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Here's why you should think twice before smoking in public places in Delhi

Mon, 03/13/2017 - 08:45

New Delhi: The Delhi Police has so far issued challans to more than 700 people for smoking in public places since the drive was launched last month.

In mid-February, the Delhi police has launched an anti-smoking campaign under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA).

The Delhi Police is issuing challans directly for the first time under the COTPA which prohibits smoking in public places, sale of tobacco products to minors, and sale of tobacco products within 100 yards of educational institutions.

Earlier, the Delhi Police was using the 'kalandra' system wherein a slip used to be issued to the offender who would then go to a magistrate to pay the fine.

"The 'kalandra' system was proving to be less effective as people often did not give their IDs and did not turn up to pay the fine. Under the COTPA, on-the-spot fine can be levied for violations which is making it more effective," said Heena Shaikh of Sambandh Health Foundation which has been working on tobacco control.

"We have so far caught over 200 violators and challaned them. Every day, 5-7 persons are being caught and challaned by policemen in areas under east Delhi," said Omvir Singh, Deputy Commissioner of Police (East).

Singh said that police have also closed down five hookah bars in east Delhi.

The north district police has issued over 263 challans under the COTPA so far, said Jatin Narwal, DCP (North).

The southeast district police has also issued 250 challans under the campaign.

Enforcing the COTPA will go a long way in reducing prevalence of tobacco usage.

The police force is being trained to take action under the COTPA and the campaign will continue, Narwal said.

"Prevalence of tobacco users in Delhi is 24.3 per cent with an estimated 10,000 people dying every year due to tobacco-related diseases," said Mohini Daljeet Singh, CEO of Max India Foundation which is partnering in the campaign.

So next time, think twice before you wish to light a cigarette in a public place in the national capital, because you could well be issued challan by Delhi Police. (PTI)

Region: IndiaGeneral: Health

Gastrointestinal cancer: Walk your way to healthy life during chemo

Mon, 03/13/2017 - 05:54

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 13 : Walking or jogging helps patients with advanced gastrointestinal cancer to cope better with the side effects of chemotherapy, according to a recent study.

The Goethe University Frankfurt study shows that patients with an advanced gastrointestinal tumor can also profit from exercise therapy.

In accordance with the recommendations of the American College of Sports Medicine, the participants exercised either three times a week for 50 minutes or five times a week for 30 minutes at a pace which they considered to be "slightly strenuous."

If they were unable to manage this, then they were allowed to shorten their training sessions on the basis of a standardized model.

"For some patients, it was difficult to carry out the walking or jogging program in accordance with the recommendations," explained Katrin Stucher. "A frequent obstacle was the weather: either it was too cold, too hot or too wet. But the side effects of the chemotherapy, such as loss of sensation, weakness, exhaustion, infections or severe diarrhea, also often meant that they had to reduce or even discontinue the programme."

For the participants in the study, the complementary exercise therapy proved valuable despite the need for occasional breaks. Muscle mass improved as did functional properties, such as balance, walking speed and leg strength. The study also showed first indications that the toxicity of the chemotherapy can be reduced through moderate activity. This is important because it is especially due to severe toxic effects that patients with gastrointestinal cancer often have to reduce the dose or even discontinue the chemotherapy altogether.

"We believe that it will make sense in future to offer patients opportunities for physical exercise during chemotherapy. To eliminate adversities through the weather, exercise rooms could be set up in hospitals. In addition, we should motivate patients to continue with the program after they have taken a break because of side effects," said researcher Winfried Banzer. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

Marijuana helps epilepsy patients combat intolerable medication effects: Study

Sat, 03/11/2017 - 06:20

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 11 : A study finds that people with uncontrolled epilepsy - neurological disorder - resort to cannabis products when antiepileptic drug side-effects are intolerable.

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder marked by sudden recurrent episodes of sensory disturbance, loss of consciousness, or convulsions, associated with abnormal electrical activity in the brain.

University of Sydney researchers revealed that 14 percent of people with epilepsy have used cannabis products as a way to manage seizures.

The study, published in journal of Epilepsy & Behaviour, showed that of those with a history of cannabis product use, 90 percent of adults and 71 percent of parents of children with epilepsy reported success in managing seizures after commencing using cannabis products.

