WHO urged to stop controlling and suppressing use of e-cigarettes


A letter signed by more than 50 researchers and public health specialists has urged the World Health Organization (WHO) to “resist the urge to control and suppress e-cigarettes”.

The letter says that the devices – which deliver nicotine in a vapour – could be a “significant health innovation”. But the UK’s Faculty of Public Health says it is too early to know whether benefits outweigh potential risks. The WHO said it was still deciding what recommendations to make to governments.

The open letter has been organised in the run-up to significant international negotiations on tobacco policy this year. Supporters of e-cigarettes, who argue the products are a low-risk substitute for smoking, fear they might become subject to reduction targets and advertising bans.

There has been a big growth in the market for e-cigarettes, but the Department of Health says they are not risk-free. Critics said that not enough is known about their long-term health effects. A recent report commissioned by Public Health England said e-cigarettes required “appropriate regulation, careful monitoring and risk management” if their benefits were to be maximised.

The letter has been signed by 53 researchers – including specialists in public health policy and experts such as Prof Robert West, who published research last week suggesting that e-cigarettes are more likely to help people give up smoking than some conventional methods.

Source: business standard

Five surprising health benefits of Pumpkin!


Many of us don’t know the wondrous health benefits of pumpkin. In fact, this big orange orb is jam-packed with nutrients and is one of nature’s nutritional powerhouses. Pumpkin is considered as a storehouse of many anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E. It is also a rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus.

Here are the five reasons why you should indulge in this ‘superfood’ pumpkin.

Good for eyes: Eating pumpkin can help protect the eyes from cataracts and degeneration due to its vitamin A content.

Good for skin: Pumpkin is good for the skin. It is packed with skin-protecting beta-carotenes that can boost your beauty routine. Pumpkin can help diminish fine lines and wrinkles because of its rich content of essential fatty acids. The vitamin C in pumpkin helps the skin to maintain its beautiful glow and elasticity, while the alpha -carotene found in this healthy food cuts back the aging process.

Helps loose weight: Pumpkin contains no saturated fats or cholesterol and is very low in calorie. Rich in dietary fiber, the vegetable is a great food for cholesterol controlling and weight loss programs.

Good for teeth and bone: Pumpkin is also good for bones and teeth health due to its rich magnesium content in the pulp and the seeds. So have pumpkin to avoid tooth decay and cavities.

Fight diseases: Pumpkin has lots of disease-fighting properties. Having this vegetable can help prevent heart disease, hypertension, arthritis, etc. It is also believed to protect from age-related muscular disease (ARMD) in the old age.

Source: Zee news

Cure for dry eye closer to reality


A tiny silicone plug, planted quickly and pain-lessly in a tear duct of the eye, could be the cure for a condition suffered by more than four million people in Britain.

The plug, less than 2mm in diameter, slows down the loss of tears that results in dry eye syndrome, a painful, debilitating condition suffered by one in five people aged over 50. Researchers at Glasgow University have discovered that once in place, the plug ensures that enough tears are kept in the eyes to lubricate them and reduce the risk of damage.

If left untreated, dry eye syndrome can damage the outer protective tissue of the cornea – the surface of the eye – leading to infection with a risk of permanent scarring and even some damage to sight. Although tears, or lacrimal fluid, are mostly associated with crying and laughter, they are produced by the eye around the clock.

Tiny glands surrounding the eye continually create new tears that then are spread over the surface by blinking. The fluid is mostly a salt solution, but also contains compounds that fight bacteria and help make the eye immune to infection.

With every blink, a film of tears spreads over the eye, making the surface smooth and enabling good vision. Once the fluid has passed over the surface, the used tears drain out through two small holes in the corner of the eyelids nearest the nose, and from there into the nose and throat. That is why your nose runs when you cry. So efficient is the process that most people are only aware it exists when something goes wrong. Unfortunately, that is an increasing number of people.

In dry eye syndrome, either the tear glands make insufficient tears, or the fluid drains away too quickly. As a result, it is spread too thinly over the eye to lubricate it properly. In some cases the problem is the result of being born with inadequate tear ducts. Dry eyes can also be a side effect of other diseases, or the use of some types of medication. People with large eyes are more vulnerable to the condition, too. But the biggest cause is the natural ageing process. By the age of 60, the volume of lubricating tears is less than half the level at 18.

For those who suffer with dry eyes, the symptoms can be severe and include a chronic stinging, gritty, burning, and itching feeling. Some people describe the pain as like the sensation of having hot grit under the eyelid.

