Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Pregnancy Diet Booster

Now there is help to ward off pregnancy syndrome!

Posted: 20 May 2011

PARIS: A dietary supplement of amino acid and antioxidant vitamins can reduce the risk for pregnant women of a dangerous condition called pre-eclampsia, according to a study released Friday.

Affecting five per cent of first-time pregnancies, pre-eclampsia leads to abnormally high blood pressure, protein build-up in urine, and swelling in the feet and ankles.

Its causes are unknown and the only way to alleviate potentially life-threatening symptoms is to give birth.

Earlier research showed a link to a deficiency in L-arginine, an amino acid that helps to maintain a healthy blood flow during pregnancy.

Some experts have also suggested that antioxidant vitamins can help ward off the condition.

Researchers led by Felipe Vadillo-Ortego at National University in Mexico City designed a study to find out if a combination of L-arginine and antioxidants would prevent onset.

Some 750 pregnant women in Mexico City at high risk of pre-eclampsia were randomly divided into three groups.

A third received daily food bars containing both L-arginine and antioxidant vitamins, a third bars containing only vitamins, and a third placebo bars.

The supplements began when women were around 20 weeks pregnant and continued until delivery.

The proportion of women developing pre-eclampsia was 30.2 per cent in the placebo group, 22.5 per cent in the vitamin only group, and 12.7 per cent in the L-arginine plus vitamin group.

The dietary supplement also significantly reduced the risk of premature birth compared with placebo, said the study, published online by the British Medical Journal.

"This relatively simple and low-cost intervention may have value in reducing the risk of pre-eclampsia and associated preterm birth," the authors conclude.

Further study is needed, however, to determine whether these results can be repeated.

- AFP/cc

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Diet booster wards off pregnancy syndrome

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Yoga helps breast cancer patients

Posted: 19 May 2011

WASHINGTON: Breast cancer patients who practice yoga experience lower stress and improved quality of life compared to counterparts who do stretching exercises, a US study indicated on Wednesday.

Researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Centre studied 163 women with an average age of 52 who were undergoing radiation therapy for breast cancer, ranging from early onset to stage three.

The women were randomly assigned to one of three groups - yoga, simple stretching and no instruction in either.

Those assigned to yoga or stretching practiced in one-hour sessions three times a week for the duration of the six-week radiation therapy.

At the end of their radiation treatment, they were asked to report on their own health and well-being at one, three and six months after treatment, and they also underwent tests to measure heart function and stress hormone levels.

Women in the yoga and stretching groups each reported less fatigue than the non-exercise group.

But women who did yoga reported "greater benefits to physical functioning and general health... (and) were more likely to perceive positive life changes from their cancer experience than either other group."

The yoga group also saw the "steepest decline in their cortisol across the day, indicating that yoga had the ability to regulate this stress hormone," the study said.

"This is particularly important because higher stress hormone levels throughout the day, known as a blunted circadian cortisol rhythm, have been linked to worse outcomes in breast cancer."

The study was carried out at US sites, and the yoga practice techniques and instructors were provided by India's largest yoga research institution, Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana in Bangalore.

Lead author Lorenzo Cohen said yoga likely helped patients deal with the transition from cancer treatment back to regular life.

"The transition from active therapy back to everyday life can be very stressful as patients no longer receive the same level of medical care and attention," Cohen said.

"Teaching patients a mind-body technique like yoga as a coping skill can make the transition less difficult."

The researchers are working on a phase III clinical trial to further study how yoga may lead to better physical functioning in breast cancer patients.

A separate study released last month suggested that regular yoga practice by cardiac patients was able to cut irregular heartbeat episodes in half.

- AFP/de


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Yoga helps breast cancer patients

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Coffee reduces risk of lethal prostate cancer

There may be good, but there are reasons why coffee (or tea) should be avoided.

Not to cut the thrill of finding out, read on first!

