[Vol 9] Medi-Scene: Your Weekly Health News Update

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Mediscene Magazine

1. India reports 147 confirmed coronavirus cases

On tuesday, new records were reported that states that the total number of novel coronavirus cases in the country has risen to 147. Out of these 147 cases, 22 of them were foreign nationals. The first coronavirus-related death happened in Karnataka followed by one case in Delhi and one in Maharashtra. 13 people have been discharged including 3 patients from Kerala. In a first, a 34-year old soldier in the Indian Army posted in Leh has been tested positive for the infection. A young 28-year-old woman from Maharashtra who had recently traveled to France and Netherland was tested positive for COVID-19, making the total number of the cases in the state to be 42. On Tuesday, more than 11000 people were infected with COVID-19 across the globe. This gave a rise in the number of total cases worldwide to be 179,000 according to WHO. 

2. Low-dose of aspirin may help reduce liver cancer risk

According to recent findings published in the New England Journal of Medicine, it revealed that adults who consumed low dosage of aspirin were less prone to developing liver cancer and die from liver disease-related causes. This investigation was led by a team at Karolinska Institutet, in Sweden, and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). The lead author  Tracey Simon, MD, MPH, the investigator in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at MGH shared some insights saying, “Rates of liver cancer and of mortality from liver disease are rising at an alarming pace in U.S. and European countries. Despite this, there remain no established treatments to prevent the development of liver cancer, or to reduce the risk of liver-related death.” This research was conducted on 50,275 adults who had chronic viral hepatitis caused by hepatitis B or C virus and one of the leading factors of cancer. Over an average follow-up of nearly 8 years, 4% of adults who took lower doses of aspirin and 8.3% who didn’t consume aspirin developed liver cancer. Those who used aspirin had a 31% lowered risk of developing cancer. This study also showed that the longer a person took low-dose aspirin, the greater the benefit compared with short-term use. Senior author Jonas F. Ludvigsson, MD, PhD, of the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Karolinska Institutet also said, “This is the first large-scale, nationwide study to demonstrate that the use of aspirin is associated with a significantly reduced long-term risk of liver cancer and liver-related mortality.”

3. Suspect coronavirus symptoms? Know which to take – Ibuprofen vs Paracetamol

The COVID 19 scare has people worrying even when they get a slight fever. It has spread to 130 countries and even the slightest symptoms should not be ignored. What to do if you are self-quarantined at home and need a solution to cure your fever? Should one have Ibuprofen or Paracetamol? Olivier Véran, French Health Minister, who is also a qualified doctor & neurologist, tweeted on Saturday: “The taking of anti-inflammatories [ibuprofen, cortisone] could be a factor in aggravating the infection. In case of fever, take paracetamol. If you are already taking anti-inflammatory drugs, ask your doctor’s advice.” Ibuprofen and cortisone are antiinflammatory drugs and are considered to be of high risk for those who have contracted illnesses. They can diminish the response of the body’s immune system. Paracetamol, on the other hand is preferred as it is not only a mild medicine but also because of its ability to tone down fever without counter attacking the inflammation. In case of doubt always contact your doctor before rushing to a test center. Don’t panic, be safe.

4. Private labs may get involved in COVID-19 tests: ICMR

According to recent reports, 147 cases have been tested positive for coronavirus in the country. The WHO (World Health Organization) has declared it as a pandemic. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) officials on Tuesday have literated that initial talks are on including private laboratories to conduct COVID-19 tests as the country fights the coronavirus outbreak. The officials also said that they were in talks with at least 60-70 labs.

5. Coronavirus upsurge: Where are we on developing a vaccine & more

The novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19 has affected around 170,00 individuals across the globe and around 6509 have died. The virus that started in China has become a pandemic across the globe in a short period of time. The medical community in India has been looking at two major areas while fighting the virus, one being how much testing is optimal, should it be expanded to people who may not be at risk to flatten the curve? Other being where do India and other countries stand in developing a vaccine? 

