HEALTH & FITNESS

‘Magic’ cures can damage your skin
Dr Gurinderjit Singh
The Supreme Court of India has defined “quack” as “a person who does not have any knowledge of a particular system of medicine but practises in that very system.” The quacks are generally divided into two categories: those who do not have any recognised degree and the ones who are having the educational qualification in one branch but practice another branch. The situation is so grave that for each qualified practitioner of medicine, there are about 10 quacks in this country.

Total knee replacement — myths and realities
Dr Ravinder Chadha
Knee arthritis is an extremely common affliction. When conservative line of treatment fails the only option left is total knee replacement. There is a lot of speculation regarding the outcome of surgery. There is usually a mixed feeling of confidence arising from pain-free improved function of the knee, and also the apprehension of being totally immobile after surgery.

When medical screening is questionable
Jeremy Laurance
A leading specialist has launched a broadside against the medical screening industry for peddling unproved procedures that cause more harm than good.

How moods affect our health
Anastasia Stephens
As your irritation mounts, you can feel your blood pressure rising. And that's exactly what is happening to your body when you have an argument. The effects, it seems, can be lasting. In the week after the irritating incident, you just need to think about the argument and your blood pressure will rise again, according to research published in the International Journal of Psychophysiology. So if you've recently experienced a dispute, a seething irritation or a simple frustration, you could be best off forgetting about it.

Health Notes
Indians take to olive oil for healthier tomorrow
New Delhi: With lifestyle diseases like obesity and heart trouble becoming endemic in the country, Indians are increasingly taking to olive oil as the preferred cooking medium, prompting global manufacturers to eye this growing market.

  • Educated women ‘sleep better at night than men’
  • Bathing soaps can disrupt hormonal activities!
  • ICU patients ‘not getting enough sleep time to heal’

 

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‘Magic’ cures can damage your skin
Dr Gurinderjit Singh

Facial rejuvenation with botox on the upper half and filler on the lower half of the face
Facial rejuvenation with botox on the upper half and filler on the lower half of the face

The Supreme Court of India has defined “quack” as “a person who does not have any knowledge of a particular system of medicine but practises in that very system.” The quacks are generally divided into two categories: those who do not have any recognised degree and the ones who are having the educational qualification in one branch but practice another branch. The situation is so grave that for each qualified practitioner of medicine, there are about 10 quacks in this country.

The last decade has seen beauty clinics mushrooming in India. Very few such centres are managed by doctors. Instead, the show is run by beauticians. Even the highly sophisticated laser equipment, used for permanent hair reduction and for treating pigmentary problems and wrinkles, is operated by half-baked technicians. If not used properly these machines can cause irrepairable damage to the skin.

The weight-loss machines used in slimming centres, instead of removing fat, just redistribute it. Thus, fat cells are stimulated to move from the centre to the peripheral areas of the body. As a result, the person may lose a few inches from the tummy or hips, but no actual weight loss takes place.

The beauty parlours care very little abut hygiene. Before you choose herbal or beauty oil massage, aroma therapy, fruit-based facial, silver or gold facial or ozone therapy, listen to what dermatologists say. They advise that there are no long-term benefits of regular facials. A facial removes dirt and grime from the face and induces a glow, but the effect is short-lived.

On the contrary, if the ingredients are applied arbitrarily or the massage is done improperly, the result may be quite disastrous. One can end up with a host of skin problems, which include fulminant acne (pimples), allergic reactions and irritant dermatitis. A new term has been coined for such problems in dermatology — BPCL, short for Beauty Parlour-Created Dermatosis.

The recent phenomenon of trichologists treating hair disorders gives a wrong impression to the general public.

Very few people know the fact that one does not need to be a dermatologist to become a trichologist, and most of the trichologists are not qualified dermatologists. However, members of the medical profession can undertake courses and careers within trichology in order to become qualified trichologists. Dermatology includes trichology and all qualified skin specialists are expert trichologists as well.

