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Oct 29
Green tea no protection against breast cancer
It may be packed with anti-oxidants but green tea does not protect against breast cancer, a study has revealed.

Previous research on both animals and human cells had suggested the hot drink could boost the body's defences against the cancer. However, the latest analysis looking at 54,000 women found no association between drinking green tea and breast cancer risk, reports dailymail.co.uk.

Motoki Iwasaki at the National Cancer Center, Tokyo, worked with a team of researchers to carry out the study.

"Results from human studies have been inconclusive. Our large-scale, population-based prospective cohort study is one of the first to include a wide range of tea intakes -- women who drank green tea less than one cup per week to those who drank 10 or more cups per day," he said.

"It found no overall association between green tea intake and the risk of breast cancer," he added.

The study assessed tea intake by a questionnaire, once at the beginning of the study and then again five years later.

Cancer incidence was assessed by notification from major local hospitals in the study area and population-based cancer registries.

Approximately 12 per cent of women drank green tea less than one cup per week while 27 per cent drank five or more cups per day.

Speaking about the survey, Iwasaki said, "The other major strength of the present study was its prospective design, in which information was collected before the subsequent diagnosis of breast cancer, thereby avoiding the exposure recall bias inherent to case-control studies."

"Drinking green tea as a beverage is unlikely to reduce the risk of breast cancer regardless of green tea type and number of cups," he added.

Oct 29
Health cover may include ayurveda, unani, siddha
A panel formed by the insurance council will probably recommend that domestic healthcare systems such as ayurveda , unani and siddha should be treated on par with allopathy when it comes to medical insurance, said a person familiar with the committee's thinking.

"The department of Ayush has approached the General Insurance Council for looking at the possibility of accepting claims under the non-allopathic means of treatment," said a person familiar with the development at the Council. "They made a presentation to council members, who in turn, have formed a three-member committee to look into the matter."

The committee comprises chief executive officers from Star Health, Max Bupa and Apollo, the person said. It would examine the merits and demerits of the proposal and recommend processes to implement if it is convinced that these types of medicines should also be covered under health insurance. The Insurance Regulatory & Development Authority will take a call on the issue.

A large section of India's more than a hundred crore population takes alternative means of treatment which is recognised by the government, but not so far by the insurance industry. Insurers where most of them are in a joint venture with a global company, say there is not an established way to verify these claims and no data to rely on.

"Under allopathic means of treatment, there are scientific studies and we know how long a treatment will take, how much will it cost," said TA Ramalingam, head of underwriting, Bajaj Allianz General Life Insurance.

"But under the alternative means like homeopathy, we do not have enough data to cover them. For example, curing an ailment under homeopathy may take years, we would not have a structured way of looking at data. But under allopathic means of treatment, it's more immediate, and hence, easily manageable."

There is no registration for practitioners of alternate means of treatment either. There is no one body that recognises the institutes/hospitals that treat patients.

But the health and family welfare ministry is pushing hard for it as it is affordable and the majority of the population makes use of the domestic expertise in these areas. Allopathic medicines are expensive even for those who are in urban centres.

The Department of Indian Systems of Medicine and Homeopathy was created in March 1995 and re-named as Department of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy, or Ayush, in November 2003 to develop education & research in those fields.

Oct 28
New Polio Vaccine Shows Major Advantages: Study
A new bivalent oral vaccine that targets two deadly strains of polio -- types 1 and 3 -- triggers a stronger immune response than the existing trivalent vaccine and an immune response that's similar to monovalent vaccines, a new study shows.

Use of trivalent and monovalent vaccines has reduced the number of countries where polio is endemic from more than 125 in 1988 to just four today. Transmission of polio virus types 1 and 3 persists in parts of Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nigeria.

The bivalent oral vaccine is already widely used in efforts to halt transmission of polio virus types 1 and 3, but this study set out to examine whether it triggers as much immunity as the other vaccines.

Between August and December 2008, researchers gave 830 newborns in India either the monovalent, bivalent or trivalent vaccines in two doses, including one at birth and one 30 days later. Antibody levels were measured in blood samples before vaccination and after the first and second doses of the vaccines.

