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Local Herbs Found Only In Mauritius Hold Promise for Cancer Treatments

Researchers analyze medicinal herbs peculiar to Mauritius for cancer treatments



Mauritius plants used to treat esophageal cancer
The Mauritian endemic medicinal plants under study for treating esophageal cancer. A – A. integrifolia; B – L. glauca; C – D. acutangula; D – G. psychotrioides; – E. tinifolia

Mauritius, an island country in the southwestern Indian Ocean, is home to numerous plants that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Many of these plants are currently being analyzed to determine their cancer-fighting properties. This initiative is led by scientists from Russia, the UK, and Mauritius and their research published in the journal Acta Naturae.

The team of researchers is evaluating chemical compounds from three local herbs among others. These plants are –

  • Acalypha integrifolia
  • Eugenia tinifolia
  • Labourdonnaisia glauca, etc.

The Mauritius Herbs Showed Promise for Treating Esophageal Cancer

These plants grow only in Mauritius and nowhere else because of the geographical isolation of the country. The plants are believed to possess anti-cancer properties. Their extracts inhibit the growth of cancer cells by stimulating the 5’ AMP-activated kinase (AMPK) signaling pathway.

The scientists say the medicinal plants appear suitable for treating esophageal cancer. This is a malignant tumor of the esophagus, the tube extending from the mouth or throat to the stomach. Esophageal cancer is the seventh commonest cancer in men and the 13th in women, the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) says.

During trials, the scientists found that three of the five active chemical compounds found in the Mauritian plants inhibited the proliferation of esophageal cancer cells.

The Future of Medicine Is Dependent on the Preservation of Natural Biodiversity Worldwide

Alexander Kagansky, an expert in cancer epigenetics and chromosome biology, said modern diets and lifestyles have increased the incidence of esophageal cancer worldwide. Kagansky is one of the researchers and head of the Center for Genomic and Regenerative Medicine of the School of Biomedicine, Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU) in Vladivostok, Russia.

Kagansky agrees that cancer can be treated with surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy to extend the life of patients. But he cautioned that the extra months of life gained is riddled with physical pains – the side effects of the toxic drugs administered for treatments.

Considering the side effects produced by chemotherapy, many researchers opine that natural compounds from plants, fungi and bacteria should be applied to preventing and treating cancers. Based on this, Kagansky noted that the future of medicine is dependent on the preservation of natural biodiversity worldwide.

Charles has a degree in Mass Communication and a PGD in Digital Communication. He worked as a newspaper/magazine reporter and editor for many years. Now, he writes daily news articles for private clients. Charles has written for US/UK/Canadian/Indian clients on various niches.

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Fitness & Exercise

Long-Term Weight Loss Can Be Most Assured With Metformin, Study Finds

Metformin induces 5% weight loss in one year, with promises of permanent weight loss forever



Metformin and weight loss
Metformin and lifestyle interventions effective for weight loss. Photo Credit: PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay

People who lose weight have problems keeping it that way. Yet, effective weight loss is important for overall health management. It is also crucial to preventing or delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes. To this end, researchers found identifying predictors of long-term weight loss is important for better health. Metformin has been found to help.

In a clinical trial and follow-up study of the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), researchers found that patients who used metformin lost 5% of their body weight within one year. The American College of Physician researchers further found that the ability of a patient to lose weight within the first year of treatment is essential for continued loss of weight in subsequent years.

People Who Lose Weight with Metformin in First Year Maintain It for Several Years After

In fact, they found that people who used metformin lost significant weight and demonstrated potential for more weight loss in later years. This is not so true for people who were treated with placebo or asked to observe lifestyle interventions for weight loss.

Apart from treatment with metformin, researchers also found that older people who lost weight within one year are able to maintain their weight loss permanently for many years.

This study was published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. The study involved 3,000 participants with pre-diabetes. The research study is the largest and longest-running study where metformin is applied for the prevention of diabetes.

Participants who used metformin and adhered to lifestyle changes did not only lose 5% of their body weight within the first year of treatment, they maintained their weight loss 6-15 years after treatment. Meanwhile, early weight loss is essential for effectively managing diabetes incidence.

Metformin Tends To Lower Risks Associated With Obesity and Its Complications

Experts say patients who lose 5% of their body weight in one year have lower risks of developing full diabetes 15 years after.

The study authors advise that future studies should examine if metformin would be effective for maintaining long-term weight loss after initial weight loss with lifestyle modifications, anti-obesity drugs or devices, or bariatric surgery.

Obesity complications have been linked to diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and other health complications that are life-threatening. Some people find it hard to lose weight while others find it harder to maintain weight loss.

Medications such as metformin among others used in combination with lifestyle changes and weight loss devices have held out so much hope for patients.