Even educated people believe in magic cures, not only in India but in developed countries also. People always look for short-cuts whenever they are shown the genuine authentic ways of treatment. A girl having an injury mark on the face can never be treated with local ointments or creams, however costly they may be. The only solution to the problem is “scar revision”, a type of surgery when the old scar is excised. Then the wound is delicately sutured with such fine sutures that the resultant scar is a very faint line. Yes, that faint line is the one that can be significantly erased with good erasing creams.

A bald person cannot get his hair back with magic potions, since hair transplantation is the only answer to that. A long-standing patch of vitiligo (leucoderma), when stationary for a long time, cannot be cured with medicines alone.

Skin grafting, whether split thickness or punch, will definitely cure the condition. The crows feet over the face of a woman or man cannot go away without a Botox injection. Similarly, furrows on the forehead or deep nasolabial folds can be filled only with filler injections. Chickenpox or deep acne marks can be easily removed with diamond peel, which is done weekly, maximum up to 10 sittings.

The facial hair of women can be removed only with six laser sittings, each done after the intervals of four-six weeks. People try to avoid these gold standard treatments to save money or sometimes time. They go in for dubious alternative treatments, which prove harmful and more expensive in the long run.

The writer is Chief Dermatologist, Mohan Dai Oswal Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation, Ludhiana.

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Total knee replacement — myths and realities
Dr Ravinder Chadha

Knee arthritis is an extremely common affliction. When conservative line of treatment fails the only option left is total knee replacement. There is a lot of speculation regarding the outcome of surgery. There is usually a mixed feeling of confidence arising from pain-free improved function of the knee, and also the apprehension of being totally immobile after surgery.

The usual scenario being an individual being put on medication and after some time advised knee-replacement surgery. Unfortunately, the concept of proper rehabilitation/ exercises is virtually non-existent during the early stages of the disease which leads to the joints becoming weak. Individuals undertaking proper aerobic activity along with an appropriate exercise regimen can overcome pain and stiffness, thereby postponing or avoiding knee-replacement surgery. The important queries which should be suitably addressed prior to undertaking knee-replacement surgery are:

When to undergo knee replacement? Failed trials with medication and exercises, the use of a cane, undergoing arthroscopy with pain still persistenting, stiffness, deformity and instability while sitting, standing, walking call for knee-replacement surgery.

Appropriate age to undergo replacement — The ideal age to undergo surgery is 65 to 70 years. However, all age groups depending on individual assessment may go in for knee replacement.

Durability of joint replacement — The longevity of the implant depends on the patient’s weight, physical condition and success of surgery. An artificial joint is not as durable/healthy as the natural joint. There is usually no guarantee that the implant will last a life-time. Certain precautions may, however, increase the life of the implant. The precautions:

  • Body weight should be maintained well within normal limit.
  • Avoid running or any other high-impact aerobics, which overload the joint.
  • Avoid excessive stair climbing.
  • Avoid low-seating surfaces and chairs.

Return to normal activity — Usually, the time period is around six weeks. Initially, one can walk with the help of a cane. Normal daily activities should not entail heavy lifting, stair climbing, high impact sports, etc

The risks — Like all surgical procedures, knee-replacement surgery carries risk. Infection, loosening of the artificial knee and injury to nerve or blood vessels are common.

Usually, post-surgery, the knee may become warm and swollen. But one should not panic. These symptoms disappear automatically.

The area around the knee may also become numb. This usually improves with time.

Certain patients complain about clicking sounds in the knee. This occurs as the implant is made of metal and plastic. Such sound should be ignored unless it is associated with pain.

When can one drive a car? The average time to return to driving is four to six weeks, when one can get in and out of the driver’s seat comfortably.

Activities that should be undertaken to remain fit — Undertaking appropriate physical activity like walking, stationary cycling to retain the range of motion and strengthening the muscles surrounding the knee joint is mandatory. Stretching and strengthening exercises are extremely significant. Individuals not following these guidelines are usually not comfortable and might even blame the surgeon.

Undergoing knee-replacement surgery is an individual choice and should be seen as a last resort. Once done, adherence to appropriate and adequate physical activity should be the rule to reap the benefits of surgery.

