Wednesday, March 17, 2010

New HIV infections are increasing among homosexuals, drug users and prostitutes who don’t seek help because of laws that criminalize these practices.!

New HIV infections increasing among homosexuals

NEW YORK (AP) - New HIV infections are increasing among homosexuals, drug users and prostitutes who don’t seek help because of laws that criminalize these practices, the head of the U.N. AIDS agency said Monday.

Michel Sidibe, the head of UNAIDS, said "it is unacceptable" that 85 countries still have laws criminalizing same sex relations among adults, including seven that impose the death penalty for homosexual practices.

He called a proposed Ugandan law that would impose the death penalty for some gays "very unfortunate" and expressed hope it will never be approved.

At a time when UNAIDS is scaling up its program and seeking universal access to HIV treatment, Sidibe said he was "very scared" because bad laws are being introduced by countries making it impossible for these at risk groups to have access to services.

"You have also a growing conservatism which is making me very scared," Sidibe added.

"We must insist that the rights of the minorities are upheld. If we don’t do that ... I think the epidemic will grow again," he warned. "We cannot accept the tyranny of the majority."

Sidibe told a group of journalists at a luncheon hosted by the United Nations Foundation that in countries from China to Kenya and Malawi, about 33 percent of new HIV infections are in men having sex with men, a significant increase.

By contrast, he said that in the Caribbean where most countries don’t have repressive laws, only between 3 and 6 percent of HIV infections are in male homosexuals.

Even in the United States, where laws are not restrictive and the gay community was the first to tackle AIDS, Sidibe said it is "shocking" that more than 50 percent of new HIV infections last year occurred among homosexuals. And he said in the 19-25 age bracket the infection rate was even higher.

"It seems like we have come full circle" in the United States, he said. "After almost no cases a few years ago we are seeing again this new peak among people who are not having access to all the information, the protection that is needed."

In addition to failing to adequately deliver the right messages about AIDS prevention, Sidibe blamed complacency in a new generation that has access to treatment.

He added that this was not just a problem in the U.S. but in Europe and in Africa as well.

Sidibe said drug users are also getting the HIV virus that causes AIDS in high numbers.

"You have 70 percent of new infections occurring in Eastern Europe and Central Asia among drug users, but they are criminalized," he said. "They don’t have access to services. They have to hide themselves and go underground."

Of the 16 million people in the world who are injecting drugs, almost 3 million are HIV positive, and among them less than 4 percent have access to treatment and less than 8 percent have access to services, Sidibe said.

"It’s the same for men having sex with men," he said.

In Nigeria, where there are 1,000 new HIV infections every day, over 30 percent are in vulnerable groups - drug users, sex workers and homosexuals, he said.

Sidibe called for "a prevention revolution" including a campaign in major cities around the world like the anti-smoking campaigns launched in recent years.


This small Asian country has an excellent healthcare system accessible not only to its citizens, but also to any visitor with a valid visa..!!!

Western wrongs and human rights
M.D. Nalapat
China Daily/ANN

It’s a fact that Western countries today are far more technologically advanced than their Asian counterparts and their citizens live a "better life".

But that does not mean human rights are better protected in the West. Instead, an honest examination would show human rights are far better protected in Asia, at least when it comes to the most vulnerable sections of society such as ethnic minorities and residents without citizenship.

Take healthcare. In the United States, the epitome of Western culture, it is difficult for a person without a health insurance or enough money to get medical treatment. Visitors to the US, especially from poorer countries, may be refused access to healthcare.

In many European Union (EU) countries, the standard of medical treatment the underprivileged of other countries get is far below their national standards. Are the human rights of visitors who fall ill in Europe and the US protected? Why is the fundamental right to health neglected by the very countries that claim to be the torch-bearers of universal human rights?

Contrast this with Kuwait, for example. This small Asian country has an excellent healthcare system accessible not only to its citizens, but also to any visitor with a valid visa. And the cost for the best medical treatment is just 1 Kuwaiti dinar (or $3.50). Wouldn’t a person visiting the US even with a valid visa be laughed at and thrown out of the door if he/she enters a hospital with $3.50 and seeks medical treatment.

