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Saturday, 27 October 2012

Cancer can be cured by using patient’s own immune cells: Experts

Cancer can be tackled for better outcome by using the patient’s own immune cells, said experts from Japan and India while delivering lectures at the one-day international meeting organised as part of the seventh anniversary of Nichi-In Centre for Regenerative Medicine (NCRM ) in Chennai.
Prof Iwasaki and Dr Terunuma from Yamanashi University in Japan presented the immune cell based therapies in clinical practice in Japan that have helped improve the survival of cancer patients. Similar encouraging outcomes from experiments in India were presented by Dr Deenadayalan of Apollo Hospitals, Dr Sumana Premkumar of Kamakshi Memorial Hospital and Dr Ramanan of MCCF in Chennai.
According to the Japan doctors, one among every three person in Japan is becoming a victim to cancer in his/her lifetime. Japanese hospitals since late 1980s have been practicing autologous cell based immune therapies in which, the cancer patient’s own peripheral blood derived natural killer cells and cancer-killing lymphocytes are multiplied in the laboratory and given intravenously to treat cancer. This treatment named as Autologous Immune Enhancement Therapy (AIET).
AIET can be administered at any stage of cancer as it has no side effects. AIET when combined with conventional treatments, the survival is improved by 35 per cent or more.
The Indian doctors shared their experiences in India where a Philadelphia Chromosome positive Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia patient could survive beyond 6 years after AIET. An ovarian cancer patient could survive more than 2 years after diagnosis of stage IV cancer, and another ovarian cancer patient survived beyond 3-years.
Dr Dedeepiya Devaprasad presented the data of their overall Indian experience that included even advanced inoperable pancreatic cancer patients who could survive beyond 3 years after diagnosis. His talk narrated that AIET could be more beneficial when combined with Monoclonal antibodies.
The Fujio Cup Quiz, an exclusive inter-collegiate national level quiz on stem cells which is conducted for the seventh consecutive time was won by the Chengalpet Medical College team.

India stands world’s 2nd leading exporter of Ayush, herbal products

The latest export statistics of India’s Ayush and herbal products have revealed that India stands as second leading exporter in the world accounting for Rs.1318.69 crore for the year 2010-11.
As per the latest statistics available from Pharmexcil, China is the top country leading in the world in the export of herbals with $1329.72 million followed by India with an export figure of $ 790.56 million for the year 2010.
“We are second only to china in the world in the exports of Ayush and herbals. Of the total Rs.14000 crore pharmaceutical exports, India’s Ayush and herbals contribute approximately Rs.1400 crore. We have a huge potential to grow and in the coming days if our exports grow at 20 per cent every year we can beat China by 2020,” said Dr P V Appaji, DG, Pharmexcil.
From an export of Rs.591.43 crore in 2008-09 to Rs.701.44 crore in 2009-10 India’s Ayush exports have seen a whopping increase of Rs.110.01 crore during in a period of just one year. While in the subsequent year 2010-11 this phenomena of increase has not been maintained. The export figure for Ayush products for the year 2010-11 accounts to Rs.711.12 crore which is just an increase of Rs.9.68 crore from the previous year.
“Even if we look at the previous export statistics, the 10th five year plan had recorded a commendable growth of Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (Ayush) medicines, medicinal plants and their by-products”, he said. A draft status report of the Ayush industry in the country, which describes the developments till the year 2008, has pointed out that the exports of Ayush products in five years from 2003-04 has recorded a steady growth and a decline in imports.
If one looks in terms of net value addition, the Ayush and herbal sector had shown a growth of 10.89 per cent during 13 years' period between 1995-96 and 2007-08.
The major commodities or products of export under Ayush include medicants and medicaments of ayurvedic, homoeopathic and bio-chemical systems. Of the total Rs.711.12 crore of Ayush exports during the year 2010-11, medicants contribute Rs.176.50 crore and medicaments contribute Rs.534.62 crore.
The herbal exports too have seen a considerable increase of Rs.36.76 crore from Rs.570.76 crore in the year 2009-10 to Rs.602.57 crore in the year 2010-11.
The major herbal exports of India include Psyllium seeds Senna leaves and pads, and various other herbs and herbal products. Among all Psyllium husk (isobgul husk) contribute a major chunk of herbal exports which accounts to Rs.425.05 crore.
The top ten countries where India exports its Ayush and herbal products include Russia, USA, Kazakhstan, UAE, Nepal, Ukraine, Japan, Philippines, Kenya and Mauritania. Among them Russia leads the list with an import of Rs.138.94 crore of Ayush and herbals from India. America (USA) stands as second largest importer accounting to Rs.103.14 crore and Kazakhstan stands 3rd with a contribution of Rs.55.24 crore towards India’ s Ayush and herbals for the year 2010-11.

Acupuncture relieves symptoms of a dry mouth caused by radiotherapy for head and neck cancers

