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Cataract ups risk of depression in older adults

Sat, 12/03/2016 - 09:44

Washington D. C. [USA], Dec. 3 : Older adults, especially women, with cataract are more likely to have symptoms of depression, says a new study.

The study was published in the Optometry and Vision Science journal.

According to researchers from Soochow University in China, the link between cataract and depression is independent of other factors and appears strongest among older adults with lower education.

"Our study sheds further light on the complex relationship between aging, vision loss, cataract and depression and suggests that there may be a role for cataract surgery in improving mental health in the elderly," the researchers wrote.

For the study, approximately 4,600 adults aged 60 or older completed a depression questionnaire and they also underwent a clinical eye examination to rate the presence and severity of cataract.

They found nearly half (49 percent) of older adults in the study had cataracts in at least one eye. On the depression questionnaire, eight percent of subjects had depressive symptoms.

Symptoms of depression were more common in women than men (11 versus 5 percent), and more common in older age groups.

Older adults with cataracts were more likely to have depressive symptoms, independent of socio-economic status, lifestyle factors and visual acuity.

On adjusted analysis, symptoms of depression were 33 percent more, when cataracts were present. Importantly, the odds of depressive symptoms were similar for subjects with cataracts in one eye versus both eyes.

The association between cataracts and depression was even stronger for subjects with no formal education-- a 50 percent increase.

After all other factors were taken into account, cataract explained 14 percent of the variation in depression risk.

The researchers also noted that their study cannot show the direction of the association--vision loss might cause older adults to become isolated and withdrawn, or depression might make them less likely to seek treatment for cataracts. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonUnited StatesGeneral: Health

Is saturated fat good for health?

Sat, 12/03/2016 - 09:37

Washington D. C [US], Dec. 3 : A recent diet intervention study (FATFUNC) raises questions regarding the validity of a diet hypothesis that has dominated for more than half a century: that dietary fat and particularly saturated fat is unhealthy for most people.

The study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found strikingly similar health effects of diets based on either lowly processed carbohydrates or fats.

In the randomized controlled trial, 38 men with abdominal obesity followed a dietary pattern high in either carbohydrates or fat, of which about half was saturated.

Fat mass in the abdominal region, liver and heart was measured with accurate analyses, along with a number of key risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

"The very high intake of total and saturated fat did not increase the calculated risk of cardiovascular diseases," said researcher Ottar Nygard.

Adding, "Participants on the very-high-fat diet also had substantial improvements in several important cardiometabolic risk factors, such as ectopic fat storage, blood pressure, blood lipids (triglycerides), insulin and blood sugar."

Both groups had similar intakes of energy, proteins, polyunsaturated fatty acids, the food types were the same and varied mainly in quantity, and intake of added sugar was minimized.

"We here looked at effects of total and saturated fat in the context of a healthy diet rich in fresh, lowly processed and nutritious foods, including high amounts of vegetables and rice instead of flour-based products," said expert Vivian Veum.

Adding, "The fat sources were also lowly processed, mainly butter, cream and cold-pressed oils."

Total energy intake was within the normal range. Even the participants who increased their energy intake during the study showed substantial reductions in fat stores and disease risk.

"Our findings indicate that the overriding principle of a healthy diet is not the quantity of fat or carbohydrates, but the quality of the foods we eat," said another researcher Johnny Laupsa-Borge.

Saturated fat has been thought to promote cardiovascular diseases by raising the "bad" LDL cholesterol in the blood.

But even with a higher fat intake in the FATFUNC study compared to most comparable studies, the authors found no significant increase in LDL cholesterol.

Rather, the good cholesterol increased only on the very-high-fat diet.

"These results indicate that most healthy people probably tolerate a high intake of saturated fat well, as long as the fat quality is good and total energy intake is not too high. It may even be healthy," said Ottar Nygard.

Adding, "Future studies should examine which people or patients may need to limit their intake of saturated fat," assistant professor Simon Nitter Dankel points out, who led the study together with the director of the laboratory clinics, professor Gunnar Mellgren, at Haukeland university hospital in Bergen, Norway."

"But the alleged health risks of eating good-quality fats have been greatly exaggerated. It may be more important for public health to encourage reductions in processed flour-based products, highly processed fats and foods with added sugar," he concluded. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonUnited StatesGeneral: HealthResearch

Scientists develop new device to detect complicated prostate cancer

Sat, 12/03/2016 - 09:09

Washington D.C [US], Dec. 3 : A recent research demonstrates that a novel imaging agent can quickly and accurately detect metastasis of prostate cancer, even in areas where detection has previously been difficult.

Published in the Journal of Nuclear Medicine, the Phase 1 dose-escalation study of Zr-89-desferrioxamine-IAB2M (Zr-89-Df-IAB2M), an anti-PSMA (prostate-specific membrane antigen) minibody, in patients with metastatic prostate cancer shows its effectiveness in targeting both bone and soft tissue lesions.

"This agent is imaged faster than other PSMA-targeting imaging antibodies due to its small size and has been shown to be safe for patients," explained lead researcher Neeta Pandit-Taskar.

Adding, "The radiotracer combines a small amount of the radioactive material zirconium-89 with a fragment of an antibody called a minibody. This minibody has anti-PSMA qualities and attaches to overexpression of the enzyme on the exterior of prostate cancer cells, wherever they may have traveled in the body. Particles emitted from the site are then detected by positron emission tomography (PET). The resulting scan highlights 'hot spots' of PSMA overexpression."

She further said, "Using this agent, we can detect the prostate cancer cells that have metastasized to bone--one of the most difficult areas to evaluate using standard methods."

