Thursday, April 30, 2009

UK Alternative Medicine Market Overview

Complementary and alternative medicine is increasingly becoming popular in many developed countries including the UK. The UK market value estimates for complementary therapies in 1996 stood at $106.4 million, while the sales of herbal remedies totaled $56 million. Homeopathy, chiropractic, acupuncture, medical herbalism, osteopathy, hypnotherapy, aromatherapy are some popular CAM therapies.

Read More at: TheMedica

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Is Robot Assisted Surgery Better?

Slowly and gradually robots seem to be taking over many of the functions that humans perform. Though it may seem like machines rendering man redundant, in perhaps all cases these replacements are for the better, such as in robot assisted surgeries.

Surgical robots have today made remote, minimally invasive, and unmanned surgeries possible. In addition they have enabled better precision with surgical instruments e.g. scissors, miniaturization, smaller incisions, decreased blood loss, less pain, and quicker healing. As a result have led to better patient outcomes.

Aside from these advantages of robot-assisted surgeries, the following examples of their superiority are worth mentioning.

Better for Heavy Women – Uterine cancer is a medical condition with which about a 100 women are diagnosed each day in the USA. Once diagnosed with the disease, many patients are worried about how the treatment, which often includes surgery, would affect their lives and family. However, it seems that robotic surgery may be a better option than laparoscopic surgery for uterine cancer. Recently the journal Gynecologic Oncology showed that patients undergoing robot assisted surgery, lost 2-and-a-half times less blood, were 6 times less likely to need transfusions, and that the time of their stay in hospitals was halved.

Lower risk of a gastric bypass complication - Gastrointestinal leak is a rare but serious complication arising out of gastric by-pass – a weight loss surgical procedure. Scientists at the University of Texas Health Science Center, recently conducted a study comparing the conventional laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and a robot assisted operation, and found that while none of the robot assisted surgery group suffered a gastrointestinal leak, some patients from the conventional laparoscopy group did.

Additionally, robotic surgery has also been associated with improved survival rates for prostate cancer patients , with effective treatment of urothelial cancer of the kidney, and more.

All in all, robots with surgical instruments in their hands have a lot to offer to the field of surgery, and that robot-assisted surgery is indeed better in many cases.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Alternative Medicines Industry Profile

Alternative medicines are also known as complementary and alternative Medicine (CAM) or traditional medicines. In some African and Asian nations about 80 percent of the population gets its primary health care via Alternative medicines. About 12 percent children use CAM in the US such as homeopathic medicines, herbs and yoga for addressing a number ailments. However, CAM usage has decreased for head or chest colds from 2002 to 2007 in the US.

Read More at: TheMedica

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Can Adjustable Chairs Diminish Neck Pain?

Sitting in a chair for prolonged periods of time is a sure shot recipe for developing back and neck pain. However, if a chair such as your office chair is adjustable, then it may reduce neck and back pain that you could otherwise suffer from.

Back pain from sitting could result from several reasons. For instance, sitting in a chair or stools e.g. hospital stools, for long periods can lead to a buildup of stress on our shoulders, neck, back, arms, legs, and back muscles. In addition, most people tend to slouch while sitting, and a bad posture may make it more likely for pain to develop.

How adjustable chairs could remedy the situation.

Some time back a study published in the medical publication Spine, concluded that adjustable-height chairs that had ergonomically curved seats, had the potential to significantly reduce neck and shoulder pain in garment workplaces. (Spine, Apr 2007)

Garment workers seem to be an apt group for studying the back pain phenomenon because their work entails being seated in a position for seven to ten hours every single day. And not only do they have to work with cloth requiring fine-motor tasks while sewing, but they also have to lean forward and hold their arms and shoulders up.

Based on the results of the study the participants who were provided with an adjustable chairs had experienced a reduction in pain between 0.14 – 0.34 points on a 0-5 scale every month compared to a control group, over a four-month period.

So if adjustable chairs could work for garment workers, whose jobs are extremely physically demanding, then definitely, customizable chairs should benefit many of us who have to sit in our chairs for long hours.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

3 Burning Issues for Hospitals Today

This recession has had quite an impact on hospitals, causing 45% of hospitals to postpone capital projects and 13% to cease any expansion in process, as an American Hospital Association report revealed. But despite the new challenges posed by financial crisis for the medical industry, hospitals have their own health care delivery issues to tackle.