Posted: 18 May 2011

WASHINGTON: More is better when it comes to drinking coffee to ward off the risk of deadly prostate cancer, according to a major US study released on Tuesday by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Men who drank six or more cups per day had a 60 percent lower risk of developing the most lethal type of prostate cancer and a 20 percent lower risk of forming any type of prostate cancer compared to men who did not drink coffee, it said.

Even just one to three cups per day was linked to a 30 percent lower risk of developing lethal prostate cancer.

"Few studies have specifically studied the association of coffee intake and the risk of lethal prostate cancer, the form of the disease that is the most critical to prevent," said Harvard associate professor and senior author Lorelei Mucci.

"Our study is the largest to date to examine whether coffee could lower the risk of lethal prostate cancer," she said.

The effects were the same whether the coffee was caffeinated or decaffeinated, leading researchers to believe the lower risk could be linked to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits of coffee.

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in US men, but it is not always deadly.

A blood test can detect it early, and the cancer can be graded on what is known as a Gleason score; the higher the score the more likely the cancer is to spread.

There are 16 million survivors of prostate cancer worldwide, and one in six men in the United States will get prostate cancer during their lifetime.

Risk factors are typically linked to Western high-fat diets, heredity, alcohol and exposure to chemicals.

The study examined 47,911 US men who reported on how much coffee they drank every four years from 1986 to 2008.

Over the course of the study, a total of 5,035 cases of prostate cancer were reported, including 642 fatal, or metastatic, cases.

The lower risk seen in coffee drinkers remained even after researchers allowed for other factors that typically boost risk and were more often seen in coffee drinkers than in abstainers, such as smoking and failure to exercise.

- AFP/de


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Coffee cuts risk of lethal prostate cancer

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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Make no bones about it

By Eveline Gan, TODAY
Posted: 16 May 2011

SINGAPORE - While I pay much attention to my skin, weight and, occasionally, cholesterol levels, rarely do I think about the state of my bones.

In fact, I consume calcium-rich foods so infrequently that I can't remember the last time I actually drank milk.

Apparently, I'm not alone. Adults aged 18 years and above in Singapore are recommended by the Health Promotion Board to consume 800mg of calcium daily.

Yet, local studies show that the average Singaporean consumes about 25 per cent less than the recommended amount - about 600mg or less, said Dr Manju Chandran, director of the Osteoporosis and Bone Metabolism Unit and consultant at the Department of Endocrinology at the Singapore General Hospital.

A good calcium intake helps build up your bone bank, which is essential in preventing thinning bones later in life.

According to Mrs Magdalin Cheong, chief dietitian and senior manager at the Dietetic and Food Services at Changi General Hospital, the body also needs calcium for blood-clotting functions, and to regulate biochemical reactions.

Ideally, she said, it is best to get your daily calcium requirements from natural food.

"With supplements, you're not sure how much of it is absorbed into your body. Calcium from food is better absorbed due to the presence of other nutrients such as protein and lactose," said Mrs Cheong.

However, the experts agreed that it may be difficult for certain groups of people to get enough calcium from their diet alone.

This is especially so if you are above the age of 51, or are pregnant or breastfeeding - your daily calcium intake should be about 1,000mg each day.

With so many types of calcium supplements to choose from, the question is: Where should you start?

Over-the-counter calcium supplements are sold in different forms. Calcium carbonate and calcium citrate are the most commonly available types, as both forms are well-absorbed by the body, according to Ms Chung Wing Lam, a resident pharmacist at IMM Watsons.

However, while calcium citrate can be easily absorbed even when taken without food, calcium carbonate works better with food, said Mrs Cheong.


Some tips to help you choose the best calcium supplement for your needs:

· Look at its source

According to Ms Chung, calcium supplements are made mainly from oyster shell extract. If you are vegetarian, go for those made from plant extracts.

· Check out its elemental calcium content

This is the actual content of calcium in the supplement, said Mrs Cheong. A 1,000mg tablet does not actually contain the same amount of calcium. Ms Chung cited some examples: Calcium carbonate contains 40 per cent elemental calcium, so the maximum amount of calcium you can absorb from a 1,000mg tablet is only 400mg. Calcium citrate contains only 21 per cent elemental calcium.

