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British women can pick sperm donors on 'order a daddy' app

Mon, 09/26/2016 - 10:22

Now, the British women can get sperm donors just in a click.

The London Sperm Bank has just launched a Tinder-style smart-phone app that would allow them to choose a sperm donor to father their child, based on certain qualifications, reports the Mirror.

The "order a daddy" app allows women to browse for sperm donors, one of whom could potentially become the daddy of their child, by choosing those with particular physical characteristics such as those that relate to the height, weight as well as hair and eye color.

They can also choose the donor's level of education and read a description of his personality.

Applicants come from a wide range of professions including law, medicine, finance, engineering, hospitality and performing arts.

After picking a donor, women have to pay 950 pounds through the mobile app for a sample of the sperm, which will then be delivered to the clinic where they are treated.

If the ideal donor is not immediately available, users can opt to set up a wish list that will send an alert once someone with the desired attributes makes a sperm donation.

London Sperm Bank, who launched the app, believes it is the first of its kind.

Scientific director Dr Kamal Ahuja said: "You make all the transactions online, like you do anything else these days."

"This allows a woman who wants to get a sperm donor to gain control in the privacy of her own home and to choose and decide in her own time," Ahuja added.

About half of the IVF clinics in Britain, which include private and National Health Service (NHS) institutions, already registered to use the service.

However, critics have blasted the app, saying it trivialises parenthood.

Josephine Quintavalle, from campaign group Comment on Reproductive Ethics, said: "How much further can we go in the trivialisation of parenthood?"

"This is reproduction via the mobile phone. It's digital dads. Choose Daddy. This is the ultimate denigration of fatherhood," Quintavalle added. (ANI)

AttachmentSize British women can pick sperm donors on 'order a daddy' app24.26 KB Region: United KingdomGeneral: Health

Protein in mosquito spit can stop spread of dengue virus: Study

Sun, 09/25/2016 - 04:49

Certain types of protein present in the Aedes aegypti's saliva binds the dengue virus (DENV) and inhibit its transmission to human cells and mice, says a study.

Antibodies against the saliva protein 'D7', which are present in humans when exposed to mosquito bites, might facilitate virus transmission and enhance disease severity.

Working on ways to reduce DENV transmission, lead researcher Michael Conway, explored how best to target the mosquito saliva protein to block transmission of DENV.

This strategy has advantages compared with vaccines based on viral proteins because it does not need to take into account different circulating DENV strains or adapt to rapidly evolving viruses.

The researchers had previously isolated proteins from salivary glands of Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that transmits the Dengue, Zika, and Chikungunya viruses and tested batches of proteins to see if they could either enhance or block DENV transmission to human cells.

In the study, they focused on proteins that could inhibit DENV.

The researchers while analyzing batches of proteins with inhibitory function, found high levels of D7 proteins.

Members of the D7 family are known to be present in mosquito saliva and thought to assist the blood feeding process.

Comparing uninfected Aedes mosquitoes with DENV-infected ones, the researchers found that the latter had increased levels of D7 proteins in the salivary glands compared with uninfected controls.

They then produced one of the D7 proteins in insect cells and used it in further functional analyses.

Treating cells that are susceptible to DENV infection with the D7 protein either before or during exposure to the virus significantly reduced DENV RNA levels in the cells, suggesting that D7 might both modulate the host cell as well as possibly act on the virus directly to inhibit infection or multiplication.

To determine whether D7 can inhibit DENV2 infection in vivo, the researchers exposed mice that are susceptible to DENV either to virus alone or to a combination of virus and D7.

The presence of D7, they found, significantly reduced the levels of DENV RNA both at the exposure site and in neighboring lymph nodes (from where virus spreads to the rest of the body).

To understand how D7 protein mediates its antiviral effect, the researchers tested whether D7 can interact with DENV directly.

They found that D7 can bind the DENV via the virus's envelope protein (which covers the viral surface).

The researchers said, "The results support that D7 protein mediates its antiviral effect through direct protein-protein interaction, although it is possible that modulation of the inflammatory response also occurs in vivo."

D7 proteins can provoke strong immune responses and individuals exposed to mosquitoes have high levels of anti-D7 antibodies.

Because these antibodies likely inhibit D7 protein function, the researchers speculate that "although anti-D7 antibodies may prevent efficient blood feeding by a mosquito, they may also enhance disease transmission and disease severity," the researchers said.

Adding, "Characterizing the complex interplay of virus-vector-host interactions," they conclude, "will lead to the development of better models of pathogenesis, strategies to limit disease transmission, and promote the development of therapeutics and transmission-blocking vaccines."

The findings appear in the PLOS NTDs journal. (ANI)

Region: United StatesGeneral: Health

Belief about nicotine content in cigs influence smokers craving

Sat, 09/24/2016 - 08:03

How the brain responds to nicotine depends on a smoker's belief about the nicotine content in a cigarette, states a recent research conducted at the University of Texas in Dallas.

The study found that smoking a nicotine cigarette but believing that it lacked nicotine failed to satisfy cravings related to nicotine addiction.

Contrary to the expectations, researchers found that in order to satisfy nicotine cravings, smokers had to not only smoke a cigarette with nicotine but also believe that they were smoking nicotine.

Lead author of the study Xiaosi Gu said, "These results suggest that for drugs to have an effect on a person, he or she needs to believe that the drug is present."