Indian Council of Medical Research body’s testing strategy aims at testing individuals who have a travel history to affected countries or have been in close contact with the ones tested positive. However ICMR also conducted tests on people with flu-like symptoms and are awaiting results. 

When it comes to where India stands on vaccines, here are some statements that came out. 

  1. WHO approves anti-malarial drug Chloroquine
  2. Also, anti-retrovirals Lopinavir, Ritonavir, Darunavir, Ribavirin, Favipiravir, and Remdesivir (not approved yet)
  3. In India, Serum Institute and Zydus Cadila have vaccines under development 
  4. Mumbai-based Lasa Supergenerics says it is developing Favipiravir
  5. US-based Moderna’s vaccine candidate went on human clinical trials last week

6. Uncontrolled sleepiness associated with heart disease, diabetes and more

Excessive daytime sleepiness is also known as Hypersomnolence and is a critical risk factor for older adults as it can lead to medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, cancer and more. A new study was conducted on 11000 candidates who showed excessive sleepiness. The study showed that they were twice as likely to develop fatal medical conditions as compared to their non-sleepy counterparts. Study investigator Maurice M. Ohayon, MD, PhD, Stanford University, California said, “Paying attention to sleepiness in older adults could help doctors predict and prevent future medical conditions.” Earlier research has suggested a link between hypersomnolence and many other psychiatric disorders, as well as cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. However, its role in the development of other medical conditions is not as well studied. 

7. Study shows that Doctor’s map body’s COVID-19’s immune response

Scientists and medical practitioners have been doing everything in their power to help fight the COVID-19 outbreak. A team of researchers & scientists from Australia tested the blood samples from patients who had contracted COVID-19 earlier and showed mild to moderate symptoms. The study was published in the Nature Medicine journal and it was the first ever attempt in trying to map the body’s immune response to a new virus/disease. Katherine Kedzierska, from the University of Melbourne’s Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity in an interview said, “We saw a really robust immune response that preceded clinical recovery. We noted an immune response but she was visually still unwell, and three days later the patient recovered.” This could be a very important step in understanding the recovery from COVID-19. These findings could help virologists come up with a vaccination by replicating the body’s natural immune response to the virus. Katherine Kedzierska also added, “It shows that the body makes a very good and powerful immune response to the virus and it is associated with symptom clearing. Hopefully now we can fish out those antibodies and grow them up to scale.” 

8. Being overweight can increase chances of prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers among men in India. A recent New York research found that if an individual is overweight in middle age, his chances of developing prostate cancer is much higher. This study uses data from 15 studies that were combined together and examined associations between body fat, height, and prostate cancer risk in 830,772 men, 51,734 of whom had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. The lead author Jeanine Genkinger from Columbia University in the US said,  “This study shows that adopting and maintaining a healthy weight in middle to late adulthood can especially reduce the risk of advanced prostate cancer.” This is one of the studies that has helped determine risk factors for prostate cancer. The findings also show that an elevated BMI (Body Mass Index) during middle age was associated with higher risk of developing advanced prostate cancer. The ideal weight is defined as a BMI between 21 and 25 kg/m2. The study found that greater waist circumference was linked with an increased risk of advanced prostate cancer and death.

Reference links

  1. https://health.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/diagnostics/coronavirus-latest-updates-india-reports-147-confirmed-cases/74685850
  2. https://health.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/diagnostics/study-reveals-low-dose-aspirin-reduces-liver-cancer-risk/74651830
  3. https://health.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/diagnostics/ibuprofen-vs-paracetamol-which-medicine-to-take-in-case-you-suspect-coronavirus-symptoms/74669395
  4. https://health.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/diagnostics/talks-on-to-involve-private-labs-for-covid-19-tests-icmr/7467455
  5. https://health.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/diagnostics/coronavirus-outbreak-how-much-testing-should-we-do-and-where-are-we-on-developing-a-vaccine/74675010
  6. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/926643
  7. https://health.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/diagnostics/doctors-map-bodys-covid-19-immune-response-study/74691928
  8. https://health.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/industry/being-overweight-may-up-advanced-prostate-cancer-risk-study/74568307

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