"This survey provides insight into the use of cannabis products for epilepsy, in particular some of the likely factors influencing use, as well as novel insights into the experiences of and attitudes towards medicinal cannabis in people with epilepsy in the Australian community," said lead author Anastasia Suraev from The Lambert Initiative.

They surveyed 976 respondents to examine cannabis use in people with epilepsy, reasons for use and any perceived benefits self-reported by consumers.

The study revealed, 15 percent of adults with epilepsy and 13 percent of parents/guardians of children with epilepsy were currently using, or had previously used, cannabis products to treat epilepsy.

Across all respondents, the main reasons for trying cannabis products were to manage treatment-resistant epilepsy and to obtain a more favourable side-effect profile compared to standard antiepileptic drugs.

"Cannabis products are often what people turn to when they have been unable to control their epilepsy with conventional medication," explained co-author Carol Ireland.

"This highlights a growing need to educate consumers and health professionals on the use of cannabis by people with epilepsy and to provide safe and timely access to cannabinoid medicine in order to lessen people's reliance on illicit black market products" she added. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

Help your grandparents sleep better with this..

Sat, 03/11/2017 - 06:09

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 11 : Help your grandparents sleep better and improve memory, with gentle sound stimulation - such as rush of a waterfall - synchronised to the rhythm of brain waves, as it may significantly deepen sleep and triple memory scores to recall words in older adults, suggests a study.

According to researchers from Northwestern University in Evanston, US, pink noise synced to brain waves deepens sleep and triples memory scores in older adults aged 60 and above.

The study appeared in journal of Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

The degree of slow wave sleep enhancement was related to the degree of memory improvement, suggesting slow wave sleep remains important for memory, even in old age.

"This is an innovative, simple and safe non-medication approach that may help improve brain's health," said senior study author Dr. Phyllis Zee from Northwestern University's feinberg school of medicine.

"This is a potential tool for enhancing memory in older populations and attenuating normal age-related memory decline," Zee added.

They analysed 13 participants aged 60 and older, who received one night of acoustic stimulation - relating to sound and one night of sham stimulation - that is used in research to control for the placebo effect.

The sham stimulation procedure was identical to the acoustic one, but participants did not hear any noise during sleep.

For both the sessions, the participants took a memory test at night and again the next morning.

The results indicated that recall ability after the sham stimulation generally improved on the morning test by a few percent. However, the average improvement was three times larger after pink-noise stimulation.

After the sound stimulation, the older participants' slow waves increased during sleep. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

Going 'gluten-free' may not be all that good for you

Sat, 03/11/2017 - 05:37

A word of advice for those who are on gluten free diet. Eating less of wheat, rye and barley may increase the risk of developing diabetes.

Gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley, gives bread and other baked goods elasticity during the baking process and a chewy texture in finished products.

The findings indicated that 20 percent of individuals consumed gluten and had 13 percent lower risk of developing Type-2 diabetes in comparison to those with the lowest daily gluten consumption.

The research would be presented at the American Heart Association's Epidemiology and Prevention/Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health 2017 Scientific Sessions.

"We wanted to determine if gluten consumption will affect health in people with no apparent medical reasons to avoid gluten," said a researcher Geng Zong from Harvard University's t.h. chan school of public health in Boston, Massachusetts.

"Gluten-free foods often have less dietary fiber and other micronutrients, making them less nutritious and they also tend to cost more. People without Celiac disease may reconsider limiting their gluten intake for chronic disease prevention, especially for diabetes," Zong added.

The researchers estimated daily gluten intake for 199,794 participants in three long-term health studies -- the Nurses' Health Study (NHS), the Nurses' Health Study II (NHSII) and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS).

The average daily gluten intake in grams was 5.8 g/d for NHS, 6.8 g/d for NHSII, and 7.1 g/d for HPFS, and major dietary sources were pastas, cereals, pizza, muffins, pretzels and bread.

The researchers found that most of the participants had gluten intake below 12 grams/day and within this range, those who ate the most gluten had lower Type 2 diabetes risk during thirty years of follow-up.

The results suggested that over the course of the study, which included 4.24 million person-years of follow-up , 15,947 cases of Type 2 diabetes were confirmed. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

Bullied children may suffer depression, diabetes in adulthood

Sat, 03/11/2017 - 05:05

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 11 : A study has revealed that children bullied during childhood are at the risk of developing depression, heart disease and diabetes in adulthood.

The study appeared in journal of Harvard Review of Psychiatry.