The scientists used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to capture neural activity in the insula cortex, a region of the brain that plays a role in diverse functions such as bodily perception and self-awareness.

The insula cortex is also associated with drug cravings and addiction, Gu said.

Twenty-four chronic, nicotine-addicted smokers participated in the double-blind study.

Over four visits, participants were twice given a nicotine-containing cigarette and twice a placebo.

With each type of cigarette, they were once accurately told what type they had and once told the opposite.

Gu said, "We examined the impact of beliefs about cravings prior to and after smoking while also measuring neural activity."

On each visit, participants underwent an fMRI scan and were administered a cigarette, but each visit tested a different condition including 'believes the cigarette contains nicotine but receives placebo', 'believes the cigarette does not contain nicotine but receives a nicotine cigarette', 'Believes the cigarette contains nicotine and receives nicotine', 'believes the cigarette does not contain nicotine and receives placebo'.

After smoking the provided cigarette, participants completed a reward learning task while undergoing fMRI.

They rated their levels of craving before smoking the cigarette and after the task.

The fMRI scans showed significant neural activity that correlated to both craving and learning signals when participants smoked a nicotine cigarette and believed its nicotine content was genuine.

However, smoking nicotine but believing it was a placebo did not produce the same brain signals.

Results from this study support previous findings that beliefs can alter a drug's effects on craving, providing insight into possible avenues for novel methods of addiction treatments. (ANI)

AttachmentSize Belief about nicotine content in cigs influence smokers craving14.35 KB Region: United StatesGeneral: Health

Beware! Using Loofahs can lead to skin infections: Study

Fri, 09/23/2016 - 07:08

A recent research suggests that Loofahs carry bacteria, so much so that using one could defeat the very purpose of the shower and can even lead to infections.

The research has found that the natural scrubbers made from a tropical species of cucumber fibre, make the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.

It also highlighted that loofahs can transmit potentially pathogenic species of bacterial flora to the skin that under the right circumstances may even cause an infection.

When you lather up to exfoliate by scrubbing away dead skin cells, they get caught in the nooks and folds of the sponge.

The humid, damp, and relatively undisturbed environment of the shower allows the bacteria to multiply before your next rinse. The bacteria feeds on the organic matter trapped in the loofah, and every time it does not dry properly the bacterial colony continues to bloom.

Unfortunately, applying antibacterial wash to the loofah and rinsing it out after each use doesn't even count for nada if it is not regularly disinfected.

Most dermatologists agree that using loofahs and shower sponges are not great for the skin.

Dermatologist Michele Green said that continuing to use a contaminated loofah will only make things worse. "You spread the bacteria that you washed off your body the last time," Green confirmed.

"The loofah is spreading yesterday's dirt back on your body," said expert J. Mathhew Knight. Adding that mold and yeast can also infect the plastic mesh sponge or natural loofah.

To keep showers clean, dermatologists recommend replacing the bath loofah and mesh pouf every three weeks, especially if it turns a different colour or develops an odour.

To keep your damp sponge from festering in the mold palace try drying it outside of the shower, where there is good air circulation.

To disinfect your bath scrubber properly microwave natural loofahs and sponges for 20 seconds or soak them in a solution of five percent bleach.

The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology found. (ANI)

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Smoking shortens lifespan of patients with terminal illness

Thu, 09/22/2016 - 08:09

A new research suggests that smoking may shorten the lives of those with terminal illness, such as ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).

ALS damages nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. These cells control many vital muscle functions, including speaking, swallowing and breathing.

Though no cure for this disease has been found, scientists have identified several risk factors, including genes, gender, age and underlying health issues.

For this study, researchers explored the link between tobacco and development of ALS.

They collected data on the smoking habits of 650 people diagnosed with ALS between 2007 and 2011 in northern Italy. They also looked at chronic lung disease (COPD) among these patients.

Nearly 19 percent of the ALS patients were regular smokers when they were diagnosed.

Researchers noted that 28 percent were ex-smokers and about 53 percent had never smoked.

44 of the ALS patients had COPD; half were former smokers. On average, patients with COPD had shorter lives than those without.

But smoking appeared to shorten patients' lives whether or not they had COPD when their ALS was diagnosed.

On average, smokers with ALS lived 21 months after diagnosis, compared to 27 months for ex-smokers. Those who never smoked lived the longest after diagnosis, 31 months, on average.

Researchers also said smokers were usually younger than others when their ALS was diagnosed.

The study authors, led by Dr. Adriano Chio, although cautioned that no firm conclusions about cause and effect can be drawn from their observational study.

The study was published online in The Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry. (ANI)

AttachmentSize Smoking shortens lifespan of patients with terminal illness19.26 KB Region: United StatesGeneral: HealthResearch

Old age home residents are given sedatives to control their behaviour, reveals study

Wed, 09/21/2016 - 09:44

A recent study has revealed that elderly care home residents are routinely being given dangerous 'chemical cosh' drugs to keep them sedated.

Despite a supposed crackdown on the use of the controversial pills, one in five is being given antipsychotics to control their behaviour and keep them calm.

According to a Daily Mail report, more than three quarters of the prescriptions were 'excessive' on these drugs.

The study stated that residents were often kept on the drugs for far longer than the recommended six weeks, and in some cases until they died.

Antipsychotics are tranquillizers which are meant to be given to schizophrenia patients to prevent hallucinations.

They have been dubbed the 'chemical cosh' due to their sedative effects and are now routinely prescribed to dementia sufferers to control agitation.

