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Here's a new treatment for TB patients

Thu, 03/02/2017 - 05:01

Washington D.C.[USA], Mar. 2 : Antibacterial compounds found in soil could spell the beginnings of a new treatment for tuberculosis, new research led by the University of Sydney has found.

Believed by many to be a relic of past centuries, tuberculosis (TB) causes more deaths than any other infectious disease including HIV/AIDs. In 2015 there were an estimated 10.4 million new cases of TB and 1.4 million deaths from the disease.

The bacterium causing TB (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) is becoming increasingly resistant to current therapies, meaning there is an urgent need to develop new TB drugs. In 2015 an estimated 480,000 cases were unresponsive to the two major drugs used to treat TB. It is estimated more than 250,000 TB deaths were from drug-resistant infections.

An international collaboration led by University Professors Richard Payne, from the School of Chemistry, and Warwick Britton, from the Sydney Medical School and the Centenary Institute, has discovered a new compound which could translate into a new drug lead for TB. Its findings were published in Nature Communications today.

The group was drawn to soil bacteria compounds known to effectively prevent other bacteria growing around them. Using synthetic chemistry the researchers were able to recreate these compounds with structural variations, turning them into more potent compounds called analogues. When tested in a containment laboratory these analogues proved to be effective killers of Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

"These analogues inhibit the action of a key protein needed to build a protective cell wall around the bacterium," said Professor Payne. "Without a cell wall, the bacterium dies. This wall-building protein is not targeted by currently available drugs.

"The analogues also effectively killed TB-causing bacteria inside macrophages, the cells in which the bacteria live in human lungs."

Professor Payne said the findings are the starting point for a new TB drug. Planning for further testing and safety studies is underway.

The research was done in collaboration with Colorado State University in the USA, Simon Fraser University in Canada, Warwick University in the UK, Monash University and the University of Queensland. It was funded by Australia's National Health and Medical Research Centre (NHMRC).

Professors Payne and Britton also belong to the University's Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity. Professor Payne won the Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year at the 2016 Prime Minister's Science Prizes. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

Gender divide in heart health check-up?

Thu, 03/02/2017 - 05:00

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 2 : A new report has highlighted a gender divide in the screening of patients for cardiovascular disease - Australia's number one killer.

Research from The George Institute for Global Health and The University of Sydney found men were significantly more likely to have their heart disease risk factors measured by their GP.

The study published in the journal Heart also found the odds of being treated with the appropriate preventative medicines were 37 per cent lower for younger women at high risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) than their male counterparts.

Associate Professor Julie Redfern, from The George Institute for Global Health, said the results were especially concerning because more women than men die each year from cardiovascular disease.

Associate Professor Redfern said: "Unfortunately there is still the perception that heart disease is a man's disease. This is not the case here in Australia, the UK or the US and we fear that one of the reasons more women are dying from heart disease is because they are not being treated correctly, including not even being asked basic questions about their health. "

Risk factors for CVD include raised cholesterol and blood pressure levels and smoking. Female smokers have a 25 per cent greater risk of CVD than male smokers.

The study of more than 53,000 patients across 60 sites in Australia found the odds of women being appropriately screened was 12% lower than men.

It also found major discrepancies in the treatment of women at high risk of CVD. Younger women (aged 35-54) were 37% less likely than younger men to have appropriate medications, such as blood pressure drugs, statins and antiplatelets prescribed. By contrast, older women (aged 65 plus years) were 34% more likely than older men to have appropriate medications prescribed.

Karice Hyun, who undertook the research for her PhD at the University of Sydney, said: "It is simply unacceptable that more than half of young women in this study did not receive appropriate heart health medications.

"These medications can greatly reduce the likelihood of having a heart attack or stroke. If these findings are representative, many women could be missing out on life saving treatment right now - just because of their age and gender.

"This fundamentally needs to change. We need a system wide solution to addressing these very worrying gaps in heart disease-related healthcare to ensure women are treated equally across the health system."

Whilst the report highlighted gender disparity, it also revealed that just 43.3 per cent of all patients had all their necessary risk factors recorded, whilst only 47.5 per cent of patients at high risk of CVD were prescribed preventative medicines.

Associate Professor Redfern added: "These findings really show that we need to do a better job of preventing and tackling CVD for all Australians if we have any hope to reducing the death toll."

Every year more than 45,000 people die from CVD in Australia.(ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

Despite negative influence, people can't stop using social media: Study

Wed, 03/01/2017 - 04:22

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar.1 : We know it isn't good for our health but being glued to our smartphone is something we all just can't resist.

A study reports that nearly half of millennials fear their addiction to social media is having a negative effect on their mental and physical health.

A new survey by the American Psychological Association (APA) found about 90 percent of people aged 18-29 were using social media, up from just 12 percent in 2005.

The APA report said: "Technology has improved life for many Americans and nearly half of this country's adults say they can't imagine life without their smartphones.

