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Apr 30
MCI probe: Team visits Patiala college
The three-member committee deputed by the Union Health Minister to probe the alleged involvement of MCI chief Ketan Desai in a bribery case inspected the premises of Patiala's Gian Sagar Medical College and hospital on Thursday. Desai was held in connection with a bribe of Rs 2 crore for granting recognition to the college.

The team, headed by Additional Secretary K Desiraju, was accompanied by officials of the Punjab government and checked the records of the medical college. "While, the principal, students and other staff have been questioned, the members will now discuss among themselves and submit the report to the government by Monday," sources in the Union Health Ministry said.

The members also videographed and photographed the premises. Sources said that nearly 300 students are currently enrolled in the college.

Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had set up a three-member fact-finding team on April 25 to look into the allegations. The Ministry is likely to take a view on the earlier decisions of the MCI granting recognition to colleges depending on the report of the team, officials said.

Apr 29
Cancer: HPV test scores over smear
HPV is a common sexually transmitted infection seen most often in young women and adolescents. There are more than 100 types of HPV - some cause only genital warts, but others cause cancers including cervical cancer.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) screening detects more cervical severe pre-cancerous lesions than conventional cervical screening, finds a study published online in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

This is the first study to include the HPV test in an established cervical screening programme and the findings are important for cervical cancer prevention, says Dr Ahti Anttila at the Finnish Cancer Registry, who led the research.

The study involved 58,282 women aged 30-60 years who were invited to participate in the routine cervical screening programme in Southern Finland between 2003 and 2005.

Women were randomly allocated to either an HPV test, with further screening if the test was positive, or to conventional cytology screening (the smear test or Pap test). Women were then tracked for a maximum of five years.

The results show that HPV screening was more sensitive than conventional cytology screening in detecting severe pre-cancerous lesions on the surface of the cervix (known as cervical intraepithelial neoplasia or CIN III+).

Although the overall number of cervical cancer cases detected was small, the authors conclude that "considering the high probability of progression of CIN III lesions in women aged 35 years or more, our results are important for prevention of cervical cancer."

Apr 28
Diamonds dazzle in Ketan Desai's locker
"Save our profession from acquiring a tainted image," doctors exclaim.

Rage against Dr Ketan Desai, head of the Medical Council of India who was caught for allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs2 crore, is growing all over the country.

A nation-wide signature campaign has been initiated by the medical fraternity demanding the formation of a union to save "our profession from acquiring a tainted image due to MCI's amendments drafted by Desai which favour some pharmaceutical giants," reads the email, now being circulated, asking doctors to join the campaign. It urges them to "Join the cause, condemn MCI amendments' and 'demand a reversal'.

A doctor who is behind this campaign said, "About 3,000 doctors have joined us from all over the country."

After forming this union - which demands reversal of many dubious decisions that Desai undertook while heading the MCI - the members plan to hold demonstrations in front of the MCI offices calling for the removal of the name of Desai from the Indian Medical Register, till the inquiry in the present scam is over -- or forever if the charges are proved.

Some doctors from Gujarat have welcomed the step and said on condition of anonymity that this was long overdue.

Sources from a medical association said, "Many knew that he was corrupt, but no doctors or doctors' associations could earlier come forward to demand that he must be removed. The worst thing was that he not only headed the Gujarat and Indian Medical Councils, but was also a president of the World Medical Association - and these key positions he held for long time despite the fact that he was almost constantly under a cloud."

Many medicos also revealed that elections in MCI were never transparent. "Unless elections are made transparent, there is no hope for fairness," medical sources say. A doctor who has joined the signature campaign added: "The election procedure for MCI needs to be changed with immediate effect, otherwise there is no guarantee that the next head will not be corrupt." Sources behind the signature drive said that to make malpractices difficult, major changes in the rules and regulations of medical councils are required.

