This “General News” page aims to update viewers about current events / developments / new findings of recent research etc about areas of medicine not directly related to the heart and lungs but may be of interest to everybody. The news snippets have been carefully chosen to be of relevance and benefit all viewers of this section.

 

October 7th 2020.
Exposure to a combined static magnetic and electric field could enhance insulin sensitivity according to a recently published study in the journal journal – Cell Metabolism. This phenomenon has been validated in a mouse study but could be extrapolated to humans in the future  to treat “difficult to control” diabetes. The beneficial effects are long lasting and are noticed even after the exposure to the EMF  has ceased. The new study indicates that EMFs alter the balance of oxidants and antioxidants in the liver, improving the body’s response to insulin.

2nd October  2020.
Wearing a face mask has negligible effect on gas exchange (oxygen absorption and CO2 elimination) in humans according to a new study recently published in the journal – Annals of the American Thoracic Society. There is a widely prevalent myth that  face  masks reduce the amount of inhaled oxygen or increase the amount of inhaled carbon dioxide. The study used the 6 min walk test and finger pulse oximetry to derive its conclusions. Wearing a mask has no deleterious effects on gas exchange even in patients with COPD.

25th September 2020.
Wearing a mask has numerous proven benefits but some down sides as well.  Masks worn for long periods could lead to  “dryness” in the mouth. Mask wearers are also mouth breathers. Mouth breathing worsens the dryness and also causes a decrease in the secretion of saliva. While wearing a mask, people also tend to drink less water. This worsens the dehydration. Reduction in saliva (which has natural antiseptic properties) with dryness also results in a favourable environment for bacterial over growth. The combination of a dry mouth and bacterial overgrowth can cause halitosis (foul smelling breath). This can be avoided by consciously breathing through the nose, drinking a lot of water, avoiding excessive “snacking”, caffeine, cigarettes, and liberally using mouth washes. Its also important to consult your dentist, and ensure treatment for co-existing periodontal (gum) disease, and / or tooth cavities.

16th September 2020.
The US FDA orders recall of several brands of the popular anti diabetic drug Metformin due to its potential carcinogenic (cancer causing) effects. The brands were found to contain the potentially carcinogenic substance N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) above the safe acceptable limit. This is an eye opener for all health care professional looking after patients with diabetes mellitus.

10th September 2020.
variolationA recent article published in the NEJM by Ms Monica Gandhi and George Rutherford, opines that the use of face masks  in the COVID 19 pandemic could have a protective effect similar to what the process of  “variolation” had during the small pox pandemic.

During the small pox epidemic, scabs from infected people was forcefully rubbed on to the skin of non infected people to induce a little bleeding, to create a “small / minor” infection which could then, be easily overcome by the hosts defense mechanisms.

The use of masks during the current pandemic could prevent a large COVID 19 viral load from entering the body but may permit a very small number of particles to enter  through the peripheries of the mask. These small virus loads could easily be handled by the bodies defense mechanisms and in the process the person could become immune to the COVID 19 virus.

19th August 2020.
As age advances, the risk of developing cancer increases, because of the accumulation of genetic mutations and exposure to carcinogenic substances. Many cancer causing agents are found in the environment, but some are produced by endogenously.

Methylmalonic acid (MMA), is a by-product of protein and fat metabolism, which can accumulate in the body with age, and may promote the dissemination of tumor cells. Methylmalonic acid is produced in cells in very small quantities. It then binds to coenzyme A to form methylmalonyl Coenzyme A, and is converted to succinyl Coenzyme A in a reaction that involves vitamin B12 as a cofactor.

Succinyl Coenzyme A subsequently enters the TCA cycle, which is an important part of energy production in the cell. MMA levels are significantly higher in the blood of people over the age of 60 than in those under 30.

A recent study published in “Nature” showed that treating human cancer cells with serum from the blood of elderly patients, caused them to develop characteristics of metastatic cancer cells such as a loss of cell to cell attachment and an increase in mobility. MMA induces an increase in the expression of SOX4, which causes a reprogramming of gene expression and subsequent transformation of cells into a metastatic state.

6th August 2020.
Chefs have taught us for years, how to barbeque, grill and panfry a steak. Sadly however,  new research from the University of South barbequeAustralia suggests that high heat caramelization could be bad for health.  When red meat is heated at very high high temperatures for a long period, such as grilling, roasting or frying, it creates advanced glycation end products (AGEs) which when consumed, over a period of time, can accumulate in the body and interfere with normal cellular functions which manifests commonly as stiffening of arteries, stiffening of the myocardium and increased oxidative stress levels. The was recently study published by Dr Premal Deo et al in the journal “Nutrients”

1st August 2020.

A meta analysis of multiple previous studies and reports published in the journal “Advances in Nutrition”confirms that a high intake of sugars sweetened beverages (SSB’s) is associated with a higher prevalence of cardiovascular disease and all cause mortality.

6th August 2020.
It is well known that in symptomatic patients with COVID 19 “viral load shed” is quite substantial. It is thereforegeneral news viral load necessary to isolate them to contain the spread of the disease. Surprisingly, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, even asymptomatic but infected persons can shed the virus in large amounts.

This is a huge public health concern as to how infected but totally asymptomatic people can be identified and isolated. Till now it was assumed that infected but totally asymptomatic people had good immunity so had no symptoms and very little viral shedding. This hypothesis may not be entirely true.

3rd August 2020.general news melatonin
Exposure to blue light at especially at night suppresses the production of melatonin. Melatonin has numerous anti proliferative actions against malignant cells. Suppression of melatonin synthesis can accelerate the progression of all cancers including colorectal cancer.

1st  August 2020.
Sepsis (a widespread infection with pathogenic bacteria) is a major burden across all healthcare institutions. It accounts for approximately 25% of all hospital deaths. A recent trial  (the Oranges Trial) combining Vitamin  C with Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) and steroids has shown promising results that suggest that the combination helps in the early resolution of sepsis. This combination of medications is a new addition to the armamentarium of drugs used to treat sepsis.

22nd July 2020.
A diet richer in plant proteins than animal proteins is likely to prolong survival according to a new study published in the British Medical Journal

20th July 2020.
This poem, authored by a Physician, recently published in the NEJM, really tugs at the heartstrings.

17th July 2020.
COVID 19 patients are prone to microvascular thrombosis in many organs. This makes them particularly prone to venous thromboembolism as well. What are the current guidelines for adequate anticoagulation in these patients? This article has some answers.

15th July 2020.General news RT PCR COVID 19
The RT – PCR is a commonly used test to confirm infection with the COVID 19 virus. Its sensitivity is however only around 75%. It means that there is a 25% chance that in spite of being infected with the deadly virus the RT-PCR may be negative. What if one has to look after a patient with clinical features of COVID 19 but is RT-PCR negative? How can this be done safely? This article is a useful resource.

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