Overall, the immune response induced by the bivalent vaccine was significantly higher than the trivalent vaccine and similar to the monovalent vaccine, the investigators found.

The study was released online Oct. 25 in advance of publication in an upcoming print issue of The Lancet.

"The major advantages of the bivalent vaccine ... is that it will enhance individual and population immunity simultaneously for both poliovirus types 1 and 3, without any serious loss in immunogenicity compared with the [monovalent vaccines]," the researchers said in a news release from the publisher.

Oct 27
India sees sharp drop in swine flu cases
The number of swine flu cases in India in the past week dropped almost to half the previous count, the health ministry said here Monday.

A total of 46 cases were reported from acros the country during the week ended Oct 24 as against 98 recorded in the previous week, a ministry spokesperson said.

Ten swine flu deaths were reported during the week that ended Oct 24. Rajasthan reported four deaths while Haryana reported three, followed by two in Maharashtra and one in Gujarat.

Tamil Nadu recorded the highest number of 14 new cases, followed by 13 in Karnataka and five in Delhi, the spokesperson said.

A total of 2,633 swine flu deaths have been recorded since May 2009 when the disease broke out in India. At least 45,033 confirmed cases have been reported in the country since then.

Oct 26
Gene therapy can treat pulmonary hypertension: Study
A Heart and Stroke Foundation researcher has discovered that gene therapy could be useful in treating pulmonary hypertension.


Pulmonary hypertension is a devastating, life-threatening condition, which results in an enlargement of the heart.


"We have discovered an early warning system in a protein called PIM-1," said Dr. Sebastien Bonnet.

"We were surprised to find that the greater the PIM-1 levels, the more severe the pulmonary hypertension in the patient," he added.

PIM-1 also offers the opportunity to move beyond the diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension to treatment. By blocking the PIM-1 protein, researchers were able to reverse the condition.

"We have found that using gene therapy to inhibit the inappropriate activation of this protein is a novel and effective therapy that can reverse the disease altogether," Bonnet said.

Heart and Stroke Foundation spokesperson Dr. Beth Abramson said that patients should pay particular attention to any symptoms like shortness of breath or extreme tiredness.

Pulmonary hypertension is abnormally high blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries, the arteries which carry blood from the heart to the lungs. The condition makes it more difficult for blood to flow to the lungs, causing shortness of breath, fatigue, and swelling of the feet and ankles. It can make everyday tasks almost impossible. (ANI)

Oct 25
Drunkorexia, a dangerous new trend among youngsters
Anorexia, orthorexia, and now we have another eating disorder: drunkorexia, which focuses on forgoing food in favor of alcohol.

Drunorexia is a combination of alcoholism, bulimia, and anorexia, all under the guise of a glamorous party lifestyle.

It is especially prevalent among young college women who skip meals to save up on calories during the day so they can get drunk at night.

"Abuse counselors
are putting the word 'drunkorexia' in line with other eating disorders because the patient uses the same type of methods as anorexia and bulimia- they just mix it with alcohol too," said Dr. Kevin Prince, Alcohol & Other Drug Education Program Coordinator at the University Health Services in Austin, Texas, U.S.

A dangerous new trend
According to a recent study conducted by the University of Texas School of Public Health and the University of North Texas Health Science Center, binge drinking is a growing problem among college students.

Excessive drinking can really pack on the pounds, and this is unacceptable in most, particularly young women.

Women who refuse to give up on binging because it is considered cool, but also crave for a thin body, are combining eating disorder and alcohol abuse into one dangerous package which lets them get drunk at night and still maintain weight.

Savannah, a 22-year-old University of Texas graduate disclosed, "I've always watched my weight and skipped meals to account for the high calorie count of alcohol.

"It was just something I always did while in college as a normal part of my diet so that I could stay skinny but still go out and drink."

She added, "I do know a lot of people who skip meals to drink, drink heavily, and don't gain any weight. Obviously their success in this way encourages others to try it.

"I've done [drunkorexia] for years and I'm still healthy. And I'm skinny. That's the best of both worlds to me, so it's not likely that I'll stop doing it any time soon."

