Excessive drinking killed over 3 million people in 2016

Agencies
September 22,2018

Geneva, Sept 22: Drinking too much alcohol killed more than 3 million people in 2016, mostly men, the World Health Organization said.

The UN health agency also warned that current policy responses are not sufficient to reverse trends predicting an increase in consumption over the next 10 years.

In a new report Saturday, the WHO said that about 237 million men and 46 million women faced alcohol problems, with the highest prevalence in Europe and the Americas.

Europe has the highest global per capita alcohol consumption, even though it has already dropped by 10 percent since 2010.

Around a third of alcohol-related deaths were a result of injuries, including car crashes and self-harm, while about one in five were due to either digestive disorders or cardiovascular diseases. Cancers, infectious diseases, mental disorders and other health conditions were also to blame.

"Far too many people, their families and communities suffer the consequences of the harmful use of alcohol through violence, injuries, mental health problems and diseases like cancer and stroke," said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO.

"It's time to step up action to prevent this serious threat to the development of healthy societies." The average daily consumption of alcohol by people who consume it is about two glasses of wine, a large bottle of beer or two shots of spirits. Globally, about 2.3 billion people are current drinkers.

The report, the third in a series after ones in 2010 and 2014, relies on information from 2016 — the latest data available. WHO said the trends and projections point to an expected increase in global alcohol per capita consumption over the next decade, particularly in Southeast Asia and the Americas.

"The policy responses which are currently in place in countries are definitely not sufficient to reverse the trends, which we observe in several parts of the world, or to improve significantly this situation," Dr. Vladimir Poznyak, coordinator of WHO's management of substance abuse unit, told reporters.

"When we look at the trends of alcohol consumption in many countries from 2000, you can see ups and downs — which are determined by different factors," said Poznyak, citing countries' levels of social development, economic backdrops, policy measures and cultural trends. He said the data showed, for example, that alcohol consumption tends to drop in countries facing economic crisis.

Poznyak said it was "imperative for the governments to put in place measures that can mitigate the harms associated with this increase." The Distilled Spirits Council, which advocates for the industry in the U.S.., said in a statement it supports the WHO's goal to reduce the harmful use of alcohol. "However, we are concerned that some policy recommendations such as increasing alcohol taxes are misguided and don't effectively address harmful consumption," it said.

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Physical stress on the job linked with brain, memory decline in older age: Study

Agencies
July 24,2020

Colorado, Jul 24: A new study has found that physical stress in one's job may be associated with faster brain ageing and poorer memory.

Aga Burzynska, an assistant professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, and her research team connected occupational survey responses with brain-imaging data from 99 cognitively normal older adults, age 60 to 79. They found that those who reported high levels of physical stress in their most recent job had smaller volumes in the hippocampus and performed poorer on memory tasks. The hippocampus is the part of the brain that is critical for memory and is affected in both normal ageing and in dementia.

Their findings were published this summer in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience under the research topic 'Work and Brain Health Across the Lifespan.'

"We know that stress can accelerate physical ageing and is the risk factor for many chronic illnesses," Burzynska said. "But this is the first evidence that occupational stress can accelerate brain and cognitive ageing."

She added that it is important to understand how occupational exposures affect the ageing of our brains.

"An average American worker spends more than eight hours at work per weekday, and most people remain in the workforce for over 40 years," Burzynska said. "By pure volume, occupational exposures outweigh the time we spend on leisure social, cognitive and physical activities, which protect our ageing minds and brains."

Physical demands at work

Burzynska explained that the association between "physical stress" and brain/memory were driven by physical demands at work. These included excessive reaching, or lifting boxes onto shelves, not necessarily aerobic activity. This is important because earlier work by Burzynska and her colleagues showed that leisure aerobic exercise is beneficial for brain health and cognition, from children to very old adults. Therefore, the researchers controlled for the effects of leisure physical activity and exercise.

As expected, leisure physical activity was associated with greater hippocampal volume, but the negative association with physical demands at work persisted.

"This finding suggests that physical demands at work may have parallel yet opposing associations with brain health," Burzynska explained. "Most interventions for postponing cognitive decline focus on leisure, not on your job. It's kind of unknown territory, but maybe future research can help us make some tweaks to our work environment for long-term cognitive health."

She added that the results could have important implications for society.

"Caring for people with cognitive impairment is so costly, on economic, emotional and societal levels," Burzynska said. "If we can support brain health earlier, in middle-aged workers, it could have an enormous impact."

The researchers considered and corrected for several other factors that could be related to work environment, memory and hippocampus, such as age, gender, brain size, educational level, job title, years in the occupation and general psychological stress.

One piece of the puzzle

"The research on this topic is so fragmented," Burzynska said. "One previous study linked mid-life managerial experience with greater hippocampus volume in older age. Another showed that taxi drivers had larger hippocampi than a city's bus drivers, presumably due to the need to navigate. In our study, job complexity and psychological stress at work were not related to hippocampal volume and cognition. Clearly, our study is just one piece of the puzzle, and further research is needed."

The magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data used for the study was collected at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign between 2011 and 2014.

CSU researchers now can collect MRI data with the new 3T scanner at the University's Translational Medicine Institute.

With this new capability, Burzynska, along with Michael Thomas and Lorann Stallones of CSU's Department of Psychology, is launching a new project, "Impact of Occupational Exposures and Hazards on Brain and Cognitive Health Among Aging Agricultural Workers," which will involve collecting MRI brain scans and identifying risk and protective factors that could help the agricultural community age successfully. The project recently obtained funding as an Emerging Issues Short-Term Project from the High Plains Intermountain Center for Agricultural Health and Safety.