"The survey showed, nearly all adults (99 percent) own at least one electronic device (including a television). Almost nine in 10 (86 per cent) own a computer, 74 percent own an internet-connected smartphone and 55 percent own a tablet.

"At the same time, numerous studies have described consequences of technology use, including negative impacts on physical and mental health."

Of the social media platforms, Facebook was the most frequently visited with 79 percent on adults using it last year.

In second place was Instagram with 32 percent, then Pinterest and LinkedIn, both on 29 per cent, and Twitter with 24 per cent.

Many millennials, defined as those aged between 18 and 37, were concerned about how much time they were spending on social media.

"Almost half (48 percent) worry about the negative effects of social media on their physical and mental health," the report said.

The researchers also identified a group of people so attached to their gadgets that they were constantly or often checking their emails, texts or social media accounts.

APA said: "More than a decade after the emergence of smartphones, Facebook and Twitter, a profile is emerging of the 'constant checker'. Such avid technology and social media use has paved the way for the 'constant checker', those who constantly check their emails, texts or social media accounts."

These 'constant checkers' reported higher stress levels than their less-connected peers.

On a 10-point scale, with one being little or no stress and 10 being a great deal of stress, this group reported overall stress levels of 5.3 compared to an average of 4.4.

The report said: "For some, constant checking itself can be a stressful act. Constant checkers are more likely to say that constantly checking devices is a stressful aspect of technology, compared to non-constant checkers (29 per cent vs. 24 per cent, respectively)."

Some 65 per cent of Americans agreed that periodically "unplugging" or taking a "digital detox" was important.

Despite the majority wanting to switch-off, the report added: "Only 28 per cent of those agree about the important of a detox actually report doing so." (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

Fruit flies can build resistance to toxins, found in deadly mushrooms: Study

Tue, 02/28/2017 - 08:57

Washington D.C. [USA], Feb. 28 : A new study says fruit flies can build resistance to the toxins found in deadly mushrooms - Death Cap and Destroying Angel that may help them live longer.

According to researchers from Michigan Technological University in the U.S, fruit fly species have adapted many niche preferences, such as a tolerance for alpha-amanitin, a toxin found in the Amanita genus of poisonous mushrooms.

Their results were published by PLOS ONE.

The main finding is the genetic mechanism that control the toxin resistance correspond to the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway that regulates cell physiology and metabolism in humans and other mammals.

The findings could open up new possibilities for studying cancer, obesity, type 2 diabetes, depression and neurodegenerative diseases.

The team worked on figuring out, how fruit flies build resistance to the toxins and the resistance's effects on longevity.

"We found that there are multiple mechanisms that make sense," Werner stated, explaining that the mechanisms focused on the genetic regulation of detoxification enzymes.

Adding, "And the more resistant the fruit flies were, the longer they lived."

Then they pulled in 180 lines of fruit flies collected at a Raleigh, North Carolina farmer's market for comparison.

By putting big data techniques to work, they were able to screen genetic traits and nucleotide sequences to better discern candidate genes that control the toxin resistance.

"To do the analysis, we decide on a trait, which we will test in all 180 lines and selected mushroom toxin resistance and found continuous variation in the lines," Werner noted.

A better understanding of the resistance's evolution mechanisms could offer insight into many diseases including cancer, obesity, type 2 diabetes, depression and neurodegenerative diseases. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

Alzheimer's drug shouldn't be prescribed for cognitive impairment, without genetic test

Sun, 02/26/2017 - 06:54

Washington D.C. [US], Feb. 26 : US researchers have warned, Donepezil, a medication that is approved to treat people with Alzheimer's disease, should not be prescribed for people with mild cognitive impairment, without a genetic test.

Researchers from the University Of California discovered that for people who carry a specific genetic variation, the K-variant of butyrylcholinesterase, or BChE-K donezpezil, could accelerate cognitive decline.

The study has been published in Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

Mild cognitive impairment is a transitional state between normal age-related changes in cognition and dementia.

Because many people with the condition display symptoms similar to those caused by Alzheimer's disease, some physicians prescribe donepezil, which is marketed under the brand name

Donepezil was tested as a possible treatment for mild cognitive impairment in a large, federally funded study published in 2005, but it was not approved by the FDA.

Still, doctors have often prescribed the drug "off-label" -- meaning that it is not approved for that specific disorder -- for their patients with mild cognitive impairment.

The researchers looked at the association between BChE-K and changes in cognitive function. Using two tests that measure cognitive impairment, the Mini-Mental State Examination and the Clinical Dementia Rating Sum of Boxes.

The findings indicated that people with the genetic variation, who were treated with donepezil had greater changes in their scores than those who took placebos.

They also found that those who took donepezil had a faster cognitive decline than those who took the placebo.