However, previous research has shown that patients are up to nine times more likely to have a stroke and twice as likely to die early and the drugs also hasten their mental decline.

A major Government review in 2009 called for prescriptions for dementia to be slashed by two thirds in four years.

But the study concluded that the pills are still routinely used as a form of 'chemical restraint' to stop patients being a nuisance.

The research involved 31,619 residents in 616 care homes and showed that prescription rates had actually increased.

It said an average of 19 percent of residents were taking an antipsychotic in 2012, the most recent year for which figures are available up from 18 percent in 2009.

The researchers said the figures would have changed little since 2012, and if anything would be worse.

They also said the true numbers on antipsychotics were probably far higher than a fifth as their study looked at the better performing care homes.

According to the study, 77 percent of prescriptions in 2012 were 'excessive', up from 69.7 percent in 2009.

Their use was deemed 'excessive' if patients had been on them more than the maximum six weeks recommended by government guidelines.

Another team of researchers from Warwick, Coventry and City universities found that many patients stayed on them for more than a year and very often until they died.

They said that often care home staff were urging the practitioners to prescribe the medication to difficult patients they were struggling to control.

Lead researcher professor Ala Szczepura said although her study only analysed records up to 2012, today's prescribing rates of anti-psychotics would probably be the same, if not worse.

An expert in the field George McNamara said, "Antipsychotics increase the risk of stroke, falls and even death, it's shocking that the evidence continues to be flatly ignored. With person-centred approaches and training programmes for care home staff, continued inappropriate prescribing is a step backward into the dark ages."

The study also found that patients in care homes who had a dedicated GP responsible for regular visits were far less likely to be prescribed antipsychotics.

Those who were under the care of several GP surgeries, with doctors unfamiliar with the patients, were more likely to see antipsychotic prescriptions.

It also showed that many patients were being given drugs which aren't even licensed to be used for dementia.

These are medications which are meant to be used for other illnesses and their side effects for dementia patients have not been rigorously checked.

Doctors are allowed to prescribe the drugs at their discretion but they are meant to carry out regular checks on patients to ensure they are not suffering side effects.

The analysis found that 14 percent of all care home residents were taking an unlicensed antipsychotic.

The study was published in the BMJ Open online journal. (ANI)

AttachmentSize Old age home residents are given sedatives to control their behaviour, reveals study27.32 KB Region: United KingdomGeneral: HealthResearch

New test to predict the exact time an advanced ovarian cancer patient would live

Wed, 09/21/2016 - 09:42

A new computer test has been developed that is helping doctors to accurately predict the survival span of women suffering from advanced ovarian cancer.

The test, developed by experts at the Institute of Cancer Research in London, highlighted a 'staggering' difference between those patients who would live for five years or more and those who would die before that, reports Daily Mail.

It examines the cell 'ecosystem' around secondary tumors, in other parts of the body, once cancer has spread from the ovaries.

The test gives a score according to whether the tumor spread is in one dominant cell type, or its more diverse cell population containing immune or connective tissue cells.

Scientists found that survival rates of women with high score were far more than those of women with a low score.

Just 9 percent of women with a high score survived five years from diagnosis, compared with 42 per cent of those whose cancer spread were dominated by one cell type.

Doctors said the test will help in identifying those women, who have the most life-threatening type of cancer and who urgently need the most aggressive treatment.

About 7,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year in the UK and the disease kills about 4,000 women a year.

Symptoms can be vague and include feeling bloated or full, irregular periods or bleeding, tummy or back pain and passing urine more often than normal.

Pain during sex and constipation are other possible signs.

Researcher Yinyin Yuan said, "We used to think of tumors as simply a collection of cancer cells but we now know that they are often complex ecosystems made up of different types of healthy cell, too. Our study has revealed that diverse cell populations at the sites of cancer spread are a clinically important feature of particularly aggressive ovarian cancers."

Adding, "We have developed a new test to assess the diversity of metastatic sites and use it to predict a woman's chances of surviving their disease."

"More work is needed to refine our test and move it into the clinic but, in future, it could be used to identify women with especially aggressive ovarian cancers so they can be treated with the best possible therapies available on the NHS or through clinical trials," said Yuan.

Research on the test involved 61 women with 192 secondary tumours.

The findings were published in the journal Oncotarget. (ANI)

AttachmentSize span of women suffering from advanced ovarian cancer15.73 KB Region: United KingdomGeneral: Health

Men suffering with severe anxiety are twice more likely to die from cancer

Tue, 09/20/2016 - 08:54

London [England], Sept. 20 : As per a recent research men, who suffer from severe anxiety are twice more likely to die from cancer than men, who stay calm and relaxed.

However, women with the mental health condition were at no greater risk, reports Daily Mail.

Researchers suggest that anxious men may be more likely to 'self-medicate' their anxiety by drinking and smoking more than women and both factors increase the likelihood of getting cancer.

Women are also quicker at going to the doctor, allowing the cancer to be detected earlier, making it easier to treat.

A study of 15,938 people looked at those, who had also been diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder.

The disorder is characterized by excessive, uncontrollable worry about many areas of life.

Symptoms can include muscle tension, insomnia, an inability to concentrate and restlessness. A total of 126 men (1.8 percent in the study) and 215 women (2.4 percent) were found to have the disorder.

Over a 15 year follow-up period, they found the men with GAD were twice more likely to die of cancer than men who were not affected by anxiety.

