Gutka ban helped many kick the habit: WHO study


A study conducted by the World Health Organisation country office for India in collaboration with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health across seven States in India shows that banning gutka, a form of chewing tobacco, helps users kick the habit.

A study conducted by the World Health Organisation country office for India in collaboration with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health across seven States in India shows that banning gutka, a form of chewing tobacco, helps users kick the habit.

India is estimated to be the world’s largest consumer of smokeless tobacco; WHO estimates indicate that 26 per cent of adults use smokeless tobacco, a major cause of death and disease. Nearly one million people die in India every year because of tobacco use.

The new study conducted across Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and the National Capital Region, shows that there are “strong indications” that State-level laws banning gutka have a positive impact owing to reduced product availability and a decrease in its consumption.

It also shows as many as 92 per cent of the respondents support a gutka ban while 99 per cent agreed that a ban is good for the health of India’s youth. A substantial proportion of respondents in each State (from 41-88 per cent) reported that they quit using gutka because of the ban.

“These findings have a strong message that regulatory mechanisms are effective and can have a positive impact on the consumption pattern,” said Dr. Nata Menabde, WHO Representative to India.

According to her, the study revealed that product ban did impact use. “Of the respondents who continue to use pre-packaged gutka, half (49 per cent) reported they consume less since the ban. I am also happy to learn that there was high degree of unanimity (90 per cent of the respondents) that the government should ban the manufacturing, sale and distribution of other forms of smokeless tobacco,” she said.

 

 

Vaccine alternative protects mice against malaria.


A study led by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health researchers found that injecting a vaccine-like compound into mice was effective in protecting them from malaria. The findings suggest a potential new path toward the elusive goal of malaria immunization.

Lab mice

Mice, injected with a virus genetically altered to help the rodents create an antibody designed to fight the parasite, produced high levels of the anti-malaria antibody. The approach, known as Vector immunoprophylaxis, or VIP, has shown promise in HIV studies but has never been tested with malaria, for which no licensed vaccine exists.

A report on the research appears online Aug. 11 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Malaria is one of the world’s deadliestinfectious diseases, killing as many as 1 million people per year, the majority of them children in Africa. Malaria patients get the disease from infected mosquitoes. Of the four types of malaria that affect humans, the parasite Plasmodium falciparum is the most lethal, responsible for the majority of malaria cases. Antimalarial treatments and mosquito habitat modification have contributed to a decline in malaria mortality. But the number of cases remains high, and stemming them is a top global health priority.

In their study, researchers used a virus containing genes that were encoded to produce an antibody targeted to inhibit P. falciparum infection. Up to 70 percent of the mice injected with the VIP were protected from malaria-infected mosquito bites. In a subset of mice that produced higher levels of serum , the protection was 100 percent. The mice were tested a year after receiving a single injection of the virus and were shown to still produce high levels of the protective antibody.

“We need better ways to fight malaria and our research suggests this could be a promising approach,” notes study leader Gary Ketner, PhD, a professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

There is a fine line between a vaccine and a VIP injection. One key difference: a VIP injection is formulated to produce a specific antibody. VIP technology bypasses the requirement of the host to make its own immune response against malaria, which is what occurs with a vaccine. Instead VIP provides the protective antibody gene, giving the host the tools to target the . “The body is actually producing a malaria-neutralizing antibody,” says Ketner. “Instead of playing defense, the host is playing offense.”

“Our idea was to find a way for each individual to create a long-lasting response against malaria,” says Cailin Deal, PhD, who helped lead the research while completing her doctorate at the School.

One advantage of this targeted approach over a traditional vaccine, the researchers note, is that the body might be able to continue to produce the antibody. With a vaccine, the natural immune response wanes over time, sometimes losing the ability to continue to resist infection, which would require follow-up booster shots. This can be challenging for people living in remote and or rural areas where malaria is prevalent buthealth care access limited. Any immunization protocol that involved one injection would be preferable.

“It’s dose dependent,” adds Deal. “Of course we don’t know what the human dosage would be, but it’s conceivable that the right dosage could completely protect against malaria.”

“Vectored antibody gene delivery protects against Plasmodium falciparum sporozoite challenge in mice” was written by Cailin Deal, Alejandro B. Balazs, Diego A. Espinosa, Fidel Zavala, David Baltimore and Gary Ketner.

