HEALTH & FITNESS

Children are more prone to getting sick during monsoon
When the monsoon comes it brings with it not just cooler temperature but also a host of illnesses. In fact, each year, with the onset of the monsoon, there is a steady rise in the incidence of water contamination cases and infectious diseases. The level of illness among children always goes up during the monsoon and most of them have to get treatment for skin irritation, conjunctivitis (eye flu), diarrhoea and dysentry, typhoid, polio, jaundice, malaria or dengue fever.

Stem cells hold great promise for regenerating insulin-secreting tissues
New Delhi: Diabetes is a chronic disease characterized by a deficit in cell mass and a failure of glucose homeostasis. Both circumstances result in a variety of severe complications and an overall shortened life expectancy.

Relax your way to perfect health
It's a piece of advice that yogis have given for thousands of years: take a deep breath and relax. Watch the tension melt from your muscles and all your niggling worries vanish. Somehow we all know that relaxation is good for us. Now the hard science has caught up - for a comprehensive scientific study showing that deep relaxation changes our bodies on a genetic level has just been published.

Health Notes

  • Towards making replacement bones with stem cell technology
  • New method rapidly turns bacteria into biotech factories
  • Gene mutation ups women's risk of breast cancer via pill
  • Diabetes risk highest among poorest people


 

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Children are more prone to getting sick during monsoon
Dr Vivek Sharma

When the monsoon comes it brings with it not just cooler temperature but also a host of illnesses. In fact, each year, with the onset of the monsoon, there is a steady rise in the incidence of water contamination cases and infectious diseases. The level of illness among children always goes up during the monsoon and most of them have to get treatment for skin irritation, conjunctivitis (eye flu), diarrhoea and dysentry, typhoid, polio, jaundice, malaria or dengue fever.

Most common diseases to watch out for

Hepatitis A & E: These are caused by one of the strains of hepatitis virus and will affect your liver. The disease is spread through contaminated food and water. If Hepatitis (A & E) remains untreated it can lead to jaundice.

Typhoid: This is a bacterial illness that causes fever. There are quite a lot of symptoms that signal the onset of typhoid. Common ones are fever, headache, constipation, mild joint pains, sore throat and abdominal pain.

Diarrhoea and dysentry: This is a viral and bacterial infection that affects your child’s intestines. It is caused by contaminated food and water. If your child has an infection he or she will have an attack of diarrhoea that leads to dehydration, vomiting, weakness and muscle cramps.

Jaundice: The yellow disease or jaundice is a water-borne problem. If you feel weakness, have constant headaches, no appetite and nausea, then check for jaundice. Another visible sign is yellowing of the eyes, nails and skin.

Malaria and dengue fever: Both are caused by mosquitoes. Malaria is caused by female anopheles mosquito and dengue by aedes (tiger mosquito). The rain water and puddles increase breeding in mosquitoes.

Eating tips to keep diseases at bay

l Avoid all food and water from outside.

l Stay away from stale food.

l As tempting as street food may be, give it a miss during the monsoon.

l Boil water at home.

l Always refrigerate left-over food immediately.

l Avoid eating raw foods

l If you are eating salads and green leafy vegetables, make sure that you wash them thoroughly.

l Any food that comes straight out of the refrigerator should be avoided completely. This is because the temperature falls during the rains and cold food will have a direct bad effect on the throat.

What should you do?

Your child should be fully vaccinated against communicable diseases.

Good hygiene and cleanliness in and nearby houses should be maintained.

Don’t allow water to accumulate in your vicinity. Rain water and puddles promote mosquito breeding.

Make sure that you have a mosquito net around the child’s bed.

Use mosquito repellent creams at night as an added precautionary measure.

Eating out should be at an absolute minimum during the monsoon.

Boil water at home. Filter the water first and then boil for 20 mts. The reason you need to filter and then boil water is because your filter may not be sterilised and boiled water may get contaminated. Avoid over-the-counter medicines and self-medication.

It is very important to get your child examined by a physician the moment you observe any of the symptoms mentioned in your child.

The writer is a Consultant-Paediatrician at Rungta Hospital, Jaipur

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Stem cells hold great promise for regenerating insulin-secreting tissues

New Delhi: Diabetes is a chronic disease characterized by a deficit in cell mass and a failure of glucose homeostasis. Both circumstances result in a variety of severe complications and an overall shortened life expectancy.

The current treatment of insulin does not represent a cure because insulin dosage is difficult to adjust. Exogenous insulin frequently fails to achieve optimal glucose control even when intensive regimens are used. In addition, intensive therapy, which uses multiple daily insulin injections or insulin pump infusion with frequent monitoring of blood glucose, often leads to an increased incidence and severity of hypoglycaemic episodes.

Thus, according to Dr. Vikas Ahluwalia, President of the New Delhi-based Diabetes Care Foundation of India, diabetes represents an attractive candidate for cell therapy.

Dr. Ahluwalia is of the view that reversal of diabetes along with total independence from insulin injections, can be achieved through pancreas and islet transplantation, but shortage of donor organs has prompted an intensive search for alternative sources of cells.

Stem cells are defined as cells that have clonegenic and self-renewing capabilities and differentiate into multiple cell lineages. Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are derived from mammalian embryos in the blastocyst stage and have the ability to generate any differentiated cell in the body.

