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Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Women can tell a cheating man just by looking at them: study

 Women can tell with some accuracy whether an unfamiliar male is faithful simply by looking at his face, but men seem to lack the same ability when checking out women, according to an Australian study published on Wednesday.In a paper that appeared in the journal Biology Letters, the researchers found that women tended to make that judgment based on how masculine-looking the man was."Women's ratings of unfaithfulness showed small-moderate, significant correlations with measures of actual infidelity," wrote the team, led by Gillian Rhodes at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders at the University of Western Australia in Perth."More masculine-looking men (were) rated as more probable to be unfaithful and having a sexual history of being more unfaithful."Attractiveness was not a factor in the women making the link.In the study, 34 men and 34 women were shown colour photographs of 189 Caucasian adult faces and asked to rate them for faithfulness.The researchers compared their answers to the self-reported sexual histories of the 189 individuals and found that the women participants were better able to tell who was faithful and who was not."We provide the first evidence that faithfulness judgments, based solely on facial appearance, have a kernel of truth," they wrote in the paper.Men, on the other hand, seemed to have no clue. They tended to perceive attractive, feminine women to be unfaithful, when there was no evidence that they were, the scientists noted.Faithfulness is seen as important in the context of sexual relationships and mate choice, the scientists wrote in the paper. Men with unfaithful partners risk raising another man's child, while women with unfaithful partners risk losing some, or even all, parental and other resources to competitors.

How to Prevent Weight Gain During Holidays?

Tempting food fest, which can make you gain some extra pounds, is a part of the holiday season routine. While research shows that the average person really only gains about a pound over the course of the holidays, it can still have a big cumulative effect on waistlines. That's because the extra weight usually doesn't come off the following year.Lack of sleep, an abundance of decadent food and the stress of the holidays are the perfect storm for weight gain. Implementing a personal wellness plan will get you through the holiday season without adding to your waistline," said Kari Kooi, a registered dietitian at The Methodist Hospital in Houston. 
So, Kooi has suggested ten tips to prevent you from gaining extra weight. One way according to her is by wearing something fitted. If you wear form-fitting clothing, you'll be less likely to overeat because the tighter fit will remind you not to eat to the point of discomfort, she said. 
She also suggest to wear something that makes you feel attractive, giving you a sense of empowerment. 
Eating breakfast properly is another simple way to maintain your weight. Kooi said eating a substantial breakfast can keep you from overeating later on in the day and it revs up your metabolism. But your breakfast should include a protein-rich food item such as low-fat Greek yogurt or natural peanut butter spread on whole-wheat toast. 
Don't arrive to a holiday event hungry or resistance will be futile, she stated. 
Have a light, protein-rich snack such as a small handful of almonds with a piece of fruit before going to a holiday event. Make it a priority to visit with the people, not so much the buffet table, she added. 
According to her, liquid calories do not satisfy hunger and can quickly lead to weight gain when consumed in excess. Also sugary holiday drinks like cocoa, eggnog and apple cider can cause blood sugar swings that leave you feeling even hungrier. Instead drink hot spiced teas, she suggested. 
She has also advised people to limit alcohol intake. As for alcohol, moderation is the key because its inhibition-lowering effect can quickly lead to overeating, she said. 
Exercise regularly and sleep well, she stated. 
Set a goal of just 30 minutes of aerobic exercise each day and get in just two strength training sessions to tighten and tone, she said. 
According to her, getting less than six hours of sleep a night causes cravings for starchy, sugary foods (hello frosted Santa-shaped cookies) and dissolves your resolve to make healthy food decisions. 
Most health experts recommend at least seven hours of sleep a night to feel fully rested. 
Apart from socializing, getting together with a friend to walk and talk will burn calories, relieve stress and help with accountability, she suggested. 
Kooi further suggest practicing mindfulness by being aware of what you are eating, the portion size and why you are eating. 
Keep portions in check by sticking with a sliver of dessert or just a couple of rich hors d'oeuvres. Keeping a food journal is the best way to raise awareness of food intake, she stated. 
People should free themselves of guilt as Kooi says feeling guilty for indulging often leads to a downward spiral. 
Instead, channel those emotions in a more positive way by going for a brisk walk. Start fresh the next morning by recharging your motivation with a positive self-talk. Gain perspective and realize that a day of overeating doesn't have to sabotage your best laid plans, she has suggested.


Eating Tomatoes Helps Ward Off Depression

People who consume tomatoes two to six times a week are less likely to suffer from depression than those who consume less than once a week, finds study. 
Eating them every day slashed the risk by 52%, according to the study
But other fruits and vegetables do not have the same benefits. Eating healthy foods like cabbage, carrots, onions and pumpkins appeared to have little or no effect on psychological well-being, the study found. 

Tomatoes are good source of lycopene, an antioxidant that gives them their deep red colour and has been linked with reducing the risk of prostate cancer and heart attacks. 
The team of researchers from China and Japan, led by Dr Kaijun Niu from China's Tianjin Medical University, wanted to investigate preliminary reports that lycopene might also promote psychological and well as physical health by reducing oxidative stress, or damage to healthy brain cells. 
They analysed the mental health records and dietary habits of just under 1,000 elderly Japanese men and women aged 70 or over. 
The researchers said they cannot be sure if lycopene in tomatoes directly affects the mind, or whether it simply protects against the depression caused when people develop potentially fatal diseases like cancer. 
"These results suggest that a tomato-rich diet may have a beneficial effect on the prevention of depressive symptoms. In contrast, no relationship was observed with intake of other kinds of vegetables," the Daily Mail quoted the researchers as writing in a report on the findings published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.