The findings reinforce the importance of physicians discussing the possible benefits and risks of this treatment with their patients. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

Live in green neighbourhood to cut depression, anxiety

Sun, 02/26/2017 - 06:39

Washington D.C. [US], Feb. 26 : Your neighbourhood is linked to your mental well-being.

Briton researchers have revealed, living in neighbourhoods with more birds, shrubs and trees are less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and stress.

The study, involving hundreds of people, found benefits for mental health of being able to see birds, shrubs and trees around the home, whether people lived in urban or more leafy suburban neighbourhoods.

The study surveyed mental health in over 270 people from different ages, incomes and ethnicities and also found that those who spent less time out of doors than usual in the previous week were more likely to report they were anxious or depressed.

After conducting extensive surveys of the number of birds in the morning and afternoon in Milton Keynes, Bedford and Luton,

The findings, published in journal Bioscience, indicated lower levels of depression, anxiety and stress were associated with the number of birds people could see in the afternoon.

The academics studied afternoon bird numbers - which tend to be lower than birds generally seen in the morning - because are more in keeping with the number of birds that people are likely to see in their neighbourhood on a daily basis.

In the study, common types of birds including blackbirds, robins, blue tits and crows were seen.

"This study starts to unpick the role that some key components of nature play for our mental well-being," said lead researcher Dr Daniel Cox, from the University of Exeter in the UK.

"Birds around the home and nature in general, show great promise in preventative health care, making cities healthier, happier places to live," Cox added.

"Watching birds makes people feel relaxed and connected to nature," the researchers concluded. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

Dietary prebiotics improve sleep: Study

Sat, 02/25/2017 - 06:25

Washington D.C. [USA], Feb. 25 : Health benefits of probiotics- the "good bacteria" found in fermented foods and dietary supplements- is known to almost all.

Now a first-of-its kind study by University of Colorado Boulder, scientists suggests that lesser-known gut-health promoters called prebiotics, which serve as food for good bacteria inside the gut, can also have an impact, improving sleep and buffering the physiological impacts of stress.

"We found that dietary prebiotics can improve non-REM sleep, as well as REM sleep after a stressful event," said Robert Thompson, a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Integrative Physiology and first author of the new study.

It was published in the journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience.

Prebiotics are dietary fibers found naturally in foods like chicory, artichokes, raw garlic, leeks and onions. When beneficial bacteria digest prebiotic fiber, they not only multiply, improving overall gut health, but they also release metabolic byproducts.

Some research suggests these byproducts can influence brain function, explains lead author Monika Fleshner, a professor in the Department of Integrative Physiology.

For the study, the researchers fed three-week-old male rats a diet of either standard chow or chow that included prebiotics. They then monitored the rats' body temperature, gut bacteria and sleep-wake cycles - using EEG, or brain activity testing -- over time.

They found that the rats on the prebiotic diet spent more time in non-rapid-eye-movement (NREM) sleep, which is restful and restorative, than those on the non-prebiotic diet.

"Given that sufficient NREM sleep and proper nutrition can impact brain development and function and that sleep problems are common in early life, it is possible that a diet rich in prebiotics started in early life could help improve sleep, support the gut microbiota and promote optimal brain/psychological health," the authors wrote.

After being exposed to a stressor, the rats on the prebiotic diet also spent more time in rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep. REM sleep is believed to be critical for promoting recovery from stress, with research showing that those who get more REM sleep post-trauma are less likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Stress has previously been shown to reduce healthy diversity of gut bacteria and to lead to a temporary flattening of natural fluctuations in body temperature.

But rats on the prebiotic diet were buffered from these impacts, maintaining a healthy and diverse gut microbiota and normal temperature fluctuations even after stress exposure.

Fleshner said it's far too early to recommend prebiotic supplements as a sleep aid. More studies are in the works to examine what role prebiotics can play in promoting sleep, or buffering stress in people.

But she does recommend loading up on healthy prebiotic fiber from food. "It can't hurt and it might help," she said. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

Good students are more into booze, smoking pots: Study

Sat, 02/25/2017 - 06:03

New York [USA], Feb. 25 : It's not only the peer pressure that makes kids try alcohol or smoke pot!

A new study reveals that students with higher marks are more likely to drink alcohol and smoke pot compared with teens with lower scores.

According to a study published Wednesday in the British Medical Journal Open, students with higher marks tend more into pot than cigarettes.

Although some people believe smart students simply have a tendency to experiment, James Williams and Gareth Hagger-Johnson, co-authors of the new study, say these patterns of substance use may continue into adulthood.

"Our research provides evidence against the theory that these teens give up as they grow up," said the authors, both affiliated with University College London.

The researchers surveyed more than 6,000 students from public and private schools across England.

Using questionnaires, they regularly tracked each student's use of tobacco, alcohol and cannabis from age 13 or 14 until age 19 or 20. Williams and Hagger-Johnson used national test scores taken at age 11 to rank students academically, reports CNN.