There was no greater likelihood for anxious women to die of cancer.

Researcher Olivia Remes said, "In the past there have been inconclusive studies of the relationship between cancer and anxiety. However our study is the largest one to look at this relationship. We found that men with generalised anxiety disorder are over twice as likely to die of cancer as men without this condition."

Adding, "This holds true even after taking account of a range of additional factors, such as age, major chronic diseases, serious mental illnesses, smoking, alcohol, physical activity, and medications."

"Women did not show this association between anxiety and cancer. The work shows that anxiety is associated with cancer deaths in men," she added.

It is possible that men with anxiety have lifestyles or other risk factors that increase cancer risk that ARE Not accounted for completely, however, this association does raise questions, and society may need to consider anxiety as a warning signal for poor health.

She continued "Researchers, policy makers and clinicians don't give enough importance to anxiety, and this needs to change. A large number of people are affected by anxiety and its potential effects on health are substantial."

The study also shows that anxiety is more than just a personality trait, it is a disorder that may be associated with risk of death from conditions such as cancer.

The research was presented at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology Congress in Vienna. (ANI)

Region: LondonUnited Kingdom

Preemies suffer lifetime breathing trouble, despite lung treatment after birth: Study

Mon, 09/19/2016 - 02:47

London [England]. Sept 19 : A study says that premature babies, who receive breathing treatments to improve lung function early in life, may have respiratory challenges as children and adolescents

Researchers focused on the most vulnerable subset of premature babies, those born at no more than 28 weeks gestation, reports the Daily Mail.

These babies are too frail and weak to breathe on their own; they often lack a lining in the lungs known as surfactant that keeps tiny air spaces called alveoli from collapsing with each exhalation.

When researchers examined data on about 300 extremely small, low birth weight babies, they found these early arrivals were much more likely to have small airway obstruction at ages eight and 18 than a group of 260 otherwise similar babies who were born full-term and normal size.

Furthermore, the preemies had a greater increase in small airway obstruction between ages eight and 18, compared with full-term babies.

"Since surfactant in healthy pregnancies is produced mostly after 34-35 weeks of pregnancy in the fetus, infants born before this time are more likely than babies born after 34-35 weeks to have surfactant deficiency, and hence breathing difficulty after birth," said lead study author Lex Doyle.

A typical pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks and babies that arrive after 37 weeks are considered full term. In the weeks immediately after birth, preemies often have difficulty breathing and digesting food.

Some premature infants also encounter longer term challenges such as impaired vision, hearing, and cognitive skills as well as social and behavioral problems.

For the current study, Doyle and colleagues focused on infants born in 1991 to 1992, just as synthetic and natural surfactants made of lipids and proteins became available in Australia to treat preterm infants.

Doctors can inject liquid containing these surfactants directly into the air passages of the lung to improve breathing.

Within the preemie group, the subset of early arrivals who also had lung damage caused by time on a respirator or long-term oxygen use had worse lung function at age eight and age 18 than the preterm babies that didn't have these issues.

In addition, preemies who became smokers by age 18 also had worse lung function than preemies who never smoked, researchers reported in the journal Thorax.

One limitation of the study is the lack of follow-up after age 18, because lung development typically continues into the 20s, the authors note.

Still, the findings suggest that as preemies become adults, they need to make sure to alert doctors about their early arrival and be monitored for potential breathing problems, Doyle said.

"Knowledge that they were born preterm and any complications they had should be part of their medical history for life," Doyle said.

"They would, of course, also be wise not to smoke," the researcher added. (ANI)

Region: LondonUnited KingdomGeneral: Health

Those with common cancer types are more likely to live for a decade: Study

Sun, 09/18/2016 - 02:56

Washington D. C. [USA], Sept. 17 : According to recent estimates drawn by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), people, who develop skin, breast and prostate cancers are most likely to survive 10 years after diagnosis.

Those who develop skin cancer are the most likely to still be alive a decade after their diagnosis, with 89.4 percent of sufferers able to expect this lifespan.

As per a report in The Guardian, the ONS stated that more than four in five (80.6 percent) women diagnosed with breast cancer, the most common form of cancer in females, should also survive for 10 years.

Anticipated 10-year survival is almost as high for those with prostate cancer, the commonest cancer among men.

As many as 79.9 percent of men diagnosed with it can expect to be alive for ten years

However, only 5.7 percent of those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer will live that long, as will only 9.8 percent of people who develop lung cancer and 11.9 percent of those with brain cancer.

The figures are part of calculations the ONS made for the first time that project how many people diagnosed with certain forms of cancer in 2015 are expected to survive for a decade.

They estimate future survival rather than capturing the number of years cancer patients have already lived since diagnosis.

The findings are based on all those diagnosed with the disease regardless of at what stage their cancer was identified.

The figures come as evidence continues to suggest that new drugs, better treatments and earlier diagnosis of the disease are helping to sustain the gradual increase in survival of some, but not other, cancer types.

For example, 96.4 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009-13 lived for at least a year, while 86.7 percent survived for five years, the largest numbers on record.

For men, survival rates at one year and five years are highest for those with testicular cancer.

Women diagnosed with melanoma of the skin have the best chance of the same highest one-year and five-year outcomes.

Rebecca Smittenaar, Cancer Research UK's statistics manager said, "Cancer survival is improving and has doubled over the last 40 years. For a number of cancers, including breast and skin cancer, more than eight out of 10 people will survive their disease."