Feeling Cold? Nostalgic Thoughts Can Warm You Up, Study Finds

 Feeling Cold?  Nostalgic Thoughts Can Warm You Up, Study FindsIf you are feeling cold on dark and wintry nights, try remembering days gone by because new research reveals nostalgic thoughts would be an effective way to keep you physically warm when you are feeling cold. The study investigated the effects of nostalgic feelings on reaction to cold and the perception of warmth. The volunteers, from universities in China and the Netherlands, took part in one of five studies.
The first asked participants to keep an account of their nostalgic feelings over 30 days. Results showed they felt more nostalgic on colder days. The second study put participants in one of three rooms: cold (20 degree C), comfortable (24 degree C) and hot (28 degree C), and then measured how nostalgic they felt. Participants felt more nostalgic in the cold room than in the comfortable and hot rooms. The volunteers in the comfortable and hot rooms did not differ. 

The third study, which was conducted online, used music to evoke nostalgia to see if it was linked to warmth. The participants who said the music made them feel nostalgic also tended to say that the music made them feel physically warmer. 
The fourth study tested the effect of nostalgia on physical warmth by placing participants in a cold room and instructing them to recall either a nostalgic or ordinary event from their past. They were then asked to guess the temperature of the room. Those who recalled a nostalgic event perceived the room they were in to be warmer. 
Study five again instructed participants to recall either a nostalgic or ordinary event from their past. They then placed their hand in ice-cold water to see how long they could stand it. Findings showed that the volunteers who indulged in nostalgia held their hand in the water for longer. 
"Nostalgia is experienced frequently and virtually by everyone and we know that it can maintain psychological comfort. For example, nostalgic reverie can combat loneliness. We wanted to take that a step further and assess whether it can also maintain physiological comfort," said Dr Tim Wildschut, senior lecturer at the University of Southampton and co-author of the study. 
"Our study has shown that nostalgia serves a homeostatic function, allowing the mental simulation of previously enjoyed states, including states of bodily comfort; in this case making us feel warmer or increasing our tolerance of cold. More research is now needed to see if nostalgia can combat other forms of physical discomfort, besides low temperature," he added. 
The study has been published in the journal Emotion.


Medicinal Properties of the Banana Plant

The banana tree is actually the largest herbaceous flowering plant in the world which on an average is 20 - 25 feet tall. There is a lot more to this humble fruit than meets the eye. This starch-rich fruit doubles as a meal many a time.There are various varieties and shapes and sizes of bananas. It has been found that bananas have curative properties both scientifically and traditionally. Birds and animals - especially monkeys and elephants love bananas.
There are many healing and medicinal properties of bananas: The high content of iron in bananas increases the production of hemoglobin in the blood -therefore they are very good for anemia.

 They regulate bowel movement - whether it is constipation or diarrhea. Our elders believed that eating a banana after every meal improved digestion significantly.

 When you suffer from a hangover - a banana milkshake with honey can give you immense relief. Cold milk soothes the stomach lining and bananas with honey build up depleted blood sugar levels.

 Bananas are exceedingly good for students as the rich source of potassium can make a person very alert; the fruit is often called a brain tonic.

 Bananas work well as a snack for people who have high blood pressure as they are wholesome with low salt levels.

 For those suffering from depression, bananas are good as they contain a protein called serotonin – which is also called the ‘happy hormone’ as it makes one feel happy and relaxed.

 Bananas can be eaten frequently to treat ulcers as they neutralize acidity in the stomach. This soft and smooth fruit cannot irritate the stomach walls.

 For pregnant women suffering from morning sickness, eating bananas in between meals helps immensely in settling the queasiness in the stomach.

 Eating bananas helps people give up smoking as this fruit is rich in vitamin C, A, B6 and B12. Bananas contain potassium and magnesium as well, which help the body recover from nicotine withdrawal.

 Bananas have an antacid effect, so people who experience heartburn find relief on eating a banana.

 Potassium is a vital mineral which normalizes heartbeat while regulating the body’s water balance. As banana is a rich source of potassium, it re-balances disturbances of fluids in the body.

 For weight watchers, banana is an excellent snack in place of crisps and chocolates. Research found that food craving during high pressure work could be assuaged safely and in a healthy manner by eating a banana every 2-3 hourly as it is a high carbohydrate food that controls blood sugar levels.

 Topically, the peel of a banana – with the yellow side on top can be taped to a wart. It will shrivel and fall off.

 The peel of a banana fruit can be rubbed on a mosquito bite with good effect, the stinging sensation stops and the swelling also reduces.