For the study, 18 patients were imaged with the new agent using PET/CT as well as a variety of conventional imaging modalities, including computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), molecular bone scan (SI), and PET with fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG-PET).

Suspected disease sites were then selected and biopsied.

Both skeletal and nodal lesions were detected with Zr-89-Df-IAB2M; scans were positive in 17 of the 18 patients, with bone lesions targeted in 9 and soft tissue disease seen in 14.

In comparison, bone scans with more traditional agents (Tc-99m-methylene diphosphonate and FDG) were positive for bone lesions in 9 and 6 patients, respectively; for nodal/soft tissue disease, CT and FDG scans were positive in 14 and 10 patients, respectively.

In two patients, a single site of disease per patient was identified only by the minibody. In total, Zr-89-Df-IAB2M imaging detected 147 bone and 82 soft-tissue or nodal lesions.

"Results of imaging with this Zr-89 radiolabeled minibody have shown that we are able to detect more disease sites in patients than with conventional imaging," Pandit-Taskar stated.

Adding, "We hope that with further development this technology will help us in earlier and more accurate assessment of disease and assist in clinical decision-making."

"With further validation, this agent could potentially be used for targeted biopsies, which could lead to more appropriate, timely treatment for prostate cancer patients. It may also have potential use in targeted radiotherapy," she pointed out. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonUnited StatesGeneral: Health NewsResearch

Hearing loss caused by chemotherapy can now be prevented

Sat, 12/03/2016 - 09:02

Washington D. C. [USA], Dec. 3 : In first of its kind study, researchers have developed a new treatment that can prevent chemotherapy-induced hearing loss to about half in kids and adolescents with cancer.

The results of the study have been published in Lancet Oncology.

The study found that the greatest benefit was seen in children younger than 5 years of age, who are most susceptible to, and also most affected by, cisplatin-induced hearing loss.

Investigators from Children's Hospital Los Angeles and 37 other Children's Oncology Group hospitals in the U. S. and Canada have determined that sodium thiosulfate prevents cisplatin-induced hearing loss in children and adolescents with cancer.

Cisplatin is a chemotherapy medication widely used to treat a variety of cancers in both adults and children.

"This federally-funded, cooperative group study is the first to show that cisplatin-induced hearing loss can be reduced by about half in children and adolescents being treated for cancer," said lead author David R. Freyer at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

"It is an important step toward developing a safe and effective strategy that will greatly improve quality of life for cancer survivors," he added.

Although effective, cisplatin frequently causes permanent hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears), resulting in functional disability for patients who receive it.

For young children in particular, hearing loss is especially serious because it results in impaired language development, learning and social interactions.

In ACCL0431, the randomized, controlled, phase 3 study, 125 eligible participants between the ages of one to 18 years with newly-diagnosed cancer were enrolled over a four year period. The cancer diagnoses were treated with cisplatin.

The participants received sodium thiosulfate or observation (control) during their chemotherapy. Their hearing was assessed at baseline, following completion of the chemotherapy regimen and one year later.

They found a significant reduction in the incidence of hearing loss in participants who were treated with cisplatin and sodium thiosulfate by 29 percent compared to those who received cisplatin alone were 56 percent.

Overall, sodium thiosulfate was tolerated well without any serious adverse events. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonUnited StatesGeneral: Health NewsResearch

New study throws light on how brain stimulation affects memory reactivation

Fri, 12/02/2016 - 09:57

Washington D. C [US], Dec. 2 : A recent study conducted at the University of Notre Dame examined the fundamental problem an individual's brain has to solve, that is, keeping information in mind or active, so the brain can act accordingly.

The common theory is that the information is kept in mind by neurons related to the information actively firing throughout a delay period.

However, in the new paper published in Science, the researchers give weight to the synaptic theory, a less well-known and tested model.

The synaptic theory suggests that information can be retained for short periods of time by specific changes in the links or weights, between neurons.

Lead researcher Nathan Rose said this research advances the potential to understand a variety of higher-order cognitive functions including not only working memory but also perception, attention and long-term memory.

Eventually, this research could lay the groundwork for the potential to use noninvasive brain stimulation techniques such as transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS, to reactivate and potentially strengthen latent memories.

The team is currently working on extending these results to see how they relate to long-term memory.

Rose and his colleagues used a series of noninvasive procedures on healthy young adults to test the idea that certain information is retained in "activity-silent" neural mechanisms, an area of study previously tested largely on only mathematical modeling or rodents.

Participants were hooked up to neural imaging machines that allow researchers to "see" what the brain is thinking about by capturing which areas of the brain are active at any given time, since different areas of the brain correspond to different thoughts.

They were given two items to keep in mind throughout the experiment --for example, a word and a face.

Each of these items activate different areas in the brain, making it easier for the researchers to identify which a person is thinking about.

At first, Rose's team saw neural evidence for the active representation of both items.

"Then, when we cued people about the item that was tested first, evidence for the cued item, or the attended memory item that was still in the focus of attention, remained elevated, but the neural evidence for the uncued item dropped all the way back to baseline levels of activation, as if the item had been forgotten," said Rose.

In half of the tests, Rose's team tested participants again on the second, uncued item - called the unattended memory item - to find out if the item was still in working memory, despite looking as if it had been forgotten.

When the researchers cued participants to switch to thinking about the initially uncued item, "people accurately and rapidly did so," said Rose.

The researchers also saw a corresponding return of neural evidence for the active representation of the initially uncued item.

This indicated that despite looking as if the second, unattended item had been forgotten, it remained in working memory.

"The unattended memory item seems to be represented without neural evidence of an active representation, but it's still there, somehow," Rose said.

