Betel Nut and Betel Leaf
In Taiwan and China, the incidence of oral cancer in men has tripled
since the early 1980s. That coincides with a large increase since the early
1970s in betel quid chewing.
Used as a mild narcotic throughout south-east Asia and the western Pacific
catechu referred to as betel nut or areca nut (supari in Hindi/Urdu,
vakka or poaka in Telugu, poogi or kramuka
in Sanskrit) has a strong religious significance especially in the southern
and eastern parts of the Indian Union and Nepal, the only Hindu country
in the world. No Hindu rituals can be performed without the betel
nut and betel leaf (leaves of the vine, Piper betel, called tamala
in Telugu, taambooli or nagavalli in Sanskrit
and paan in Hindi/Urdu). In Nepal, the betel nut is used to personify
the image of Laksmi, the Goddess of wealth and Ganesha, the God of wisdom.
It is especially important in the nuptial ceremonies of the Newars, an
ethnic group confined to Nepal. Before the marriage several gifts of fruits,
sweets and betel nuts are sent to the parents of the bride by the groom's
parents. During the actual marriage betel nut is used extensively and then
after the marriage when the bride first reaches the groom's house, she distributes
betel nuts to all the family members including the groom. In Sunwar
and Jirals (other Nepalese ethnic groups) betel nuts are distributed by
the groom as an invitation after the marriage for the males to attend a
feast. Betel leaf has been playing an important part in social life and customs
for hundreds of years in the Indian continent and betel-leaf can be bought
in nearly every street corner. Offering betel morsel to guests and visitors
is a common courtesy in the continent.
The betel nut tree is cultivated in eastern Nepal, Assam and coastal
areas of Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Maharashtra.
The usage of betel leaf is cited as far back as two thousand years. It was
found a place in the most ancient Srilankan historic book 'Mahawamsa' written
in Pali. Betel is originated from central and eastern parts of Malaysia.
At a very early date, betel spread throughout Asia's tropical region and
to Madagascar and east Africa. Betel is grown widely in many parts of India.
Betel morsel or quid (betel nut and other ingredients folded in betel leaf)
or paan supari is extensively taken in the Indian continent (south
When paan supari is chewed, a red food dye inside it makes our
mouth red. Many people do not swallow much of paan supari, thus
resulting in pool of red liquid (due to red dye and saliva) which they spited
out rather than swallowing it making the streets and walls in cities like
Hyderabad painted ugly paan-red.
A simple paan is prepared in Islamic tradition using spices such
as khaer, zarda, choon (lime paste) and different kinds of betel
nuts and paan masala in the betel leaf then folding it into a triangular
shape and secure it by piercing a clove into it. In Ayurveda and Hindu traditions,
taamboolamu (paan) is prepared with five betel leaves,
one-half betel nut, lime, camphor, three seeds of takkolamu
(Hibiscus abelmoschus), two cloves, one cardamom, and a little bit
of jaajikaaya (Myristica fragrance).
The pious betel nut is also used by the Asians and Indians
as an aphrodisiac, a medicament for urinary disorders, a tonic for nervous
complaints and an astringent. Betel nut has been used in the treatment
of tapeworms and roundworms, diarrhea, fever, indigestion, lumbago, urinary
and menstrual problems. It suppresses bad breath and reduces kapha
and pitta. Ayurveda warns that betel nut may cause anemia,
heart disease and impotence due to loss of semen.
Excessive use of sweet chalia, paan masala, gutka and manpuri
is causing mouth cancer among youth, one-fourth of whom are below 18 years
of age, a survey in Pakistan revealed in 2001. In 2003, under the aegis of
Pakistan Medical Association (PMA), Karachi, experts warned people and the
concerned authorities not to consider betel nut (Chhalia or Supari)
chewing a benign habit as it had countless hazards and demanded an immediate
ban on processing and sale of branded paan masala and sweetened betel
nuts in Pakistan.
Some people allege that the zarda that is supplied along with the
supari is not merely raw tobacco but sprayed with synthetic
chemicals primarily serving as nicotine enhancers. The oncologists do not
recommend the use of paan masala. Eating paan continuously
and with tobacco can cause cancer.