"Bullying, as a form of chronic social stress, may have significant health consequences if not addressed early," said Susannah J. Tye from Mayo Clinic.

"We encourage child health professionals to assess both the mental and physical health effects of bullying," Dr. Tye added.

Bullying has been linked to an increased risk of psychiatric disorders, although there are still questions about the direction of that association.

"Once dismissed as an innocuous experience of childhood, bullying is now recognised as having significant psychological effects, particularly with chronic exposure," explained the authors.

Any form of continued physical or mental stress can put a strain on the body, leading to increasing "wear and tear."

With increasing allostatic load, chronic stress can lead to changes in inflammatory, hormonal, and metabolic responses.

The study suggests that over time, these physiological alterations can contribute to the development of diseases--including depression, diabetes, and heart disease-- as well as progression of psychiatric disorders.

"When an individual is exposed to brief periods of stress, the body can often effectively cope with the challenge and recover back to baseline," Dr. Tye explained.

Early-life stress exposure can also affect the way in which these physiological systems respond to future stressors.

"Asking about bullying...represents a practical first step towards intervening to prevent traumatic exposure and reduce risk for further psychiatric and related morbidities," they noted. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

Citric acid may not be as safe to vape as you think

Fri, 03/10/2017 - 08:54

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 10 : More than 7,000 different flavours of electronic cigarettes are available in the market, but not much is known about the safety of the e-liquids when they are inhaled.

According to the scientists at British American Tobacco, the use of citric acid in e-liquids needs to be investigated to further understand its potential to form potentially harmful anhydrides in the vapour.

Citric acid occurs naturally in the body, is "generally recognised as safe" in the USA and is used in pharmaceutical inhalation products. However, thermal degradation of citric acid can occur at the operating temperatures of some vaping devices. Starting at around 175-203 degree Celsius, citric acid can degrade to form citraconic anhydride and its isomer itaconic anhydride.

These anhydrides are respiratory sensitisers--chemicals that, on inhalation, can trigger an allergic reaction varying from hay fever symptoms to anaphylactic shock.

Scientists used gas chromatography coupled to time-of-flight mass spectrometry to analyse the vapour generated when an e-liquid containing citric acid is heated in a vaping device. The device used was a first-generation (cig-a-like) e-cigarette. The scientists were able to measure significant amounts of anhydrides in the vapour.

The results are presented at the annual conference of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco in Florence, Italy.

"Citric acid in an e-liquid may lead to significant amounts of citraconic and/or itaconic anhydride in vapour, depending on the device," said Dr Sandra Costigan, Principal Toxicologist Vaping Products.

"But we believe that flavourings can be used responsibly and we have already rejected the use of some flavouring in our products. Based on this case study using a first generation e-cigarette, we recommend that the potential for formation of citraconic and itaconic anhydrides should be investigated further before commercialisation of e-liquids containing citric acid," Costigan added. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

Asthmatics less able to fight off flu

Fri, 03/10/2017 - 08:41

New Delhi [India], Mar. 10 : People with asthma are likely to have worse symptoms when they get the flu because they have weaker immune systems, a new research has shown.

The study, led by Dr Ben Nicholas from University of Southampton, assessed lung samples from asthmatics and healthy volunteers. The samples were exposed to influenza and their reactions were analysed.

This study was published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Dr Nicholas said, "We wanted to look into whether immune system differences explain why asthmatics are more likely to end up in hospital if they get flu than the general population. This is important, as flu can cause a person's asthma symptoms to get worse. The samples from healthy people showed a strong immune system-triggering reaction to the flu virus. But in lung samples from asthma patients, this reaction was much weaker."

"We hope these results help researchers better understand why asthmatics are more affected by influenza and help find new treatments for common lung infections, which often make asthma symptoms worse," he added.

The research method Dr Nicholas used is different other techniques, which separate and grow a single layer of cells in a dish.

Instead, Dr Nicholas kept the whole sample intact, which allowed him to study a pin-head sized piece of lung in the lab, as it would be found in the body.

The study was supported by, and conducted in collaboration with Synairgen, a University of Southampton spin-out company, and formed part of U-BIOPRED, a large-scale European project using information and samples from adults and children to learn more about different types of asthma.

