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Cancer-causing chemicals found in bread samples, says CSE; Health Ministry orders probe

Tue, 05/24/2016 - 03:48

New Delhi: Bread samples of virtually all top brands in Delhi contained cancer-causing chemicals, a study released on Monday said, prompting the Union Health Ministry to order a probe.

Nearly 84 percent of 38 commonly available brands of pre- packaged breads including pav and buns, tested positive for potassium bromate and potassium iodate, banned in many countries as they are listed as "hazardous" for public health, the report by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said.

It claimed that while one of the chemicals is a category 2B carcinogen (possibly carcinogenic to humans), the other could trigger thyroid disorders but India has not ban their use.

The bread samples which were tested included brands such as Britannia, Harvest Gold and the fast food chains -KFC, Pizza Hut, Domino's, Subway, McDonald's and Slice of Italy.

Britannia, KFC, Domino's, McDonald's and Subway denied that these chemicals were used in their products. Other brands did not comment despite repeated attempts.

Reacting to the CSE report, Health Minister JP Nadda said,"We are seized of the matter. I have told my officials to report to me on an urgent basis. There is no need to panic. Very soon we will come out with the (probe) report."

CSE's Pollution Monitoring Laboratory (PML) tested 38 commonly available branded varieties of pre-packaged breads, pav and buns, ready-to-eat burger bread and ready-to-eat pizza breads of popular fast food outlets from Delhi.

"We found 84 per cent samples positive with potassium bromate or iodate. We re-confirmed the presence of potassium bromate or iodate in a few samples through an external third-party laboratory. We checked labels and talked to industry and scientists.

"Our study confirms the widespread use of potassium bromate or iodate as well as presence of bromate or iodate residues in the final product," said Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general, CSE.

The study found that 84 per cent (32/38) samples were found with potassium bromate or iodate in the range of 1.15-22.54 parts per million (ppm).

Around 79 per cent (19/24) samples of packaged bread, all samples of white bread, pav, bun and ready-to-eat pizza bread and 75 per cent (3/4) samples of ready-to-eat burger bread were positive.

CSE said, "High levels of potassium bromate/iodate were found in sandwich bread, pav, bun and white bread" involving virtually all top brands.

CSE has urged food regulator FSSAI to ban the use of potassium bromate and potassium iodate with immediate effect and prevent their routine exposure to Indian population.

Reacting to the issue, Britannia denied using Potassium Bromate or Iodate and said,"All Britannia breads products are in 100 per cent compliance to the existing food safety regulations as stipulated by FSSAI."

In a statement, it, however, said that as per FSSAI, for potassium Bromate/Iodate the permissible limit is 50 ppm max (On flour mass basis).

"The CSE report clearly states that the third part lab report did not find Potassium Bromate or Iodate in Britannia Bread samples. Britannia will however scrutinize the possibility of any residual presence of these compounds through any of the primary raw materials used in the bread manufacturing process," it said.

Echoing similar reactions, KFC said,"The safety and health of our customers is our top most priority and we are committed to following the best international standards and serving the highest quality products to customers.

"We have stringent processes in place to ensure that the food we serve complies with requirements laid down by FSSAI and is absolutely safe for consumption," it said.

McDonald's India also strongly denied the "claims and accusations" and termed it "completely baseless".

"McDonald's India does not use potassium bromate or potassium iodate in the flour and all other ingredients that goes into our buns. The claims made by CSE in their press release and report are completely baseless.

"We serve our customers with the highest quality products across all our restaurants. We go through a lot of efforts to ensure our food is safe for our customers and have stringent quality processes at every stage," said Vikram Ogale, Director, National Supply Chain and Quality Assurance at McDonald's India.

Subway meanwhile said that there seems to be a "confusion" as there is no such item as "Subway Subz Burger", (which was analyzed by CSE) on its menu.

"We would like to inform you that subway does not use Potassium Bromate and Potassium Iodate in the flour utilized in baking its breads. Instead, Subway uses a bread improver, based on an enzyme (protein) technology derived from natural sources to improve the overall performance of its breads," it said.

Jubilant FoodWorks Limited, which owns Domino's, said that it adheres to the highest quality standards and Indian food laws and follow all process to maintain the highest level of food safety across all our restaurants.

