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Vitamin D Deficiency Doubles Risk Of Stroke in Whites

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Low levels of vitamin D, the essential nutrient obtained from milk, fortified cereals and exposure to sunlight, doubles the risk of stroke in whites, but not in blacks, according to a new report by researchers at Johns Hopkins.

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Stroke is the nation’s third leading cause of death, killing more than 140,000 Americans annually and temporarily or permanently disabling over half a million when there is a loss of blood flow to the brain.

Researchers say their findings back up evidence from earlier work at Johns Hopkins linking vitamin D deficiency to higher rates of death, heart disease and peripheral artery disease in adults.

The Hopkins team says its results fail to explain why African Americans, who are more likely to be vitamin D deficient due to their darker skin pigmentation’s ability to block the sun’s rays, also suffer from higher rates of stroke. Of the 176 study participants known to have died from stroke within a 14-year period, 116 were white and 60 were black. Still, African Americans had a 65 percent greater likelihood of suffering such a severe bleeding in or interruption of blood flow to the brain than whites, when age, other risk factors for stroke, and vitamin D deficiency were factored into their analysis.

“Higher numbers for hypertension and diabetes definitely explain some of the excess risk for stroke in blacks compared to whites, but not this much risk,” says study co-lead investigator and preventive cardiologist Erin Michos, M.D., M.H.S., an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and its Heart and Vascular Institute. “Something else is surely behind this problem. However, don’t blame vitamin D deficits for the higher number of strokes in blacks.”

Nearly 8,000 initially healthy men and women of both races were involved in the latest analysis, part of a larger, ongoing national health survey, in which the researchers compared the risk of death from stroke between those with the lowest blood levels of vitamin D to those with higher amounts. Among them, 6.6 percent of whites and 32.3 percent of blacks had severely low blood levels of vitamin D, which the experts say is less than 15 nanograms per milliliter.

“It may be that blacks have adapted over the generations to vitamin D deficiency, so we are not going to see any compounding effects with stroke,” says Michos, who notes that African Americans have adapted elsewhere to low levels of the bone-strengthening vitamin, with fewer incidents of bone fracture and greater overall bone density than seen in Caucasians.

“In blacks, we may not need to raise vitamin D levels to the same level as in whites to minimize their risk of stroke” says Michos, who emphasizes that clinical trials are needed to verify that supplements actually do prevent heart attacks and stroke. In her practice, she says, she monitors her patients’ levels of the key nutrient as part of routine blood work while also testing for other known risk factors for heart disease and stroke, including blood pressure, glucose and lipid levels.

Michos cautions that the number of fatal strokes recorded in blacks may not have been statistically sufficient to find a relationship with vitamin D deficits. And she points out that the study only assessed information on deaths from stroke, not the more common “brain incidents” of stroke, which are usually non-fatal, or even mini-strokes, whose symptoms typically dissipate in a day or so. She says the team’s next steps will be to evaluate cognitive brain function as well as non-fatal and transient strokes and any possible tie-ins to nutrient deficiency.

Besides helping to keep bones healthy, vitamin D plays an essential role in preventing abnormal cell growth, and in bolstering the body’s immune system. The hormone-like nutrient also controls blood levels of calcium and phosphorus, essential chemicals in the body. Shortages of vitamin D have also been tied to increased rates of breast cancer and depression in the elderly.

Michos recommends that people maintain good vitamin D levels by eating diets rich in such fish as salmon and tuna, consuming vitamin-D fortified dairy products, and taking vitamin D supplements. She also promotes brief exposure daily to the sun’s vitamin D-producing ultraviolet light. And to those concerned about the cancer risks linked to too much time spent in the sun, she says as little as 10 to 15 minutes of daily exposure is enough during the summer months.

If vitamin supplements are used, Michos says that daily doses between 1,000 and 2,000 international units are generally safe and beneficial for most people, but that people with the severe vitamin D deficits may need higher doses under close supervision by their physician to avoid possible risk of toxicity.