Good medical care is not confined to Kuwait. The Arab spirit - in the best Asian tradition - ensures that every member country of the Gulf Cooperation Council provides excellent healthcare.

Hundreds of thousands of patients die each year because they cannot afford the medicines from American and European pharmaceutical companies because they have priced it out of the reach of most of the people to make huge profits. These companies fleece patients not only in other countries, but also in their own, saying the high costs are to fund research.

But the pharmaceutical cartel has enough power to get the EU to block low-cost Indian drugs from entering not only their home markets, but also those in Africa. US companies, on the other hand, use their judicial system to maintain their monopolies and continue crippling patients in America and Europe with their high costs.

If the authorities in these countries had the moral courage to resist the lures of the pharmaceutical giants, millions of their citizens would have benefited from low drug prices. But that in the Western paradigm is not a violation of human rights.


Arteries improve after smokers quit, the first big study finds...!!!

Arteries improve after smokers quit, study finds

ATLANTA (AP) - Quitting smoking can turn back time.

A year after kicking the habit, smokers’ arteries showed signs of reversing a problem that can set the stage for heart disease, according to the first big study to test this.

The improvement came even though smokers gained an average of 9 pounds (4 kilograms) after they quit, researchers found. Their levels of so-called good cholesterol improved, too.

"A lot of people are afraid to quit smoking because they’re afraid to gain weight," said the study’s leader, Dr. James Stein, a University of Wisconsin-Madison cardiologist.

The new research shows these people gain a health benefit even though they pick up pounds that hopefully can be shed once they’ve gotten used to not smoking, he said.

Smoking is one of the top causes of heart disease, and about one third of smoking-related deaths in the U.S. are due to heart disease. A heart attack often motivates longtime smokers to give it up.

Quitting is known to lower the risk of developing or dying of lung cancer. This is the first major clinical trial to show it quickly improves artery health. Results were published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and presented at the group’s annual conference on Monday.

In the study, 1,500 smokers were given one of five methods to help them quit - nicotine patches; nicotine lozenges; the drug bupropion, sold as Wellbutrin and Zyban; or a combination of patches and lozenges or the drug and lozenges. A sixth group received a dummy treatment.

After one year, 36 percent had quit, and it made no difference which method they used, Stein said.

Before the study started and one year after smokers quit, doctors did ultrasound tests to see how well blood vessel linings relaxed and handled blood flow. Hardening of the arteries is an early step to heart disease. Using a tourniquet, they stopped blood flow in the forearm for a few minutes, then measured how a major artery responded when the flow was restored.

"It’s a valid test" and is considered a good sign of how healthy the heart arteries are, said Dr. Alfred Bove, a Temple University heart specialist and president of the cardiology group.

Doctors found that artery function improved 1 percent in the quitters.

"That may not sound like much," but research shows that translates to a 14 percent lower risk of developing heart disease, Stein said.

"It’s a small improvement at one year. The question is, do these folks keep getting better?" Bove said.

The study is continuing another two years to give an answer, Stein said.

London-based GlaxoSmithKline PLC provided smoking cessation medicines for that part of the study, and several authors have research funding from the company. Federal government grants paid for the artery study.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Do’s and don’ts during lightning..!!! Safe than sorry...!!!

Do’s and don’ts during lightning

Shirley Wijesinghe

The Met Department has issued a lightning warning to the public with the on set of the first inter monsoonal rains.

Lightning has already claimed the life of an eight-year-girl in Ranna in the Lunugamvehera area.

Safe than sorry
* Disconnect electrical instruments
* Avoid touching electrical instruments

* Limit use of phones

The Met Department warned the public to take adequate precautions against lightning especially with regard to the use of electric items and appliances.

This can be done by following certain precautionary measures that would reduce lightning risks, a Met Dept official said.

He said harm from lightning could come in different ways.