"Research has led to better treatments, new drugs, more accurate tests, earlier diagnosis and screening programmes, giving patients a better chance of survival," she added.

For example, one-year survival for breast cancer has crept up from 95 percent for those diagnosed in 2007-11 to 96.4 percent of those who developed it in 2009-13, while five-year survival rose over the same period from 85 percent to 86.7 percent. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonUnited StatesGeneral: Health News

Screening at right time can prevent hundreds of deaths due to cervical cancer: Study

Sat, 09/17/2016 - 09:58

London [England], Sept. 17 : A recent research carried out by researchers from the Centre for Cancer Prevention suggests that lives of hundreds of cervical cancer patients could be saved if patients keep alert about it and go for screening at the initial stage.

The analysis estimated an additional 347 deaths per year in England could be prevented if women with with higher probability of the ailment attended cervical screening.

The analysis looked at screening history for more than 11,000 women diagnosed with cervical cancer and matched controls without cancer.

The study aimed to look at the potential impact of screening on diagnoses and deaths from cervical cancer.

It found there would be an estimated four to five times more deaths from cervical cancer in women over 35 if no screening existed.

However, if all eligible women attended screening regularly there could be even greater benefit, further reducing deaths by half in women 35 to 49, and by two-thirds in women 50 to 64.

This translates into an extra 347 lives per year saved by screening.

If cervical cancer is diagnosed at an early stage then the prospects of a complete cure are good.

It could well be the case that the issue of cervical cancer had dropped off the radar for many women since interest previously spiked after the death of reality star Jade Goody in 2009.

These results may suggest that more now needs to be done to encourage uptake by all suspected patients.

Nicola Smith, an expert at Cancer Research UK, pointed out that cervical screening wasn't just an issue for younger women.

"Older women may not think this type of screening is relevant to them, but while cervical cancer is unusual in that it affects women at younger ages than most cancers, older women also develop the disease," she said.

In the absence of screening, it was estimated there would be more than double the number of cancers diagnosed in women aged 25 to 79.

If all eligible women were regularly screened, there would be around a third fewer cancers.

Changing screening practices would have the greatest impact on women aged 50 to 64.

Cancer rates would be about four times higher with no screening. If everyone was regularly screened, rates in this age group would be less than half the current rate.

The researchers concluded, "screening has an even larger impact on cervical cancer mortality than it has on [cancer diagnosis rates], and that if everyone attended screening regularly, 83 percent of cervical cancer deaths could be prevented, compared with 70 percent with current screening."

"A further 347 deaths per year could be prevented if everyone attended screening regularly between ages 25 and 64 years," they added.

The findings suggest that screening currently prevents thousands of cervical cancers each year.

However, if uptake were improved further and all eligible women attended regular screening, even more cancers could be avoided and lives saved.

One note of caution though is that the study still can't prove that cervical cancer screening is wholly responsible for any differences in cancer diagnoses or mortality rates between cases and controls.

There may be important lifestyle factors that are associated both with risk of cervical cancer and likelihood of attending screening.

Women who smoke are at increased risk of cervical cancer, as are women who have unprotected sex with multiple partners (increasing their risk of acquiring the HPV virus that causes the cancer).

It is possible that some women with these risk factors could also be less likely to follow other healthy lifestyle practices, such as attending regular screening.

The study was published in the peer-reviewed medical journal British Journal of Cancer. (ANI)

Region: LondonUnited KingdomGeneral: Health

Symptoms, causes and treatment of precocious puberty

Fri, 09/16/2016 - 03:25
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London [England], Sept. 16 : While puberty is usually considered to hit an individual during the early teenage, the past couple of months have seen a surge in the cases of precocious puberty, the condition where the body starts to develop when children are as young as even two years old.

As per a report in The Independent, precocious puberty is a medical condition that causes an early release of hormones from the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus areas in the brain, which in turn stimulates estrogen production, causing puberty to begin prematurely.

The upper age for diagnosing the condition is undefined, but medical experts generally say it is before the age of eight in boys and nine in girls.

In approximately 90 percent of girls and 50 percent of boys who experience precocious puberty, no underlying cause can be identified. In such a situation, the case is referred by the medical experts as 'idiopathic precocious puberty'.

When the cause can be identified, it is generally either an abnormality involving the brain or a problem such as a tumor or genetic abnormality in the ovaries, testes or adrenal glands, causing overproduction of sex hormones.

Obesity may also contribute to earlier puberty.

The rise in child obesity levels linked to data suggesting the average age of starting puberty in the USA and Europe has gradually become slightly earlier because the more fat cells in the body, the more estrogen storage there is.

This has been noted particularly in young girls.

The rare condition affects around one in 5,000 to one in 10,000 children five to 10 times more common in girls as compared to boys.

The symptoms of precocious puberty include breast development, rapid height growth, menstruation, acne, enlarged testicles or penis, or pubic or underarm hair.

But the condition is more difficult to diagnose than often thought.

Pediatrician Paul Kaplowitz said only one in 10 of the children referred to him with signs of early puberty had true precocious puberty.

He explained that children can have isolated breast development and pubic hair without other symptoms.

This determines that they are not signs of puberty, but just normal variations.

Charlene Denton, a British woman whose daughter started puberty at the age of two, told how she discovered the signs of her child's condition.