The U.S. Institute of Medicine (IOM) previously suggested that an adequate daily intake of vitamin D is between 200 and 600 international units. However, Michos argues that this may be woefully inadequate for most people to raise their vitamin D blood levels to a healthy 30 nanograms per milliliter. The IOM has set up an expert panel to review its vitamin D guidelines, with new recommendations expected by the end of the year. Previous results from the same nationwide survey showed that 41 percent of men and 53 percent of women have unhealthy amounts of vitamin D, with nutrient levels below 28 nanograms per milliliter.

Source
:Elements4Health

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How Light Sensors in Eye Work

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Neuro-scientists have unravelled how newly discovered light sensors in the eye detect light and communicate with the brain.
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These light sensors are a small number of nerve cells in the retina that contain melanopsin molecules.

Unlike conventional light-sensing cells in the retina-rods and cones, melanopsin-containing cells are not used for seeing images.

Instead, they monitor light levels to adjust the body’s clock and control constriction of the pupils in the eye, among other functions.

“These melanopsin-containing cells are the only other known photoreceptor besides rods and cones in mammals, and the question is, how do they work,” said Michael Do, a postdoctoral fellow in neuro-science at Johns Hopkins.

“We want to understand some fundamental information, like their sensitivity to light and their communication to the brain,” he informed.

Using mice, the team first tested the light sensitivity of these cells by flashing light at the cells and recording the electrical current generated by one cell.

They found that these cells are very insensitive to light, in contrast to rods, which are very sensitive and therefore enable us to see in dim light at night, for example.

According to Do, the melanopsin-containing cells are less sensitive than cones, which are responsible for our vision in daylight.

“The next question was, what makes them so insensitive to light? Perhaps each photon they capture elicits a tiny electrical signal. Then there would have to be bright light-giving lots of captured photons for a signal large enough to influence the brain. Another possibility is that these cells capture photons poorly,” said Do.

To figure this out, the team flashed dim light at the cells. The light was so dim that, on average, only a single melanopsin molecule in each cell was activated by capturing a photon.

They found that each activated melanopsin molecule triggered a large electrical signal. Moreover, to their surprise, the cell transmits this single-photon signal all the way to the brain, said a Johns Hopkins release.

Yet the large signal generated by these cells seemed incongruous with their need for such bright light. “We thought maybe they need so much light because each cell might also contain very few melanopsin molecules, decreasing their ability to capture photons,” said King-Wai Yau, a professor of neuroscience at Hopkins.

When they did the calculations, the research team found that melanopsin molecules are 5,000 times sparser than other light-capturing molecules used for image-forming vision.

“It appears that these cells capture very little light. However, once captured, the light is very effective in producing a signal large enough to go straight to the brain,” said Yau.

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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Featured Healthy Tips

Broccoli ‘May Help Protect Lungs’

 

A substance found in broccoli may limit the damage which leads to serious lung disease, research suggests.
…….CLICK & SEE

Sulforapane is found in broccoli and brussel sprouts

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is often caused by smoking and kills about 30,000 UK residents a year.

US scientists found that sulforapane increases the activity of the NRF2 gene in human lung cells which protects cells from damage caused by toxins.

The same broccoli compound was recently found to be protective against damage to blood vessels caused by diabetes.

Brassica vegetables such as broccoli have also been linked to a lower risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Cell pollutants

In the latest study, a team from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine found significantly lower activity of the NRF2 gene in smokers with advanced COPD.

Writing in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, they said the gene is responsible for turning on several mechanisms for removing toxins and pollutants which can damage cells.

“We know broccoli naturally contains important compounds but studies so far have taken place in the test tube and further research is needed to find if you can produce the same effect in humans” :-Spokeswoman, British Lung Foundation

Previous studies in mice had shown that disrupting the NRF2 gene caused early onset severe emphysema – one of the conditions suffered by COPD patients.

Increasing the activity of NRF2 may lead to useful treatments for preventing the progression of COPD, the researchers said.

In the study, they showed that sulforapane was able to restore reduced levels of NRF2 in cells exposed to cigarette smoke.

“Future studies should target NRF2 as a novel strategy to increase antioxidant protection in the lungs and test its ability to improve lung function in people with COPD,” said study leader Dr Shyam Biswal.

A spokeswoman for the British Lung Foundation said: “This is an important study for the 3 million people in the UK with COPD because of its findings about the imbalance of oxidants and antioxidants in the lungs.

