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Saturday, 11 January 2014

Complementary medicine in wide use to treat children with autism, developmental delay

In a study of the range of treatments being employed for young children with autism and other developmental delays, UC Davis MIND Institute researchers have found that families often use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments and that the most frequent users of both conventional and complementary approaches are those with higher levels of parental education and income.
There is no Food and Drug Administration-approved medical treatment for the core symptoms of autism spectrum disorder, a lifelong neurodevelopmental condition whose hallmarks are deficits in social relatedness, repetitive thoughts and behaviors and, often, intellectual disability.
In the search for treatments to help their children, families may turn to unconventional approaches such as mind-body medicine (e.g. meditation or prayer), homeopathic remedies, probiotics, alternative diets or more invasive therapies such as vitamin B-12 injections, intravenous immunoglobulin or chelation therapy — some of which carry significant risks.
The research is published online today in the Journal of Behavioral and Developmental Pediatrics. It was led by Robin Hansen, director of the Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at the MIND Institute and chief of the Division of Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics in the UC Davis Schoolof Medicine.
"In our Northern California study population, it does not appear that families use complementary and alternative treatments due to the lack of availability of conventional services, as has been suggested by other research," Hansen said. "Rather, they use the treatments in addition to conventional approaches."
The cause or causes of most neurodevelopmental disorders are not known, and the conditions have no cure. Many children suffer from a wide array of associated symptoms that may not be directly associated with their condition and that make their daily lives and those of their families stressful. Such symptoms include irritability, hyperactivity, gastrointestinal problems and sleep disorders.
The study included nearly 600 diverse children between 2 and 5 years with autism and developmental delay who were enrolled in the Childhood Autism Risk from Genetics and the Environment (CHARGE) study. Of the participants, 453 were diagnosed with autism and 125 were diagnosed with developmental delay.
CAM use was more common among children with autism than children diagnosed with other types of developmental delay, 40 percent versus 30 percent respectively. Nearly 7 percent of children with autism were on the gluten-free/casein-free diet, particularly children with frequent gastrointestinal problems.
"We were pleased to find that most families utilizing CAM therapies were choosing ones that were low risk," said Kathleen Angkustsiri, assistant professor of developmental and behavioral pediatrics and a study co-author.
However, a small but statistically significant number — about 4 percent — were found to use alternative treatments classified by the study as potentially unsafe, invasive or unproven, such as antifungal medications, chelation therapy and vitamin B-12 injections.
"Our study suggests that pediatricians and other providers need to ask about CAM use in the context of providing care for children with autism and other developmental disorders, and take a more active role in helping families make decisions about treatment options based on available information related to potential benefits and risks," said Roger Scott Akins, lead author and a former postdoctoral fellow at the MIND Institute, who now is chairman of the Division of Neurodevelopmental Pediatrics at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Va.
Irva Hertz-Picciotto, professor of public health sciences and principal investigator for the CHARGE study, said the research supports the emergent need for identifying validated treatments for neurodevelopmental conditions.
"These findings emphasize the enormous and urgent need for effective treatments and for rigorous research that can identify them and verify their effectiveness and safety," Hertz-Picciotto said. "Of course it is reasonable for parents to keep searching for ways to help their children, when there are few effective treatments and none that can help every child.
Source:Journal of Behavioral and Developmental Pediatrics

Ayurveda is the best method of prevention of diseases: Dr Kalam

Former President of India, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam has opined that the best method for preventing diseases is Ayurveda because it is a comprehensive system based on natural medicine which is devoid of toxicity.

Though medical technology is advancing rapidly, people are affected by diseases and the cost of healthcare is increasing. Unless some kind of preventive method is applied, the cost of healthcare cannot be reduced. Prevention through ayurvedic system is the best way to bring down the cost, Dr Kalam said while inaugurating the Ayurveda Museum at Vaidyaratnam Ayurveda Vaidyasala in Thrissur in Kerala.