The writer is a former doctor/physiotherapist, Indian cricket team.

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When medical screening is questionable
Jeremy Laurance

A leading specialist has launched a broadside against the medical screening industry for peddling unproved procedures that cause more harm than good.

Professor Nicholas Wald, the director of the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine in London, says hi-tech screening services which promise to detect early signs of heart disease, cancer and other conditions are being promoted by commercial organisations as a dubious way of reducing health risks. Clinics offering body scans, virtual colonoscopies of the bowel, and mole assessments for skin cancer have sprung up around the country charging up to £1,000 per test.

One firm advertises its scans as an "MOT for the body". The scans have become fashionable gifts for people reaching milestone birthdays of 40, 50 or 60.

But critics say the scans often reveal abnormalities without being able to distinguish those that indicate serious disease. Many patients then need further checks, causing them sleepless nights with anxiety before they are cleared. At the same time, the scans deliver a hefty dose of radiation.

Professor Wald says insurance companies who promote medical screening to provide "peace of mind" are among the worst culprits. Writing in the Journal of Medical Screening, Professor Wald says: "Screening is usually a weak means of providing reassurance because [it] generally misses most cases of the disease for which [it] is carried out ... there is always some harm which is only acceptable if there is also some benefit," he says.

He singles out for criticism Saga Insurance, the group that targets the over-fifties, which wrote to customers last August offering them the chance of a CT scan to "look inside the body" and other tests for an all-inclusive price of £530. The scans are provided by Lifescan, a private health company.

— The Independent

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How moods affect our health
Anastasia Stephens

As your irritation mounts, you can feel your blood pressure rising. And that's exactly what is happening to your body when you have an argument. The effects, it seems, can be lasting. In the week after the irritating incident, you just need to think about the argument and your blood pressure will rise again, according to research published in the International Journal of Psychophysiology. So if you've recently experienced a dispute, a seething irritation or a simple frustration, you could be best off forgetting about it.

A half-hour argument with your lover can also slow your body's ability to heal by at least a day. In couples who regularly argue, that healing time is doubled again. Researchers at Ohio State University discovered this by testing married couples with a suction device that created tiny blisters on their arm. When couples were then asked to talk about an area of disagreement that provoked strong emotions, the wounds took around 40 per cent longer to heal. This response, say researchers, was caused by a surge in cytokines – immune-molecules that trigger inflammation. Chronic high levels of these are linked to arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

FALLING IN LOVE

Researchers at the University of Pavia, in Italy, have found that falling in love raises levels of Nerve Growth Factor for about a year. This hormone-like substance helps to restore the nervous system and improves memory by triggering the growth of new brain cells. It is also associated with the feeling of being "loved-up" and contented, inducing a calming effect on the body and mind. Unfortunately, researchers found levels dropped after about a year – the point at which feelings of romantic love fall away and reality kicks in.

BEING UNDER PRESSURE

The effects of constant pressure – a form of chronic stress – are well-known. Robert Sapolsky, professor of biological sciences at Stanford University and an authority on stress, puts it like this: "In fight-or-flight, your body turns off all the long-term building and repair projects," he says. "Constant high levels of cortisol take your body's eye off the ball. Memory and accuracy are both impaired. Patrols for invaders aren't sent out, you tire more easily, you can become depressed and reproduction gets downgraded." Exposed to chronic stress for years, high blood levels of glucose and fatty acids increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. A recent study at University College London found that stress raised cholesterol levels, another factor that increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.

UNCONTROLLABLE LAUGHTER

Scientists at the University of California have discovered that laughter relaxes tense muscles, reduces production of stress-causing hormones, lowers blood pressure, and helps increase oxygen absorption in the blood. Cardiologists at the University of Maryland Medical Center found laughing can actually reduce the risk of heart attack by curbing unwanted stress, which can destroy the protective lining of blood vessels. A good giggle also burns calories since it's possible to move 400 muscles of the body when laughing. Some researchers estimate that laughing 100 times offers an aerobic workout equivalent to 10 minutes on a rowing machine or 15 minutes on an exercise bike.