Patients who have received radiotherapy for head and neck cancer often suffer from the unpleasant and distressing side-effect of a dry mouth, caused by damage to their salivary glands from the radiation.
Now, a new study has shown that acupuncture can relieve the symptoms of dry mouth (known as xerostomia). The findings from the largest trial yet to investigate this are published in the cancer journal Annals of Oncology [1] today (Wednesday).
Around half a million people worldwide develop head and neck cancer each year and, at present, there are few effective treatments for dry mouth, which is a common side effect of radiotherapy; as many as 41% of patients can still be suffering from it five years later. Xerostomia affects the patients' quality of life, interfering with taste, chewing, speaking and sleeping. Short-term solutions such as mouthwashes, gels and toothpastes provide some respite, while treatment with a drug called pilocarpine has its own unwanted side-effects.
Doctors at seven cancer centres in the UK [2] recruited 145 patients suffering from radiation-induced xerostomia to a trial comparing acupuncture with education about oral care. The patients were randomised to receive group acupuncture sessions for 20 minutes every week for eight weeks, or two oral care educational sessions for one hour, one month apart. Four weeks after the end of these two different types of care, the patients swapped over to receive the other treatment.
Symptoms of xerostomia were measured objectively by means of paper strips, called Schirmer strips, which measure the amount of saliva in the mouth. A tried and tested quality of life questionnaire measured patients' subjective reporting of how their mouths felt, with questions about changes in individual symptoms such as sticky saliva, dry lips, needing to sip water to relieve a dry mouth, needing to sip water to help swallow food, and waking at night to sip water.
Although the researchers found there were no significant changes in saliva production, patients who had received nine weeks of acupuncture were twice as likely to report improved dry mouth than patients receiving oral care. Individual symptoms were also significantly improved among the group receiving acupuncture.
Dr Richard Simcock, consultant clinical oncologist at the Sussex Cancer Centre and one of the authors of the study, said: "Time had an important effect on key symptoms, with patients receiving acupuncture showing a quick response, which was sustained over several weeks."
The researchers said that the subjective reporting of improvements in xerostomia was of more significance than the lack of changes in the objective test with the Schirmer strips. "There was no clear relationship between a patient indicating they had a very dry mouth and the measurement of saliva on the Schirmer strips," explained Dr Simcock. "By definition these patients with chronic xerostomia produced little or no saliva, making objective measurements really difficult. Many studies have focused on the objective measurement of how much saliva is produced, but the amount of saliva produced does not necessarily influence the experience of a dry mouth. Xerostomia is therefore an entirely subjective symptom – it is what the patient says it is, regardless of salivary measurement."
They also believed that the improvements in the experience of xerostomia were unlikely to be due to a placebo effect. Dr Valerie Jenkins, Deputy Director of Sussex Health Outcomes Research & Education in Cancer (SHORE-C) at Brighton & Sussex Medical School, University of Sussex, who supervised the research, said: "The profound impact that xerostomia exerts on functions such as eating, talking and sleeping, which were relieved by the acupuncture means that if it is entirely a placebo effect than this is a pretty powerful placebo. In addition, the results showed that patients were less likely to wake at night to sip water after treatment – this effect seems difficult to ascribe solely to placebo."
She concluded: "The scepticism that exists about complementary therapies such as these is often due to inadequately designed and reported studies. This was a well-controlled, randomised trial conducted in major cancer centres throughout UK with good governance and reporting of adverse events."
The researchers say that further studies are needed to refine the acupuncture technique and discover how long its effect lasts and whether booster sessions might be required. But they believe it could be easily incorporated into the care of patients with xerostomia.
Dr Simcock said: "This is a very neglected group of patients suffering from a most unpleasant side-effect of treatment for which all other ameliorative interventions have failed to address adequately. The acupuncture intervention has been designed in a way that allows it to be delivered simply and cheaply in normal hospital surroundings and yet still produces a significant benefit for patients with a chronic symptom."
Source:European Society for Medical Oncology 

New clues to how the brain and body communicate to regulate weight

Maintaining a healthy body weight may be difficult for many people, but it's reassuring to know that our brains and bodies are wired to work together to do just that—in essence, to achieve a phenomenon known as energy balance, a tight matching between the number of calories consumed versus those expended. This careful balance results from a complex interchange of neurobiological crosstalk within regions of the brain's hypothalamus, and when this "conversation" goes awry, obesity or anorexia can result.
Given the seriousness of these conditions, it's unfortunate that little is known about the details of this complex interchange. Now research led by investigators at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) provides new insights that help bring order to this complexity. Described in the October 26 issue of the journal Cell, the findings demonstrate how the GABA neurotransmitter selectively drives energy expenditure, and importantly, also help explain the neurocircuitry underlying the fat-burning properties of brown fat.
"Our group has built up a research program with the overall goal of unraveling the 'wiring diagram' by which the brain controls appetite and the burning of calories," says senior author Bradford Lowell, MD, PhD, a Professor of Medicine in BIDMC's Division of Endocrinology and Harvard Medical School. "To advance our understanding to this level, we need to know the function of specific subsets of neurons, and in addition, the upstream neurons providing input to, and the downstream neurons receiving output from, these functionally defined neurons. Until recently, such knowledge in the hypothalamus has been largely unobtainable."
A pearl-sized region that directs a multitude of important functions in the body, the hypothalamus is the brain's control center for energy balance. This balance results when the brain receives feedback signals from the body that communicate the status of fuel stores and then integrates this with input from the external world as well as a person's emotional state to modify feeding behavior and energy expenditure.
In this new study, the researchers investigated a unique population of neurons that are located at the base of the brain in the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus. "We genetically engineered mice such that they have a specific defect that prevents these neurons from releasing the inhibitory neurotransmitter, GABA," says Lowell. "Mice with this defect developed marked obesity and, remarkably, their obesity was entirely due to a defect in burning off calories," he explains, adding that food intake was entirely unaffected.
By next engineering another group of mice in which these neurons could be selectively turned on at different times, the team went on to show that the arcuate neurons act through a series of downstream neurons to drive energy expenditure in brown fat. Brown fat has been making headlines lately because many recent studies have revealed that, unlike energy-storing white fat, brown fat burns energy to generate heat. This process is called thermogenesis.
"Energy expenditure mediated by brown adipose tissue is critical in maintaining body weight and prevents diet-induced obesity. Its brain-based regulatory mechanism, however, is still poorly understood," says first author Dong Kong, PhD, an Instructor in Medicine in Lowell's laboratory. "Our discovery of a hypothalamus-based neurocircuit that ultimately controls thermogenesis is an important advance," adds Lowell. The investigators additionally found that when they turned on these neurons, energy expenditure was entirely dependent upon release of GABA. These results reveal that release of GABA from arcuate neurons selectively drives energy expenditure.
"Our findings have greatly advanced our understanding in the control of energy expenditure and have provided novel insights into the pathogenesis of obesity," says Kong.
The unique features of arcuate neurons are important because they could provide an opportunity to experimentally modify the brain's control of energy expenditure. Specifically, neurons receiving GABA-mediated signals from arcuate neurons are likely to play important roles in regulating energy expenditure, but not food intake.
"It is now important to fully delineate the upstream neurons that control these thermogenesis-regulating arcuate neurons, and also the downstream neurons that complete the 'circuit' to brown adipose tissue," Lowell adds. He and his colleagues have identified several specific types of neurons that act downstream of arcuate neurons, but more research is needed to provide a clear and definitive diagram. Such work could uncover new opportunities for pharmacologic interventions that might lead to effective treatments for obesity and its related complications such as diabetes.
Source:Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center 