Adult stem cells are part of tissue-specific cells of the postnatal organism into which they are committed to differentiate.

Another advantage is that they behave as an autologous model whereby a patient’s own cells can be used, thereby preventing an immune rejection.

The benefits of the ESCs include the possibility of propagating an unlimited number of cells that possess the ability to become fully functioning endocrine tissue. — ANI

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Relax your way to perfect health
Anastasia Stephens

It's a piece of advice that yogis have given for thousands of years: take a deep breath and relax. Watch the tension melt from your muscles and all your niggling worries vanish. Somehow we all know that relaxation is good for us. Now the hard science has caught up - for a comprehensive scientific study showing that deep relaxation changes our bodies on a genetic level has just been published.

What researchers at Harvard Medical School discovered is that, in long-term practitioners of relaxation methods such as yoga and meditation, far more "disease-fighting genes" were active, compared to those who practised no form of relaxation.

In particular, they found genes that protect from disorders such as pain, infertility, high blood pressure and even rheumatoid arthritis were switched on. The changes, say the researchers, were induced by what they call "the relaxation effect", a phenomenon that could be just as powerful as any medical drug but without the side-effects.

"We found that a range of disease-fighting genes were active in the relaxation practitioners that were not active in the control group," explains Dr Herbert Benson, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, who led the research.

The good news for the control group with the less-healthy genes is that the research didn't stop there. The experiment, which showed just how responsive genes are to behaviour, mood and environment, revealed that genes can switch on, just as easily as they switch off.

The health benefits of deep relaxation

Immunity

Relaxation appears to boost immunity in recovering cancer patients. One study at Ohio State University, in the US, found that progressive muscular relaxation, when practised daily, reduced the risk of breast cancer recurrence. In another study at Ohio State, a month of relaxation exercises boosted natural killer cells in elderly people, giving them more resistance to tumours and viruses.

Fertility

A study at the University of Western Australia found that women are more likely to conceive at periods when they're relaxed rather than stressed. Another study at Trakya University, Turkey, found that stress reduces sperm count and motility, a finding that implies that relaxation may boost fertility in men, too.

Irritable bowel syndrome

When patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome practised a relaxation meditation twice daily, symptoms such as bloating, belching, diarrhoea and constipation improved significantly. The method was so effective that the researchers at the State University of New York at Albany, recommended it as an effective IBS treatment.

Blood pressure

A study at Harvard Medical School found meditation lowered blood pressure by making the body less responsive to stress hormones, in a similar way to blood pressure-lowering medication. Meanwhile, a report in the British Medical Journal found that patients trained to relax had significantly lower blood pressure.

Inflammation

Stress leads to inflammation, a state linked to heart disease, arthritis, asthma as well as skin conditions such as psoriasis, say researchers at Emory University in the US. Relaxation can play a role in preventing and treating such symptoms by switching off the stress response. In this way, one study at McGill University in Canada found meditation clinically improved symptoms of psoriasis.

Take a deep breath... How to relax deeply

So how can you access relaxation's healing powers? Harvard researchers found that yoga, meditation and even repetitive prayer and mantras all induced the relaxation effect. "The more regularly these techniques are practised, the more deeply-rooted the benefits will be," says Jake Toby. Have a go at one or more of the following for 15 minutes once or twice a day. — The Independent 

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Health Notes
Towards making replacement bones with stem cell technology

LONDON: Imperial College, London, scientists claim that they have moved a step closer to making replacement bones for patients with damaged or fractured bones using stem cell technology.

The researchers say that they compared "bone-like" materials grown from three different commonly used clinically relevant cell types, and found significant differences between the quality of bone-like material that these can form.

They have revealed that the "bone-like" materials grown from bone cells from mouse skull and mouse bone marrow stem cells successfully mimicked many of the hallmarks of real bone, which include stiffness. — ANI

New method rapidly turns bacteria into biotech factories

LONDON: Harvard Medical School researchers in the US have developed a new cell programming method called Multiplex Automated Genome Engineering (MAGE), which promises to give biotechnology, in particular synthetic biology, a powerful boost.

This work was carried out in the lab of George Church, a professor of genetics, by a pair of researchers.

With the novel technique, the research team could rapidly refine the design of a bacterium by editing multiple genes in parallel instead of targeting one gene at a time. — ANI

Gene mutation ups women's risk of breast cancer via pill

LONDON: A Europe-wide study has lent more force to the argument that women with a gene linked to breast cancer should consider having their ovaries removed, for the gene may greatly increase their chances of contracting the disease through 
long-term use of the pill and hormone replacement therapy.

Studies conducted in the past have shown that an increased cancer risk in women can be linked to the extra amounts of the female hormone oestrogen they receive through long-term use of the pill or HRT. — ANI

Diabetes risk highest among poorest people

LONDON: A charity in Britain has warned that people who are the poorest in the country may be more than twice likely to develop diabetes at any age, compared to the average person.

Diabetes UK further states that people with the condition, who live in the most deprived homes, are also twice as likely to develop complications.

The organisation enumerated obesity, lack of exercise, poor diet, and smoking among the factors to blame. The charity points out in its study report that women living in homes with the lowest income in England are more than four times as likely to get diabetes as those who live in homes with the highest income. — ANI

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