"We do undertake certificate of analysis/undertaking from our flour suppliers on no usage of Potassium Bromate/Potassium Iodate in our flour supplies. We also carry out regular assessments of the flour to ensure compliance in this regards," it said.

Slice of Italy also denied of allegations of using potassium bromate or iodate in its bread.

"We (Slice of Italy) have already denied use of the chemicals like potassium bromate/iodate to CSE and have also informed them about it. We are using only permissible preservatives in our products", said Slice of Italy Additional General Manager (Operations) Cibichen ML.

All India Bread Manufacturers Association President Ramesh Mago said, "We have not seen the report of CSE on presence of potassium bromate in different bread brands collected by them from Delhi market about a year back
(May 2015). Only after going through the contents of the report in detail, we will be able to give our response and considered views regarding the issue."

The FSSAI regulations permits the use of Potassium Bromate and/or Potassium Iodate at 50ppm maximum for bread and at 20ppm maximum in 'maida' for bakery purpose under food products standards, he said in a statement.

It is also pertinent to highlight the fact that this same additive is considered to be safe and is widely used in advanced countries like the US, he added. (PTI)

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One-third of heart failure patients don't rejoin work

Mon, 05/23/2016 - 04:39

Washington D. C, May 23 : According to a recent study, a third of patients hospitalised with heart failure for the first time have not returned to work one year later.

Lead author Dr. Rasmus Roerth from the Copenhagen University Hospital said that employment is crucial for self esteem and quality of life, as well as being of financial importance, in patients with all kinds of chronic illness.

He continued that inability to maintain a full time job is an indirect consequence of heart failure beyond the usual clinical parameters of hospitalisation and death. Most information on heart failure is derived from studies in older patients since they are the majority. This has led to a knowledge gap regarding the impact of living with heart failure among younger patients, who perhaps have the most to lose from the condition.

The study included 11 880 heart failure patients of working age (18 to 60 years) who were employed prior to being hospitalised for heart failure. Information on age, length of hospital stay, gender, education level, income, comorbidities and working status was obtained from Danish nationwide registries.

The researchers found that one year after being hospitalised for heart failure for the first time, 68 percent of patients had returned to work, 25 percent had not and 7 percent had died.

Younger patients (18 to 30 years) were over three times more likely to return to work than older patients (51 to 60 years). "This is perhaps not that surprising because younger patients have fewer comorbidities and may have a greater determination to stay employed," said Dr. Roerth.

Patients with a higher level of education were twice as likely to return to work as those with basic schooling.

The study also found that men were 24 percent more likely to return to work than women.

Conversely, patients were less likely to return to work if they had stayed in hospital for more than 7 days, or had a history of stroke, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes or cancer.

He concluded that removal from the labour market and dependence on public benefits has great economic consequences which go beyond the already significant financial burden that these patients place on the healthcare system. "More knowledge on what stops patients going back to work will put us in a better position to find ways of preventing it, for example with more intensive rehabilitation, psychological support, or education."

The study has been presented at Heart Failure 2016 and the 3rd World Congress on Acute Heart Failure. (ANI)

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Triple-therapy cocktail offers new hope for hard-to-treat breast cancer

Sun, 05/22/2016 - 05:00

Triple negative breast cancer can be more aggressive and difficult to treat, but now, a team of researchers may have found a new treatment option for it.

In a new study using mice and lab-grown human cells, the team led by Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center researchers show how a triple-drug cocktail can shrink triple-negative breast cancers by killing off cancer cells and halting new tumor growth.

The combination treatment is composed of the chemotherapy drug doxorubicin; all-trans retinoic acid, or ATRA, which can cause a tumor to lose its self-renewing cells; and entinostat, which makes cancer cells more sensitive to retinoic acid treatment.

Led by Saraswati Sukumar, the scientific team reports that EAD therapy, named for each of its component drugs, "significantly" reduced the size of triple-negative breast cancer tumors in mice and the number of lab-grown spheres of metastatic breast cancer cells harvested from patients and grown in the laboratory.