Sometimes the eye can appear red, but often there is no outward sign of pain and discomfort.

‘People with dry eye may have a sensation that the eye is dry, but they may also experience irritation, burning, and sore eyes, and a sensation of having a foreign body in the eye,’ says David Crystal, an Edinburgh-based optometrist and one of several optometrists throughout the country who is starting to use the plugs.

The incidence of dry eye has nearly doubled over the last seven years and lifestyle changes implicated include air conditioning, dehumidifiers, hairdryers, car wind-screen demisting, air pollution, and contact lenses.
Activities that reduce the rate of blinking, such as driving, and TV and computer screen watching, may also have played a part in the increase.

The specially designed plugs for the tear ducts are designed to make the best use of what tears there are. Each eye has two ducts, but the one on the lower lid is responsible for draining away 70 per cent of the fluid, and it is into this duct that the plug is fitted, one in each eye. The plug, which can be put into place with the help of a drop of local anaesthetic applied on a cotton-wool bud, reduces the amount of tears that drains away.

‘It is like heightening the dam and raising the reservoir levels. In effect, you create a reservoir of tears and, as a result, your eyes are bathed with your own natural tears without the bother of constantly supplementing the tear film with artificial tears,’ says David Crystal.

‘The insert can easily be removed if the dry eye condition improves at a later date. These inserts, which are so tiny they cannot be seen once they are in place, are also ideal in cases of dry eye caused by contact lenses.’ The procedure, which costs around £220, can result in improvements within days.

William Erskine, aged 59, of Duddingston, Edinburgh, had suffered for years with dry eye and had tried almost every alternative, including a number of over-the-counter oils and ointments.

‘I know exactly when it started. It was 35 years ago in Edinburgh Castle on a windy night. My eyes became dry, red hot and prickly and then just stayed like that,’ he says.

‘I tried all kinds of things but nothing worked. It was very painful, especially when I was working in an emergency highways team in bad weather in 12-hour shifts.

‘After so long, you begin to wonder whether you will ever get any relief. Earlier this year I had these silicone plugs put in and the results have been amazing. For the first time in 35 years year I have got peace – no more dry eyes.’

Source: daily mail

Cholera vaccine is 86 percent effective: Study


A cheap and easy to deliver oral vaccine against cholera is 86 percent effective in preventing the infection which causes severe diarrhea and can be fatal, researchers said on Thursday. Some 1.4 billion people around the globe were at risk for cholera in 2012, according to World Health Organization (WHO).

Cholera is caused by a bacterium, Vibrio cholerae, which can spread through the water supply in places where sanitation and hygiene are poor.

The study in the May 29 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine was the first to measure the effectiveness of a vaccine called Shanchol in response to a cholera outbreak under field conditions in Guinea.

Previously, the vaccine had been tested only under experimental conditions in Kolkata, India.

The research in Guinea, carried out by Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres), involved more than 300,000 doses of the two-dose vaccine, administered during a cholera outbreak in 2012.

It was 82 to 86 percent effective, and carried few side effects.

However, researchers were unable to compare one versus two doses in preventing cholera, and it remains unknown how the long the vaccine can remain effective at room temperature.

“Furthermore, can Shanchol be used in pregnancy and in children younger than one year of age?” asked a pair of doctors in Haiti and the United States, in an accompanying Perspective article in the journal.

“Although WHO recommendations suggest targeting pregnant women at high risk for cholera, the manufacturer has not approved use of the vaccine in pregnancy, and there are no guidelines for children under one year old.”

There are three cholera vaccines currently on the world market.

Shanchol is less expensive and easier to store than another leading vaccine, Dukoral, and the two are comparable in terms of effectiveness.

Shanchol costs $1.85 per dose, compared to Dukoral at $5.25 per dose. Both may offer some protection against cholera for up to five years.

The two vaccines have been approved by the World Health Organization for purchase by UN agencies. A third vaccine, mORCVAX, is licensed and produced only in Vietnam.

More than 1.6 million doses of Shanchol have already been distributed worldwide in the past three years.

The WHO has stockpiled two million doses and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) has pledged support for 20 million doses over the next five years, said the editorial, warning that millions more doses are needed.

Source: Times of India

Airplane Seat-Back Pockets Germier Than Toilet Handles


Concerned about germs while traveling by plane? It turns out that your seat-back pocket might actually be germier than the toilet handle, according to a new study, which also suggests that certain bacteria can linger on surfaces within airplanes for longer than a week.