In a second round of experiments, the team added TMS, the noninvasive brain stimulation, to the testing for the unattended memory item.

The TMS provided a painless jolt of energy to specific areas of the brain to see how it affected neural activity, looking for signs of the unattended memory item resurfacing.

"Although the TMS activates a highly specific part of the brain, it is a relatively nonspecific form of information that is applied to the network. It's just a burst of energy that goes through the network, but when it's filtered through this potentiated network, the output of the neural activity that we're recording appears structured, as if that information has suddenly been reactivated," Rose said.

Adding, "We're using this brain stimulation to reactivate a specific memory."

The researchers found that after the TMS is applied to the part of the brain where information about the unattended memory item is processed, the neural signals fired back up in the exact form of the forgotten item, going from baseline back to the level of neural activity for the word or face that the participant was keeping in mind.

The team dubbed this reactivation of memory using TMS the "Frankenstein effect," since the neural signals for the secondary item went from baseline activity - looking like it was forgotten - back to full activity.

In further testing, the team discovered that once participants knew they wouldn't have to remember the unattended item any longer in the tests, the memory items truly were dropped from their working memory.

"Once the item is no longer relevant on the trial, we don't see the same reactivation effect," Rose said.

Adding, "So that means this is really a dynamic maintenance mechanism that is actually under cognitive control. This is a strategic process. This is a more dynamic process than we had anticipated." (ANI)

Region: WashingtonUnited StatesGeneral: Health

New guidelines suggest overweight children should be screened for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

Fri, 12/02/2016 - 08:58

Washington D. C [US], Dec. 2 : According to a recent set of guidelines published in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, a screening test for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), is recommended for all obese children aged nine to eleven years.

The new guidelines, endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, also outline recommendations for diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up care of children and adolescents with NAFLD, a serious condition that may have lifelong health consequences.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease refers to a range of conditions in which fatty deposits occur in the liver.

It can progress to a more severe form, called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), with inflammation and/or scarring of the liver.

"NAFLD has rapidly evolved into the most common liver disease seen in the pediatric population and is a management challenge for the general pediatric practitioners, subspecialists, and health systems," said Miriam B. Vos, the lead author of the study.

Studies suggest that NAFLD may be present in 0.7 percent of two- to four-year-olds, and up to 38 percent of obese children and adolescents.

The disease is commonly associated with other obesity-related conditions: diabetes and sleep apnea.

While the long-term health impact of NAFLD remains unclear, affected children may be at increased risk for end-stage liver disease, type 2 diabetes, strokes, heart attacks, and liver cancer later in life. In adults, NAFLD has recently become the most common reason for liver transplant.

The Expert Committee performed a comprehensive research review to make evidence-based recommendations for management of pediatric NAFLD. Key recommendations include:

-Screening: The guidelines recommend screening for NAFLD in all obese children between age nine and eleven, and in children with certain risk factors.

Screening can be performed using a simple liver enzyme test (alanine aminotransferase, or ALT).

-Diagnosis: Diagnosis of NAFLD requires further tests to determine whether fat deposits (steatosis) are present and to assess other possible causes.

Testing may include obtaining a sample of liver tissue (biopsy) to check for more advanced disease (NASH or liver scarring).

-Treatment: Lifestyle changes--improving diet and increasing physical activity--are the first steps in treatment for NAFLD.

Weight loss may reduce fatty deposits in the liver. No current medications or supplements are of proven benefit for NAFLD.

Weight loss surgery (bariatric surgery) may be considered for some adolescents with severe obesity and related health problems.

-Long-term care: Recommendations for ongoing care include assessment of other obesity-related diseases and management of cardiovascular risk factors; avoidance of potential liver toxins, including binge drinking and being alert for possible psychosocial issues in children living with NAFLD.

The Expert Committee highlights important areas for further research, emphasizing the need for high-quality pediatric studies of strategies for prevention, screening, diagnosis, and treatment. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonUnited StatesGeneral: Health

GVK BIO announces launch of GMP compliant analytical services laboratory

Fri, 12/02/2016 - 08:02

Washington D. C [USA], Dec. 2 : In a recent study, scientists from The University of Texas invented a new device that could revolutionize the delivery of medicine to treat cancer as well as a host of other diseases and ailments.

Led by Lyle Hood, the study was published in the Journal of Biomedical Nanotechnology.

"The problem with most drug-delivery systems is that you have a specific minimum dosage of medicine that you need to take for it to be effective," Hood said.

Adding, "There's also a limit to how much of the drug can be present in your system so that it doesn't make you sick."

As a result of these limitations, a person, who needs frequent doses of a specific medicine is required to take a pill every day or visit a doctor for injections.

Hood's creation negates the need for either of these approaches, because it's a tiny implantable drug delivery system.

"It's an implantable capsule, filled with medicinal fluid that uses about 5000 nanochannels to regulate the rate of release of the medicine. This way, we have the proper amount of drugs in a person's system to be effective, but not so much that they'll harm that person," Hood explained.

The capsule can deliver medicinal doses for several days or a few weeks.

According to researchers, it can be used for any kind of ailment that needs a localized delivery over several days or a few weeks.

This makes it especially tailored for treating cancer, while a larger version of the device can treat diseases like HIV for up to a year.

"In HIV treatment, you can bombard the virus with drugs to the point that that person is no longer infectious and shows no symptoms," Hood said.

Adding, "The danger is that if that person stops taking their drugs, the amount of medicine in his or her system drops below the effective dose and the virus is able to become resistant to the treatments."

The capsule, however, could provide a constant delivery of the HIV-battling drugs to prevent such an outcome.

