New therapy to quickly heal respiratory infections

It's time we worked up an appetite to tackle obesity

OPINION: We're so used to snacking that most of us have forgotten what hunger feels like.

Obesity will soon be the new normal. I repeat; obesity will soon be the new normal. Now, there are three ways of collectively responding to this news: take solace, take offence or take action.

Scenario one; everyone with a BMI over 30 punches the air to the roar of the crowd. At last, the long-overdue destigmatisation of bingo wings and pot bellies, saggy moobs and lardy bottoms. Social progress, that's what it is.We're so used to snacking that most of us have forgotten what hunger feels like.

Scenario two; everybody with more back fat than a pig (i.e. everybody) takes highly personal offence. How dare the medical establishment engage in fat-shaming? Institutionalised prejudice, that's what it is.

Scenario three; we put down the flaky pastry sausage rolls, strip off our defence mechanisms and take a proverbial long, hard look at our supersized society in the mirror. The unpalatable naked truth, that's what it is.

Before I get lambasted, let me emphasise a greater authority than I - Cancer Research - reached that conclusion, based on hard medical evidence.

It's a salutary reminder in January, as we shamefacedly look down at the scales, that our national overindulgence is no longer confined to Christmas.

Have you noticed how we've all grown so used to constant snacking that the vast majority of us have forgotten what proper hunger feels like?

And so when we feel the first pangs we panic like overgrown toddlers and cram more food into ourselves.

Tummy-rumbling hunger is the old normal. The sort of normal that had my generation gratefully clearing our plates as children, vegetables and all. But in 2016 we find ourselves in the anomalous situation where we are bombarded with health warnings and traffic light packaging and five-a-day exhortations.

And yet we are fatter than ever; cancers caused by excess weight are up 45 per cent since 1996. And our children, a third of whom are obese, are eating themselves into an early grave.

Britain's Cancer Research estimates that by 2035, 39 per cent of us will be obese and 33 per cent overweight. Just 28 per cent will be of a healthy weight or less; it doesn't take a genius to guess which socioeconomic group that will be.

Judging individuals is unkind and unhelpful. So, too, is shooting the messenger and castigating health campaigners as Cassandras and killjoys.

It's a salutary reminder in January, as we shamefacedly look down at the scales, that our national overindulgence is no longer confined to Christmas.

Have you noticed how we've all grown so used to constant snacking that the vast majority of us have forgotten what proper hunger feels like?

And so when we feel the first pangs we panic like overgrown toddlers and cram more food into ourselves.

Tummy-rumbling hunger is the old normal. The sort of normal that had my generation gratefully clearing our plates as children, vegetables and all. But in 2016 we find ourselves in the anomalous situation where we are bombarded with health warnings and traffic light packaging and five-a-day exhortations.

And yet we are fatter than ever; cancers caused by excess weight are up 45 per cent since 1996. And our children, a third of whom are obese, are eating themselves into an early grave.

Britain's Cancer Research estimates that by 2035, 39 per cent of us will be obese and 33 per cent overweight. Just 28 per cent will be of a healthy weight or less; it doesn't take a genius to guess which socioeconomic group that will be.

Judging individuals is unkind and unhelpful. So, too, is shooting the messenger and castigating health campaigners as Cassandras and killjoys.

New therapy to quickly heal respiratory infections

New therapy to quickly heal respiratory infections

A new therapy that helps in quick healing of colds, bronchitis and several forms of respiratory allergies was launched here on Saturday. 

 

In the salt room therapy (SRT), patients are asked to relax in a room with walls thickly lined with salt. Light air is continuously blown into the room, helping the minute salt particles mix in the air which is breathed by the patient. 

 

According to doctors, the salt particles after reaching the nose and the respiratory tract remove all debris and bacteria. They also help in the abatement of bronchial inflammation and strengthening of the immune system that decreases allergic reaction to pollen. 

 

Among other benefits of the new therapy, already being used in western countries, are improvement of dermatological disorders such as acne, dermatitis and psoriasis, reduction in snoring and better sleep. 

 

"Salt room therapy is a drug-free treatment for asthma, chronic bronchitis, sinusitis, allergic and skin ailments. I am hopeful that this initiative will not just help people with respiratory and skin conditions but will offer them an effective drug free treatment option to fight the rising pollution all around us," said SRT India founder Anju Chandna. 

 

The therapy is being seen as a good remedy to get rid of the respiratory infections and other health issues caused by rising air pollution in Delhi. 

 

"With the onset of winter, when respiratory problems aggravate due to smog, treatments like Salt Room Therapy, a natural form of treatment, can provide symptomatic relief to patients suffering from respiratory problems," said Animesh Ray, consultant pulmonologist at Fortis. 

 

According to doctors, the therapy can replace the use of steroids and other costly medicines used for respiratory diseases which do not offer a complete solution.