Some of their results provided no surprises.

During their early teens, high-scoring pupils were less likely to smoke cigarettes and more likely to drink alcohol than their peers with lower test scores. At this time, they were slightly more likely to say they used cannabis.

During their late teens, pupils with the highest scores were more than twice as likely to drink alcohol regularly compared with others, yet they also showed themselves to have less of a tendency to binge-drink. During this same period in their lives, the academically gifted students proved nearly twice as likely to use cannabis persistently and 50 percent more likely to use it occasionally compared with their peers with lower test scores.

One "potential explanation," Williams and Hagger-Johnson said, is that "higher-ability adolescents are more open to try cannabis but are initially cautious of illegal substances in early adolescence as they are more aware of the immediate and long-term repercussions that breaking the law might incur."

"Cognitive ability is also associated with openness to new experiences and higher levels of boredom due to a lack of mental stimulation in school," the co-authors added. (ANI)

Region: New YorkGeneral: Health

Too much sugar may causes Alzheimer's

Fri, 02/24/2017 - 05:33

London [UK], Feb. 24 : A diet, high in sugar, could lead to Alzheimers, as a study finds a link between sugar and the brain disease.

According to researchers from the University of Bath and King's College London, this is the first concrete evidence to explain why abnormally high blood sugar levels, or hyperglycaemia, have an impact on cognitive function, reports Telegraph.co.uk.

Unprecedented research has revealed the 'tipping point' at which blood sugar levels become so dangerous they allow the neurological disease to take hold.

Once levels pass the threshold, they restrict the performance of a vital protein, which normally fights the brain inflammation associated with dementia.

"Excess sugar is well known to be bad for us when it comes to diabetes and obesity, but this potential link with Alzheimer's disease is yet another reason that we should be controlling our sugar intake in our diets," said Dr Omar Kassaar.

In Alzheimer's abnormal proteins aggregate to form plaques and tangles in the brain which progressively damage the brain and lead to severe cognitive decline.

Using brain samples of 30 patients with and without Alzheimer's and tested them for protein glycation, a modification caused by high glucose levels in the blood.

They found that in the early stages of Alzheimer's glycation damages an enzyme called MIF (macrophage migration inhibitory factor) which plays a role in immune response and insulin regulation.

MIF is involved in the response of brain cells called glia to the build-up of abnormal proteins in the brain during Alzheimer's disease.

It appears that as Alzheimer's progresses, glycation of these enzymes increases.

"We've shown that this enzyme is already modified by glucose in the brains of individuals at the early stages of Alzheimer's disease," said Jean van den Elsen from Bath's department of biology and biochemistry.

"Normally MIF would be part of the immune response to the build-up of abnormal proteins in the brain, and we think that because sugar damage reduces some MIF functions and completely inhibits others that this could be a tipping point that allows Alzheimer's to develop," Elsen added. (ANI)

Region: LondonGeneral: Health

Teens drowsy during mid-afternoon are 4.5 times more likely to commit crimes in adulthood

Fri, 02/24/2017 - 05:28

Washington D.C. [US], Feb. 24 : Parents, please take note! A study warns teenagers who self-report feeling drowsy during mid-afternoon, are 4.5 times more likely to commit violent crimes a decade and a half later.

Research from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of York daytime drowsiness is associated with poor attention. They take poor attention as a proxy for poor brain function and if you have got poor brain functioning, then you are more likely to be criminal.

"It's the first study to our knowledge to show that daytime sleepiness during teenage years are associated with criminal offending 14 years later," said Adrian Raine from University of Pennsylvania in US.

The study was published in the journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

"A lot of the prior research focused on sleep problems, but in our study we measured, very simply, how drowsy the child is during the day," Raine added.

To get at this information, he tested 101 boys aged 15-year-old from three secondary schools in the north of England.

At the start and end of each lab session, which always ran from one to three p.m., he asked participants to rate their degree of sleepiness on a seven-point scale, with one being 'unusually alert' and seven being 'sleepy.'

He also collected data about anti-social behaviour, both self-reported from the study participants, as well as from two or three teachers who had worked with each teenager for at least four years.

"Actually, the teacher and child reports correlated quite well in this study, which is not usual. Often, what the teacher says, what the parent says, what the child says -- it's usually three different stories," Raine stated.

Finally, the team conducted a computerised search at the Central Criminal Records Office in London of the original 101 participants.

The results suggested that 17 percent of participants had committed a crime by that point in adulthood.

"Is it the case that low social class and early social adversity results in daytime drowsiness, which results in inattention or brain dysfunction.

The researchers suggested that knowing this could potentially help with a simple treatment plan for children with behavioral issues, children are recommend to get more sleep at night. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

Beware! Those pills to reduce gastric acid may silently damage your kidney: Study

Thu, 02/23/2017 - 06:09

Washington D.C. [USA], Feb. 23 : Beware! US researchers warned that taking drugs to reduce gastric acid for prolonged periods may lead to serious kidney problems, including kidney failure.