Hood noted it can also be used to deliver cortisone to damaged joints to avoid painful, frequent injections, and possibly even to pursue immunotherapy treatments for cancer patients.

"The idea behind immunotherapy is to deliver a cocktail of immune drugs to call attention to the cancer in a person's body, so the immune system will be inspired to get rid of the cancer itself," he said.

The current prototype of the device is permanent and injected under the skin but researchers are now working to collaborate on 3-D printing technology to make a new, fully biodegradable iteration of the device that could potentially be swallowed. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonUnited StatesGeneral: Health

Majority of depressed people get inadequate or no care at all

Thu, 12/01/2016 - 09:26

Washington D.C. [US], Dec. 1 : According to a recent study, the vast majority of people with depression across the world receive inadequate treatment or no care at all.

Published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, the study was conducted on around 50,000 people in 21 countries by King's College London, Harvard Medical School and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The research reports that of 4,331 people with depression across all 21 countries, treatment rates vary widely.

In high income countries only one in five people with depression receive adequate treatment.

The situation in the poorest countries of the world is far worse, where one in 27 people with depression receive adequate treatment.

Globally, an estimated 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression, and the condition is the leading cause of disability worldwide.

There is an increasing awareness that depression can be reliably diagnosed and treated in primary care settings using psychological therapy or medication, yet these scientifically proven and effective treatments are not being delivered on a wide scale.

The researchers analysed data from the WHO World Mental Health Surveys, a series of 23 community surveys in 21 countries.

These included 10 low or middle income countries (Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, Iraq, Lebanon, Mexico, Nigeria, People's Republic of China (PRC), Peru and Romania) and 11 high income countries (Argentina, Belgium, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the USA).

The researchers defined minimally adequate treatment as receiving either pharmacotherapy (at least one month of medication plus four or more visits to a doctor) or psychotherapy (at least eight visits with any professional including religious or spiritual advisor, social worker or counselor).

Graham Thornicroft, who led the study, said: "We call on national and international organizations to make adequate resources available for scaling up the provision of mental health services so that no one with depression is left behind."

Adding, "Our results indicate that much treatment currently offered to people with depression falls far short of the criteria for evidence-based and effective treatment."

Intriguingly, about half of all people with depression did not think they had a problem that needed treatment and this proportion fell to only a third in the poorest countries.

This strongly suggests that people also need to support individuals with depression and their family members to recognize that they have a treatable condition and should seek treatment and care.

"Providing treatment at the scale required to treat all people with depression is crucial, not only for decreasing disability and death by suicide, but also from a moral and human rights perspective, and to help people to be fully productive members of society," Thornicroft added. (ANI)

Region: United StatesGeneral: Health

Young cancer survivors possess increased risk of suicide

Thu, 12/01/2016 - 09:24

WashingtonD.C. [US], Dec. 1 : According to a recent research, survivors of cancer diagnosed before the age of 25 had more than two-fold increased risk of suicide as compared to their non-cancer peers.

Published in the International Journal of Cancer, the research was conducted at the University of Burgen.

"From our study, it is not possible to say whether there is a connection between the cancer diagnosis and suicide on an individual level, but what we see is an association at population level," said the lead researcher, Winther Gunnes.

The results are based on a linkage between several national registries, including the Norwegian Cause of Death Registry and the Cancer registry of Norway.

Among the 1.2 million people born in Norway between 1965 and 1985, a total of 5,440 individuals received a cancer diagnosis before the age of 25, and these two groups were compared.

They were all tracked until 2008. During follow-up, a total of 24 of the cancer survivors committed suicide.

"Survivors of brain tumours, leukaemia, bone and soft tissue sarcomas and testicular cancer are, in our material, more vulnerable in terms of risk of suicide," Gunnes pointed out.

There was, however, no increased risk of external causes of death when one excluded suicide, like traffic accidents and accidental poisoning, among others.

However, Gunnes' research could not look at the individual background of this increased suicide risk.

This can be a result of the total chronic health burden, which is something many survivors have to live with for years, often life-long, after treatment is completed.

Often, these survivors do not know where to turn to for help, and they might not find the right help.

"We do not have any proper follow-up system for adult long time survivors of young age cancer," Gunnes said.

She pointed out that the absolute risk of committing suicide for cancer survivors is low and that one of the drawbacks of the study is the low numbers of suicide in total.

"It is, however, important to be aware of these new findings in order to develop appropriate surveillance and intervention strategies as part of a long-term follow-up programme of these cancer survivors," she concluded. (ANI)

Region: United StatesGeneral: Health

Menstrual cycle doesn't impact training, performance: Study

Wed, 11/30/2016 - 05:54

Washington D.C. [USA], Nov.30 : A recent study, published in the Journal of Physiology, has found that doing fixed intensity exercise during menstrual cycle does not affect a woman's autonomic heat responses (skin blood flow and sweating).

That's according to a collaboration between Massey University, the University at Buffalo and the University of Otago. They also found that exercise performance was impaired by humid heat due to the reduced ability of the body to sweat effectively.

The research studied the effects of heat on ten well-trained women across their menstrual cycles. Each woman completed four trials comprising of resting and fixed-intensity cycling followed by a 30-minute variable-intensity performance trial. The trials were conducted in the early-follicular (days 3-6) and mid-luteal (days 18-21) phases of their menstrual cycle in dry and humid heat environments.

Dr Toby MA¼ndel from Massey University and co-author of the study said "This study indicates that trained women self-pace to minimise autonomic differences (skin blood flow and sweating) but at the expense of their exercise performance under humid heat stress.

