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Friday, 23 July 2010






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Health watch

Eat this to prevent that

‘Hey eat X and prevent Y!’ One in every three Sri Lankan are suffering from ABC so you have to drink XYZ to avoid ABC in your old age! “Hi...I am a very busy actress doing shooting all day, I take D to stay energetic whenever I get a headache!

Too much can lead to too big

“Hey is it very difficult to feed your kids? Given them ABCXYZ! They eat it greedily and it gives them all the required vitamins and minerals.” You and I are not telling any of these. But we hear and see those things everyday whenever we switch on the television. We are going to talk about food advertisements

There are thousands of advertisements that flash on the screen of our television set whenever we switch it on, whether it is day or night. All those advertisements force us to buy certain medications and varieties of food no matter what our economic status is. The children in needy families force their parents to buy such food as a result of the strong impact those advertisements are made on them. It is all right if such food items are natural, fresh and nutritious but all of them are processed and artificial.

Do you ever think how healthy it is to buy and consume those medications and food items that are advertised on television and radio all the time? Do you ever think how true the contents in the advertisements are and how genuine the famous figures who come on these advertisements and beg us to check on the products that they are (may be pretending) using are?

Children get addicted instantly

Here is a very valuable piece of information for you. Some of those advertisements and products have been already banned by the Health Ministry and some cases are still pending in the courts. Maybe more products are to be banned soon. So be careful when you buy things that is not recommended by your doctor and dietitian! If you go through your own experience, you know that certain products instantly get rid of your pains, aches and many other health problems. But do you have any assurance from the producer that you will not have any side effects in future and there is no long-term negative impact on your health? Do you ever consider about the actual content of those drugs and how they work inside your body? Maybe you do not have time and enthusiasm to do so when you are suffering from some sort of discomfort. But you cannot overlook the long-term impacts of what you consume to get an immediate relief.

The other problem is what you get from your school/office canteen. Most of the time it is unhealthy and processed food. You hardly get fresh and natural food from a canteen. Relevant authorities have put certain rules and regulations to school canteens and some school canteens are following them. Such canteens offer healthy (to a certain extent) food to school children while other school canteens still offer unhealthy processed food to them. No wonder 15 percent of school children from Colombo suffer from diabetics at the moment. There is no point of talking about office canteens. Some private and state sector institutions in Sri Lanka have superb canteens which offer employees fresh, natural healthy food. Such canteens have various food items and have the same food prepared in different ways according to the requirements of the employees. Those private companies have a proper system to monitor their canteen in order to ensure that it serves healthy food to employees. Outlets opened by Milk Board is another good example for offering healthy food.

But some private and state sector institutions have the world’s most unhealthy canteens. Sometimes they cannot be named as canteens because they are that much dirty and offer unhealthy and unhygienic food to employees. There is no one to monitor such canteens. The canteens offer whatever they like in whatever way they want. Most of the times it is the cheapest and easiest fast food. The employees have to pay money and eat their unhealthy and unhygienic food containing cooked cockroaches or other insects. Sometimes it is used medicated plaster of someone using it to cover a wound during cooking that you find in your plate.

These canteen owners force people to eat unhealthy food using their ‘powers’. No matter where you work and what type of work you do, you have to eat healthy and hygienic food. It is one of your rights to have healthy and hygienic food. Therefore make sure that you bring your food from home or your employer provides healthy and hygienic food for you.

Living with a new liver

This is an exclusive interview conducted with Prof. Mandika Wijeratne the doctor who led the team which carried out the first ever liver transplant in Sri Lanka recently.

Q. What type of patients need liver transplants?

A damaged liver

A. Those with severe liver failure are usually treated with medication. When this is insufficient liver transplantation is necessary. When there is a kidney failure, dialysis is possible but when it comes to the liver there is no similar machine to support the failing liver. Chronic liver diseases that lead to irreversible scarring of the liver, or cirrhosis of the liver is the main reason for liver failure. Common reasons for cirrhosis are alcohol consumption and liver virus infections. Liver cancers in a diseased liver are also being treated with transplantation because removing a part of the liver with the cancer may not be safe. Paracetamol over dose can cause severe liver damage and is another reason to consider transplantation. Finally some children who are born with liver problems also need transplantation if they are to live.

Q. How can he or she get a liver?

A. When the brain stem has died there is no chance of recovery even though the other organs can be kept alive on breathing machines for a few days.

In such instances commonly after head injuries and bleeding in to the brain organs such as kidneys, liver, heart, lungs and pancreas can be removed and transplanted to another who has the same blood group.

Some operations conducted in the liver

The other type of donor is a living donor who can donate a portion of his or her liver to another with the same blood group. But this is a major operation with serious risks to donors unlike for living kidney donors.

Q. What should be done after the surgery? How can he/she can take care of the new liver?

A. No alcohol should be consumed after the liver transplant. Drugs should be taken to prevent the rejection of the liver as long as the new liver is there and this is common for any type of transplant and not only for liver transplant. When a viral infection comes, anti viral drugs should be taken and viral infections should be avoided as much as possible.