Friday, 26 October 2012

Plant compounds tied to less stomach cancer in women

Getting a moderate amount of plant substances called flavonoids through the diet may be linked to a lower stomach cancer risk in women, but not men, according to a new study.European researchers found that women with the highest intake of flavonoids were half as likely to develop the disease as were women who had the smallest intake."A flavonoid-rich diet is based on plant-based foods (such as) fruits, vegetables, whole grain cereals, nuts, legumes, and their derived products (tea, chocolate, wine)," the study's lead author Raul Zamora-Ros told Reuters Health by email."This kind of diet combined with less consumption of red and processed meat can be a good way to reduce the risk of developing stomach cancer," added Zamora-Ros, a researcher at the Catalan Institute of Oncology in Spain.Every year, about five out of 100,000 U.S. women get stomach cancer. The new findings don't prove that flavonoids can ward off the disease, because other factors such as a healthier lifestyle may play a role.
The researchers note that past research has hinted that flavonoids may help protect against cancer, but few studies have focused on stomach cancer - the fourth most common cancer and the second most deadly, according to Zamora-Ros.For the new work, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the researchers turned to ongoing research following almost 500,000 men and women in 10 European countries. All of the participants were between 35 and 70 years old, and had been part of the study for about 11 years.During that time, there were 683 stomach cancers, of which 288 occurred in women.The researchers analyzed the participants' food diaries to see how many flavonoids they ate on average. Then they checked to see whether or not that amount was linked to the participants' cancer risk.Green tea contains a large amount of flavonoids, with more than12,511 milligrams (mg) per 100 grams (g) of leaves. Pinto beans also contain a lot, with about 769 mg per 100 g of beans.Women who got more than 580 mg of flavonoids per day had a 51-percent lower risk of developing stomach cancer than women who consumed no more than 200 mg a day."If you look at absolute numbers, this risk reduction probably wouldn't be as significant as if we were talking about colon cancer," said Dr. Richard M. Peek, director of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. He was not involved in the new work.Zamora-Ros said a person's exact risk depends on several factors, including whether they smoke and drink, how much red and processed meat they eat and whether they are obese.He added that the absence of a link between flavonoids and stomach cancer in men was a surprise, and might be due to differences in how much they smoke or drink or to hormonal differences.Overall, Zamora-Ros said, the study adds more evidence that "healthy lifestyles reduce the risk of chronic diseases."
SOURCE: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, online October 17, 2012.

Under joint research programme, India & Germany to support research groups of both countries

Under the Indo-German Joint Research Collaboration Programme, both the countries will support collaborative scientific researches between Indian and German research groups, who are working jointly on a particular scientific project.
The support will be provided by both India and Germany to the researchers under the programme called 'Project-based Personnel Exchange' which is a bilateral research promotion programme that is a result of the agreement concluded between the German Academic Exchange Service and the Department of Science and Technology (DST) way back in 1998.
The aim of the programme is to strengthen the collaboration between Indian and German research groups, who are working jointly on a particular scientific project. It envisages financial support for operational mobility. Particular emphasis is accorded to further academic training and specialization of young academics. Research collaborations entered into with the intention of initiating further extensive projects, such as the preparation of joint applications meant for submission to any other funding organisation, are highly preferred for this programme.
University professors, scientists and post-doctoral researchers from German and Indian universities and those in permanent employment at independent research institutes are eligible to apply. The programme is open to academics in the disciplines of agricultural sciences, veterinary medicine, forestry, engineering, earth sciences, mathematics, theoretical computer science, informatics, medicine, life sciences, health sciences, animal sciences, nutritional medicine, physics, material sciences and chemistry.
The prerequisite for applying is a concrete and precise scientific research project of high quality, on which academics from both countries jointly, and to the extent possible complementarily, want to work on. It would not suffice to describe scientific problems of a general nature that both research groups are interested in. The basic funding for the project (personnel and material costs on both sides) must be secured by own funds or by third party funding. The research group on both sides should each consist of a project leader and up to two doctoral students or post-doctoral researchers. The total number of participants in the project on both sides should not exceed three from each side.

Regular Exercise During Old Age can Prevent Brain Shrinkage

Regular exercise in old age can not only reduce the risk of heart disease or diabetes but it can also prevent your brain from shrinking, a new study by researchers Edinburgh researchers reveals. 
The researchers analyzed brain scans of more than 630 people over the age of 70 years and found that those who were physically active had the least amount of brain shrinkage and less chance of suffering from dementia. The study has been published in the journal Neurology.
 The researchers added that by exercise they do not mean any strenuous physical activity and simply going on walks several times a week was more than enough. However contrary to popular belief, they found no evidence that indulging in mental workouts, such as solving puzzles or crosswords, reduced the amount of shrinkage. 

“People in their seventies who participated in more physical exercise, including walking several times a week, had less brain shrinkage and other signs of aging in the brain than those who were less physically active. On the other hand, our study showed no real benefit to participating in mentally and socially stimulating activities on brain size, as seen on MRI scans, over the three-year time frame”, lead researcher Alan Gow said. 
Source:Archives of Neurology 


Protein regulation linked to intellectual disability

Genetics researchers at the University of Adelaide have solved a 40-year mystery for a family beset by a rare intellectual disability – and they've discovered something new about the causes of intellectual disability in the process.
While many intellectual disabilities are caused directly by a genetic mutation in the so-called "protein coding" part of our genes, the researchers found that in their case the answer laid outside the gene and in the regulation of proteins.
Protein regulation involves the switching on or off of a protein by specific genes. As a consequence in this case, either too much or too little of this protein can trigger the disability.
The team has studied a large (anonymous) Australian family of 100 people, who for generations have not known the source of their genetically inherited condition.
The disability – which results in a lower IQ, behavioral problems such as aggression, and memory loss, and is linked with developmental delays, epilepsy, schizophrenia and other problems – affects only the male family members and can be passed on by the female family members to their children.
Genetic samples taken from the family and laboratory testing involving mice have confirmed that the protein produced by the HCFC1 (host cell factor C1) gene is the cause of this disability.
"The causes of intellectual disability generally are highly variable and the genetic causes in particular are numerous. The vast majority of intellectual disabilities are due to genetic mutations in proteins, so it was rather unexpected that we found this particular disability to be due to a regulatory mutation," says the leader of the study, Professor Jozef Gecz from the University of Adelaide's School of Pediatrics and Reproductive Health.
"We've been researching this specific disability for 10 years and it's taken us the last three years to convince ourselves that the protein regulation is the key," he says.
"For the family, this means we now have a genetic test that will determine whether or not a female member of the family is a carrier, which brings various benefits for the family.
"From a scientific point of view, this widens our viewpoint on the causes of these disabilities and tells us where we should also look for answers for those families and individuals without answers.
"This is just the tip of the iceberg in understanding the impact of altered gene regulation on intellectual disability – the gene regulatory landscape is much bigger than the protein coding landscape. We have already found, and I would expect to continue finding, a number of other intellectual disabilities linked with protein regulation over the next 20 years or so."
Source:University of Adelaide 

