Thursday, September 6, 2007



Smoking ban cuts cardiac arrests

Vienna: Ireland’s rate of heart attacks fell by around a tenth in the year following the introduction of the world’s first nationwide ban on workplace smoking, boosting the case for more similar bans, doctors said on Tuesday.
Edmond Cronin and colleagues at Cork University Hospital said an analysis of people admitted with heart attacks to public hospitals in southwest Ireland showed an 11% fall in the year after the ban came into effect in March 2004.
“This should further encourage health authorities to look at more smoking bans around the world,” he said in an interview at the annual European Society of Cardiology congress, where the data was presented.

There was no significant change in heart attacks in the second year after the ban, indicating a possible step change in medical outcomes.
Smoking, which leads to heart disease as well as lung cancer and other serious respiratory conditions, is the leading cause of preventable deaths worldwide.
It increases the risk of heart problems like angina, heart failure and heart attacks by contributing to the build-up of cholesterol plaques of the artery walls, leading to narrowing or blockage.
More recent research also suggests that inhaling tobacco smoke, either directly or passively, can trigger a heart attack. (Input from - AGENCIES)

Homa fumes can nullify ill-effects of acid rain: research study by university in meerut

Bangalore: If you believe a homa or yajna (sacrificial fire) is only to appease the gods, think again. The fumes from a homa can nullify the ill-effects of acid rain on plants and the ash or residue can boost plant growth, according to a research study conducted at Charan Singh University, Meerut.

“Homa is an ancient ritual inspired by the Yajurveda. We chose soya bean plants for the experiment to study the effects of homa on plant growth and acid rain. We noticed that plants administered with homa ash recorded good growth and its fumes nullified the ill-effects of artificial acid rain on plants,’’ explained researcher Dr Purti Arya, who presented a paper in Bangalore on Friday, as part of city-based NGO Prakruthi Foundation’s advocacy of ‘Back to Nature’ to fight global warming.

Why garlic is GOOD for your heart.

Chewing them can give you bad breath but garlic, an essential ingredient in Indian curry, can actually be a boon for your health.
Scientists have now found why garlic can help keep the heart healthy. According to a team from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, garlic boosts the body’s ability to produce a compound called allicin, that relaxes blood vessels, increases blood flow and prevents blood clots and oxidative damage.
Scientists say that allicin, which is broken down into the foulsmelling sulphur compounds which taint breath, reacts with red blood cells and produces hydrogen sulphide which relaxes blood vessels and keeps blood flowing easily.
To reach this conclusion, scientists injected crushed garlic juice in blood vessels of rats. This produced striking results — with ten
sion within the vessels reducing by 72%.
The researchers also found that RBCs exposed to minute amounts of garlic juice immediately began emitting hydrogen sulphide.
Further experiments showed that the chemical reaction took place mainly on the surface of the blood cells, playing a vital role in helping cells to communicate with each other.
It stimulated the cells that form the lining of the vessels to relax, causing the vessels to dilate. This, in turn, reduced blood pressure, allowing the blood to carry more oxygen to essential organs, and reducing pressure on the heart.

Lead researcher Dr David Kraus said, “Our results suggest garlic in the diet is a very good thing. Certainly, in areas where garlic consumption is high, such as the Mediterranean and the Far East, there is a low incidence of cardiovascular disease. It is, however, important to know that large amounts in supplement form may interact with blood thinning drugs and could increase the risk of bleeding.”
Egyptians worshipped garlic and placed clay models of garlic bulbs in the tomb of Tutankhamen. Garlic was so highly-prized it was even used as currency.

Goodness of guava

Research has shown that guava may be among the fruits richest in antioxidants,suggesting that there may be significant health benefits for people who regularly in
clude guava in their diet.
Oranges and other citrus fruits are not the only ones rich in Vitamin C. One guava has 165 mg of Vitamin C, while one orange has a mere 69 mg. This delicious fruit is also a good source of beta carotene, lycopene, potassium and soluble fibre.
Guava can improve your heart's condition by helping to control your blood pressure and cholesterol. Its ability to lower blood pressure could be the result of potassium. This mineral is an electrolyte that is essential to electrical reactions in your body, including your heart.

Scientists find gene that controls lifespan

Poorly Understood Gene Also Enhances Quality Of Life

London: Who knew that the elixir of youth would ultimately be hidden in a poorly understood gene that not only fosters longevity but also enhances quality of life?
Well, scientists in Britain have identified the gene that regulates lifespan in mammals, which could one day lead to treatments to hold off aging and its related illnesses, ‘The Guardian’ reported here on Monday.
“Aging is a major risk-factor for all diseases, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s. Intervening in the aging process may capture and ameliorate a wide range of diseases,” lead researcher Dominic Withers of the Centre for Research on Ageing at University College London was quoted as saying.
In fact, the researchers
identified the gene IRS-1 involved in regulating the function of insulin — a hormone that controls the amount of sugar in blood — after conducting experiments in mice.