"Just after her second birthday she started developing little breast buds. At first the doctor reassured us that she was absolutely fine and there was nothing wrong with her. But then she started developing a second breast bud, so we took her back and had all sorts of tests done to diagnose her with precocious puberty," she said.

Adding, "We were completely shocked. We'd never heard about it."

However, the treatment for precocious puberty depends on the cause.

The primary goal of treatment is to enable the child to grow to a normal adult height because the condition can stunt their growth.

In cases where there is no underlying medical condition, the condition can be effectively treated with medication, which usually involves a monthly injection that delays further development. (ANI)

Region: LondonUnited Kingdom

Nap for more than an hour associated with 'increased type-2 diabetes' risk

Thu, 09/15/2016 - 03:01

London [England], Sept. 15 : Taking nap for more than an hour during the day time may be a warning sign for type-2 diabetes, says a new study.

A group of Japanese researchers have found this link after analysing an observational study that involved more than 3,00,000 people, reports the BBC.

Also known as hyperglycemia, type 2 diabetes is the most common form of insulin resistance diabetes.

UK experts said that people with long-term illnesses and undiagnosed diabetes often felt tired during the day. But they said there was no evidence that napping caused or increased the risk of diabetes.

The study, carried out by scientists at the University of Tokyo, found that there was a link between long daytime naps of more than 60 minutes and a 45 percent increased risk of type-2 diabetes, compared with no daytime napping, but there was no link with naps of less than 40 minutes.

According to the researchers, long naps could be a result of disturbed sleep at night, potentially caused by sleep apnoea. This could even increase the risk of heart attacks, stroke, cardiovascular problems and other metabolic disorders, including type-2 diabetes.

The risk of type-2 diabetes can even increase due to sleep deprivation, caused by work or social life patterns.

But it was also possible that people who were less healthy or in the early stages of diabetes were more likely to nap for longer during the day.

Shorter naps, in contrast, were more likely to increase alertness and motor skills, the authors said.

Naveed Sattar, professor of metabolic medicine at the University of Glasgow, said "It's likely that risk factors which lead to diabetes also cause napping. This could include slightly high sugar levels, meaning napping may be an early warning sign of diabetes."

However, he even mentioned that proper trials were needed to determine whether sleeping patterns made a difference to "real health outcomes".

Dr Benjamin Cairns, from the cancer epidemiology unit at the University of Oxford, said the findings should be treated with caution, "In general, it is not possible to make conclusions about cause and effect based on observational studies alone, because usually they cannot rule out alternative explanations for their findings."

The study is being presented at a meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Munich. (ANI)

Region: LondonUnited KingdomGeneral: Health

Oversleeping during weekends may leave you tired, not relaxed: Study

Wed, 09/14/2016 - 08:58

London [England], Sept. 14 : Researchers at Sweden's Karolinska Institute claim that sleeping till late on weekends, disturb the natural rhythms of the body leading to one feel worse rather than relaxed.

Lead researcher Susanna Jernelov said, "It's partly because of our circadian rhythm, so when you sleep in later, it's like giving yourself a bit of jet-lag and jet-lag makes you less bright and perky," reports The Independent.

"If you sleep a little bit too little all the time and just catch up on the weekends, you are messing with your circadian rhythms, you should stay on a regular schedule but that doesn't really work with most people's lives," she added.

Her claims have also been vouched by fellow researcher Bjorn Bjorvatn, who said "You should get up and go to bed at about the same time every day. Do not sleep in late on weekends. Do not have a lie-in. If you get up at 12pm on the weekend, it will take time for your rhythm to adjust back"

And despite the onset of autumn and winter being the most tempting time to stay in bed, it was actually the most important time of the year to stick to the normal sleep routine for wellbeing. (ANI)

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It's possible to motivate teens for healthing eating by appealing to their adolescent values

Tue, 09/13/2016 - 07:53

A new study 'Harnessing Adolescent Values to Motivate Healthier Eating,' at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, finds that it's possible to reduce unhealthy eating habits and motivate better food choices among adolescents by appealing to widely-held adolescent values.

Researcher Christopher J. Bryan said, "Our goal here was to portray healthy eating as a way to take a stand against injustice--to stand up for vulnerable people who lack the ability to protect themselves."

To capture the motivating power of these values, researchers worked with groups of eighth graders to reshape their perception of healthy eating as an act of independence that serves the purpose of social justice.

"We took a two-pronged approach to this. First, our healthy eating message was framed as an expose of manipulative food industry marketing practices that influence and deceive adolescents and others into eating larger quantities of unhealthy foods," Bryan said.

The researchers also described journalistic accounts of such industry practices as engineering processed foods to maximize addictiveness and to encourage overconsumption, as well as using deceptive labeling to make unhealthy products appear healthy.

Additionally, researchers outlined manipulative industry practices like disproportionately targeting poor people and very young children with advertisements for the unhealthiest products.

"We framed healthy eating as a way to 'stick it to the man'--we cast the executives behind food marketing as controlling adult authority figures and framed the avoidance of junk food as a way to rebel against their control," Bryan said.

The test subjects chose fewer junk food options as snacks and preferred water over sugary sodas.

The teens made the choices outside the context of the nutrition talk, when they were unaware their choices were being tracked.

The treatment resulted in a 7 percentage point increase in the rate at which teens chose to forgo sugary drinks in favor of water.

It also led to an 11 percentage point increase in the rate at which they opted to forgo at least one unhealthy snack (chips or cookies) in favor of something healthy (fruit, carrots, or nuts).

