According to a report in BBC, studying these social mixing patterns will help to shed light on understanding the way infectious disease are contracted and then help in planning vaccinations accordingly.

Blame it on the films or the stereotypes surrounding it, girls are generally believed to form more close-knit groups as compared to boys. But a recent study debunks this and goes on to state the exact opposite. The study has deduced that boys generally have the same six friends over a period of six months while things are not this constant for girls. According to a report in BBC, studying these social mixing patterns will help to shed light on understanding the way infectious disease are contracted and then help in planning vaccinations accordingly.

Published in a scientific journal Plos One, the study was led by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and was partnered with the University of Cambridge. Complex mathematical models were used by the scientists to understand how a disease spreads in a group. Findings of the study will be helpful in ascertaining how contagious diseases spread and the measures that can be taken to restrict that.

Around 460 students from year seven across different UK secondary schools and from varied socioeconomic classes were asked to name six children they spent most of their time with, during January and June in the year 2015.

Showing boys are potentially more cliquey than girls, perhaps going against gender stereotypes, and that popular child remain popular over time, is an interesting social insight – but for mathematical modellers, this type of information is also extremely valuable. Understanding age-specific social mixing patterns is vital for studying outbreaks of infectious diseases like flu and measles, which can spread rapidly, particularly among children,” author of the study Dr Adam Kucharski said.

“Mathematical models that predict the spread of infectious diseases are now an essential part of public health decisions for the introduction of new vaccines,” he added.

“Kids are a very important part of looking at how diseases spread. Previous studies have only looked at how children mix over one day, so with this study we wanted to see how it changed over time. It would also be good to extend the study over a longer period to see how friendship groups changed over the years,” Dr Clare Wenham, another author of the study said.

“It has been observed that boys’ friendships are more stable and girls’ are more volatile. As a result, girls might feel more pressure to have ‘just in case’ friends in case they fall out with their best friend and they feel more social pressure to be friendly with people that aren’t really their friends than boys. All this leads to a larger, more changeable group,” Dr Terri Apter.


Courtesy - Indian Express



"It is an important reminder of a public health point and reinforces the need to get up and walk around regularly when on an airplane or when forced to stay in a car for a long time," said a researcher.

A new study suggests that being confined in a car or airplane for long hours may increase the risk of developing a condition called venous thromboembolisms (VTE), a blood clot that forms most often in the deep veins of the leg, groin or arm. In order to assess the impact of remaining seated in cars for extended periods of time, the investigators gathered data from the aftermath of the Kumamoto earthquakes that struck Japan in April 2016. They found an “epidemic” of blood clots developing in the legs, and in numerous cases going to the lungs, in many of the people forced to evacuate, according to the study published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology.

Analysis of questionnaires from 21 local medical institutions established that 51 patients were hospitalised following the earthquakes due to VTE. Of these, 42 patients (82.4 per cent) had spent the night in a vehicle. “Preventive awareness activities by professional medical teams, supported by education in the media about the risk of VTEs after spending the night in a vehicle, and raising awareness of evacuation centers, could lead to a reduced number of victims of VTE,” noted lead investigator Seiji Hokimoto from Kumamoto University in Japan.
“This is a dramatic example of the risks inherent in spending prolonged periods immobilized in a cramped position,” commented Stanley Nattel, Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Journal of Cardiology.

“It is an important reminder of a public health point and reinforces the need to get up and walk around regularly when on an airplane or when forced to stay in a car for a long time,” Nattel said.

Courtesy - Indian Express


Friday, 27 April 2018 17:21

Working It Out: 7 productivity hacks for success

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When you do a task happily, you are very productive. Thus, in order to be productive at work, either do only what you love or love everything that you have to do. Do not argue too much with people who pay you.

“Time cannot be saved, it can either be wasted or used productively”

As an author and a motivational speaker, I cannot overemphasise the importance of being productive in life. One question that has always amazed me is how is it that though we have 24 hours in a day, there is so much of income inequality in this world. Education does make a difference, but even amongst equally educated folks, money is not equally distributed.

After years of research and study, I concluded that our understanding of the subject of productivity does act as one of the key reasons behind inequality that exists in the world. The other reasons being the country you live in, the industry you join and the company you work for and whether you are an entrepreneur or an employee. However, in this article I will be addressing the topic of personal productivity which can be the game-changer for you if you decide to master it.