The Department of Human Development and Family Studies is part of CSU's College of Health and Human Sciences.

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National Bone and Joint Day | Bone and joint problems in obese

Dr G K Sudhakar Reddy
August 4,2020

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Being overweight or obese is now recognised as a serious cause of ill health and disability. There is a significant positive association between orthopaedic disorders and the level of obesity causing pain, deformity and difficulty in walking.

Excess body weight accumulation increases pressure on joints, particularly the hips, knees and ankles.

Here are a few type of  arthritis:

Osteoarthritis

It is a condition of damage/ wear and tear of the joint lining or cartilage. Obesity triggers this by loading excessive weight on the weight bearing joints like the knee and the hip. 

Knee Osteoarthritis

This is the most common arthritis especially in the Indian subcontinent.

While walking, an individual exerts 3 to 6 times pressure that of the body weight on the weight-bearing knee joint, which means in an obese with excess body weight, larger forces are exerted, which lead to higher risk of deterioration of cartilage.

In addition, there are excessive fat tissues that produce hormones and other factors that affect the joint cartilage metabolism and cause inflammation of the joints giving rise to joint pathology.  Leptin is one of the hormones causing knee osteoarthritis. 

Hip osteoarthritis

The force exerted across the hip is 3 times that of body weight. Hip osteoarthritis is caused by factors such as joint injury, increasing age and being overweight.    

Hand osteoarthritis

The observation that obese individual has a higher risk in having hand osteoarthritis has led to a hypothesis that the metabolic effect produced by fat tissue is the underlying factor. 

Osteoporosis

It is a progressive bone condition of decrease in bone mass and density (Bone Mineral Density or BMD) which can lead to an increased risk of fracture. Recent research suggests that obesity may accelerate bone loss. It is the amount of muscle mass which is seen in an active person, which accounts for bone strengthening effects and not due to the fat seen in a heavy person.

Low back pain

Low back pain from degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine is one of the most disabling conditions in the community and overweight and obesity have the strongest association with seeking care for low back pain.

Managing Hip and Knee Osteoarthritis

Life style changes

If one is overweight, try to lose weight by doing more physical activity and eating a healthier diet. Regular exercise keeps you active and mobile and builds up muscle, thereby strengthening the joints and can improve symptoms. 

Pain Killers

Painkillers help with pain and stiffness for short term. They don’t affect the arthritis itself and won’t repair the damage to your joint. Creams and gels can be applied directly onto painful joints.

Nutritional Supplements

Glucosamine and chondroitin are nutritional supplements. Animal studies have found that glucosamine can both delay the breakdown of and repair damaged cartilage. However, there is insufficient evidence to support the use of glucosamine in humans and one can expect only a mild-to-moderate reduction in pain

Joint injections

If pain from osteoarthritis is severe joint steroid injections are injected into the joints that can reduces swelling and pain. The injections can start working within a day or so and may improve pain for several weeks or months. 

Hyaluronic acid injections, which help to lubricate your knee joint also give short term relief. In early stages. Stem cell treatment or cartilage regeneration procedures are being tried in young people with small defects, however it is still experimental and lacks long term evidence.

Surgery

May be recommended if you have severe pain or mobility problems.

Arthroscopy

If one has frequent painful locking/stiffening episodes especially in the knee joint, an operation to wash out loose fragments of bone and other tissue as joint can be performed by a minimally invasive key hole procedure called Arthroscopy.

Arthrodesis

If hip or knee replacement is not suitable, especially in young people who do heavy manual work, one can consider an operation known as an arthrodesis, which fuses your joint in a permanent position. This means that your joint will be stronger and much less painful, although you will no longer be able to move it.

Osteotomy

In young, active people in whom a knee joint replacement would fail due to excessive use one can consider an operation called an osteotomy. This involves adding or removing a small section of bone either above or below your knee joint.  This helps realign your knee so your weight is no longer focused on the damaged part of your knee. An osteotomy can relieve your symptoms of osteoarthritis, although you may still need knee replacement surgery eventually as you grow old

Joint replacement surgery

Joint replacement therapy is most commonly carried out to replace hip and knee joints. It involves replacing a damaged, worn or diseased joint with an artificial joint made of special plastics and metal.

For most people, a replacement hip or knee will last for at least 20 years, especially if it is cared for properly and not put under too much strain.

Dr G K Sudhakar Reddy is a Sr Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Citizens Speciality Hospitals, Hyderabad

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Is coronavirus spreading through air?

Agencies
July 30,2020

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New York, Jul 30: Can the coronavirus spread through the air? Yes, it's possible.

The World Health Organisation recently acknowledged the possibility that Covid-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions.

Recent Covid-19 outbreaks in crowded indoor settings — restaurants, nightclubs and choir practices — suggest the virus can hang around in the air long enough to potentially infect others if social distancing measures are not strictly enforced.

Experts say the lack of ventilation in these situations is thought to have contributed to spread, and might have allowed the virus to linger in the air longer than normal.

In a report published in May, researchers found that talking produced respiratory droplets that could remain in the air in a closed environment for about eight to 14 minutes.

The WHO says those most at risk from airborne spread are doctors and nurses who perform specialized procedures such as inserting a breathing tube or putting patients on a ventilator.

Medical authorities recommend the use of protective masks and other equipment when doing such procedures.

Scientists maintain it's far less risky to be outside than indoors because virus droplets disperse in the fresh air, reducing the chances of Covid-19 transmission.

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