Meanwhile, the demand for the removal of Dr Ketan Desai as president of the MCI has evoked mixed response in the city, though the development has shocked and silenced the city's medical fraternity. Unable to digest or fathom the stunning revelations that have come to light after CBI's raid on Desai, the medicos are unable to clearly voice their reaction to the developments.

While many eminent medicos preferred to remain silent on the issue, calling it as 'sensitive', others heading various medical associations refrained to comment, saying they seldom have information on Desai's activities.

But the city's medical fraternity has by and large alienated itself from Desai, and there has been a tremendous condemnation flowing in from the entire medical fraternity of other states.

Apr 28
Mediterranean Diet May Save Brainpower
Eat more like a Greek, and less like a typical American, and you may be doing your brain a favor, new research suggests.

Older adults who adhere to the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet -- rich in fruits, vegetables, olive oil, legumes, fish, and moderate amounts of wine -- appear to have less mental decline with age, according to one of the latest studies on the health benefits of eating like a Greek.

''Those who adhered most closely to the Mediterranean diet performed as if they were two years younger," says study researcher Christy Tangney, PhD, a researcher at Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, who presented her findings Monday at EB 2010, the annual Experimental Biology meeting.

Exactly why the diet, already known for its heart-healthy effects, may protect brain function isn't known, Tangney tells WebMD, but her research builds on other studies finding the diet preserves thinking and intellectual skills.

''I think there's a strong cardiovascular component," she says. Some of the diet components, such as the phytochemicals from fruits and vegetables, are thought to protect against neuron loss, she says.
Following the Mediterranean Diet

Tangney and her colleagues followed 3,790 men and women enrolled in the ongoing Chicago Health and Aging Project. The average age of the participants was 75, but all were over age 65. The follow-up averaged more than seven years.

The men and women answered a food-frequency questionnaire, spelling out in detail which components of the diet they ate and how often. The highest possible score for adherence to the Mediterranean diet is 55, but as Tangney notes, "No one followed it perfectly."

Tangney then classified their adherence to the diet as low, medium, or high. Low followers scored 12 to 25, medium 26 to 29, and high 30 to 45.

The researchers administered several tests of mental function, such as short- and long-term recall, and compiled those scores as a ''global cognitive score.'' The tests were given every three years.

Those in the top group knocked two years off their test scores, she says. For instance, if they were 65, they scored in the typical range for a 63-year-old.

There was some effect in the medium group, Tangney says, but no effect in the group that adhered the least.

The beauty of the finding, Tangney tells WebMD, is that following the diet perfectly isn't necessary to get a brain-protective effect. "When someone incorporates a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and non-refined grains such as cereals and breads and breaks it up with a little wine, there appears to be at least some protection against cognitive aging," she says.

While Tangney's team didn't inquire about exercise habits, she says physical activity would be ideal to add to the Greek-like diet. "The true Mediterranean diet advocates lots of physical activity," she says.

Apr 27
Indian IVF bill may stop gay couple surrogacy
A growing number of male couples from Australia and other Western countries are hiring surrogates in India to bear children, but that might no longer be possible if a draft bill to regulate IVF in India becomes law.

R.S. Sharma, the secretary of the committee writing a bill to govern assisted reproductive technology (ART), told the Sydney Morning Herald that unless gay and lesbian relationships are legalised in India, gay couples would be excluded from hiring surrogates.

Delhi's High Court recently overturned a 150-year-old section of the country's penal code that outlawed ''carnal intercourse against the order of nature''.

However, gay activists warn this ruling, which in effect decriminalised sodomy, does not legalise gay relationships, leaving the status of such relationships unclear.

"If our government does not permit gay relationships, then it certainly will not be permitted for foreign gay couples to come to this country and have a [surrogacy] agreement," said Dr Sharma, who is the deputy director-general of the reproductive health and nutrition division at the India Council of Medical Research.

The paper quoted Allen-Drury, a resident of Australia's Blue Mountains area, as saying that changes to India's laws would be a great disappointment, if passed.

