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Tai Chi helps COPD exercise capacity

Tai Chi can be used as an effective form of exercise therapy for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a new study has revealed.

The research suggests that this form of exercise can improve exercise capacity and quality of life in people with COPD and may be as beneficial as pulmonary rehabilitation.
It is well known that moderate forms of exercise can help COPD patients to improve their exercise tolerance, symptoms of breathlessness and their overall quality of life.

This new study aimed to investigate whether Sun-style Tai chi could be used as an effective form of exercise therapy.

This form of Tai Chi (Sun-style) has been shown to help people with chronic conditions such as arthritis and involves less difficult movements enabling people of all ages to perform this martial art.

Researchers from the Concord Repatriation General Hospital and the University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia, worked with 42 people with COPD.

Half the group attended Tai Chi lessons twice a week, as well as performing Tai Chi at home, whereas the other half followed their usual medical management which did not include exercise.

Researchers tested the exercise capacity of all participants via a walking test and also asked all participants to complete the Chronic Respiratory Disease Questionnaire, which gives an indication of how the disease affects their quality of life.

The exercise intensity of Tai Chi was measured in those participants who completed the Tai Chi training to assess whether it met the training requirements suggested for COPD patients.

Fruit fly hormone may revolutionise diabetes cure

 Manipulating a group of hormone-producing cells in the brain can control blood sugar levels in the body, a new study has revealed.

This has dramatic potential for research into weight-loss drugs and diabetes treatment.
The new study examines how fruit flies (Drosophila) react when confronted with a decreased diet.

Reduced diet or starvation normally leads to hyperactivity in fruit flies – a hungry fly buzzes around feverishly, looking for more food. That happens because an enzyme called AMP-activated kinase stimulates the secretion of the adipokinetic hormone, which is the functional equivalent of glucagon.

This hormone acts opposite of insulin, as it tells the body to release the sugar, or food, needed to fuel that hyperactivity. The body uses up its energy stores until it finds food.

But when Wake Forest’s Erik Johnson, an associate professor of biology, and his research team turned off AMP-activated kinase, the cells decreased sugar release and the hyperactive response stopped almost completely – even in the face of starvation.

“Since fruit flies and humans share 30 percent of the same genes and our brains are essentially wired the same way, it suggests that this discovery could inform metabolic research in general and diabetes research specifically,” Johnson, the study’s principal investigator, said.

“The basic biophysical, biochemical makeup is the same. The difference in complexity is in the number of cells. Why flies are so simple is that they have approximately 100,000 neurons versus the approximately 11 billion in humans,” he said.

Hair loss drug linked to depression in men

A significant proportion of men who developed persistent sexual side effects from using finasteride - known by its brand name Propecia - also suffer from depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts, a new study has revealed.

“The potential life-threatening side-effects associated with finasteride should prompt clinicians to have serious discussions with their patients,” CBS News quoted Dr. Michael S. Irwig, an assistant professor of medicine in the division of endocrinology at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, as saying.

According to the National Institutes of Health, finasteride is used to treat male pattern hair loss - the thinning of the hair on the scalp leading to a receding hairline or balding on the top of the head.

The drug can also be used to treat benign prostatic hypertrophy or enlargement of the prostate gland – sold under the brand name Proscar -which can cause problems such as frequent and difficult urination and the sudden inability to urinate.

The study looked at finasteride as found in Propecia. Both Propecia and Proscar are manufactured by Merck.

Previous research had tied the drug to sexual side effects, and in April 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration added warning labels to Merck’s drugs.

The FDA had said at that time that Propecia labels would from then onwards include warnings for libido disorders, ejaculation disorders and orgasm disorders that continued for men even months after stopping the drug.

The study questioned 61 men, who formerly used finasteride and had sexual side effects for at least a three month-period, about their demographic information, medical and psychiatric histories, and information on medication use, sexual function, and alcohol consumption.

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