IMA WRITES A LETTER TO SPORTS MINISTER KIREN RIJIJU ON RELAY HUNGER STRIKE - The Daily Guardian
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IMA WRITES A LETTER TO SPORTS MINISTER KIREN RIJIJU ON RELAY HUNGER STRIKE

Shalini Bhardwaj

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New Delhi: The Indian Medical Association (IMA) is on relay hunger strike against the CCIM notification allowing Ayurvedic doctors to perform 58 surgical procedures. IMA has written a letter to Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju who is handling Ayush as an additional charge. Rijiju had earlier given answers on allowing surgery training for Ayurvedic doctors.

On permitting trained post graduate practitioners of Ayurveda to do surgeries, Rijiju had replied: “The CCIM notification is specific to the specified surgical procedures (58 procedures) and does not allow AYUSH people to take up any other type of surgery.” The IMA, on its part, had said, “Surgery is complex as procedure. It is never a straight line course from start to end. There are additional surgeries and procedures which erupt during or post-surgery.” IMA has also requested to withhold the CCIM notification.

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WHOLE GRAIN MAY REDUCE TYPE 2 DIABETES IMPACT

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According to a recent study, increased consumption of whole-grain foods could significantly reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes and the costs associated with its treatment in Finland.

The findings of the study were published in the journal ‘Nutrients’. “Our study shows that already one serving of full grains as part of the daily diet reduces the incidence of type 2 diabetes at the population level and, consequently, the direct diabetes-related costs, when compared to people who do not eat whole-grain foods on a daily basis,” said Professor Janne Martikainen from the University of Eastern Finland.

“Over the next ten years, society’s potential to achieve cost savings would be from 300 million (-3.3 per cent) to almost one billion (-12.2 per cent) euros in current value, depending on the presumed proportion of whole-grain foods in the daily diet. On the level of individuals, this means healthier years,” added Professor Martikainen.

Type 2 diabetes is one of the fastest-growing chronic diseases both in Finland and globally. Healthy nutrition that supports weight management is key to preventing type 2 diabetes. The association of daily consumption of whole-grain foods with a lower risk of diabetes has been demonstrated in numerous studies.

“According to nutrition recommendations, at least 3-6 servings of whole-grain foods should be eaten daily, depending on an individual’s energy requirement. One-third of Finns do not eat even one dose of whole grains on a daily basis, and two-thirds have a too low fibre intake,” Research Manager Jaana Lindstrom from the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare said.

The now published study utilised findings from, eg, national follow-up studies, such as the FinHealth Study, to assess the health and economic effects of increased consumption of whole-grain foods on the prevention of type 2 diabetes.

“By combining population-level data on the incidence of type 2 diabetes and the costs of its treatment, as well as published evidence on the effects of how consumption of whole-grain foods reduces the incidence of type 2 diabetes, we were able to assess the potential health and economic benefits from both social and individual viewpoints,” Martikainen said.

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Long-term survivors of childhood cancer may face higher suicide risk

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Survivors of childhood cancer have increased risks of experiencing various challenges, such as emotional distress, impaired quality of life and financial burdens.

A new study has indicated that many long-term survivors of childhood cancer may also face an elevated risk of suicide, although their absolute risk is still low. The findings were published in ‘CANCER’, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.

The relatively limited data on suicide in survivors of childhood cancer have been inconsistent, though they have generally suggested that suicide rates in these individuals are low. When Justin Barnes, MD, MS, of Washington University in St Louis School of Medicine, and his colleagues examined a large population-based database to evaluate suicide rates among individuals who had childhood cancer in the United States from 1975-2016, they too found that the risk of suicide was low.

The team identified 49,836 childhood cancer survivors and 79 suicides, and there was approximately 1 suicide per 10,000 people per year. This rate was similar to the rate seen in the general US population.

However, adult survivors of childhood cancer over 28 years of age had a higher risk of suicide than individuals at the same age from the general population, with 2 suicides per 10,000 people per year.

“Our findings raise crucial questions about what can be done to prevent suicide in vulnerable long-term adult survivors of childhood cancer,” said Dr Barnes.

“Such strategies may include improving efforts to screen for distress and better-employing survivorship care with a multidisciplinary team,” added Dr Barnes.

Dr Barnes noted that additional research is needed to study the underlying reasons and risk factors for suicides in these individuals.

“These might include a history of depression, psychiatric comorbidities, persistent pain, socioeconomic stressors, and cancer treatment specifics, all of which we were unable to evaluate in our study,” he said.

“A better understanding may be helpful in tailoring interventions to cancer survivors at greatest risk,” he concluded.

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Researchers find how retirement impacts social support, wellbeing

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Australian couples moving into retirement tend to maintain their social networks, and many see an improvement in their mental health and wellbeing, according to a recent study led by researchers at the University of Technology Sydney.

High levels of social connectedness are linked with better health and wellbeing, so this is good news for those with strong social ties. However, for those with low levels of support, it suggests that policies and programs to increase support in retirement could improve wellbeing. The World Health Organisation says social isolation and loneliness have a serious impact on older people’s physical and mental health, quality of life.