*A to-do list helps

Productivity in simple words is defined as the measure of your efficiency in performing some action. One of the things that works for me is writing down five to seven things that I need to accomplish in a day to feel successful and proud of myself. This feeling of accomplishment is important for feeling in charge of your life.

The tool called ‘to-do’ list has generated a lot of negative publicity that it does not work. This publicity obviously was started by people who were never serious about planning and running their day. Once things went haywire they complained about the tool rather than blaming the user of the tool.

* Focus and minimise distractions

How many hours can you work without checking your smartphone or social media? As a matter of practice, I check my phone only after having my meals and rest of the time, I switch off the mobile data. Friends, family and colleagues can reach me over calls on phone or official emails on laptop. I am embarrassed to admit that few years ago a diagnostic smartphone app actually shocked me. I was spending approximately four hours on smartphone and checking it about 300 times daily. The data was consistent and helped me change my phone habits. Smartphones are just one distraction and you need to manage multiple things like TV shows, partying, weddings and sports updates. I do not wish to be prescriptive but we all need to find the right balance between creation and consumption.

*  Stop multitasking

The human brain can do only thing at a time. Multi-tasking is a myth. Set your stakeholders’ expectations right and do not try to juggle too many balls at one time. Do not start five projects at once. Start one major and one minor project. Finish them and then move on to the next item on the agenda.

* Be mentally and emotionally aligned

When you do a task happily, you are very productive. Thus, in order to be productive at work, either do only what you love or love everything that you have to do. If your employer wants you to do something and if it cannot be avoided, then do it with a smile. Do not argue too much with people who pay you. You can try to change them through peaceful discussions or power-games, but if you cannot change them then simply change yourself or change your employer. Be emotionally sorted and mentally sharp in any task that you need to undertake. If you are having an exceptionally bad day, then practising gratitude can help you  feel aligned and make you productive.

* Be physically fit and move during the day

Your productivity depends on your ability to run your day in an organised and calm manner. If you stay hydrated and take the right nutrition, you will feel physically fit. Never overeat or take too much caffeine or sugar. Excess sugar, caffeine and overeating disturb the natural metabolism process. Always exercise for 30-60 minutes every day to stay alert and fit. So many people feel sleepy after the lunch hours and wait for the day to end. Never sit for longer for more than an hour at a stretch. Do a quick five-minute stretch and take a brisk walk break after every one hour.

* Delegate what others can do

You cannot be productive if you do not learn to delegate. If you have just started your career and have no one to delegate work to, then it is understandable that you have to do everything yourself. However, if you are a tenured manager than learn to delegate in life. Coach your junior to do what you are doing and move to a bigger challenge in or outside your company. This is the only way to grow financially and to maximise your productivity.

* Upgrade your skills and learn what pays in the market

We are living in a world of unprecedented economic and technological change. The skills that were considered essential for success in the previous decade may no longer guarantee winning in the current or the next decade. Take up the best internet courses and online classes to learn more about the future of your industry. What are the top three skills you must learn to be among the highest paid professional in your job or business?

Read and explore the subject of productivity. The above hacks may not be exhaustive but if practised daily they are enough to trigger a transformation in your life. Go beyond theory and make them part of your routine. My words may not change you but they can inspire you to change. Be inspired and take charge of your life.

Siddhartha S is an author of 5 books — '60 Keys to Success with NLP’, ‘Thank God it’s Monday’, and many others. He calls himself a ‘weekend writer’ and writes on how to attain peak performance in personal life. The views presented are strictly his personal views and cannot be attributed to any organisation he is or will be part of.

Courtesy - Indian Express


The process of posting pictures is particularly time-consuming and can be a joint endeavour among chums -- ensuring that only the most flattering photos, filters and captions are selected. Boys in the study did not ask pals for feedback or to like their posts.

Teenagers use social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to appear attractive and popular among friends, and for that they make a careful selection of photos, activities and links that they share, a new study says.

They work very hard to create a favourable online image, showed the findings published in the Journal of Research on Adolescence.

According to the researchers, content that makes them appear interesting, well-liked and attractive to their friends and peers is a primary goal for adolescents when deciding what to share in digital spaces.