· Does it include Vitamin D?

This vitamin plays an important role in helping your body absorb calcium.


Here's what you can do:

· Split the dose

If the elemental calcium dose is greater than 500mg, you should split your supplement into several doses, Ms Chung advised. She explained that the higher the amount of actual calcium, the less it is absorbed by the body.

· Go easy on food high in phytates and caffeine

In general, phytates-rich foods are also high in fibre. They include vegetables such as spinach, rhubarb, wholegrains and bran.

"Too much caffeine can also affect the bioavailability of calcium by increasing the loss of calcium in the urine and stimulating the secretion of calcium into the gastrointestinal tract," said Mrs Cheong.

· Avoid taking calcium with any medications or other supplements

Ms Chung recommended an interval of at least two hours, if you have to take other supplements or medications such as certain antibiotics or medication for osteoporosis.

· Get clearance from your doctor before taking any supplements

If you have any medical conditions such as kidney disorder, do check with your doctor prior to taking any supplements. Excessive calcium supplementation may possibly cause constipation or an increased risk of kidney stones in the long term, said Ms Chung.

Mrs Cheong added that a high dietary calcium intake can also reduce iron and zinc absorption.


Taken from; source article is below:
Make no bones about it

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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

"Adult" stem cells face new hurdle, says new study

Posted: 14 May 2011

A scientist works on stem cells.
PARIS : Scientists on Friday raised questions about the safety of reprogramming adult cells, an experimental technique which supporters say could one day lead to the growing of replacement tissue in the lab.

Certain kinds of these cells may be rejected by the immune system, which would thus doom them as an option for transplant, according to a study published online by the British science journal Nature.

Interest in cellular reprogramming surged after researchers in 2007 announced they could wind back the DNA of adult, or mature, cells.

Restored to their immature state, the cells become highly versatile stem cells which - so it is hoped - could then be coaxed into developing into tissue-specific cells, such as heart, brain or muscle cells.

The big advantage of these "induced pluripotent stem cells," or iPSCs, is that they would be free of the moral controversy that has dogged use of embryonic stem cells, or ESCs.

Many scientists have also assumed that, because iPSCs are derived from one's own DNA, they will be accepted by the immune defences as friends and thus be spared from attack.

Not so, according to the new research.

"The assumption that cells derived from iPSCs are totally immune-tolerant has to be re-evaluated before considering human trials," warned lead investigator Yang Xu, a professor of biology at the University of California at San Diego.

His four-person team tested iPSCs and ESCs on mice that had been genetically modified to have identical DNA.

As expected, the mice's immune defences did not respond when they encountered a cluster of tissue, known as a teratoma, that came from the embryonic cells.

The surprise, though, was that they went into attack mode when they met the iPSCs.

The responders were T cells - the heavy artillery of the immune system, which are designed to destroy invading microbes. They are notably the problem that has to be curbed when someone receives an organ transplant: without drug controls, the defenders destroy the implanted tissue.

In a phone conference with journalists, Xu said the findings were a clear setback for iPSCs, but exactly how big a problem was for now unclear.

The T-cell attack only occurred with certain kinds of iPSC-derived cells, not all, and more work was needed to find out which ones and why, he said.

"If it's only limited to certain cell types, then maybe other cell types can still be used for transplantation without the worry of being rejected," he said.

"If it's a very widespread problem, that becomes another issue. So at this moment, it's very difficult to say how big the hurdle is."

For now, ESCs remain "the gold standard" of versatile stem cells and should not be abandoned, in spite of the controversy surrounding them, in favour of iPSCs, he said.

Xu said he suspected that the problem with iPSCs lay in errors that occur in the DNA code when the cells are reprogrammed.

In February, a team led by Joseph Ecker of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, found that the transformation from adult cell to stem cell was incomplete.

DNA errors pop up in an area of the genome called the epigenome, which essentially is the switching system that turns genes on or off and determines their level of activity, they reported.