More research is now needed to investigate whether the difference in immune responses is due to the asthma itself, or the daily medications used by participating asthmatics to control their condition. (ANI)

Region: IndiaGeneral: Health

Beware! Coloring your hair can up chances of breast cancer

Fri, 03/10/2017 - 08:20

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 10 : Women beware before dying your hair or using hormonal contraceptives, as they may increase your chances of breast cancer.

Researcher Sanna Heikkinen from the University of Helsinki in Finland and Finnish Cancer Registry evaluated the contribution of the use of hormonal contraceptives and hair dyes on breast cancer risk factors.

"The biggest risk factor in breast cancer is high age and known lifestyle-related risk factors include late age at first birth, small number of children, high alcohol consumption and sedentary lifestyle," said Heikkinen.

They analysed self-reported survey data from 8,000 breast cancer patients and 20,000 controls from Finland.

The results suggested that use of other hormonal contraceptives was, by contrast, associated with 32 percent higher breast cancer risk among younger women under 50 when compared to women who did not use hormonal contraceptives.

The team also investigated the amount of opportunistic mammography, which was found to be very common.

More than 60 percent of responders reported having had a mammography before the screening age of 50.

"Women should be more extensively informed of the harms of opportunistic mammography, such as accumulating radiation burden and the potential consequences of false positive or negative findings," Heikkinen noted. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

Pram covers a must as babies more affected from air pollution

Fri, 03/10/2017 - 06:33

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 10 : Parents, use pram covers to protect your babies while accompanying older siblings on the school run, as young children are twice as likely to be exposed to harmful air pollution in the morning as in the afternoon, suggests a new study.

Researchers from the University of Surrey in London found the high levels exposure of babies in prams to fine and ultrafine particulate matter during the morning drop-in hours of school children compared with the afternoon drop-off hours as worst places for infants to be exposed was at bus stops and traffic lights when they are waiting to cross roads.

The new appeared in the journal Environmental Pollution.

"These findings provide an insight for families who walk to and from nursery/primary schools with young children. Essentially, children could be at risk of breathing in some nasty and harmful chemical species such as iron, aluminium and silica that form together the particles of various size ranges," said lead researcher Dr Prashant Kumar.

They carried out a series of experiments using high specification air monitoring equipment located inside a pram to gauge the kind of pollutants and toxic chemicals toddlers are exposed to when accompanying older siblings during the school drop off/pick up peak times.

Primarily, the work of the research group identified that traffic intersections and bus stops emerged as pollution hotspots, with high levels of both coarse (PM2.5-10) and fine (PM2.5) particles.

The researchers also found that small-sized particles, including ultrafine particles, were higher on an average by about 47 percent (PM1), 31 percent (PM2.5) and 31 percent (PNC) during the morning than afternoon hours, reflecting the influence of traffic emissions during the morning peak hours.

The above findings clearly suggest much higher concentrations of fine and ultrafine particles during the morning peak hours, especially at the traffic intersections and bus stops, substantiating their past research findings.

"One of the simplest ways to combat this is to use a barrier between the in-pram children and the exhaust emissions, especially at pollution hotspots such as traffic intersections, so parents could use pram covers if at all possible," Kumar suggested. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

Beat the heat and protect your skin!

Fri, 03/10/2017 - 04:29

New Delhi [India], Mar. 10 : Summer is knocking the door! Before it arrives, let's bring on the stock for our beauty routine to welcome the the long days and even longer evenings.

Dr Alia Rizvi, dermatologist at Me Clinic, New Delhi, brings some tips to protect your skin from tanning.

- Protect your lips: More than winters, our lips dry out very often during the summer. So it is the time when you are going to need SPF enhanced Lip Balm regularly to keep your lips moisturized.

- Wide-brim hat for traveling time: If you are travelling or exploring, then a wide-brim hat is a must for you. This is stylish and effective way to keep the sun rays off from your face and head.

- Wear SPF moisturizer throughout the day time: Apply SPF enhanced moisturizer from face to toe.

- Use compact powder that contains SPF: Keep SPF contained compact in your bag as it is the best way to keep you away from the hassle that mostly get at the time of reapplying SPF moisturizer on your make up.

- Drink lots of water: Body sweats more during these days. To keep up our body hydrated, one needs to drink as much liquid as possible. It's always awesome to keep juice, fresh lime water or water bottle in your bag while you are out.

- Protect your beautiful hands: In summers, our hands get tanned easily without even our awareness. It's good to use hand cream which comprises of SPF and should be reapplied as needed.