Betel leaf and nut are popular legal stimulants in Asia also. Chewing
betel quid is a common practice in Asia and among Asian immigrants around
the world. It's used by Asians for its stimulant effects, to sweeten the
breath, to satisfy hunger, and as a cultural and social activity. In
Taiwan and China, the incidence of oral cancer in men has tripled since the
early 1980s. That coincides with a large increase since the early 1970s in
betel quid chewing. World Health Organization statistics show that oral cancers
are more common in parts of the world where betel quid is chewed.
There's a link between increased betel nut quid nut production and
consumption and a substantial rise in the incidence of head and neck cancers
among Taiwanese men, according to a National Taiwan University Hospital
study reported at American Association for Cancer Research meeting
in Seattle in October 2004.
For more information visit: http://annals.edu.sg/pdf200409/V33N4p31S.pdf.
Back to the top
Cranberries are already known to prevent urinary tract infections by
reducing the power of certain E. Coli bacteria to stick to the urinary tract
walls. This action is sufficiently well documented to support a health claim
for the fruit in France. Alpine cranberries may help to fight infection
by the herpes virus, one of the most common viral infections in humans,
according to new findings by a Taiwan team in Journal of the Science
of Food and Agriculture.
Scientists at Cornell, who looked at 10 kinds of onions as well as shallots,
found broad differences in the concentrations of phenolics and flavonoids,
compounds that can help reduce the risk of medical problems like heart disease,
cancer and diabetes. The stronger an onion tastes, the more likely it is to
help fight cancer and other diseases, the researchers have found in The
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. The more powerful the
concentration of the compounds in onions, the more powerful the flavor and
the smell. Over all, the study said, shallots had the highest antioxidant
value. Other winners were the western yellow, New York bold and northern red.
It is also unclear whether cooking onions affects their nutritional value.
However, cooking tomatoes actually increased their effectiveness.
Back to the Top
According to a report, published in the journal Allergy,
September 2004, the number of people with hay fever is growing in industrialized
countries, affecting between 10 and 20 percent of the population.
Many of these patients are now opting for alternative medicine, including
Chinese remedies, but few studies have rigorously examined their effects.
A group of German investigators found that hay fever sufferers who received
weekly acupuncture treatments and took three doses of a Chinese herbal formula
per day showed fewer symptoms.
Just like an Ayurvedic medicine, a traditional Chinese medicine is not a
purified substance but contains many ingredients, and the interaction of these
ingredients is important. Ba wei di huang wan (BDW), an herbal medicine used
in Asia for 2,000 years, can reduce the impact of dementia. After 16
people took the Chinese herbal preparation BDW for 8 weeks, they showed a
boost in mental functioning, and had less trouble doing their day-to-day activities.
In contrast, people who took an inactive (placebo) pill experienced no improvements
over the same time period. According to the Journal of the American
Geriatrics Society report, BDW has been used for centuries by older
adults throughout China, Japan and Korea. Evidence also suggests the herbal
treatment may ease fatigue, cold sensation, and muscle weakness.
The National Institute of Aging recommends that elderly people use caution
when taking herbal treatments, since many can interfere with other medicines.
Chronic Dizziness in Old
Chronic dizziness is common, especially among older people. No medications
are truly effective in treating it. Vestibular rehabilitation exercises
are designed to retrain the body's system for maintaining balance, and are
currently rarely prescribed. Performing a series of head movements for a
few minutes every day can improve symptoms of chronic dizziness for many
patients, British researchers report in Annals of Internal Medicine,
October 19, 2004. Back to the Top
Antioxidants are molecules that work to reduce the damage done to cells
and DNA by free radicals, charged chemical particles found in the environment
and produced by processes in the body. Vitamins A, E, C and beta-carotene,
a pre-cursor to vitamin A, and the trace mineral selenium are antioxidants.
Fruits and vegetables are good sources of antioxidants. The highest concentrations
are found in spinach, carrots, red bell peppers and tomatoes. Antioxidant
supplements are a multi-billion dollar industry.
Some observational studies have suggested that antioxidant supplements
could protect against some cancers, heart disease, stroke and aging. But
randomized control trials comparing the supplements to a placebo have not
backed them up.
Some researchers believe antioxidants might work only when they are
in food, and/or that people who eat vitamin-rich food are healthier simply
because they take better care of themselves.
In a study, which looked at cancers of the colon, pancreas, stomach
and gullet, and concluded that there was no evidence the vitamin supplements
ward off common digestive cancers, comes on the heels of a similar review
last year by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. That group concluded
there was not enough evidence to either recommend or reject the use of vitamin
supplements to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.