- AFP/al

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"Adult" stem cells face new hurdle, says new study

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Monday, June 6, 2011

Drug therapy lessens HIV transmission risk

Posted: 13 May 2011

Pills (file photo)
WASHINGTON: If an HIV patient takes antiretroviral drug therapy immediately, it vastly reduces the risk of transmitting the disease to an uninfected partner, a breakthrough global study released Thursday said.

By starting the drug regimen immediately rather than waiting for the illness to advance, the study showed a 96 percent fall in the transmission of HIV from the infected partner to the HIV negative one.

The randomised clinical trial began in 2005 and included 1,763 couples -- 97 per cent of whom were heterosexual -- and was carried out at 13 sites across Africa, Asia and the Americas.

"This is excellent news," said Myron Cohen, lead investigator on the study and director of the Institute of Global Health and Infectious Diseases at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

"The study was designed to evaluate the benefit to the sexual partner as well as the benefit to the HIV-infected person," said Cohen.

"This is the first randomised clinical trial to definitively indicate that an HIV-infected individual can reduce sexual transmission of HIV to an uninfected partner by beginning antiretroviral therapy sooner."

Under the randomised trial, some couples were placed into a delayed group in which the infected partner began taking antiretroviral therapy (ART) only when a type of T-cell known as CD4 dipped below 250 cells per millimeter cubed, or if he or she developed an AIDS related illness.

The other group began taking ART immediately. In that group, just one case of HIV transmission was observed.

There were 27 HIV transmissions in the delayed group, a difference the study described as "highly statistically significant."

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases chief Anthony Fauci hailed the findings.

"Previous data about the potential value of antiretrovirals in making HIV-infected individuals less infectious to their sexual partners came largely from observational and epidemiological studies," said Fauci.

"This new finding convincingly demonstrates that treating the infected individual -- and doing so sooner rather than later -- can have a major impact on reducing HIV transmission."


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Drug therapy cuts HIV transmission risk

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Canadian bedbugs and their super bacteria

Posted: 12 May 2011

WASHINGTON: Could bloodsucking bedbugs get any creepier? Turns out, the answer is yes.

Bedbugs carrying potent drug-resistant staph bacteria have been found in a poor section of Vancouver, Canada, said a report released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday.

Five bedbugs were plucked off the bodies of three hospitalized patients from a rough section of downtown Vancouver where rates of poverty, HIV and injection drug use are high.

The bugs were tested and found to be infected with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium (VRE), said the CDC's Emerging Infectious Diseases report.

It was unclear whether the people infected the bugs or the bugs infected the people.

"To our knowledge, no conclusive evidence has demonstrated disease transmission by bedbugs," said the study, which called for further research due to the admittedly small sample of patients.

"Bedbug carriage of MRSA, and the portal of entry provided through feeding, suggests a plausible potential mechanism for passive transmission of bacteria during a blood meal."

In other words, contamination could theoretically happen if a person scratches where a bedbug has attached to the skin, causing an abrasion that allows the bacteria room to get inside.

MRSA is a staph infection increasingly seen in hospitals that can turn deadly if it seeps into the bloodstream or a surgical wound.

VRE is a type of bacteria that can live on the skin and in the intestines without harming a person, but can cause serious health issues in people who are ill or have weakened immune systems.

Both bacteria have developed resistance to many antibiotics.

As many as 31 percent of people living in the Downtown Eastside section of Vancouver have reported bedbug infestations, and both VRE and MSRA infections are commonly seen at the nearby Saint Paul's Hospital, the report said.

A boom in bedbug populations has been witnessed across North America and western Europe over the past 10 years. Researchers believe the surge may be fueled by increasing world travel and growing resistance to pesticides.

The six-legged reddish creatures can lay eggs in clothing or bedding, and their tiny fangs often latch onto human skin without the host feeling any pain.


Taken from; source article is below:
Canadian bedbugs carry superbug bacteria: study

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