HIDING YOUR IRRITATION

It's hard to know what's best – venting anger or holding it in, as both have negative effects. A long-term study in Michigan looked at reactions to authority figures who yelled at subjects for something they had not done. Women who suppressed their anger in confrontations had twice the risk of dying from conditions such as heart attack, stroke or cancer. Angry outbursts last only a few minutes, but can cause massive surges in adrenaline, blood pressure and heart rate, raising the risk of heart attack or stroke by up to five times in people over 50. Subtle forms of anger, including impatience, irritability and grouchiness, damage health, too – these states are associated with anxiety, low mood and a higher infection risk due to depressed immunity.

BREAKING DOWN IN TEARS

When you cry, you really do cry out negative emotion. Dr William Frey, a US biochemist, compared the tears of women who cried for emotional reasons with those who cried on exposure to onions. Emotional tears were found to contain high levels of hormones and neurotransmitters associated with stress. They also led to lower blood pressure, pulse rate and more synchronised brain-wave patterns. Dr Frey concluded that the purpose of emotional crying is to remove stress chemicals. He says the continued presence of these substances – when you hold tears in – would keep you in a needless state of tension. Your body would then be prone to the negative effects of anxiety, including weakened immunity, impaired memory and poor digestion.

FEELING JEALOUS

Of the human emotions, jealousy is one of the most powerful and painful – and the most difficult to control. While men typically become jealous when they suspect sexual competition, women's jealousy is triggered by the suspicion of emotional betrayal. "Jealousy is a complex emotional mix of fear, stress and anger," says Dr Jane Flemming, a London-based GP.

— The Independent

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Health Notes
Indians take to olive oil for healthier tomorrow

New Delhi: With lifestyle diseases like obesity and heart trouble becoming endemic in the country, Indians are increasingly taking to olive oil as the preferred cooking medium, prompting global manufacturers to eye this growing market.

According to the International Olive Council (IOC), a non-profit organisation, Indians today consume some 2,000 tonnes of olive oil per annum, but the demand is expected to grow to about 10,000 tonnes over the next three years.

“A lot of people in India have started using olive oil and we are urging more people to adopt it for healthier tomorrow,” says Franco Oliva, deputy director and head of the promotion division of the global body. — IANS

Educated women ‘sleep better at night than men’

New York: It seems that well-read women are more comfortable in bed than men — the more educated a female is, the better she sleeps at night. In case of males, it’s just the reverse.

Yes, according to a study carried out by a team of international researchers, women have higher rates of insomnia than men and the more they are educated, the more likely they are to sleep through the night.

Conversely, the better educated a man is, the less likely he is to get a good night’s sleep, the ‘ScienceDaily’ has reported. — PTI

Bathing soaps can disrupt hormonal activities!

Washington: Watch out! The bathing soap you use can affect your health by disrupting the normal hormonal activities.

Researchers from the University of California carried out a study and showed that a common antibacterial chemical added to cleansing materials like bathing soaps and body washes can alter hormonal activity in rats and in human cells in the laboratory, the Science Daily reported.

Chemicals known as endocrine disruptors, or Endocrine Disrupting Substances (EDS), have been linked in animal studies to a variety of problems, including cancer, reproductive failure and developmental anomalies.

The study is the first to investigate the hormone effects of the antibacterial compound triclocarban (also known as TCC or 3,4,4’-trichlorocarbanilide), which is widely used in household and personal care products including bar soaps, body washes, cleansing lotions, wipes and detergents. — UNI

ICU patients ‘not getting enough sleep time to heal’

Washington: A study has found that the sleep patterns of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) patients are superficial, i.e. the patients barely spend any time in the restorative stages of sleep that aid in healing.

The study, led by Dr. Randall Friese, assistant professor of burn/trauma/critical care at UT Southwestern, found that ICU patients might look like that they are sleeping, but they are not sleeping well.

“Current clinical-care protocols routinely and severely deprive critically ill patients of sleep at a time when the need for adequate rest is perhaps most essential,” said Friese. — ANI

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