One in two competitive women believe that their menstrual cycle negatively impacts training and performance; however, these results question the assertion made by previous researchers that women should avoid competition or face a disadvantage when performing exercise with heat stress during their luteal phase."

Upcoming international events such as the 2018 Commonwealth Games will expose athletes to high levels of environmental heat making understanding how the body responds to these conditions of high interest and relevance. Of the limited studies that have investigated how females respond to such heat stress none can explain how a well-trained, competitive woman will respond and perform.

Due to the proportion of competitive women that take the oral contraceptive pill it remains to be investigated whether these athletes differ in their response and performance in hot and humid environments.(ANI)

Region: WashingtonUnited StatesGeneral: Health News

Research shows low calorie drinks actually boost weight

Mon, 11/28/2016 - 09:28

London [England], Nov, 28 : In a recent study, scientists have found that low calorie fizzy drinks could actually make you fatter than regular options.

Individuals following diet could gain better results by deterring from the supposedly 'healthy' variants, reports Express.

The report published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism journal narrows down the reason to the sugar substitutes used in the drinks.

Aspartame, the controversial sweetener that is deemed safe for human consumption by over 100 regulatory agencies in their respective countries, is one of the sweeteners named in the study.

Richard Hodin, the study's senior author, said: "We found that aspartame blocks a gut enzyme called intestinal alkaline phosphatase (IAP) that we previously showed can prevent obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome; so we think that aspartame might not work because, even as it is substituting for sugar, it blocks the beneficial aspects of IAP."

This is despite the intended use of such sweeteners to boost weight loss.

"Sugar substitutes like aspartame are designed to promote weight loss and decrease the incidence of metabolic syndrome, but a number of clinical and epidemiologic studies have suggested that these products don't work very well and may actually make things worse," he added.

The study is based on research using two groups of mice, studied for 18 weeks, as one group drank water while another drank water with aspartame.

Hodin said, "People do not really understand why these artificial sweeteners don't work.

Adding, "There has been some evidence that they actually can make you hungrier and may be associated with increased calorie consumption. While we can't rule out other contributing mechanisms, our experiments clearly show that aspartame blocks IAP activity, independent of other effects."(ANI)

Region: LondonUnited KingdomGeneral: HealthResearch

Scientists develop metal penis to help men with erectile dysfunction

Mon, 11/28/2016 - 09:10

London [England], Nov, 28 : In an interesting new innovation, scientists have created a heat-activated metal penis to aide men with erectile dysfunction.

Many men experience erectile dysfunction at some point in their lives, whether it comes from drinking too much, stress or simply getting older.

Developed by experts at the University of Wisconsin in America, the remote-controlled device elongates up to eight inches when heated to 42C, reports Daily Mail.

The developers surgically inserted the one inch metal coil can be turned on by a remote held over the groin, in the base of the penis through an incision, hence generating a metal field which triggers a current.

The coil then warms the implant, making it expand and fully erect.

The device is made using nitinol, a metal alloy of nickel and titanium which can change shape in different temperatures.

According to a leading daily, the prototype device is to be tested on animals and could be available to men within a few years.

Asif Muneer, an expert in Urology told that the device had potential to benefit thousands of men suffering with erectile dysfunction.

"There are fewer components than with existing inflatable implants and that reduces the chances of infection. Some patients are not suitable for existing treatments because they have already had major abdominal surgery, say for prostate or bladder cancer, and have a lot of scarring but with this technique, that's not a problem," he concluded.(ANI)

Region: LondonUnited KingdomGeneral: HealthResearch

Does stress destroy person's ability to recall memory?

Sat, 11/26/2016 - 10:44

Does stress impair memory retrieval ?

Though it's widely assumed that stress zaps a person's ability to recall memory, it doesn't have that effect when memory is tested immediately after a taxing event and when subjects have engaged in a highly effective learning technique, a new study reports.

In the last decade, the studies done on memory and stress have largely involved the participants, who were not guided in how to learn new material -- often simply attempting to memorize it by rereading or restudying, strategies known to build weak recollections.

Thus, it has been unclear whether all memories are subject to the detrimental effects of stress or whether only weakly encoded ones are vulnerable. Also complicating past studies, most participants were tested 25 minutes after a stressful event when the cortisol-level was highest in the blood.

To explore both areas' impact on memory, Amy Smith and colleagues invited 120 participants to study images. Sixty participants then restudied them, while the other sixty were asked to engage in "retrieval practice," recalling as many as they could, an approach consistently shown to yield better long-term memory.

The following day, both groups underwent a stressful situation and then were asked to recall images from the previous day five minutes later. Stressed individuals, who had only "restudied" content the day before, recalled fewer items than their non-stressed re-studying counterparts, while for both stressed and non-stressed "retrieval practice" participants - recall was nearly the same, as if stress wasn't present.

The retrieval practice participants, who underwent stress still outperformed non-stressed participants who only restudied content. (ANI)

Region: United StatesGeneral: HealthResearch

World Obesity Day: Is your child's obesity giving you nightmare?

Sat, 11/26/2016 - 07:06

After the United States of America, the epidemic of childhood obesity is gripping India. According to an international journal, by 2025, India will have over 17 million obese children and stand as second highest country in the world with obese children as per Pediatric Obesity.

The rising prevalence of obesity in children is also bringing with it countless other adverse health effects, which make this condition a serious public health concern.

According to Satish Kannan, Co-founder and CEO of DocsApp, Obese children are at a greater risk of acquiring diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cardiovascular diseases, bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-image.

Parents can be attributed to some degree for this problem as they often neglect the unhealthy dietary habits and patterns followed by these children. Popular culture that introduces them to junk food, snacks, colas etc and markets these items in the most attractive of ways adds to the issue.