Many hospitals have been purchasing refurbished hospital furniture such as hospital chairs or beds to cut costs. However, in addition, addressing the following issues can lead to long term cost-savings.

1. Hospital Deaths due to Medical Errors

Preventable medical errors caused an average of 195,000 individuals to lose their lives in the USA. This was the finding of a HealthGrades study that assessed 37 million patient records for the years 2000, 2001 and 2002. The associated health care cost of these medical errors is estimated to be over $6 billion per year. Following the study, analysts suggested that just by improving upon four key areas, namely, failure to rescue, bed sores, postoperative sepsis, and postoperative pulmonary embolism. And if their occurrence could be reduced by just 20 percent, 39,000 lives can be saved each year. Whether medical error rates have dropped since the study remains to be seen.

2. Hospitals' Efficiency

The hospitals in the US can significantly improve patient care and also save a minimum of about $4 billion annually, only if they became more efficient. These conclusions follow from an analysis by Thomson Reuters. Key suggestions from the company to save costs include reducing hospital-acquired infections and slashing hospital readmissions. While the minimum savings are to the tune of $4 billion, with some really effective measures in place hospitals could save up to $20 billion over a span of three years. That's about $7 billion a year in savings.

3. Electronic Health Records

The present state of affairs seems pretty dismal as only 1.5 percent of U.S. hospitals have implemented facility-wide comprehensive health care information technology systems. Further, just about 8 – 11 percent hospitals have at least a single unit with installed with basic health care IT systems. (New England Journal of Medicine, NEJM, Mar 2009).

While smaller budgets, maintenance costs, hesitation among health care professional are said to be the primary reasons preventing the widespread use of IT systems, the long-term effects of installing them need to be taken into account. At the same time, it's hardly any use having IT systems in place when their power isn't leveraged via effective use.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Medical Diagnostics Industry Overview

The medical and clinical diagnostic industry comprises businesses and laboratories that offer analytic or diagnostic services including body fluid analysis and diagnostic imaging. The world market for diagnostics was valued at $22.47 billion in 2000 and was expected grew at an annual rate of about 6 percent to $28.63 billion by 2005. The IVD product, point-of-care instrument and the medical diagnostic kit (MDK) markets have emerged as growing segments of the diagnostic laboratory industry.

Read More at: Themedica

Thursday, April 16, 2009

6 Striking Health Effects of Vitamin D

According to Boston University researchers, between 30 to 50% of children and adults in the United States are at high risk for vitamin D deficiency. While this deficiency can lead to rickets in children, in adults, it is associated with cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and immune dysfunction.

Experts believe that sensible exposure to sun, an consumption of vitamin dietary supplements may be the best way to deal with this preventable medical condition.

The following are some newly discovered benefits of vitamin D

1. Reduced risk of Fracture - A study found that oral vitamin D supplements taken at a dose of at least 400 international units daily, were linked to a decreased risk of bone fractures in older adults. (Archives of Internal Medicine, Mar 2009)

2. Protection from Diabetes - If you consume the right quantities of vitamin D, it may protect you from diabetes or even delay its onset. Further, it may reduce complications in those who've already acquired the disease. (The Diabetes Educator, 2009)

3. Prevent Heart Attacks - If you are a man and you have low levels of vitamin D in your system, then you may be at a greater risk of a heart attack or myocardial infarction, suggests a study published in the journal, Archives of Internal Medicine, June 2008 issue. Consequently, ensuring adequate amounts of the sunshine vitamin in your system via supplements may offer protection against against heart attacks.

4. Increased Girl Power! - UK researchers recently found that teenage girls with higher vitamin D levels were able to jump higher and faster than those who didn't, indicating an improved muscle performance. Boys, Watch Out! (Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, JCEM Feb 2009)

5. Prevent Skin Infection - A study by San Diego School of Medicine researchers found that intake of oral Vitamin D supplements helps the body produce cathelicidin - a protective chemical present in the skin. As a result, offering protection from skin infections that result from atopic dermatitis – the commonest type of eczema. (Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology, Oct 2008)

6. Protection from Death! - Well, vitamin D won't quite infuse immortality into you, but could make you live longer. Here's why. Following a review of several studies, French researchers concluded that the sunshine vitamin does lower your risk of death from any cause. (Archives of Internal Medicine, Sept 2007)

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

5 Ways by which Alcohol can Abuse You

According to 2006 data, sixty one percent of American adults reported drinking alcohol during the past year. While moderate drinking is considered safe for many people, heavy drinking may be harmful to almost anyone.