- Wear sunglasses when your go outdoors: This is the time of the year when your eyes strive for glares, goggles, shades, reflectors, and aviators. So keep them always with you.

So let's enjoy summers instead of cribbing about the tan! (ANI)

Region: IndiaGeneral: Health

Watch out! Obesity linked with chronic kidney disease

Thu, 03/09/2017 - 09:51

New Delhi [India], Mar. 9 : Exercise regularly, eat healthy and keep your weight under control to keep a check on obesity, which is the majorly responsible for kidney disease, says a health expect, while spreading awareness on World Kidney day.

In the last decade, kidney diseases and obesity have become a major health concern with rapid increase in cases along with cancer and cardiac diseases.

According to clinicians, combination of obesity and chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a lethal condition.

"Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) is a dangerous condition that can lead to kidney failure and the only treatment option is dialysis or kidney transplant. And it will be interesting to know that obesity is the leading cause of FSGS," said Dr Sanjeev Gulati director of Nephrology at Fortis FLt. Lt. Rajan Dhall Hospital in New Delhi.

A growing body of evidence indicates that obesity is also a potent risk factor for the development of CKD and end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and overweight or obese people have two to seven more chances of developing ESRD.

Suggestion certain ways to keep the both at bay includes - Exercising regularly, managing blood sugar levels, keeping blood pressure at optimum levels, eating healthy and keeping weight under control, maintaining a healthy fluid intake, drinking enough water, avoiding smoking, avoiding self-medication and over-the-counter pills and annual check-ups necessary for those above 40.

Obesity may lead to CKD both indirectly by increasing Type-2 diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

"Obesity is the leading cause of CKD directly and indirectly. It is a 50-50 situation. In one condition, obesity directly results in CKD and in the other obesity first increases the metabolic syndrome which results in CKD and in either case we have to treat both of them simultaneously because together they are taking a toll on individuals with dual speed," Dr Gulati explained.

"Like adults, children can also be prone and affected by CKD and as clinicians we see a steady rise in such cases. Over the years I have treated families carrying genes that cause both obesity and CKD and it is scary to know that these can be passed on to the younger generation," Dr Gulati stated. (ANI)

Region: IndiaGeneral: Health

'Short' men bald prematurely: Study

Thu, 03/09/2017 - 08:37

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 9 : In first of its kind, a study reveals that men with short height and light skin colour can face increased risk of becoming bald prematurely.

During a study, the University of Bonn researchers investigated the genetic material of more than 20,000 men and the data revealed that premature hair loss is linked to a range of various physical characteristics and illnesses.

The study, appeared in journal Nature Communications, stated that immune and fat cells in the scalp are obviously also involved in hair loss along with the cells of the hair follicle.

"We were thus able to identify 63 alterations in the human genome that increase the risk of premature hair loss," said lead study author Dr. Stefanie Heilmann-Heimbach.

"Some of these alterations were also found in connection with other characteristics and illnesses, such as reduced body size, earlier occurrence of puberty and various cancers," Heimbach added.

It has already long been known that men with premature hair loss suffer from heart diseases and prostate cancer somewhat more often.

The new genetic data now confirm suspicions that there are further connections to other characteristics and illnesses.

They analysed genetic data from around 11,000 men with premature baldness and around 12,000 men with no hair loss served as a control from seven different countries.

The genetic findings thus also confirm the link between hair loss and an increased risk of prostate cancer. The link with heart disease is much more complicated.

Genes that reduce the risk were found along with genes that increase the risk.

"We have also found links to light skin color and increased bone density," said Prof. Markus Nothen.

"These could indicate that men with hair loss are better able to use sunlight to synthesize vitamin D. They could also explain why white men in particular lose their hair prematurely," Nothen explained. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

This drug may stimulate immune system to fight blood cancer: Study

Thu, 03/09/2017 - 08:19

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 9 : A team of US researchers have found an experimental drug that may stimulate the immune system - leading to tumor shrinkage - in patients affected by blood cancer.

The research appeared in journal Nature Medicine.

Multiple myeloma is a blood cancer that affects plasma cells - white blood cells that normally produce antibodies to fight infection.

Of the study of 25 Multiple Myeloma patients, the research highlights the importance of studying the effects of drug - LCL161 - not only on the tumor cells in a culture plate, but also on the interaction of the tumor cells with their own microenvironment.