Men too affected by drunkorexia
According to the National Eating Disorder Association of U.S., the disorder is more common in the fairer sex, but there are more than a million men and boys who are equally affected by the problem.

Rodney, 20-year-old public relations major at University of Texas, said drunkorexia in men is to speed up intoxication.

"When you consume on an empty stomach, you feel the effect quicker," Rodney said.

A little about drunkorexia
Drunkorexia is a term coined by dietitians for patients who have eating disorders and indulge in binge drinking.

Substituting drink calories for food calories is not necessarily a major problem in itself. However, when drunkorexics take the extreme step of curtailing food intake to compensate for the calories consumed in a binge drinking session at night, it becomes a lethal combination of alcohol abuse and an eating disorder.

According to health experts, the balancing act is not worth the risks because it is a serious medical condition and can wreak havoc on the body.

Another dangerous practice among women with the disorder is that after drinking large amounts of alcohol, they often overeat, and then purge.

Drunkorexia is a dangerous combination of an eating disorder and binge drinking that needs to be addressed by health professionals.

According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, "alcoholism and eating disorders frequently co-occur and often co-occur in the presence of other psychiatric and personality disorders."

Oct 25
Yoga reduces job burnout and stress: Study
A study published in the quarterly magazine of Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIM-A), 'Vikalpa', says that adoption of yoga way of life significantly reduces job burnout and stress.

The study was conducted on 84 executives of Grasim Industries Ltd , a flagship company of Aditya Birla Group , based in Bharuch, by IAS officer and Principal Secretary, Education , Government of Gujarat , Hasmukh Adhia and two other researchers--H R Nagendra and B Mahadevan.

The group of 84 executives was divided into two groups of 42 each. The yoga group was given 30 hours of yoga practice (75 mins every day) and 25 hours of theory lectures in the philosophy of yoga.

While the second group formed physical exercise group, which was given training of equal number of hours of physical workout and lectures on success factors in life based on modern theory and not yoga.

Stress was measured using a standard self-reported questionnaire on experience of both pre and post the experiment for a month on both the groups.

Measurement of certain parameters such as blood pressure, body mass index (BMI), blood sugar and weight was also taken both pre and post experiment.

"Stress, when measured, showed statistically significant drop for managers in the yoga group, while ironically in the physical exercise group, stress increased as their working schedule became more hectic due to additional exercise," Adhia said.

The study said burnout is prolonged response to chronic and interpersonal stress on the job and is defined by the three dimensions of exhaustion, cynicism and inefficiency.

Job burnout is debilitating psychological condition which has serious repercussion on individual health as also on the organisational effectiveness, it added.

The study said that according to a estimate stress costs American industries more that USD 300 billion annually, stemming from reduced productivity, compensation claims and increased absenteeism.

The corporate scene in India is not different with stress and burnout at workplace causing a number of victims to seek professional therapy, it said.

Several studies in the past have established that yoga addresses the issue of stress, but no empirical data co-relating the yoga way of living specifically reducing stress at workplace, has been done till now, Adhia said.

The yogic lifestyle comprises meditation, breathing techniques, correct postures, low-fat non-spicy diet and behavioural modification.

The study espouses that practising the yogic lifestyle can bring about a complete transformation in one's personality on physical, mental and spiritual levels which strengthens one's stress coping skills.

Oct 23
WHO questions methodology of Lancet study on malaria mortality
Expressing serious doubts over the high estimates of 200,000 malaria deaths in India as reported in the latest edition of The Lancet, the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Thursday questioned the methodology adopted by the authors of the study.

The Lancet uses verbal autopsy method which is suitable only for diseases with distinctive symptoms and not for malaria. Malaria has symptoms similar to many other diseases, and cannot be correctly identified by the local population.

The use of verbal autopsy for malaria may result in many false positives. In this method, deaths due to fever from any cause are likely to be misinterpreted as malaria in areas with high incidence. In areas with low malaria incidence, the symptoms are difficult to distinguish, and would result in overestimates of malaria deaths, a statement issued by the WHO here said.

Independent studies

It said the organisation welcomed independent studies for estimating malaria deaths, provided the method used was appropriate. The limitations of verbal autopsy, and the implausibly high incidence rates implied by the malaria mortality estimates, indicate that the findings of the study cannot be accepted without further validation.

