Monthly Archives: February 2015

Toxic gas new frontier for regulating hypertension

Widely considered simply a malodourous toxic gas, hydrogen sulfide may help treat high blood pressure, a new study suggests.

“We had to start with what happens in healthy subjects before we can turn our attention to what happens with disease,” said Lacy Alexander, associate professor of kinesiology at the Pennsylvania State University.

During the study, researchers infused a solution containing precursor chemicals that donate hydrogen sulfide into the forearm skin of participants in order to measure how blood vessels react to hydrogen sulfide.

“The solutions were directly administered to a very small area of skin about the size of a dime using a technique called microdialysis,” Alexander explained.

“This technique allows us to give tiny quantities of these solutions directly to the skin where they can interact with the vessels directly. It is a very powerful technique because the solutions do not affect the entire body, and we can essentially perform many different experiments at the same time in one forearm,” Alexander added.

The findings suggest that in the skin circulation, hydrogen sulfide widens blood vessels in healthy, young adults.

When blood vessels widen, the flow of blood can increase without significant increases in vascular resistance.

Thus vascular resistance is effectively increased due to dilation, which could lead to decreased blood pressure if used in a systemic intervention, the researchers noted.

The researchers reported their findings in The Journal of Physiology.

Source Article from http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/toxic-gas-new-frontier-for-regulating-hypertension/

Pork can be India’s cheap protein fix: Scientist

Eating pork could be a cheap protein fix for Indians and cultivation of rapidly multiplying pigs will boost income for rural farmers as well as increase exports, says a study in a souvenir published by the organisers of a right-wing science conclave.

Eknath Chakurkar, a principal scientist at the Goa unit of the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR), has in his article emphatically advocated a pork revolution of sorts in India, which he claims could be a one-shot solution for protein, revenue and foreign exchange.

“Pig products such as pork, bacon, ham sausages, lard, etc., are increasingly in demand both for local consumption and for export,” the scientist said. Adopting scientific and modern techniques for pig-rearing will help supplement the income of rural Indian farmers, who are for now using unfruitful “old and traditional methods”, he added.

“A major advantage of pig farming is that they can be fed on fibrous low quality agro byproducts and material that are not suitable for human consumption. Hence pig-rearing can be a lucrative source of income for rural farmers of India,” Chakurkar said.

The study also said that pig production in India is growing at an annual rate of 1.25 percent, even as the consumption of pork has “greatly increased in recent years”.
He has recommended two breeds specially suited to coastal regions including Goa, namely, the ‘Large White Yorkshire’ and the ‘Agonda Goan’.

Pork is commonly available in Goa and consumed largely by the Catholic community, which accounts for 26 percent of the state’s population, as well a small chunk of the majority Hindus, but the meat is regular fare in the state’s coastal tourism-oriented belt, which annually attracts over half a million foreign tourists, mostly European.

The ‘Vijnana Manthan’ souvenir carrying the study has been released by Vijnana Bharti, which organized a swadeshi science conclave in Goa last week that discussed, among other things, studying of a cow as a bio-reactor and invisible radar-defying planes based on a book written by pre-Mahabharata sage Bharadwaj.

The editor of the souvenir, Sanjay Jahagirdar, has said that the Vijnana Bharti’s “swadeshi science movement is carrying out numerous activities that enables stakeholders view science from the prism of Bharatiya”.

Chakurkar has also said that the per capita meat consumption in India is as low as 14 grams per day against an actual requirement of 125 gm for a balanced diet. He has also cited exorbitant meat prices and non-availability of quality meat as the reasons for the dearth of meat in Indian meals.

“Looking to the meagre availability and tremendous demand of animal protein diet in India, it is felt that such demand could substantially be met by improving and multiplying pigs, mainly because of their prolifically, faster growth, efficiency of feed conversion and shorter generation intervals,” Chakurkar said in his study.

