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Egyptian Pharaoh may have been natural transsexual May 12, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology, Health.
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Akhenaten wasn’t the most manly pharaoh, even though he fathered at least a half-dozen children. In fact, his form was quite feminine. And he was a bit of an egghead.

So concludes a Yale University physician who analyzed images of Akhenaten for an annual conference Friday at the University of Maryland School of Medicine on the deaths of historic figures. The female form was due to a genetic mutation that caused the pharaoh’s body to convert more male hormones to female hormones than needed, Dr. Irwin Braverman believes. And Akhenaten’s head was misshapen because of a separate condition in which skull bones fuse at an early age.

The pharaoh had “an androgynous appearance. He had a female physique with wide hips and breasts, but he was male and he was fertile and he had six daughters,” Braverman said. “But nevertheless, he looked like he had a female physique.” Braverman, who sizes up the health of individuals based on portraits, teaches a class at Yale’s medical school that uses paintings from the university’s Center for British Art to teach observation skills to first-year students. For his study of Akhenaten, he used statues and carvings.

Akhenaten (ah-keh-NAH-ten), best known for introducing a revolutionary form of monotheism to ancient Egypt, reigned in the mid-1300s B.C. He was married to Nefertiti, and Tutankhamun, also known as King Tut, may have been his son or half brother. Egyptologist and archaeologist Donald B. Redford said he supports Braverman’s belief that Akhenaten had Marfan syndrome, a genetic disorder marked by lengthened features, including fingers and the face. Marfan syndrome would not have been responsible for his feminine appearance, however.

Visiting clinics that treat those with the condition has strengthened that conviction, “but this is very subjective, I must admit,” said Redford, a professor of classic and ancient Mediterranean studies at Penn State University. Others have theorized Akhenaten and his lineage had Froehlich’s Syndrome, which causes feminine fat distribution but also sterility. That doesn’t fit Akhenaten, who had at least six daughters, Braverman said. Klinefelter Syndrome, a genetic condition that can also cause gynecomastia, or male breast enlargement, has also been suggested, but Braverman said he suspects familial gynecomastia, a hereditary condition separate from Marfan syndrome that leads to the overproduction of estrogen and the development of breasts.

The Yale doctor said determining whether he is right can easily be done if Egyptologists can confirm which mummy is Akhenaten’s and if Egyptian government officials agree to DNA analysis. Braverman hopes his theory will lead them to do just that. “I’m hoping that after we have this conference and I bring this up, maybe the Egyptologists who work on these things all the time, maybe they will be stimulated to look,” he said.

Previous conferences have examined the deaths of Edgar Allan Poe, Alexander the Great, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Florence Nightingale and others.


Diabetes self-tests a waste of NHS resources April 19, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Health.
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Encouraging people with type 2 diabetes to monitor their own blood sugar levels may not improve care and is a waste of NHS resources, two studies suggest according to a recent BBC report.

One group of researchers found patients who self-test are more likely to end up depressed than in better health. Another found self-testing costs £90 extra per patient per year and may lead to worse quality of life, the British Medical Journal reported. But the government said for some people self-monitoring could be very useful. Being able to monitor blood sugar levels is very helpful for patients who need to take insulin to control their diabetes.

In recent years there has also been a big push to encourage self-testing in diabetic patients not treated with insulin. There are 2.35m people with diabetes in the UK, the vast majority of whom have type 2 diabetes where the body does not produce enough insulin or the insulin that is produced does not work properly.

A trial of 180 people newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in Northern Ireland found self-monitoring did not improve blood glucose control compared with normal care. And those who self-monitored had a 6% higher score for depression. Study leader Dr Maurice O’Kane said: “What we can say is if people do not want to monitor there’s no evidence their care will be inferior.” NHS funding of test strips increased from £85m to £118m between 2001 and 2003.

University of Oxford researchers looked at the cost-effectiveness of self-monitoring in type 2 diabetes on top of usual care, using results from a trial of 450 patients published last year. They found self-monitoring of blood glucose is significantly more expensive and associated with a lower quality of life, probably due to increased levels of anxiety and depression. Study leader Dr Judit Simon said: “The current study shows routine self-monitoring is not cost-effective and there is a negative effect on quality of life for some people.”

Libby Dowling, care advisor at Diabetes UK, said decisions on self-monitoring must be made on an individual basis and patients must be educated on what to do with the results. “Poorly controlled diabetes can increase the risk of complications such as heart disease, blindness and stroke, so short-term cost savings made by reducing the number of people self-monitoring could be dangerous for the individual and lead to higher costs for the NHS in the long term.”