In the study, researchers found that the antibiotic-resistant bacterium known as MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) lived on material from a seat-back pocket for a week, which is longer than it lived on any other surface found in airplanes. It actually lasted for the shortest amount of time on the toilet handle.

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The bacterium E. coli O157:H7, a common culprit in outbreaks of foodborne illness, survived longest on the material from the armrest, living there for four days.

“We do not know how likely it is for a passenger to get infected, but the odds are higher when groups of people are put into a crowded room or cabin,” said James M. Barbaree, an associate director for research at Auburn University in Alabama. [6 Superbugs to Watch Out For]

“Good hygiene practices lower the risk” of getting sick, Barbaree told Live Science.

The bacteria the researchers looked at are common in the environment, and people may be exposed to them and not even get sick. However, E. coli O157:H7 may cause severe diarrhea, and can even lead to hemolytic-uremic syndrome, a disorder that destroys blood cells and can be fatal, especially in children younger than age 5 and older adults. Infection with MRSA can cause skin diseases and pneumonia.

In the study, the researchers tested how long MRSA and E. coli bacteria could survive in an aircraft cabin while exposed to typical airplane conditions that included human sweat and saliva. The researchers tested the bacteria’s “survival skills” on six surfaces they obtained from a major airline carrier: an armrest, a plastic tray table, a metal toilet handle, a window shade, a seat pocket cloth and seat leather.

The reason certain types of bacteria survived longer on plane surfaces may be related to their differing structures, the researchers said.

Source: Discovery news

Bacteria in placentas of healthy pregnant woman a surprising discovery


New research shows overturns belief that fetuses grow in a pretty sterile environment, finds link to preterm births

Surprising new research shows a small but diverse community of bacteria lives in the placentas of healthy pregnant women, overturning the belief that fetuses grow in a pretty sterile environment.

These are mostly varieties of “good germs” that live in everybody. But the study, released last week, also hints that the makeup of this microbial colony plays a role in premature birth.

“It allows us to think about the biology of pregnancy in different ways than we have before, that pregnancy and early life aren’t supposed to be these totally sterile events,” said lead researcher Dr. Kjersti Aagaard of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

We share our bodies with trillions of microbes — on the skin, in the gut, in the mouth. These communities are called our microbiome, and many bacteria play critical roles in keeping us healthy, especially those in the intestinal tract. A few years ago, the U.S. government’s Human Microbiome Project mapped what makes up these colonies and calculated that healthy adults cohabitate with more than 10,000 species.

Healthy newborns pick up some from their mother during birth, different bugs depending on whether they were delivered vaginally or by C-section.
What about before birth? There have been some signs that the process could begin in-utero.

But, “we have traditionally believed in medicine that the uterus is a sterile part of the human body,” said Dr. Lita Proctor of the National Institutes of Health, who oversaw the microbiome project.

With the new research, “we realize that microbes may play a role even in fetus development,” added Proctor, who wasn’t involved in the work. “The results of this study now open up a whole new line of research on maternal and pediatric health.”

Aagard’s team earlier had studied the microbiome of the vagina, and learned that its composition changes when a woman becomes pregnant. The puzzle: The most common vaginal microbes weren’t the same as the earliest gut bacteria that scientists were finding in newborns.

What else, Aagaard wondered, could be “seeding” the infants’ intestinal tract?

With colleagues from Baylor and Texas Children’s Hospital, Aagaard analyzed 320 donated placentas, using technology that teases out bacterial DNA to evaluate the type and abundance of different microbes.
The placenta isn’t teeming with microbes — it harbours a low level, Aagaard stressed. Among them are kinds of E. coli that live in the intestines of most healthy people.

But to Aagaard’s surprise, the placental microbiome most resembled bacteria frequently found in the mouth, she reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine. The theory: Oral microbes slip into the mother’s bloodstream and make their way to the placenta.

Why does the body allow them to stay? Aagaard said there appears to be a role for different microbes. Some metabolize nutrients. Some are toxic to yeast and parasites. Some act a bit like natural versions of medications used to stop preterm contractions, she said.

In fact, among the 89 placentas that were collected after preterm births, levels of some of the apparently helpful bacteria were markedly lower, she said.

Aagaard is beginning a larger study to explore the link, planning to analyze the oral and placental microbiomes of more than 500 pregnant women at risk of preterm birth.