Apart from direct strikes it could transmit via electronic or magnetic fields. He warned the public not to have electric wires tied to nearby trees.

All electrical instruments should also be disconnected from the main power supply.

Avoid handling or touching electrical instruments, the official said.

He also advised to limit the use of telephones during a thunderstorm.

“Find shelter in a safe place to avoid exposing yourself to open air. If the time interval between a lightning flash and thunder clap is less than 15 seconds, move quickly to a protected location, as there is immediate likelihood of impending danger. However there is no danger in touching , holding or carrying a person struck by lightning.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Coconut water: Is it good for you.......?

Coconut water: Is it good for you?...........By Dr. Asoka S. Dissanayake
Former Professor of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Kelaniya

Coconut woman is calling out, and everyday you can hear her shout,

"Get you coconut water it’s good for your daughter
Coco got a lot of iron, make you strong like a lion"

Words from a Harry Belafonte song

Two recent articles, one a front page news item appearing in The Daily News of 2nd March titled "Coconut water improves HDL" and the other in the Island of 8th March titled "Sugary soft drinks lead to diabetes, research finds" prompted me to write this article. In it, as a medical academic turned coconut grower I will endeavour to discuss whether coconut water has any health benefits and to discuss the economics of growing coconut for producing coconut water.

King coconuts or young green coconuts "Kurumba" have to be harvested when the nuts are about 6 months old if they are to provide coconut water that can be used as a drink whereas to harvest the coconut kernel, mature nuts are plucked once a year. As the coconut matures, the "water" is gradually replaced by the coconut kernel (also called meat) and air. King coconuts are mostly plucked when immature. Once they have matured the little kernel in them can be converted to oil but the market for such oil is very limited and hence many mature king coconuts are left to fall off and decay.

The chemical composition of coconut water (CW) is affected by several factors. Published studies have shown that CW from different coconut varieties contains varying concentrations of the main constituents. The chemical composition of CW also changes as the nut matures. Soil and environmental conditions also affect the chemical profile of CW. The most comprehensive review of the composition, uses and possible medicinal applications for CW comes, of all places, from Singapore where today coconut is grown for landscaping and not as an agricultural crop (Jean W.H. Wong & colleagues published in Molecules 2009, 14, 5144-5164 ). Sadly in it, not a single paper authored by a Sri Lankan is cited. This paper publishes a detailed account of the various constituents found in coconut water. The data quoted from several sources are for green young and as well as mature coconuts. No mention is made of King Coconut water (KCW). Coconut water is made up of about 95% water. The energy value is low at between about 16 to 19 calories per 100g. Coconut water has relatively high amounts of potassium, calcium and magnesium but is comparatively deficient in sodium, chloride and bicarbonate. The biochemical profile of coconut water varies as nuts mature, resulting in reductions in the concentration of potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride and osmolarity.

CW has been a thirst quencher and a refreshing drink over the ages. According to the Wikipedia web site, CW has long been a popular drink in the tropics, especially in Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands like Hawaii and the Caribbean, where it is available fresh, canned or bottled. In Brazil, coconut water is the second best-selling juice after orange juice. While it is still consumed in our village areas and KCW is an essential component of the Buddhist mid day ‘dane’, in urban areas it has been replaced by the bottled sugary soft drinks and sweetened fruit drinks. In fact, I believe that the youth think it is fashionable to drink a bottle of Coke rather than a have a Thambili! There also seems to be a seasonal variation in the demand for CW or KCW. I have found that during the rainy season it is difficult to sell king coconuts. In many countries CW is also marketed as a sports drink because of its high potassium and mineral content. One cup-full of coconut water contains more electrolytes than most sports drinks and has more potassium than a banana. So, should we be serving CW in addition to "Anamalu or Ambung" at the next Cricket World cup? Interestingly, a booklet in Sinhala published by the Coconut Research Institute (CRI) titled "coconut based products" mentions the methods for producing three coconut water based products. They all refer to the uses for CW from mature nuts. The first is for the manufacture of coconut vinegar a long held practice. The second refers to bottling CW for sale as a sweetened drink (by adding 60g of sugar to a litre of mature CW along with preservatives etc.) This will only add to our diabetic population. The third is for the manufacture of ‘wine’ from CW. This goes against the ‘Mathata Thitha’ policy! The CRI has not paid any attention to KCW or CW from green nuts.