Tips to avoid diabetes complications

Tips to avoid diabetes complications

Diabetes, often referred to by doctors as diabetes mellitus, describes a group of metabolic diseases in which the person has high blood glucose (blood sugar), either because insulin production is inadequate or because the body's cells do not respond properly to insulin, or both.

Diabetes brings many complications to the patients. Below is a list of tips that can be practiced to avoid the complications of diabetes.

Choose carbs carefully: Diabetes does not mean you have to cut carbs completely. Choose carbohydrates that break down in the body slowly, providing steady energy.

Reach for whole grains, beans, nuts, fresh vegetables and fruits. Yes, you can eat fruit even though it is sweet.

It is about eating the right amounts of carbohydrates at each meal. A registered dietitian can help you learn how much is right for you.

Lose weight if you need to: Start small. If you are overweight, shedding just a few pounds can improve the body's ability to use insulin.

It will help lower your blood sugar and improve your blood pressure and blood fats. You will also have more energy. Aim to burn more calories than you eat.

Get enough sleep: Getting too much or too little sleep can increase your appetite and cravings for high-carb foods.

That can lead to weight gain, increasing your risk for complications such as heart disease. So shoot for seven or eight hours of sleep a night.

Be active: Pick something you like - walking, dancing, biking or just marching in place while you are on the phone. Do it a half-hour a day.

Exercise can help you lower your cardiovascular risks, cholesterol and blood pressure levels and keep your weight down. It also relieves stress and may help you cut back on diabetes medication.

Monitor your blood sugar daily: Checking your blood glucose levels can help you avoid diabetes complications, like nerve pain or keep them from getting worse.

Checking it can also help you see how foods and activities affect you and if your treatment plan is working.

Manage stress: When you have diabetes, stress can cause your blood glucose levels to rise.

Get rid of whatever physical or mental stresses you can.

Learn coping techniques to deal with others. Relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises, yoga and meditation may be especially effective if you have type 2 diabetes.

Say no to salt: Reduce the salt in your diet. It may help lower blood pressure and protect your kidneys.

Not salting the food on your plate may not be enough. Avoid convenience foods and use fresh ingredients when you can.

Season with herbs and spices instead of salt when you cook.

Good bacteria may help prevent pneumonia

Good bacteria may help prevent pneumonia

The presence of a harmless bacterium found in the nose and on the skin may negatively impact the growth of a pathogen that commonly causes middle ear infections in children and pneumonia in children and older adults, says a new study. 

The study provides evidence that Corynebacterium accolens (C. accolens) helps inhibit Streptococcus pneumoniae (S. pneumoniae) -- a major cause of pneumonia, meningitis, middle ear infection and sinusitis. 

The results pave the way for potential future research to determine whether C. accolens might have a role as a beneficial bacterium that could be used to control pathogen colonization. 

According to the World Health Organization, S. pneumoniae leads to more than one million deaths each year, primarily in young children in developing countries. 

Although most people that host S. pneumoniae do not develop these infections, colonisation greatly increases the risk of infection and transmission. 

In the study, Lindsey Bomar from Forsyth Institute in Massachusetts, US, and colleagues demonstrate that C. accolens are over-represented in the noses of children that are not colonised by S. pneumoniae, which is commonly found in children's noses and can cause infection. 

In laboratory research, the researchers further found that C. accolens modifies its local habitat in a manner that inhibits the growth of S. pneumoniae by releasing anti-bacterial free fatty acids from representative host skin surface triacylglycerols. 

The study was published in the journal mBio. 

 

Side Effects From One Weight-Loss Surgery Method

Side Effects From One Weight-Loss Surgery Method

 While most people who undergo a type of weight-loss surgery say their well-being has improved, high rates of side effects and hospitalization are also reported, a new study finds.

Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery reduces the size of the stomach to a small pouch. This pouch is then attached directly to the small intestine, which affects how the digestive tract absorbs food, according to the U.S National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Surveys completed by more than 1,400 people in Denmark who underwent Roux-en-Y surgery between 2006 and 2011 showed that only 7 percent reported reduced well-being after their procedure.

But 89 percent of patients reported one or more side effects such as abdominal pain and fatigue almost five years after surgery, and 29 percent of patients were hospitalized, the study found.

Sixty-eight percent of the patients sought health care due to their symptoms. The most common reasons for seeking health care were abdominal pain (34 percent), fatigue (34 percent), anemia (28 percent) and gallstones (16 percent), the study authors said.

Patients most likely to have symptoms after surgery were women, smokers, those younger than 35, those who were unemployed and those with symptoms before surgery. The more symptoms patients had, the lower their quality of life.

The study was published online Jan. 6 in the journal JAMA Surgery.

