[Vol 25] Medi-Scene: Your Weekly Health News Update

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MediScene Magazine Vol 25

1. Coronavirus update: Highest single-day spike with 24,879 cases and Total tally crosses 7L mark

On Tuesday, 7th July, the total number of covis-19 cases in India crossed the 7-lakh mark. According to Union Health ministry day, on 9th July, India saw a single highest day spike with 24,879 cases while the death toll breached the 20,000 mark. It took 110 days for covid-19 infections in the country to reach the one-lakh, while just 49 days more to go past the seven-lakh mark. While the number of cases have been increasing by more than 20,000 consecutively, the recovery rate seems to also have gone up to almost 62%. The number of active cases stand at 2,71,681 and recovered cases stand at 4,76,632. According to the ICMR, an aggregated total of 1,07,40,832 samples have been tested up to July 9th with 2,41,430 samples being tested on Monday. 467 deaths reported on Tuesday, 7th July, 204 are from Maharashtra, 61 from Tamil Nadu, 48 from Delhi, 29 from Karnataka, 24 from Uttar Pradesh, 22 from West Bengal, 17 from Gujarat, 11 each from Telangana and Haryana, nine from Madhya Pradesh, seven from Andhra Pradesh, six from Jammu and Kashmir, five each from Rajasthan and Punjab, two each from Bihar, Kerala and Odisha and one each from Arunachal Pradesh and Jharkhand. Almost 70% of deaths have taken place due to comorbidities.

2. Health Ministry: India’s fatality rate per million population lowest in world

On Tuesday, as the country’s total covid tally crossed 7-Lakh, The Union Health Ministry stated that India’s total number of coronavirus cases and fatalities per million population is one of the lowest in the world. Citing the ‘WHO Situation Report-168’ dated July 6, the ministry said India’s coronavirus cases per million population is 505.37 as opposed to the global average of 1,453.25. The ministry further commented saying, “The WHO Situation Report also shows that India has one of the lowest deaths (due to COVID-19) per million population. India’s cases of death per million population is 14.27 while the global average is more than its four times, at 68.29. India has ramped up its hospital infrastructure to adequately and effectively manage coronavirus cases. Such level of preparedness has shown results in continuously improving the recovery rate and resulting in low case fatality rate. Early detection and timely effective clinical management of COVID-19 cases have resulted in increasing daily recoveries. Coordinated efforts at all levels of the national and state governments for prevention, containment and management of COVID-19 are showing encouraging results with consistently increasing gap between recoveries and active cases. Presently, there are 2,59,557 active cases and all are under medical supervision. As on date, the number of recovered cases exceeded that of the active cases by 1,80,390 on Tuesday. The recovery rate among COVID-19 patients has increased to 61.13%.”

3. Docetaxel chemotherapy drug, may be less effective in overweight, obese women

In a recent study that was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the findings showed that treatment with docetaxel, a customary chemotherapy drug, may have lesser benefits for breast cancer patients who are overweight or obese.  In many European countries, over 50% of women are overweight or obese (with a body mass index (BMI) above 25 kg/m2, as defined by the WHO). In the United States, more than 63% of women and this proportion is expected to further increase in the coming years. For the study, data was collected from medical trials of over 2800 breast cancer patients and the research team was led by researchers from KU Leuven and the Institut Jules Bordet (Belgium), the University of Milan, and the National Cancer Institute (Italy). The course of the research was over 10 years and data were collected. The patients in the trial were treated with a combination of chemotherapy drugs with or without docetaxel. Professor Christine Desmedt from the KU Leuven Laboratory for Translational Breast Cancer Research in an interview explained, “Docetaxel is a lipophilic drug, suggesting that fat present in the body could absorb part of the drug before it can reach the tumour. If follow-up research confirms that this finding is solely related to the pharmacological characteristics of docetaxel, this might also apply to patients with other cancer types that are treated with docetaxel, such as prostate or lung cancer. These results also make us wonder whether other chemotherapy drugs from the same family, like paclitaxel, will show the same effect. more research is needed before changes in treatment can be implemented. Patients who have concerns about docetaxel can discuss these with their doctor. In general, the public needs to be better informed about the link between BMI and breast cancer.”

