Mouth cancer

Oral cancer cases have risen above 6,000 a year for the first time, figures revealed today.

Cancer Research UK has attributed the increase to rising rates of the human papilloma virus (HPV) infection, especially through high-risk strains of the sexually transmitted virus.

Two thirds of the 6,200 cases diagnosed in the UK in 2011 were men.

Experts say men are more likely to smoke and drink heavily, both significant risk factors in oral cancer.

But the increase may also be due to rising rates of the HPV infection.

Up to eight in 10 Britons will contract HPV at some point in their lives, but the virus is usually harmless.

Just a few strains cause problems, but one in particular, HPV-16, is known to cause cell changes which could develop into cancer.

There were particularly sharp rises in rates of cancers at the base of the tongue (an almost 90 per cent increase) and the tonsils (around a 70 per cent increase) – two areas of the mouth where cancers are more commonly HPV-related.

Richard Shaw, a Cancer Research UK expert in head and neck cancers based at the Liverpool Cancer Research UK Centre, said: ‘We have seen a rapid increase in the number of HPV16-positive cases of oral cancer.

‘We have also noticed that patients with HPV-related oral cancers tend to be younger, are less likely to be smokers and have better outcomes from treatment than those whose tumours show no evidence of HPV.

‘This raises questions as to exactly how these cancers develop and why they only affect a small proportion of people who are exposed.’

Sara Hiom, director of information at Cancer Research UK, said: ‘It’s worrying to see such a big rise in oral cancer rates.

‘But like many other cancers, if oral cancer is caught early, there is a better chance of successful treatment.

‘So it’s really important for people to know the signs and symptoms of oral cancer – mainly mouth ulcers that just won’t heal, any lumps or thickening in the mouth, lips or throat, or red or white patches in the mouth that won’t go away.

‘It’s not just doctors who have a vital role to play. If you’re worried about any of these symptoms you can see your dentist as well.

‘Dentists have an important role to play in spotting oral cancer early and encouraging their patients to take care of their mouths. So make sure you attend regular dental check-ups.’


Severe sleep apnea,sleep apnea snoring,sleep apnea treatments

Obesity, kidney failure, diabetes and hypertension } these are just a few ways in which we punish ourselves by depriving our bodies of sleep. With hectic lifestyles and work stress dominating our lives, sleep has taken a backseat. Help is at hand with hospitals waking up to this serious problem and setting sleep labs to help people sleep better. Organizations with 24/7 operations should also ensure their employees get sufficient rest. On World Sleep Day and beyond, let’s remember that sleep is a necessity, not a luxury.

” is important for everyone. While a growing child needs to sleep for 10-12 hours, adults and aged persons need sound sleep for 6-8 hours. It’s necessary to sleep in a cozy environment, comfortable bed following a light dinner. Avoid excessive drinking and smoking,” said Dr N K Venkataramana, chief neurosurgeon, BGS Global Hospitals.

Sleep labs

Almost all major hospitals have a sleep laboratory which studies the sleeping pattern of a patient and diagnoses disorders. The lab in
Nimhans was set up in 2007-08. “The aim of this laboratory is to study the sleep changes and abnormalities in various disorders affecting the brain,” said Dr Sanjib Sinha, additional professor, Nimhans.

“Sleep Lab is very beneficial as it helps us in the better and much systemized studies of sleeping disorders. The sleep labs are very comfortable and have all the required scientific facilities, but in very rare cases are they separate entities, they are usually affiliated to the hospitals only,” said Dr. Bharti Jain

Delhi-Indraprastha Apollo Hospital has one of the most advance, fully equipped respiratory department, which now includes Critical Care and Sleep medicine also.

Mandakini Sleep Laboratory in Chembur, Mumbai avilable Sleep medicine also.

Sleep Apnea

Dr Hiranappa, pulmonologist, Bangalore Baptist Hospital, said: “Sleep apnea is one of the four causes of heart diseases because it disturbs blood circulation to the heart. About 6% men and 3% women suffer from sleep apnea which also affects the emotional wellbeing of a person.”

A patient is prescribed the CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) device. “When you sleep, it gently delivers air into your airway through a mask. It creates enough pressure to keep the airway open and produce immediate relief,” said Dr Natarajan Rajgopalan, consultant pulmonologist and sleep medicine, Narayana Hrudayalaya.