However, a new study, which reviewed the results of 14 major trials
with more than 170,000 participants, found a small but statistically significant
increase in gastrointestinal cancer deaths associated with supplements containing
beta carotene and vitamins A, C and E. Four of the trials showed a possible
reduction of risk associated with selenium supplements, the report said
in The Lancet. In half the trials, there was a
6 percent increased risk of death from cancers of the esophagus, stomach,
pancreas, liver, colon and rectum in persons who took supplements, compared
to those who took a placebo, the researchers found. But certain combinations
of supplements seemed to be more dangerous, the researchers said. A 30 percent
higher risk was found for combination supplements containing beta-carotene
and vitamin A, and a 10 percent risk for supplements combining beta-carotene
and vitamin E.
It appears that antioxidants might work only when they are in food,
and people who eat vitamin-rich food and take better care of themselves
are healthier. Back to the Top
Fat and Flax
Consumption of five or ten grams of flax significantly decreased blood
levels of certain types of estrogen that are characteristic of postmenopausal
women. Since previous studies have shown that increased levels of these
estrogens (estrone sulfate and estradiol) may increase a woman’s risk of
developing breast cancer, reducing levels of these hormones is thought to
be protective against breast cancer. The exact mechanism by which
flaxseed exerts its effect is not known. Flaxseed is considered the most
concentrated food source of lignan, a type of plant hormone that is structurally
similar to estrogen. Lignan may lower estrogen in humans by inhibiting enzymes
that are involved in estrogen synthesis. Other components of flax are also
thought to lower the cancer risk, including omega-3 fatty acids and soluble
fiber, according to a study by researchers at the University of Minnesota,
reports the American Chemical Society.
Unsaturated Vegetable Fat
Men who eat a diet relatively high in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated
fats have a reduced risk of developing gallstones, according to a report
in the October 5th issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine. The researchers
found that the risk of gallstone disease among men who had the highest
levels unsaturated fat in their diets was 18 percent lower than men with
the lowest levels. The risk reductions seen with the highest levels of
polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats were 16 percent and 17 percent,
respectively. Back to the Top
Caffeine is the world's most commonly used stimulant, and it's cheap
and readily available so people can maintain their use of caffeine quite
easily. In North America, 80 percent to 90 percent of adults drink caffeine
regularly. Average daily intake in the United States is about 280 milligrams,
found in one to two mugs of coffee or three to five cans of soft drink.
As little as one cup of coffee a day can produce caffeine addiction,
researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore said in the October
issue of the journal Psychopharmacology. The latest research
demonstrates, however, that when people don't get their usual dose they
can suffer a range of withdrawal symptoms, including headache, fatigue and
difficulty concentrating. They may even feel like they have the flu with
nausea and muscle pain.
Low-level inflammation is thought to be an underlying factor in the development
of heart disease. Consuming moderate-to-high amounts of coffee is associated
with increased levels of several inflammatory markers, a finding that could
help explain previous reports linking the beverage to heart disease. The
latest findings appear in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Compared with subjects, who did not drink coffee, those who consumed more
than about 1 cup of the beverage per day had significantly higher levels of
all the inflammatory markers tested. Cutting down on coffee is likely
to help people protect their heart health only when followed by other measures,
such as regular exercise and eating a healthy, balanced diet.
A research team investigated the properties of coffee, green and black
tea in a series of scientific experiments and found that both green and
black tea inhibit the activity of enzymes associated with the development
of Alzheimer's Disease, but coffee had no significant effect. The results
of the laboratory tests conducted in this regard by a team from Newcastle
University's Medicinal Plant Research Center were published in the academic
journal Phytotherapy Research.
Back to the top
Women who eat a diet rich in vegetables and protein during pregnancy
may lower the risk of leukemia in their child, new research findings suggest
in Cancer Causes and Control, August 2004. Specifically,
carrots, string beans, peas, cantaloupe, and beans were foods associated
with reduced risk. The specific dietary nutrients included provitamin A
carotenoids and alpha and beta-carotene.
Abdominal Fat in Women
The distribution of body fat appears to be important in terms of women's
risk for developing the metabolic syndrome, a cluster of disorders that
raise the likelihood of heart disease and diabetes, new study findings suggest.
