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Jul 31
Excessive cell phone use linked to cancer, genetic mutations
Excessive use of mobile phone can lead to oxidative stress in cells that is linked to cellular and genetic mutations which cause development of tumours, says a study.

Oxidative stress is a process that damages all aspects of a human cell, including DNA, through the development of toxic peroxide and free radicals.

Dr. Yaniv Hamzany of Tel Aviv University`s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery Department at the Rabin Medical Center looked for clues in the saliva of cell phone users to further explore the relationship between cancer rates and cell phone use.
Since the cell phone is placed close to the salivary gland when in use, he and his fellow researchers, including departmental colleagues Profs. Raphael Feinmesser and Thomas Shpitzer and Dr. Gideon Bahar and Prof. Rafi Nagler and Dr. Moshe Gavish of the Technion in Haifa, hypothesised that salivary content could reveal whether there was a connection to developing cancer, reports Science Daily.

Comparing heavy mobile phone users to non-users, they found that the saliva of heavy users showed indications of higher oxidative stress. More importantly, it is considered a major risk factor for cancer.

The findings have been reported in the journal Antioxidants and Redox Signaling.

Jul 31
Prolonged breastfeeding linked to kids` intelligence
Scientists have linked breastfeeding with better receptive language at 3 years of age and verbal and nonverbal intelligence at age 7 years.

Evidence supports the relationship between breastfeeding and health benefits in infancy, but the extent to which breastfeeding leads to better cognitive development is less certain, according to the study background.

Mandy B. Belfort, M.D., M.P.H., of Boston Children`s Hospital, and colleagues examined the relationships of breastfeeding duration and exclusivity with child cognition at ages 3 and 7 years.

They also studied the extent to which maternal fish intake during lactation affected associations of infant feeding and later cognition. Researchers used assessment tests to measure cognition.

The study said that longer breastfeeding duration was associated with higher Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test score at age 3 years (0.21; 95 percent CI, 0.03-0.38 points per month breastfed) and with higher intelligence on the Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test at age 7 years (0.35; 0.16-0.53 verbal points per month breastfed; and 0.29; 0.05-0.54 nonverbal points per month breastfed). However, the study also noted that breastfeeding duration was not associated with Wide Range Assessment of Memory and Learning scores.

The authors said that in summary, our results support a causal relationship of breastfeeding in infancy with receptive language at age 3 and with verbal and nonverbal IQ at school age.

These findings support national and international recommendations to promote exclusive breastfeeding through age 6 months and continuation of breastfeeding through at least age 1 year.

The study has been published in JAMA Pediatrics.

Jul 30
New device uses precision to pinpoint best time to conceive
A new fertility monitor has been developed which can help pinpoint accurately the exact days of the month a woman is most likely to conceive.

The slim, walnut-sized device, which is worn like a patch underneath the armpit, takes body temperature measurements up to 20,000 times a day.

Dr. Jacques Moritz, director of gynecology at St. Luke`s-Roosevelt Hospital, said that DuoFertility is a very fancy thermometer that has human feedback linked to it, the New York Daily News reported.

After wearing it for 3-4 days, the temperature data can be uploaded to a computer, along with other observations regarding menstrual cycle, sleep habits and moods, and then it can be sent to a lab at Cambridge University in England.

Within days, the lab email assessments of a woman`s fertility patterns - including the exact days the couple should try to conceive .


Cambridge Temperature Concepts is the company behind DuoFertility

Jul 30
Walking in the woods can help relieve stress
Taking a stroll in the woods can help manage stress levels, lessen BP and help fight heart ailments, a new study has revealed.

One of the experiments, conducted by the researchers at the University of Essex, discovered that just looking at images of forests helped to reduce strains.

Dr. Valerie Gladwell led a team of scientists that carried out experiments on volunteers while measuring their stress levels.

The participants in the research were asked to walk in specified "green environments" at lunchtime slept better that night.

After eight weeks, the volunteers had lower blood pressure and perceived stress.

Gladwell said that her team`s research has shown that `green environments` can be an effective stress-buster.

She asserted that if they can encourage more people to enjoy the great outdoors it may help increase their levels of physical activity and, therefore, could also be a powerful tool to help fight cardiovascular disease.