Concluding his study, Chakurkar said that meat continued…

Source Article from http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/pork-can-be-indias-cheap-protein-fix-scientist/

Consuming soft drinks increases risk of cancer

People who consume one or more cans of cold drinks per day are exposing themselves to a potential carcinogen, warns a new study.

(Also read: Red wine can prevent head, neck cancer)

The ingredient, 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI) – a possible human carcinogen – is formed during the manufacture of some kinds of caramel colour. Caramel colour is a common ingredient in colas and other dark soft drinks.

“Soft drink consumers are being exposed to an avoidable and unnecessary cancer risk from an ingredient that is being added to these beverages simply for aesthetic purposes,” said Keeve Nachman, senior author of the study.

Building on an analysis of 4-MEI concentrations in 11 different soft drinks first published by Consumer Reports in 2014, researchers estimated exposure to 4-MEI from caramel-coloured soft drinks and modelled the potential cancer burden related to routine soft drink consumption levels in the United States.

(Also read: Two-thirds of cancer cases due to bad luck)

“This unnecessary exposure poses a threat to public health and raises questions about the continued use of caramel colouring in soda,” Nachman of Johns Hopkins Center for a Liveable Future (CLF).

Results indicated that levels of 4-MEI could vary substantially across samples, even for the same type of beverage.

While there is currently no federal limit for 4-MEI in food or beverages, Consumer Reports petitioned the Food and Drug Administration last year to set limits for the potential carcinogen.

(Also read: Phone use may lead to brain cancer)

“This new analysis underscores our belief that people consume significant amounts of soda that unnecessarily elevate their risk of cancer over the course of a lifetime,” said Urvashi Rangan, executive director for Consumer Reports’ Food Safety and Sustainability Center.

The results were published online in the journal PLOS One.

Source Article from http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/soft-drink-consumers-at-a-higher-risk-of-cancer/

Even insufficient sleep may lead to diabetes

Lack of sleep can elevate levels of free fatty acids in the blood, accompanied by temporary pre-diabetic conditions in healthy young men, a new research reveals.

While examining the impact of sleep loss on 24-hour fatty acid levels in the blood, the study said insufficient sleep may disrupt fat metabolism and reduce the ability of insulin to regulate blood sugars.

The researchers found that after three nights of getting only four hours of sleep, blood levels of fatty acids — which usually peak and then recede overnight — remained elevated from about 4 a.m. to 9 a.m.

“As long as fatty acid levels remained high, the ability of insulin to regulate blood sugars was reduced,” said Esra Tasali, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago and senior author of the study.

The results provide new insights into the connections, first described by the University of Chicago researchers 15 years ago, between sleep loss, insulin resistance and heightened risk of type 2 diabetes.

For the study, the researchers recruited 19 healthy male subjects between the ages of 18 and 30.

They found that sleep restriction resulted in a 15 to 30 percent increase in late night and early morning fatty acid levels.

The nocturnal elevation of fatty acids (from about 4 a.m. to 6 a.m.) correlated with an increase in insulin resistance — a hallmark of pre-diabetes — that persisted for nearly five hours.

“Curtailed sleep produced marked changes in the secretion of growth hormone and levels of noradrenaline – which can increase circulating fatty acids,” noted study’s lead author Josiane Broussard.

The result was a significant loss of the benefits of insulin.

“This crucial hormone was less able to do its job. Insulin action in these healthy young men resembled what we typically see in early stages of diabetes,” he pointed out.

Something as simple as getting enough sleep could help counteract the current epidemics of diabetes and obesity, they concluded.

The study was published in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.

Source Article from http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/even-insufficient-sleep-may-lead-to-diabetes/

Exercise lessens heart problems in the elderly

Every minute of physical activity contributes to reducing risk of heart attack and coronary death in older adults with limited mobility, says a study.

“Reducing time spent being sedentary even by engaging in low-intensity activities could have important cardiovascular benefits for older adults with mobility limitations,” said senior author of the study Thomas Buford from the University of Florida Institute on Aging in Gainesville, Florida.