Taking popular heartburn drugs for prolonged periods has been linked to serious kidney problems.

Heartburn is the form of indigestion as burning sensation in the chest, caused by acid regurgitation into the oesophagus.

According to researchers from Washington university in St. Louis, the sudden onset of kidney problems often serves as a red flag for doctors to discontinue their patients' use of so-called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) that reduce the secretion of gastric (stomach) acid.

The study appeared in the journal of Kidney International.

"Our results indicate kidney problems can develop silently and gradually over time, eroding kidney function and leading to long-term kidney damage or even renal failure. Patients should be cautioned to tell their doctors if they're taking PPIs and only use the drugs when necessary," said study's senior author Ziyad Al-Aly.

The team analysed 1,25,596 new users of PPIs and 18,436 new users of other heartburn drugs referred to as H2 blockers. The latter are much less likely to cause kidney problems but often aren't as effective.

Over five years of follow up study, the results indicated that more than 80 percent of PPI users did not develop acute kidney problems, which often are reversible and are characterised by too little urine leaving the body, fatigue and swelling in the legs and ankles.

More than half of the cases of chronic kidney damage and end-stage renal disease associated with PPI use occurred in people without acute kidney problems.

"Doctors must pay careful attention to kidney function in their patients who use PPIs, even when there are no signs of problems," cautioned Al-Aly.

"In general, we always advise clinicians to evaluate whether PPI use is medically necessary in the first place because the drugs carry significant risks, including a deterioration of kidney function," Al-Aly concluded. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

Beware! Food-borne bacterium may cause miscarriage threat early in pregnancy

Wed, 02/22/2017 - 09:56

Washington D.C. [USA], Feb. 22 : Beware to-be mothers! Listeria, a common food-borne bacterium, may pose a greater risk of miscarriage in the early stages of pregnancy than appreciated, warns a study.

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in US showed that pathogens affect fetal development and change the outcome of pregnancy.

"For many years, listeria has been associated with adverse outcomes in pregnancy, but particularly at the end of pregnancy," said Ted Golos.

"What wasn't known with much clarity before this study is that it appears it's a severe risk factor in early pregnancy," Golos added, "It's striking that mom doesn't get particularly ill from listeria infection, but it has a profound impact on the fetus."

The study appeared in the journal mBio.

"The problem with this organism is not a huge number of cases. It's that when it is identified, it's associated with severe outcomes," said Charles Czuprynski, a UW-Madison professor of pathobiological sciences and director of the UW-Madison Food Research Institute.

Pregnant women are warned to avoid many of the foods, among them unpasteurised milk and soft cheese, raw sprouts, melon and deli meats not carefully handled, that can harbour listeria, because the bacterium is known to cause miscarriage and stillbirth and spur premature labour.

But when it occurs, listeria infection in pregnancy may go unnoticed. The few recognisable symptoms are nearly indistinguishable from the discomfort most newly pregnant women feel.

Sophia Kathariou, a North Carolina State University professor of food science and microbiology, provided a strain of listeria that caused miscarriage, stillbirth and premature delivery in at least 11 pregnant women in 2000.

Four pregnant rhesus macaques at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center were fed doses of the listeria comparable to what one might encounter in contaminated food.

None of the monkeys showed obvious signs of infection before their pregnancies came to abrupt ends.

But, in tissue samples taken after each monkey experienced intrauterine fetal death, Wolfe found listeria had invaded the placenta -- the connection between the mother-to-be and the fetus, which usually prevents transmission of bacteria -- as well as the endometrium, the lining of the uterus.

"In that region, there's a rich population of specialised immune cells and it is exquisitely regulated," said lead researcher Bryce Wolfe.

"When you introduce a pathogen into the midst of this, it's not very surprising that it's going to cause some sort of adverse outcome disrupting this balance," Wolfe added.

The researchers believe the inflammation caused by the maternal immune response to the fast-moving listeria also affects the placenta, keeping it from protecting the fetus.

The results suggest listeria (and perhaps other pathogens) may be the culprit in some miscarriages that usually go without diagnosed cause, but the bacteria's stealth and speed may still make it hard to control.

"There are effective antibiotics available. It is treatable and the fetus may be infected by the time anyone realises the mother was infected," he stated. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

If your kid is too fat, then you may be a reason

Wed, 02/22/2017 - 04:34

Washington D.C. [USA], Feb. 22 : Now don't blame those chips and chocolates for you childs extra pounds, as a study says around 35-40 percent of a child's is inherited from their parents.

For the most obese children, the proportion rises to 55-60 percent, suggesting that more than half of their tendency towards obesity is determined by genetics and family environment.

The study, led by the University of Sussex, used data on the heights and weights of 100,000 children and their parents spanning six countries worldwide: the UK, USA, China, Indonesia, Spain and Mexico.