LIFE EXPECTANCY GAINS THREATENED AS MORE OLDER AMERICANS SUFFER FROM MULTIPLE MEDICAL CONDITIONS.


NEARLY EIGHTY PERCENT HAVE MORE THAN ONE SERIOUS AILMENT

With nearly four in five older Americans living with multiple chronic medical conditions, a new study by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health finds that the more ailments you have after retirement age, the shorter your life expectancy. The analysis, one of the first to examine the burden of multiple chronic conditions on life expectancy among the elderly, may help explain why increases in life expectancy among older Americans are slowing.

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A report on the findings, based on an analysis of 1.4 million Medicare enrollees, appears in the August issue of the journal Medical Care.

“Living with multiple chronic diseases such as diabetes, kidney disease and heart failure is now the norm and not the exception in the United States,” says Eva H. DuGoff, a recent PhD recipient at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and lead author of the report. “The medical advances that have allowed sick people to live longer may not be able to keep up with the growing burden of chronic disease. It is becoming very clear that preventing the development of additional chronic conditions in the elderly could be the only way to continue to improve life expectancy.”

For their analysis, researchers used the Medicare 5% sample, a nationally representative sample of Medicare beneficiaries, enrolled as of January 1, 2008, which included 21 defined chronic conditions and the records of nearly 1.4 million people 67 and older.

Life expectancy in the U.S. is rising more slowly than in other parts of the developed world and many blame the obesity epidemic and its related health conditions for the worsening health of the American population.

The analysis found that, on average, a 75-year-old American woman with no chronic conditions will live 17.3 additional years (that’s to more than 92 years old). But a 75-year-old woman with five chronic conditions will only live, on average, to the age of 87, and a 75-year-old woman with 10 or more chronic conditions will only live to the age of 80. Women continue to live longer than men, while white people live longer than black people.

It’s not just how many diseases you have, but also what disease that matters. At 67, an individual with heart disease is estimated to live an additional 21.2 years on average, while someone diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease is only expected to live 12 additional years.

On average, life expectancy is reduced by 1.8 years with each additional chronic condition, the researchers found. But while the first disease shaves off just a fraction of a year off life expectancy for older people, the impact grows as the diseases add up.

“We tend to think about diseases in isolation. You have diabetes or you have heart failure. But many people have both, and then some,” says senior author Gerard F. Anderson, PhD, a professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “The balancing act needed to care for all of those conditions is complicated, more organ systems become involved as do more physicians prescribing more medications. Our system is not set up to care for people with so many different illnesses. Each one adds up and makes the burden of disease greater than the sum of its parts.”

The researchers say their findings could be useful to Social Security and Medicare planners as they make population and cost predictions for the future. Policymakers are facing a different landscape as so many more people are living with multiple chronic conditions than before: 60 percent of those 67 and older in the U.S. have three or more of these diseases, the researchers found. Eventually, there may be a tipping point, when the medical advances that have boosted life expectancy for so long can no longer keep pace with the many illnesses people are collecting as they age.

“We already knew that living with multiple chronic conditions affects an individual’squality of life, now we know the impact on quantity of life,” DuGoff says. “The growing burden of chronic disease could erase decades of progress. We don’t want to turn around and see that life expectancy gains have stopped or reversed.”

Shorter Sleep Duration and Poorer Sleep Quality Linked to Alzheimer’s Disease Biomarker.


Poor sleep quality may impact Alzheimer’s disease onset and progression. This is according to a new study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who examined the association between sleep variables and a biomarker for Alzheimer’s disease in older adults. The researchers found that reports of shorter sleep duration and poorer sleep quality were associated with a greater β-Amyloid burden, a hallmark of the disease. The results are featured online in the October issue of JAMA Neurology.

“Our study found that among older adults, reports of shorter sleep duration and poorer sleep quality were associated with higher levels of β-Amyloid measured by PET scans of the brain,” said Adam Spira, PhD, lead author of the study and an assistant professor with the Bloomberg School’s Department of Mental Health. “These results could have significant public health implications as Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, and approximately half of older adults have insomnia symptoms.”

Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills. According to the National Institutes of Health, as many as 5.1 million Americans may have the disease, with first symptoms appearing after age 60. Previous studies have linked disturbed sleep to cognitive impairment in older people.