Coconut water is said to be isotonic with plasma and if the covering husk is not damaged is sterile. Hence it can be infused safely directly into the blood stream. The idea for its use as an intravenous rehydration fluid was proposed, I believe, by Prof. K. Rajasuriya in the 1950s. A 1979 study from New Zealand found that compared to oral rehydration fluids known to be effective in cholera, coconut water was found to have adequate potassium and glucose content, but was relatively deficient in sodium, chloride and bicarbonate. The addition of table salt to the coconut water was suggested to compensate for the sodium and chloride deficiency. The study concluded that in areas of the world where coconuts are plentiful, the advantages of sterility, availability and acceptability make coconut water theoretically feasible for the oral rehydration of patients with severe gastroenteritis when conventional fluids are unavailable. Other authors have questioned the wisdom of using coconut water as an oral rehydration solution given the great variation in concentration of sodium, glucose and tonicity. Then there is the question as to whether a litre of King Coconut water which, in my opinion, requires at least one and a half coconuts is cheaper than a packet of ‘Jeevani’? However, when one considers the fact that The Island report claimed that 130,000 new cases of diabetes may be attributed to consumption of sweetened drinks, drinking coconut water as a thirst quencher is to be recommended. Today, the cost of a king coconut from a road side stall may be around Rs. 20 to 30 compared to the cost of a bottle of a "spritely" drink (40 calories per 100 ml or double that of CW) at around Rs.70 for half that amount. Merely having young coconuts for sale by the wayside will not suffice. There is the need to develop proper packaging and marketing strategies based on consumer behaviour (seasonal demand and how it impacts on the variation in nut production etc.) in order to compete successfully with the large multinationals that produce the soft drinks. There is also the question of waste disposal that will need to be addressed. What does one do with the leftover husks? Though I could not find any hard data, in young coconuts the fibre content of the husk is low (one can cut through the husk quite easily) and thus cannot be turned in to coir products. At present they only contribute towards mosquito breeding unless disposed of properly.

What of its iron content that Belafonte sang about? The iron content is rather low at around 0.25 mg/100g compared to the amount of calcium or magnesium around 20mg/100g or more. Furthermore, there is no evidence that CW increases muscle mass or strength as claimed in the song. Another part of the song says "coconut water and rice curry can take any sweet man away". I do know of households where the CW is not thrown away but is added to curries possibly to improve the taste. Maybe some of the readers can contribute CW based recipes that will enable housewives to keep their husbands happy!

Coconut water is traditionally used as a growth supplement in plant tissue-culture / micro propagation. This may be attributable to the phytohormones (plant hormones) present in coconut water. There is increasing scientific evidence that supports a possible role for coconut water in health and medicinal applications. One of the groups of phytohormones found in coconut water is the cytokinins. To quote from Wong’s paper, "Significant advances have made in understanding the biological functions of the various cytokinins in both plant and human systems. The potential anti-cancer properties of specific cytokinins could bring encouraging and novel perspectives in finding cures for the different types of cancers. Kinetin has been known to retard senescence in plants and it has been suggested that it has anti-ageing and anti cancer effects."

What of its cholesterol lowering effect? A group very active in the area of research into beneficial effects of CW, the Coconut Research Unit in the Department of Biochemistry, University of Kerala, has reported that that both tender and mature coconut water feeding significantly reduced blood lipids in cholesterol fed rats. In a 2008 study they reported that coconut water had lipid lowering effect similar to the commonly used cholesterol lowering drug lovastatin in rats fed fat-cholesterol enriched diet. It is this study that was probably quoted in the Indian Coconut Journal referred to in the DN article. The same group showed that CW may offer protection against myocardial infarction (heart attacks) in rats. It has been suggested that CW can help in the control of high blood pressure. The Kerala group has also claimed that CW can protect against chemically induced liver damage in rats. Claims have been made for its efficacy in the treatment of kidney stones, urinary infections and as antidote for mineral poisoning. However, much more work involving both animal and human studies need to be done before we can extrapolate from a few rat experiments to man to give credence to the myriad of claims.