The researchers found that the intergenerational transmission of BMI (Body Mass Index) is approximately constant at around 0.2 per parent - i.e. that each child's BMI is, on average, 20 percent due to the mother and 20 percent due to the father.

The pattern of results, says lead author Professor Peter Dolton of the University of Sussex, is remarkably consistent across all countries, irrespective of their stage of economic development, degree of industrialisation, or type of economy.

Professor Dolton says, "Our evidence comes from trawling data from across the world with very diverse patterns of nutrition and obesity - from one of the most obese populations - USA - to two of the least obese countries in the world - China and Indonesia."

Adding, "This gives an important and rare insight into how obesity is transmitted across generations in both developed and developing countries. We found that the process of intergenerational transmission is the same across all the different countries."

The findings are published in the journal Economics and Human Biology.

The study also shows how the effect of parents' BMI on their children's BMI depends on what the BMI of the child is. Consistently, across all populations studied, they found the 'parental effect' to be lowest for the thinnest children and highest for the most obese children. For the thinnest child their BMI is 10 per cent due to their mother and 10 per cent due to their father. For the fattest child this transmission is closer to 30 per cent due to each parent.

"This shows that the children of obese parents are much more likely to be obese themselves when they grow up - the parental effect is more than double for the most obese children what it is for the thinnest children," say Professor Dolton.

"These findings have far-reaching consequences for the health of the world's children. They should make us rethink the extent to which obesity is the result of family factors, and our genetic inheritance, rather than decisions made by us as individuals," he explained. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

Maintenance program much needed to keep off pounds for long

Tue, 02/21/2017 - 05:29

Washington D.C. [USA], Feb. 21 : Only exercise is not enough to maintain that figure, which is an after effect of much toil and sweat!

A study by American College of Physicians say that a weight loss program that incorporates a maintenance intervention could help participants be more successful at keeping off pounds long term.

Researchers found that primarily telephone-based intervention, focused on providing strategies for maintaining weight loss modestly, slowed the rate of participants' weight regain after weight loss.

Results of a randomised trial are published in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Despite the efficacy of behavioral weight loss programs, weight loss maintenance remains the holy grail of weight loss research. After initial weight loss, most people tend to regain weight at a rate of about two to four pounds a year.

Teaching people weight maintenance skills has been shown to slow weight gain, but can be time and resource-intensive. Simple and effective weight maintenance interventions are needed.

Researchers tested a weight maintenance intervention on obese outpatients who had lost an average of 16 pounds during a 16-week, group-based weight loss program to determine if a low-intensity intervention could help participants keep off the weight they lost. Participants were randomly assigned to the intervention or usual care. The intervention focused on providing participants with skills to help them make the transition from initiating weight loss to maintaining their weight.

Over the first 42 weeks, the intervention shifted from group visits to individual telephone calls, with decreased frequency of contact. There was no intervention contact during the final 14 weeks. The usual care group had no contact except for weight assessments. After 56 weeks, mean weight regain in the intervention group was about 1.5 pounds compared to 5 pounds in the usual care group. The evidence suggests that incorporating a weight maintenance intervention into clinical or commercial weight loss programs could make them more effective over the long term. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

Nostalgic emotions evokes stronger urge to quit smoking

Mon, 02/20/2017 - 04:29

New Delhi [India], Feb 20. : In order to persuade someone to quit smoking, it is the 'emotions' that need to be triggered rather than inciting fear in an individual.

A new study by Michigan State University researchers has found out the following which was published in Communication Research Reports.

Advertisers often use nostalgia-evoking messages to promote consumer products, and that tactic could be just as effective in encouraging healthy behaviors, argue Ali Hussain, a doctoral candidate in the School of Journalism, and Maria Lapinski, professor in the Department of Communication.

"A lot of no-smoking messages are centered around fear, disgust and guilt," Hussain said. "But smokers often don't buy the messages and instead feel badly about themselves and the person who is trying to scare them."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease in the United States, accounting for one of every five deaths. Smoking rates have declined, but in 2015, 15 of every 100 adults were active smokers.

Despite the health risks, a key hurdle for health communicators is rejection and avoidance of messages, Lapinski said.

Hoping to find a solution, researchers conducted a study of smokers, ages 18 to 39, exposing some to a nostalgic public service announcement Hussain created and some to a control message.

Those who viewed the PSA reported greater nostalgic emotions and displayed stronger negative attitudes toward smoking, especially women.

Starting with images of childhood memories, the PSA script includes phrases such as, "I remember when I was a boy" and "I miss the simplicity of life, being outside on a warm summer night," making references to familiar smells and tastes from bygone days. It ends with the narrator remembering when someone introduced him to cigarettes and a call to action. Nostalgia-themed PSAs play off consumers' most cherished and personal memories, so they feel more engaged, the researchers said. And that nostalgic thinking influences attitudes and behaviors.

