Dhaka, June 22 (UNB) - Three compounds found in cocoa beans, particularly in the product’s shells, show promise for reducing the inflammation and insulin resistance that may result from obesity, according to a new study. The research comes from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where researchers investigated three specific phenolic compounds on mice. The compounds’ effects were described as ‘powerful’, reports SlashGear.
The study investigated three compounds called epicatechin, protocatechuic acid, and procyanidin B2. Though all three bioactive chemicals are found at high levels in cocoa bean shells, they’re also present in cocoa beans, green tea, and coffee.
As part of the study, researchers tested these compounds in a water-based extract on immune and white fat cells from mice; the team also investigated the effects of each chemical individually. In both instances, damaged mitochondria in the white fat cells was repaired, resulting in less fat accumulation.
As well, the researchers noted that inflammation was blocked in these white fat cells and insulin sensitivity was restored, something necessary to avoid the harmful effects of insulin resistance often seen in cases of obesity.
Effects on immune system
The compounds were also found to be effective against another harmful effect of obesity: excessive growth of immune cells called macrophages. This growth is triggered when fat cells accumulate too much fat, resulting in what the researchers describe as a ‘toxic cycle’ of interaction between the immune and fat cells. Resulting toxins can lead to chronic inflammation, compounding obesity’s harmful effects.
Chronic inflammation in obesity eventually results in insulin resistance, which can then snowball into type 2 diabetes. When the phenolic compounds were introduced into the mix, however, the white fat cells transformed into what is known as ‘beige’ fat, which burns fat more efficiently and contains more mitochondria. Insulin sensitivity was maintained and inflammation was controlled.
Using cocoa ‘waste’
The researchers note that cocoa bean shells, which contain high levels of these compounds, are considered a waste product with approximately 700,000 tons thrown away every year. Extracting these compounds may put those shells to good use while also potentially helping address the harmful effects obesity has on the body.
Canberra, June 21 (Xinhua/UNB) -- People with too much iron are more likely to contract diabetes and liver disease according to a joint study released on Friday.
While the medical issues associated with an iron deficiency have been well-documented, the study by researchers from the University of South Australia (UniSA) and Imperial College London revealed the implications of an iron surplus.
They found that people with high iron levels are protected against anaemia, a blood condition linked to iron deficiency, and are less likely to have high cholesterol but are also more likely to contract liver disease, diabetes and bacterial skin infections.
UniSA geneticist and co-author of the study Beben Benyamin said that the link between an iron surplus and a lower risk of high cholesterol was particularly important.
"We used a statistical method, called Mendelian randomization that employs genetic data to better estimate the causal effect of iron status on 900 diseases and conditions. Through this, we found a link between excess iron and a reduced risk of high cholesterol," he said in a media release.
"This could be significant given that raised cholesterol is a major factor in cardiovascular disease and stroke, causing around 2.6 million deaths each year according to the World Health Organization.
"In this study we have provided population-based evidence that iron is associated with certain diseases. The next step is to investigate whether direct manipulation of iron levels improve health outcomes through clinical trials."
Benyamin and co-author Dipender Gill from the Imperial College London also found that people with high iron levels are more likely to contract cellulitis, a bacterial skin infection that affects 21 million people in 2015 and kills 17,000.
Dhaka, Jun 21 (UNB) - Working long hours is linked to an increased risk of stroke; researchers say, BBC reported.
Long hours were defined in the French study as more than 10 hours on at least 50 days per year.
People who did long hours for more than a decade were at the greatest risk of stroke, they suggest.
But the UK's Stroke Association said there were lots of things people could do to counteract the effects of long hours, like exercising and eating well.
The researchers, from Angers University and the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, looked at data on age, smoking and working hours from a population study of more than 143,000 adults.
Just under a third worked long hours, with 10% working long hours for 10 years or more.
Overall, 1,224 had had a stroke.
'Work more efficiently'
Writing in the American Heart Association's journal Stroke, the researchers say people working long hours had a 29% greater risk of stroke, and those doing so for 10 years or more had a 45% greater risk.
Part-time workers and those who suffered strokes before working long hours were excluded from the study.
Dr Alexis Descatha, who led the research added: "The association between 10 years of long work hours and stroke seemed stronger for people under the age of 50. This was unexpected. Further research is needed to explore this finding.
"As a clinician, I will advise my patients to work more efficiently and I plan to follow my own advice."
This study looked at numbers, rather than reasons, but other research has found people who run their own businesses, CEOs and managers seem less affected by long hours - as opposed to those working irregular shifts and nights, or who have job-related stress.
Dr Richard Francis, head of research at the Stroke Association, said: "There are lots of simple things you can do to reduce the risk of a stroke, even if you work long hours.
"Eating a healthy diet, finding the time to exercise, stopping smoking and getting the recommended amount of sleep can make a big difference to your health."