For the study, the researchers measured movement with accelerometers in 1,170 people aged 74-84 at eight centers across the US who had physical limitations but could walk 400 metres.

Using factors such as age, cholesterol levels and blood pressure, the researchers calculated participants’ predicted 10-year risk of heart attack or coronary death.

For every 25-30 minutes a participant was sedentary per day, his/her predicted risk was one percent higher.

Physical activity like slow walking or light housekeeping was linked to higher HDL or high-density lipoprotein (“good”) cholesterol levels in people with no history of heart disease.

Participants on an average spent only an hour or less with physical activity such as moderate walking.

Generally, most physical activity recommendations suggest that adults should engage in higher intensity activities to improve or maintain health. But that level might not be realistic for sedentary older adults with limited mobility, researchers said.

“Encouraging individuals to just reduce the amount of time they spend being sedentary may have important cardiovascular benefits,” Buford noted.

The study appeared in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Source Article from http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/exercise-lessens-heart-problems-in-the-elderly/

Can high-fat diet cut heart attack damage?

 

Eating high-fat diet may protect the heart in the short run only, says a study with a warning that it is not a license to eat a lot of cheeseburgers and ice cream.

It is well known that over the long run, a high-fat diet increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.

“Learning about how fat, in the short run, protects against heart attacks could help in the development of better therapies,” said Walter Keith Jones from the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine in the US.

Jones said that in the short-term, a high-fat diet protects the heart through a mechanism called autophagy, which works somewhat like a garbage truck.

The study may provide new insight into the “obesity paradox”: Obesity is a major risk factor for heart disease. But once a heart attack or heart failure does occur, moderately obese patients tend to live longer.

Proteins damaged by the heart attack are removed from heart cells as if they were garbage, thus increasing the chances the cells will survive.

In the study, mice were given a high-fat diet (60 percent of calories from animal fat) before experiencing heart attacks.

Mice that consumed a high-fat diet for either one day, one week or two weeks before the heart attack experienced about half as much heart damage as mice that ate a control diet.

The benefit was greatest among mice that ate a high-fat diet for one week before the heart attack.

But in mice that ate a high-fat diet for six weeks, the protective effect disappeared.

The study was published in the American Journal of Physiology – Heart and Circulatory Physiology.

Source Article from http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/can-high-fat-diet-cut-heart-attack-damage/

Afternoon nap bad for your toddler

 

An afternoon nap may affect your toddler’s overall sleep quality, suggests new research.

Napping beyond the age of two lengthens the amount of time it takes for a child to fall asleep (sleep onset) and shortens the overall amount of night-time sleep he or she has, the findings showed.

“The impact of night sleep on children’s development and health is increasingly documented, but to date there is not sufficient evidence to indicate the value of prolonging napping,” wrote the researchers led by Karen Thorpe from Queensland University of Technology in Australia.

The researchers wanted to find out what impact napping has on young children’s night-time sleep quality, behaviour, cognition and physical health.

They therefore reviewed the available published evidence for napping in children up to the age of 5 years, and found 26 relevant studies out of a total of 781. They pooled the data and synthesised the findings.

They found consistent, if not particularly high quality, evidence indicating that napping affects night time sleep of kids beyond the age two.

The links between napping and any detrimental impact on behaviour, development, and overall health, however, were less clear-cut, largely because of the differences in age and napping patterns of the children studied.

The study was published online in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Source Article from http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/afternoon-nap-bad-for-your-toddler/

Having Type 2 diabetes may up Alzheimer’s risk

A team of Swedish scientists have found evidence that people with Type 2 diabetes have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s due to amyloid formation in the pancreas.

According to them, amyloid from the brain can stimulate the growth of fibrils in the pancreas and pancreatic-related amyloid can be found along with brain-related amyloid in human brain senile plaques.

The research sought to uncover how the two diseases are connected by a process called amyloidosis which occurs in both Alzheimer’s and diabetes patients.

Amyloidosis is the process by which misfolded proteins accumulate into fibrous deposits that are resistant to degradation.