Sleep deprivation

* If you’re not energetic in the day

* If you’re not satisfied after sleep

* If you sleep unintentionally during the day

* If you’re tired, restless, irritable, fatigued

* If you need coffee or a smoke to forcibly keep awake

* If you tend to fall asleep while sitting, working or driving

World Sleep Day

* Annual event organized by World Association of Sleep Medicine since 2008

* Celebrated on third Friday of March every year

* Propagates benefits of good sleep

* Focus society’s attention on sleep problems and medicine, education
and social aspects

* Promote sleep disorders prevention and management

Grow your new joint

Doctors have developed an implant that allows patients to ‘grow their own’ joints and avoid having replacement surgery.

The implant, roughly the size and shape of a mint imperial sweet, has been designed to help replace small joints in the hands and feet.

It is made from a sugar-based material which encourages the patient’s own tough fibrous tissues to form a new kind of joint, providing a cushioning barrier between the bones.

When the new joint has formed, the implant gradually breaks down and is carried away in the blood stream — it is, in effect, the world’s first biodegradable joint implant.

Research on more than 200 patients with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis showed that it significantly improved both movement and pain. Arthritis affects around nine million men and women in the UK, with symptoms including pain and stiffness. The condition causes the smooth cartilage that lines the ends of bones and cushions the joint to be become damaged or destroyed. This can result in the bones of the joint rubbing together, causing pain and swelling. And as cartilage does not regenerate well, any damage is difficult to treat.

One current surgical option for severe cases is to remove the ends of the bones and then insert an artificial replacement joint made from low-friction man-made material, such as ceramic, plastic or metal. However, these artificial joints can cause wear on the surrounding bones and tissue, and may need to be replaced within ten years.

The common surgical treatment for joints in the hand, wrist and foot involves fusing the two bones of the joint together, but this can result in very restricted movement.

The new joint, made by Finnish researchers, is a soft porous material with a consistency similar to that of a sponge. The circular disc-like device, which comes in various sizes up to 18mm in diameter and 4.5mm thick, to fit different joints, is made from polylactide, a material manufactured from corn starch or cane sugar.

In a 30-minute procedure, the implant is inserted into the space between the two bones of the joint, where the missing or damaged cartilage normally sits. Here, it acts as a spacer to stop the two bones rubbing against each other. Once in place, the implant — called the RegJoint — stimulates the release of the body’s natural healing cells, which travel to the joint, triggering the growth of strong, fibrous tissue.

Over time, these cells grow into and around the porous material of the implant. Then, over the next three to six months, this fibrous tissue fills the space between the bones, while the spongy implant degrades. What remains is a soft tissue ‘pseudo’ joint — although not as hard as the cartilage it replaces, it still restores normal mobility. This new joint should last indefinitely, say the developers.

Trial results from 270 patients, published in the Journal of Hand Surgery and the journal Tissue Engineering, found that those who had the new treatment had significantly less pain than patients with conventional joint replacements. After 12 months, their score on a pain rating scale had dropped from 70 to 15; in the comparison group, the score dropped from 70 to 40.

Researchers say the device is suitable for patients who are suffering from rheumatoid or osteoarthritis in the small joints of the hands and feet, but do not envisage the device being used for hip or knee joints, as these structures are too complex.

Commenting on the device, Jane Tadman, of Arthritis Research UK, which funds research into joint replacement surgery, said: ‘The biodegradable joint implant is a novel treatment that may have potential clinical application.

‘Instead of chopping the ends off bones and putting in a joint replacement, this puts in a kind of “spacer” which will be re-absorbed into the fibrous tissue around the joint — so it’s a kind of flexible joint fusion. But whether it’s better than a joint replacement remains to be seen. We need more studies comparing it against conventional treatments. It has to be shown that it offers therapeutic benefit.’

The genetic code

If you are a science geek and wish to carry your genetic code in your pen drive, you will soon be able to do so for Rs 50,000.

What’s more, cracking the genetic code will be a matter of just a few hours and not weeks or months.

The personalised genome service, to be available in India, is based on a new semiconductor chip-based technology developed by the Life Technologies Corporation and is done using the ion proton sequencer machine.

‘Though it is primarily useful for research laboratories engaged in studies on human diseases based on genomics, individuals also sequence their genetic material which can be used to ascertain if some specific genes are present,’ Sanjiv P. Karandikar, a company official, said.

He added that for example this technology can be used in already-known genes linked to cancer.

‘By sequencing the genetic material we can find out if certain genes are present. More genes are expected to be associated with diseases in the future. So once we know the sequence of a particular individual, we can find out whether these genes are present,’ he added.

Several research institutes have shown interest in the new sequencing technology and it is also being validated for use in forensic sciences.

However, its use for personalised medicine may currently be still limited.

The genome machine has semiconductor chips with millions of microscopic wells.