A Viagra follow-up? Drug used to treat glaucoma actually grows human hair

New research in the FASEB Journal shows how a commonly prescribed glaucoma drug may be effective in treating male pattern baldness and other forms of alopecia

If you're balding and want your hair to grow back, then here is some good news. A new research report appearing online in The FASEB Journal( shows how the FDA-approved glaucoma drug, bimatoprost, causes human hair to regrow. It's been commercially available as a way to lengthen eyelashes, but these data are the first to show that it can actually grow human hair from the scalp.
"We hope this study will lead to the development of a new therapy for balding which should improve the quality of life for many people with hair loss," said Valerie Randall, a researcher involved in the work from the University of Bradford, Bradford, UK. "Further research should increase our understanding of how hair follicles work and thereby allow new therapeutic approaches for many hair growth disorders."
To make this discovery, Randall and colleagues conducted three sets of experiments. Two involved human cells and the other involved mice. The tests on human cells involved using hair follicles growing in organ culture as well as those take directly from the human scalp. In both of these experiments, the scientists found that bimatoprost led to hair growth. The third set of experiments involved applying bimatoprost to the skin of bald spots on mice. As was the case with human cells, the drug caused hair to regrow.
"This discovery could be the long-awaited follow up to Viagra that middle-aged men have been waiting for," said Gerald Weissmann, MD, editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal. "Given that the drug is already approved for human use and its safety profile is generally understood, this looks like a promising discovery that has been right in front of our eyes the whole time. On to the front of our scalp!"
Source:Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology 

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Education, Alcohol Intake Linked to COPD

College education and alcohol consumption are associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), say researchers. Researchers from Kaiser Permanente Medical Group in Oakland, California, followed 126,019 people who supplied baseline data from 1978 – 1985 through 2008 with analyses of hospitalizations attributed to COPD (emphysema, chronic bronchitis, or chronic airway obstruction). 
Although cigarette smoking, increasing age, and history of respiratory disease/symptoms were powerful predictors of COPD, results also showed that Asian Americans (vs whites) and college graduates (vs no college) were at a moderately lower risk for COPD, as were persons reporting 1 to 2 drinks per day (vs lifelong abstainers).
 Researchers conclude that further study should lead to better understanding of pathophysiology and to targeting of therapy for COPD. This study was presented during CHEST 2012, the annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians, held October 20 – 25, in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Source-American College of Chest Physicians 

Herbal and dietary supplements can adversely affect prescribed drugs says extensive review

Findings could be just the tip of the iceberg says accompanying editorial

A number of herbs and dietary supplements (HDS) can cause potentially harmful drug interactions, particularly among people receiving medication for problems with their central nervous or cardiovascular systems.
Those are the key findings of an extensive research review published in the November issue of IJCP, the International Journal of Clinical Practice.
Researchers examined 54 review articles and 31 original studies. They found that the greatest problems were caused by interactions between prescribed drugs and HDS that included ingredients such as St John's Wort, magnesium, calcium, iron or ginkgo.
"Consumer use of HDS has risen dramatically over the past two decades" says co-author Dr Hsiang-Wen Lin from the College of Pharmacy, China Medical School, Taiwan.
"In the USA, for example, it is estimated that more than 50 per cent of patients with chronic diseases or cancer use them and that many patients take them at the same time as prescribed medication.
"Despite their widespread use, the potential risks associated with combining HDS with other medications, which include mild-to-severe heart problems, chest pain, abdominal pain and headache, are poorly understood."
Key findings of the review included:
  • The literature covered 213 HDS entities and 509 prescribed medications, with 882 HDS-drug interactions described in terms of their mechanisms and severity.
  • Warfarin, insulin, aspirin digoxin and ticlopidine had the greatest number of reported interactions with HDS.
  • More than 42 per cent of the drug interactions were caused by the HDS altering the pharmacokinetics of the prescribed drugs - the process by which a drug is absorbed, distributed, metabolised and eliminated by the body.
  • Just over 26 per cent of the total were described as major interactions.
  • Among the 152 identified contraindications, the most frequent involved the gastrointestinal system (16.4%), neurological system (14.5%) and andrenal ⁄ genitourinary diseases (12.5%).
  • Flaxseed, echinacea and yohimbe had the largest number of documented contraindications.

"Our extensive review clearly shows that some HDS ingredients have potentially harmful drug interactions that are predominately moderate in their severity" says Dr Lin. "It also showed that herbal and botanical remedies were more likely to have documented drug interactions and contraindications than the other dietary supplements, such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids."
In an editorial on the review, Professor Edzard Ernst, Emeritus Professor, University of Exeter says that the authors provide an impressively complete overview of a fascinating and potentially important subject.
"Survey after survey shows that large proportions of the population are trying 'natural' remedies for illness-prevention, all sorts of ailments, diseases or for states of reduced well-being" he says. "Most experts therefore agree that the potential for such interactions is substantial.
"Despite this consensus and despite the considerable amount of documented harm generated by such interactions, our current knowledge is still woefully incomplete."
Professor Ernst believes that the number of interactions between HDS and prescribed drugs could be under-reported and just the tip of the iceberg.
He feels that the situation calls for rigorous research, increased awareness of possible HDS prescription interactions by physicians and patients and greater government control of this public health issue.
"Patients deserve reliable information, and it is our duty to provide it" he says. "We have to become vigilant and finally agree to monitor this sector adequately. Each individual doctor can contribute to this process by routinely including questions about alternative medicine use in their medical history taking."
Source:Annette Whibley

Lonely older adults face more health risks

Adopting a positive attitude later in life positively alters body functions, Concordia study shows