Alcohol is a depressant and affects the brain much like a central nervous system drug would.

The following are some newly discovered harmful effects of alcohol

1. Cancer – Those individuals who experience facial flushing on alcohol consumption are at a greater risk of esophageal cancer. The flushing response includes nausea, facial flushing, and an increased heart rate. (PLoS Medicine, Mar 2009)

Also, alcohol consumption is the biggest risk factor for acetaldehyde-related cancer, the risk may be greater for heavy drinkers. (Addiction, Mar 2009)

Moreover, the risk of getting pancreatic cancer is upped by 22 percent by an intake of two or more alcoholic drinks per day. Advisably, men shouldn't take more than two drinks a day, while women shouldn't drink more than one. (Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, Mar 2009)

Further, a woman's chance of developing breast cancer or other cancers is increased by a margin of 13 percent, even by moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages. (Journal of the National Cancer Institute, JNCI, Mar 2009)

2. Depression - Depression is generally believed to be the cause, compelling individuals to self-medicate themselves by drinking alcohol. However, a new statistical modeling study suggests just the reverse, that in fact, excessive alcohol consumption may lead to a greater risk of depression. (Archives of General Psychiatry, Mar 2009)

Also, research shows that if you try to stop drinking, even if you're one who drinks only at moderate levels, it may lead to health problems that include depression. (Neuropsychopharmacology, Jul 2008)

3. Brain Volume – According to a new report, the more alcohol you drink lesser is your brain volume likely to be. Though, brain volume naturally decreases at a rate of 1.9 percent every decade, drinking alcohol may pronounce the effect. (Archives of Neurology, Oct 2008)

4. Pregnancy - While you're pregnant not drinking alcohol seems to be the safest option. Alcohol consumption during pregnancy has been linked to greater risks of miscarriage, stillbirth, pre-term birth, low birth-weight, etc. (The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Jun 2008)

5. Physical Injury – It's well-known that heavy drinking and driving don't mix, but new research shows that even with moderate consumption you could find yourself on a hospital bed. A study showed that much of alcohol linked damage is associated to moderate consumption. (A doctoral thesis, Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet, Mar 2009).

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Monday, April 13, 2009

5 Cases Where Diet Supplements May Harm

Dietary supplements were being used by 17.7 percent of American adults in 2007. While scientists have found many benefits of dietary supplements e.g. folic acid prevents some birth defects, calcium and vitamin D can prevent and treat bone loss, etc, they have also found some harmful effects of different dietary and herbal supplements.

The following are their 5 harmful effects

1. Increased Risk Of Heart Attack - Calcium supplements could up the chances of a heart attack in healthy postmenopausal women, found a study. Calcium is often prescribed to women after menopause to keep bones healthy, and some doctors even believe that it prevents arteries from blockage, but new research highlights a risk. (British Medical Journal (BMJ), Jan 2008.)

2. Increased Risk of Prostrate Cancer - The risk of prostate cancer for men who consume a daily folic acid supplement of 1 mg may be double, when compared to men who don't. Folic acid or vitamin B9 is naturally found in many vegetables, beans, fruits and whole grains. The study was conducted by the University of Southern California scientists. (Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Mar 2009.)

3. Increased Risk of Lung Cancer – When beta carotene and other carotenoid-containing dietary supplements are consumed over a long period of time they may increase the risk of getting lung cancer. And the links are stronger when the consumers happen to be smokers. (American Journal of Epidemiology AJE, Feb 2009.)

4. Reduced Effect of Anti-Cancer Drugs - If you are on supplements and if it results in high amounts of vitamin C in your cells. Then it may reduce the effect of anti-cancer drugs you consume because the vitamin levels will cause the cancer cells to live longer (Cancer Research, Oct 2008).

5. Increased Risk For Diabetes - A large scale study concluded that people who consumed 200 microgram selenium supplement daily, for about eight years, their chances of developing type 2 diabetes were higher than those who took a placebo. (Annals of Internal Medicine, Aug 2007)

While useful in many cases, intake of supplements can sometimes be damaging.

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Medical Instruments Market Overview

Being used since the seventeenth century, precision medical instruments today are an invaluable component of health care delivery. Used to in monitoring, diagnosis, therapy, treatment or alleviation of diseases, the market for medical instruments is forecast to reach $201.6 billion in 2010. In 2007, the USA accounted for 60% of the industry's world market at $8.3 billion for the minimally invasive medical devices industry.