The enzymes in these wells react with the genetic material releasing hydrogen. The intensity of the hydrogen released determines which of the four bases are available, and this information helps in mapping the genome.

The human genetic material is made up of four kinds of components called bases, the arrangement of which determines the gene.

Kuwait Heart

Kuwait Heart Foundation chief has called for the most effective precautionary measures to prevent heart and blood vessel diseases among women.
The call by Faisal Al Mutawa was issued in a press statement on Wednesday to mark the International Women’s Day.

Al Mutawa warned that some of the leading factors that cause health problems are overweight, unhealthy diet and smoking and that although cardiac diseases and disorders were commonly known among men, women could develop them as well.

World Health Organization set March 8 to celebrate women and to highlight the importance of promoting women’s health amid reports that 10 percent of women have heart diseases due to smoking,

Dubai to help smokers

Dubai A public campaign is under way in Dubai to help smokers who wish to quit but cannot because of their addiction to tobacco.

Visitors to parks across the emirates will be given free medical checks and awareness booklets about the hazards of smoking which kills millions of people across the globe.

A senior Dubai Municipality official said smoking shisha has been banned in public parks for the past two years. “We are waiting for the law [to be brought into force] to ban smoking in public places completely,” said Mohammad Ali Fardan, Head of Public Parks at the Dubai Municipality.

He told Gulf News that people were ruining the parks by smoking shishas and dumping the burned tobacco on the grass.

The UAE has already banned smoking in closed spaces such as offices, shopping malls, universities and places of worship, and it is also a crime to smoke with a child in a car.

The free medical checks are being provided by DM health care group in cooperation with Dubai Health Authority, Dubai Municipality

The awareness campaigns and free clinics will move across the various parks of Dubai over the coming months.

‘Strong message’

Dr Azad Moopen, chairman of the group, said that if each of us were able to convert one smoker into a non-smoker, thousands would be saved from various cancers and the ill effects of tobacco. “Let this city which has always been in the forefront, send out a strong message against smoking,” he said.

He said it was common knowledge that tobacco smoke contained 70 toxic chemicals which causes cancer.

But people are unable to quit as the nicotine’s effects reaches the brain rapidly, he said. Dr Moopen said the good news was that the younger generation was aware of the hazards of smoking. “Those smoking now are the older people,” he said.

He was speaking at a ceremony to mark the launch of the campaign at Zabeel Park on Thursday. It was attended by Dr Ahmad Kalban, CEO of primary health care at the DHA.

Dr Kalban said there was a need to change the behaviour of some people to help create a healthier society.

A number of Gulf News readers said they needed help to quit but were unable do so on their own.

Gulf News has initially chosen five readers who are now undergoing counselling by doctors at the DM health care group. Gulf News will soon choose more readers who wish to quit and pass their names to our partner for counselling and advice.

2 months

loss in lifespan annually of people who smoke one pack a day


lung cancer deaths caused by tobacco use


sugar content in a single cigarette. Do you want to quit? Call 04 4400500 or write to to register yourself or refer a friend for counselling services. You can also email

Nanoparticles bacterium

Science fiction has been turned into science fact by researchers who have created nano-size rockets.  Just like the miniaturised Proteus vessel in Fantastic Voyage, which tackles a blood clot in the brain of a defecting Russian scientist, these nano craft may one day zoom around the human body on medical missions.

They have been created by researchers at Radboud University Nijmegen in Holland, who say they could carry life-saving cargoes.  ‘We think this is the first realistic and useable nano motor,’ the researchers say.  Lead researcher Professor Jan van Hest continued: ‘Our nano rocket is made building on a simple design, using so-called polymersomes , which are ball shaped containers, as the main component.  ‘Since we master the craft to include different types of molecules in these containers and link them to marker molecules or functional enzymes, and peptides on the outside, we foresee practical use of these engines in the near future, for instance as drug delivery systems.’

The nanoparticles are about ten times smaller than a bacterium, self-assemble into tiny orbs and use hydrogen peroxide as fuel.  Power is generated when it is decomposed by platinum nanoparticles into oxygen and water.  ‘This generates a rapid discharge, which induces thrust and directional movement,’ the researchers write in Nature Chemistry.

However, before the Fantastic Voyage becomes a reality, there are a few hurdles to overcome.  Firstly, the hydrogen peroxide will run out, so the rockets need to be able to refuel automatically, and it’s toxic to human tissue.  The scientists also need to learn how to steer them.  Still, nanoengineer Joseph Wang of the University of California, San Diego, told Wired that ‘it’s an exciting step toward the dream of the Fantastic Voyage’.