 Always look on the bright side of life. Thanks to a new study from Concordia University, this catchy refrain offers a prescription for staying healthy during one's golden years.
Research has shown that lonely older adults are at greater risk of developing health problems but a new study by Carsten Wrosch, a professor in Concordia's Department of Psychology and member of the Centre for Research in Human Development, offers hope. In a forthcoming article in Psychosomatic Medicine, Wrosch proves that older adults who approach life with a positive outlook can reverse the negative health issues associated with a lonely life.
"Our aim was to see whether using self-protective strategies, such as thinking positively and avoiding self-blame in the context of common age-related threats could prevent lonely older adults from exhibiting increases in stress hormones and inflammatory biomarkers," explains Wrosch, who co-authored the article with Concordia's PhD graduate, Rebecca Rueggeberg, and colleagues Gregory Miller from the University of British Columbia and Thomas McDade from Northwestern University in Illinois.
To test this, the research team followed 122 senior citizens over a six-year period. They measured self-protective strategies with a questionnaire where participants were asked to rate statements such as, "Even if my health is in very difficult condition, I can find something positive in life," or "When I find it impossible to overcome a health problem, I try not to blame myself." The research team also measured loneliness by asking participants to what extent they felt lonely or isolated during a typical day.
Wrosch and his colleagues also used saliva and blood samples to measure how much cortisol and C-reactive protein (CRP) the participants produced. These two biological markers were chosen because cortisol is responsible for stress-related changes in the body; and people with elevated CRP are at increased risk of inflammatory illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
Their findings showed that, among lonely older adults, the use of positive thinking helped protect against an increase in cortisol secretion. Four years down the road, further tests showed the participants' CRP levels had improved. In essence, lonely older adults who reframe problematic health circumstances positively and do not blame themselves for negative health issues can decrease health threats associated with stress and inflammation. For those older adults who did not report feelings of loneliness, this type of thinking had no effect – supposedly because their social networks may help them deal with age-related problems.
Overall, these findings could contribute to successful aging. "It's my hope that our research may improve clinical treatment of lonely older adults," says Wrosch. "Older adults can be taught through counseling or therapy to engage in self-protective thoughts like staying positive when it comes to their own health. That means a better quality of life, both physically and mentally – something we all want at any age."
Source:Concordia University 

Exercise boosts satisfaction with life, researchers find

Had a bad day? Extending your normal exercise routine by a few minutes may be the solution, according to Penn State researchers, who found that people's satisfaction with life was higher on days when they exercised more than usual.
"We found that people's satisfaction with life was directly impacted by their daily physical activity," said Jaclyn Maher, graduate student in kinesiology. "The findings reinforce the idea that physical activity is a health behavior with important consequences for daily well-being and should be considered when developing national policies to enhance satisfaction with life."
The team examined the influence of physical activity on satisfaction with life among emerging adults ages 18 to 25 years because this population's sense of well-being appears to worsen more quickly than at any other time during adulthood.
"Emerging adults are going through a lot of changes; they are leaving home for the first time and attending college or starting jobs," said Maher. "As a result, their satisfaction with life can plummet. We decided to focus on emerging adults because they stand to benefit the most from strategies to enhance satisfaction with life."
The researchers recruited two groups of college students at Penn State. The first group, consisting of 190 individuals, entered information into a diary every day for eight days. The second group, consisting of 63 individuals, entered information into a secure website every day for 14 days. Both groups answered questions aimed at determining participants' satisfaction with life, physical activity and self-esteem. The personalities of all participants in the first group were assessed at the outset of the study using the Big Five Inventory short form.
For the second group (the 63 individuals who filled out questionnaires online for 14 days), the researchers wanted to further investigate whether physical activity was indeed, the cause of participants' increased satisfaction with life rather than some other factor such as mental health, fatigue, or Body Mass Index.
"Shifts in depression, anxiety and stress would be expected to influence a person's satisfaction with life at any given point in time," said David Conroy, professor of kinesiology. "In addition, fatigue can be a barrier to engaging in physical activity, and a high Body Mass Index associated with being overweight may cause a person to be less satisfied in a variety of ways."
By controlling for these variables, the researchers were able to determine that the amount of physical activity a person undertakes in a particular day directly influences his or her satisfaction with life. Specifically, the team found that by exercising just a little more than usual a person can significantly improve his or her satisfaction with life.
The results appeared online this week in the journal Health Psychology.
"Based on these findings, we recommend that people exercise a little longer or a little harder than usual as a way to boost satisfaction with life," said Conroy.
Source:Penn State 

New genes discovered for adult BMI levels

CHOP scientists use versatile gene discovery chip to detect gene variants involved in biology of obesity

A large international study has identified three new gene variants associated with body mass index (BMI) levels in adults. The scientific consortium, numbering approximately 200 researchers, performed a meta-analysis of 46 studies, covering gene data from nearly 109,000 adults, spanning four ethnic groups.
In discovering intriguing links to lipid-related diseases, type 2 diabetes and other disorders, the IBC 50K SNP Array BMI Consortium's study may provide fundamental insights into the biology of adult obesity. Scientists from the Center for Applied Genomics at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia led the study, using the CardioChip, a gene array containing probes for some 50,000 genetic variants across 2,100 genes relevant to cardiovascular and metabolic functions.
The study appeared online Sept. 21 in Human Molecular Genetics.
"BMI is a widely used measure of obesity, which affects one third of U.S. adults, and approximately half a billion people worldwide," said first author Yiran Guo, Ph.D., of Children's Hospital, who led the meta-analysis. "Previous studies have shown that genetics plays an important role in obesity, and this study expands our knowledge of BMI genetics."
The researchers first analyzed a dataset of approximately 51,000 individuals of European ancestry (EA) to discover initial gene signals, and then performed replication studies in another 27,000 EA subjects, as well as 14,500 additional EA individuals. Further analyses of data from approximately 12,300 African Americans, 2,600 Hispanics and 1,100 East Asians strengthened the team's findings.
The researchers uncovered three novel signals, from the genes TOMM40-APOE-APOC1, SREBF2 and NTRK2) that were significantly associated with BMI in adults. All had previously been linked to other important disorders. The APOE locus is well known to be involved in blood lipid regulation and circulation, and plays an important role in Alzheimer's disease. The SREBF2 gene is in the same family as SREBF1, linked to type 2 diabetes in another CardioChip study. Finally, NTRK2 codes for a receptor of the BDNF protein, which is known to be related to BMI and is associated with the eating disorder anorexia.
Anorexia is a special interest of Guo, who holds a Davis Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship in Eating Disorders. Guo added that the large dataset from the previous studies allowed the researchers "to enhance our understanding of BMI genetics, as well as the interplay between genetic variants and metabolic disorders such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and lipid-related conditions."
Guo also noted that the team was able to test for conditional associations within genes---independent signals from within the same gene locus. In particular, the researchers discovered that two genes, BDNF and MC4R, each harbor two independent signals for BMI. Both genes were among eight genes previously associated with BMI that the current study was able to replicate, including FTO, SH2B1 and COL4A3BP-HMGCR.
Guo concluded that "while the individual effects of each gene may be small, they may provide fundamental clues to the biology of adult obesity." He added that further studies will investigate gene-gene interactions for the same trait.
Source:Children's Hospital of Philadelphia 

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Legumes Lower Heart Disease Risk in Diabetics