The draft bill could make it difficult for all Australian couples to use Indian surrogates.

One stumbling block would be a requirement that foreign countries guarantee they will accept the surrogate child as a citizen - before a surrogacy could begin.

Dr Sharma said foreign couples would have to obtain a document from their embassy or foreign ministry pledging the surrogate child citizenship of their country. "Only then will they be entitled to sign an agreement with a surrogate or an ART clinic," he said.

''Under the Australian Citizenship Act, there are no guarantees,'' a spokesman for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship said on Friday.

Apr 27
Heart hope in stem cell discovery
Thousands of heart patients' lives could be saved by a breakthrough in stem cell research.

Scientists have extracted stem cells from leg veins removed for heart bypass surgery and reproduced them in the lab.

The vibrant new cells can then be injected back into a patient's heart to stimulate growth of new blood vessel tissue.

Prof Paolo Madeddu, of the Bristol University team which did the work, said: "Around 20,000 people have heart bypass surgery in Britain every year.

"Surgeons always cut out a longer piece of vein than they need, so there is always a left-over piece.

"From those cells removed we should be able to create treatments, made up of the patient's own cells, after they have had heart attacks.

"In the future we might even be able to freeze and store the cells."

Apr 24
World's first full face transplant in Spain
A hospital in Spain announced that it had carried out the world's first full-face transplant. The Vall d'Hebron Hospital in Barcelona said the patient, a young man, was given an entirely new face, including skin, jaws, chin, nose, cheeks, teeth and muscles. It said the 24-hour operation was performed in late March by a 30-member medical team.

In a statement on Friday, the hospital said the patient lost his face in an accident five years ago and has since been unable to swallow, speak, or breathe properly, and had to breathe and be fed through tubes. Speaking on Friday during a news conference at the hospital, Doctor Joan Pere Barret, who led the medical team that carried out facial transplant, said the patient asked to look in a mirror one week after the surgery, "and he reacted very calmly and with satisfaction" and in writing said "he said he was very grateful and satisfied." Dr Barret said that the man "absolutely does not look like a donor patient."

Barret declined to name the patient or give details of the accident in which the man lost most of his face, saying only that he was a Spaniard between 20 and 40 years old and was recovering well. The man cannot yet speak, eat or smile, but can see and swallow saliva, the surgeon said. The patient underwent psychiatric tests before the operation to determine if he would be able to confront having a totally new face, the hospital said. He is expected to remain hospitalised for two months.

Other transplant experts lauded the surgery but were not sure it could technically be called 'full-face.'

In Britain, the UK Facial Transplantation Research Team called the Spanish operation "the most complex face transplantation operation there has probably been in the world to date." It stopped short, however, of calling it the world's first full-face transplant. Barret said the operation involved removing what was left of the man's face and giving him a replacement "in one piece."

Barret said there have been 10 partial face transplant operations carried out in the world so far but that this is the first one involving a person's whole face. The world's first partial face transplant was carried out on a Isabelle Dinoire in France in November 2005. The 38 year old divorced mother of two received a new nose, chin and mouth from a brain-dead donor after being mauled by her pet Labrador. The 15-hour operation took place at the Amiens Teaching Hospital.

Apr 24
JLo's secret to losing baby fat revealed
While most struggle to shed their baby weight, celebrities like Jennifer Lopez have done it effortlessly, all thanks to a new French diet, which claims you can eat whatever you want and yet not put on the pounds.

The Dukan diet is fast becoming popular and it is already Amazon's No1 diet book - even though it doesn't go on sale until May 13.

More than 1.5 million French women already swear by the slimming regime devised by nutritionist Dr Pierre Dukan 10 years ago. And over the last decade it has spread by word of mouth, web forum and blog to 20 countries.

Lopez, 40, who is a firm believer of the Dukan diet, lost a lot of weight and regained her foxy figure two years after becoming mum to twins Emme and Max.