 A ripe banana mashed and applied on the face is great at moisturizing and nourishing tired and dry skin.
Banana Stem:When a bunch of bananas is harvested, the stem/tree is cut away. The tender inner stem is used as food and has many medicinal properties as well.
Layers of hard outer stem are peeled away and only the tender inner stem is used. It is very fibrous, so the thread fiber has to be cleaned. The stem is chopped into small bits and soaked in buttermilk or diluted yogurt for half hour. In Southern parts of India, it is cooked as a vegetable and eaten along with rice.
The banana stem has fiber – this is very beneficial for those on a weight-loss program. It is also a rich source of potassium and vitamin B6 which helps in the production of insulin and hemoglobin. Eating banana stem once a week keeps high blood pressure in control. Banana stem also maintains fluid balance within the body. It is a diuretic and helps detoxify the body. The popular belief is that eating banana stem is very good for kidney stones.
Banana Flower:
The banana flower grows at the end of a bunch of bananas. It is a leafy maroon colored cone with cream colored florets layered inside. These florets need to be cleaned well before they are cooked as a vegetable. The banana flower is rich in vitamins, flavonoids and proteins. The flower has been used in traditional medicine to treat bronchitis, constipation and ulcer problems. It eases menstrual cramps. The extracts of banana flower have anti oxidant properties that prevent free radicals and control cell and tissue damage.
Banana Plant Leaves:
In India and Asia, banana leaves are used like aluminum foil. They are used to wrap food prior to steaming and grilling. The leaf makes an excellent platter and food served on these leaves tastes delicious. The leaves are not eaten but while steaming food some of the polyphenols are imparted to the food.
Red Skinned Bananas:
The peel of this type of bananas is a maroon red color and they are plumper than normal bananas. They are also highly nutritious - the vitamin C content depends on how red the banana is. The potassium content is high - more or less like the yellow bananas. The flavor of red bananas is unique and they are delicious and rare.


In Future Chinese Astronauts may Grow Vegetables on Moon

After a lab experiment in Beijing, an official said that Chinese astronauts may get fresh vegetables and oxygen supplies through gardening at extraterrestrial bases on the Moon in the future. 
Deng Yibing, deputy director of the Beijing-based Chinese Astronaut Research and Training Center, said the experiment focused on a dynamic balanced mechanism of oxygen, carbon dioxide, and water between people and plants in a closed system, reported Xinhua.According to Deng, a cabin of 300 cubic metres was established to provide sustainable supplies of air, water and food for two participants during the experiment. 
Four kinds of vegetables were grown, taking in carbon dioxide and providing oxygen for the two people living in the cabin. They could also harvest fresh vegetables for meals, Deng said. 
The experiment, the first of its kind in China, is extremely important for the long-term development of China's manned space programme, Deng added. 
The cabin, a controlled ecological life support system (CELSS) built in 2011, is a model of China's third generation of astronauts' life support systems, which is expected to be used in extraterrestrial bases on the Moon or Mars. 
The introduction of a CELSS seeks to provide sustainable supplies of air, water and food for astronauts with the help of plants and algae, instead of relying on stocks of such basics deposited on board at the outset of the mission. 
Advance forms of CELSS also involve the breeding of animals for meat and using microbes to recycle wastes. 
Scientists from Germany also participated in the experiments.


Tuesday, 4 December 2012

KIMMA, Karnataka Ayush dept urge Centre to make rules for herbs collection & transportation

Karnataka Indian Medicine Manufacturers Association (KIMMA) and the State Department of Ayush have jointly requested the Union government to draw up guidelines on the collection and transportation of herbs and medicinal plants sourced by the Ayush industry.
In this regard, it has taken a first step to provide the Karnataka State Bio-diversity Board about the details of the medicinal plants utilised by the Karnataka industry along with information on the source of its collection and procurement.
“Unless the Union government draws guidelines for collection/ transportation of such collected materials to other states it is not possible to regulate the collection and transport of these materials. Karnataka state bio-diversity board insists that the herbal drug industry should provide the information regarding geographical location from where these materials are collected. But this information is not available to the industry and they are unable to provide the same. However, we are making the best efforts to ensure that industry in the state can list out the source,” JSD Pani, president, KIMMA told Pharmabiz.
Out of 188 Ayush drug manufacturing units in Karnataka, 80 units are in and around Bengaluru and most of them are tiny and housed in the residential/commercial hubs of the city. Most of these units do procure raw-materials from the traders across the country and the address of such traders is provided to state bio-diversity board, he added.
In order to highlight and discuss issues impacting the development of the Ayush sector which included the Enforcement of Karnataka Biodiversity Act and its effect on tiny industries, Pollution Control Board approvals to tiny and small units in green category, recent amendments to Drugs & Cosmetics (D&C) Rules 1945, draft notification on Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) for approved drug test and in-house test labs, both Karnataka department of Ayush and KIMMA along with the Ayurvedic Drug Manufacturers' Association (ADMA) officials met with the 100 industry chiefs in the state. The meeting also indicated the incentives from Karnataka Department of Ayush to set up new units and additional new facilities. The Association and the department had also discussed about the industry proposals on the concession to be incorporated in the State budget 2013-14.
 Commenting on the stand taken by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) on not according permission to herbal units, Pani pointed out that the move was strongly protested by the industry. He said that the Ayush industry stated that the flour mills, hotels and restaurants were permitted operation in similar hubs by the State Pollution Control Board. In fact the pollution generated by these establishments was much higher than the non-polluting tiny Ayurveda units. 
KIMMA had given a representation to the KSPCB and its former chairman gave the assurance to constitute a committee which would include KIMMA and the State Ayush dept to study the status of these tiny units and give report. Now with the change of guard at the KSPCB, the representation is now in cold storage. Efforts are now on to take up the issue and find a viable solution with the new KSPCB, said Pani.