Specifically, Sukumar and her colleagues tested several pairings of drugs before determining that the EAD combination was the most potent against triple-negative tumors. For instance, doxorubicin alone was able to reduce the formation of tumor spheres grown in the laboratory by 32 percent, while entinostat alone or ATRA alone could reduce them only by 18 percent. However, the combination EAD therapy reduced the formation of spheres by 90 percent.

Triple-negative breast cancers are so named because they are negative for, or lack, estrogen and progesterone receptors and the HER2 protein, all of which are implicated in other types of breast cancer. Without hormonal or HER2 receptors to target, patients with aggressive triple-negative breast cancers are not likely to respond to drugs that target those molecules, said Sukumar.

Combinations of chemotherapy drugs are the current standard treatments, but about one-quarter of patients with triple-negative breast cancers will not respond to them. Thus, she noted, finding combinations that work better than those in common use is an ongoing endeavor.

The study is published in Cancer Research. (ANI)

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Zika virus mystery cracked

Sat, 05/21/2016 - 09:39

Washington D. C, May 21 : A team of researchers from Tianjin University has solved the structure of the Zika virus helicase, which is a key target for antiviral development.

The Zika virus can cause microcephaly and other severe birth defects. However, as there are currently no effective vaccines or therapies available to contain ZIKV infection, ZIKV remains a significant challenge to public health.

All viruses seem to need a helicase for replication. The Zika virus helicase is a motor enzyme which can convert energy from nucleoside triphosphate to unwind double stranded nucleic acids.

This is an essential step for viral replication. By targeting Zika virus helicase with small-molecule inhibitors, it might be possible to stop viral replication and prevent disease.

The scientists have successfully obtained an image at 1.8 angstroms of this viral enzyme. An angstrom is one ten-billionth (10-10) of a meter.

This high-resolution image of the Zika virus key enzyme will help scientists develop drugs to treat the Zika virus disease

The research is published in Springer's journal Protein & Cell. (ANI)

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Too many potatoes put you at high BP risk

Wed, 05/18/2016 - 07:28

Washington D. C, May 18 : You may want to cut down on your potato consumption as a new study has suggested that they can raise your risk for having high blood pressure.

The study found that higher intakes of boiled, baked or mashed potatoes and French fries is associated with an increased risk of developing high blood pressure (hypertension) in adult women and men.

The US-based researchers suggest that replacing one serving a day of boiled, baked or mashed potatoes with one serving of a non-starchy vegetable is associated with a lower risk of developing hypertension.

But a linked editorial argues that studying overall dietary patterns and risk of disease is more useful than a focus on individual foods or nutrients.

Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School followed over 187,000 men and women from three large US studies for more than 20 years. Dietary intake, including frequency of potato consumption, was assessed using a questionnaire. Hypertension was reported by participants based on diagnosis by a health professional.

The authors point out that potatoes have a high glycaemic index compared with other vegetables and so, can trigger a sharp rise in blood sugar levels and this could be one explanation for the findings.

They also acknowledge some study limitations and say that, as with any observational study, no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect.

Nevertheless, they say their findings "have potentially important public health ramifications, as they do not support a potential benefit from the inclusion of potatoes as vegetables in government food programs but instead support a harmful effect that is consistent with adverse effects of high carbohydrate intakes seen in controlled feeding studies."

The study appears in The BMJ. (ANI)

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How dad's age, lifestyle can affect kids

Mon, 05/16/2016 - 06:35

Washington D. C, May 16 : We have all heard that a mother's choices during pregnancy can affect the growing babies, but now a recent study has shown that a father's age and lifestyle may be just as important.

A growing body of research is revealing associations between birth defects and a father's age, alcohol use and environmental factors, said researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center, adding that these defects result from epigenetic alterations that can potentially affect multiple generations.

The study suggests that both parents contribute to the health status of their offspring, a common sense conclusion which science is only now beginning to demonstrate, said senior investigator Joanna Kitlinska.

She said, "We know the nutritional, hormonal and psychological environment provided by the mother permanently alters organ structure, cellular response and gene expression in her offspring, but our study shows the same thing to be true with fathers, his lifestyle and how old he is, can be reflected in molecules that control gene function.

Kitlinska added, "In this way, a father can affect not only his immediate offspring, but future generations as well."