“For some people, social support might decrease when they retire, as they lose work connections or move home, while for others retirement brings more opportunities to strengthen ties or make new friends,” says co-author UTS economist Dr Nathan Kettlewell.

Using data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey from 2001-2018, the researchers looked at 1600 partnered individuals who transitioned to retirement.

The study found that most people maintained their pre-retirement level of social support after either they or their partner, retired. Women, and those with high social support, were more likely to see an improvement in mental wellbeing when they or their partner retired.

Both men and women saw an increase in ‘life satisfaction’ – a measure of how people evaluate their life as a whole rather than their current feelings – when they or their partner retired.

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SPENDING TIME IN NATURE PROMOTES EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT

Want to ensure your child hits their expected developmental milestones? Recent research by the University of British Columbia suggests living in areas with high exposure to green space can help set them up for success.

For the study, published in The Lancet Planetary Health, researchers at the UBC faculty of forestry and faculty of medicine analyzed the developmental scores of 27,372 children in Metro Vancouver who attended kindergarten between 2005 and 2011.

They estimated the amount of green space around each child’s residence from birth to age five. They also assessed levels of traffic-related air pollution and community noise. The results highlight the fundamental importance of natural green spaces like street trees, parks and community gardens, authors say.

“Most of the children were doing well in their development, in terms of language skills, cognitive capacity, social-ization and other outcomes,” says study author Ingrid Jarvis (she/her), a PhD candidate in the department of forest and conservation sciences at UBC. “But what’s interesting is that those children living in a residential loca-tion with more vegetation and richer natural environments showed better overall development than their peers with less greenspace.”

According to the researchers, the reason for this is partly greenspaces’ ability to reduce the harmful effects of air pollution and noise–environmental challenges that have been shown to adversely affect children’s health and development through increased stress, sleep disturbances and central nervous system damage.

“Few studies have investigated this pathway linking greenspace and developmental outcomes among children, and we believe this is the first Canadian study to do so,” adds Jarvis.

The researchers assessed early childhood development using the Early Development Instrument (EDI), a survey completed by kindergarten teachers for each child. The tool measures a child’s ability to meet age-appropriate developmental expectations.

“More research is needed, but our findings suggest that urban planning efforts to increase greenspace in residen-tial neighbourhoods and around schools are beneficial for early childhood development, with potential health benefits throughout life,” says the study’s senior author and UBC research associate, Matilda van den Bosch (she/her).

Matilda adds, “Time in nature can benefit everyone, but if we want our children to have a good head start, it’s important to provide an enriching environment through nature contact. Access to greenspace from a very young age can help ensure good social, emotional and mental development among children.

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Want to ensure your child hits their expected developmental milestones? Recent research by the University of British Columbia suggests living in areas with high exposure to green space can help set them up for success.

For the study, published in The Lancet Planetary Health, researchers at the UBC faculty of forestry and faculty of medicine analyzed the developmental scores of 27,372 children in Metro Vancouver who attended kindergarten between 2005 and 2011.

They estimated the amount of green space around each child’s residence from birth to age five. They also assessed levels of traffic-related air pollution and community noise. The results highlight the fundamental importance of natural green spaces like street trees, parks and community gardens, authors say.

“Most of the children were doing well in their development, in terms of language skills, cognitive capacity, social-ization and other outcomes,” says study author Ingrid Jarvis (she/her), a PhD candidate in the department of forest and conservation sciences at UBC. “But what’s interesting is that those children living in a residential loca-tion with more vegetation and richer natural environments showed better overall development than their peers with less greenspace.”

According to the researchers, the reason for this is partly greenspaces’ ability to reduce the harmful effects of air pollution and noise–environmental challenges that have been shown to adversely affect children’s health and development through increased stress, sleep disturbances and central nervous system damage.

“Few studies have investigated this pathway linking greenspace and developmental outcomes among children, and we believe this is the first Canadian study to do so,” adds Jarvis.

The researchers assessed early childhood development using the Early Development Instrument (EDI), a survey completed by kindergarten teachers for each child. The tool measures a child’s ability to meet age-appropriate developmental expectations.

“More research is needed, but our findings suggest that urban planning efforts to increase greenspace in residen-tial neighbourhoods and around schools are beneficial for early childhood development, with potential health benefits throughout life,” says the study’s senior author and UBC research associate, Matilda van den Bosch (she/her).

Matilda adds, “Time in nature can benefit everyone, but if we want our children to have a good head start, it’s important to provide an enriching environment through nature contact. Access to greenspace from a very young age can help ensure good social, emotional and mental development among children.”

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STUDY FINDS KEY PROTEIN LINKED TO APPETITE, OBESITY

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A protein has been identified by researchers from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) that plays a key role in how the brain regulates appetite and metabolism.

Loss of the protein, XRN1, from the forebrain, resulted in obese mice with an insatiable appetite. The findings of the study were published in the journal ‘iScience’.

Obesity is a growing public health concern, with over 650 million adults worldwide designated as obese. The condition has been linked to many disorders, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer.