Jul 29
Heart disease number one killer of Indians
Heart disease has emerged as the number one killer among Indians, a new survey has revealed.

According to a recent study by the Registrar General of India ( RGI) and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), about 25 percent of deaths in the age group of 25- 69 years occur because of heart diseases.

If all age groups are included, heart diseases account for about 19 percent of all deaths.

It is the leading cause of death among males as well as females and in all regions of India, the study found.

India, with more than 1.2 billion people, is estimated to account for 60 percent of heart disease patients worldwide.

According to the World Health Organization, heart related disorders will kill almost 20 million people by 2015, and they are exceptionally prevalent in the Indian sub-continent.

Half of all heart attacks in this population occur under the age of 50 years and 25 percent under the age of 40.

It is estimated that India will have over 1.6 million strokes per year by 2015, resulting in disabilities on one third of them. The need is urgent.
It is in this context that the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) has launched educational "Networks" of renowned thought leaders in the areas of Cardiology, Diabetes, and Stroke to foster high quality medical education of physicians of Asian Indian origin in the US.

Jul 29
DNA mutation breakthrough could help treat TB, cancer
A new method has been developed by researchers that has the capability of looking at a specific segment of DNA and point out a single mutation, which could help diagnose and treat diseases like cancer and tuberculosis.

These small changes can be the root of a disease or the reason some infectious diseases resist certain antibiotics.

Lead author Georg Seelig, a University of Washington assistant professor of electrical engineering and of computer science and engineering said that the team has really improved on previous approaches because their solution doesn`t require any complicated reactions or added enzymes, it just uses DNA.

He said that this means that the method is robust to changes in temperature and other environmental variables, making it well-suited for diagnostic applications in low-resource settings.

Seelig, along with David Zhang of Rice University and Sherry Chen, a UW doctoral student in electrical engineering, designed probes that can pick out mutations in a single base pair in a target stretch of DNA.

The probes allow researchers to look in much more detail for variations in long sequences - up to 200 base pairs - while current methods can detect mutations in stretches of up to only 20.

Zhang, an assistant professor of bioengineering at Rice University, said that in terms of specificity, our research suggests that we can do quadratically better, meaning that whatever the best level of specificity, our best will be that number squared.

The testing probes are designed to bind with a sequence of DNA that is suspected of having a mutation. The researchers do this by creating a complimentary sequence of DNA to the double-helix strand in question.

Then, they allow molecules containing both sequences to mix in a test tube in salt water, where they naturally will match up to one another if the base pairs are intact. Unlike previous technologies, the probe molecule checks both strands of the target double helix for mutations rather than just one, which explains the increased specificity.

The probe is engineered to emit a fluorescent glow if there`s a perfect match between it and the target. If it doesn`t illuminate, that means the strands didn`t match and there was in fact a mutation in the target strand of DNA.

The findings have been published online in the journal Nature Chemistry.

Jul 27
Blame bad night`s sleep on full Moon
Can`t sleep? Blame it on the Moon!

Scientists have found evidence that human sleep patterns are timed to the phases of the Moon, and that people sleep 20 minutes less on average during a full Moon.

Many people complain about poor sleep around the full Moon and the study offers some of the first convincing scientific evidence to suggest that this really is true.

The findings add to evidence that humans - despite the comforts of our civilised world - still respond to the geophysical rhythms of the moon, driven by a circa-lunar clock.

"The lunar cycle seems to influence human sleep, even when one does not `see` the Moon and is not aware of the actual Moon phase," said Christian Cajochen of the Psychiatric Hospital of the University of Basel.

In the new study, the researchers studied 33 volunteers in two age groups in the lab while they slept. Their brain patterns were monitored while sleeping, along with eye movements and hormone secretions.

The data show that around the full Moon, brain activity related to deep sleep dropped by 30 per cent. People also took five minutes longer to fall asleep, and they slept for twenty minutes less time overall.

Study participants felt as though their sleep was poorer when the Moon was full, and they showed diminished levels of melatonin, a hormone known to regulate sleep and wake cycles.

"This is the first reliable evidence that a lunar rhythm can modulate sleep structure in humans when measured under the highly controlled conditions of a circadian laboratory study protocol without time cues," the researchers said.