Abdominal fat is probably the most important factor associated with the
syndrome, according to findings being published in the Journal of Clinical
Endocrinology and Metabolism.Back to the Top
Breast cancer will kill about 40,600 American women this year, according
to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is the second most
commonly diagnosed cancer in women, after skin cancer.
Most studies of women have found that tall ones have an increased risk
of breast cancer, that heavy ones have a higher risk of the disease after
menopause, and that lean ones have a higher risk before menopause and a
reduced risk after. The way a girl grows during adolescence and even in the
womb may play an important role in her risk of breast cancer later in life,
a study reported in New England Journal of Medicine suggests.
The study of 117,000 women in Denmark found that those who were chubby at
birth but tall and lean at 14 were more likely to develop the disease. Factors
that influence initial development of breast tissue in the womb and how early
a girl's breasts develop, as well as what a pregnant woman eats and drinks
and her daughter's diet during childhood, appear to affect the risk of breast
cancer. Breast cancer rates have been rising at the same time the world population
has become taller over the past century.
People who were depressed or anxious were less likely to be happy in
marriage. Furthermore, a depressed spouse was more likely to have a spouse
who was also unhappy in marriage. A spouse's anxiety did not appear to affect
the other's marital satisfaction, according a report in the Journal
of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. A spouse's depression may
affect the relationship more than anxiety because of the disruptive nature
of depression, which can cause loss of appetite, insomnia and withdrawal.
Back to the Top
Breastfeeding women and their infants produce a substance that increases
sexual desire among other women, according to research at the University
of Chicago. The researchers found that after being exposed to the breastfeeding
compounds for two months, women with regular partners experienced a 24
percent increase in sexual desire as reported on a standard psychological
survey. Women without partners experienced a 17 percent increase in sexual
fantasies after exposure for the period. The work on sexual desire is reported
in the paper “Social Chemosignals from Breastfeeding Women Increase Sexual
Motivation,” being published in the latest issue of Hormones and Behavior.
A team of British and Swedish researchers have shown that for each extra
decade in a father’s age at the time of his child’s birth, the child is
almost 50% more likely to suffer from schizophrenia later in life.
The study of 700,000 people in Sweden suggests that over 15% of the schizophrenia
cases in this group could be attributed to the patient having a father aged
over 30 at birth. Having an older father is believed to increase a child’s
schizophrenia risk, where there is no family history of the disease, because
spontaneous mutations in the father’s DNA are more likely to occur in his
sperm as he ages. These mutations can contribute to the overall risk of schizophrenia,
as well as other diseases, in his children reports BMJ Online First
(22 October, 2004).Back to the Top
Miscarriage Due to Drinking
In a Danish study in American Journal of Epidemiology,
October 1, 2004, alcohol drinking by men or women during the conception period
increased the likelihood of a miscarriage. Studies in animals have
suggested that high doses of alcohol given to males and females around the
time of conception or early in the pregnancy increase fetal death, but the
association has been less clear in humans. The reason for the association
between drinking among males and spontaneous abortion is not fully understood.
However, studies have shown that alcohol consumption is associated with chromosomal
abnormalities in sperm cells, and many aborted fetuses are known to have
chromosomal abnormalities. The concentration of alcohol in semen --
where its presence can be detected relatively quickly after it is ingested
-- is similar to its concentration in the blood, the researchers note.
A group of investigators from Argentina found in Fertility and
Sterility, August 2004 that men who both drank alcohol and smoked
cigarettes were more likely to have a smaller amount of semen, a lower concentration
of sperm, and a lower percentage of active sperm than abstainers.
Alcohol consumption may increase the risk for developing a certain type
of irregular heart beat in men, known as atrial fibrillation, or atrial
flutter, according to an article in the October 11 issue of The Archives
of Internal Medicine.
Beer bellies may take a toll on men below the belt, not just around
it. Men who weigh too much are more likely to have poor sperm quality,
research on nearly 1,600 young Danish men has found. Being too thin is
a problem, too. The sperm study was done by doctors at various hospitals
and universities in Denmark and published in the October issue of the reproductive
society's journal, Fertility & Sterility.