 Eating more legumes - such as beans, chickpeas or lentils - appears to improve blood sugar control and reduce estimated coronary heart disease (CHD) risk in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM), according to a new study.David J.A. Jenkins, M.D., of the University of Toronto and St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto, Canada, and colleagues conducted a randomized controlled trial of 121 patients with type 2 DM to test the effect of eating more legumes on glycemic control, serum (blood) lipid levels and blood pressure (BP).Patients were randomized to either a low-GI legume diet that encouraged patients to increase eating legumes by at least one cup a day or to increase insoluble fiber by eating whole wheat products for three months."People with diabetes did better in terms of blood sugar control on the bean diet versus a diet without beans, which was otherwise extremely healthy," says researcher David J.A. Jenkins, MD, PhD, DSc, professor of medicine and nutrition at the University of Toronto and St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto.The bean diet lowered the predicted risk of heart disease more, too, Jenkins says. And it did so in a way that surprised him, he says. "It reduced heart disease risk predominantly because of its effect on blood pressure," he said."In conclusion, legume consumption of approximately 190 g per day (1 cup) seems to contribute usefully to a low-GI diet and reduce CHD risk through a reduction in BP," the authors note.The study has been published online in the Archives of Internal Medicine. 

Scientists Discover Two Paths Used by Dengue Virus to Penetrate Cells

Two novel cell receptors used by Dengue virus to penetrate target cells have been identified by researchers. 
By demonstrating that it is possible to inhibit the viral infection in vitro by blocking the bonding between the virus and these receptors, the researchers have opened the way to a new antiviral strategy.The Dengue virus circulates in four different forms (four serotypes). It is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. 
The infection is often asymptomatic, or resembles influenza symptoms, but its most serious forms can lead to fatal haemorrhagic fevers. At present, there is no preventive vaccine or efficient antiviral treatment for these four Dengue serotypes. So it is of vital importance that we develop new therapeutic strategies. 
Ali Amara's team performed genetic screening to determine the important function played by the TIM receptors (TIM-1, 3, 4) and TAM receptors (AXL and TYRO-3) in the penetration process of the four Dengue serotypes. 
Amara's team has succeeded in demonstrating that the expression of these 2 receptor families makes cells easier to infect. In addition, and TAM molecules considerably reduced the infection of the the researchers observed that interfering RNA or antibodies that target the TIM cells targeted by the Dengue virus. 
The TIM and TAM molecules belong to two distinct families of transmembrane receptors that interact either directly (TIM) or indirectly (TAM) with phosphatidylserine, an "eat-me" signal that allows the phagocytosis and the elimination of these apoptopic cells. 
Unexpectedly, the work of the Inserm researchers discovered that phosphatidylserine is abundantly expressed at the surface of virions and that it was essential that the TIM and TAM receptors recognize the phosphatidylserine to allow infection of target cells. 
These results have helped to understand the first key stage in the Dengue virus infectious cycle, by discovering a new method of virus entry that works by mimicking the biological functions involved in the elimination of the apoptotic cells. 
The discovery of these new receptors has also opened the way for new antiviral strategies aimed at blocking bonding of the Dengue virus with the TIM and TAM molecules. 
These works were published on line in the review "Cell Host and Microbe."

For Effective Weight Loss Feel the Cold to Activate Brown Fat and Burn Calories

A new path breaking study with a fresh weight loss perspective delves into the effects of brown or 'good' fat and suggests ways to burn calories without having to hit the gym. 

Humans are born with brown fat around their shoulder blades - it plays an important role in maintaining our body temperature as babies, by burning up calories and fat reserves to keep us warm.
Unfortunately, scientists have long thought that brown fat disappears in infancy once its physiological uses have been exhausted. 

Then five years ago, brown fat was 'rediscovered' in adults, when researchers carrying out scans on adult patients in the winter months noticed areas of fat that seemed to be turned on by the cold weather. 
Their scans detected a few ounces of brown fat in the upper back, on the side of the neck, in the dip between the collarbone and the shoulder, and along the spine. 
Since then, brown fat has become a rapidly growing area of interest among researchers who believe it could hold a vital key to weight problems, the Daily mail reported. 
It's now believed that not just the cold, but certain foods can also activate it. So, too, can exercise. 
In a study published in the Journal of Pediatrics in June, Professor Michael Symonds Symonds has suggested some simple ways to activate brown fat in the body. 
Turn down the heating and put on a jumper if you feel really cold, Professor Symonds suggested adding, "We need to feel the cold to burn calories." 
Add chilli peppers to food - the active ingredient capsaicin has been shown to trigger brown fat into action, according to him. 
He asked people, who want to lose weight, to avoid the gym and instead take a walk, go for a cycle or just skip outdoors on a cold day. Doing so can get brown fat working. 
He said outdoor exercise of any kind is beneficial. 
Dairy products - yoghurt, milk and cheese are thought to be important in activating brown fat. 
But he warned people to avoid high-fat, sugary carbohydrates and highly processed foods as they may have an adverse impact on brown fat. 
Drinking cold water or ice-cold juice may also provide the benefit, noted Professor Symonds. 
Some studies have shown that cold drinks help to keep the body's core temperature lower during exercise - the effects might also trigger brown fat into action.



Meat-Rich Diet Poses Risk of Asthma and Hay Fever

Asthma and hay fever are linked to high intake of meat in western diet. Excessive consumption of meat increases the risk of asthma and hay fever. 
A recent cross-sectional study conducted by Richard Rosenkarnz of the University of Western Sydney and his colleague have revealed that intake of meat can enhance the risk of asthma and hay fever.
 Around 156,035 Australian men and women were enrolled in the study. It was noted that high intake of meat was associated with 10 percent and 25 percent increase in diagnosed cases of asthma (AS) and hay fever or asthma (HF/AS). 

Male volunteers were given diet containing either of the components: meat/cheese; fruits/vegetables; poultry/seafood; grains/alcohol while female volunteers were given food containing meat; fruits/vegetables; poultry/seafood; cereal/alcohol; brown bread/cheese. The researchers found that meat was directly related with asthma. Even poultry and seafood were found to increase the risk for ailments such as asthma or hay fever. 
However, brown bread or cheese was found to protect women against asthma. 
Rosenkarnz stated, “Looking at the analyses for both sexes, diets generally high in meat, particularly diets marked by greater consumption of poultry, seafood and red and processed meats in females, and diets marked by greater amounts of red meat, processed meat, and cheese consumption in males, appear to be risk factors for AS and AS/HF diagnosis in this population.” 
The researchers mentioned that a typical Western diet is poor in antioxidants and high in saturated fats and calories, which makes the people susceptible for these conditions. 