In a cross-sectional study of adults from the neuro-imagining sub-study of the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging with an average age of 76, the researchers examined the association between self-reported sleep variables and β-Amyloid deposition. Study participants reported sleep that ranged from more than seven hours to no more than five hours. β-Amyloid deposition was measured by the Pittsburgh compound B tracer and PET (positron emission tomography) scans of the brain. Reports of shorter sleep duration and lower sleep quality were both associated with greater Αβ buildup.

“These findings are important in part because sleep disturbances can be treated in older people. To the degree that poor sleep promotes the development of Alzheimer’s disease, treatments for poor sleep or efforts to maintain healthy sleep patterns may help prevent or slow the progression of Alzheimer disease,” said Spira.  He added that the findings cannot demonstrate a causal link between poor sleep and Alzheimer’s disease, and that longitudinal studies with objective sleep measures are needed to further examine whether poor sleep contributes to or accelerates Alzheimer’s disease.

Women are more vulnerable to infections.


Public-health officials discount role of sex in people’s response to flu and other infections.

Sabra Klein came to the annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Reproduction this week armed with a message that might seem obvious to scientists who obsess over sex: men and women are different. But it is a fact often overlooked by health researchers, says Klein, an immunologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland.

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Her research on influenza viruses in mice, presented at the meeting in Montreal, Canada, helps explain why women are more susceptible to death and disease from infectious pathogens — and the reason is intimately linked with reproduction. “She’s one of the people that really gets the bigger picture as far as why do we see these patterns,” says Marlene Zuk, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, in St. Paul.

Women generally suffer more severe flu symptoms than men, for example, despite the fact that they tend to have fewer viruses during an infection. To Klein, this suggests that women quickly mount a substantial immune-system attack to clear infections — and suffer the consequences of the inflammatory responses that flood their systems. “This is where females run into trouble,” Klein says.

She and her collaborators have found this disparity in mice infected with flu viruses1. But when the researchers castrated the males and removed the ovaries from the females, the difference disappeared as the males became more sensitive to infection.

But testes are not simply protective. Klein found that giving the neutered females the female sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone actually protected them from disease.

For females, infections appear to throw these cycling sex hormones out of whack. They elongate the oestrus cycle in non-neutered female mice — stretching the part of the cycle associated with the lowest amounts of oestrogen from 4-5 days to 8-9 days.

Researchers have long known that immunological cells have receptors for sex hormones, and that autoimmune disease strikes women more frequently than men. Nevertheless, Klein says that her work should have implications for current public-health practices.

Women, who are often less likely than men to get vaccinated against flu, should be encouraged to do so, she says. And researchers may want to examine whether hormone-replacement therapies and contraceptive drugs have unintended — possibly positive — effects on some types of infectious disease.

But most importantly, Klein says, medical studies should take sex differences into account. Many epidemiological studies do not break down results by sex, a practice that she has found can obscure crucial trends2. And clinical trials have traditionally worked around the female oestrus cycle, because it can interfere with results.

To Zuk, Klein has provided a voice of reason here. “Why is it viewed as interference when you have interaction with the endocrine system or some other aspect of the reproductive system?” she asks.

“The age-old answer we get is that funding is tight and if we’re going to compare sexes, we’ll have to double the groups,” says Klein. But on the basis of her work, she says, “I don’t know that that’s actually true”.

Source Nature

 

The Hidden “Cancer-Trigger” You Probably Swallow Every Day.


It’s estimated that half of all hospital beds in the world are occupied by people who have become sick from drinking contaminated water. In fact, over 1 billion people (or about one-sixth of the world’s population) do not have access to safe drinking water, and millions in developing countries die each year from water-related diseases.1

In third-world countries, sunlight exposure is often used to help make water safer, but this natural disinfection process can take anywhere from six to 48 hours (depending on cloud cover and so on).

Now researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine have found a simple twist to make this disinfection method even more powerful, not to mention much faster …

Lime Juice and Sunlight Can Help Make Water Safer

When researchers added lime juice or lime slurry to water that had been contaminated with various types of bacteria and viruses, then exposed it to sunlight, levels of both E. coli and MS2 bacteriophage virus were significantly lower than when compared to solar disinfection alone.2 Kellogg Schwab, PhD, MS, senior author of the study, said:3

“The preliminary results of this study show solar disinfection of water combined with citrus could be effective at greatly reducing E. coli levels in just 30 minutes, a treatment time on par with boiling and other household water treatment methods. In addition, the 30 milliliters of juice per 2 liters of water amounts to about one-half Persian lime per bottle, a quantity that will likely not be prohibitively expensive or create an unpleasant flavor.”