"It is exciting to consider what the size of these effects would look like if extrapolated to average daily consumption," Bryan said.

For example, if sustained over time, a 7 percent reduction in adolescents' consumption of carbohydrates would correspond to one pound of body fat lost (or not gained) roughly every 6 weeks for boys and every 8 weeks for girls.

Policy analysts argue that preventing obesity is both more effective and less expensive than treating people who are already obese.

The potential for this new "value harnessing" approach could lead to lasting change.

"This approach provides an immediate, symbolic benefit for resisting temptation: feeling like a high-status and respect-worthy person right now because one is acting in accordance with important values shared with one's peers," Bryan said.

Additionally, an intervention based on this work could use tactics such as school-wide campaigns with student-designed posters and online videos that could create a lasting and self-reinforcing social movement.

The paper was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (ANI)

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Prescribing anti-depressants to children raised by 30% in 10 years: Study

Sun, 09/11/2016 - 06:38

London [England], Sept. 10 : A recent study says that though there's a steep rise in prescribing of anti-depressants to children over the last decade, more than 40 percent are drugs, which do not work and can even have toxic side-effects.

The study was conducted on around 3,60,000 patients aged between six to 18 in Wales and it found that there had been an increase of 28

percent in anti-depressants given out by general practitioners, reports the Independent.

The consumption of these drugs raises fears of the "medicalisation" of unhappiness and the ordinary emotional turmoil experienced by

teenagers.

However, the researchers also analyzed the other aspect of it and said it could also be because the stigma attached to mental health problems

is falling gradually and the children are now getting the help they required.

Interestingly, while the number of prescriptions per kid, went up, the number of diagnoses of depression fell, which was a sign that doctors

were trying to avoid "labelling" young people as mentally ill.

Girls were three times more likely than boys to be given anti-depressants and children from the most deprived areas were twice

as likely as those in the least deprived to be given anti-depressants.

The increase in prescribing was most pronounced among older teenagers with the level remaining fairly stable among six to 10-year-olds.

Ann John, the lead researcher said, "The main issue is whether they being prescribed with enough cause. The rise in prescribing may

reflect a genuine increase in depression and its symptoms, or increased awareness and better treatment by GPs, or poor access to

psychological therapies and specialist care, or even increased help-seeking."

She added, "There's lots of debate about 'are we medicalising unhappiness?'. Some of these feelings are part of the normal human experience . things that are just part of growing up."

Another problem highlighted by the researchers was that doctors were still giving the drug citalopram to treat depression in young people,

despite official guidance not to do this.

"Citalopram has a known toxicity in overdose and there were warnings given about it in 2011," she said, adding, "About a third of the prescribing was given to 18-year-olds, all the rest was given to kids ... outside the prescribing guidance."

She said that ecent research had showed fluoxetine, sold under the trade name Prozac, was the only drug that had been shown to work with

minimal side effects in children.

Citalopram should only be given to children, if cognitive behavioural therapy and other medicines prove to be not effective and the patient

should be closely monitored.

Asked if it was "dangerous" for children, she said prescribing it in the first instance was "not ideal".

According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), citalopram's side-effects can include hepatitis, heart

palpitations, haemorrhage, aggression, amnesia, euphoria and "paradoxical increased anxiety".

There have even been concerns its use is linked to children taking their own lives. (ANI)

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Social connectedness can escalate suicide risk: Study

Sun, 09/11/2016 - 06:27

Washington D.C. [USA], Sept. 11 : A new research showed that community characteristics play an important role in perpetuating teen suicide clusters and thwarting prevention efforts.

The study, conduicted by sociologists at the University of Chicago and University of Memphis, illustrates how the homogeneous culture and high degree of social connectedness of a community can increase suicide risk, particularly among teenagers.

Such conditions contribute to clusters in which a series of suicides happen around the same time and in close proximity.

While news outlets have repeatedly documented the emergence of clusters, little is understood about why they happen and how to stop them.

Assistant professor Anna S. Mueller examined a suburban, upper-middle-class community that had experienced at least four clusters over the last 15 years.

Researchers found intense pressure to succeed, coupled with narrowly defined ideals about what youths should be, namely academically and athletically exceptional.

Fears of not living up to such ideals combined with the ease with which private information became public, due to social connectedness, left teens and their parents unwilling to seek help for mental health problems.

Such conditions rendered youths who were already struggling particularly vulnerable to suicide, despite having social connections within the community.

"Perhaps one of the most interesting findings of this study is that it highlights the downside to social connectedness, something that is usually touted as a key tool for suicide prevention.It also helps explain why some schools with intense academic pressure have problems with suicide while others do not. It's not just the pressure: It's the pressure combined with certain community factors that can make asking for help harder to do," Mueller said.

The findings provide new insight for suicide prevention, which has focused traditionally on the downsides of social isolation and the role of mental illness.

The researchers demonstrate how community needs to be considered when assessing vulnerabilities, and why prevention organizations should no longer view social connectedness exclusively as a positive force in measuring suicide risk.

In the study, researchers started with the seminal work Suicide by French sociologist A%mile Durkheim, published in 1897.

While his assertion that a socially isolated individual is more prone to suicide remains a cornerstone of prevention, much less attention has been given to his discussion of how high levels of integration in society also can create risk.

They then turned their focus to a single community, in which 19 students or recent graduates of the local high school had committed suicide between 2000 and 2015.