Source: Toronto star


Exercise Makes you Smarter


Science now believes exercise is not just good for your heart it can also make you smarter and that means it can make you better at what you do. It works fast too…stimulating your nervous system is one of the best ways to perform at a higher level within a short period of time. Doctor John Tatey, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School says, “I like to say that exercise is like taking a little Prozac or Ritalin at just the right moment…it affects mood, vitality, alertness and feelings of well-being.”

Medical science has now concluded that as little as 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day is enough for “Brain Training” for most adults. More is better if you want to enhance the other health benefits we all know exercise provides. If you’re looking for motivation to help you get started perhaps focusing on the mental clarity it provides will get you going. Here are some of the ways exercise can make you smarter…

The “Mind Body Connection” is cutting edge science today. It may have been the ancient Greeks that discovered the the mind body connection, but today we know areobic exercise not only pumps more blood to your muscles it helps your heart send more blood to the rest of your body as well, including your Brain. More blood means more oxygen and more oxygen means healthier brain cells. Better nourished brain cells improve cognition which fuels higher levels of thought.

The endorphins exercise produces also improves your ability to Concentrate, which assists you in blocking out distractions and improves your ability to set priorities. When you are less impulsive it sharpens your focus which enhances your memory. Improved recall makes your thinking more accurate, giving you greater access to your most important skills. “High Levels of Productive Thought” require lots of energy…especially when you need a boost in creativity. Serious creativity is more than a jolt from out of the blue. It’s hard work and you have to stay with it which means you need mental and physical endurance. Several studies indicate you are better able to use both sides of your brain when it is well nourished which leads to more balanced thinking.

Sometimes we all need incentives to perform well and unlike the physical benefits exercise provides which build up over time, “The Mental Rewards Are Immediate.” Even as little as 10 minutes of vigorous exercise can trigger the release of pleasure chemicals within our nervous system that calm us down, make us think more clearly, perform better and even make us happier. If you exercise today your Brain will reward you today…and if you lack patience just knowing a fast solution is out there can be very comforting.


Experiments show that most children rank highly creative (right brain) before entering school. Because our educational systems place a higher value on left brain skills such as mathematics, logic and language than they do on drawing or using our imagination, only ten percent of these same children will rank “highly creative” by age 7. By the time we are adults, high creativity remains in only 2 percent of the population. New studies indicate that exercising consistently stimulates the whole brain which may increase your access to more skills. And since most of us aren’t as creative as we would like to be an extra “Jolt” from time to time could be very valuable indeed.

Source: world life expectancy

Alternative Treatments for Insomnia


Alternative therapy encompasses a variety of disciplines that include everything from diet and exercise to mental conditioning and lifestyle changes. Examples of alternative therapies include acupuncture, guided imagery, yoga, hypnosis, biofeedback, aromatherapy, relaxation, herbal remedies, massage, and many others.

Complementary medicine is essentially alternative medicine that is taken along with conventional treatments.

Alternative Therapies for Insomnia

Herbal supplements are purported to help treat insomnia. A look:

Valerian root. Some studies have suggested that the root of valerian (Valeriana officinalis) may help with the onset of sleep and with sleep maintenance. However, more research is needed before a final conclusion can be made about the safety and effectiveness of valerian for insomnia.
Chamomile is another commonly used herb for the treatment of insomnia. More research is needed, however, to see if it is effective. The FDA considers chamomile to be safe and the herb has no known adverse effects.
Other herbs promoted as effective sleep remedies include passionflower, hops, and lemon balm.
Clinical studies to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of herbs are scarce. More information is required before these herbs can be recommended as a first line of treatment against insomnia.

Since herbal supplements can interact with certain medications, always inform your health care provider if you are using any herbal supplements.


Melatonin is a hormone that is made by a gland in the brain in humans and produced in animals as well as plants. Although the effects of melatonin are complex and poorly understood, it plays a critical role in the regulation of the sleep-wake cycle and other circadian rhythms. Melatonin has been studied as a possible treatment for circadian rhythm disorders and may be helpful in decreasing sleep disturbances caused by jet lag.

Adverse effects of melatonin are minimal, but long-term studies examining efficacy and toxicity of melatonin supplements are needed.


Acupuncture is often used in traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of insomnia. This procedure involves the insertion of very fine needles (sometimes in combination with electrical stimulus or with heat produced by burning specific herbs) into the skin at specific acupuncture points in order to influence the functioning of the body. The results of recent studies have shown acupuncture improved sleep quality in people with insomnia. However, additional research is required before the effectiveness of acupuncture is proved conclusively for the relief of insomnia.

