what's the buzz, Nov 27

Flashes of light can cause blindness

A new Canadian study led by a researcher of Indian origin has found that eye floaters and flashes of light are linked to retinal tear or detachment and may even cause blindness if left untreated. The study has been conducted by researchers from Queen’s University and Hotel Dieu Hospital in Kingston.

The team found that one out seven patients with the symptom are likely to have a retinal tear or detachment. Dr Sanjay Sharma, senior author of the study, said: “If we detect a tear and laser it, we can save people from potentially going blind... But if fluid gets in under the retina and causes it to detach, it may be too late.”

He also pointed out that only high-tech equipment and a thorough retinal examination can detect retinal tears since they are really difficult to see.
Dr Sharma added: “If new floaters are associated with visual loss, a defect in the visual field, or the presence of blood or ‘tobacco dust’ in the eye jelly, the risk of retinal tear is significantly higher...”

Foot ulcers dangerous for diabetics

Foot ulcers can be extremely dangerous for diabetes patients, according to Marcus M Riedhammer, Geisinger Medical Centre. He insists that diabetics with foot ulcer need to take extra care.

Foot ulcers are open sores that usually develop on the ball of the foot or bottom of the big toe. They occur when repeated pressure is applied to an area of the foot, and are characterised by red, crater-shaped wounds that can range from a shallow crater only involving the surface skin to holes that reach as far as bone.

Riedhammer said: “Foot ulcers can be painful and can lead to further infections and even limb amputation if they are not monitored or treated correctly.”

“Diabetes can cause nerve damage, which lessens a diabetic’s ability to feel when an injury develops, and it can adversely affect circulation and the body’s ability to help wounds heal or fight off infection. Because of these issues, diabetics are particularly susceptible to developing foot ulcers,” Riedhammer added.

Soy component helps fight colon cancer

Researchers have found a component in soy that can prevent and even treat colon cancer. Scientists from Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI) have claimed that the new class of therapeutic agents, known as Sphingadienes (SDs), is found naturally in soy.

The team led by Julie Saba, director, Cancer Centre at CHORI, identified SDs in the fruit fly, an organism that is sometimes used to study the genetics of human diseases.

They observed that raised level of SDs induced the death of mutant cells in the fly, revealing SDs to be cytotoxic compounds (toxic to cells). And, since it was already known that preventative colon cancer strategies often focus on cell death, the researcher reached the conclusion that soyabean products, which are rich in SDs, can be helpful in preventing the third deadliest form of cancer.

Saba said: “It’s very exciting. We are encouraged to find a natural molecule that could be consumed through soy products as a strategy to help prevent colon cancer.”

New alternate-day diet can help you lose weight

Forget tedious exercise routine and counting on calories, a simple alternate-day diet regime could offer significant health benefits and make you live longer.

The principle behind alternate-day diet aka intermittent fasting or the longevity diet is eat very little one day and eat whatever you like the next day.

This appears to trigger a ‘skinny’ gene that encourages the body to burn fat.This diet would not only help lose weight but also ease asthma symptoms and reduce blood sugar levels. It will also help fend off heart disease and breast cancer, protect brain cells and improve survival.

Dr Mark Mattson, an American neuroscientist, had discovered rats still enjoyed all those health benefits even when their calories were cut only on alternate days.
“These are very hard diets to follow,” said Krista Varady, “You are constantly hungry. The eat-every-other-day-diet seems to offer an easier and more effective option.”

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