Let me turn to the question of economic viability of growing coconut to produce green coconuts. The writer of the DN article claims that there is likely to be an excess of nuts produced in Sri Lanka. Available data do not support this contention. The predicted yield for 2010 is 2791 million nuts. This is 2.4% lower than that predicted for 2009 (data from Coconut Research Institute web site). Of the annual production, about two third is consumed for cooking and only about one third is available for value addition. I cannot understand how the writer came to the conclusion that there would be a significant excess of nuts! Even if we were to produce well above the total current annual production which has averaged about 2.5 to 3.0 billion nuts per year for the last 5 or more years, would it be profitable for the grower to sell the young nuts and make a reasonable profit? On the one hand, I believe that producing nuts for drinking purposes is not going to significantly reduce the labour inputs for weeding, fertilizing and gathering the nuts and there is no real possibility of reducing fertilizer inputs. On the other, the green nuts have to be plucked by hand by climbing the tree and lowering the bunch on a rope so as to prevent them from being damaged. This will cost around Rs. 35-50 per tree per pluck as compared to plucking mature nuts using bamboo poles which today works out at about Rs. 5-6 per tree per pluck. Thus plucking young nuts will add a further Rs. 1.50 to 2 to the cost of production. Today it costs us between Rs. 11 and 12 to produce a mature nut and if tree climbers are used it will increase to about Rs. 14. We sell our king coconuts at around Rs. 10 per nut, the farm gate price for green nuts will definitely be not more than 50% of that for mature nuts i.e. Rs 10 compared to Rs. 20 at current prices. Thus to me it seems that growing nuts mainly to provide the coconut water is not a viable proposition. The "bad name" that coconut oil had in the West is slowly dissipating and what the State should be doing is to encourage the production of higher value virgin coconut oil, look for more markets for our coconut oil and desiccated coconut and increase the demand for our mature coconut. I have made a plea before in my article titled, "The Coconut Fat controversy. A plea for more research and a medical consensus" published in The Island of May 20, 2006 for the State to encourage research into the medicinal applications of coconut. I have yet to learn of any support being given for such research. Quality research will not only bring kudos to Sri Lanka but open new avenues for marketing our coconut products. This, I am sure would be more beneficial to our economy than for instance opening a coconut auction in Gampola which is not a coconut growing area but the current minister’s home borough! g


Natural Healing in the Body against Illnesses! FRUITS SHOULD BE EATEN ON AN EMPTY STOMACH! Secret of beauty, longevity, health, energy, happiness!!!

Bas Baskaran to chelvdurai

It is an interesting and good article to read.

Eating Fruit -
Dr. Stephen Mak treats terminal ill cancer patients by "un-orthodox" way and many patients recovered. He believes on natural healing in the body against illnesses. See the article below.

Dear Shereen,
Thanks for the e-mail on fruits and juices. It is one of the strategies to heal cancer. As of late, my success rate in curing cancer is about 80%. Cancer patients shouldn't die. The cure for cancer is already found. It is whether you believe it or not? I am sorry for the hundreds of cancer patients who die under the conventional treatments. Very few can live for 5 years under the convenctional treatments and most live for only about 2 to 3 years. The conventional treatments do not make any difference because most cancer patients also live for about 2 to 3 years without undergoing any treatment. It is difficult to cure those cancer patients who have undergone chemo and radiotherapy as their cells are toxic and weak. When there is a relapse, the cancer will spread very fast as the resistance is poor. Thanks.
Dr. Stephen Mak


It's long but very informative

We all think eating fruits means just buying fruits, cutting it and just popping it into our mouths. It's not as easy as you think. It's important to know how and when to eat.

What is the correct way of eating fruits?