Relaxation and meditation

Increased muscle tension and intrusive thoughts can interfere with sleep. Therefore, it is not surprising that techniques aimed at relaxing muscles (progressive muscle relaxation and biofeedback) and quieting the mind (meditation) have been found to be effective treatments for insomnia. Most people can learn these techniques, but it usually takes several weeks before they can sufficiently master them well enough to help ease insomnia. There is a growing body of evidence that supports the value of meditation in treating insomnia. Several studies show that regular meditation practice, either alone or as a part of yoga practice, results in higher blood levels of melatonin, an important regulator of sleep.


Regular exercise deepens sleep in young adults with or without sleep disorders. In addition, several studies show that exercise can improve sleep in older adults. Recent studies show that even the low-to-moderate tai chi and certain yoga practices enhance sleep quality in older persons and cancer patients with sleep problems, respectively. Although consistent exercise has been shown to improve sleep quality, most experts advise exercising at least three to four hours before bedtime to avoid interference with sleep.

Source: webmd

Environmental toxins could make you look older than your years


Researchers have said that the amount of exposure to harmful substances, such as benzene and cigarette smoke, in the environment is the reason behind some 75-year-olds being downright spry while others barely being able to get around.

Norman Sharpless from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, said the rate of physiologic, or molecular, aging differs between individuals in part because of exposure to ‘gerontogens’, i.e., environmental factors that affect aging.

Sharpless said they believe just as an understanding of carcinogens has informed cancer biology, so will an understanding of gerontogens benefit the study of aging and by identifying and avoiding gerontogens, they will be able to influence aging and life expectancy at a public health level.

In the future, blood tests evaluating biomarkers of molecular age might be used to understand differences amongst individuals in aging rates. Those tests might measure key pathways involved in the process of cellular senescence or chemical modifications to DNA .

From a public health perspective, cigarette smoke is likely the most important gerontogen, Sharpless said. Cigarettes are linked with cancers but also with atherosclerosis, pulmonary fibrosis, and other diseases associated with age.

UV radiation from the sun makes us older too, and Sharpless and his colleagues recently showed that chemotherapy treatment is also a strong gerontogen. With the aid of a mouse model that they developed, his team is prepared to study these gerontogens and others in much greater detail.

The researchers call for a concerted research effort to understand the clinical uses for molecular tests of aging as well as the epidemiology of accelerated aging.

The research has been published in the Cell Press journal Trends.

source: zee news

Dialysis patients’ anxiety and depression linked to physical impairments

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With the rate of chronic kidney disease on the rise among older Americans, researchers seeking to improve patients’ quality of life studied a group of adults undergoing hemodialysis and found their higher rates of depression and anxiety could be associated with their impaired physical exercise capability and reduced daily physical activity, according a new study published online by the Journal of Renal Nutrition.

The researchers studied 72 relatively healthy maintenance hemodialysis patients and compared them to 39 healthy adults who were not on dialysis. They found significantly higher rates of anxiety and depression among the dialysis patients, than among the adults who were not on dialysis. They also found the dialysis patients suffering from depression and anxiety had the greatest impairments in physical exercise performance and daily physical activity.

“Adults undergoing dialysis often have less daily physical activities than other adults, but little was known about what, if any, effect this reduced activity had on their mental state,” said Joel D. Kopple, MD, Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute (LA BioMed) lead researcher. “Our study found an association between reduced daily physical activities and depression and anxiety. Also, the capacity to perform physical exercise was diminished in these patients. These findings provide a strong rationale for studying whether increased daily physical activity can reduce depression and anxiety among adults undergoing dialysis.”

Each person enrolled in the study took walks, climbed stairs and engaged in other physical activities so that researchers could determine their physical abilities. The researchers gauged their depression and anxiety using standardized tests and found 43% of the dialysis patients had anxiety and 33% suffered from depression. In comparison, only 2.5% of the adults who were not on dialysis had anxiety and only 5% of them suffered from depression.

Approximately one in 10 Americans has some form of chronic kidney disease, and the incidence of chronic kidney disease among people ages 65 and older more than doubled between 2000 and 2008, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Hemodialysis is a life-preserving treatment for hundreds of thousands of Americans with kidney failure. It is a medical procedure to remove fluid and waste products from the blood and to correct electrolyte imbalances. This is accomplished using a machine and a dialyzer, which is sometimes described as an “artificial kidney.”

“Research is important to improve the quality of life of patients undergoing dialysis,” said Dr. Kopple. “With the growing population of people undergoing dialysis, this research is growing in importance.”

Source: medical xpress