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: “NICE guidelines state that for some people self-monitoring can be useful in their overall approach to self-care. “However, self-monitoring cannot be looked at in isolation and in order to obtain maximum benefit people with diabetes need to access to the right education and support to understand what the results mean for them personally.”

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Tea to fight diabetes March 18, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Drinks & Beverages, Food Drinks News, Health.
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Drinking tea could help combat diabetes, scientists claimed today. The potentially therapeutic properties in black tea have been discovered by scientists at the University of Dundee.

Green tea has long been held to possess various health benefits. Dr. Graham Rena, of the University’s Neurosciences Institute, said his team’s research into tea compounds is at a pre-clinical, experimental stage. However, he said, “There is definitely something interesting in the way these naturally occurring components of black tea may have a beneficial effect, both in terms of diabetes and our wider health.”

However, people with diabetes should continue to take their medicines as directed by their doctor, Rena stressed. He added, “This is something that needs further research, and people shouldn’t be rushing to drink masses of black tea, thinking it will cure them of diabetes. We are still some way from this leading to new treatments or dietary advice.”

Rena’s team are interested in identifying agents capable of substituting for insulin in Type 2 diabetes, the form of diabetes where the body stops responding to insulin properly. They have discovered that several black tea constituents, known as theaflavins and thearubigins, mimic insulin action.

“What we have found is that these constituents can mimic insulin action on proteins known as FOXOs,” said Rena. “FOXOs have previously been shown to underlie associations between diet and health in a wide variety of organisms including mice, worms and fruit flies. The task now is to see whether we can translate these findings into something useful for human health. Our study is just the first step. If we can identify substances that restore FOXO regulation in people with Type 2 diabetes, we might be able to use these to reduce the considerable burden of serious health problems associated with this diagnosis.”

The results of the research appear in the current issue of the journal Aging Cell. Rena now hopes to secure additional funding for his research to determine more precisely how the tea components mimic insulin action.

Energy drinks erode teeth March 18, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Drinks & Beverages, Food Drinks News, Health.
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Energy drinks are fast gaining popularity and may give the consumer that extra zing, but they are bad for the teeth, a new study contends.

More than sodas and colas, whose effect on teeth are well documented, energy drinks play a significant role in the erosion of enamel, reports Sciencedaily, quoting a report in the peer reviewed journal General Dentistry.

Earlier research has warned consumers how the pH levels in sodas and colas lead to tooth erosion, caused by the effect of acid on the teeth that leads to decay. The latest study, however, says the pH level of soft drinks is not the only factor that causes dental erosion. A beverage’s “buffering capacity”, or the ability to neutralize acid, plays a significant role in dental erosion.

The study found that energy and sports drinks had the highest buffering capacity, resulting in the strongest potential for erosion of enamel. According to the study, the popularity of energy drinks, billed to become a $10 billion industry in the U.S. by 2010, is on the rise, especially among adolescents and young adults, exposing their teeth to decay.

The journal suggests three ways to curb teeth decay among those who consume such beverages.

  • Position the straw at the back of the mouth so the liquid avoids the teeth,
  • Rinse the mouth with water after drinking acidic beverages,
  • Llimit the intake of sodas, sports drinks and energy drinks.

Is fluoride damaging brain? March 18, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Drinks & Beverages, Food Drinks News, Health.
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“It is not clear that the benefits of adding fluoride to drinking water outweigh risks of neurodevelopment or other effects such as dental fluorosis,” according to an Institute for Children’s Environmental Health report.

Fluoride chemicals are added to 2/3 of U.S. public water supplies ostensibly to reduce tooth decay. Fluoride is found in dental products, supplements and virtually all foods and beverages.

“Excessive fluoride ingestion is known to lower thyroid hormone levels, which is particularly critical for women with subclinical hypothyroidism; decreased maternal thyroid levels adversely affect fetal neurodevelopment,” reports a prestigious committee of scientists and health professionals in a Scientific Consensus Statement on Environmental Agents Associated with Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Studies they reviewed and others link fluoride to brain abnormalities and/or IQ deficits.

“The question is what level of exposure results in harmful effects to children. The primary concern is that multiple routes of exposure, from drinking water, food and dental care products, may result in a high enough cumulative exposure to fluoride to cause developmental effects,” they write. “Given the serious consequences of LDDs, learning and developmental disabilities, a precautionary approach is warranted to protect the most vulnerable of our society,” the authors caution.

“It’s time to stop water fluoridation,” says lawyer Paul Beeber, president, New York State Coalition Opposed to Fluoridation. “With many neurological diseases, such as autism and ADD, afflicting too many American children, fluoride’s dubious promises of less cavities no longer outweigh fluoride’s serious health risks.”

The National Research Council reviewed fluoride toxicology evidence and reported in March 2006 that studies linking fluoride to lowered IQ are plausible.