If you eat fruit like that, it will play a major role to detoxify your system, supplying you with a great deal of energy for weight loss and other life activities.

FRUIT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT FOOD. Let's say you eat two slices of bread and then a slice of fruit. The slice of fruit is ready to go straight through the stomach into the intestines, but it is prevented from doing so.

In the meantime the whole meal rots and ferments and turns to acid. The minute the fruit comes into contact with the food in the stomach and digestive juices, the entire mass of food begins to spoil.

So, please eat your fruits on an empty stomach or before your meals! You have heard people complaining — 'every time I eat watermelon, I burp', 'when I eat durian, my stomach bloats up', when I eat a banana, I feel like running to the toilet, etc. — Actually, all this will not arise if you eat the fruit on an empty stomach. The fruit mixes with the other food, putrefying them and producing gas, hence the bloating!

Graying hair, balding, nervous outburst, and dark circles under the eyes all these will NOT happen if you take fruits on an empty stomach.

There is no such thing as some fruits, like orange and lemon are acidic, because all fruits become alkaline in our body, according to Dr. Herbert Shelton, who did research on this matter. If you have mastered the correct way of eating fruits, you have the secret of beauty, longevity, health, energy, happiness and normal weight

When you need to drink fruit juice - drink only fresh fruit juice, NOT from the cans Don't even drink juice that has been heated up. Don't eat cooked fruits because you don't get the nutrients at all. You only get the taste. Cooking them destroys all the vitamins.

But eating a whole fruit is better than drinking the juice. If you should drink the juice, drink it mouthful by mouthful slowly, because you must let it mix with your saliva before swallowing it. You can go on a 3-day fruit fast to cleanse your body. Just eat fruits and drink fruit juice throughout the 3 days and you will be surprised when your friends tell you how radiant you look!

KIWI: Tiny but mighty. This is a good source of potassium, magnesium, Vitamin E & fiber Its Vitamin C content is twice that of an orange.

APPLE: An apple a day keeps the doctor away? Although an apple has a low Vitamin C content, it has antioxidants and flavonoids which enhances the activity of Vitamin C, thereby helping to lower the risks of colon cancer, heart attack and stroke.

STRAWBERRY: Protective Fruit. Strawberries have the highest total antioxidant power among major fruits and protect the body from cancer-causing, blood vessel-clogging free radicals.

ORANGE : Sweetest medicine. Taking 2-4 oranges a day may help keep colds away, lower cholesterol, prevent and dissolve kidney stones as well as lessens the risk of colon cancer.

WATERMELON: Coolest thirst quencher. Composed of 92% water, it is also packed with a giant dose of glutathione, which helps boost our immune system. They are also a key source of lycopene — the cancer- fighting oxidant. Other nutrients found in watermelon are Vitamin C and potassium.

GUAVA & PAPAYA: Top awards for Vitamin C. They are the clear winners for their high Vitamin C content. Guava is also rich in fiber, which helps prevent constipation. Papaya is rich in carotene; this is good for your eyes.

Drinking Cold Water After a Meal = Cancer! Can you believe this? For those who like to drink cold water, this article is applicable to you. It is nice to have a cup of cold drink after a meal. However, the cold water will solidify the oily stuff that you have just consumed. It will slow down the digestion. Once this 'sludge' reacts with the acid, it will break down and be absorbed by the intestine faster than the solid food. It will line the intestine. Very soon, this will turn into fats and lead to cancer. It is best to drink hot soup or warm water after a meal.

A serious note about heart attacks. HEART ATTACK PROCEDURE: (THIS IS NOT A JOKE!) Women should know that not every heart attack symptom is going to be the left arm hurting. Be aware of intense pain in the jaw line. You may never have the first chest pain during the course of a heart attack. Nausea and intense sweating are also common symptoms. Sixty percent of people who have a heart attack while they are asleep do not wake up. Pain in the jaw can wake you from a sound sleep. Let's be careful and be aware. The more we know the better chance we could survive.

Read this. It could save your life!!