Back to Contents
People with type 2 diabetes experience a decline in mental function
and mood during episodes of hyperglycemia. During acute hyperglycemia,
speed of information processing, working memory, and some areas of attention
were impaired. Acute hyperglycemia also adversely affected mood, with
reduced feelings of happiness and increased agitation, anxiety, lethargy,
and tiredness. The deleterious effects of hyperglycemia on cognitive function
and mood states may significantly interfere with many activities of daily
living. These effects may in turn affect patients' ability to comply with
strategies aimed at treating spikes in blood glucose that occur after meals,
according to a report in Diabetes Care, October 2004.
Vascular dementia is a step-wise deterioration in intellectual powers
that becomes apparent as different areas of the brain are damaged by a
loss of blood supply. Elderly people with diabetes have an increased risk
of dementia and vascular dementia. Diabetes increased the risk of dementia
1.5-fold, and vascular dementia by 2.6 times. However, diabetes mellitus
in combination with severely increased systolic blood pressure (i.e., the
top reading) significantly increased the risk of dementia (3.0-fold), Alzheimer's
disease (2.6-fold), and vascular dementia (11.3-fold). Also, diabetes
coupled with heart disease had a synergistic effect on vascular dementia
risk, according to a report in Neurology, October 12, 2004.
People with diabetes mellitus have three to four times the risk of developing
liver cancer, and more than twice the risk of developing pancreatic cancer
than non-diabetic individuals, according to research presented at the Third
Annual Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Meeting in Seattle.
Type 2 diabetes is a condition where the body responds poorly to the
insulin that it produces, and has to make an excessive amount of insulin
to overcome the poor response in order to maintain blood sugar control.
At advanced stages, the body produces less and less insulin, until eventually
insulin treatment is needed. Approximately 18 million Americans have diabetes
-- 90 to 95 percent of these cases are type 2 diabetes. The prevalence
of type 2 diabetes is at epidemic proportions and many patients will eventually
require insulin therapy to manage their disease. Previous studies have suggested
that type 2 diabetes mellitus may be independently associated with increased
colorectal cancer risk.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death
in the United States. A study published in the American Gastroenterological
Association's journal Gastroenterology concludes that patients
with type 2 diabetes mellitus who require long-term insulin therapy are at
a significantly increased risk for colorectal cancer. The American Gastroenterological
Association (AGA) and multiple government agencies and professional societies
underscore the importance of colorectal cancer screening for all individuals
50 years of age and older.
Type 1 diabetics who have a sibling with diabetic kidney disease have
twice the risk of also developing this complication, according to a new
report, which appears in the journal Diabetes, is based on
an analysis of data from 537 Finnish families in which two or more siblings
had type 1 diabetes.
Insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, cholesterol disorders, hypertension
and inflammation are among the heart disease risk factors linked with obesity.
In addition, severe obesity is associated with abnormal heart function and
structure. Recognizing that obesity is a major risk factor for heart
disease and diabetes, the American Heart Association has given cardiologists
a recipe for helping obese patients lose weight, in a new scientific statement,
published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.
The statement recommends diet, physical activity and behavior therapy for
some people with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 29.9. Behavioral strategies
include: self-monitoring, goal setting, stress management and social support.
Making life-long dietary and physical activity changes is key for successful
weight management, so it's important that people select a healthy diet that
they can follow for the rest of their lives.Back to the
Yoga to Fight Childhood Obesity
Estimates are that more than 15 percent of American children are very
overweight or obese. Average 10-year-olds weighed about 11 pounds
more in 1999-2002 than they did 40 years ago. So expect the next generation
of adults to be even heavier than they are today.
The average man weighed 166.3 pounds in 1960-62. The average had
reached 191 pounds by 1999-2002, according to the National Center for Health
Statistics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which issued
a report on October 27. This is the first report to quantify America's expanding
waistline based on how many extra pounds the average person is carrying.
Men's average height increased from 5 feet 8 inches in the early 1960s
to 5 feet 9 1/2 inches in 1999-2002. The average height of a woman, meanwhile,
went from just over 5 feet 3 inches to 5 feet 4 inches. The increases
in height and weight are both fueled by the availability of more food, researchers
say. To reach genetic potential for height, the human body needs a certain
level of nourishment, and the report shows that Americans have overachieved
it as opposed to the tiny people that lived together in caves and made stone
tools to hunt primitive dwarf elephants and the large lizards called Komodo
dragons in a remote Indonesian island, a lost world of steamy rain forests
divided by mountains and an island backbone of volcanoes. There wasn't much
to eat when the little hobbits were alive, and there isn't now. Experts
said the discovery is the first evidence that human species stranded on a
remote island with limited resources would get small in order to survive,
a phenomenon common in other mammals but previously unknown in any primate.