“Fundamentally, obesity is caused by an imbalance between food intake and energy expenditure,” said Dr Akiko Yanagiya, a researcher in the Cell Signal Unit at OIST, headed by Professor Tadashi Yamamoto.

In the study, the scientists created mice that were unable to produce the protein, XRN1, in a subset of neurons in the forebrain. This brain region includes the hypothalamus, an almond-sized structure that releases hormones into the body, helping to regulate body temperature, sleep, thirst and hunger.

At 6-weeks-old, the scientists noticed that the mice without XRN1 in the brain rapidly began to gain weight and became obese by 12 weeks of age. Fat accumulated in the mice’s body, including within adipose tissue and the liver. When they monitored feeding behaviour, the team found that the mice without XRN1 ate almost twice as much each day as the control mice.

“This finding was really surprising. When we first knocked out XRN1 in the brain, we didn’t know exactly what we would find, but this drastic increase in appetite was very unexpected,” said Dr Shohei Takaoka, a former PhD student from the OIST Cell Signal Unit.

To investigate what might be causing the mice to overeat, the scientists measured the blood levels of leptin — a hormone that suppresses hunger. Compared to the controls, the level of leptin in the blood was abnormally high, which would normally stop the mice from feeling hungry. But unlike the control mice, the mice without XRN1 didn’t respond to the presence of leptin — a condition known as leptin resistance.

The scientists also found that 5-week-old mice were resistant to insulin, a hormone that is released by beta cells in the pancreas in response to the high levels of blood glucose that occur after eating.

This type of failure in how the body responds to glucose and insulin can ultimately lead to diabetes. As the mice got older, levels of glucose and insulin in the blood rose significantly alongside the increased leptin levels.

The scientists then checked whether the obesity was also driven by the mice using less energy. They placed each mouse in a special cage that measured how much oxygen the mice used to indirectly work out their metabolic rate.

In the mice aged 6 weeks, the scientists didn’t find an overall difference in energy expenditure. However, they found something very surprising. The mice without XRN1 were mainly using carbohydrates as an energy source, while the control mice were able to switch between burning carbohydrate at night, when they were most active, and fat during the day, when less active.

“For some reason, this means that without XRN1, the mice cannot use fat as a fuel effectively. Why this occurs though, we still don’t know,” said Dr Yanagiya.

Once the mice reached 12 weeks of age, their energy expenditure decreased compared to control mice. But, the scientists believed, this was an effect of obesity, due to the mice being less active, rather than a cause.

To further investigate how the loss of XRN1 results in leptin resistance and an increased appetite, the scientists looked at whether the activity of appetite-regulating genes changed within the hypothalamus.

In the hypothalamus, the scientists found that the mRNA used to make the protein Agouti-related peptide (AgRP) — one of the most potent stimulators of appetite — was elevated in the obese mice, leading to higher amounts of AgRP protein.

“It’s still only speculation, but we think that an increase of this protein, and abnormal activation of the neuron that produces it, might be the cause of leptin resistance in these mice,” said Dr Yanagiya.

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COMMON ANTIDEPRESSANT SHOULD NO LONGER BE USED TO TREAT DEMENTIA

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A drug used to treat agitation in people with dementia is no more effec-tive than a placebo, and might even increase mortality, according to a new study.

The research, led by the University of Plymouth and published in the journal The Lancet, has shown that antidepressant mirtazapine offered no improvement in agitation for people with dementia – and was possibly more likely to be associated with mortality than no intervention at all. Agi-tation is a common symptom of dementia, characterised by inappropriate verbal, vocal, or motor activity, and often involves physical and verbal aggression. Non-drug patient-centered care is the first intervention that should be offered but, when this doesn’t work, clinicians may move to a drug-based alternative.

Antipsychotics have proven to increase death rates in those with demen-tia, along with other poor outcomes, and so mirtazapine has been rou-tinely prescribed. This study was designed to add to the evidence base around its effectiveness.

Funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), the study recruited 204 people with probable or possible Alzheimer’s disease from 20 sites around the UK, allocating half to mirtazapine and half to placebo. The trial was double-blind; meaning that neither the researcher nor the study participants knew what they were taking.

The results showed that there was no less agitation after 12 weeks in the mirtazapine group than in the control group. There were also more deaths in the mirtazapine group (seven) by week 16 than in the control group (only one), with analysis suggesting this was of marginal statistical significance.

Lead researcher Professor Sube Banerjee, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health and Professor in Dementia at the University of Plymouth, ex-plained why the results were so surprising but important.

“Dementia affects 46 million people worldwide – a figure set to double over the next 20 years. Poor life quality is driven by problems like agita-tion and we need to find ways to help those affected,” he said.

This study shows that a common way of managing symptoms is not help-ful – and could even be detrimental. It’s really important that these results are taken into account and mirtazapine is no longer used to treat agita-tion in people with dementia.

“This study has added important information to the evidence base, and we look forward to investigating further treatments that may help to im-prove people’s quality of life,” Banerjee added.

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