Monthly Archives: July 2015

Daily fish oil pills can boost heart health in elderly

Taking omega-3 fish oil supplements daily can improve cardiovascular health in healthy older adults, scientists have found. Taking omega-3 fish oil supplements daily can improve cardiovascular health in healthy older adults, scientists have found.

Taking omega-3 fish oil supplements daily can improve cardiovascular health in healthy older adults, scientists have found.

Risk of cardiovascular disease increases with age because the arteries become stiffer. Arterial stiffness affects how blood travels through them and ultimately how strongly the heart needs to pump.

The most commonly used measures of arterial stiffness are pulse wave velocity (PWV) and augmentation index. When the heart ejects blood into the blood vessels, pressure increases, creating a bulge in the vessel. PWV is the speed at which the bulge ripples through the arteries.

When the pressure pulse hits a fork in the arteries, part of the pressure pulse bounces back towards the heart and combines with the new pulse coming out of the heart. How much the reflected pulse enhances the new one is called augmentation index.

High PWV and high augmentation index values reflect stiffer arteries.

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine examined whether omega-3 supplements could reverse the effects of ageing on the blood vessels in healthy older adults and reduce PWV and augmentation index.

Healthy subjects ages 60 to 80 took two omega-3 capsules twice daily for 12 weeks. Each capsule contained 1,000 mg of omega-3. The researchers measured PWV, augmentation index and blood pressure before and after the 12-week regimen.

The results were compared to young healthy subjects, ages 21 to 35, who also followed the same omega-3 supplement schedule.

The researchers found that 12 weeks of supplementation significantly decreased PWV in the older subjects, supporting improvement in vascular health, although PWV was still higher than in young subjects.

While PWV improved, augmentation index and blood pressure did not. The omega-3 supplements also did not improve either index of arterial stiffness in the young subjects.

“These findings provide support for the concept that increased omega-3 intake may be an efficacious therapy in the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease in ageing humans through effects on central arterial stiffness,” researchers said.

The study is published in Physiological Reports, a joint journal of the Physiological Society and the American Physiological Society.

Source Article from http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/daily-fish-oil-pills-can-boost-heart-health-in-elderly/

Fibre from many sources good for health

 "A combination of naturally occurring and added fibre can increase the chances of achieving the health benefits of a high-fibre diet," the authors noted. “A combination of naturally occurring and added fibre can increase the chances of achieving the health benefits of a high-fibre diet,” the authors noted.

People who get dietary fibre from many sources benefit more than those who limit their intake to a single food or low-fibre diets, new research shows.

The recommended amount of dietary fibre per day is 38 grams for men and 25 grams for woman.

“Men typically get around 18 grams and women get around 15 grams,” said Julie Miller Jones, professor emeritus at Minnesota-based St Catherine University.

Daily fibre intake helps control cholesterol, blood pressure, glucose, insulin and excess weight.

It also regulates multiple facets of the digestive system. Two fruits and three vegetables servings a day can help adults get the recommended amount of fibre.

“The problem is that when consumers choose fruits or vegetables, it is often low-fibre options such as one piece of lettuce and a thin slice of tomato on a sandwich”.

Instead of looking at only plant-based sources, people should strive for a mix of fibre sources, including fibre that has been added to food in the manufacturing process.

Such foods are fibre-fortified bread, cereals, yogurt and pasta.

“A combination of naturally occurring and added fibre can increase the chances of achieving the health benefits of a high-fibre diet,” the authors noted.

The study was presented at “IFT15: Where Science Feeds Innovation” event in Chicago recently.

Source Article from http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/fibre-from-many-sources-good-for-health/

Decoding the mind of a fraudster

Fraudulent activity is connected with several things like greed, urge to gamble and grandiose perceptions of life.  (Source: Thinkstock Images) Fraudulent activity is connected with several things like greed, urge to gamble and grandiose perceptions of life. (Source: Thinkstock Images)

Open any newspaper and you will see pages filled with scams and frauds happening in the country. Sometimes it is difficult to even comprehend the amount of money involved. Most of us have been cheated many times in our lives, suffered losses and lost our peace.

This is a small effort to know who is liable to commit frauds so that we can take care and steer clear.

Frauds are committed every single moment in the world. Fraudulent activity is connected with several things like greed, urge to gamble and grandiose perceptions of life. Beliefs such as, I deserve this more than them, or, they are stealing it from others anyway, or, they have enjoyed enough, and now it is my turn, or why must someone else get it?