Sexual health

Men are more likely to orgasm when sex includes vaginal intercourse and women are more likely to orgasm when they engage in a variety of sex acts, a new study has revealed.  Findings from the study of sexual and Sexual-health behaviours conducted by Indiana University has provided an updated and much needed snapshot of contemporary Americans” sexual behaviours, including a description of more than 40 combinations of sexual acts that people perform during sexual events, patterns of condom use by adolescents and adults, and the percentage of Americans participating in same-sex encounters.

The National Survey of Sexual Health and Behaviour (NSSHB) is one of the most comprehensive studies on these topics in almost two decades and documents the sexual experiences and condom-use behaviours of 5,865 adolescents and adults ages 14 to 94.  According to the study’s findings, one of four acts of vaginal intercourse are condom protected in the U.S. (one in three among singles).  “These data about sexual behaviours and condom use in contemporary America are critically needed by medical and public health professionals who are on the front lines addressing issues such as HIV, sexually transmissible infections and unintended pregnancy,” said Michael Reece of the Centre for Sexual Health Promotion.

Debby Herbenick, of the CSHP said Herbenick said: “Findings show that condoms are used twice as often with casual sexual partners as with relationship partners, a trend that is consistent for both men and women across age groups that span 50 years.”  The report has also suggested that adults using a condom for intercourse were just as likely to rate the sexual extent positively in terms of arousal, pleasure and orgasm than when having intercourse without one.  Many older adults continue to have active pleasurable sex lives, reporting a range of different behaviours and partner types, however adults over the age of 40 have the lowest rates of condom use. Although these individuals may not be as concerned about pregnancy, this suggests the need to enhance education efforts for older individuals regarding STI risks and prevention.

Mental health in life














The amount of sleep we get can impact our mental health in later life, a study has warned. Sleeping too little or for too long disrupts how we think and can age the brain by up to seven years, the findings show.  Getting less or more than the six to eight hours recommended sleep increases the speed of cognitive decline and affects abilities such as reasoning and vocabulary.  The researchers warned that worsening brain function could also trigger physical decline and early death.  University of London scientists showed how changes in sleep over a five-year period in late middle age affects cognitive function in later life.  The six standard tests measured memory, reasoning, vocabulary, phonemic fluency, semantic fluency and global cognitive status.

Between 7 and 8 per cent of those who slept longer than the recommended amount fared worse in all the cognitive tests apart from short-term verbal memory.  A quarter of women and 18 per cent of men who slept less suffered a decrease in their capacity for reasoning and vocabulary.   Around seven hours of good quality sleep is fundamental to human functioning and well-being, according to the study.

Sleep deprivation and sleepiness have adverse effects on performance, response times, errors of commission, and attention or concentration.   Furthermore, sleep duration has been found to be associated with a wide range of quality of life measures, such as social functioning, mental and physical health, and early death.  Senior research fellow Jane Ferrie said: ‘The main result to come out of our study was that adverse changes in sleep duration appear to be associated with poorer cognitive function in later-middle age.

‘The detrimental effects of too much, too little and poor quality sleep on various aspects of health have begun to receive more attention.  ‘Given that our 24/7 society increasingly impinges on the lives of many people, it is important to consider what effects changes in sleep duration may have on health and well-being in the long term.’  Researchers found the ideal amount of sleep duration of seven hours per night resulted in the highest score for every cognitive measure, followed closely by six hours of nightly sleep.   Among men, cognitive function was similar for those who reported sleeping six, seven or eight hours – only short and long sleep durations of less than six hours or more than eight hours appeared to be associated with lower scores.

Future health

In the near future you will be able to better manage your diabetes through your mobile phone and get better access to diagnosis and treatment of various ailments, experts said. Speaking at a conference on mHealth which started on Tuesday, experts said the advances in mobile technology will transform the way health care is delivered and help improve people’s lives.

MHealth, or mobile health, is a recent term for medical health and public health practice supported by mobile devices as smartphones. “This is the dawn of a new era for healthcare,” Dr Karim Taga, managing director of Arthur D. Little, said in his opening address. Telcare, a start-up company in the US, has developed the world’s first cellular-embedded glucose meter and it will be launched world-wide at the beginning of next year. The company is talking to partners here to make it available in the local markets. “Sixty million people already carry glucose meters,” said Jonathan Javitt, CEO of the company.

He said this new device will provide immediate feedback from the doctor. If it’s a [diabetic] child [at school], the information about sugar levels will be transmitted to a parent or if an elderly patient it will inform the caregiver. “If you better manage your blood sugar, you can reduce potential complications as strokes or blindness,” he said. The cost of the device will be the same as the glucose meter in the market.