Among the studies reviewed are ones that find:

Advanced age of a father is correlated with elevated rates of schizophrenia, autism, and birth defects in his children;

A limited diet during a father's pre-adolescence has been linked to reduced risk of cardiovascular death in his children and grandchildren;

Paternal obesity is linked to enlarged fat cells, changes in metabolic regulation, diabetes, obesity and development of brain cancer;

Psychosocial stress on the father is linked to defective behavioral traits in his offspring; and

Paternal alcohol use leads to decreased newborn birth weight, marked reduction in overall brain size and impaired cognitive function.

"This new field of inherited paternal epigenetics needs to be organized into clinically applicable recommendations and lifestyle alternations," Kitlinska says.

The study appears in the American Journal of Stem Cells. (ANI)

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Some REM sleep can help you hold on to memories

Sat, 05/14/2016 - 04:27

Washington D. C, May 14 : If you want to hold on to your memories, then hit the sack for some deep sleep as a new study suggests so.

Researchers at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute (McGill University) and the University of Bern provided evidence that rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the phase where dreams appear, is directly involved in memory formation, at least in mice.

Researcher Sylvain Williams said, "We already knew that newly acquired information is stored into different types of memories, spatial or emotional, before being consolidated or integrated," adding "How the brain performs this process has remained unclear, until now. We were able to prove for the first time that REM sleep is indeed critical for normal spatial memory formation in mice."

To test the long-term spatial memory of mice, the scientists trained the rodents to spot a new object placed in a controlled environment where two objects of similar shape and volume stand. Spontaneously, mice spend more time exploring a novel object than a familiar one, showing their use of learning and recall.

When these mice were in REM sleep, however, the researchers used light pulses to turn off their memory-associated neurons to determine if it affects their memory consolidation. The next day, the same rodents did not succeed the spatial memory task learned on the previous day. Compared to the control group, their memory seemed erased, or at least impaired.

"Silencing the same neurons for similar durations outside REM episodes had no effect on memory. This indicates that neuronal activity specifically during REM sleep is required for normal memory consolidation," said lead author Richard Boyce.

In particular, REM sleep is often significantly perturbed in Alzheimer's diseases (AD), and results from this study suggest that disruption of REM sleep may contribute directly to memory impairments observed in AD, the researchers noted.

The study is published in Science. (ANI)

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Practice yoga to combat Alzheimer's disease

Wed, 05/11/2016 - 08:55

Washington, D. C., May 11 : If you are suffering from cognitive and emotional problems that often precede Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia, then it's time to start yoga.

Researchers from the University of California have found that inner peace and a flexible body are not the only valuable benefits of yoga and meditation, as these can also do wonders for those suffering from Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.

Helen Lavretsky, the study's senior author and a professor in residence in UCLA's department of psychiatry, said memory training was comparable to yoga with meditation in terms of improving memory and interestingly yoga provided a broader benefit than memory training as it also helped with mood, anxiety and coping skills.

He added that people with mild cognitive impairment are two-and-a-half times more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.

"If you or your relatives are trying to improve your memory or offset the risk for developing memory loss or dementia, a regular practice of yoga and meditation could be a simple, safe and low-cost solution to improving your brain fitness," Lavretsky said.

Explaining the benefits of yoga, Harris Eyre, the study's lead author, said historically and anecdotally, yoga has been thought to be beneficial in aging well, but this is the scientific demonstration of that benefit.

After conducting experiments, the researchers ruled out those who had practiced yoga and meditation had better improvements than the other subjects in visual-spatial memory skills, which come into play for recalling locations and navigating while walking or driving.

The study is published in the journal of Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. (ANI)

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New `personalised` approach to treat diabetes found

Wed, 05/11/2016 - 05:40

Washington D. C., May 11 : Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Harvard University have produced insulin-secreting cells from stem cells derived from patients with type 1 diabetes as a potential new approach to treat diabetes.

People with this form of diabetes can't make their own insulin and require regular insulin injections to control their blood sugar.

The new discovery suggests a personalised treatment approach to diabetes may be on the horizon, one that relies on the patients' own stem cells to manufacture new cells that make insulin.

The researchers showed that the new cells could produce insulin when they encountered sugar. The scientists tested the cells in culture and in mice, and in both cases found that the cells secreted insulin in response to glucose.