The shrinkage goes against the grain of human evolution, which has been characterized
by ever larger and more complex brains. The tiny people existed at the same
time as modern humans, though it is unclear if the two species had any contact.
The researchers named the species Homo floresiensis for its only
known residence, the isolated island of Flores between Bali and Timor. (See
for more on little hobbits at http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0410280264oct28,1,6049965.story?coll=chi-news-hed).
Better nutrition or junk food has helped Americans grow taller and fatter.
America is a whole lot fatter, while in Africa people are starving and dying.
Although fat cannot be preserved in fossils, future archeaologists might
find two distinct species of humans - one taller Homo americaiensis
in America and the other shorter Homo africaiensis in Africa,
then wonder if they ever had any contact and if they were different from
Homo indiensis and Homo asiensis!
The average weight for a 10-year-old boy in America went from 74.2 pounds
in 1963 to nearly 85 pounds by 2002. The average girl's weight went from
77.4 pounds to nearly 88 pounds. An average 15-year-old boy weighed
135.5 pounds in 1966, which rose to 150.3 pounds by 2002. The average teen
girl's weight went from 124.2 pounds to 134.4 pounds. (Full report: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/ad/ad347.pdf
The Chicago Children's Museum recently held dance and yoga workshops designed
to get families more active, and its work with the Consortium to Lower Obesity
in Chicago Children (CLOCC) has inspired plans for a permanent fitness-oriented
exhibit expected to open by 2006. Housed at Children's Memorial Hospital,
CLOCC funds a variety of obesity-fighting projects and research throughout
the city. It's also an information-sharing network that has amassed nearly
700 partners citywide, including doctors, schools, museums, industry and
charity groups that reach tens of thousands of children. Under the consortium's
influence, these groups have added an obesity-fighting focus to their programs.
Lifestyle factors that increase the risk of heart disease in adults
begin to take hold in childhood, and possibly even before birth, according
to two studies reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart
Association. The children of women who smoked during pregnancy had
higher blood pressure compared to children of nonsmokers, and parents' weight
also influenced blood pressure. Breast-feeding was associated with a lower
blood pressure. Collectively, the findings suggest a need to start heart
disease prevention efforts early in life, rather than after risk factors
have become well established.
Schools should be more aggressive in teaching children about heart disease
and the risks of bad diet and little exercise, the American Heart Association
said. The call for bolder action in schools follows the Institute
of Medicine's recommendations last month calling for a wide-ranging attack
on childhood obesity by involving parents, schools, communities and the government.
Children, who have the most sedentary lifestyles appear to be at greatest
risk of developing chronic fatigue syndrome, or myalgic encephalomyelitis
(CFS/ME), in later life, a British study shows. Children who were sedentary
at the age of 10 were about twice as likely to develop CFS/ME, the authors
report in the online edition of the British Medical Journal, and those who
played more sport in their spare time had a lower risk.
Overweight women were twice as likely and obese women were more than
three times as likely as women of normal weight to have large infants, the
researchers note in the medical journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.
This study indicates yet another reason why physicians should encourage women
of childbearing age to maintain a normal weight.Back
to the Top
Analyses of short-term (four to 16 weeks) placebo-controlled trials of
nine antidepressant drugs (SSRIs and others) in children and adolescents
with MDD, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), or other psychiatric disorders
(a total of 24 trials involving over 4,400 patients) have revealed a greater
risk of adverse events representing suicidal thinking or behavior (suicidality)
during the first few months of treatment in those receiving antidepressants.
The average risk of such events on drug was 4 percent, twice the placebo
risk of 2 percent. Therefore, the Food and Drug Administration ordered
included on all antidepressants: Antidepressants increase the risk of suicidal
thinking and behavior (suicidality) in children and adolescents with major
depressive disorder (MDD) and other psychiatric disorders.
Cigarette smoking is known to cause lung cancer and is also linked to
bladder, larynx and esophageal cancers, as well as heart disease. Just one
puff of a cigarette could damage a smoker's DNA, the first step to cancer
and heart disease, researchers said. It obviously takes more than that to
cause disease, but the team at the University of Pittsburgh were surprised
at how little smoke it took to do the initial damage.
