierce skepticism, and independent experts urged caution about the latest findings.
A key next step is to see whether other laboratories can verify the work. If so, then it would take years of additional research to learn how to use the cells, said Teresa Woodruff, fertility preservation chief at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine.
Still, even a leading critic said such research may help dispel some of the enduring mystery surrounding how human eggs are born and mature.
"This is going to spark renewed interest, and more than anything else it's giving us some new directions to work in," said David Albertini, director of the University of Kansas' Center for Reproductive Sciences. While he has plenty of questions about the latest work, "I'm less skeptical," he said.
Scientists have long taught that all female mammals are born with a finite supply of egg cells, called ooctyes, that runs out in middle age. Tilly, Mass General's reproductive biology director, first challenged that notion in 2004, reporting that the ovaries of adult mice harbor some egg-producing stem cells. Recently, Tilly noted, a lab in China and another in the U.S. also have reported finding those rare cells in mice.
But do they exist in women? Enter the new work, reported Sunday in the journal Nature Medicine.
First Tilly had to find healthy human ovaries to study. He collaborated with scientists at Japan's Saitama Medical University, who were freezing ovaries donated for research by healthy 20-somethings who underwent a sex-change operation.
Tilly also had to address a criticism: How to tell if he was finding true stem cells or just very immature eggs. His team latched onto a protein believed to sit on the surface of only those purported stem cells and fished them out. To track what happened next, the researchers inserted a gene that makes some jellyfish glow green into those cells. If the cells made eggs, those would glow, too.
"Bang, it worked — cells popped right out" of the human tissue, Tilly said.
Researchers watched through a microscope as new eggs grew in a lab dish. Then came the pivotal experiment: They injected the stem cells into pieces of human ovary. They transplanted the human tissue under the skin of mice, to provide it a nourishing blood supply. Within two weeks, they reported telltale green-tinged egg cells forming.
That's still a long way from showing they'll mature into usable, quality eggs, Albertini said.
And more work is needed to tell exactly what these cells are, cautioned reproductive biologist Kyle Orwig of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, who has watched Tilly's work with great interest.
But if they're really competent stem cells, Orwig asked, then why would women undergo menopause? Indeed, something so rare wouldn't contribute much to a woman's natural reproductive capacity, added Northwestern's Woodruff.
Tilly argues that using stem cells to grow eggs in lab dishes might one day help preserve cancer patients' fertility. Today, Woodruff's lab and others freeze pieces of girls' ovaries before they undergo fertility-destroying chemotherapy or radiation. They're studying how to coax the immature eggs inside to mature so they could be used for in vitro fertilization years later when the girls are grown. If that eventually works, Tilly says stem cells might offer a better egg supply.
Further down the road, he wonders if it also might be possible to recharge an aging woman's ovaries.
The new research was funded largely by the National Institutes of Health. Tilly co-founded a company, OvaScience Inc.,to try to develop the findings into fertility treatments.

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