“We know broccoli naturally contains important compounds but studies so far have taken place in the test tube and further research is needed to find if you can produce the same effect in humans.

Sources:BBC NEWS:Sept 12. ’08

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Featured News on Health & Science

Of Hedgehogs and Cancer

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Indian scientists have discovered that a protein essential for growth turns hostile and causes cancer.

………...CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Indian researchers in Bangalore have solved a puzzle that has been haunting scientists for a long time: how does a set of proteins that are crucial for the well-rounded development of organisms trigger cancers?

The work, spearheaded by scientists at the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), provides a significant insight into the erratic behaviour of Hedgehog proteins, named so because their absence gives embryos a prickly appearance.

The Hedgehog protein is aptly described as the construction supervisor of life, as it plays a critical role in directing an organism’s growth from a single fertilised egg to a collection of millions of structured, specialised cells. They ensure, among other things, that the hands and feet develop the right shape and number of digits, the heart is located on the left and not the right side of the body, and that we have two eyes and ears instead of one each.

For more than a decade, scientists have been trying to understand the protein’s role in deciding which group of cells should constitute a particular tissue or organ (such as nerves, muscles and liver). In the process they found that when the Hedgehog genes of lab animals were knocked off or mutated, the progenies were born without wings or limbs or eyes, clearly indicating their pivotal role in the overall growth of organisms.

But once an organism, including humans, grows into an able-bodied creature, the Hedgehog proteins are left with a minimal role to play, quite like a supervisor’s role that comes to an end once the building is up and occupied. Except that both need to be available for occasional repair jobs.

Earlier in the decade, a team of researchers led by Philip Beachy of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine discovered that the protein is not entirely harmless: it causes medulloblastoma, one of the most common brain cancers in children. Since then researchers elsewhere have found the Hedgehog’s involvement in cancers of several other organs — small cell lung cancer, pancreatic and prostrate cancers and so on.

Over the years, it has become clear to scientists that in order to be “mischievous,” the Hedgehog proteins need to be hyperactive so that they are able to work on cells that are far away from their location. “How the Hedgehog proteins are able to ‘jump’ to cells far away from their parent cells remained a mystery for long,” says Neha Vyas, the first author of the paper that appeared in the prestigious journal Cell in the last week of June.

Vyas, a post doctoral student at Satyajit Mayor’s lab at NCBS, says they got interested in Hedgehog proteins for an entirely different reason. It is one of the few proteins in the body that requires cholesterol — a fatty substance often vilified for clogging arteries — for efficient functioning. Studies have shown that inadequate cholesterol levels in an expectant mother can mar the development of the baby in many ways. “Hence we were interested in the protein’s cholesterol link,” she says.

“It became clear to us that for the Hedgehog molecules to be able to act over a distance, two kinds of interactions are needed. The molecules need to come together and also collaborate with a group of special carriers which are required to ferry them across a long distance,”NCBS director K. VijayRaghavan, a co-author of the study, told KnowHow.

Clustering is a normal activity of the Hedgehog protein. But it leads to cancer when the Hedgehog is made when it should not be or cells act as if they are constantly “seeing” these proteins even when they are not, observes VijayRaghavan.

The scientists — including those from the University of Mysore and the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad — found that Hedgehog proteins exploit the electrostatic interactions of amino acids on their surface for clustering, the first step in the long journey away from the parent cell. The scientists understood the mechanism by which Hedgehog proteins “move around” and also that deactivating a single amino acid on the protein’s surface puts an end to the formation of clusters and hence its unattended long haul.

“Identifying this initial step is of great help as it could be used to design an anti-cancer drug that could stall a mutant Hedgehog pathway,” says Vyas. “Drug designers could target it at the very source itself.”

However, developing a drug that can safely defuse the hyper Hedgehogs that cause the biological mayhem called cancer is not all that easy. Blocking the Hedgehog protein has to be very selective as it plays a role in the regeneration of organs and tissues.

“It is not clear how much regeneration in adults is dependent on Hedgehog proteins, but recent stem cell studies have shown that they are important,” says Mayor, the lead author. A cancer cell-targeted inhibitor should be the way to go, he sums up.

