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Microbiologists at the University of Hong Kong insist that use of contaminated needles can have devastating results.
The researchers, led by Patrick Woo, University of Hong Kong, said: “To prevent infections transmitted by acupuncture, infection control measures should be implemented, such as use of disposable needles, skin disinfection procedures and aseptic techniques.”
Acupuncture requires insertion of fine needles at specific points in the body to promote the flow of ‘Qi’ or energy for the treatment of problems such as obesity, constipation and arthritis.
The experts pointed to a new syndrome called acupuncture mycobacteriosis, as needles are inserted up to several centimetres beneath the skin.
They said: “This is an infection caused by mycobacteria that rapidly grow around the acupuncture insertion point as a result of contaminated cotton wool swabs, towels and hot-pack covers. There is a long incubation period but the infection usually leads to large abscesses and ulcers.”

Marathon training causes heart damage
Training for marathons can cause formerly healthy people to develop cardiovascular problems like increased blood pressure and stiffness in the aorta, says a new study.
“The cardiovascular system is like a sports car engine,” said lead researcher Despina Kardara, Athens Medical School and Hippokration Hospital in Athens. “If you do not use it, it will decay, but if you run it too fast for too long, you might burn out.”
In the study, 49 marathon runners took part. In order to prepare for the 26.2-mile race, the participants trained about 10 to 19 hours a week over periods ranging from two to 20 years.
Then they were compared to a group of 46 people of similar age, height and risk factors who weren’t endurance athletes.
Researchers measured stiffness in the runners’ aortas using pulse wave velocity, and found that marathon runners had higher than average wave velocity, indicating an increased risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
“Stiffening simply means that when the heart contracts your blood pressure goes up more than it would in someone with less stiff arteries,” said Paul D Thompson, Hartford Hospital.

Shift workers at increased risk of IBS
Shift workers face a significantly increased risk of developing Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and abdominal pain compared to those working a standard day-time schedule, says a new study.
“We know that people participating in shift work often complain of gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain, constipation and diarrhea,” says Sandra Hoogerwerf, University of Michigan Medical School. “These are the same symptoms of IBS.”
IBS is the most common functional bowel disorder and is difficult to identify because it is diagnosed by clinical symptoms rather than tests, says Hoogerwerf, lead author of the study. IBS symptoms include recurrent episodes of abdominal pain or cramping in connection with altered bowel habits.

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