Noroviruses in the drinking water were not significantly reduced using the lime juice/sunlight technique, so unfortunately it is not a perfect solution. However, limes are readily available in most tropical countries, as is steady sunlight, so this finding could still have an extremely beneficial impact in countries that don’t have ready access to clean drinking water.

You may be surprised to learn, however, that your drinking water may still be contaminated even if you live in the developed world. Further, many of the “modern” disinfection processes used in the United States and other developed countries create their own set of issues …

Have You Heard of Disinfection Byproducts?

Part of the allure of natural disinfection processes like exposure to sunlight and lime juice is that they have no harmful side effects – unlike the chlorination process used by most U.S. municipalities.

If you receive municipal water, the main chemical used to disinfect the tap water in your house is chlorine. While your local government is quick to assure you that there is relatively no danger from drinking chlorinated water, that simply is not the case, because the levels of chlorine disinfection byproducts (DBPs) that are produced by this process are both dangerous and alarming.

There is actually no safe level for many contaminants found in drinking water, including heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, hormones and DBPs, but they persist nonetheless, in varying quantities.

The government is much more concerned with providing water that doesn’t kill you by causing diarrhea (the way it does in many third-world countries) and it does a good job at that, although some microorganisms (cysts and parasites) do survive the chlorination process (cryptosporidium, Giardia, for instance) and can lead to isolated outbreaks of disease and even death to those with compromised immune systems.

If you have not heard of DBPs before, you need to pay close attention as it turns out that DBPs, not chlorine, are responsible for nearly all the toxic effects of chlorinated water. Chlorine by itself is relatively harmless, but its side effects, by producing DBPs, are what cause nearly all of the problems.

As it turns out, DBPs are over 10,000 times more toxic than chlorine, and out of all the other toxins and contaminants present in your water, such as fluoride and miscellaneous pharmaceutical drugs, DBPs may be the absolute worst of the bunch.

The most common disinfectant byproducts formed when chlorine is used are:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) takes the dangers of THMs — which are measured in parts per billion (ppb) — very seriously and regulates these compounds. The maximum annual average of THMs in your local water supply cannot exceed 80 ppb, and the maximum annual average of HAAs permitted by EPA regulations is 60 ppb.

However even though these are allowed, ideally it would be best to have zero. These levels have been regularly adjusted downwards over the years as science progresses and gains a deeper appreciation of their true toxicity. What makes DBPs so toxic?

Disinfection Byproducts May Cause Cancer, Reproductive Problems and More

THMs are Cancer Group B carcinogens, meaning they’ve been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals. DBPs have also been linked to reproductive problems in both animals and humans, and human studies suggest that lifetime consumption of chlorine-treated water can more than double the risk of bladder and rectal cancers in certain individuals.

One such study found that men who smoked and drank chlorinated tap water for more than 40 years faced double the risk of bladder cancer compared with smoking men who drank non-chlorinated water.4 A second study found that rates for rectal cancers for both sexes escalated with duration of consumption of chlorinated water.5 Individuals on low-fiber diets who also drank chlorinated water for over 40 years more than doubled their risk for rectal cancer, compared with lifetime drinkers of non-chlorinated water.

As the vast majority of the U.S. population continues to receive and consume disinfected or chlorinated drinking water, we can assume that Americans are consuming disinfection byproducts every single day, and the number of related cancer cases could be substantial. And, you’re exposed not only when you drink chlorinated water but also, and even more significantly, when you shower or bathe, as well as when you breathe in the chemicals from the air.

The chlorine that enters your lungs is in the form of chloroform, a carcinogen, and chlorite, a byproduct of chlorine dioxide. These forms of chlorine hit your bloodstream instantly before they have a chance to be removed by your organs of detoxification. The DBPs that enter your body through your skin during showering or bathing also go directly into your bloodstream. And the warm or hot water maximizes absorption by your skin. So unless you are regularly taking one-minute long cold showers, your body is like a sponge for these airborne toxins every second you spend in a shower.