"Focus on the [quality of life] among patients with many symptoms may be required since such patients are at risk of depression. Development of new weight-loss treatments with less risk of subsequent symptoms should be a high priority," study leader Dr. Sigrid Bjerge Gribsholt, from Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, and colleagues wrote.

But one U.S. exert noted there were some caveats to the finding.

The patients were not compared against a control group, said Dr. Mitchell Roslin, chief of obesity surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

Roslin also said that newer types of weight-loss surgery are being used more often, and these are "procedures that will provide better long-term results" than Roux-en-Y.

Smokers with pneumonia at higher risk of lung cancer

Smokers with pneumonia at higher risk of lung cancer 

Smokers hospitalised for pneumonia are at higher risk of getting diagnosed with lung cancer within one year, says a new study.

The findings suggest that screening heavy smokers admitted to the hospital for pneumonia could facilitate the early diagnosis of lung cancer and thereby reduce the incidence of mortality.

"We discovered that smokers hospitalised with pneumonia are diagnosed with cancer after the infection because often the cancer masquerades as pneumonia, physically obs .. 

 

New breast cancer drug may combat other cancers too

New touchless device to detect heart problems early

 

A revolutionary new system for monitoring vital signs has been developed by researchers that could lead to improved detection and prevention of some cardiovascular issues.

Using patent-pending technology called Coded Hemodynamic Imaging, the device is the first portable system that monitors a patient’s blood flow at multiple arterial points simultaneously and without direct contact with the skin.

It is ideal for assessing patients with painful burns, highly contagious diseases, or infants in neonatal intensive care whose tiny fingers make traditional monitoring difficult.

“Traditional systems in wide use now take one blood-pulse reading at one spot on the body,” said Robert Amelard, a PhD candidate at the University of Waterloo in Canada.

“This device acts like many virtual sensors that measure blood-flow behaviour on various parts of the body. The device relays measurements from all of these pulse points to a computer for continuous monitoring,” said Amelard.

Continuous data collection at different parts of the body provides a more complete picture of what is happening in the body.

Whole-body imaging opens doors for advanced monitoring that can not be done with the traditional, single-point methods, researchers said.

“Since the device can also scan multiple patients individually at once and from a distance, consider the potential in mass emergency scenarios or long-term care homes,” said Professor Alexander Wong, of the Faculty of Engineering at Waterloo and Canada Research Chair in Medical Imaging Systems.

“This technology provides for a more predictive approach to monitor vitals and the potential for its use is extensive, such as indicating arterial blockages that might otherwise go undetected, or warning older adults who risk falling as a result of getting dizzy when they stand,” said Wong.

The research was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

 

diabetics soon to be free from insulin injections thanks to scientific breakthrough using patients own skin cells

Diabetics could soon be free from daily insulin injections thanks to a scientific breakthrough using the diabetic’s own skin cells. The new diabetes treatment will turn skin cells into healthy pancreatic cells which can be used to replace the cells damaged by type 1 diabetes. The procedure would spell an end to insulin injections as the patient’s body would be able to regulate insulin levels on its own.

The Daily Mail reports that type 1 diabetes patients may soon be able to toss their daily insulin shots thanks to a breakthrough therapy involving their own skin cells. The breakthrough diabetes treatment turns skin cells into healthy pancreatic cells which can be used to replace the pancreatic cells damaged by diabetes. Replacing these cells with healthy cells will allow the body to produce insulin on its own making insulin shots unnecessary. The research is incredibly promising as it has already proven successful in mice.

The researchers working on the project note that with a tiny sliver of skin from the patient, trillions of healthy pancreatic cells could be made. The cells would then be transferred into the patient’s pancreas and take over producing insulin for the diabetic. Though the treatment is aimed specifically at those with type 1 diabetes, the researchers claim that the procedure can also be used to help further treatment options for those suffering from type 2 diabetes. Anna Morris of the charity Diabetes UK says the new research is exciting and will likely pave the way to better treatment options for anyone with diabetes.

“The generation of insulin-producing pancreatic cells in the lab, that could be successfully transplanted into people with diabetes, is a very exciting area of research that could revolutionize the future treatment of the condition.”

It was also noted that patients can expect little issue with negative immune system response to the new pancreatic cells as the cells would be created from the diabetic’s own skin cells. By using the patient’s own cells, the body would more readily accept the cells into the system despite being altered in a lab.

“The results of this particular early-stage laboratory study, which has been carried out in mice, are very promising and we look forward to future investigations testing whether this method could be reproduced in humans, and ultimately developed as a treatment for diabetes.”

For those with type 1 diabetes, daily insulin shots are required for the individual to stay alive. Therefore, a treatment such as the skin cell therapy would be life-changing for daily insulin injectors. The cells would allow the patient’s body to regulate its own insulin levels without the daily injections. Though scientists say the research is promising, they note that the current process will not do away with insulin shots just yet. However, the success of the early stages of the research indicates that insulin shots may one day be obsolete.