"The drug, LCL161, was initially developed to promote tumor death," said lead study author Marta Chesi from Mayo Clinic in the US.

"However, we found that the drug does not kill tumor cells directly. Rather, it makes them more visible to the immune system that recognises them as foreigner invaders and eliminates them," Chesi added.

The finding suggest that LCL161 is active against multiple myeloma suggests that similar drugs may have broader clinical activity than previously thought.

As the cancer cells grow, they secrete large amounts of a single antibody that accumulate in the body, causing kidney problems and infections.

"The model for preclinical studies to predict with great accuracy which drugs would work in the clinic was developed a decade ago," says Dr. Chesi. "And it has been instrumental in the prioritisation of which experimental therapeutics should be tested in patients with multiple myeloma."

The researchers will conduct a follow-up clinical trial of LCL161 in combination with an inhibitor of immune checkpoints that has been widely used in many cancer treatments. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

Can e-cigarettes lead to cancer?

Thu, 03/09/2017 - 05:34

Washington D.C. {USA], Mar. 9 : Beware before you rejoice in smoking e-cigarettes, as a study has found significant level of cancer-causing benzene in e-cigarette vapors, when the devices are operated at high power.

Benzene, a component of gasoline, has been linked to a number of diseases, including leukemia and bone marrow failure.

It is found in urban air because of industrial emissions and unburned gasoline in exhaust and fuel tank leakages.

Researchers from Portland State University in the US revealed that with one device operated at high power and when the e-cigarette fluid additive chemicals benzoic acid or benzaldehyde were present, benzene levels were thousands of times higher than in ambient air.

The levels, nevertheless, were still 50 to 100 times lower than in smoke from conventional cigarettes, which deliver considerable benzene.

The finding appeared in the online journal PLOS ONE.

It has been named the largest single cancer-risk ambient air toxin in the United States.

The amount of benzene the PSU scientists measured from e-cigarettes depended greatly on the device. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

Good News! Caffeine can protect against dementia

Wed, 03/08/2017 - 05:39

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 8 : A recent study lists caffeine amongst the 24 compounds that has the potential to boost an enzyme in the brain shown to protect against dementia.

The study appears in the journal Scientific Reports.

The protective effect of the enzyme, called NMNAT2, was discovered last year through research conducted at IU Bloomington.

"This work could help advance efforts to develop drugs that increase levels of this enzyme in the brain, creating a chemical 'blockade' against the debilitating effects of neurodegenerative disorders," said Hui-Chen Lu, who led the study.

Lu is a Gill Professor in the Linda and Jack Gill Center for Biomolecular Science and the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, a part of the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences.

Previously, Lu and colleagues found that NMNAT2 plays two roles in the brain: a protective function to guard neurons from stress and a "chaperone function" to combat misfolded proteins called tau, which accumulate in the brain as "plaques" due to aging. The study was the first to reveal the "chaperone function" in the enzyme.

Misfolded proteins have been linked to neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's diseases, as well as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease. Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of these disorders, affects over 5.4 million Americans, with numbers expected to rise as the population ages.

To identify substances with the potential to affect the production of the NMNAT2 enzyme in the brain, Lu's team screened over 1,280 compounds, including existing drugs, using a method developed in her lab. A total of 24 compounds were identified as having potential to increase the production of NMNAT2 in the brain.

One of the substances shown to increase production of the enzyme was caffeine, which also has been shown to improve memory function in mice genetically modified to produce high levels of misfolded tau proteins.

Lu's earlier research found that mice altered to produce misfolded tau also produced lower levels of NMNAT2.

To confirm the effect of caffeine, IU researchers administered caffeine to mice modified to produce lower levels of NMNAT2. As a result, the mice began to produce the same levels of the enzyme as normal mice.

Another compound found to strongly boost NMNAT2 production in the brain was rolipram, an "orphaned drug" whose development as an antidepressant was discontinued in the mid-1990s. The compound remains of interest to brain researchers due to several other studies also showing evidence it could reduce the impact of tangled proteins in the brain.

Other compounds shown by the study to increase the production of NMNAT2 in the brain -- although not as strongly as caffeine or rolipram -- were ziprasidone, cantharidin, wortmannin and retinoic acid. The effect of retinoic acid could be significant since the compound derives from vitamin A, Lu said.

