Healthy Mind

Fruits and Vegetables: Heart patients with high blood pressure may receive substantial benefit from a daily dose of vitamin C. Vitamin C has been touted as a treatment for the common cold, gallbladder disease and blocked arteries. Deficiency in diet may cause scurvy. Researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine and Oregon State University published a study in the journal Lancet.  The average blood pressure of patients who took vitamin C dropped significantly, 9.1 percent compared to 2.7 percent that of patients in the placebo group. "By and large the evidence shows that fruits and vegetables help reduce the risk of cancer," Balz Frei, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry and director of the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, said, "But it's not any particular agent, it's the whole mixture of fruit and vegetables."

Healthy Mind and Healthy Body: In a normal body, cells known as lymphocytes attack infectious organisms. Some of these attack the invaders directly. Others produce antibodies. But the immune systems of the severely depressed tend to mount a weaker counterattack than those of the mentally fit.  Gregory Miller, a psychologist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and his colleagues think they have the explanation for this immunological apathy. Dr. Miller studied 32 depressed women. It was found that the depressed subjects had very different ways of life from the controls. They smoked more, drank more caffeinated drinks, slept more fitfully, and exercised less. Not surprisingly, one of these differences, that in physical activity, proved to have a significant relationship with lymphocyte production. Physical activity accounted for about half of the difference in immunity between depressed and normal women. Dr. Miller speculates that exercise represents the first clear behavioral link between depression and a dysfunctional immune system. Encouraging depressed people to exercise might help to protect them from illnesses such as pneumonia and influenza.

Physical Activity and Aging: Older men who either remain or become physically active are less likely to die over the next 5 years than men who remain or become sedentary, Dutch investigators report in the December issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.  The findings suggest that inactivity may play an important role in the physical deterioration associated with aging.

Human Monkey Soon:  Scientists in Oregon report in the journal Molecular Human Reproduction, that they had installed jellyfish genes in monkey embryos, using a technique that might eventually be used to create monkeys with added human genes. The scientists fertilized 81 monkey eggs by directly injecting them with the Jellyfish gene-containing sperm. Then, they report, the jellyfish genes entered the eggs with the sperm. Using seven of the monkey embryos created by direct sperm injection into eggs, Dr. Schatten and his colleagues tried to create pregnancies and got a set of stillborn twins and one live male monkey. The scientists have not found evidence that the gene was incorporated into any of the monkeys' cells. But, they and others say, they have no doubt that the method will work, because it was recently shown to work in mice. The sperm injection method is used 10,000 to 20,000 times a year in about 200 American fertility clinics. The method, called intracytoplasmic sperm injection, or ICSI, revolutionized the treatment of male infertility. It allowed men whose sperm do not move, men whose sperm cannot penetrate an egg, and men whose sperm are not even ejaculated, to become fathers.

Multi Drug Resistance: Times of India reports that Hyderabad based Centre for DNA fingerprinting and diagnostics (CDFD) has recently initiated a study, claimed to be the first of its kind in the world, of alterations in the human genome leading to meningioma, a form of brain cancer.  During the study, which is expected have a major bearing on human health, a genetic marker with the potential of being used in diagnostics and understanding the basic biological processes leading to brain tumor, has been identified. The CDFD has developed an in-house DNA test to diagnose tuberculosis and the test was now being evaluated for sensitivity and specificity on clinical samples. No similar test was available in the country.  CDFD director Dr Seyed E Hasnain told newsmen in Hyderabad on Friday that to understand the gene responsible for MDR, the CDFD, in collaboration with other institutes, had started a national multi-center and multi-institutional program for molecular typing and characterization of the TB pathogen. The study will have major implications in the clinical management of multi-drug resistant TB in the Indian Continent.

Eli Lilly Ranbaxy Sells Four Brands: Indian Express reports that Nicholas Piramal has acquired three brands, Mucokef, Zidime and Keroxime from American multinational Eli Lilly & Company and one, an anti-viral, Lovir from the Delhi-based Ranbaxy Laboratories. The four brands have a combined turnover of Rs 8-9 crore and analysts say that the consideration could be in the region of Rs 10 crore. Eli Lilly Ranbaxy is a 50:50 joint venture between the two partners and has been marketing a range of formulations like Illetin 30/70, Humalog and Huminsulin for diabetes.

Osteoporosis in Men: Dr. Mark S. Nanes and colleagues at the Veterans' Administration Medical Center in Atlanta, Georgia, note in a report in the December issue of the journal Chest, that men with chronic lung disease, like asthma, are at high risk of developing osteoporosis, especially if they take a common asthma medication. For men who used asthma drugs called glucocorticoids, the risk was nine times higher than for men without lung disease, the researchers report. And even though inhaled glucocorticoids cause fewer side effects than oral versions of the drugs, both forms had similar effects on the risk of osteoporosis, Nanes said in the interview.

Men are from Mars...: Scientists at Johns Hopkins have discovered "striking" differences between men and women in a part of the brain linked with ability to estimate time,
judge speed, visualize things three-dimensionally and solve mathematical problems. In a study reported in the journal Cerebral Cortex, the researchers show that the inferior parietal lobule (IPL) of the brain is significantly larger overall in men than in women. The area is part of the cerebral cortex and appears on both sides of the brain, just above ear-level. The study "Sex Differences in the Inferior Parietal Lobule," appeared in Cerebral Cortex, December 1999, vol 9, no 8.  They add that it won't settle any disputes over who takes out the garbage.

Sex under the Eye of MRI: Ever since Leonardo da Vinci drew the anatomy of human copulation, anatomists have wondered how male and female genitals interact. Eight couples in the Netherlands have engaged in sexual intercourse under the scrutiny of a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine. The most enlightening finding of the study is that during sexual intercourse in the missionary position, the penis is curved like a banana. The study was published in December 18 issue of the British Medical Journal ( The MRI photos are published along with the study.

AIDS in Mumbai: Boston Globe reports, Rabiya is a prostitute in Kamathipura, the red-light district in South Mumbai. It is not an easy life.  With a going rate of 20 to 250 rupees per sex act (50 cents to $6.25), it is almost impossible for her to work herself out of the job. She was recruited by Population Services International, a non-governmental organization, to join a sort of AIDS brigade, and now, she and 15,000 other sex workers in Mumbai have added AIDS to their list of dangers and degradations. "Some men offer us more money not to use a condom," she said, "We try to make them understand that the illness is here." The red-light district project is an example of what is called "social marketing" the distribution of condoms, mosquito nets, medicines, and other health aids vital to Third World countries.

Sreenivasarao Vepachedu, 12/26/1999