Their field research included interviews and focus groups involving a total of 110 people. The study does not name the town because of confidentiality agreements tied to the research.

In their findings, they recommend the creation of programming to help students navigate perceived failure and academic stresses.

Additionally, they caution that suicide prevention strategies should take into consideration that social connectedness is not always a good thing.

The authors suggest more sociologists focus on suicide, seeing a growing role for the field to understand and prevent it.

"Since Durkheim's important work, sociology has contributed surprisingly little to understanding and preventing suicide, particularly compared to psychology and epidemiology. This is unfortunate since sociologists have the theoretical and empirical tools necessary to examine some fundamental unanswered questions about suicide, one of the most important being: 'How do we stop suicide clusters from happening?,'" ," Mueller said

The study was published in the American Sociological Review. (ANI)

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Maternal weight-loss surgery ups low birth weight in babies

Sat, 09/10/2016 - 06:40

Women who undergo gastric bypass surgery for weight loss before their pregnancy may increase the risk of giving birth to babies that are small in size or have lower average birth weights, a study has found.

Maternal obesity can lead to various health conditions for the newborn, such as high birth weight and low blood sugar as well as also cause birthing complications. Gastric bypass surgery can prevent these.

However, "our study has showed that gastric bypass could have other effects on newborns," said Maxime Gerard, lead researcher at the University Hospital of Angers in France.

Gastric bypass surgery is used to treat people who are severely obese (a body mass index greater than 40kg/m2). The procedure includes re-routed food past most of the stomach, meaning less is digested.

The surgery can lead to up to 70 per cent loss of excess body weight within two years, but is at the same time associated with an increased vulnerability to vitamin and mineral deficiencies, as it reduces the body's ability to absorb micronutrients.

Women treated with gastric bypass surgery are advised to wait 18 months after the procedure before trying to become pregnant in order to establish a stable, healthy weight.

They must also follow a daily multi-vitamin supplementation regime and receive regular clinical follow up before, during and after the pregnancy, the researcher said.

The findings showed that the birth-weight of babies born to gastric bypass mothers was on average 0.34 kg lower than average, and that 23 per cent of neonates were small for their gestational age.

Despite adequate supplementation, a proportion of gastric bypass mothers were deficient in key nutrients during pregnancy, such as calcium and zinc.

Analysis of the newborns showed that they also suffered lower than average levels of the same nutrients.

"These maternal nutrient deficiencies may be the reason for the same deficiencies and low birth weights seen in the newborns," Gerard added.

For the study, the team analysed 56 newborns born to gastric bypass mothers who had waited an average of 32 months between surgery and pregnancy, and compared results to 56 controls.

The team also analysed newborn birth weight in relation to the mothers' weight, and determined that birth weight was related to the variation in the mother's weight between the surgery and pregnancy, rather than her weight during pregnancy.

The results were presented at the 55th Annual European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology Meeting, in Paris recently. IANS

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Millions die every year due to air pollution: Report

Fri, 09/09/2016 - 10:22

Over 5.5 million people die prematurely every year due to household and outdoor air pollution globally with China and India being the worst-hit, a report claimed.

According to the report, published by the World Bank and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation on Thursday, about 60 per cent of the total deaths occur in two of the world's fastest growing economies -- China and India.

The researchers in their report also claimed that air pollution is the fourth highest ranking risk factor for the death.

"Air pollution is the 4th highest-ranking risk factor for death globally," the reports said, adding that 85 percent of the world's population lives in areas where WHO air quality guidelines are exceeded.

In China and India, less than one per cent of the population lives in areas which meet WHO guidelines on air quality termed safe for breathing.

It shows that India lost 1.4 million lives to air pollution in 2013, out of which 9.2 lakh people lost their because of the household air pollution and 5.9 lakh due to the ambient air pollution.

While in China, 8.2 lakh people died due to the household air pollution and 9.1 lakh people because of the ambient air pollution out of its over 1.6 million deaths.

Household air pollution is caused by burning solid fuels for heating and cooking, including coal, wood or dung, the report said. IANS

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Emotional parents more likely to give moral boost to kids

Fri, 09/09/2016 - 10:19

Children with emotional parents are more likely to be successful, a study has found.

The research found that a caring and emotionally attentive environment is liable to be a long-term game-changer.

"The findings support developmental theories which propose that a high emotional quality in the mother-child interaction (attachment security) fosters the cognitive development of the child," said Schneider-Hassloff, researcher at University of Ulm, in Germany.

Looking at 27 children aged between four and six, the study examined the quality of the emotional bond to their parents and their cognitive control including resisting temptation, their ability to remember things and whether they are shy or withdrawn.

First, the researchers looked at the quality of the emotional bond -- referred to as emotional availability (EA) -- between mothers and children.

Second, the children's executive functions were measured through a number of exercises.

Finally, the study measured the neural responses of children who were tasked to inhibit certain aspects of their behaviour. This was achieved through EEG (Electroencephalography) by measuring small variations in voltage in certain key parts of the brain.

Parents who encourage independence in their kids while remaining emotionally available, give their young ones a better chance at future success.

"This study investigated the association between emotional interaction quality and the electrophysiological correlates of executive functions in preschool children for the first time thereby shedding new light on the long-term importance of emotional nurturing," Hassloff added in the study, published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

Even in hardship, parents can create an emotional space that will have long-lasting and powerful consequences for the child's future life-skills, the study suggested.

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