Childhood obesity is a complex health issue which is not just influenced by unhealthy dietary habits, but also by the lifestyle and behavioral choices made by parents and children alike.

Children nowadays prefer to stay indoors than playing outside and are more exposed to screens like TV, tablets and mobile screens like never before. Meanwhile, there are parents who pressurise their kids to focus more on academics with little or no motivation to indulge in any outdoor games or sports. This lack of physical activity, which is a key determinant of energy expenditure and a fundamental part of energy balance and weight control, triggers obesity and chronic health conditions in them, said Kannan.

Genetic conditions are yet another factor that only increases the chances of obesity in children, which means children with overweight parents can also inherit the problem.

However, genetics alone cannot cause obesity. They merely increase one's propensity to put on weight easily. Ultimately, it's only the children who eat more calories than they need for their growth and energy who become obese.

No matter how much parents are to be blamed, the good news is that only they have the potential to influence their child's lifestyle and weight. For them, it can be difficult sometimes to figure out whether their child is overweight because a child may not look particularly heavy to be overweight.

Moreover, with a growing number of children becoming heavier at a younger age, they become used to seeing bigger children.

In such situations, determine the body fat directly is difficult and the diagnosis can be done through BMI rate. Children with a BMI equal to or exceeding the age-gender can be called obese.

Parents can do a lot to help their child maintain a healthy weight. To begin with, they can simply take charge as their role models by inculcating good habits in their children and encouraging them to be active and eat well by doing so themselves.

Parents must start a ritual of going for walks or cycling every day with their kids instead of watching TV or surfing the internet. This will not only make them realize that being active can be fun, it will be a great way for the entire family to spend time together.

Children crave for attention and care and those who are deprived of it, have a higher risk of obesity. So instead of using food as a comfort measure, parents must help them develop healthy eating habits by initiating ways to make their favorite dishes healthier, and reduce calorie-rich temptations by letting them enjoy those goodies as well once in a while as a treat.

Parents should also avoid serving their children oversized portions and start with small servings. They must also be encouraged to eat slowly in their set mealtimes. The mealtimes can be further utilised as an opportunity to catch up on their day to day activities.

Both the parents and children must make it a custom to eat healthy and aim for five or more portions of fruit and vegetables every day in the form of juices, smoothies, beans, and pulses, to ramp up their fiber, vitamins and minerals intake.

The idea is to get a maximum number of calories from healthier and nutrient-rich foods like fruit and vegetables, bread, potatoes, fish, chicken, rice and whole grains instead of sugary or high-fat foods like sweets, cakes, biscuits, sugary cereals, and sugar-sweetened fizzy drinks.

Children are the future pillars of a nation and their health and fitness are crucial for the overall growth and development of the country.

So, it becomes not just the responsibility of the parents, but the entire community around them including schools, child care settings and medical care providers, government agencies to be equally concerned about childhood obesity and take meaningful steps to nip the problem in the bud. (ANI)

Region: IndiaGeneral: Health

Home-based telemental health services help elderly under depression

Fri, 11/25/2016 - 07:22

According to the results of a clinical trial in 241 depressed elderly veterans, home-based telemental health for depression is well received by patients and delivers as good a quality of life as in-person visits.

The study has been reported in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry by investigators at the Medical University of South Carolina and the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center.

Depression affects 10 percent of Americans and is a leading cause of disability and mortality. And yet, only an estimated 56 percent of patients with depression seek treatment.

Barriers to treatment include mobility issues, transportation costs, missed days of work, geographic isolation and fear of the associated stigma.

By overcoming some of those barriers, proponents of telemental health say it could improve access to care for these patients.

Lead researcher Leonard E. Egede said, "This is the largest randomized clinical trial to date examining whether differences exist in patient perceptions, satisfaction, therapeutic alliance and quality of life between telemental health and same-room care."

Male and female veterans aged 58 years and older, who met the criteria for major depressive disorder, including Vietnam-era veterans, were eligible for enrollment in the trial.

All participants received eight weeks of behavioral activation therapy and were randomly assigned to telemental health or in-person counseling.

Behavioral activation reflects the notion that the patient's activity plays a role in how the person feels and the goal of therapy is to reduce behaviors that promote depression.

Telemental health treatment sessions were delivered via in-home videoconferencing using a standard telephone line and did not require an internet connection.

The 36-item Short Form Survey was used to assess quality of life and the Charleston Psychiatric Outpatient Satisfaction Scale was used to assess patient satisfaction.

Scores on these scales did not differ significantly at 12-month follow-ups between veterans who received depression care via telemental heath and those who received in-person care.

The team had previously reported primary outcome and cost analysis results from this same trial of 241 depressed elderly veterans.

In a 2015 Lancet Psychiatry article, Egede showed that telemental health was not inferior to same-room delivery in patients with a major depressive disorder for eliciting a treatment response.

A treatment response was defined as a 50 percent decrease in depression symptoms at a 12-month follow-up appointment versus baseline and the absence of a diagnosis of major depressive disorder at a 12-month follow-up.

In the researchers showed that the overall inpatient costs as well as outpatient and pharmacy costs for treating depression increase over time in elderly veterans, regardless of whether the treatment is delivered in person or via telemental health.

This increase in cost is likely a result of the rising number of visits.

In conjunction with these earlier findings that primary outcomes and costs for telemental health are similar to those for in-person depression care, the report in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry suggests that telemental health is a viable alternative to in-person visits because it delivers a similar quality of life and patient satisfaction.

Most of the elderly veterans enrolled in this study were men.