Einstein's Brain was Exceptionally Complicated

 Einstein's Brain was Exceptionally ComplicatedResearchers say that Albert Einstein's brain, which was of average size, contained an unusually high number of folds that may have provided him with the ability to think in "extraordinary ways". 
Although the Nobel Prize winner's brain was divided into 240 blocks and distributed to researchers after his death in 1955, most of the specimens were lost and little was written about its anatomy.
 Now scientists have used photographs of the brain before it was segmented to produce a "road map" connecting the 240 sections and the 2,000 thin slivers into which they were later split. 

The photographs, taken from the private collection of Thomas Harvey, the pathologist who divided the brain up, reveal a number of peculiarities about Einstein's brain. 
A comparison with 85 other brains showed that although the great scientist's brain was only of average size, weighing 1,230 grams, certain areas contains an unusually high number of folds and grooves. 
In each of the brain's lobes, anthropologist Dean Falk of Florida State University found "regions that are exceptionally complicated in their convolutions." 
The finding confirmed reports in two previous papers, which suggested that an unusual pattern of ridges in the brain could have been linked to Einstein's remarkable ability to solve problems in physics, but which were based only on a handful of images. 
Falk and colleagues also observed that Einstein's brain was enlarged in regions which transmit nerve impulses to the face and tongue, and in the prefrontal cortex, which is linked to concentration and forward planning. 
The extra matter in areas linked to the face and tongue could explain a comment by the scientist that his thinking was "muscular" rather than taking the form of words. 
"It may be that he used his motor cortex in extraordinary ways," the Telegraph quoted the researchers as saying. 
As well as using the photographs to examine the brain, the team were also able to map out the 240 brain sections in the hope that other scientists could use them for future projects. 
"What's great about this paper is that it puts down ... the entire anatomy of Einstein's brain in great detail," Albert Galaburda, a Harvard Medical School neuroscientist, told the Science journal. 
The findings of the study have been published in the journal Brain.


Teen smoking decreases bone accumulation in girls, may increase osteoporosis risk

Teenage girls who smoke accumulate less bone during a critical growth period and carry a higher risk of developing osteoporosis later in life, according to new research in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
In a study published Dec. 4, researchers at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center report the data can be useful for developing strategies to help prevent osteoporosis (a disease where bones lose mineral density and become brittle) and bone fractures. The study points to the largest negative impact on bone mineral density occurring in the lumbar region of the spine and the hips – areas of particular fracture risk for older women with osteoporosis.
"Osteoporosis is a costly health problem affecting an estimated 10 million Americans, with an additional 34 million considered at risk," said Lorah Dorn, PhD., principal investigator and director of research in the Division of Adolescent Medicine at Cincinnati Children's. "To our knowledge this is the first longitudinal study to test and demonstrate that smoking by girls, as well as symptoms of depression, have a negative impact on bone accrual during adolescence."
Numerous studies have been conducted in adults showing a link between smoking and decreased bone density accrual. Dorn and her colleagues focused their research on adolescent girls as they progressed through their teens because this is when 50 percent of bone accrual occurs.
"As much bone is accrued in the two years surrounding a girl's first menstrual cycle as is lost in the last four decades of life," Dorn explained.
The researchers set out to determine the impact of smoking, symptoms of depression and anxiety and alcohol use on bone accrual in girls aged 11 to 19 years. The study enrolled 262 healthy girls from the Cincinnati area in age groups of 11, 13, 15 and 17 years.
The girls received annual clinical exams for three years at which measurements were taken for total body bone mineral content and bone mineral density. Using established measures the girls self-reported how often they smoked or used alcohol and any symptoms of depression or anxiety.
Researchers said high-frequency smoking was associated with a lower rate of lumbar spine and total hip bone mineral density from the age of 11 to age 19. Higher depressive symptoms were associated with lower lumbar spine bone mineral density in all ages. Also, the researchers reported that alcohol intake had no impact on any bone outcomes.
Dorn said the data show that bone mass was essentially equal among study participants at age 13, regardless of how much or little the girls smoked. As the girls progressed through their teen years, heavier smokers had a lower rate of bone mass accrual in the hip and spine than girls who smokes less frequently.
Girls in the study who reported a higher rate of symptoms for depression continued to accrue bone, but at a lower upward trajectory than girls who reported fewer depressive symptoms.
The researchers stressed that the current study should be followed up with additional research to include a broader geographic area and races other than black and white girls. They also noted the sample of girls in the current study fell below recommended national guidelines for calcium intake and physical activity, and that the findings may not generalize to girls who meet those standards.
Source:Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center 

Working towards happiness

10902_005_003_234x153 Raising the retirement age to increase financial stability does not make men worse off psychologically in the long-run, according to a new study by Dr. Elizabeth Mokyr Horner, from the University of California, Berkeley in the US. Her work shows that individuals go through the same psychological stages as they adjust to retirement, with life satisfaction stabilizing after 70, irrespective of how old they are when they retire. The study is published online in Springer'sJournal of Happiness Studies.
As we live longer, the size of the retired population relative to that of tax

payers is growing, creating mounting costs with dwindling resources.
Despite country variation in public pension programs and retirement age regimes, the vast majority of current social security programs are financially unstable. As a result,
 several countries have been steadily raising their retirement age.
Dr. Mokyr Horner's work investigates the relationship between