Read More at: Themedica

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Fast Ricin Detection – Is it Now Possible?

Ricin, a poison found in Castor beans is so potent that even if a small quantity, the size of a grain of salt, gets into your system can kill you. Now, if new research is to be believed, then scientists may have developed a new assay system that detects ricin fast and easy.

Perhaps the most popular incident of ricin poisoning is the 1978 assassination of the Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov in London. He was reportedly stabbed with an umbrella that lodged a small ricin-coated pellet into his leg that later killed him. With no known antidote available, ricin today, is also feared as a potential bio-terrorism agent.

Till now, scientists had a hard time detecting the toxin. Because it involved multi-step procedures that assessed whether certain compounds were stopping ricin from working or not. But now that may not be necessary.

The New Ricin Detection Assay System

The working of the assay is simple. To check the presence of ricin in suspect samples, they need to be put into a few drops of a mixture of reagents. If the mixture emits light, then ricin is present, else it isn't. Further, the brighter the light emitted or the greater is the luminescence, higher is the concentration of the toxin within the sample. This technique has been developed by researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University (AECOM).

It may appear that ricin being a poison only has nefarious applications, but no, just like nuclear energy, which can be used to generate electricity or A-bombs. Ricin too can either be used to kill humans or potentially save them. Because it has been used an cancer drug to kill and destroy cancer cells, however, this research is still in its early stages.

Nevertheless, the new ricin detection assay system should be able arm scientists with the tools that can detect ricin in a jiffy and save lives.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

7 Foods That Affect Weight Loss

According to NIH statistics about 133.6 million or two-third of Americans were overweight or obese in 2006. Being overweight is linked to several health maladies such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancers and high blood pressure to name a few.

Foods, while not the only reason contributing to excess weight gain do have a significant role to play. Other means used achieve weight change include whole food supplements, weight loss pills, physical exercise, dieting etc.

The following is a run-through of how some edibles affect weight loss or weight gain.

1. Calcium – Increasing the intake of calcium can set-off weight loss. This is the conclusion of a study that included a 15-week weight loss program, at the end of which the obese participants who consumed calcium tablets lost about 6 kg, while those who didn't lost just 1 kg. However, this worked only in people whose diets were deficient in calcium (British Journal of Nutrition, April 2009).

2. Chewing Gums – Sorbitol is the main ingredient in many sugar-free chewing gums, and it is also associated with dangerous weight loss. This was discovered after studying two patients who suffered chronic diarrhea, abdominal pain and too much weight loss, which was pinned down to eating too many chewing gums with sorbitol (British Medical Journal 'BMJ', January 2008).

But in another study, chewing gums reduced weight in a seemingly harmless way. Eating a chewing gum before an afternoon snack led to reduced food cravings via promoting fullness, and an overall reduced calorie intake, up to 25 calories. (A research presentation, 2007 Annual Scientific Meeting of The Obesity Society)

3. Grapefruit Diet – Simply supplementing your diet with grapefruit and grapefruit juice can lead to weight loss. The participants in the study who ate just half a grapefruit with a meal lost 3.6 pounds. Further, drinking grapefruit juice had a similar effect, with the participants losing 3.3 pounds ('Grapefruit Diet' study, Nutrition and Metabolic Research Center at Scripps Clinic, 2004).

4. Fructose – A reduced intake of fructose can aid weight loss. Fructose is a kind of sugar that can be quickly turned into body fat. Fruits are a good source of fructose, but so are many processed foods and the sweetener high-fructose corn syrup or HFCS, which is used in many processed foods. (Journal of Nutrition, July 2008).

5. Beverages – There's a stronger link between liquid calorie intake (e.g. beverages) and weight change than is between solid calorie intake (e.g. bread) and weight change. And that a reduction in liquid calorie intake is positively associated with weight loss (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 'AJCN', April, 2009).

6. Dairy Products - Dairy products don't help people lose weight. This was the conclusion of evidence collected from 49 clinical trials from 1966 to 2007 that tested whether milk, and dairy products had an effect on body weight and BMI (Nutrition Reviews, May 2008).

7. Eggs - When two eggs were consumed for breakfast, as part of a reduced-calorie diet, the weight loss in overweight adults more, compared to those who ate a bagel breakfast containing an equal number of calories (International Journal of Obesity, August 2008).