Only 20000 Human Genes
Instead of the initial estimate of 100,000 genes, the number of human
genes is only 20,000-25,000. Scientists working on the Human Genome
Project, a publicly funded collaboration of scientists from 20 institutions
in the United States, Europe and Asia, have reduced the number in Nature,
October 21, 2004.
One in five students has sought personal counseling since entering college.
About 77% of college juniors report feeling depressed frequently or occasionally
during the past year. Only 61% of the students were depressed frequently
or occasionally when they first started college. Those who participate
in religious activities are less likely to feel overwhelmed during college.
Religious involvement includes such activities as reading sacred texts, attending
religious services and joining religious organizations on campus. A high
degree of spirituality correlates with high self-esteem and feeling good
about the way life is headed, according to a study. The study defines spirituality
as desiring to integrate spirituality (integrate spirituality into one's
life O) into one's life, believing that we are all spiritual beings, believing
in the sacredness of life and having spiritual experiences. Being religious
also could play a role in whether someone starts to drink alcohol while in
college. Three-fourths of students who don't drink beer before attending
college won't start in college if involved in religious activity, the study
says, but only 46% of students will continue to abstain if not involved religiously.
The research also finds that 77% of college students pray, 78% discuss religion
with friends, and 76% are "searching for meaning and purpose in life."
Strongly religious students tend to describe themselves as politically conservative,
but they hold more liberal views on issues such as gun control and the death
penalty, the research finds. But the study also finds that highly
spiritual students are more prone to experiencing spiritual distress, or
feeling unsettled about spiritual or religious matters, than students who
aren't as spiritual. The project is paid for by a grant from the John Templeton
Foundation and was released last week of October by the Higher Education
Research Institute at the University of California-Los Angeles.
Back to Contents
Vegetarian French Soup
Ingredients: 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 3 medium leeks, 2 large
russet potatoes, peeled, coarsely chopped, 11 cloves garlic, peeled, blanched
in boiling water 2 minutes, drained, 1-cup lentil (toor-dal or moong-dal)
cooked, 4 cups water, 3/4 pound spinach, trimmed, 2 cups vegetable oil,
2 tablespoons flour, 1/4 cup creme fraiche or whipping cream, 1/2 tablespoon
lemon juice, 3/4 teaspoon ground white pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, Freshly
Directions: Trim off green parts and root ends of the leeks. Halve 2
of the leeks lengthwise; coarsely chop. Cut the remaining leek into thin
julienne strips about 1-inch long. Set aside. Heat the olive oil
over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven; add the chopped leeks. Cook, stirring
occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and garlic.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic begins to become translucent,
2-3 minutes. Add water to potatoes; heat to boil. Reduce heat to simmer.
Cook until potatoes are tender, 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a medium saucepan
of lightly salted water to a boil. Fill a mixing bowl with ice and water.
Add the spinach leaves to the pan; cook until water returns to a boil.
Drain spinach in a colander; transfer immediately to ice water. Drain thoroughly;
gather the spinach into a ball. Chop coarsely with a sharp knife. Transfer
spinach to a bowl. Set aside. Meanwhile, heat vegetable oil to 325 degrees
in a skillet over medium-high heat. Place flour in a small bowl. Toss the
julienned leeks with flour; shake off excess. Scatter the leeks into the
hot oil; fry until golden, about 1-2 minutes. Remove with metal skimmer;
transfer to paper towels. Set aside. Add lentil and puree the soup in small
batches in a blender or a food processor, leaving the blender lid or processor
feed tube ajar and draping a dishtowel on top. Strain each batch through
a medium-mesh strainer set over a large mixing bowl, pressing the soup through
with a rubber spatula. Return the soup to the Dutch oven, adding remaining
water if it is too thick. Place the creme fraiche in a small bowl; whisk
in some of the pureed soup until thoroughly blended. Whisk the creme mixture
into the Dutch oven. Stir spinach into the soup. Warm the soup over low
heat; season with the lemon juice, white pepper, salt and nutmeg. Ladle
the soup into serving bowls; garnish with fried leek strips. Chicago Tribune
Armenian stuffed grape leaves
Ingredients: 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 large yellow onions, diced, 1/2
cup loosely packed dill, minced, 1/2 teaspoon salt; Tomato puree:2 tablespoons
olive oil,1 clove garlic, crushed, 3 vine-ripened tomatoes, peeled, seeded,
juices reserved, or 1 can (28 ounces) peeled tomatoes; 1 teaspoon dried
each: basil, oregano, dill, 1/2 teaspoon each: sugar, salt; Freshly ground
pepper, 1/4 cup red wine; Juice of 2 lemons;1 1/2 cups water;1 cup each:
arborio rice, pine nuts;1 jar (8 ounces) grape leaves, drained, brine reserved,
rinsed; 1/2 cup water
Directions: Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a Dutch oven over low heat;
add the onions, stirring occasionally, until softened and brown, about
1 hour. Add dill and 1/2 teaspoon of salt; cook until flavors come together,
about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, for tomato puree, heat the 2 tablespoons oil in medium saucepan
over medium heat; add garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add
tomatoes and juice; increase heat to high. Add herbs, sugar, salt and pepper
to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes soften and are easily
crushed with a spoon, about 25 minutes. Reduce heat to simmer; add wine.