Dr. Mokyr Horner's work investigates the relationship between retirement and happiness in individuals near retirement and afterwards. She analyzed international data from the 2006 Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe for 14 EU countries, the 2006 English Longitudinal Study of Ageing in the UK and the 2004 Health and Retirement Study for the US. The data covered a total of 18,345 fully retired men aged between 50-70 years. The researcher was particularly interested in how satisfied they were with their lives at different time points after retirement.
In the time surrounding retirement, the men experienced a large improvement in well-being and life satisfaction. A few years after retirement, however, levels of happiness fell rapidly. This happened irrespective of how old men were when they retired. In the long-run i.e. post 70 years, happiness levels stabilized for all.
Dr. Mokyr Horner concludes: "A later formal retirement simply delays the well-being benefits of 

retirement in men, and age of formal retirement is relatively neutral with regard to overall

 happiness. Given the growing fiscal pressures to adjust the age of retirement upwards, it can be

 inferred from my studies that well-being may be, on balance, affected only marginally - if at all - 

by such changes."
Horner EM (2012). Subjective well-being and retirement: analysis and policy recommendations.Journal of Happiness Studies; DOI 10.1007/s10902-012-9399-2
The full-text article is available to journalists on request.

Meditation with art therapy can change your brain and lower anxiety

Cancer and stress go hand-in-hand, and high stress levels can lead to poorer health outcomes in cancer patients. The Jefferson-Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine combined creative art therapy with a Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program for women with breast cancer and showed changes in brain activity associated with lower stress and anxiety after the eight-week program. Their new study appears in the December issue of the journal Stress and Health.
Daniel Monti, MD, director of the Jefferson-Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine and lead author on the study, and colleagues have previously published on the success of Mindfulness-based Art Therapy (MBAT) at helping cancer patients lower stress levels and improve quality of life.
"Our goal was to observe possible mechanisms for the observed psychosocial effects of MBAT by evaluating the cerebral blood flow (CBF) changes associated with an MBAT intervention in comparison with a control of equal time and attention," says Monti. "This type of expressive art and meditation program has never before been studied for physiological impact and the correlation of that impact to improvements in stress and anxiety."
Eighteen patients were randomly assigned to the MBAT program or an education program control group. All had received the diagnosis of breast cancer between six months and three years prior to enrollment and were not in active treatment. The MBAT group consisted of the MBSR curriculum (awareness of breathing, awareness of emotion, mindful yoga, walking, eating and listening), paired with expressive art tasks to provide opportunities for self-expression, facilitate coping strategies, improve self-regulation, and provide a way for participants to express emotional information in a personally meaningful manner.
Patient response to the MBAT program was measured using a 90-item symptom checklist, completed by each patient before and after the eight-week program. In addition, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used pre and post-program to evaluate cerebral blood flow, corresponding to changes in the brain's activity. Scans were performed at rest, during a "neutral task" (control), meditation task, stressor task and at rest again—designed to evaluate the general as well as specific effects and provide a thorough analysis of the CBF changes between the pre and post-program scans.
Participants in the MBAT group demonstrated significant effects on cerebral blood flow compared with the control group. The MBAT group showed increases in the emotional centers of the brain including the left insula which helps us to perceive our emotions, the amygdala which helps us experience stress, the hippocampus that regulates stress responses, and the caudate nucleus that is part of our brain's reward system. These increases correlated significantly with a lowering of stress and anxiety, as also reflected in the results of the pre and post-program anxiety scores among the MBAT intervention group.
The observed psychological and neuropsychological changes are consistent with current literature that states that MBSR interventions have shown to reduce anxiety, depression and psychological distress in a variety of populations. These have been associated with improved immune function, quality of life and coping effectiveness in women with breast cancer.
Given the improvements in anxiety levels and observed changes in CBF in the MBAT participants, these findings suggest that the MBAT program helps mediate emotional responses in women with breast cancer. "With the sample size enlarged, perhaps we can extrapolate these results to other disease populations and gain a fuller understanding of the physiological mechanisms by which mindfulness practices confer psychological benefits," says Monti.
Source:Thomas Jefferson University 

Monday, 3 December 2012

More checks help reduce number of irregularities in clinical trials sector this year