Patients with active psychosis, dementia, a substance dependence or suicidal ideation and clear intent were excluded from the trial.

As such, the study's findings may not apply to those populations.

Simple solutions such as home-based videoconferencing that does not require an internet connection may be an effective way to address the mental health needs of rural patients, particularly elderly ones.

However, not all insurance companies currently reimburse for telemental health for depression.

Evidence that telemental heath delivers similar treatment response, patient satisfaction and quality of life at a similar cost as in-person clinics suggests that it may be time for that to change, Egede said.

"Taken together, these three studies demonstrate that telemental health is equivalent to in-person care for depression in terms of primary outcomes, secondary outcomes and quality of life, as well as cost," he said.

Adding, "It is time for telemental health to take its rightful place alongside in-person counseling as a viable option for depression care, one that will remove many barriers to care." (ANI)

Region: United StatesGeneral: HealthResearch

Parental health behaviors are associated with child sleep duration

Fri, 11/25/2016 - 07:00

A recent research published in journal of Clinical Sleep Medication indicates that children's sleep duration may be influenced by parental sleep duration and confidence.

This further implies that efforts to address insufficient sleep among children may require family-based interventions.

Results of a parental survey show that higher parent confidence in the ability to help children get enough sleep was significantly associated with an increased child sleep duration of 0.67 hours per day, after controlling for potential confounders such as child age, gender, race/ethnicity, and parent education.

Overall, 57 percent of parents reported feeling "very" or "extremely" confident that they could help their child get enough sleep.

The study also found that child sleep duration was 0.09 hours per day longer for each 1-hour increase in parent sleep duration.

"Our study suggests that educating parents about their own sleep health and promoting increased confidence in their ability to help their children get enough sleep are potential areas of intervention to increase child sleep duration, either through formal programs or in a pediatricians office," said lead author Corinna Rea.

To promote optimal health, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that children between the ages of 6 and 12 years should sleep 9 to 12 hours per 24 hours on a regular basis to promote optimal health.

Regularly sleeping fewer than the number of recommended hours is associated with attention, behavior, and learning problems, and it increases health and safety risks.

The study also evaluated the relationship between child sleep duration and other parent behaviors and practices, including screen time, physical activity, and limits placed on child TV viewing.

Surprisingly, after adjustment for demographic characteristics, these behaviors were not significantly associated with child sleep duration.

"Our results also may suggest that individual parent behaviors do not reflect a 'family lifestyle,' but rather that parental sleep is directly linked to child sleep irrespective of others behaviors," explained Rea.

The study involved 790 parents with a mean age of 41 years. Their children, who were between the ages of 6 and 12 years, were participating in a randomized controlled obesity trial.

Trained research assistants administered a survey to parents over the phone.

About 92 percent of respondents were mothers. Average daily sleep duration was 6.9 hours for parents and 9.2 hours for children.

According to the authors, the cross-sectional design of the study did not allow for an examination of causality.

However, the authors noted that there are several potential mediators for the association between parent and child sleep duration.

For example, parents may influence child sleep duration by serving as role models, encouraging and supporting their child's healthy choices, or establishing a family bedtime. (ANI)

Region: United StatesGeneral: HealthResearch

Pregnant women benefit from NHRM scheme in Doda

Fri, 11/25/2016 - 03:08

Srinagar (Jammu and Kashmir) [India], Nov. 25 : Pregnant women in remote areas of Doda district of Jammu and Kashmir are availing the benefits of medical facilities under Central Government's National Rural Health Mission (NRHM).

People residing in far flung areas are receiving free medical treatment, be they children, pregnant women or the elderly.

"In this NRHM scheme, we conduct anti-needle checkups for pregnant ladies at least thrice a month. First, we do registration as soon a pregnant lady comes to us, then we issue a NCP card to these women. In first procedural check, we give tetanus injection for immunization, then we distribute folic acid and iron calcium tablets to them," said Manzoora Kousar, Doda's Block Medical Officer (BDO).

Patients enjoy several benefits as medicines are provided free. A self knowledge book on motherhood is also given to them to ensure healthy child care. We counsel them regularly during and after the pregnancy. We motivate them for institutional delivery, post natal checkup and family planning. Under the scheme, we also look up the patient on the ninth day of each month," she added.

"We have been here for six days and are being provided with free medicines, food and doctors for regular checkup. Transportation will also be provided and we just want to say that it is very noble scheme," said Akhter Hussain, a relative of a pregnant woman.

"We are very happy with the facilities and the scheme should be continued," said Mahira Jaan, a patient.

Along with the charge less treatment, conceiving ladies get free medicines, meals, ambulances and other facilities.

The NRHM is a sub-mission under the National Health Mission that was approved in May 2013. Under the scheme, states enjoy the flexibility to plan and implement action plans concerning key health sector of state. People from remote areas have appreciated this step taken by the Centre. (ANI)

Region: SrinagarIndiaGeneral: Health

Combining Ritalin with cognitive therapy helps traumatic brain injury patient

Wed, 11/23/2016 - 06:52

Combining methylphenidate with a cognitive therapy can help a traumatic brain injury patient , Indiana University School of Medicine researchers have reported.

Methylphenidate is a drug used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and better known by its trade name, Ritalin.

The study, believed to be the first to systematically compare the combination therapy to alternative treatments, was published online in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, a Nature publication.

The researchers, led by Brenna McDonald, PsyD, associate professor of radiology and imaging sciences, and Thomas McAllister, MD, chairman of the Department of Psychiatry, compared the effectiveness of two forms of cognitive therapy with and without the use of methylphenidate.