"I just remember being pregnant and marvelling at the hugeness of every area of my body," the Mirror quoted Lopez as saying.

"I'd stand there naked and look in the mirror from all angles. I did marvel at how my already ample rear end was now humongous! I worked out a lot. I struggled to get rid of the last 20 pounds. I had to change my eating habits after having the twins. I eat a lot less now than I used to. But I love bread and you're not allowed bread with most diets," she explained about her weight loss.

Supermodel Gisele Bundchen, who gave birth to son Benjamin four months ago, has also sprung back into super-slender shape and was even confident enough to wear a clingy, purple dress in Paris earlier this month.

Jessica Szohr, the star of TV teen drama Gossip Girl, says the diet suits her perfectly because it lets her keep up her daily rhythm of sport, filming and shopping without feeling like she's on a diet.

"I eat lots of animal and vegetable proteins in the form of meat and soya and I never feel hungry. If I overindulge, I make up for it the following day by exercising or by eating smaller portions," she said.

Apr 23
Lisa Ray cured of cancer
It is said that courage and fortitude can overcome all odds. This especially holds true for actress Lisa Ray, who went through a rough patch for the past few months when diagnosed with cancer. In the face of such adversity, people either give up or chose to fight back. Lisa chose the latter and has today emerged a winner!

The pretty actress was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a rare form of cancer on June 23, 2009. It's an incurable cancer of the white blood cells
known as plasma cells and had taken root in her bone marrow. She went through none of the expected notions of panic, despair or shock. Instead, she was optimistic from the word go and met it head on. She began the first batch of treatments on July 2, 2009, mere weeks after the discovery. It takes a lot of resilience to face such trying times. She battled with medication, steroids, treatments like Velcade and Revlimid, and the continuous hunger that went with the condition. Chemotherapy caused her to lose her lustrous locks but she remained unfazed, even when her bald pictures were circulated in the media.

All those efforts today now paid off. Lisa is now cured of the last traces of the disease. The Canadian-born 38-year old has said on her blog that the experience has inspired and humbled her. The optimistic stunner is now set for a new phase of life. Lisa, who has appeared in films like Kasoor and Water, will soon be seen in Cooking With Stella. She is also working on UniGlobe Entertainment's cancer docu-drama titled 1 a Minute featuring cancer survivors like Olivia Newton-John, Diahann Carroll, Melissa Etheridge and Mumtaz. The spunky lady wants to spread awareness about the lesser known form of cancer.

We wish her good luck in her quest!

Apr 22
People with vitiligo 'may have skin cancer protection'
People with the skin disease vitiligo may have natural protection against skin cancer, a study suggests.

The condition, affecting one in 200, causes pale skin patches that lack pigment and burn easily - leading to an assumed increased risk of skin cancer.

But the University of London study of 4,300 people identified a common gene mutation that both increases the chance of vitiligo and cuts cancer risk.

The findings are reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.

However, study author Professor Dot Bennett, from St George's, University of London, still warned: "Although this may provide some consolation for people with vitiligo, they should still be careful in the sun. As they know, they sunburn quickly, and a lower risk of cancer doesn't mean zero."

The findings, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, emerged from genetic testing of 1,514 patients with vitiligo and 2,813 without.

Seven genes in total were identified that were linked to vitiligo.

Some 70% of the general population had the combination that increases the risk of vitiligo while reducing the risk of malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer.

The remaining 30% had a different version that raises melanoma risk while lessening the chances of vitiligo.

Although everyone has one of the two variants, neither guarantees that either vitiligo or melanoma will actually develop. Likewise, neither guarantees protection, the study added.

The genes identified were already associated with auto-immune conditions such as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

This prompted suggestions the research may even lead to improvements in treatment for vitiligo.

There is currently no cure although the condition can be managed through steroid creams and treatment with ultraviolet light.

But the study said future therapy may involve some element of "calming down immune response".

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