With more checks in place, comprehensive guidelines issued and increased number of inspections mounted, the clinical trial sector in the country is getting streamlined better, according to the available indications.
Compared to five cases of irregularities during the year of 2011, only one case of alleged irregularity came to the fore during the current year so far, while the authorities held as many as 14 inspections apart from the routine checks.
In view of the reports of alleged irregularities in clinical trials conducted by Dr Hemant Jain on 1883 children at Chacha Nehru Hospital in Indore, Madhya Pradesh from 2006 to 2010, a team was constituted to carry out detailed inspection of clinical trials conducted by Dr Hemant Jain at the site to verify the compliance to Drugs and Cosmetic Rules (D&C) and other applicable guidelines. The team carried out inspection from 15.04.2012 to 20.04.2012, sources said.
As per the inspection report, out of 26 clinical trials, there were some irregularities in 23 trials. In remaining three clinical trials, there were no irregularities. The main findings in all the 23 trials were that the quorum of the Ethics Committee of MGM Medical College & M Y Hospital that reviewed and accorded approvals of the trial protocols was not as per the requirement of Schedule Y to D&C Rules as no lay person/legal expert was present in the meetings of the Ethics Committee.
Based on findings of the inspection, the concerned sponsor/companies and Dr Hemant Jain (Investigator), have been issued show cause notice on 07-08-2012. Further, the Chairman of the Ethics Committee of the MGM Medical College and MY Hospital, Indore has also been asked on 07-08-2012 to explain the position on the observations made by the inspection team, sources said.
With the authorities tightening the scrutiny of applications in the recent past, the number of approvals also came down this year. Out of the total 390 applications received, the CDSCO granted permission only in 244 cases till October this year. During the last year, the CDSCO had cleared 283 applications out of the total requests of 306 while in 2010, the authorities approved 529 applications against the total number of 546.
“The scrutiny of applications has been made tight now. 12 New Drug Advisory Committees (NDAC) consisting of leading experts from the government medical colleges, institutes from all over the country have been constituted to advise CDSCO in matters related to approval of clinical trials and new drugs. Applications of Investigational New Drugs (IND) ; i.e, New Drug Substances which have never earlier been used in human beings, are evaluated by the IND committee, chaired by the Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR),” sources said.
“Every approval/permission for conducting clinical trials now includes a condition that in case of study related injury or death, applicant will provide complete medical care as well as compensation for the injury or death and statement to this effect would be incorporated in the informed consent form,” it was disclosed.

ICMR giving final touches to 'Guidelines for Stem Cell Research'

After issuing the draft 'Guidelines for Stem Cell Research' in March this year, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is giving final touches to the   much-awaited final document which will provide ethical and scientific directions to scientists and clinicians working in the field of stem cell research in the country.Sources in the union health ministry said that the National Apex Committee for Stem Cell Research and Therapy (NAC-SCRT), constituted by the health ministry last year to effectively reviewing and monitoring the stem cell research in the country, has received several valuable suggestions and opinions from the stakeholders and experts on the draft guidelines. Now, the NAC is reviewing these suggestions and opinions to incorporate several valuable suggestions in the final document to make it a more acceptable and improved document.
Though a lot of work has been done during the last some months since the draft guidelines was issued in March this year, it is very difficult to make time frame for issuing the final document of revised Guidelines for Stem Cell Research and Therapy, sources involved in the issue said.The NAC, headed by Dr Alok Srivastava, haematologist, Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore, is reviewing and revising the guidelines as the committee felt that several developments had occurred during the last more than four years since the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) jointly formulated Guidelines for Stem Cell Research and Therapy in the year 2007, prescribing strict procedures for sourcing and the use of stem cells by research institutions.
Officials said that stem cell research holds great promise for improving human health by restoring cellular and organ function damaged by degeneration and various injuries. At the same time it also raises several scientific, ethical and social issues in the development of such applications. Apart from challenges of using the right kind of stem cells in the most appropriate way for a particular disease, there are also issues related to the use of human embryos to create human embryonic stem (hES) cell lines, potential for commoditisation of human tissues and cells with inherent danger of exploitation of underprivileged people, and challenges related to prevention of human germ-line engineering and reproductive cloning. There are also potential dangers of tumourigenicity with use of these cells keeping in view their potential for unlimited proliferation and possible introduction of genomic changes during in-vitro manipulations also limitations related to immunological tissue incompatibility between individuals. Research in this field, therefore, needs to be regulated with special attention to these issues.
Of utmost importance is assurance of safety and rights of those donating embryonic, fetal or adult stem cells for basic and clinical research. Safeguards have to be in place to protect research participants receiving stem cell transplants, and patients at large from receiving unproven stem cell therapies. In recent years societal concern regarding compensation for research related injury has also gained considerable momentum.
All these issues will be addressed by the final 'guidelines for stem cell research' which the ICMR is expected to be issued very soon.

Western University researchers make breakthrough in arthritis research

Researchers at Western University have made a breakthrough that could lead to a better understanding of a common form of arthritis that, until now, has eluded scientists.
According to The Arthritis Society, the second most common form of arthritis after osteoarthritis is "diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis" or DISH. It affects between six and 12 percent of North Americans, usually people older than 50. DISH is classified as a form of degenerative arthritis and is characterized by the formation of excessive mineral deposits along the sides of the vertebrae in the neck and back. Symptoms of DISH include spine pain and stiffness and in advanced cases, difficulty swallowing and damage to spinal nerves. The cause of DISH is unknown and there are no specific treatments.
Now researchers at Western University's Bone and Joint Initiative, with collaborator Doo-Sup Choi at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota have discovered the first-ever mouse model of this disease. The research is published online in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research."This model will allow us for the first time to uncover the mechanisms underlying DISH and related disorders. Knowledge of these mechanisms will ultimately allow us to test novel pharmacological treatments to reverse or slow the development of DISH in humans," says corresponding author Cheryle Séguin of the Skeletal Biology Laboratories and the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at Western's Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry.
Graduate student Derek Bone, working under the supervision of pharmacologist James Hammond, was studying mice that had been genetically modified to lack a specific membrane protein that transports adenosine when he noticed that these mice developed abnormal calcification (mineralization) of spinal structures.
Changes in the backbone of these mice were characterized by an interdisciplinary team which included: Sumeeta Warraich, Diana Quinonez, Hisataka Ii, Maria Drangova, David Holdsworth and Jeff Dixon. Their findings established that spinal mineralization in these mice resembles DISH in humans and point to a role for adenosine in causing abnormal mineralization in DISH.
Source:University of Western Ontario 