An additional 13 compounds were identified as having potential to lower the production of NMNAT2. Lu said these compounds are also important because understanding their role in the body could lead to new insights into how they may contribute to dementia.

"Increasing our knowledge about the pathways in the brain that appear to naturally cause the decline of this necessary protein is equally as important as identifying compounds that could play a role in future treatment of these debilitating mental disorders," she said. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

Graveyard shift woes? Mocha lattes can help you focus better

Wed, 03/08/2017 - 05:27

London [UK], Mar. 8 : Do you work in overnight shifts and struggle to stay active and focused while working? Good news! Drinking mocha lattes can improve your attention span and help in combating sluggishness.

According to researchers from Clarkson University in New York and the University of Georgia, the combination of coffee and chocolate found in mocha is perfect for helping you stay focused, reports the Independent.

They examined "the acute effects of brewed cocoa consumption on attention, motivation to perform cognitive work and feelings of anxiety, energy and fatigue."

"Cocoa increases cerebral blood flow, which increases cognition and attention. Caffeine alone can increase anxiety. This particular project found that cocoa lessens caffeine's anxiety-producing effects," said Researcher Ali Boolani Clarkson University.

In a study that lasted nearly a year, participants drank either brewed cocoa, cocoa with caffeine, caffeine without cocoa, or a placebo hot drink with neither caffeine nor cocoa.

After drinking the beverage, the participants were asked to do an array of tasks which would see their cognitive function and mood assessed.

They found that those who drink plain cocoa made fewer errors linked to lack of attention.

But then after adding caffeine to the cocoa too, "cognitive effects" were enhanced and the "anxiety-provoking effects" of drinking just coffee were reduced.

"The results of the tests are definitely promising and show that cocoa and caffeine are good choices for students and anyone else who needs to improve sustained attention," Boolani explained. (ANI)

Region: LondonGeneral: Health

Treatment with vaginal progesterone lowers newborn complications

Wed, 03/08/2017 - 04:50

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 8 : Dear mommies to-be, a study finds that treatment with vaginal progesterone in women with a short cervix and a twin pregnancy may reduce the frequency of preterm birth and related serious outcomes.

The results indicated, women who received vaginal progesterone were 31 percent less likely to deliver before 33 weeks of pregnancy.

The findings come from an Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology meta-analysis of six studies encompassing 303 women pregnant with twins, all of whom had a cervical length of 25 mm or less in the mid-trimester.

About 159 women received vaginal progesterone and 144 received a placebo or no treatment.

Vaginal progesterone also reduced the rate of preterm delivery before 32 weeks and 34 weeks.

Infants born to patients who received vaginal progesterone had a 30 percent reduction in the rate of respiratory distress syndrome, the most common complication of prematurity, a 46 percent reduction in the rate of mechanical ventilation and a four percent reduction in the risk of dying in the neonatal period.

"To date, clinical practice and national recommendations to prevent preterm birth and reduce related adverse outcome in twin pregnancies vary significantly because of a lack of convincing scientific evidence and regional variation in the interpretation of said evidence," said Basky Thilaganathan, Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology's Editor-in-Chief.

"The findings of this individual patient data meta-analysis provide scientific evidence that treatment with vaginal progesterone in women with a short cervix and a twin pregnancy reduces the frequency of preterm birth and related serious adverse perinatal outcomes," Thilaganathan added. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

Healthy sex life can boost performance at work: Study

Wed, 03/08/2017 - 04:07

London [UK], Mar. 8 : Want to stay happy and perform better at work? Start performing better in bed, as a study reveals, workers who had sex the night before are doing better at their jobs the next day.

According to researchers from Oregon State University a happy sex life boosts their own job satisfaction which, in turn, gives them a better work-life balance, said researchers from a US university for the specialist Journal of Management.

"They came to work happier and more fulfilled, immersed themselves more in the tasks they were given and enjoyed their job more as a result, said associate professor Keith Leavitt.

"We make jokes about people having a 'spring in their step,' but it turns out this is actually a real thing and we should pay attention to it, he explained.

Sexual intercourse triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with the reward centres in the brain, as well as oxytocin, a neuropeptide associated with social bonding and attachment.

The 'feel good' factor from sex lasts for approximately 24 hours, Leavitt stated.

The team looked at 159 married employees from an unnamed office-based business, monitoring their work performance and their sex habits.