Millman, whose laboratory is in the Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Lipid Research, began his research while working in the laboratory of Douglas A. Melton, Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and a co- director of Harvard's Stem Cell Institute.

There, Millman had used similar techniques to make beta cells from stem cells derived from people who did not have diabetes. In these new experiments, the beta cells came from tissue taken from the skin of diabetes patients.

Millman said more research is needed to make sure that the beta cells made from patient-derived stem cells don't cause tumors to develop, a problem that has surfaced in some stem cell research, but there has been no evidence of tumors in the mouse studies, even up to a year after the cells were implanted.

He said the stem cell-derived beta cells could be ready for human research in three to five years. At that time, Millman expects the cells would be implanted under the skin of diabetes patients in a minimally invasive surgical procedure that would allow the beta cells access to a patient's blood supply.

The study has been publsihed in Nature Communications.(ANI)

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Antibody therapy paves way for new HIV cure

Mon, 05/09/2016 - 08:10

Washington D. C, May 9 : A team of researchers are developing an antibody-based drug that may provide a better strategy for long-term control of HIV.

"This study provides evidence that a single dose of an antibody stimulates patients' immune response, enabling them to make new or better antibodies against the virus," explains one of the study's first authors Till Schoofs.

"We reported last year that this treatment can greatly reduce the amount of virus that's present in someone's blood," Dr. Schoofs adds, "but we wanted to follow the patients for a longer period of time to study how their immune systems were adapting to the new therapy."

The molecule used in the research, 3BNC117, is called a broadly neutralizing antibody because it has the ability to fight a wide range of HIV strains.

The clinical trial included 15 patients who had high levels of the virus in their blood, and 12 other patients whose virus levels were being controlled with antiretroviral therapy (ART). The majority of trial participants were treated at The Rockefeller University Hospital. The patients were infused with a single dose of 3BNC117 and were monitored over a six-month period.

The investigators from The Rockefeller University, along with collaborators from the University of Cologne, found that 14 out of 15 patients who had high levels of the virus at the time they were given the antibody were making new antibodies that were able to neutralize a number of different strains of HIV.

"It usually takes several years for the body to begin to make good antibodies against HIV," Schoofs says. "So there might be an even better effect later on, especially if patients are given more than one dose of 3BNC117."

The next steps in this research are to test 3BNC117 in combination with other antibodies that target HIV, to determine whether an even stronger antiviral effect can be found. The researchers are also conducting a Phase 2 trial in which patients receiving ART are switched to antibody treatment.

The study appears in journal Science. (ANI)

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Birth control pills may protect women against STIs

Sun, 05/08/2016 - 06:38

Washington D.c, May 8 : According to a recent study, popping contraceptive pills could protect against one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

The McMaster University study in mice suggested that a female sex hormone, estradiol (E2), exerts its protective effect against herpes virus by shifting the immune response in the vaginal mucosa toward a more effective antiviral one.

Many studies have shown that injectable contraceptives containing progestins may increase a woman's risk of being infected with HIV and with HSV-2, the virus causing genital herpes. On the other hand, estradiol, another hormone that is present during the normal menstrual cycle and contained in oral contraceptives, has been shown to be protective.

To minimize unintended negative consequences of hormonal contraception, understanding how different hormones affect susceptibility to STI pathogens is important.

Researcher Charu Kaushic said that this is the first study that has shown how estradiol could be enhancing the immune system to fight against viral infection.

Kaushic added, "If this pathway can be verified in women, then we have laid the foundation to address a number of important public health issues, particularly whether some hormonal contraceptives may be better than others for women who are at higher risk of acquiring sexually transmitted infections, such as in Sub-Saharan African, where both HIV-1 and HSV-2 infection rates are high."

The researchers concluded that the study describes a mechanism by which E2 enhances anti-viral protection following vaccination in the genital HSV-2 mouse model.

They added, "to the best of our knowledge, this is the first study demonstrating that E2 can directly regulate T-cell mediated adaptive anti-viral immunity in the female genital tract by modulating DC functions."

The study appears in PLOS Pathogens. (ANI)

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Prayers can help us resist urge to booze

Sat, 05/07/2016 - 07:36

When the urge to booze hits you, turn to God, suggests a new study.