"We found that the combination of methylphenidate and Memory and Attention Adaptation Training resulted in significantly better results in attention, episodic and working memory, and executive functioning after traumatic brain injury," said Dr. McDonald.

In the Memory and Attention Adaptation Training intervention - also used to assist patients with cognitive issues following breast cancer chemotherapy - therapists work with patients to help them develop behaviors and strategies to improve performance in memory and other cognitive tasks. In this study, this "metacognitive" approach was compared with Attention Builders Training, which Dr. McDonald likened to more of a "drill and practice" approach.

The 71 participants who completed the six-week trial were adults who had experienced a traumatic brain injury of at least mild severity - a blow to the head with some alteration of consciousness - at least four months previously, and who either complained of having cognitive problems, or who had been identified with cognitive problems in

testing.

The participants were divided into four groups: the two cognitive therapy approaches with the drug therapy, and the two approaches with placebo. After six weeks, the researchers found that participants in the combination metacognitive- Ritalin group improved significantly better in word list learning, nonverbal learning and measures of attention-related and executive function.

However, Dr. McDonald cautioned that due to the relatively small number of participants in the each of the four arms of the trial - 17 to 19 people each - the results of the trial should be considered preliminary.

Nonetheless, she said, the work breaks new ground in providing evidence for the combination therapy.

"There have been a few small studies suggesting methylphenidate could help with attention and executive function after traumatic brain injury, which makes senses because it's used to improve attention and focus. But this is the first to test it in combination with cognitive-behavioral therapy for treatment in traumatic brain injury,"said Dr. McDonald. (ANI)

Region: United StatesGeneral: HealthResearch

Lying on back during pregnancy increases stillbirth risk: Study

Tue, 11/22/2016 - 10:42

A recent study, published in The Journal of Physiology suggests, that pregnant women lying down on their back may place stress on the fetus, which could increase the risk of stillbirth.

Researchers at the University of Auckland have found that pregnant woman who lie face can change the baby's heart rate and activity state which suggests that the fetus adapts by reducing its oxygen consumption.

This finding may explain the increased risk of stillbirth in the supine (lying upwards) position.

Stillbirths are a common occurrence, with around 1 in 227 births in the UK ending in stillbirth1.

Recent studies have shown that maternal position is important for the baby's health, but it was unclear as to how this can affect the wellbeing of the fetus.

The researchers monitored the fetal and maternal heart rate for 29 healthy pregnant women in the third trimester while changing and maintaining maternal positions for 30 minutes at a time.

The 'fetal behavioural state', a measure of fetal health, was recorded for each maternal position. Each woman was followed until delivery and all babies were born in a healthy condition.

Peter Stone, Professor of Maternal Fetal medicine at the University of Auckland and lead investigator of the study explained, "Our controlled study found that lying on your back can add extra stress to the baby, contributing to the risk of stillbirth. The risk is likely to be increased further in women with underlying conditions."'

He added, "We have only looked at the effect of maternal positions for a short period of time while the mother is awake. Further research is needed to see the effect of staying in certain maternal sleeping positions overnight."(ANI)

Region: United StatesGeneral: HealthResearch

Musical training helps treat autism: Study

Tue, 11/22/2016 - 06:36

Experiencing music at an early age can contribute to better brain development and may as well be useful in treating autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

According to a new study, presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), taking music lessons increases brain fiber connections in children and may be useful in treating autism and ADHD.

"It's been known that musical instruction benefits children with these disorders, but this study has given us a better understanding of exactly how the brain changes and where these new fiber connections are occurring," said Pilar Dies-Suarez, M.D., chief radiologist at the Hospital Infantil de Mexico Federico Gomez in Mexico City.

The researchers studied 23 healthy children between the ages of five and six years old. All of the children were right handed and had no history of sensory, perception or neurological disorders. None of the children had been trained in any artistic discipline in the past.

The study participants underwent pre- and post-musical-training evaluation with diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) of the brain. DTI is an advanced MRI technique, which identifies microstructural changes in the brain's white matter.

"Experiencing music at an early age can contribute to better brain development, optimizing the creation and establishment of neural networks, and stimulating the existing brain tracts," Dr. Dies-Suarez said.

The brain's white matter is composed of millions of nerve fibers called axons that act like communication cables connecting various regions of the brain. Diffusion tensor imaging produces a measurement, called fractional anisotropy (FA), of the movement of extracellular water molecules along axons.

In healthy white matter, the direction of extracellular water molecules is fairly uniform and measures high in fractional anisotropy. When water movement is more random, FA values decrease, suggesting abnormalities.

Over the course of life, the maturation of brain tracts and connections between motor, auditory and other areas allow the development of numerous cognitive abilities, including musical skills.

Previous studies have linked autism spectrum and ADHD with decreases in volume, fiber connections and FA in the minor and lower forceps, tracts located in the frontal cortex of the brain. This suggests that low connectivity in the frontal cortex, an area of the brain involved in complex cognitive processes, is a biomarker of these disorders.

After the children in the study completed nine months of musical instruction using Boomwhackers -- percussion tubes cut to the exact length to create pitches in a diatonic scale, DTI results showed an increase in FA and axon fiber length in different areas of the brain, most notably in the minor forceps.

"When a child receives musical instruction, their brains are asked to complete certain tasks," Dr. Dies-Suarez said.

"These tasks involve hearing, motor, cognition, emotion and social skills, which seem to activate these different brain areas. These results may have occurred because of the need to create more connections between the two hemispheres of the brain."

The researchers believe that the results of this study could aid in creating targeted strategies for intervention in treating disorders like autism and ADHD. (ANI)

Region: United StatesGeneral: HealthResearch

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