Cook until mixture reduces by one-third, about 20 minutes. Puree mixture
in a blender or food processor in small batches.
Stir half of the lemon juice and tomato puree into the onion mixture;
stir in 1 cup of the water and rice. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring
occasionally, until rice is still hard in the center but almost fully cooked,
about 20 minutes. Stir in pine nuts; spread on baking sheet to cool, about
To stuff grape leaves, set any torn leaves aside. Open 1 whole leaf on
a flat surface; top with a tablespoon of the tomato-rice stuffing. Fold,
as you would a burrito, rolling up bottom first, tucking in sides, rolling
top over to form a tube. Repeat with remaining leaves.
Transfer rolls to the Dutch oven, stacking closely together. Pour remaining
1/2 cup of the water, reserved brine and remaining lemon juice over rolls.
Cover rolls with torn leaves; top with a small dish to keep them intact
in the pot. Cover pot with lid; heat to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce
to a simmer; cook 1 hour.
Remove leaves from pot; transfer to baking sheet to cool, about 1 hour.
Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 6 hours. Serve chilled, passing
olive oil for dipping, if desired. Chicago Tribune
Ingredients: 1/2 cup sugar,1 1/2 cups water, 1-inch piece fresh ginger,
peeled and very thinly slivered, 1 cup dried fruit mix, 2 cups fresh or frozen
cranberries, 1 orange, peeled and sectioned
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and cut into small, thin wedges.
Directions: In large saucepan, combine sugar, water and ginger. Bring
to a boil over high heat. Add dried fruit mix. Bring back to a boil and immediately
reduce heat to low simmer. Cook, uncovered, until fruit is not quite tender,
about 5 minutes. Add cranberries and simmer, stirring occasionally, until
cranberries pop. Stir in orange and apple. Remove from heat and allow to
cool down. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Easy Lentil Soup
Ingredients: 1 cup green lentils, 36 oz water, 1 carrot, finely chopped,
1 garlic clove, minced, 1 medium onion, finely chopped 1 tsp. dried thyme,
1 bay leaf, 1 leek, trimmed and chopped, 2 cups chopped Swiss chard
leaves, Canola oil spray, 1 Fuji apple, peeled and diced, Salt and freshly
ground black pepper to taste, 3-4 large pretzels, broken into small pieces
for garnish (optional).
Directions: Place lentils, water, carrot, garlic, onion, thyme and
bay leaf in a medium Dutch oven or large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high
heat, reduce to a simmer and cook until lentils are tender, about 45 minutes.
For a chunkier soup, add leek at this point. Simmer 20 minutes, then
stir in Swiss chard and simmer 20 minutes more. Meanwhile, spray a
medium non-stick skillet with canola oil and heat oil on medium-high heat.
Add apple and sauté until golden on all sides, about 3 to 4 minutes.
When lentils are tender, stir in apple and remove bay leaf. Season to taste
with salt and pepper. Serve as is for a soup with texture. For a creamy soup,
purée half in a blender and combine with remaining soup. Serve garnished
with crushed pretzels, if desired.
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The primary sources cited above,
New York Times (NYT), Washington Post (WP),
Mercury News, Bayarea.com, USA Today,
Intellihealthnews, Deccan Chronicle (DC),
the Hindu, Hindustan Times, Times of India,
AP, Reuters, AFP, womenfitness.net