New study shows probiotics help fish grow up faster and healthier

Probiotics like those found in yogurt are not only good for people--they are also good for fish. A new study by scientists at the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology found that feeding probiotics to baby zebrafish accelerated their development and increased their chances of survival into adulthood.
This research could help increase the success of raising rare ornamental fish to adulthood. It also has implications for aquaculture, since accelerating the development of fish larvae--the toughest time for survival--could mean a more efficient and safe system for bringing fish to the dinner table.
Tiny zebrafish are often used in genetic research because scientists can easily track changes in their development and the fish grow quickly. They also share many of the same genes as humans and can be used for studying cellular and physiological processes and their impact on human disease. 
"This is really exciting," said Jacques Ravel, a leading genomic scientist studying the role of the human microbiome in health and disease at the University of Maryland School of Medicine Institute for Genome Sciences. "Knowing you can colonize the gut of a zebrafish with a probiotic strain and improve its development becomes an interesting model for us to study the beneficial effect of probiotics in children and adults." He and his colleagues are currently looking into the effect ofLactobacillus rhamnosus probiotics on the gut development of premature infants.
In the zebrafish experiment, researchers added Lactobacillus rhamnosus, a probiotic strain sometimes used in yogurt, to the zebrafish water. The fish drank the probiotic through their gills, and it landed in their gastrointestinal tract, preventing bad bacteria from taking over and promoting growth, including advancing the development of bone, vertebrae, and gonads."If you have increased growth and survival from each batch of hundreds of thousands of eggs, that is a huge benefit," said study co-author Dr. Allen Place of the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology.
Probiotics helped the zebrafish get through the touch-and-go time when their gastrointestinal tract is maturing. They are still living off yolk with which they are born, and it is during this weaning period when most mortality occurs. Adding probiotics to the water increases the survival rate of zebra fish larvae from 70% to 90%.
"We did not anticipate the enhancement in maturation," said Place. "When you look at various molecular markers of stress, the overall stress in the fish that were treated with the probiotic were lower--which may be the reason for the development."
The study, Lactobacillus rhamnosus Accelerates Zebrafish Backbone Calcification and Gonadal Differentiation through Effects on the GnRH and IGF Systems, was published in the September issue of PLOS ONE. Researchers include Matteo Avella and Oliana Carnevali from the Polytechnic University of Marche in Italy; Allen Place, Shao-Jun Du, Yonathan Zohar and Ernest Williams of the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology in Baltimore, Maryland; Stefania Silvi of the University of Camerino in Italy.
Source:University of Maryland

Yoga: Effective Treatment for Chronic Neck Pain

 Yoga: Effective Treatment for Chronic Neck PainYoga has found to be effective in treating chronic neck pain and improves quality of life, say researchers. 
The mainstay of conservative treatment for neck pain is non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, and the evidence of its effectiveness is contradictory while side effects like nausea and dizziness are well known.
The authors noted that one type of yoga, called lyengar yoga, has been shown effective in other pain syndromes, including low back pain. 

This activity uses supportive props and the sequences of postures can be tailored to address an individual's medical problem. No randomized controlled clinical trials have been published to assess the efficacy of lyengar yoga for adults with chronic neck pain. 
Researchers at Charite-University Medical Center in Berlin and other sites in Germany and Austria studied 77 volunteer patients. 
38 were assigned to the yoga group and 39 to a group treated with exercise. Unfortunately, the dropout rate was higher than anticipated as 24 subjects withdrew or were lost to follow-up. 
This reduced the study sample to 25 patients in the yoga group and 28 in self-care exercise. They were asked to complete a standardized questionnaire at the outset of the study, after four weeks, and after ten weeks. 
The findings showed there was a significant and clinically important reduction in pain intensity in the yoga group. The authors reasoned that yoga might enhance both the toning of muscles and releasing of muscle tension. Relaxation responses, therefore, could reduce stress related muscle tension and modify neurobiological pain perception. 
They concluded, based on the study data, that lyengar yoga can be a safe and effective treatment option for chronic neck pain. The study results are consistent with the demonstrated benefits of yoga for treating low back pain. 
The study has been published in The Journal of Pain.

Scientists Explore Link Between Tap Water Chemicals and Food Allergies

 Scientists Explore Link Between Tap Water Chemicals and Food AllergiesDichlorophenols - - a chemical used in pesticides and to chlorinate water are to be blamed for the increase in the number of people developing food allergies, finds study published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and ImmunologyThe study reported that high levels of dichlorophenols, a chemical used in pesticides and to chlorinate water, when found in the human body, are associated with food allergies
 "Our research shows that high levels of dichlorophenol-containing pesticides can possibly weaken food tolerance in some people, causing food allergy," said allergist Elina Jerschow, M.D., M.Sc., ACAAI fellow and lead study author. "This chemical is commonly found in pesticides used by farmers and consumer insect and weed control products, as well as tap water." 