After working with longstanding members of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), the New York University researchers found that a craving for alcohol could be tempered by the power of prayer.

According to them, prayer stimulates the parts of the brain that are responsible for attention and emotion.

The participants, who were first shown a series of images considered to induce alcohol cravings, reported less desire to drink after they recited a prayer.

Senior author Marc Galanter, Director of the Division of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse at the university, said the experience of going to AA had left some people with an "innate ability" to use prayer to minimise the effect of alcohol triggers.

Craving is diminished in long-term AA members compared to patients who have stopped drinking for some period of time but are more vulnerable to relapse, he added.

"Our current findings open up a new field of inquiry into physiologic changes that may accompany spiritual awakening and perspective changes in AA members and others," said Dr Galanter.

The study appears in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse. (ANI)

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Asthmatic women's infertility blues

Fri, 05/06/2016 - 08:37

Asthma not only takes its toll on lungs, but can also make it harder for women to get pregnant.

A new study has revealed that asthmatic women may take more time to concieve and have a lower pregnancy rate than those without the lung diseases.

Dr. Archana Dhawan Bajaj, gynaecologist and obstetrician, Nurture IVF Centre, explained that asthma's effect on fertility increases with time and age and so, the female patients should conceive at an early age and step up their asthma treatment before getting pregnant.

Asthma is a chronic respiratory disorder due to inflammation of the airways in our lungs. Some of the common symptoms of asthma include breathlessness, chest tightness, and night cough among many. Often the affected person finds it extremely difficult to breathe.

In early age, boys are twice more likely to suffer from asthma than girls. However, this ratio gets reversed as they grow up. Pre-pubertal girls suffer from severe asthma attacks as the hormones change. The peak is observed at menopause when women are twice likely to suffer from asthma as compared to men of the same age.

What make asthma so severe in women are their reproductive hormones. When it comes to women and asthma, the ability to breathe can be affected by menstrual cycle, pregnancy and eventually menopause.

Creating awareness among patients is as fundamentally significance as adherence to treatment might. It is important that women take utmost care when conceiving, informed Dr. Bajaj.

Dr. Randeep Guleria, Head of Department, Pulmonology and Sleep Disorder at AIIMS says, "Women needs to be very careful of asthma triggers like use of biomass fuels (for cooking), passive smoking, smoking, alcohol consumption and other environmental factors along with their fluctuating hormones, during different time of month."

He added, "To further compound the problem, asthma in women is a much stigmatized condition. Women with asthma are looked upon as people with lifelong compromised health. But asthmatic women can get pregnant and have a normal delivery."

According to Dr. Guleria, inhalation therapy for asthma is recognized as the most preferred form of treatment worldwide, with developed countries like USA and UK adopting inhalers as an integral part of asthma therapy.

"This therapy is so safe and easy to use for expecting mothers and women who are breastfeeding. It is important to note that asthma is not a transmitted disease. As opposed to oral therapy, inhalers are highly effective, safe and cost effective not only for women but any asthmatic patient. In India, however, due to many myths and beliefs about inhalation therapy being common, the use of oral corticosteroids is rampant," he said.

The study is published in the European Respiratory Journal. (ANI)

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Cherry juice `as good as` pills for lowering BP

Fri, 05/06/2016 - 04:14

People with hypertension often need a lot of medications to control their blood pressure. But now, a new study has found that drinking tart Montmorency cherry juice can ratchet it down too and maybe even eliminate the need for pills.

The research from Northumbria University, Newcastle found that men with early signs of hypertension saw a 7 percent reduction in blood pressure after drinking Montmorency cherry concentrate when compared to drinking a fruit- flavoured cordial.

This reduction is comparable to the level achieved by anti-hypertensive medication.

Researchers worked with fifteen participants who were displaying early hypertension with blood pressure readings of at least 130/90 mmHg, meaning they were at higher risk of experiencing cardiovascular related problems.

They found that the participants who were given the cherry concentrate saw a peak reduction in their blood pressure of 7 mmHg in the three hours after consuming the drink.

The greatest improvement in systolic blood pressure occurred when the phenolic acids, protocatechuic and vanillic, within the cherry concentrate reached their peak levels in the plasma. The researchers believe that these particular compounds are, at least in part, responsible for the reduction.