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New Drugs

Birth Control Pills for Men May Soon Hit the Market In a Few Years

Male contraceptives will soon become available in less than 10 years



Birth control pills for men
Birth control pills for men will soon become a reality. Photo Credit: Rich Pedroncelli, AP

Birth control pills for men – the first of its kind – may hit the market anytime from now. Well, not anytime soon, maybe in a few years more. Female birth control pills have already flooded the market since decades past, but the notion of male birth control pills was recented mooted and now about to become a reality.

Dr. Christina Wang, a researcher with LaBioMed, a Los Angeles-based non-profit organization, revealed progress on the male fertility control pill at the Endocrine Society conference in New Orleans. Several studies indicate the male contraceptive – known as 11-beta-MNTDC – is effective and safe for use, but it may take some years more before it attains final government approval.

“Safe, reversible hormonal male contraception should be available in about 10 years,” Wang said.

Initial research showed the pill reduced the activity of natural hormones required for sperm production.

Male Contraceptive Pills Developed Far Aheads of Its Time

LaBioMed in collaboration with the University of Washington conducted tests on the pill. Forty men were recruited for the study. Thirty of these took the drug for 28 days and 10 took placebos for the same period. The 30 who took the drug passed safety tests, although 22 of them said they experienced headaches and slightly reduced sex drive.

Director of male fertility at NYU Langone, Dr. Bobby Najari, wondered how users would fare after many years of using the drugs if some testers said they experienced reduced sex drive within 28 days of trial.

The study was sponsored by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Researchers at the study said the side effects reported by the participants do not warrant any considerable clinical concerns. Wang said 11-beta-MNTDC was developed far ahead of its time. In fact, it may take 10 years or less more for the drug to hit the market because of further need to verify effectiveness in men.

Zero Sperm Production Will Be Achieved In Three Months of Use

Some male fertility specialists hailed the development of the drug and found it exciting that it passed safety tests. But they want to know if the drug really hinders sperm production or hormones required for sperm production. According to them, sperm production must come down to zero to hinder fertility in males.

Wang revealed that zero sperm production may be achieved three months into using the male contraceptive pills.

Some attendees at the conference found this troubling. They said men may not find the pills attractive if it does kill sperm production almost immediately.

Wang said male contraceptives, like their female versions, ought to have been in the market for years if not for cultural attitudes. She said the society blames women for unplanned pregnancies, so research funding has been largely dedicated to female birth control solutions.


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New Drugs

Common Drugs for High Blood Pressure Linked With Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Nifedipine and amlodipine – two drugs used for chest pain and high blood pressure, linked to cardiac arrest



sudden cardiac arrest nifedipine and amlodipine
Illustration of a man having sudden cardiac arrest. Photo Credit: mohamed_hassan/Pixabay

Nifedipine and amlodipine are two drugs commonly used for chest pain and high blood pressure. The two drugs are now linked with sudden cardiac arrest and associated deaths. This conclusion was reached from a study conducted by the European Sudden Cardiac Arrest network (ESCAPE-NET).

One in five natural deaths in Europe is caused by sudden cardiac arrest. This is the kind of unexpected cardiac arrest that occurs where the victim collapses and becomes unresponsive with breathing ceased. This could occur at home, in the streets or anywhere. Without instant help from bystanders – using chest compression and AED – the victim could do within minutes.

ESCAPE-NET was established to investigate causes of sudden cardiac arrest with a view to preventing them.

High-Dose Nifedipine Increases Risk of Sudden Cardiac Arrest Due To Fatal Cardiac Arrhythmia

The study, led by Dr. Hanno Tan, a cardiologist at the Netherlands and ESCAPE-NET project leader, examined the effects of both nifedipine and amlodipine on out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. The 30mg and 60mg doses of nifedipine were used in the study, together with the 5mg and 10mg doses of amlodipine.

In many cases, physicians usually start patients on lower doses of the drugs and then increase them if their chest pain or blood pressure symptoms persist.

A total of 2,503 of patients with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest problems were recruited for the study.

The authors of the research found that a 60mg dose of nifedipine per day – which is significantly high – is associated with higher risks of sudden cardiac arrest situations. The authors discovered that this result is supported by another study in human cardiac cells.

Dr. Tan said physicians and cardiologists prescribe the use of nifedipine and amlodipine because of their personal experience and preference for the drugs.

“This study suggests that high-dose nifedipine may increase the risk of sudden cardiac arrest due to fatal cardiac arrhythmia while amlodipine does not,” Tan said.

Men Experience Sudden Cardiac Arrest during Sports than Women Do

Doctors who have used nifedipine and amlodipine to treat hypertension and angina for years would be surprised at the results of this new study. This is largely because they have come to rely on both medications to treat their patients with no knowledge of their side effects.

But this new research will do a lot to open their eyes to the cardiac risks of prescribing high doses of the medications.

Tan reiterated earlier studies which found that men experience sudden cardiac arrest at 19 times the rate of women during sports.

The European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA) of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) and the European Resuscitation Council (ERC) supported ESCAPE-NET for the study.

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