Dietary factors associated with lifetime asthma or hayfever diagnosis in Australian middle-aged and older adults: a cross-sectional study; Richard Rosenkarnz et al; Nutrition Journal 2012.


Older adults worse at distinguishing between lifted weights than younger counterparts

Study shows older people guess weights more inaccurately than younger people

As we grow older, we are less capable of correctly estimating differences in the weights of objects we lift, according to a study published Oct. 24 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Jessica Holmin and Farley Norman from North Dakota State University and Western Kentucky University, respectively.
Previous studies have shown that aging is frequently associated with a decrease in muscle mass and consequently strength, making it more difficult to lift objects. As a result, older adults often perceive weights they lift as being heavier than they actually are. In the current study, the authors took this one step further and assessed the ability of younger and older participants to accurately judge the ratio of two weights lifted in succession.
Participants in two age groups, 18-31 and 64-78 years old were asked to lift paired weights, picking up each weight individually, and then to provide a weight ratio estimating how much heavier one object was than the other. For example, with 30g and 300g weights, the weight ratio would be 10.
The researchers found that the older adults were much farther off the mark than the younger group, consistently estimating the weight ratios as much higher than they actually were. The authors suggest that their results may be useful for designing clinical tests to assess the effects of ageing on the brain.
Source:Public Library of Science 

Lactation Protein Suppresses Tumors and Metastasis in Breast Cancer, UB and Princeton Scientists Discover

 A protein that is necessary for lactation in mammals inhibits the critical cellular transition that is an early indicator of breast cancer and metastasis, according to research conducted at the University at Buffalo and Princeton University and highlighted as the cover paper in November issue of Nature Cell Biology.
"This is the first confirmed report that this protein, called Elf5, is a tumor suppressor in breast cancer," explains Satrajit Sinha, PhD, associate professor of biochemistry in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and a corresponding author on the paper with Yibin Kang, PhD, in the Department of Molecular Biology at Princeton University.
The researchers say the findings provide new avenues to pursue in treating and diagnosing breast cancer and possibly cancers of other organs as well. The paper includes findings from both animal and human breast cancer models.
Under normal circumstances, Elf5 is a transcription factor that controls the genes that allow for milk production.
But when the researchers used knockout mice developed at UB, in whom Elf5 was removed, they found more than just an inability to produce milk. They found that epithelial cells in the mammary glands also became more mesenchymal, that is, more like stem cells, an early harbinger of cancer, Sinha says.
"We found that when Elf5 levels are low or absent, epithelial cells become more like stem cells, morphing into mesenchymal cells, changing their shape and appearance and migrating elsewhere in the body," says Sinha. "This is how cancer spreads."
The UB-Princeton collaboration began when lead author Rumela Chakrabarti, PhD, originally a postdoctoral researcher in Sinha's laboratory at UB, took a position in the laboratory of Yibin Kang, PhD, Warner-Lambert/Parke-Davis Professor of Molecular Biology at Princeton, whose research focus is breast cancer metastasis. This allowed Chakrabarti to harness the expertise of the two laboratories to generate such a breakthrough finding.
"Elf5 keeps normal breast cells in their current shape and restricts their movement," says Chakrabarti. She found that the protein accomplishes this by suppressing the epithelial-mesenchymal transition by directly repressing transcription of Snail2, a master regulator of mammary stem cells known to trigger the EMT.
"Elf5 keeps Snail2 repressed, but once Elf5 is lost, then there is nothing to repress Snail 2," she explains.
The paper notes that Elf5 loss is frequently detected early in the disease at the breast hyperplasia stage, when the number of cells increases. In experiments conducted by the Princeton scientists, the researchers also found that little or no Elf5 in human breast cancer samples correlated with increased morbidity.
"It seems that loss of Elf5 is an initial event in the disease, so it could also be an important diagnostic tool," Sinha notes, which is a current focus of the UB and Princeton team.
"We want to know, how early does the loss of Elf5 occur? Could we use loss of Elf5 as a reliable diagnostic tool?" he asks.
The finding reveals the complex pathways through which breast cancers develop, he says, while also providing new avenues to pursue for diagnostics and treatments.
"Our research shows that the EMT-Snail 2 pathway is a valuable one to target for early breast cancer intervention," says Sinha, "possibly by designing something to recapture the repressive effect of Elf5 or a drug that could mimic Elf5 activity. And this is just one molecule, part of a big network. That's why we are now creating a detailed map of this molecule and its associated partners in order to give us a better idea of what to look for."
Other UB co-authors on the paper are Rose-Anne Romano, PhD, research assistant professor in biochemistry, and Kirsten Smalley, research technician. Other coauthors are: Julie Hwang, Mario Andres Blanco, Martin Lukacisin and Yong Wei from Princeton; Song Liu of Roswell Park Cancer Institute; Qifeng Yang and Bruce F. Haffty of the Department of Radiation Oncology in the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and the Cancer Institute of New Jersey; and Toni Ibrahim, Laura Mercatali and Dino Amadori of the Istituto Scientifico Romagnolo per lo Studio e la Cura dei Tumori in Italy.
The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, Komen for the Cure, the Brewster Foundation and the Champalimaud Foundation.
Source:University of Buffalo

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Health ministry plans to revise licensing fee structure for homoeopathic drugs

The Union health ministry is planning to increase the fees for licenses of homoeopathic drugs as there is some ambiguity in the existing rules, especially in the case of granting approvals to additional items by the license holders.
“Rule 85-B(5) provides for fee of Rs.50 for approval of additional item by license holders . As per Rules 85-B(2), there is no limit for the items to be approved at the time of grant of license. Thus an applicant can have as many items as he wants by depositing just Rs.250 while a license holder is required to pay Rs.50.per item as additional items. It appears that, there is some ambiguity in the Rules, which needs to be looked into,” sources said.
Taking into account of this aspect, it has been decided that an expert panel would consider reviewing the matter and suggest increase in the fees, along with revision of fees in allopathic drugs which is under process now. The matter came up before the Drug Consultative Committee (DCC) also and got its approval for revision of fees.
Already a panel had been constituted to look into the fee structure of contract manufacturing licenses after the issue was raised by many States. DCC had constituted a sub-committee consisting of Drugs Controllers of Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra and with Dr. V G Somani, deputy drugs controller, CDSCO, HQ as convener to examine the matter in detail and give recommendations for changes, if any, under the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945.
This committee is expected to go into the possible revision of license fees for homoeopathic medicines also. The panel has been asked to submit the recommendations by next month, sources revealed.