Along with allopathic system the time tested traditional systems of India like Ayurveda should have an equal place in the healthcare delivery and it should be harnessed. But it needs to be placed on a scientific pedestal, he added.

According to him, before the evolution of the modern healthcare system, India relied on Ayurveda for thousands of years. The practitioners of Ayurveda focused on holistic healthcare through mind, body and soul approach. But there is a challenge before Ayurveda and it is how it can be used to prevent the diseases by understanding the disease pattern, its genetic basis and its DNA structure. The challenge can be faced by carrying out integrated research with modern biotechnology, genomics and proteomics methods and tools on medicinal and aromatic plants. By this, appropriate medicinal formulations can be evolved in the form of drugs to prevent the major diseases from the childhood or even from the mother's womb.

“India has a valuable repository of medicinal and aromatic plants and rich biodiversity with hot spots in the North East and Western Ghats. There are more than 45000 species of herbs in various parts of our country and most of them are having medicinal properties. We should make use of these herbs which are now emerging as new opportunities of entrepreneurship for farmers and have become resources for pharma and aromatic industry,” he pointed out.

He further said India has a population of 1.25 billion and for a good healthcare delivery to all, the allopathic system alone cannot be depended on, but the time tested traditional treatment systems should also be harnessed. Out of the US$ 80 billion global herbal product market, China has a share of over US$ 6 billion. Whereas, India has not even a share of one billion. This problem has to be addressed.

He recalled that while he was serving as the scientific advisor to defense minister in DRDO, he launched a major R&D programme on herbs for soldiers’ health and coded it as ‘Programme Charaka’. Through this programme several new herbal extracts were developed into nutraceutical products and herbal remedies for soldiers and the society.

He said the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) has carried out an interesting research study to correlate the patterns of genomic profiles into three ‘prakritis and trigunas’. Very good correlation emerged from this study indicating the scientific rationale of Ayurveda. Pharmacogenomics or customized medicine for individual concept recently being discussed in modern medicine already existed in Ayurveda as for the same type of ailments Ayurveda administers specific medicine optimizing dosage suitable to the ‘prakriti’ of the individual.

The meeting was attended by Parliament Member PC Chacko, Therambil Ramakrishnan MLA and Dr ET Narayanan Mooss, managing director of Vaidyaratnam hospital.

The Ayurveda museum at Thaikkattussery near Thrissur in Kerala was set up with an investment of Rs.5 crore.


Lifestyle Modification: No Big Deal!

Our lifestyle is instrumental in deciding our health status. Unfortunately most of us live an unhealthy life, rooting for various bad choices around us.Howsoever cliché’ it might sound by adopting and practicing certain very simple and convenient day to day lifestyle changes, we can lead a much better and healthier life.

Few are listed below:

1. Cut Salt

Those innocent looking white granules are actually not so harmless. A large quantity of salt intake (sodium) is one of the main reasons behind high blood pressure.

Recommended daily requirement is approximately six grams (a level teaspoon). But none of us are able to stick to this standard, thanks to bags of chips, processed/junk food, and other fried snacks in addition to our normal intake of regular meals-all generously topped with salt and ajinomoto.

Try to stay away from condiments such as pickles, sauces, and papads. Even their smaller portions are loaded with salt to preserve and balance the other strong flavors in them.

2. Stairs, Not Lift

Escalators save time and effort. Agreed. But opting for stairs can protect you from deadly ailments in the long run.

Climbing stairs is actually a workout in itself. It is a high intensity exercise promoting cardio-respiratory benefits, which is free of cost and easily accessible, anytime, everywhere.

Stair climbing does not actually mean you have to reach your office on the seventh floor in one go. Don’t over exert yourself. Rest for a minute on each floor. Then proceed again.

With a steady pace, climbing stairs for five minutes can make you burn a whooping 140 calories.

3. Easy On Sugar

Personally I have nothing against sweets but there is actually no need for refined sugar in our diet. Refined sugar is basically a form of carbohydrate and our daily requirement of carbohydrate (which is approx. 130 gm/day) is generally met by all other sources of food items.