The UAE has the second-highest number of diabetics in the world after Naaru, a tiny Pacific island where the lifestyle of its residents suddenly changed after the discovery of minerals. Remote diagnostics Clint McClellan, senior director of health and life sciences at Qualcomm, said that as mobile phones become less expensive and more powerful they can be used for remote diagnostics. “Very soon inexpensive patches as small as a band-aid will be developed which can measure your heartbeat, temperature and hydration and send the data to a doctor through the mobile phone,” he said.

He added that people with certain ailments will be “electronically coached” by a doctor on whether there is a need to be more active. Colonel Ron Poropatich said that every year there are 10,000 missed appointments by wounded servicemen in the US army. Mobile technology has helped many keep their appointments, he said. Mobile phone technology has also helped keep track of 3,000 patients who have undergone dengue vaccination in a three-year trial study in Thailand, he said.

Diabetes has rised!

Prevalence of diabetes has raised to around 15 per-cent in Oman compared to 11.6 per cent in 2000, according to Ministry of Health Officials.  “The National Diabetes survey of 1991 showed the prevalence of diabetes at 8.3 per cent while the survey in 2000 showed the prevalence rate at 11.6 per cent.

Recent unpublished data shows that during the past decade, diabetes has been on the increase among adults,” said Dr Halima Al Hinai,  Director, Health Education Department of Ministry of Health, at a media briefing to announce the Landmark Group’s ‘Beat Diabetes’ initiative in country.

“As a first step in a series of initiatives, the Landmark Group will be organising a 2.1km walkathon on November 12 to mark World Diabetes Day, which is observed globally on November 14,” said Clive Freeman, Territory Head of Landmark Group.  The walkathon will be held at Centrepoint, Ruwi. The walkathon is open to all through free registration.

Dr Al Hinai, said: “Raising awareness and access to reliable education information is essential in achieving effective participation and empowerment of people and communities. Private sector has an important role to promote community health.”  “The ‘Beat Diabetes’ initiative is a good opportunity to raise awareness about a growing problem in this country and to encourage people to adopt healthy balanced diet, physical activity and to go for screening every second year,” said Dr Sulaiman Al Shereiqi, the national focal person in-charge of the national non-communicable diseases screening programme, Ministry of Health.  At least one survey showed that around 67 per cent of studied adult population and diagnosed with diabetes were aware of their health problem for the first time.  By the year 2009, the national diabetes registry in Oman registered 61,583 citizens with diabetes.

Sex without condom

Image DetailHaving sex without using condom is good for mental health, according to a new study.   Professor Stuart Brody, of the West of Scotland University, Paisley, and his colleagues conducted the study and found that unprotected heterosexual sex can significantly boost men and women”s mental wellbeing.

On the other hand, heterosexual sex with a condom is linked to poorer mental health, the study showed.   According to Brody, mankind is biologically programmed to enjoy unprotected sex because it gives couples an evolutionary advantage and maximises the chances of reproducing.   “Evolution is not politically correct, so of the very broad range of potential sexual behaviour, there is actually only one that is consistently associated with better physical and mental health and that is the one Sexual behaviour that would be favoured by evolution.

That is not accidental,” the Scotsman quoted Brody as saying.   The researchers studied the sexual behaviour of 99 women and 111 men in Portugal.   They filled in questionnaires about the pleasure they derived from their sex lives and contraception use.   Using a measure of psychological health developed in Canada, Brody concluded that condom use was linked to members of the sample who exhibited problems dealing with stress.   He found that those who had unprotected sex appeared to be able to deal with stress in a more mature way by taking effective action.

They also had better mental health.   However, his conclusions have been criticised by sexual health campaigners, who warned that unsafe sex leads to unwanted pregnancies and diseases.   Tony Kerridge of Marie Stopes International, the leading sexual health and reproductive health organisation, said: “I would have thought that the mental health of anyone would be tested if they found out they had a sexually transmitted disease or that there was an unwanted pregnancy.

“Particularly in the case of casual relationships where there is no desire to get pregnant, advice should always be that condoms should be used,” Kerridge added.   The study has been published in the academic journal Archives of Sexual Behaviour.

Genetically modified mosquitoes

The world’s largest ever swarm of genetically modified mosquitoes has been released in Brazil to combat infectious disease.Jacobina, a farming town in Bahia, has been plagued for years by dengue fever, a mosquito-borne tropical disease and a leading cause of illness and fatality in Brazil. Continue reading

Grow human tooth using stem cells

Scientists in China say they have successfully grown a human tooth using stem cells taken from urine. Continue reading