Research findings

Findings in male mice showed that those without IRS-1 lived 20% longer and had much healthier lives.
Female mice without the gene had even better longevity, living 30% longer on average. Moreover, the mice without IRS-1 were much healthier than normal mice as they
aged — they had brighter eyes, better immune function and healthier skin and bones.
“The results suggest that IRS-1 is a pathway conserved by evolution that regulates the lifespan of mammals, and it may point to methods of potentially delaying ageing in humans,” Withers said.
David Gems, another of the study’s authors, said the work on IRS-1 in mice was the first to show that mammals could stay healthy as they lived longer। “Obviously, it’s much harder to study these mechanisms in humans because our life expectancy is so much longer, but this study and our other work on ageing are laying crucial scientific groundwork,” he said. Withers is not yet certain why removing IRS-1 led to a longer life in mice.

New stem cells used to cure sickle cell anaemia in mice

Chicago: Using a new type of stem cells made from ordinary skin cells, US researchers said on Thursday they treated mice with sickle cell anaemia, proving in principle that such cells could be used as a therapy.
US and Japanese researchers last month reported they had reprogrammed human skin cells into behaving like embryonic stem cells, the body’s master cells. They call the cells induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells for short.
The Japanese team had previously done the reprogramming work in mouse skin cells.
A team at the Whitehead Institute of Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has now used the new cells to treat mice engineered to have sickle cell anaemia, a disease of the blood caused by a defect in a single gene.
“This is the first evaluation of these cells for therapy,” said Jacob Hanna, who worked on the study. “The field has been working for years on strategies to generate customized stem cells,” he said. Creating stem cell therapies from a person’s own cells would make them genetically identical, eliminating the need for immune suppression or donor matching, Hanna said. “Now, with the breakthrough of this new method for generating stem cell-like cells, can we try to substitute a diseased tissue in a living animal?”
Hanna and colleagues working in Rudolf Jaenisch’s lab at Whitehead Institute took skin cells from diseased mice and inserted four genes that reprogram the cells into becoming iPS cells. “We call it the magic four factor,” Hannah said.
Pluripotent or multipurpose cells, such as embryonic stem cells and the new cells, can morph into any type of cell in the human body. The researchers then coaxed these mouse master cells into becoming blood-forming stem cells and substituted the faulty gene that causes sickle cell anaemia with a working one.
When they transplanted these cells into the diseased mice, tests showed normal blood and kidney function, they report in Friday’s issue of the journal ‘Science’.
“This demonstrates that iPS cells have the same potential for therapy as embryonic stem cells, without the ethical and practical issues raised in creating embryonic stem cells,” Jaenisch said.
But the technique is far from perfected. The four genes needed to turn skin cells into master cells are delivered using a type of virus called a retrovirus.
“Once they enter the genome, there is the danger that they can silence some genes that are important or they can activate some dangerous genes that shouldn’t be activated,” Hanna said. Another obstacle is that one of the four genes used is c-Myc, which is known to cause cancer.
Hanna and colleagues got around that by removing the c- Myc gene after it had done its job of converting the skin cells into iPS cells. “It is far from solving the problem,” he said.
Scientists hope to use stem cells to treat a host of diseases like diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and spinal injuries. And the new technique for making stem cells will make them easier to study.
But many researchers including Hanna say human embryonic stem research paved the way for such discoveries and should continue. “They are the gold standard for what is normal and how a stem cell should behave,” he said.

Why we sleep: It’s not just for that rest

New Findings Suggest That Sleep Plays A Crucial Role In Flagging And Storing Important Memories