Sources: The Telegraph (kolkata, India)

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Ailmemts & Remedies

Cold Allergy

Every year, millions of people use over-the-counter (OTC) products to relieve nasal stuffiness and congestion, sneezing, runny noses, sore throat, and cough. The common causes of these symptoms include the cold virus, influnza virus, allergic rhinitis (hay fever), and sinus infections (sinusitis). Viral infections can also cause headache, body- aches, fatigue, and sometimes fever. Hay fever symptoms can also include itchy eyes, nose, and throat, and watery eyes.

The symptoms are : headache,body-aches, flue like fever, nasal congestion,running nose,sneezing and then cough and some times sore throat.

Often the patient is having symptoms such as nasal congestion, drainage, coughing, sneezing, low grade fever (under 101 degrees). These are symptoms of “colds.” But they are also symptoms of allergy. These symptoms can be confusing. It helps to note on the calendar when symptoms begin and end. You may notice a “pattern;” particularly, if the cause is allergy. The “pattern” may be symptoms that occur at the same “pollen” season each year.

For example, many people get “colds” during December, January and February of each year. Others have “cedar fever” during these months, each year. Patients realize they are having “cold” symptoms, including “cedar fever,” all of which are really “allergies” giving rise to these symptoms. “Cedar fever” or “hay fever” are simply descriptive labels describing the low grade fever that accompanies most allergy reactions. It usually is under 100 degrees and often is accompanied by “night sweats.”

The fever of a real-cold is usually much higher – often 103-105 degrees. The symptoms are similar but are usually much more severe and overwhelming with a “cold.” So we often confuse the two.

These are just a few guidelines to help you tell the difference, but basically one rule helps differentiate allergy from almost every other medical disorder: it comes and goes, comes and goes. Almost any other disorder gets worse . . . or better; but, they don’t appear and disappear, come and go week by week, month by month, season by season, year in and year out.

According to Ayurvedic thought, seasonal allergies are connected to the earth. As the earth is more saturated during this time of the year due to the increased rain, the earth is holding on to more water than usual. This then is also occurring in our bodies, and is what we refer to as congestion. In order to figure out what the best remedy for our bodies would be, we need only refer to what is going on with the earth. During spring, the earth produces many different vegetables and berries. These foods are naturally healthy and fat-free and are exactly what our bodies need to rid ourselves of congestion and counteract all of the increased fats we absorbed.

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology reports that Allergic disorders affect at least 50 million people in the US. Common symptoms range from Asthma, Eczema, Hay Fever, Headaches, swellings, fatigue, chills, sensitivity to light and Loss of Appetite. These symptoms can be worsened by inherited tendencies, or exposure to environmental toxins such as smog, pesticides, even the food we eat and the water we drink! Allergies are often manifestations of the immune system being overloaded by the constant assault of pollution associated with modern life.

Olive Leaf the Allergy Buster:
The botanical Olea Europaea (olive leaf) tea, extracts and capsules are immune system boosters known to help control and eliminate various allergies. The antioxidants of olive leaf act directly to eliminate free radicals from the body, as well as aiding with digestion. The less energy that your immune system uses acting as a “cleanup crew” for the body, the more of it’s resources are available for combating environmental allergens such as Pollen, Dust and Mold. The key to utilizing olive leaf as consistency so that the immune system may permanently shift it’s focus to environmental allergens, and away from internal toxins, leaving you happier, healthier and more able to enjoy life.

Some home remedies for common cold:

For dry and stuffy nose, try normal saline or salt water nasal drops made by adding 1/4 teaspoon of table salt to about 4 ml lukewarm water. Make a fresh solution every few days keeping it in refrigerator. Use a clean dropper to instill 1 to 2 drops in each nostril about 3 to 4 times daily for common cold .

Do not use medicated nasal drops without physician’s consent as excessive use will cause chemical rhinitis with rebound block

Garlic juice made by adding few drops of garlic oil to a teaspoonful of onion juice and diluting it in a cup of water is helpful for common cold

Ginger tea or a teaspoonful of ginger juice taken with equal quantity of honey brings relief from common cold


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According to me, we can get more benefits if we treat Cold Allergy of all kind with HERBAL REMEDIES .We may visit this web site and at the same time try to develop the immune system that is within our body. Regular Yoga exercise and sometimes Urotherapy may be a few of several natural process of developing this.

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