Malaria is endemic in many States of India. Maximum cases are reported from the North Eastern States, Orissa, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and a few districts of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. Approximately 50 per cent of malaria cases reported in the country are due to Plasmodium Falciparum (a type of malaria which causes death), the statement said.

The WHO estimated 10,000 (deaths) - 21,000 malaria deaths in India in 2006 - based on the rate of three deaths per 1000 estimated falciparum cases. Estimates of falciparum cases are made by multiplying total estimated malaria cases by reported falciparum percentage. These estimates make necessary adjustments for under-reporting of malaria data in the countries.

This methodology was universal, it said, admitting that the present malaria estimation procedures had limitations.

Concerns raised

Pointing out that the same authors, in a study in 2005, had warned against the use of verbal autopsy for obtaining malaria death estimates, the statement said, "Given these methodological concerns raised already in the early stages of this new study, the WHO had proactively supported a project to validate the methodology of verbal autopsy used in the study. The findings of the project reconfirmed that verbal autopsy method overestimates malaria deaths.

The method was found to estimate deaths correctly only in 8 per cent fatalities."

Setbacks of the method

"This new study published in The Lancet also has bias, as deaths during 2001-03 have been assessed much later in 2005-06. Any adult member of the family or even a neighbour was interviewed during the verbal autopsy, and it is not clear how well the interviewee was familiar with the case during the period of illness prior to the death," the WHO said.

The limitations of the new study were also exposed when estimates were examined for particular States. The proposed estimate of malaria mortality in Orissa suggests, implausibly, that there are 17-50 million falciparum malaria cases annually in a population of 40 million.

Oct 22
79 more dengue cases in Delhi
A total of 79 more cases of dengue were confirmed in Delhi on Thursday, taking to 4,826 the number of those infected with the vector-borne disease, officials said. A total of eight people have died due to the disease in Delhi this year.

Areas like Rohini and Civil Lines continue to be the worst-affected with around 1,200 combined cases reported from there.

Oct 22
If you're over 45 and going weak at the knees, act now
If you are over 45 and find yourself going weak at the knees, don't think that Cupid is shooting its arrow at you! The bones of your legs may have fallen victim to osteoporosis, an unhealthy condition in which the bones become porous.

Osteoporosis is characterised by a decrease in bone density and bone mass which makes the bones of the body fragile and weak.

Nearly 20% of the women and 12 percent of the men aged 50 or above in India suffer from osteoporosis but the disorder remains largely under-diagnosed and undertreated. The prevalence of osteoporosis is even more widespread in rural and semi-urban areas.

Weakening of the bones leads to unexpected fractures that can occur anywhere in the body. Nowadays, more than 80 percent of all spinal fractures are caused by osteoporosis, say experts.

Another area of the body commonly affected by osteoporosis is the hip bone.

Apart from the pain and immobility they cause, the long-term consequences of fractures caused by osteoporosis include debilitating pain, spinal deformity, functional, and psychosocial impairments, poor pulmonary function and risk of fresh fractures.

The contemporary view in medicine is that osteoporosis is something of a lifestyle disease, too, as poor food habits and consumption of alcohol aggravate the condition. With the World Osteoporosis Day falling on October 20, experts have reiterated the need to raise awareness about how osteoporosis can be prevented.

Dr Bharat Dave, a spine surgeon and member of the association of spine surgeons of India (ASSI), said that most major osteoporotic fractures occur in the spine, wrist or the hip bones.
"During puberty and adolescence, the skeleton absorbs calcium avidly and builds up its reserves," Dave said. "The amount of calcium converted into bone is largely dependent on calcium and vitamin D nutrition, as well as exercise."

Bones continue to grow in strength till the age of 30. But from the mid-thirties, there is a gradual bone loss that continues throughout life.

Osteoporosis is not completely curable; hence its prevention is as important as its treatment. The most important prevention measures include quitting smoking, curtailing excessive intake of alcohol, exercising regularly, and consuming a balanced diet with adequate calcium and vitamin D content, Dave said.