Sometimes it may not be just for financial or even material gain, it may be for a psychological pleasure, feeling of power, enhancement of one’s ego, and a mental ‘high’ from ‘duping’ innocent victims. Most fraud cases appear to have no association with mental illness (but this may not be true). Only a few fraudsters are assessed for mental illnesses. Therefore, the true extent of the contribution of mental illness is difficult to estimate. It is further complicated to assess if the fraudster had a mental illness at the time of the offence and that person (because of his/her mental illness) had the capacity to form criminal intent.

When frauds are committed by a professional (on a large scale) they are known as ‘White Collar Crimes (WCC)’. WCC was first defined by sociologist Edwin Sutherland in 1939 as a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation. But the definition can go beyond that; it may include frauds committed by family and friends, using their knowledge of law (or its loopholes) to gain money or property.

Some need to do it to survive and commit fraud under pressure. It is intriguing that why some hardworking corporate executives suddenly start cheating? Dr Shridhar Ramamoorti – a Scholar of the subject, writes in his paper published in The Psychology and Sociology of Fraud (ACCOUNTING EDUCATION Vol. 23, No. 4 November 2008 pp. 521–533)

Companies do not grow in a constant fashion with each quarter’s results better than last. In the long run conforming to pressures to satisfy the market’s desire for impossible predictability and unwise growth leads to the destruction of corporate value, shortened careers, humiliation, and damaged companies. Along the way, it also leads otherwise honest executives to turn to the dark side. They lie, cheat, and steal in order to relieve the immense pressure to meet analyst expectations of unattainable performance, just to keep their jobs and, thus, for self-preservation. It should be noted that other countries, cultures, and languages provide a context that allows fraud to flourish in perhaps different stripes, shapes, and forms. This is why it is necessary to bring in perspectives from economic/cultural anthropology to understand how white collar crime might manifest itself in other contexts.

Dr Rajendra Barve a Consultant Psychiatrist (Mumbai, Maharashtra) and HRD trainer tells us if there is a link between psychiatric problems and fraudulent offences.

In today’s world we are all vulnerable to frauds while seeking jobs in India or abroad, in process of getting married, while investing our money in different schemes for higher returns, looking for a good insurance schemes, buying property, and some of us who are Non Resident Indians have no idea how to handle the property back home, so we are shown a different picture, and we are misguided. We are all potential victims of fraudsters. Will you please throw some light on the personality of a ‘fraudster’?

Some of them can be very charming. For example – if you are sitting sadly in a corner in a party for some celebration, these fraudsters will approach you and try to cheer you, winning your heart and trust. They have an inborn knowledge of other people’s body language. They can make out your personality and your vulnerability by watching how you react. They will earnestly offer to do several small jobs for you (and they will do it) to solidify your ‘trust’. Once the foundation is laid you will invariably trust him/her more than you yourself. This is the time he/she will strike for a big gain; maybe it is your money or your property.

Does this mean we must not trust anyone?

Trust is double-edged, trust makes life easier. If you trust one doctor and follow his advice, it is much easier to manage your illness, but if you have doubts and suspicions you will run from pillar to post in search of another and then yet another doctor. This will cost money and time. The problem is, if you trust easily, your life gets easier but you also become a potential victim of a fraud.

What do you call such people?

Psychopaths. White Caller Psychopaths. Many of them have Antisocial personality Disorder’ or ASPD. It is a type of chronic mental condition in which one thinks, perceives and relates to others in a dysfunctional or destructive way. Such people have no regard for right or wrong, and often disregard the rights and feelings of others. They also manipulate or treat others with indifference. They lie, may become violent and have problems with drugs or alcohol. ASPD may begin in childhood and these children show cruelty to animals, display bullying behaviour at school, have a tendency to explode in anger, these are early signs of the disorder.

Do all the fraudsters have ASPD?

No, some are very intelligent and are ready to do anything for gain, and such people, who do not have any psychological disorder, and who still misbehave and put others in problem must be punished by law.

Which category our very own Indian fraudsters who initiated the Sarada Scam, Vyapam Scam, Coat Scam, Fodder Scan, 2G Scam, NGO Scams belong to?
Do you expect me to answer that?

With inputs from Psychiatric and psychological aspects of fraud offending
Paul Wallang, Richard Taylor
Advances in Psychiatric Treatment May 2012, 18 (3) 183-192; DOI: 10.1192/apt.bp.111.008946)

Source Article from http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/decoding-the-mind-of-a-fraudster/

Home remedies and tips: How to prevent skin pigmentation

The skin discolouration can be very disturbing and one might lose interest in stepping out with even one spot. The skin discolouration can be very disturbing and one might lose interest in stepping out with even one spot.