If we cannot resist all those sweetened desserts, try those that use a healthier option, honey.

Technically speaking, one table spoon of honey has more calories than table sugar but since it is much sweeter than table sugar, we eventually end up consuming lesser calories. Also, wherein, table sugar is all “empty calories”, honey is full of minerals and vitamins.

4. Exercise, Unintentionally

Most of us don’t exercise because we hate the word in itself. It seems too much of an effort to get all geared up in the gym accessories and work out in a monotonous manner.

Apart from the regular gymming, there are several ways to put your body at work, that too without even realizing it. For instance cycling, walking, taking your pet for a walk, or playing with kids are all such activities.

Make it interesting by listening to music or taking your friend along.

5. Develop a Hobby

Another option to sweat without cribbing is putting all that effort into something you enjoy doing.

Fast paced dancing, swimming, and playing an outdoor game will all burn hundreds of calories in an hour. Trust me you will not even realize how the time passed while you were enjoying (actually exercising) your favorite hobby.

6. Interesting Food Swaps

Without compromising much on taste, you can actually savour the healthier version of that particular food item.

Swap mayonnaise dip with flavored hung curd, french fries with baked potato wedges, ice cream with frozen fruit pulp, full cream milk with skimmed milk, and so on. The list is endless and all you have to do is use your imagination and be a little creative.

7. Early Dinner

Eat an early and light dinner. Almost an hour and half before the bed time. Since we hardly have any physical activity towards the latter part of the day, the calorie burning goes down steeply.

So, in order to give ample time to our stomach for proper digestion of food, it is advisable to eat by the end of the evening.

Easier said than done, but taking even a small step towards a healthier way of living can make a huge difference. Try practicing at least one of the above mentioned variation in the whole day, and in no time you will start reaping the results—a fitter and trimmer You!


Eating Half an Avocado With Lunch Improves Satiety

Adding one-half of a fresh avocado to a lunch may have helped healthy, overweight people feel more satisfied and reduced their desire to eat following a meal, according to a new research published in the November issue of Nutrition JournalThe study was funded by the Hass Avocado Board.
 The pilot study, "A Randomized 3x3 Crossover Study to Evaluate the Effect of Hass Avocado Intake on Post Ingestive Satiety, Glucose and Insulin Levels, and Subsequent Energy Intake in Overweight Adults," compared the effects of incorporating fresh Hass avocado into a lunch—either by replacing other foods or by simply adding it to the meal— to the effects of eating a standard lunch to determine how avocado consumption would influence satiety, blood sugar and insulin response and subsequent food intake. The subjects were 26 healthy, overweight adults. 

Researchers found that participants who added half of a fresh avocado to their lunch reported a significantly decreased desire to eat by 40 percent over a three-hour period, and by 28 percent over a five-hour period after the meal, compared to their desire to eat after a standard lunch without avocado. In addition, they reported increased feelings of satisfaction by 26 percent over the three hours following the meal. 

"Satiety is an important factor in weight management, because people who feel satisfied are less likely to snack between meals," said Joan Sabaté, MD, DrPH, Chair of the Department of Nutrition who led the research team at Loma Linda University. "We also noted that though adding avocados increased participants' calorie and carbohydrate intake at lunch, there was no increase in blood sugar levels beyond what was observed after eating the standard lunch. This leads us to believe that avocados potential role in blood sugar management is worth further investigation." 

While the findings were generally positive, more research is needed to determine whether the conclusions drawn from this study can be applied to the general public. However, the results do provide promising clues and a basis for future research to determine avocados' effect on satiety, glucose and insulin response. 

"These research findings provide support for the emerging benefits of avocados," said Nikki Ford, PhD, Director of Nutrition at the Hass Avocado Board (HAB). "These results further complement our research efforts in weight management and diabetes as well as our continued work to explore the many benefits that fresh avocados have to offer when consumed in everyday healthy eating plans." 