If you are like me and obtain your water from a private well, then DBPs are a non-issue as they are only produced when chlorine is added, and it’s highly unusual to add chlorine to most private well water systems. However, well water has its own set of potential hazards as well.

Is Well Water Safe?

Unless you are getting your water from a well that is located 800 feet or more below the ground surface, chances are your well water has been contaminated by some if not many toxic substances that have been dumped into the ground soil over past decades. Some common toxins that are dumped by the millions of pounds into soil every year are:

  • Herbicides
  • Pesticides
  • Estrogen-mimicking hormones
  • Drug residues
  • Heavy metals

Many private wells in the United States have been affected by these types of chemical or heavy metal runoff from the surrounding ground soil, and this is to say nothing of the microorganisms living in well water as well. No matter how clean or pure your natural ground water looks, this has nothing to do with potential bacterial contamination or toxic pollution in the water. Many of the offenders in well water are just much too small to be seen with the naked eye.

So if your home uses well water, you really need to test to see what unwanted contaminants you’re piping into your house, and then filter it accordingly. And if you get municipal water, you should have that tested too, as Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J. told ABC News that there are more than 140 chemicals in U.S. drinking water supplies that are not regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).6 This includes gasoline, pesticides, rocket fuel, prescription drugs and more. Furthermore, more than 20 percent of U.S. water treatment systems have violated key provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act over the last six years!

You Can Get Chlorine (and Other Toxins) Out of Your Drinking Water

Most people in the United States are not going to take the time to expose their drinking water and bathwater to sunlight, then add lime juice, to help make it more pure – and this wouldn’t do anything to eliminate the chlorine or fluoride it contains anyway.

Fortunately, there are other options at your disposal.

If you can only afford one filter there is no question in most experts’ minds that the shower filter is the most important product to buy for water filtration, even more important than filtering your tap water. This is because the damage you incur through your skin and lungs far surpasses the damage done by drinking water (which at least gives your body a fighting chance to eliminate the toxins through your organs of elimination).

An even better solution to the problem of harsh chemicals and toxins in your home’s water supply is to install a whole house water filtration system. This not only protects your body, but also your appliances as well. There’s just one water line coming into your house. Putting a filter on this is the easiest and simplest strategy you can implement to take control of your health by ensuring the water and, subsequently, the air in your house is as clean as possible.

Remember, if you are getting your water from a municipal source your indoor air quality, especially in the winter when your windows are closed, is likely atrocious. This is related to the chlorine and other toxins evaporating from all your toilet bowls, showers, baths, dishwashers and washing machines.

My advice for whole house filtration systems is as follows: Find a system that uses at least 60 pounds of filter media and can produce eight or more gallons a minute. When you are running two different showers, the dishwasher and the kitchen sink at the same time, you’ll find out why these minimum levels are so important. This recommendation covers a home or apartment up to 3200 sq./ft, or in other words, a residence with about three and a half bathrooms. For more than that you will probably require two whole house water filtration systems.

You also need to look for a whole house water filter that has three separate stages of contamination removal:

  • Stage one removes sediment
  • Stage two removes chlorine and heavy metals
  • Stage three should be a heavy-duty carbon filter for removing hormones, drug residues, chemicals, pesticides, and herbicides

You want to look for granular carbon in the carbon filter, not a solid block of carbon. The granular carbon allows for better water flow, which translates to more water pressure and better filtering properties as well.

You also want to look for NSF certification, which ensures your water filter is meeting national standards. NSF certification is only granted when a product is proven to remove everything it claims to. It’s also good to makes sure all particles under .8 microns are being filtered out of the water. A lower number is actually better, but .8 microns is the standard I recommend because that covers most bacteria, viruses and VOCs.

Your body requires a constant daily supply of water to fuel all the various waste filtration systems nature has designed to keep you healthy and free of toxins. Your blood, your kidneys, and your liver all require a source of good clean water to detoxify your body from the toxic exposures you come into contact with every day.

When you give your body water that is filled with by-products from chlorination, or with volatile organic compounds, or water that is contaminated by pesticides or hormones, you are asking your body to work twice as hard at detoxification, because it must first detoxify the water you are drinking, before that water can be used to fuel your organs of detoxification! Clearly, one of the most efficient ways to help your body both avoid and eliminate toxins, and reach optimal health, is to provide it with the cleanest, purest water you can find.

  • ·         Source: Dr. Mercola