Uneven dark or light patches on the skin, either excessive colourlation or darkening, is how pigmentation manifests itself. Primarily caused due to uncontrolled secretion of melanin by endocrine glands, pigmenation is also aggravated by sun, wrong cosmetics and oral medications.

The skin discolouration can be very disturbing and one might lose interest in stepping out with even one spot. We should not lose hope however as there are always ways to reduce it or avoid it altogether.

1. Avoid direct sun exposure, keep your skin clean: Dermatologist Dr Navin Taneja says that pigmentation is a common problem and he receives a lot of youngsters looking for a quick solution. “One has to be patient, the skin takes time to heal and get even. There are specific lotions and sun screens to be applied which are medicated and have proven positive results. Remember to avoid direct sun exposure, be careful of your diet, and keep your skin clean.”

2. Replenish your skin: “Dull, sallow, pale, blemished, pigmented dry and dehydrated skin are indications of imbalance and premature aging due to stress, poor habits, exposure to the environment, and of course, improper skin care,” tells Dr. Ipsita Chaterjee, Forest Essentials Ayurvedic skin care expert. “Therefore,” she adds, “In order to keep the skin looking young, radiant and blemish free, your beauty products and treatments must provide exfoliation to remove dead skin cells; epidermal stimulation for new cell growth; antioxidant properties for cellular rejuvenation and repair; improved capillary blood flow; and penetrating moisture and nutrients to replenish all seven layers of skin tissue.”

3. Choose the right product depending on your skin type: Aromatherapist Dr Blossom Kochhar says one must try products according to their skin type and the level of pigmentation. The right pigmentation treatment method and product can differ depending on your skin tone. Hence, while choosing your treatments, make sure you consult your doctor first to find out whether it would be safe for you.

Simple Home Remedies to avoid pigmentation

* Crush few almonds and mix in it two tablespoons of honey. Gently rub this granular paste on the face for few minutes and rinse off with cool water. You can use this scrub twice a week if you have oily skin and once if you have dry skin to keep a check on freckles.

* Mix carrot pulp, Fuller’s earth (multani mitti) to get a thick paste and crush a vitamin C tablet in it. Apply the prepared mask on the face and neck and leave for 20 minutes before washing off. Repeat this regime twice a week to treat pigmentation.

Dr. Blossom Kochhar

Sharmila Chand is a freelance journalist who loves to write on Travel, Food & Lifestyle. She is also the author of book “Cheers – 365 Cocktails & Mocktails” by Om Books International. She blogs at http://chefnme.com/

Source Article from http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/home-remedies-and-tips-how-to-prevent-skin-pigmentation/

Coffee has nothing to do with obesity, diabetes

Coffee not associated with lifestyle diseases Coffee not associated with lifestyle diseases

You can drink your cup of coffee worry free and a new study has shown that coffee neither increases nor decreases the risk of lifestyle diseases such as obesity and diabetes.

New research from the University of Copenhagen and Herlev and Gentofte Hospital, which is also the world’s first to have used genes to investigate the impact of coffee on the body, analysed 93,000 Danes from the Copenhagen General Population Study

Medical student Ask Tybjaeg Nordestgaard said that the genes were completely independent of other lifestyle factors, and it could hence be concluded that drinking coffee in itself is not associated with lifestyle diseases.

The researchers designed a unique study, where they looked into a number of genes that affect people’s desire for coffee. If a person has special coffee genes, he/she may be drinking more coffee than those not having the genes. This allowed the researchers to see whether a higher coffee consumption increases or decreases the risk of developing lifestyle diseases.

The study is published in the well-reputed International Journal of Epidemiology.

Source Article from http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/coffee-has-nothing-to-do-with-obesity-diabetes/

You can blame food labels for your unhealthy food choices

If you are making unhealthy food choices, part of the blame can be shared by food labels that are making consumers confused with their overload of information, says a new research.

“We found that the range of labels used by retailers and manufacturers can be confusing to customers for a number of reasons,” lead researcher Sheena Leek from the University of Birmingham in Britain was quoted as saying by Daily Mail.

“The number of individual pieces of information on a product – such as fat, saturated fat, salt, sugar and calories, as well as percentage of guideline daily amount, grams per serving and a related colour scheme – can cause overload confusion,” Leek said.

Technical complexities, such as the difference between fat and saturated fat, also confuse the customers, the research revealed.