Cajochen said that this circalunar rhythm might be a relic from a past in which the Moon could have synchronised human behaviours for reproductive or other purposes, much as it does in other animals.

Today, the Moon`s hold over us is usually masked by the influence of electrical lighting and other aspects of modern life, researchers said.

They said it would be interesting to look more deeply into the anatomical location of the circalunar clock and its molecular and neuronal underpinnings. It could turn out that the Moon has power over other aspects of our behaviour as well, such as our cognitive performance and our moods.

The study was published in Current Biology.

Jul 27
Omega fatty acid diet could alleviate dry eye symptoms
Daily dietary supplementation with a unique combination of omega fatty acids for six months could improve optical irritation symptoms and halt the progression of inflammation that characterizes moderate to severe dry eye, a new study has found.

The multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial conducted at Baylor College of Medicine and Virginia Eye Consultants evaluated 38 post-menopausal women with tear dysfunction in both eyes.

Participants randomly received a proprietary blend of omega fatty acids, antioxidants and other nutrients (HydroEye), or a placebo every day.

Patients were assessed at baseline, four, 12 and 24-week intervals using a variety of disease parameters including Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI) symptom severity questionnaire, topographical indices (SAI and SRI), inflammatory biomarkers (HLA-DR and CD11c), Schirmer tear flow measurement, tear breakup time (TBUT), and conjunctival fluorescein and lissamine green staining.

HydroEye was found to improve ocular irritation symptoms, suppress ocular surface inflammation, and maintain corneal surface smoothness.

The study is published online in the journal Cornea.

Jul 26
Indian researchers find faster way to detect sepsis in newborn
Indian researchers have devised a method that can immensely reduce the detection time of sepsis, one of the most common problems in newborn in India, thus reducing usage antibiotics usage.

Researchers at the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital`s department of haematology have devised the method which will bring down the sepsis detection timing from 24-72 hours to just two hours.

"Neonatal sepsis poses a major problem in India with septicemia and pneumonia accounting for 52 percent deaths in home-cared rural born neonates," said Manorama Bhargava, lead author of the study and haematology department chairperson.

"Early detection is challenging as clinical signs are subjective, and requires 1-3 days," she said.

The method is based on a study done on 92 infants and it was published in the International Journal of Hematology.

According to doctors, the new method will help in preventing extra usage of antibiotics and the diagnosis cost remains the same.

Jul 26
Widest study highlights risks from MERS virus
The broadest probe yet into the deadly MERS virus which erupted in Saudi Arabia last year says older patients, men, and people with underlying medical conditions are those particularly at risk.

Saudi and British scientists, reporting in The Lancet on Friday, looked at symptoms and disease progression among 47 people, 36 of them men, admitted to Saudi hospitals with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

The vast majority of the patients had fever, coughing and shortness of breath, and a minority experienced diarrhoea, vomiting and other gastrointestinal symptoms.

Such characteristics are shared with MERS` coronavirus cousin, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which triggered a global health scare a decade ago, they wrote. The two viruses also have the same incubation period.

But, according to the investigators, there are important differences between the two viruses.

Unlike SARS, MERS is likelier to cause a fast-track progression to respiratory failure, taking five days less than SARS.

In addition, SARS affected people were relatively healthy and young, whereas MERS seems to target older patients and those with a chronic medical condition.

Out of the 47 cases, 45 were already being treated for diabetes, high blood pressure, heart or kidney disease and other disorders, according to the new study.

Statistically, MERS also appears to be deadlier. Twenty-eight out of the 47 patients died, a case-fatality rate of 60 percent, compared with only 1-2 percent for SARS.

"This high mortality rate with MERS is probably spurious due to the fact that we are only picking up severe cases and missing a significant number of milder or asymptomatic cases," cautioned Professor Ziad Memish, Saudi Arabia`s deputy health minister, who led the research.

The kingdom accounts for 38 of the 45 fatalities recorded in nine countries, and 67 of the total 90 cases. Other cases have been recorded in Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, Britain, France and Italy.

Key aspects of the virus, notably how it spreads and whether it has a "reservoir" among wild animals, remain unclear.