Fresh Hass avocados have 3 grams of total carbohydrate, less than 1 gram of natural sugar per one ounce serving (the least amount of sugar per serving than any other fresh fruit) and contribute 8% of the daily value (DV) for fiber. Each serving of nutrient dense fresh avocado is also a source of naturally good fats. 

The research at Loma Linda University is one of several studies supported by HAB as part of a research program established in 2010 to increase awareness and improve understanding of the unique benefits of avocados to human health and nutrition. Clinical studies are currently underway to investigate the relationship between avocado consumption and risk factors for heart disease, diabetes, support of weight management and healthy living. 

Sexual Activities Significantly Effective in Burning Calories

Scientists from the University of Quebec in Canada have found that sexual activities can be significantly effective in burning calories when compared to moderate intensity exercises.
To prove their point, they picked 21 couples aged between 18 and 35 and asked them to have sex once a week for 30 days. 
They were asked to have sex in their natural style without taking any drug and alcohol or medication for erectile dysfunction, said the study published in the journal PLOS ONE. 
After every sexual activity, they were given a questionnaire to record their enjoyment. 
It was found that women burned 3.1 calories a minute while having sex, whereas men burned 4.2 calories a minute. 
"It indicates that energy consumption during sexual activity appears to be nearly 85 kCal or 3.6 kCal/min and appears to be performed at a moderate intensity - 5.8 metabolic equivalent of task (MET) - in young healthy men and women," said lead author Julie Frappier. 
MET is a unit used to estimate the amount of oxygen used by the body during physical activity. 
During sex, the authors recorded 6.0 METS in men and 5.6 METS in women, which represents a 'moderate intensity' activity - roughly equivalent to cycling or playing doubles tennis, claimed the study. 
Unsurprisingly, almost all participants found sex a more pleasurable activity than treadmill and 81 percent said they felt high levels of personal pleasure from undertaking sexual activity. 
"This study could have implications for the planning of intervention programmes as part of a healthy lifestyle by health care professionals," the study said.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Report answers questions about the human microbiome and its role in health, obesity

The human microbiome, the collection of trillions of microbes living in and on the human body, is not random, and scientists believe that it plays a role in many basic life processes. As science continues to explore and better understand the role of the human microbiome. A new report from the American Academy of Microbiology addresses some of the most common questions about this growing area of research.
The report, entitled FAQ: Human Microbiome is based on the deliberations of 13 of the nation's leading experts who met to develop clear answers to frequently asked questions regarding the human microbiome and its role in human health.
Some of the questions considered by the report are:
  • What is the human microbiome?
  • Where does our microbiome come from?
  • How big is the microbiome?
  • Where is the microbiome located, and what is it doing?
  • What is the relationship between the microbiome, health, and disease?"Scientists are experiencing startling insights into the role that microorganisms play, not only in disease, but more importantly in our health and well-being," says Lita Proctor of the National Human Genome Research Institute, a member of the steering committee of the report. Proctor is also Program Director for the Human Microbiome Project, an 8-year undertaking by the National Institutes of Health to identify and characterize the microorganisms which are found in association with both healthy and diseased humans.
Researchers have long known that bacteria reside on and within the human body, but traditional microbiology has typically focused on the study of individual species as isolated, culturable units. Recent advances in DNA sequencing technologies and other molecular techniques have allowed for more comprehensive examination of these microbes as communities that have evolved intimate relationships with their hosts over millions of years. Scientists now recognize that the microbiome may be responsible for a broad variety of metabolic and developmental processes from food digestion to vitamin synthesis, and even brain function. The report also includes sections highlighting the role of the microbiome in human conditions such as obesity and inflammatory bowel disease, and offers some general tips on what can be done to maintain a healthy microbiome.
"The American Academy of Microbiology has produced a creative and informative resource on the human microbiome for a wide audience which describes the beauty and complexity of the human microbiome, the insults we may be causing our microbiomes as a result of common practices in our modern societies, why we now need to include the microbiome when considering human health, and the future research directions for this emerging field which combines medicine, ecology and evolution," says Proctor.
FAQ: Human Microbiome is the latest offering in a series of reports designed to provide a rapid response to emerging issues or to highlight the role of microbes in daily life. Previous FAQ reports have covered topics like the role of microorganisms in cleaning up oil spills and the central role of yeast in the production of beer.
Source:American Society for Microbiology