In the pancreas of type 2 diabetics, amyloid is produced from its precursor, islet amyloid polypeptide (IAPP or amylin), which is a secretory product of insulin-producing beta cells.

This process causes a cascade of body reactions.

As IAPP builds in the pancreas, it kills beta cells, worsening diabetes and pushing along the development of the beta-amyloid deposits.

The investigation focused on understanding how amyloid deposits “seed” or spread within a tissue or from one organ to another.

“Several soluble proteins are amyloid forming in humans. Independent of protein origin, the fibrils produced are morphologically similar,” said Gunilla T. Westermark from Uppsala University in Sweden.

In experiments over mice, Westermark was interested in seeing whether the accumulations of IAPP could travel to the brain and from the brain to the pancreas.

IAPP has binding sites in the brain that are suspected to play a role in satiety and emptying of the stomach.

If this is the case, then it might explain where these amyloid deposits come from as well as why Type 2 diabetics are more than twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s.

“It is not clear if IAPP found in the brain is locally produced or derived from pancreatic beta-cells,” Westermark said.

In other words, IAPP may have the ability to travel between the pancreas and the brain, building plaques in both.

The study appeared in the American Journal of Pathology.

Source Article from http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/having-type-2-diabetes-may-up-alzheimers-risk/

Can healthy ageing be achieved globally?

As scientists the world over are searching for the elixir of life for healthy ageing, some top researchers now suggest that the concept of successful ageing should be abandoned, pointing to social inequalities and the problems associated with labelling a person an “unsuccessful ager”.

Through a series of 16 articles that appeared in the journal The Gerontologist, a team has looked back at the progress made over the past 28 years into what successful ageing is.

The paper lays the groundwork for building consensus on the topic – while pointing out that the answer may differ among academics and the general public as well as across populations and demographic groups.

“With an enhanced understanding of what successful ageing is, we will be in a stronger position to develop interventions that will enable more people to age successfully,” said Rachel Pruchno, editor of The Gerontologist.

The sheer number of people comprising the baby boom generation transformed academic interest in successful ageing to a public policy imperative.

“Now more than ever, it is critical to develop science that empowers people to experience the best old age possible,” she added.

The issue includes a number of groundbreaking studies involving several segments of the US population.

For example, one of the articles reports on the first study to examine physical and mental health quality of life among the older lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) population.

A further article addresses the growing body of literature suggesting that black women experience a number of social challenges that may present a barrier to ageing successfully.

The issue also contains articles examining successful ageing across cultures.

It reports that young, middle-aged and older people from the US and Germany have quite similar concepts of successful ageing which they view in far more multi-dimensional terms than do established scientific theories.

Source Article from http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/can-healthy-ageing-be-achieved-globally/

A birth control pill for men on the horizon

For men who resent wearing condoms, a new non-intrusive solution is on the anvil – a birth control pill.

At least two projects are in the pipeline for choking male fertility.

One is H2-gamendazole that makes sperms go half-cooked. Normally, premature sperm cells grow a tail and head in the testis, but H2-gamendazole keeps them from reaching this stage of development.

“If there’s no sperm, the egg’s not going to get fertilised,” said Joseph Tash, a reproductive biologist at the University of Kansas’ Medical Centre in the US.

Tash has worked on the compound since 2001.

The other potential compound is JQ1 that can trick the body into forgetting how to make sperm!

JQ1 was found blocking bromodomain proteins in cancer cells by Jay Bradner and his team at Harvard’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The uncontrolled division of the abnormal cells ceased due to it.

JQ1 also obstructed a testicle-specific bromodomain called BRDT, making the sex cells that would otherwise produce sperms draw a blank about their own behaviour.

Mice treated with JQ1 can copulate with abandon yet produce zero offsprings.

But it will be several years before the drug is available.

Researchers would have to find a version of the molecule that works on the testicle protein without coming up with any side effects.

Source Article from http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/a-birth-control-pill-for-men-on-the-horizon/