The task looks as simple as a “Sesame Street” exercise. Study pairs of Easter eggs on a computer screen and memorize how the computer has arranged them: the aqua egg over the rainbow one, the paisley over the coral one — and there are just six eggs in all.
Most people can study these pairs for about 20 minutes and ace a test on them, even a day later. But they’re much less accurate in choosing between two eggs that have not been directly compared: Aqua trumped rainbow but does that mean it trumps paisley? It’s hazy. It’s hazy, that is, until you sleep on it.
In a study published in May, researchers at Harvard and McGill Universities reported that participants who slept after playing this game scored significantly higher on a retest than those who did not sleep. While asleep they apparently figured out what they didn’t while awake: the structure of the simple hierarchy that linked the pairs, paisley over aqua over rainbow, and so on.
“We think what’s happening during sleep is that you open the aperture of memory and are able to see this bigger picture,” said study author, Matthew Walker, a neuroscientist who is now at the University of California, Berkeley. He added that many such insights occurred “only when you enter this wonder-world of sleep.”
Scientists have been trying to determine why people need sleep for more than 100 years. They have not learned much more than what every new parent quickly finds out: sleep loss makes you more reckless, more emotionally fragile, less able to concentrate and almost certainly more vulnerable to infection. They know, too, that some people get by on as few as three hours a night, even less, and that there are hearty souls who have stayed up for more than week without significant health problems.
Now, a small group of neuroscientists is arguing that at least one vital function of sleep is bound up with learning and memory. A cascade of new findings, in animals and humans, suggest that sleep plays a critical role in flagging and storing important memories, both intellectual and physical, and perhaps in seeing subtle connections that were invisible during waking — a new way to solve a math or Easter egg problem, even an unseen pattern causing stress in a marriage.
The theory is controversial, and some scientists insist that it’s still far from clear whether the sleeping brain can do anything with memories that the waking brain doesn’t also do, in
moments of quiet contemplation.
Yet the new research underscores a vast transformation in the way scientists have come to understand the sleeping brain. Once seen as a blank screen, a metaphor for death, it has emerged as an active, purposeful machine, a secretive intelligence that comes out at night to play — and to work — during periods of dreaming and during the netherworld chasms known as deep sleep.
“To do science you have to have an idea, and for years no one had one; they saw sleep as nothing but an annihilation of consciousness,” said Dr J Allan Hobson, a psychiatry professor at Harvard. “Now we know different, and we’ve got some very good ideas about what’s going on.”
(times network)

Some neuroscientists say that at least one vital function of sleep is tied to learning and memory

Take care of the largest and most neglected organ

Common Skin ailments, their causes and remedies

What are the most common skin ailments?
Eczema, white patches, acne, hair loss, dark circles, pigmentary disorders, fungal infections, warts, sexually-transmitted diseases, psoriasis and photosensitivity disorders.

What is hazardous to healthy skin?

Exposure to sunlight and deposition of hydrocarbons on the skin (due to pollution) cause aging of the skin. In Bangalore, ultra-violet damage, tanning and dryness are common.

How can the skin be protected?

Staying in the shade, use of an umbrella and sunscreen are effective in protecting the skin. A combination of the three is ideal.

Are skin care products safe?

The products in India match glob
al standards. However, check labels to see whether you are allergic to any of the contents. When in doubt, consult a specialist and undergo a compatibility test. Always limit the number of products you use and avoid using moisturisers if you are below 30 years.

How does one tackle acne and dark circles?

Acne, if untreated, leads to a scar
ring। Laser treatment or usage of antibiotics for six weeks can help. Dark circles can be a family trait, obesityor anaemia-related, or exogenous (due to use of eyeliner).

Psoriasis affects 125m

What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a genetic disorder of the skin that affects one per cent of the population. It is characterised by red scaly patches of skin, which is silvery white. Psoriasis is often minor, causing dry patches on elbows, knees or the naval.

Is it hereditary or infectious?

The disorder results from a defect in the gene and is not always hereditary. It is not contagious either.

What treatments are available?

Doctors treat psoriasis in steps. First, medicines are applied to the skin, followed by phototherapy and intake of medicines.

Home remedies for hair loss

• Soak fenugreek in deep pot of water throughout the night. Massage the liquid into the scalp and wrap with a cloth for 3 hours. Repeat everyday for 1 month.

• Massage the scalp with uncooked egg yolk, leave for 1 hour and wash.

• Smear red henna on the scalp and wait for 1 hour, then wash, Repeat for 10-14 days. Be ware your hair will turn red from the henna!

• Smear castor oil on the scalp and the hair roots but not on the hair, wrap the hair with a newspaper, tie with a cloth and leave overnight, wash in the morning. Repeat every 7-10 days (results will come after 6-7 treatments).

• Boil 1 cup of water, add 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds, cook for 5 minutes, cool and drink.

• Rub olive oil into the scalp to reduce hair loss.

• Boil rosemary leaves in water, strain and save the liquid in a glass bottle. Use to wash the hair every day. You can also put the rosemary water in a sprayer and spray the hair every morning.

• Mix 2 tablespoons of olive oil, rosemary, 1 lemon juice and 1 egg yolk. Apply on the hair roots for half an hour and wash off.

• Mix 1 tablespoon of cumin to 1/2 a cup of olive oil and rub into the scalp, leave for half an hour and wash off.

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