Hyderabad doctor develops ‘Scrape Cytology’, new medical procedure, to detect spine disorders

Hyderabad based doctor Dr Naresh Babu from Mediciti Hospital has devised a new medical procedure called ‘Scrape Cytology’ to detect and diagnose spine related problems. Unlike existing procedures the ‘Scrape Cytology’ technique can detect spine related problems in just eight minutes.

Dr Naresh Babu a spine surgeon in Mediciti Hospital has spent two years doing rigorous research on about 40 patients and had finally come out with an innovative and novel medical procedure Scrape Cytology. This new technique will help diagnose spinal disorders 30 per cent more accurately than the current tools available.

Reckoned for his contributions in the field of medicine, Dr Babu had recently been honoured by the Indian Orthopaedic Association with the prestigious SP Mandal Gold Medal. His work has also been accepted for publication in the North American Spine Surgeons’ Association’s The Spine Journal.

Elaborating about on the impact the Scrape Cytology can create in the near future, Dr Naresh said. “In coming years, it will become the “gold standard” for all the surgeons. That’s because it saves time and energy to detect the real problem. And, it doesn’t require additional infrastructure to set up, just a few glass slides.”

According to the doctor the scrape technology is very much useful in fast identifying problems like lesion, tumours and fractures inside the spine. As per the traditional practice doctors need to take a sample tissue from the bone and send it for testing. But that sample tissue may not be representative of the problem tissue. So, it has to be repeated four to five times for before achieving an accurate result.

“Unlike the traditional procedure we have developed a method of minimally invasive spine surgery wherein we scrape the ‘problem tissue’ and identify it inside the operation theatre itself before sending it for biopsy in labs. It takes only eight minutes to ascertain if there are any defects in the spine,” explained Dr Naresh.

Flowers And What They Mean To Us

Flowers And What They Mean To UsFlowers in Relation to Our Health

Get happy and healthy with the flower power. Drink the juice of pomegranate flowers to manage your diabetes. Reach for that bunch of gerbera when you are down. Declare your first love with lilacs.
Flowers are associated with health and wellness from all perspectives – be it Western medicine or Eastern medicine, homeopathy or naturopathy. As early as 1000A.D, Avicenna, a disciple of Aristotle, used color and flowers to treat diseases. He found that the color red ‘moved the blood’ and the color blue or white cooled it. He also found that yellow reduced pain and inflammation. He started prescribing red flowers extract to cure blood disorders and yellow flowers to cure liver disorders.

The use of flowers in Ayurveda is even older. This 5000-year-old Indian traditional medicine uses medicinal flowers and their extracts to treat diseases ranging from hair loss to stomach disorders to even cancer. For example, the beautiful yellow flowers of Cassia fistula (Amaltas) not only give an aesthetic value to the area they are grown in, they are also used to treat stomach infection in Ayurvedic medicine. The flowers also exhibit anti-bacterial activity. Following are a few other flowers that are therapeutic.

China rose (Hibiscus) Chewing flowers of hibiscus helps cure mouth ulcers. Further, a paste of these flowers applied to the scalp stops hair loss and baldness.

Neem (Azadirachta indica) A fine paste of flowers applied to boils and wounds relieves the burning sensation and heat.

Juhi (Jasminum auriculatum) – This flower from the jasmine family is powdered and given to relieve acidity, stomach ulcer and mouth ulcer.

Parijat (Nyctanthes arbor-tristis)The flowers of coral jasmine are known to treat arthritis. The flowers are also used in face packs for glowing skin.