Decision making of the shoppers also get affected by a lack of knowledge about what constitutes a healthy diet, the study that involved face-to-face interviews with 30 shoppers.

When participants were asked to pick up healthy food by reading the labels on the products, one in seven of the decisions taken by respondents were incorrect, the findings showed.

The research was published in the Journal of Customer Behaviour.

Source Article from http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/you-can-blame-food-labels-for-your-unhealthy-food-choices/

Depression may shrink your brain: study

Chronic depression may shrink the hippocampus, a brain area responsible for forming new memories, a new global study of nearly 9,000 people has warned.

The brains of people with recurrent depression have a significantly smaller hippocampus than healthy individuals, researchers said.

The study is the largest international research to compare brain volumes in people with and without major depression, they said.

It highlights the need to identify and treat depression effectively when it first occurs, particularly among teenagers and young adults.

Using magnetic resonance imaged (MRI) brain scans, and clinical data from 1,728 people with major depression and 7,199 healthy individuals, the study combined 15 datasets from Europe, the US and Australia.

Major depression is a common condition affecting at least one in six people during their lifetime, researchers said.

It is a serious clinical mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, frustration, loss, or anger interfere with a person’s everyday life for weeks, months or years at a time.

The key finding was largely explained by subjects with recurrent depression. People with recurrent depression represented 65 per cent of study subjects with major depression, researchers said.

People with an early age of onset of major depression (before the age of 21 years) also had a smaller hippocampus than healthy individuals, consistent with the notion that many of these young people go on to have recurrent disorders.

However, people who had a first episode of major depression (34 per cent of study subjects with major depression) did not have a small hippocampus than healthy individuals, indicating that the changes are due to the adverse effects of depressive illness on the brain.

“These findings shed new light on brain structures and possible mechanisms responsible for depression,” said Associate Professor Jim Lagopoulos of the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Research Institute.

“This large study confirms the need to treat first episodes of depression effectively, particularly in teenagers and young adults, to prevent the brain changes that accompany recurrent depression,” said Co-Director of the Brain and Mind Research Institute, Professor Ian Hickie.

“This new finding of smaller hippocampal volume in people with major depression may offer some support to the neurotrophic hypothesis of depression,” Lagopoulos added.

The study was published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

Source Article from http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/depression-may-shrink-your-brain-study/

Soursop or prickly custard apple – an adjunct to chemotherapy from tropics

Soursops or prickly custard apple have dark green skin, are pear-shaped and have a white juicy flesh with tangy flavour. Also called Graviola at local markets, the tree bearing the fruit is prized in the tropics for its medicinal properties.

All parts of the Soursop tree are used in natural medicine in the tropics. The fruit and its juice are taken to expel parasites and to increase mother’s milk after child birth while the leaves are known to have powerful anti-inflammatory effects. Soursop tea is used in traditional medicine to heal wounds, for soothing knee pain and for reducing mucous in colds and in sinuses.

The roots are known for their sedative effects. In the United States and Europe, sour sop is increasingly sold as a popular adjunct to chemotherapy for cancer patients. This use has stemmed from scientific studies and published research on its naturally occurring compounds and anticancer action, rather than folk medicine.

Scientists who have been studying its properties since 1940’s have found a compound called acetogenins in the leaf stem, bark and seeds. They demonstrate selective toxicity to tumour cells at very low dosages, without harming healthy cells.

So encouraging were the results that in 1997, Purdue University published news that several acitogenins are not only effective in killing tumours that have proven resistant to anticancer agents, but also have special affinity for cells which are resistant to conventional therapy. Studies on Soursop shows benefits in 12 types of cancers including pancreatic cancer.

According to the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), Soursop is 10,000 times stronger in slowing growth of cancer cells compared to chemotherapy without the side effects of the latter. The association, however, makes it clear that the fruit is not a substitute for medical advice.

Cancer patients and health care practioners are adding the natural leaf and stem of Soursop as a complimentary therapy to the cancer treatments. After all Soursop has been a long history of safe use as a herbal remedy for many other conditions.

There is, however, a word of caution. A study published in 2006 in the journal of neural transmission showed that it contains compound that may also damage the neurons ( brain cells) that control movements. The study linked their discovery to the high occurrence of Parkinson’s-like disease in the Carribean Islands where the fruit is commonly consumed. Other contra indications and precautions include its interaction with other drugs in pregnancy, in low blood pressure and its effect on gut flora.

So Soursop certainly exhibits anti-cancer activity but consult a medical professional before you add it to your daily diet.