4. Mental health risk on a rise in India, must be made a priority

In 2016, the national mental health survey conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) divulged that 13.7% of India’s population is affected by an array of mental illnesses and 10.6% of them require prompt treatment. According to a report from World Health Organization (WHO), the rate of suicide in India in 2015 was 15.7/100000, which is higher than the global average (10.6/100000). Suicide is the leading cause of death among those aged between 15 to 29 in India. Other mental illnesses such as depression are on the rise in India. Ina study done by NIMHANS in 2016, it revealed that one out of  20 people in India suffer from depression and the productive age group is the most affected. A major chunk of the population remains untreated and goes neglected because of the high cost of mental health care. A student studying mental health commented further on this topic saying, “While doing my thesis, I worked with the tribals of Gadchiroli district to know about their mental health. It made me realize the needs of people as well as the unavailability of mental health resources. The state’s DMHP project failed to reach the underprivileged population. I’m happy that now people are talking about mental health. As we know, there is a stigma attached with mental illness which is why it has remained a neglected area. But I want to emphasize the fact that half knowledge is dangerous. So educating oneself about mental health, destigmatizing mental illnesses and asking for help is important and should be normalized. Media and social platforms can play an important role in addressing this lack of mental health awareness. I believe it is not only about talking about mental health but also focusing and addressing this unmet need of the underprivileged population as well.”

5. Intermittent fasting may not be beneficial for diabetics

In a new study, researchers have given a combined statement that says, “Patients with type 2 diabetes should consider intermittent fasting carefully” and “not undertake it without the involvement of their physician.” Study of benefits of IF on patients with type 2 diabetes has only been studied in 7 small published trials with limited evidence of benefit. With diabetes, the greatest way to moderate glucose-lowering medicines to lower the risk of hypoglycemia while practicing intermittent fasting has not been established, and there is potential for such fasting to cause glycemic variability.The viewpoint’s lead author Benjamin D. Horne, PhD, MStat, MPH, from Intermountain Medical Center, Salt Lake City, Utah, and Stanford University, California, expanded on the issues in a podcast interview, “Things such as low blood pressure, weakness, headaches, [and] dizziness are considerations, but “the big issue” is hypoglycemia, so caloric restriction may be a better choice for some patients with diabetes. “I’ve met quite a number of people who are very behind time-restricted feeding — eating during a 6- to 8-hour window, if they are able to stay on it, they tend to really love it. The most popular regimen that results in some weight loss is fasting for 24 hours, with or without a 500-calorie meal on two nonconsecutive days a week, the so-called 5:2 diet. And as someone who’s in cardiovascular research, the one that I’m thinking for long-term is once-a-week fasting for a 24-hour period.”

6. Breast cancer risk can reduce by lifestyle choices, regardless of genetics

In a recent study published in JAMA Network Open, more than 90,000 women were studied and concluded that a favorable lifestyle was associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer even among women at high genetic risk for the disease. The lifestyle choices included sufficient levels of exercise, keeping a healthy weight; and limiting or terminating use of alcohol, oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy. Kawthar Al Ajmi, MSc, of the University of Manchester (England), and colleagues issued these findings. The team discussed 91,217 postmenopausal women in the United Kingdom Biobank, an ongoing longitudinal study of the offering of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle risk factors in disease. There were 2,728 women who developed breast cancer at a median follow-up of 10 years. The investigators used a polygenic risk score to categorize subjects as low, intermediate, or high genetic risk. The score was constructed using 305 single-nucleotide variants. The data showed an association between breast cancer and a body mass index of 25 or higher (relative risk, 1.14), no regular physical activity (RR, 1.12), alcohol intake at least three times per week (RR, 1.11), and use of hormone replacement therapy for 5 or more years (RR, 1.23). History of oral contraceptive use was not associated with breast cancer risk (RR, 1.02), but this factor remained a part of the lifestyle classification. The research concluded that a healthier lifestyle appeared to be associated with a reduced level of risk for breast cancer, even if the women were at higher genetic risk. The findings suggest that women may be able to alter or reduce their risk of developing breast cancer by following healthier lifestyles.

Reference Links:

  1. https://health.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/industry/indias-covid-19-tally-crosses-7-lakh-mark/76828570
  2. https://health.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/industry/indias-covid-19-tally-fatality-rate-per-million-population-lowest-in-world-health-ministry/76835708
  3. https://health.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/diagnostics/popular-chemotherapy-drug-likely-to-be-less-effective-in-overweight-obese-women/76782984
  4. https://health.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/diagnostics/mental-health-must-be-made-a-priority-for-have-nots-too/76796095
  5. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/933489
  6. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/933520#vp_1

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