Swallow-wort/Aak (Calotropis procera)The flower of aak is one of the best medicines to remove phlegm. The flowers wrapped in betel leaves are also used to treat jaundice.

Pomegranate (Punica granatum) – The juice from pomegranate flowers is used as a drink to relieve bile related eruptions on the body. A research study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food has shown that flowers and juice of pomegranate have hypoglycemic activity. The pomegranate compounds associated with anti-diabetic effects include oleanolic, ursolic and gallic acids.
Flowers having medicinal properties are used not only in Ayurveda but in other forms of medicines as well. The dried flowers and buds of the Japanese pagoda tree (Sophora japonica) – a small tree or shrub of the pea family – is a useful medicinal herb in China, Japan and Korea. They are used to treat bleeding hemorrhoids and hematemesis (the vomiting of blood). A study published in the journal Chinese Medicine found that flowers of Sophora japonica could also reduce cerebral infarction partly as a result of its anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties. A cerebral infarction is the ischemic kind of stroke due to a disturbance in the blood vessels supplying blood to the brain.
Numerous homeopathic medicines are prepared from flowers or buds of plants. The homeopathic preparations made from fresh or dried flower heads of Arnica are used to treat sore muscles and bruises caused by overexertion or trauma. In the same way, the homeopathic medicine pulsatilla is prepared from the meadow anemone flower (pasque flower). It is a remedy for disorders varying from colds and coughs to digestive and gynecological problems. 
The medicinal value of flowers is not just limited to taking the flowers as pills or in the form of juice. Any work associated with flowers is also said to be therapeutic. Oshibana in Japanese means ‘pressed plant’ and working with pressed flowers to provide a sense of well being by dissolving negative energy blocks (qi or chi) is called the ‘Oshibana therapy’. Apart from treating depression, this therapy has shown to have major health benefits including improving ulcers, migraine, stomach disorders, heart disease and even cancer. According to Suzanne Faith, a psychiatric nurse practicing Oshibana therapy, ‘Flowers combine the power of color and form. When flowers are placed in balanced floral patterns designed to strengthen body, mind and spirit, they can become powerful symbols to aide in healing when others have failed’.


Green Spaces Improve Long-term Mental Health

 Green Spaces Improve Long-term Mental HealthGreen space in cities and towns could lead to sustained improvements in mental health, shows study published in the journal of Environmental Science & Technology.
 Analysing data that followed people over a five year period, the research has found that moving to a greener area not only improves people's mental health, but that the effect continues long after they have moved.

The findings add to evidence that suggests increasing green spaces in cities - such as parks and gardens - could deliver substantial benefits to public health.

The research is one of the first studies to consider the effects of green space over time and has used data from the British Household Panel Survey, a repository of information gathered from questionnaires filled in by households across Great Britain.

Using data from over 1,000 participants, the research team at the University of Exeter Medical School focused on two groups of people: those who moved to greener urban areas, and those who relocated to less green urban areas.

They found that, on average, movers to greener areas experienced an immediate improvement in mental health that was sustained for at least 3 years after they moved. The study also showed that people relocating to a more built up area suffered a drop in mental health. Interestingly this fall occurred before they moved; returning to normal once the move was complete.

The authors adjusted their data to remove effects from other factors likely to affect mental health over time - such as income, employment and education - as well as factors related to personality. Lead researcher, Dr Ian Alcock, believes the study's results could have important implications:

"We've shown that individuals who move to greener areas have significant and long-lasting improvements in mental health. These findings are important for urban planners thinking about introducing new green spaces to our towns and cities, suggesting they could provide long term and sustained benefits for local communities."

In 2012 the World Health Organisation cited depression as the leading cause of disability worldwide, and this study builds on research that has found natural environments could act as vital resources to improve health and wellbeing.

Yet up until now, scientists have been unsure how these effects vary over time. Co-author of the paper, Dr Mathew White, says this research has provided an important insight into the mechanism:

"We needed to answer important questions about how the effects of green space vary over time. Do people experience a novelty effect, enjoying the new green area after the move, but with the novelty then wearing off? Or do they take time to realise the benefits of their new surroundings as they gradually get to know local parks? What we've found suggests that the mental health benefits of green space are not only immediate, but sustainable over long periods of time."