"Our study, which to our knowledge is first of its kind, shows promise for using nostalgic messages to promote pro-social behaviors," Lapinski said. "We know that policy and environmental changes have an influence on smoking and this study indicates persuasive messages can influence smoking attitudes." (ANI)

Region: IndiaGeneral: Health

Your left or right handedness was decided when you were a foetus!

Sun, 02/19/2017 - 04:29

New Delhi [India], Feb 19. : Lefty or righty? Well it was decided when you were still in your mum's womb!

A preference for the left or the right hand might be traced back to asymmetry. These results fundamentally change our understanding of the cause of hemispheric asymmetries.

The study was published in the journal eLife.

To date, it had been assumed that differences in gene activity of the right and left hemisphere might be responsible for a person's handedness. A preference for moving the left or right hand develops in the womb from the eighth week of pregnancy, according to ultrasound scans carried out in the 1980s. From the 13th week of pregnancy, unborn children prefer to suck either their right or their left thumb.

Arm and hand movements are initiated via the motor cortex in the brain. It sends a corresponding signal to the spinal cord, which in turn translates the command into a motion. The motor cortex, however, is not connected to the spinal cord from the beginning. Even before the connection forms, precursors of handedness become apparent. This is why the researchers have assumed that the cause of right respective left preference must be rooted in the spinal cord rather than in the brain.

The researchers analysed the gene expression in the spinal cord during the eighth to twelfth week of pregnancy and detected marked right-left differences in the eighth week -- in precisely those spinal cord segments that control the movements of arms and legs. Another study had shown that unborn children carry out asymmetric hand movements just as early as that.

The researchers, moreover, traced the cause of asymmetric gene activity. Epigenetic factors appear to be at the root of it, reflecting environmental influences. Those influences might, for example, lead to enzymes bonding methyl groups to the DNA, which in turn would affect and minimise the reading of genes. As this occurs to a different extent in the left and the right spinal cord, there is a difference to the activity of genes on both sides. (ANI)

Region: New DelhiIndiaGeneral: Health

Too many 'beg your pardon's' in a day? You might have hidden hearing impairment

Sun, 02/19/2017 - 04:22

New Delhi [India], Feb 19. : Do you find it difficult hearing out people at a noisy bar or a restaurant even though you have passed the hearing test with flying colors? Well, you might be secretly deaf!

Now, less than six years since its initial description, scientists have made great strides in understanding what hidden hearing loss is and what causes it. In research published in Nature Communications, University of Michigan researchers report a new unexpected cause for this auditory neuropathy, a step toward the eventual work to identify treatments.

"If people can have hidden hearing loss for different reasons, having the ability to make the right diagnosis of the pathogenesis will be critical," says author Gabriel Corfas, Ph.D., director of the Kresge Hearing Research Institute at Michigan Medicine's Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery.

Corfas published the research with co-author Guoqiang Wan, now with Nanjing University in China. They discovered using mice that disruption in the Schwann cells that make myelin, which insulates the neuronal axons in the ear, leads to hidden hearing loss. This means hidden hearing loss could be behind auditory deficits seen in acute demyelinating disorders such as Guillain-Barre syndrome, which can be caused by Zika virus.

Corfas and Wan used genetic tools to induce loss of myelin in the auditory nerve of mice, modeling Guillain-Barre. Although the myelin regenerated in a few weeks, the mice developed a permanent hidden hearing loss. Even after the myelin regenerated, damage to a nerve structure called the heminode remained.

Synapse loss versus myelin disruption

When the ear is exposed to loud noises over time, synapses connecting hair cells with the neurons in the inner ear are lost. This loss of synapses has previously been shown as a mechanism leading to hidden hearing loss.

In an audiologist's quiet testing room, only a few synapses are needed to pick up sounds. But in a noisy environment, the ear must activate specific synapses. If they aren't all there, it's difficult for people to make sense of the noise or words around them. That is hidden hearing loss, Corfas says.

"Exposure to noise is increasing in our society, and children are exposing themselves to high levels of noise very early in life," Corfas says. "It's clear that being exposed to high levels of sound might contribute to increases in hidden hearing loss."

The newly identified cause -- deficiency in Schwann cells -- could occur in individuals who have already had noise exposure-driven hidden hearing loss as well. "Both forms of hidden hearing loss, noise exposure and loss of myelin, can occur in the same individual for an additive effect," Corfas says.

Previously, Corfas' group succeeded in regenerating synapses in mice with hidden hearing loss, providing a path to explore for potential treatment.

While continuing this work, Corfas started to investigate other cells in the ear, which led to uncovering the new mechanism.

There are no current treatments for hidden hearing loss. But as understanding of the condition improves, the goal is for the research to lead to the development of drugs to treat it.