Those who had sex with their partners, at home, performed their work tasks better the next day than those who did not have sex.

They found that maintaining a healthy relationship that includes a healthy sex life will help employees stay happy and engaged in their work, which benefits the employees and the organisations they work for.

In contrast, sacrificing sex in order to work is only likely to lower any feelgood factor and raise levels of stress.

"This is a reminder that sex has social, emotional and physiological benefits, and it's important to make it a priority. Just make time for it," he explained. (ANI)

Region: LondonGeneral: Health

Effective injury data management shortens fire departments' budget

Tue, 03/07/2017 - 05:33

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 7 : Hundreds of thousands of dollars can be saved as limited resources are keeping fire departments and their municipalities from accurately counting firefighter injury data, according to new research out of Drexel University.

The study has been published in the journal Injury Prevention.

Combining data from four different databases to look at injury occurrence and reporting in the Philadelphia Fire Department, researchers from the Firefighter Injury Research & Safety Trends (FIRST) program of Drexel's Dornsife School of Public Health discovered that, once injuries were more accurately coded, the difference in workers' compensation costs was as much as $1 million for some injuries.

"It is very important for fire departments to understand causes and cost of injury in order to ensure their limited budget is being properly distributed," said Shannon Widman, project manager at FIRST and lead author on the study published in Injury Prevention. "If departments can accurately pinpoint specific injuries that lead to specific costs, they are empowered to prioritize decisions when considering prevention."

In the study, researchers from FIRST linked data from the Philadelphia Fire Department's human resources records, dispatch data, workers' compensation records, and the records of the first report of firefighter or paramedic injuries. By doing so, they were able to track injuries across the datasets, which allows for more accurate counting and classification.

The issue is that information in any of the four databases could be incomplete or contain discrepencies. Linking them allowed for resolution of the discrepancies and yielded a more complete picture of the injuries.

Across three of the databases, researchers were able to track 88 percent of injuries and developed new metrics on which to create prevention strategies.

Widman and the team, which included FIRST principal investigator and associate professor Jennifer Taylor, PhD, found that the most costly injuries to firefighters and paramedics were strains, falls and burns. With the ability to link all of the data, they found that workers' compensation due to burn injuries was undervalued by $750,000, while strain injuries were undervalued by $1 million.

Getting such precise data could save municipalities that fund fire departments money by allowing them to better allocate funds for prevention and training.

"The cause of injury resulting in the most numerous claims may not result in the highest costs," Widman explained. "A smaller number of more serious injuries may result in higher costs to departments and municipalities."

Linking all of the databases also provided for the creation of a new factor that could help when it comes to better allocating resources for injury prevention: years of experience.

Most data just took into account what age a firefighter or paramedic was when they were injured. But not everyone in the fire service starts at the same age.

"Now, with the years of experience variable, we can more adequately explain where risk occurs," Taylor said. "For example, in our study, we saw that the first 15 years of a firefighter's tenure, regardless of their age, was the time for which they were most at risk for injury. Injuries during that time period represented over 70 percent of total costs incurred."

As a firefighter became more experienced, the data showed they were less likely to get hurt. Although it seems like common sense, there were never hard numbers to back that before. Having those numbers is important because it provides statistical justifications for funding.

However, putting together all the data that the FIRST team did isn't easy.

"Most fire departments collect data on a regular basis, but lack resources to analyze them," Taylor said. "Work like this is very resource-intensive and requires specialized skills, so we need to find continuing resources to building these data architectures."

Since FIRST has developed data systems like these not only for the Philadelphia Fire Department, but also for the Boston Fire Department and the State of Florida, the good news is that the system they've developed is "ready to be reproduced throughout the entire fire service," according to Taylor.

In addition to the ongoing injury research, the FIRST team, including graduate student Genevieve Adair and co-author Loni Philip Tabb, PhD, an assistant professor, from the Dornsife School of Public Health, is continuing to analyze more closely different aspects of the dispatch data collected through geographic information systems, also known as mapping.

"Some of the analyses we are working on now, with additional years of data, include maps showing where different causes and types of injuries are occurring, where pockets of increased numbers and rates of injury are throughout the city, where different types of calls occur, and on which type of call specific injuries occur," Widman said.

"Such activities will give us better insights into how to keep Philadelphia Fire Department members safe, as well as assessing the needs of the Philadelphia community." (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

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