Dhaka, June 20 (UNB) - African countries with small to medium-sized economies pay far more money for less effective drugs, a leading health expert has told BBC Newsday.
In countries such as Zambia, Senegal and Tunisia, everyday drugs like paracetamol can cost up to 30 times more than in the UK and USA.
Drug markets in poorer countries "just don't work", said Kalipso Chalkidou from the Centre for Global Development.
She said "competition is broken" due to a "concentrated supply chain".
Ms Chalkidou, director of global health policy at the organisation, co-authored a report on drug procurement that concluded that small to middling economy countries buy a smaller range of medicines, leading to weaker competition, regulation and quality.
It says richer countries, thanks to public money and strong processes for buying drugs, are able to procure cheaper medicines.
Poorer countries, however, tend to buy the most expensive medicines, rather than cheaper unbranded pharmaceuticals which make up 85% of the market in the UK and US.
The very poorest countries are not affected when foreign donors purchase medicine on their behalf, meaning their over-the-counter medicines remain at low cost.
"In the middle it's very problematic," Ms Chalkidou said.
Low- to middle-income countries "have little ability to negotiate prices down and quality assure products" and there are lots of mark-ups, often due to taxes and corruption.
She said less stringent regulation meant the quality of the drugs was also not as high.
"Without regulation, people perceive the products don't work, so pay extra money for things they think will work and won't work either," Ms Chalkidou explained.
The report recommends greater global co-operation and reforming World Health Organisation policy as well as policy in targeted countries to improve procurement practices.
Geneva, Jun 15 (AP/UNB) — The World Health Organization on Friday said the Ebola outbreak in Congo — which spilled into Uganda this week — is an "extraordinary event" of deep concern but does not yet merit being declared a global emergency.
The U.N. health agency convened its expert committee for the third time to assess the outbreak, which some experts say met the criteria to be designated an international emergency long ago.
This outbreak, the second-deadliest in history, has killed more than 1,400 people since it was declared in August. Three members of the family who brought the virus into Uganda have died after attending the burial of an infected relative, a popular pastor, in Congo.
Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Dr. Preben Aavitsland, the acting chair of the committee, announced that the outbreak is "a health emergency in the Democratic Republic of the Congo" but that the situation should not be declared a global one.
For such a declaration, an outbreak must constitute a risk to other countries and require a coordinated response. The declaration typically triggers more funding, resources and political attention.
Aavitsland said the committee was "deeply disappointed" that WHO and the affected countries have not received the funding needed to stop the outbreak and delivered a blunt message to donors: "Step up."
WHO said $54 million is needed.
Aavitsland added that declaring an emergency could have "unintended consequences" such as airlines stopping flights or governments closing borders.
"It was the view of the committee that there is really nothing to gain by declaring a (global emergency) but there is potentially a lot to lose," he said.
The outbreak, occurring close to the borders of Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan, has been like no other. Mistrust has been high in a region that had never faced Ebola before and attacks by rebel groups have undermined aid efforts. Several health workers have been killed.
On Thursday, WHO's emergencies chief acknowledged the agency has been unable to track the origins of nearly half of new Ebola cases in Congo amid the challenges, suggesting it doesn't know where the virus is spreading.
Friday's announcement quickly drew criticism from some experts.
"I respect the advice of the emergency committee but do believe a public health emergency of international concern would have been justified," said Dr. Jeremy Farrar, director of Wellcome, one of Britain's biggest donors and a funder of Ebola vaccine research. "The epidemic is in a frightening phase and shows no sign of stopping anytime soon," he said in a statement.
Congo's health minister, Dr. Oly Ilunga, told The Associated Press that WHO's decision to not declare the outbreak a global emergency was a testament to the country's response efforts, which he called "effective."
In Uganda, authorities said the country now had just one suspected Ebola case, who had no contact with the infected family and remained in isolation. They did not give more details. Ninety-eight contacts with infected people have been identified. The health minister on Friday asked Ugandans not to shake hands or otherwise touch each other "until we are Ebola-free."
Alexandra Phelan, a global health expert at Georgetown University, said the legal criteria for declaring Ebola a global emergency have long been met, even before the virus reached Uganda.
"Given that we are still seeing daily numbers of cases in the double digits and we do not have adequate surveillance, this indicates the outbreak is a persistent regional risk," she said.
Phelan said she was concerned WHO might have been swayed by political considerations.
As the far deadlier 2014-16 Ebola outbreak raged in West Africa, WHO was heavily criticized for not declaring a global emergency until nearly 1,000 people had died and the virus had spread to at least three countries. Internal WHO documents later showed the agency feared the declaration would have economic and social implications for Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
Dr. Axelle Ronsse, emergency coordinator for Medecins Sans Frontieres, was unsure whether a declaration would help. She said outbreak responders, including WHO, should reevaluate their strategies to contain the spiraling outbreak.
"It's quite clear that it's not under control," she said. "Now may be the time to reset and see what should be changed at this point."