 

Success against polio has emboldened India’s immunation drive

Success against polio has emboldened India’s immunation drive

Dr Seth Berkeley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance is currently in India and has inked an agreement for $500 million to support India’s immunisation drive.

Berkeley shares his views on the government’s engagement on vaccination and the way forward for India which supplies 60 per cent of the world’s vaccines and yet has the largest number of unimmunised children.

What are the components of this support package to India?

The board has approved an envelope of up to $500 million. Normally it is 75:25, 75 per cent is vaccine support and up to 25 per cent is for strengthening the health system. India has not had new vaccines for a very long time, the first one was Hepatitis B and that took 10 years for full roll-out. Pentavalent was the next one, that took almost four years. Inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) has also arrived.

It’s an exciting time to be here. We are hoping in the first quarter, rotavirus vaccine will be launched. Diarrhoea is the biggest killer of children in India followed by pneumonia. Pneumococcal vaccine and rotavirus roll out is also being discussed.

Tell us about your meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

It’s a great opportunity (to work with India) given the level of political commitment. The government is extremely interested in modernisation, digitisation, Make in India and these are some of the topics I discussed with the Prime Minister on Wednesday. Mission Indradhanush is an interesting innovation. It is targetting 201 districts with the lowest coverage in terms of immunisation. However, the test would be continued coverage.

How has the pace of new vaccine introduction accelerated?

One has to think about vaccines carefully. You are also giving it to healthy children so that everyone is covered, so it is expensive. India was really emboldened by the success in polio. When GAVI started we had five suppliers and there was just one for pentavalent.

Today we have 16 suppliers and for pentavalent there are seven suppliers. Of Pentavalent vaccine suppliers, 4-5 are Indian.

What are your views on the government’s fund cuts in the social sector?

I am looking at this government’s activities with one lens. If you look at what has actually been happening, allocation in Budget was high and the spending low.

My understanding, which you will have to validate with the government, is that this year will be a record in spending. Though their budget level was lower, their spending was not below. In fact the spending may even be a little higher.

 

Heavily pregnant MP allegedly told she was 'bringing down whole of womankind' by taking snack break

Heavily pregnant MP allegedly told she was 'bringing down whole of womankind' by taking snack break

A heavily pregnant MP was reprimanded and allegedly told not to “play the pregnancy card” after breaking House of Commons rules by leaving a debate to eat. 

Tulip Siddiq was reportedly told by Deputy Speaker Eleanor Laing that she had “made women look bad” by failing to follow strict conventions dictating when debates can be left. The MP had been in the Chamber over two hours.

Mrs Laing is even said to have claimed Ms Siddiq was “bringing down the whole of womankind”. The incident outraged other members who witnessed it. One told the Standard: “She was really laying into her. It was intense.”

The exchange took place after Wednesday’s debate on Universal Credit welfare reforms.

Ms Siddiq, who is seven months pregnant, arrived in the Chamber at 12.30pm before giving a speech at 2.30pm, Hansard records show. She went out to get food at about 2.45pm.5eleanorlang0801a.jpg

After she left, Mrs Laing said from the Speaker’s Chair: “If one makes a speech in the Chamber, it is courteous and required by the rules of the House that one stays in the Chamber certainly for the following speech and usually for at least two speeches thereafter. The people who have not done so today know who they are.”

 

When Ms Siddiq returned some 45 minutes later, Mrs Laing called her over. One witness said: “Tulip apologised, she didn’t mention being pregnant, but Madame Deputy Speaker was annoyed and said, ‘Don’t play the pregnancy card with me’.”

Hampstead and Kilburn Labour MP Ms Siddiq, elected earlier this year, was seen to apologise again but was told she should not have left. The Deputy Speaker was then believed to have said: “You’ve made women look bad,” before adding: “People will think that women can’t follow the conventions of the House because they’re pregnant.”

Conservative MP Mrs Laing, who campaigned for the deputy speakership by backing family-friendly hours in the Commons, was then said to have told Ms Siddiq: “You’re bringing down the whole of womankind.” Tory MPs are among those who encouraged Ms Siddiq to complain to Speaker John Bercow.

A Commons spokesman said that if an MP needs to leave a debate before convention allows, they can apply “privately to the chair to leave the Chamber... the chair is able to grant a brief leave of absence at his or her discretion”. The spokesman would not comment on “the content of private conversations held in the Chamber”. Mrs Laing did not respond to repeated requests for a comment.

Ms Siddiq confirmed the incident to the Standard but had not decided whether to make a complaint. She said: “I think it shows the conventions of the House are outdated for anyone, let alone for pregnant women or people with health issues. In certain cases people should be given leeway to leave without having to go through an administrative process. Elsewhere in society that would just be common sense.”