Lead author Karen Keane, explained, "The magnitude of the blood pressure lowering effects we observed was comparable to those achieved by a single anti-hypertensive drug and highlights the potential importance that Montmorency cherries could have in the effective management of high blood pressure."

Research leader Glyn Howatson added: "We believe these benefits might be linked to the combined actions of some of the plant compounds within the Montmorency concentrate and the positive impact they exert on vascular function."

The study is published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. (ANI)

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Social networks cause stress to children

Tue, 05/03/2016 - 07:02

A lot of research has shown the significance of social relationships in influencing adult human behavior and health, but children's perception of their social networks correlates with stress and how it may influence development is still untapped.

A research team from the University of Missouri has determined that children and adolescents physically react to their social networks and the stress those networks may cause.

Scientists believe that the quality and size of the social relationships nurtured in childhood may have important physiological consequences for physical and mental health for youth.

Researcher Mark V. Flinn said that cortisol and salivary alpha-amylase are secreted in response to outside pressure or tension. A part of the autonomic nervous system, release of cortisol in the system is quick, unconscious and can be measured in saliva; therefore, measuring cortisol is a good indicator of stress in the body.

He added that the typical physiological response to stress is the release of hormones like cortisol into the system.

In the study, the researchers wanted to explore the association between children's personal social networks, as well as perceived social network size and density with biomarkers like cortisol and alpha-amylase that can indicate levels of stress in youth.

Flinn said that using the data they have collected they found out children who were stressed about the size and density of their perceived social networks had elevated anticipatory cortisol levels and responded by secreting more alpha-amylase.

The study appears in the journal Social Neuroscience. (ANI)

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Human skin cells turned into sperm

Mon, 05/02/2016 - 06:41

What if men with fertility problems could grow new sperm from their own skin cells? A team of researchers has made this possible by growing human gametes in a lab.

Scientists in Spain used a cocktail of genes to turn human skin cells into germ cells, which can eventually be developed into sperm or eggs.

Researcher Carlos Simon from the Valencian Infertility Institute said, "What to do when someone who wants to have a child lacks gametes (eggs or sperm)? This is the problem we want to address: to be able to create gametes in people who do not have them."

The team says they were inspired by the Nobel Prize-winning work of Japan's Shinya Yamanaka and Britain's John Gordon back in
2012. The pair had discovered that mature, adult cells could be turned into any other type of tissue.

In their experiment, the team added a cocktail of genes to skins cells, which then took about a month to turn into the germ cells. While the germ cells could be developed into sperm, it wouldn't have the ability to fertilise, because a further mutation phase is required to create a gamete, Simon says.

"With the human species we must do much more testing because we are talking about the birth of child," he explains. "We are talking about a long process."

Earlier this year, Chinese researchers used 'test-tube' sperm cells to fertilise mouse eggs. Healthy mouse offspring were produced using the technique, but doing the same using human embryos represents a whole new level of complexity.

The study is published in the journal Scientific Reports. (ANI)

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Living with ocean view can improve mental health

Fri, 04/29/2016 - 03:15

Washington D. C, Apr 29 : Did your weekend trip to the beach leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed? Well, now there's science that proves residents with a view of the water are less stressed.

The study, co-authored by Michigan State University's Amber L. Pearson, is the first to find a link between health and the visibility of water, which the researchers call blue space.

"Increased views of blue space are significantly associated with lower levels of psychological distress," said Pearson. "However, we did not find that with green space."

Using various topography data, the researchers studied the visibility of blue and green spaces from residential locations in Wellington, New Zealand, an urban capital city surrounded by the Tasman Sea on the north and the Pacific Ocean on the south. Green space includes forests and grassy parks.

To gauge psychological distress, the researchers analyzed data from the New Zealand Health Survey. The national survey used the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale, or K10, which has proven to be an accurate predictor of anxiety and mood disorders.

Pearson said that visibility of green space did not show the same calming effect. That could be because the study did not distinguish between types of green space.

"It could be because the blue space was all natural, while the green space included human-made areas, such as sports fields and playgrounds, as well as natural areas such as native forests," Pearson said. "Perhaps if we only looked at native forests we might find something different."