"Our findings should influence the way hidden hearing loss is diagnosed and drive the future of clinical trials searching for a treatment," Corfas says. "The first step is to know whether a person's hidden hearing loss is due to synapse loss or myelin/heminode damage."(ANI)

Region: IndiaGeneral: Health

What the! Clean drinking water can cause asthma

Sat, 02/18/2017 - 05:29

Washington D.C. [USA], Feb. 18 : Clean drinking water for everyone is one major health goal for decades, in one a shocking revelation, a study warns that while it reduces chances of catching many deadly diseases, but it can increase the risk of childhood asthma.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia in Canada suggested that there could be a link between the risk of asthma and the cleanliness of the environment.

The findings indicated that while gut bacteria plays a role in preventing asthma, but it was the presence of a microscopic fungus or yeast known as Pichia that was more strongly linked to asthma. Instead of helping to prevent asthma, however, the presence of Pichia in those early days puts children at risk.

"Children with this type of yeast called Pichia were much more at risk of asthma," said Brett Finlay.

"That was a surprise because we tend to think that clean is good, but we realise that we actually need some dirt in the world to help protect you," Finlay added.

The new research furthers our understanding of the role microscopic organisms play in our overall health.

In previous research, Finlay and his colleagues identified four gut bacteria in children and if present in the first 100 days of life, seem to prevent asthma.

In a follow-up to this study, they repeated the experiment using fecal samples and health information from 100 children in a rural village in Ecuador.

As part of the study, the researchers noted whether children had access to clean water.

They found a yeast in the gut of new babies in Ecuador that appears to be a strong predictor that they will develop asthma in childhood.

They also found the presence of four types of bacteria in the gut of babies less than 100 days old seemed to prevent them from developing asthma in later life.

"Those that had access to good, clean water had much higher asthma rates and we think it is because they were deprived of the beneficial microbes," Finlay stated. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

Now, antibiotics can become alternative to surgery for appendicitis

Sat, 02/18/2017 - 04:52

Washington D.C. [USA], Feb. 18 : Now you can save your kid from surgery, as a study shows that antibiotics may be an effective treatment for acute non-complicated appendicitis in children, instead of surgery.

Appendicitis is a serious medical condition in which the appendix becomes inflamed and causes severe pain.

The appeared in the journal of Pediatrics

The condition, which causes the appendix -- a small organ attached to the large intestine -- to become inflamed due to a blockage or infection, affects mainly children and teenagers.

Appendicitis is currently treated through an operation to remove the appendix, known as an appendicectomy, and it is the most common cause of emergency surgery in children.

The study, led by Nigel Hall from the University of Southampton in England, assessed existing literature published over the past 10 years that included 10 studies reporting on 413 children, who received non-operative treatment rather than an appendectomy.

It showed that no study reported any safety concern or specific adverse events related to non-surgical treatment, although the rate of recurrent appendicitis was 14 percent.

"Our review shows that antibiotics could be an alternative treatment method for children. When we compared the adult literature to the data in our review it suggested that antibiotic treatment of acute appendicitis is at least as effective in children as in adults,"

To further this research, the scientists are currently carrying out a year-long feasibility trial which will see children with appendicitis randomly allocated to have either surgery or antibiotic treatment.

"In our initial trial, we will see how many patients and families are willing to join the study and will look at how well children in the study recover. This will give us an indication of how many children we may be able to recruit into a future larger trial and how the outcomes of non-operative treatment compare with an operation," Hall stated. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

Sing lullabies to your newborn to feel the connection

Sat, 02/18/2017 - 04:38

Washington D.C. [USA], Feb. 18 : Attention new mommies, sing lullabies to your new born to feel more connected to your babies, suggests a study.

The research, published in the Journal of Music Therapy, finds that through song, the infants are provided with much-needed sensory stimulation that can focus their attention and modulate their arousal.

"One of the main goals of the research was to clarify the meaning of infant-directed singing as a human behaviour and as a means to elicit unique behavioural responses from infants," said study author Shannon de l'Etoile from the University of Miami in the US.

The researchers also explored the role of infant-directed singing in relation to intricate bond between mother and infant.

They filmed 70 infants and observed their responses to six different interactions: mother sings an assigned song, "stranger" sings an assigned song, mother sings song of choice, mother reads book, mother plays with toy and the mother and infant listen to recorded music.

The findings suggested that high cognitive scores during infant-directed singing suggested that engagement through song is just as effective as book reading or toy play in maintaining infant attention and far more effective than listening to recorded music.

The results also revealed that when infants were engaged during song, their mother's instincts are also on high alert and when infant engagement declined the mother adjusted her pitch, tempo or key to stimulate and regulate infant response.

For mothers with postpartum depression, infant-directed singing creates a unique and mutually beneficial situation," de l'Etoile noted.

"Simultaneously, mothers experience a much-needed distraction from the negative emotions and thoughts associated with depression, while also feeling empowered as a parent," de l'Etoile explained. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

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