Q. How can a normal person can take care of his / her healthy liver?

A. There are three ways of damaging a healthy liver. They are: alcohol consumption, fatty deposition in the liver and infection with hepatitis virus.

Fat deposition in the liver occurs when you are over weight, due to wrong food habits, lack of exercise and poorly controlled diabetes. Fatty liver cause cirrhosis without consuming alcohol. Hepatitis B and C can cause permanent liver damage leading to cirrhosis.

Hepatitis B and C spread through exposure to contaminated blood. Unprotected sex is a method by which hepatitis virus is spread.

Q. What are the possibilities of transplanting other organs in Sri Lanka?

A liver

A. The first liver transplant took place in Sri Lanka a few days back and kidney transplants have been going on since 1985. Hearts, lungs and pancreas are other organs that can be transplanted.

Transplant of all these organs is possible, provided the medical professionals, the public and the Government work together with a clear vision.

The Sri Lankan public should be educated on donating organs.

They have to be educated on the concept of brain death. We were world leaders in eye donation. So the concept of donation is not new to us. But eye donation is different to the other organs. Eyes can be removed after the death of the person. But all the other organs including the liver need blood circulation to survive and worthy of donation.

Therefore, the liver should be removed from the deceased before taking him or her off

the life support machines if the person is willing to donate organs.


Off-the-shelf body parts soon to become reality

Surgeons could soon use ready-made human body parts to repair injuries or patch-up worn out organs of patients, scientists have claimed. They are perfecting in developing bare “scaffold building blocks” of body parts which, they said, could be used as a frame for a patient’s own cells to grow around.

Experts said the scaffold for the most commonly used parts could be created in advance and stored ready for use when needed, The Telegraph reported. The technique, which has already been successful in creating a new section of windpipe for patients, involves taking a piece of dead donor or animal body part and removing all the soft tissue so just the bare structure is left.

Human body parts

Then, stem cells from the patient can then be placed on the frame and will regrow into a new body part for them, according to the scientists.

Prof. John Fisher from the University of Leeds said banks of scaffolds of all kinds of body tissue can be created to facilitate doctors in transplants.

Speaking at the UK National Stem Cell Network Annual Science Meeting in Nottingham, Prof. Fisher said that he and his team have been working on to create the scaffolds from dead donors or animals.

He said, “If you take a natural tissue and strip off all of the donor’s cells you’re left with a biological scaffold made mostly of a protein called collagen, which is compatible with the patient receiving the scaffold.”

“That scaffold is good from an engineering perspective because it’s strong, flexible and retains the properties of the natural tissue.

It also has the appropriate shape and size and from a biological perspective is good because a patient’s cells can bind to it and repopulate it easily.”

According to the scientist, the advantage of the method is that the patient will not reject the transplanted tissue as foreign because the scaffold is stripped of all material that can trigger rejection and the soft tissue is grown from their own stem cells.

It means patients can avoid powerful immunosurpressant drugs which shorten life expectancy and can increase the risk of cancer, he said. Press Trust Of India

Obesity Indicators :

BMI and neck circumference

While the medical community has long relied on Body Mass Index to gauge body fat, they have acknowledged that this simple procedure has its shortcomings. Body mass index (BMI) is a calculation that uses a person’s height and weight to estimate how much body fat they have. A BMI less than 18.5 is categorized as underweight, 18.5 to 24.9 as normal or ‘healthy,’ 25 to 29.9 as overweight and 30 or higher as obese. However, the basic problem with this calculation is that it is solely dependent upon height and weight, and makes assumptions about a person’s proportion of muscle and differences in bone density. It therefore may overestimate adiposity on athletes and those with more lean body mass while underestimating adiposity on the elderly and others with less lean body mass.

BMI also doesn’t give information on the location of the body fat, which is important in determining obesity-related risk for disease.

A new obesity indicator may have been found to complement BMI and add accuracy to the measurement. HealthNews.com

Lack of vitamin D linked to metabolic syndrome - study

Foods containing Vitamin D

A new study has linked lack of vitamin D to metabolic syndrome in elderly people.

“Because the metabolic syndrome increases the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, an adequate vitamin D level in the body might be important in the prevention of these diseases,” study co-author Marelise Eekhoff, of VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam said.

The study included subjects who were participating in the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam.

It consisted sample of nearly 1,300 white men and women ages 65 and older. Through the study, it was revealed that subjects with blood levels of vitamin D (serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D) lower than 50 nanomoles per liter, which is considered as vitamin D insufficiency, were likelier to have the metabolic syndrome than those whose vitamin D levels exceeded 50. It also concluded that the increased risk for the syndrome was due to the presence of two risk factors - low HDL, or “good” cholesterol, and a large waistline. The Nation, Pakistan

Doctors’ Wives Association Reading glasses for the needy

The Doctors’ Wives Association Sri Lanka last week donated reading glasses to a large number of needy women and children in the Ratmalana area.

The glasses were donated by Fonterra Brands Lanka for the project Dr. Lalith Wijeratne (Ophthalmologist) checked the eyesight of the needy for the glasses.

Picture shows DWASL President Chrissy Aloysius (2nd from right) with a group of the needy recipients wearing their glasses at the event. - EA


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