Source:University of Exeter Medical School

Dietary Fat Significantly Linked to an Increase in Abdominal Adiposity

 Dietary Fat Significantly Linked to an Increase in Abdominal AdiposityIrrespective of the total calories consumed and the physical activity done, an excessive proportion of fat in the diet leads to a greater accumulation of fat in the abdomen, confirm researchers. Lead researcher Idoia Labayen, PhD holder in Biology and Tenured Lecturer in Nutrition and Food Science at the UPV/EHU's Faculty of Pharmacy, said that until now it was thought that even with an unbalanced diet, you somehow compensated for it if you got plenty of physical exercise, but this study had showed that this was not the case.

The aim was to study the role played by the lipid component, in other words, dietary fat, in the build-up of abdominal fat, in adolescents. The accumulation of abdominal fat is the most harmful in health terms as it increases the risk of suffering from cardiovascular problems, diabetes mellitus, arterial high blood pressure, high cholesterol level, etc.

To study these aims they worked with a sub-sample of 224 adolescents who participated in the HEalthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence (HELENA) study out of a total of over 3,500, in whom abdominal fat was accurately measured by means of dual-x-ray absorptiometry; dietary habits and physical activity were also measured.

The results of this study have confirmed the hypothesis and show that the percentage of dietary fat is significantly linked to an increase in abdominal adiposity and that this relation is also independent of the levels of physical exercise adolescents do.

Source:The study has been published in the journal Clinical Nutrition.


Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Men With Female Offspring are 'More Generous'

You're in for some good luck if your boss has a daughter. A recent study revealed how men having a daughter tend to be more generous and caring than others.
The presence of a female offspring, regardless of her age, can be enough to bring out the loving and generous side of a man.

The study, which was actually aimed at understanding the stark difference between the nature of wealthy men and billionaires, revealed a much general idea, applicable to every man. The study attempted to understand why some men gave away millions and billions as charity, while some others didn't donate any money at all.

To understand better how this happens, the researchers analyzed the wages that male CEO's of over 10,000 companies and tracked how much they paid their employees.

Careful observation revealed that on an average, after the CEO's had a child, they spend £65 less annually per employee. Close analysis revealed that the CEO's reduced the employee wages after they had a male child, but not after they had a female offspring.

The researchers speculate that this may be due to the fact that the daughter's bring out their father's caring side.

Previous studies also reveal that legislators having daughters tend to vote more liberally.

So if you're thinking of a pay rise, and your boss has a daughter, it might just be your lucky day!


Lower fat content and exercise for the diet of adolescents

The prevalence of excess weight and obesity among adolescents and, as a result, the concomitant problems, has increased considerably in recent years. A study by the UPV/EHU has confirmed that, irrespective of the total calories consumed and the physical activity done, an excessive proportion of fat in the diet leads to a greater accumulation of fat in the abdomen. The study has been published in the prestigious journal Clinical Nutrition and is part of the HELENA study funded by the European Commission.
“Until now it was thought that even with an unbalanced diet, you somehow compensated for it if you got plenty of physical exercise. In this study we have shown that this is not the case,” explained Idoia Labayen, PhD holder in Biology and Tenured Lecturer in Nutrition and Food Science at the UPV/EHU’s Faculty of Pharmacy and lead researcher in the study.
The aim was to study the role played by the lipid component, in other words, dietary fat, in the build-up of abdominal fat, in adolescents. The accumulation of abdominal fat is the most harmful in health terms as it increases the risk of suffering from cardiovascular problems, diabetes mellitus, arterial high blood pressure, high cholesterol level, etc. Yet there were no previous pieces of work examining the role of diet composition in the excess of abdominal fat at such a critical development stage as adolescence. “Adolescents are a risk group as far as lifestyles are concerned because they are starting to take their own decisions about what they want and do not want to eat, and they are also going through a period in which many of them have stopped doing any sport, etc.,” pointed out Labayen.