The study appears in the academic journal Health & Place. (ANI)

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Longer you work, longer you live

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 03:07

Washington D. C, Apr 28 : Turns out, taking early retirement isn't the key to a long life. Instead, it's the people working past age
65 who live the longest, according to a recent study.

The Oregon State University researchers found that healthy adults who retired one year past age 65 had an 11 percent lower risk of death from all causes, even when taking into account demographic, lifestyle and health issues.

Adults who described themselves as unhealthy were also likely to live longer if they kept working, the findings showed, which indicates that factors beyond health may affect post- retirement mortality.

"It may not apply to everybody, but we think work brings people a lot of economic and social benefits that could impact the length of their lives," said lead author Chenkai Wu.

Wu examined data collected from 1992 through 2010 through the Healthy Retirement Study. Of the more than 12,000 initial participants in the study, Wu narrowed his focus to 2,956 people who began the study in 1992 and had retired by the end of the study period in
2010.

The team divided the group into unhealthy retirees, or those who indicated that health was a factor in their decision to retire - and healthy retirees, who indicated health was not a factor. About two-thirds of the group fell into the healthy category, while a third were in the unhealthy category.

During the study period, about 12 percent of the healthy and 25.6 percent of the unhealthy retirees died. Healthy retirees who worked a year longer had an 11 percent lower risk of mortality, while unhealthy retirees who worked a year longer had a 9 percent lower mortality risk. Working a year longer had a positive impact on the study participants' mortality rate regardless of their health status.

"The healthy group is generally more advantaged in terms of education, wealth, health behaviors and lifestyle, but taking all of those issues into account, the pattern still remained," said senior author Robert Stawski. "The findings seem to indicate that people who remain active and engaged gain a benefit from that."

The findings are published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. (ANI)

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Rotational shiftwork puts women at increased heart risk

Wed, 04/27/2016 - 08:11

Can changing work shifts risk your heart? Yes, according to a recent study.

The Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) researchers found that women, who work more than 10 years of rotating night shift work, had a 15 to 18 percent increased risk of developing coronary heart disease (CHD), the most common type of heart disease, as compared with women who did not work rotating night shifts.

"There are a number of known risk factors for coronary heart disease, such as smoking, poor diet, lack of physical activity, and elevated body mass index (BMI). These are all critical factors when thinking how to prevent CHD. However, even after controlling for these risk factors, we still saw an increased risk of CHD associated with rotating shift work," said lead author Celine Vetter.

Vetter added, "Even though the absolute risk is small, and the contribution of shift work to CHD is modest, it is important to note that this is a modifiable risk factor, and changing shift schedules may have an impact on the prevention of CHD."

Researchers examined the association between rotating night shift work and CHD over a period of 24 years and found that recent shift work might be most relevant for CHD risk and that longer time since stopping shift work was associated with decreased CHD risk, a new finding which researchers note warrants replication.

"Our results are in line with other findings, yet, it is possible that different schedules might carry a different risk, and we have very little information on exact schedules, as well as work start and end times," Vetter said, adding, "We believe that the results from our study underline the need for future research to further explore the relationship between shift schedules, individual characteristics and coronary health to potentially reduce CHD risk."

Researchers note that individual characteristics such as the individual's biological rhythm, disrupted in rotating night shift workers, and information on sleep patterns and quality might modulate CHD risk.

The study is published in JAMA. (ANI)

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Study links video game addiction to ADHD

Tue, 04/26/2016 - 05:50

Researcher Cecilie Schou Andreassen revealed that video game addiction is more prevalent among younger men and among those not being in a current relationship, than others.

Schou Andreassen has carried out a study with more than 20 000 participants who answered questions related to videogame addiction.

The study showed that video game addiction appears to be associated with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression.

Andreassen said that excessively engaging in gaming may function as an escape mechanism for, or coping with, underlying psychiatric disorders in attempt to alleviate unpleasant feelings and to calm restless bodies.

He added that the study implies that younger with some of these characteristics could be targeted regarding preventing development of an unhealthy gaming pattern.

The study also showed that addiction related to videogames and computer activities shows sex differences.

Men seem generally more likely to become addicted to online gaming, gambling, and cyber-pornography, while women to social media, texting and online shopping.

The study is published in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors of the American Psychological Association. (ANI)

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