Breastfeeding Cuts Breast Cancer Risk: Study

It is not only babies who benefit from breastfeeding but even mothers as well. A study has found that breastfeeding can reduce the risk of breast cancer in women. 
Researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health examined the association between reproductive risk factors - such as the number of children a woman delivers, breast-feeding and oral contraceptive use - and found an increased risk for estrogen receptor- and progesterone receptor- (ER/PR) negative breast cancer in women who do not breast-feed.
The results also indicated that having three or more children without breast-feeding was associated with an increased risk for ER/PR-negative breast cancer. ER/PR-negative breast cancer often affects younger women and has a poor prognosis. 

The researchers used data from three sites of the Breast Cancer Family Registry, which includes women with and without breast cancer from the U.S., Canada and Australia. The study included 4,011 women with breast cancer and 2,997 population-based controls. 
"Women who had children but did not breast-feed had about 1.5 times the risk for ER/PR-negative breast cancer," said Meghan Work, MPH, doctoral student in the Department of Epidemiology and first author. 
"If women breast-fed their children, there was no increased risk for ER/PR-negative cancer. This is particularly important as breast-feeding is a modifiable factor that can be promoted and supported through health policy," Work said. 
The investigators also found that oral contraceptive use was not associated with ER/PR-negative cancer risk, with the exception of those formulations available before 1975. 
"These earlier formulations contained higher doses of estrogen and progestin than more recent versions," Work said. 
These results are in line with previous findings that have demonstrated a breast-feeding benefit in triple-negative breast cancer, which includes estrogen and progesterone receptor negative cancers. 
"The consistency of the association with breast-feeding and estrogen receptor negative tumors across a number of studies is particularly noteworthy as there have been few modifiable risk factors identified for this tumor subtype," said Mary Beth Terry, PhD, associate professor of Epidemiology and senior author of the paper. 
The paper was presented at the 11th Annual AACR International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research.

Study Explores How Laziness can Kill You

In a recent study, researchers have explored the role of inactivity in causing ill health. People who are inactive can eat poorly, be obese, smoke and have other lifestyle issues.
The researchers from the University of Missouri in the US devised a novel approach - they stopped a group of very active people from exercising as usual. 

They got them to cut the number of steps they took each day by at least half and the question the researchers asked was will this physical laziness stop the body from being able to control blood sugar - the key disease-inducing factor for diabetes and heart disease. 
Volunteers were fitted with glucose measuring devices so that their blood sugar could be checked continuously through 24 hours. 
They were asked to move about as little as possible but eat normally, the Mirror reported. 
To examine their basic blood sugar control, these healthy people were told they could walk and exercise as normal for three days. 
During these three days their blood sugar didn't spike at all after eating, a sign that they had perfect control over their blood sugar and they were ideally sensitive to insulin. 
For the second part of the experiment, the volunteers became virtually sedentary and the time spent exercising fell to about three minutes. 
The researchers found that during those three inactive days, blood glucose levels spiked after every meal with the peaks being 25 percent higher than during active days. 
In other words, blood sugar went more and more out of control, the longer the subjects remained inactive, but if being inactive is your way of life, this experiment shows that the knock-on effect is your insulin loses its effect and you're on the slippery slope to ill health.


Chinese Herbs Benefit Patients With Lung Cancer

Chinese herbs that include JHQG, BFXL, and BFHX proved to be effective for non-small cell lung cancer, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and influenza. In three separate studies, researchers from China Academy of Chinese Medical Science in Beijing analyzed the health benefits of Chinese herbs on patients with NSCLC, IPF, and seasonal influenza.  Researchers found that JHQG helped to prolong survival in patients with metastatic NSCLC compared with patients receiving standard care; was safe and effective in the management of IPF and could also help improve patients' quality of life and activity capacity; and helped to reduce fever in patients with influenza compared with placebo. Researchers conclude that Chinese herbs could be used as an alternative treatment for the aforementioned conditions. This study was presented during CHEST 2012, the annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians, held October 20 – 25, in Atlanta, Georgia.
Source: American College of Chest Physicians 

Healthy Diet, Exposure to Sunlight May Prevent Osteoporosis

Working for long hours at night, lack of exposure to sunlight and unhealthy diets are some of the reasons for early onset of osteoporosis, according to experts. 
In India, one in three women over the age of 50 suffer fractures due to osteoporosis, a condition where bones wear out and become weak. Drinking less milk, avoiding sunlight exposure, omitting exercises and unhealthy diet are a few reasons, say experts.
 Osteoporosis causes the bones to become fragile, increasing the chances of fracture and even minor injury. The symptoms of the ailment include back pain or tenderness, a loss of height, and a slight curvature or 'hump' of the upper back. 

According to orthopedicians, in India about 26 million people suffer from osteoporosis, of which 70 percent comprise women. This number is expected to reach 36 million by 2013. 
"During menopause, the level of estrogen produced by the ovaries decreases significantly leading to an increased risk of bone loss. As women age estrogen levels decrease and the risk of osteoporosis increases. During childbirth women lose a lot of calcium that is often not replenished. So women between 45 to 50 who have irregular periods should start with calcium supplements," Pankaj Walecha, senior consultant, orthopedics, Primus Super Specialty Hospital, said. 
"Usually we see fractures in the wrist, hip and spine area," Walecha said. 
Ispita Gaur, 45, a MNC employee and mother of two, said she developed osteoporosis six months ago. She regrets that she had never exercised earlier. 
"My work hours would extend beyond ten hours, and I never concentrated on my diet. I used to grab a burger and cold drink whenever I was hungry. On top of that I never made time for exercise, which has led me to this," regrets Gaur. 
Orthopedicians recommend weight-bearing activities such as walking, running, racket sports as these are more effective in maintaining the density of the leg and spinal bones. 
"Regular exercise, for example a brisk walk of about 30 minutes everyday. Inclusion of more dairy products, egg white, salmon fish in diet would lower the risk of osteoporosis," S Rajasekaran, president, Indian orthopedic association said. 
Apart from this doctors inform that many men and women in India keep away from sunlight - a good source of Vitamin D. 
"Exposure to sunlight for at least 20 minutes every day is necessary. Drinking glass of milk rich in calcium lowers the chance of bone loss since calcium is one of the main components in bone; over 70 percent of women develop osteoporosis," said Vineet Suri, senior consultant of neurology at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals. 
Osteoporosis also affects 40 percent of men who are regular smokers and who have a high intake of alcohol and caffeine. 
"Adopting a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise and routine bone density checks after 40 years of age for women and 55 years for men will help them form a healthy bone mass and ensure fracture-free life," Rajasekaran added.


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