Since, it's well-known that excess body weight is associated with many diseases, it appears profitable to invest time and money in weight loss, at least it's better than spending money on medical drugs used to treat excess weight related disorders.

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Herbal Supplements: 5 Promising Benefits

Results from a national survey in 2007 showed that, 17.7 percent of American adults had used "natural products" in the past 12 months. These natural or herbal supplements didn't include vitamins and minerals.

Of late there have been a slew of discussions, debates, and studies that have questioned the efficacy and safety of herbal supplements, e.g. herbal supplements viz. Echinacea, Glucosamine, Kava, etc. could lead to dangerous side effects during plastic surgery. And an NIH supported study found that the herbal supplement black cohosh used alone or with other herbal dietary supplements, wasn't effective in relieving hot flashes in postmenopausal women.

Nevertheless, the following are 5 promising health benefits of several herbal supplements.

1. Prostate Cancer Prevention - An increased consumption of dietary isoflavones is linked with reduced risk of prostate cancer. One source of the compound is Red clover (Trifolium pretense). However, there's little information about these supplements' safety. These results were reported in Cancer Prevention Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).

2. Prostate Cancer Treatment - According to a report published in the October 2005 edition of Nutrition and Cancer, Zyflamend - a unique herbal extract preparation, suppresses the growth of prostate cancer cells and causes them to self-destruct.

3. Managing Cocaine Cravings - A study presented at the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology's (ACNP) annual conference 2005, showed that the compound N-acetylcysteine (NAC) could modulate the effects of cocaine addiction. NAC is an herbal supplement known for its antioxidant properties and is sold over-the-counter.

4. Fertility Boost in women - Chasteberry was the herb that showed an improved ovulation and restoration of progesterone balance in women. These results published in the April 2004 issue of the Journal of Reproductive Medicine were an outcome of a small pilot study in by Stanford researchers. Btw, fertility is affected by a bad economy too, see: Does Bad Economy Equal Low Fertility Rate?

5. Combating Liver Cancer – The aqueous leaf extract (ALE) from the plant Acanthus ilicifolius – found across India, increased the survival of cancer ridden animals (mice) to a significant extent. Suggesting that the plant extract may be used to guard against liver cancer. The study appeared in the World Journal of Gastroenterology (volume 13, issue 48).

It's exciting to see that effective cures and treatments could very well lie outside the purview of conventional medicine. And that researches only help separate the wheat from chaff.

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Monday, April 6, 2009

The US Generic Drugs Market Overview

The total US generic pharmaceutical manufacturer sales for the year 2007 was$58.5 billion, whereas the sales of branded pharmaceuticals during the same year amounted to $228 billion. In 2009, a number of blockbuster drugs are losing patent protections, some of them include Prevacid, Imigran, Arimidex, Keppra, Cellcept, Flomox, AmbienCR, Valtrex, and Topamax. According to IMS Health, the generic drugs industry is expanding at a growth rate of 7.8%, which faster than the world's market for pharmaceuticals.

Read More at: Themedica

Friday, April 3, 2009

Top 6 Skin Care Tips

Caring for the skin has a two-fold benefit, one, your skin looks young and beautiful and two, it keeps your skin healthy and protects you from many skin problems.

Even though your busy life may not afford you the luxury to pamper your skin, you can positively take some simple yet effective steps for good skin care.

The following are some general tips to care for you skin

1. Eat well for good skin: While topically applied skin care products provide protection and some supply nutrition, it's only part of the job done. For the overall well-being of your skin eat a balanced diet that's rich in vitamins and antioxidants, because it has the potential to make a real difference in your skin's appearance.

2. Clean your skin with care: The key to cleaning the skin is to do it gently. If you don't, you run the risk of taking away too much oil from the skin leaving it dry. You can be gentle to your skin by using warm water as against hot water, patting your skin dry rather than rubbing it with a towel, not spending too much time bathing, and preferring softer soaps.

3. Hair styling products and procedures may harm: Experts advise that overuse of either hair care products or unnecessarily subjecting hair to treatments such as straightening, coloring, perms, waving, etc can lead to hair damage & breakage, and make them look unhealthy in the longer duration of time.

4. Restoring moisture back to the skin: Moisturizers are skin care products, which work by many means to maintain the correct moisture levels for your skin. Since there are many skin types, many factors to consider, and many types of moisturizers, it makes sense to consult your skin doctor for more information.