Author is a clinical nutritionist and founder of http://www.theweightmonitor.com and Whole Foods India

Source Article from http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/soursop-an-adjunct-to-chemotherapy-from-tropics/

My Curious Case: GALT in an infant

Dr Aarti Kinikar
Professor at Department of Paediatrics, B J Medical College and Sassoon General Hospital, Pune

Galactosemia type 1 is a rarely diagnosed, potentially life-threatening disease that results from the body’s inability to metabolise galactose, a sugar found in all foods that contain milk. One in 10,000 children suffer from this problem and unsurprisingly, parents are unaware of it.

Early this year, a two-month-old boy was brought to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at the government-run Sassoon General Hospital with jaundice and abdominal bloating. He had been suffering from the problem for a month and had developed cough with rapid breathing three days prior to landing at the hospital.

An examination showed that he had respiratory distress, peculiar odour to his breath (fetor hepaticus), deep yellow icterus and swelling of the legs. Tests also revealed increase in the size of liver and spleen.

Liver function tests revealed increased bilirubin (causing jaundice) with elevated liver enzymes suggesting injury to liver cells. Urine for reducing substances was positive, which raised a strong suspicion of Galactosemia.

A special test, the GALT(Gal1 Phosphate Uridyl Transferase) assay (done to confirm diagnosis of Galctosemia) was performed which read 0.05 microg/L (very low).

The child’s treatment included putting him on a ventilator and symptomatic management of liver disease. The patient was removed from the ventilator on the fourth day of admission and discharged.

Classic galactosemia (GALT) is an inherited condition in which the body is unable to properly digest galactose. If a child with GALT eats galactose, undigested sugars build up in the blood, rather than being used for energy, and if left untreated, can cause seizures, serious blood infections, liver damage and even death. When the condition is identified early in life and proper treatment is begun immediately, children with GALT often can lead healthy lives.

All newborn babies should be screened for this condition as early diagnosis prevents disease and death due to liver disease. The government should also consider performing this test on every newborn and also include tests for hypothyroidism.

Source Article from http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/my-curious-case-galt-in-an-infant/

New system to monitor cerebral palsy levels

Children with Cerebral Palsy (CP) need to be assessed carefully to establish the intensity of impairment before any therapy is initiated. For the first time, a new and innovative testing tool has been developed by doctors that gauges the improvement in patients with CP — a disorder caused due to brain damage.

So far tools like Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS), the Manual Ability Classification System (MACS) and Bimanual Fine Function (BFMF) were used to evaluate a patient with Cerebal Palsy. There were, however, limitations as it did not assess certain parameters that are essential to be evaluated in the patients with CP which include epilepsy, hearing, drooling, writing, mathematical skills, communicating and playing. Also, distinction between first two levels of GMFCS is unclear, mainly for children below the age of 2 years.

Developed by Dr Geeta Shroff, a New Delhi based gynaecologist, the new study tool, Nutech Functional Score (NFS), tracks over 32 parameters to provide accurate assessment of the progress of the disease as compared to the existing method of screening. The result of this new study tool has been published in the International Archives of Medicine (June, 2015), an open access international medical science and clinical practice journal.

Shroff told The Indian Express that NFS is a 32 point positional and directional scoring system that can assess the CP symptoms that remain far from assessment in GMFCS: Feeding, indication, epilepsy, toilet training, drooling, mathematical skills, hearing, vision, commands, smiling, constipation, recognition /awareness, eye contact, aggression, speech, breathing difficulty, defense mechanism and swallowing. As opposed to GMFCS, NFS scoring system can be used to assess patients aged above 18 years. We have also converted the scores into numeric grades, Shroff explained.

The new tool also has the advantage of revealing even the slightest improvement in CP patients. “The other advantage of using NFS is that scoring is numeric which means grades can be added or subtracted, thus revealing even the slightest improvement in the patient. While NFS tells the condition of a case from bad to good, GMFCS (a single score assigned on the basis of age and motor function) classifies CP into five levels from good to bad,” added Shroff.

Cerebal Palsy is a non-progressive disorder that occurs as a result of the damage to the brain of a foetus and newborns. Its signs and symptoms, such as spastic muscles, poor balance and gross motor delays remain lifelong and patient is subject to life with limitations. It is estimated to affect 3 per 1000 live births in India.

Shroff is the founder and medical director of Nutech Mediworld, a facility that provides human embryonic stem cell therapy.

Source Article from http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/new-system-to-monitor-cerebral-palsy-levels/