Among 10,348 participants in a US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2006, 2,548 had dichlorophenols measured in their urine and 2,211 were included into the study. Food allergy was found in 411 of these participants, while 1,016 had an environmental allergy. 
"Previous studies have shown that both food allergies and environmental pollution are increasing in the United States," said Dr. Jerschow. "The results of our study suggest these two trends might be linked, and that increased use of pesticides and other chemicals is associated with a higher prevalence of food allergies." 
While opting for bottled water instead of tap water might seem to be a way to reduce the risk for developing an allergy, according to the study such a change may not be successful. 
"Other dichlorophenol sources, such as pesticide-treated fruits and vegetables, may play a greater role in causing food allergy," said Dr. Jerschow. 
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an increase in food allergy of 18 percent was seen between 1997 and 2007. The most common food allergens are milk, eggs, peanuts, wheat, tree nuts, soy, fish, and shellfish. 
Food allergy symptoms can range from a mild rash to a life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis. The ACAAI advises everyone with a known food allergy to always carry two doses of allergist prescribed epinephrine. A delay in using epinephrine is common in severe food allergic reaction deaths. 


New Target for Treating Sleeping Sickness

 New Target for Treating Sleeping Sickness
Scientists have identified a weak spot in the parasite that causes African sleeping sickness. The results, reported Nov. 29 in Science Express, are already being enlisted in the effort to combat the disease, which is transmitted by tsetse flies infected with the single-celled parasite. The study also marks a milestone in using X-ray lasers, such as SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), to determine the structures of biological molecules that are important for human health. 
"This is the first new biological structure solved with a free-electron laser," said Henry Chapman of the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg, Germany, one of the leaders of the research team.
 Scientists have identified a weak spot in the parasite that causes African sleeping sickness. The results, reported Nov. 29 in Science Express, are already being enlisted in the effort to combat the disease, which is transmitted by tsetse flies infected with the single-celled parasite. The study also marks a milestone in using X-ray lasers, such as SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), to determine the structures of biological molecules that are important for human health. 

"This is the first new biological structure solved with a free-electron laser," said Henry Chapman of the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg, Germany, one of the leaders of the research team.

Leisure Physical Activity Promises High Life Expectancy

Life expectancy is defined as the statistically 'expected number of years of life remaining at a given age'. Physical activity is believed to enhance life expectancy. 
Steven Moore and colleagues, from USA, studied the effect of leisure time physical activity on life expectancy. They also enumerated the number of years acquired by being energetic and physically active at different levels of life among people with different body mass indices (BMI).I-Min Lee, MD, the Associate Epidemiologist in the Department of Preventive Medicine at BWH and senior author on this study said, “We found that adding low amounts of physical activity to one's daily routine, such as 75 minutes of brisk walking per week, was associated with increased longevity: a gain of 1.8 years of life expectancy after age 40, compared with doing no such activity," Prof. Lee further added, "Physical activity above this minimal level was associated with additional gains in longevity. For example, walking briskly for at least 450 minutes a week was associated with a gain of 4.5 years. Further, physical activity was associated with greater longevity among persons in all BMI groups: normal weight, overweight, and obese." 
Since the size of the sample was quite large, it was possible to determine the number of years gained at various levels of BMI and physical activity. 
The study findings suggested that increased physical activity was closely linked with increase in life expectancy. The scientists found that by involving themselves in leisure time physical activity, people enhanced their life expectancy by 4.5 years. 
It was also seen that volunteers who were active and had normal weight gained 7.2 years of life as compared with their non-active counterparts. 
The data was gathered from six prospective cohort studies in the National Cancer Institute Cohort Consortium, consisting of 654,827 volunteers aged between 21 to 90 years. 
Dr. Steven Moore from the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland and the lead researcher of this study said, "Our findings reinforce prevailing public health messages promoting both a physically active lifestyle and a normal body weight." 
According to scientists moderate activities are those activities during which a person can talk but cannot sing while vigorous activities are the activities can utter only few words without taking a short breath. 
Various other factors such as socioeconomic status, nutritional status, etc. affect life expectancy. The researchers observed that the life expectancy of those who followed a recommended level of physical exercise was increased by 3.4 years while those who followed twice the recommended exercise level increased their life expectancy by 4.2 years. 
The scientist said that even the low level of physical activity also resulted in enhancing the life expectancy by 1.8 years. 
Dr. Moore mentioned, “Our findings highlight the important contribution that leisure-time physical activity in adulthood can make to longevity.” 
He added, “Regular exercise extended the lives in every group that we examined in our study—normal weight, overweight, or obese.” 
The researchers found that, the relation between life expectancy and physical activity was almost identical in both women and men; but blacks gained more number of years as compared to whites. 
Another important point highlighted by the scientists was that people with a prior history of heart ailment had stronger relationship between physical activity and life expectancy, as compared to those people who did not have any such history. 
The study concluded that increased level of leisure physical activity was responsible for longer expectancy of life in different BMI groups.

Leisure Time Physical Activity of Moderate to Vigorous Intensity and Mortality: A Large Pooled Cohort Analysis; Steven Moore et al; PLOS Medicine 2012 



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