5. Guarding the skin from sun: Because overexposure to sunlight can lead to skin damage, wrinkles, dry skin and possibly cancers its important to protect yourself form the sun. You can do that by minimizing staying outdoors between 10 am. to 4 pm, when the sun's at its best. Use clothing with sleeves, using hats, wearing ankle length pants etc. And using sunscreen - your dermatologist can help you choose an apt product.

6. Smoking is bad for skin too: Wrinkles are what cigarettes offer you in return for puffing them. They're pretty effective in ruining your skin and generously aid not only damage to the skin, but also in making you look older than you really are. And besides, by now I believe there's hardly anyone who is ignorant about the dangers of smoking. You may want to seek help in trying to quit smoking, it's tough, but not impossible if you really decide to help yourself.

Sometimes small investments can lead to bigger returns, perhaps simple skin care measures too can lead to a better looking healthy skin for you for a long time.

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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Urinary Tract Infection – 4 Alternative Treatments

According to a National Institute of Health publication, about 14.8 million women and men experienced a UTI in 1995, and with the infections' propensity to recur, especially in women, can some alternative medicine treatments be helpful too?

Urinary tract infections being the second most common type of infections affecting people, accompanies symptoms such as pain/burning while passing water, fever, tiredness/shakiness, urge to use the toilet often, etc. Doctors usually prescribe genitourinary drugs to kill the infection and a relief can be experienced, usually in a day or two.

Following are some natural remedies used on UTI sufferers.

1. Forskolin: This is an extract from the Indian coleus plant. And researchers at the Duke University Medical Center experimenting on mice found that it helps by flushing out hiding colonies of bacteria from the urinary tract. As a result make bacteria susceptible to antibiotic medications. The study appeared in the April 8, 2007 issue of the journal Nature Medicine.

2. Cranberry: According to a study from the Journal of Medicinal Food - a peer-reviewed journal, it's the chemicals present in cranberries rather than the acidity of cranberry juice that prevent infectious bacteria from attaching to urinary tract's cell lining. Further, a National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) article suggests that some studies testing the efficacy of cranberry products in forestalling UTIs have shown promise. At the same time the results can't be considered conclusive.

3. Echinacea Purpurea: Often known as the purple coneflower, this herb has been used on urinary tract infection sufferers, either based on tradition or scientific theories. However, a National Library of Medicine article informs that this use hasn't been thoroughly tested in humans. Also, the safety and effectiveness too hasn't been proven for such use, always.

4. Probiotics: Also known as "friendly bacteria" or "good bacteria," these refer to live microorganisms that don't generally harm people. According to a conference report released in November 2005, an assessment of the use of probiotics to prevent and treat infections of the urinary tract or the female genital tract had turned out promising evidence. The conference was cofunded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and convened by the American Society for Microbiology.

With the UTI's burdening the healthcare system with over $2 billion in treatment costs (annual), if alternative medications can complement conventional treatments in fighting it, then they should be more than welcome.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Does Bad Economy Equal Low Fertility Rate?

The National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG), 1995, revealed that the number of women using infertility services in the U.S. was 9.3 million, and today if the forecast of some economists is to be believed, the economic crisis could cause the U.S. birth rate to decline.

Aside from the usual infertility problems treated with fertility drugs, the strained economy has its own way of affecting fertility.

Here are some hows and whys?

  • According to a story in the LA Times, historical data over the past 75 years suggests that the U.S. fertility rate has declined following economic recessions. Not surprisingly, it was the worst after the Great Depression. Though not as bad as the Great Depression, the recession this time is big enough to be compared head on with its grandpa.
  • Further, as a consequence of economic hardships, many couples might decide to either postpone or not have children at all. And it already appears to be happening, as reports from all across the country suggest that the number of men wanting to undergo vasectomy – a medical procedure leading to permanent sterilization, have doubled according to a Web MD article. This seems pretty extreme considering the availability of many other contraceptive methods such as the use of birth control pharma drugs.
  • At the same time, some sociologists opine that recession could even lead to more births than less. The reasoning is that job loss will present women with more time and an opportunity to have children and raise them.
  • A rather different kind of a baby boom also seems to be occurring and that is of many women opting to donate eggs to fertility clinics, to financially support themselves, an MSNBC report suggests that.
While it will take a couple of months before the actual effect on fertility rate can be assessed, it's seems unmistakable that state of the economy can have some significant repercussions on human fertility.