Fat, a significant factor

To study these aims they worked with a sub-sample of 224 adolescents who participated in the HELENA study out of a total of over 3,500, in whom abdominal fat was accurately measured by means of dual-x-ray absorptiometry; dietary habits and physical activity were also measured.
Some authors had proposed that diets with a high fat content could increase the risk of obesity even without increasing the total calorie intake. They were saying that, irrespective of the total calorie intake, an excessive percentage of fat in the diet could lead to a higher percentage of body fat.
The results of this study have confirmed the hypothesis and show that the percentage of dietary fat is significantly linked to an increase in abdominal adiposity and that this relation is also independent of the levels of physical exercise adolescents do. “Despite the fact that physical activity is usually a prevention factor, in this particular case it is not able to counteract it,” pointed out the UPV/EHU researcher. So “these results point to dietary fat content as a key risk factor in abdominal adiposity in adolescents, no matter how much physical exercise they do,” stressed Labayen.
The main aim of the HELENA study (HEalthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence) is to obtain information about the cardiovascular health, dietary habits and physical activity of European adolescents. In 2011 the study received first prize from the European Commission for the best dissemination of the results of a European project. This is borne out by the over 100 publications in international journals of proven prestige which have been inspired by the study.
Source:Clinical Nutrition

Research suggests a blood test to locate gene defects associated with cancer may not be far off

Some surprising research findings from scientists at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center suggest it's possible a simple blood test could be developed to determine whether gene mutations associated with pancreatic cancer exist without the need of locating and testing tumor tissue. This appears possible following the discovery that tiny particles the size of viruses called 'exosomes,' which are shed by cancer cells into the blood, contain the entire genetic blueprint of cancer cells. By decoding this genomic data and looking for deletions and mutations associated with cancer, the research team believes this discovery could be translated into a test that helps physicians detect cancer and treat patients. The findings are based on research led by Raghu Kalluri, M.D., Ph.D., chairman and professor in MD Anderson's Department of Cancer Biology. The research results appear in the current online edition of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
"At the present time, there is no single blood test that can screen for all cancer related DNA defects," said Kalluri. "In many cases, current protocols require a tumor sample to determine whether gene mutations and deletions exist and therefore determine whether the tumor itself is cancerous or benign. To procure tumor tissue, one needs to know that a tumor exists and if so, is it accessible for sample collection or removal? Finally, there are always risks and significant costs associated with surgical procedures to acquire tumor tissue."
Historically, researchers were aware these miniscule particles existed and that they carried nucleic acids and proteins. It was also believed that exosomes carried small portions of the person's DNA. However, upon further investigation, the MD Anderson research team was surprised to learn that the person's entire double-stranded genomic DNA spanning all chromosomes can be found in exosomes, including those mutated chromosomes that cause various cancers. Furthermore, Kalluri and colleagues discovered that DNA derived from exosomes carried the same cancer-related genetic mutations compared to the cancer cells taken from tumor.
"Because different forms of cancer are associated with different chromosomal mutations , we believe analysis of exosome DNA taken from blood samples may not only help determine the presence of a cancerous tumor somewhere in the body but also identify mutations without a need for tumor sample," added Kalluri. "We also believe this "fingerprint" will help lead us to the likely site of the tumor in the body. For instance, certain mutation spectrums would suggest pancreatic cancer or a brain-based tumor. While there is much more work to be conducted to develop such a test, having a tool such as this would increase our abilities to detect cancer in an earlier stage and therefore increase our chances of effective treatment."
"This seminal discovery paves the way for highly sensitive screening for driver mutations of cancer in the blood without the need for biopsy of tumor tissue and importantly, lays the foundation for a new method for the early detection of cancer when the chance for cure is greatest," said MD Anderson President Ronald A. DePinho, M.D.
Source:Journal of Biological Chemistry

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