“Teenagers aren’t just posting carelessly; they’re surprisingly thoughtful about what they choose to reveal on social media,” said lead author of the study Joanna Yau from the University of California, Irvine.

“Peer approval is important during adolescence, especially in early adolescence, so they’re sharing content that they think others will find impressive,” Yau added.

Facebook and Instagram provide opportunities for young people to connect and communicate with friends as well as people they know in person but are not necessarily close to, such as classmates.

These social media channels allow individuals time to craft and edit posts and, unlike offline situations, offer teenagers the chance to consider — even strategise about — how they want to present themselves online.

The study involved a group of adolescents between the ages of 12 and 18.

The researchers found that for girls, the effort to construct a favourable image can involve lengthy deliberation and advice from confidantes.

The process of posting pictures is particularly time-consuming and can be a joint endeavour among chums — ensuring that only the most flattering photos, filters and captions are selected. Boys in the study did not ask pals for feedback or to like their posts.

“We found that some teens invested great effort into sharing content on Facebook and Instagram and that what may seem to be an enjoyable activity may actually feel tedious,” Yau said.

Courtesy - Indian Express

Experts say sustainable weight loss can protect patients from disease directly associated with morbid obesity such as type 2 diabetes.

Obese people who get bariatric surgery are less likely to require medication to control diabetes symptoms afterward, compared to those who don’t get operations to lose weight, a French study suggests.

Researchers examined data on 15,650 obese patients who had weight-loss surgery in France in 2009, including 1,633 people who were on medications to help control diabetes at the time. The surgery recipients were compared to an equal number of similar obese patients who were hospitalized that year but didn’t get bariatric surgery.

Six years later, half of the people who started out on diabetes medication and got bariatric surgery were no longer taking these drugs, compared to 9 percent in the control group that didn’t have the surgery, researchers report in JAMA Surgery.

 “We can hypothesize that sustainable weight loss can protect patients from disease directly associated with morbid obesity such as type 2 diabetes, which is a serious chronic disease that has become more prevalent all around the world,” said lead study author Dr. Jeremie Thereaux of La Cavale Blanche University Hospital and the University of Bretagne Occidentale in Brest, France.

 “Bariatric surgery should be considered as an effective treatment of type 2 diabetes in patients suffering from morbid obesity,” Thereaux said. “However, bariatric surgery is not actually recommended in the U.S. and in Europe as a treatment of type 2 diabetes in less-obese patients, and our study cannot scientifically support this idea.”

Surgical weight loss has gained traction in recent years as a growing number of extremely obese patients turn to this option after failing to lose weight through diet, exercise or medication - strategies that can also manage diabetes. Like all surgery, bariatric operations are not risk free; with these procedures there’s a possibility of malnutrition and repeat operations to adjust, replace or remove a device implanted to aid weight loss.

Among people taking diabetes drugs at the start of the study, the biggest impact on diabetes remission was seen with gastric bypass, which can reduce the size of the stomach from about three pints to roughly the size of a shot glass.

Compared to people who didn’t get weight-loss surgery, patients who had gastric bypass were more than 17 times more likely to discontinue diabetes medications by the end of the study.

With a different weight-loss operation known as a sleeve gastrectomy, which reduces the stomach to the size of a banana, people were more than 7 times more likely to discontinue their diabetes drugs without surgery.

A third type of weight-loss surgery, adjustable gastric banding, which inserts an inflatable silicone device around the top portion of the stomach to help slow and reduce food consumption, was associated with more than four times the likelihood of discontinuing diabetes drugs.

With surgery, people who didn’t take diabetes medications at the start of the study were also less likely to start taking them during the follow-up period. By the end of the study, 1.4 percent of people who got bariatric surgery started taking diabetes drugs, compared with 12 percent of the control group.

The study wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove whether or how weight-loss surgery might help people control diabetes symptoms or reduce the need for diabetes medications. Researchers also lacked data on the amount of weight loss and how long people had been living with diabetes, both of which can independently influence whether patients need medications.

Even so, the results add to evidence that surgical weight loss may help manage diabetes, said Dr. Michel Gagner, author of an accompanying editorial and a professor of surgery at the Herbert Wertheim School of Medicine at Florida International University in Miami.

In some parts of the world, weight loss surgery is commonly done to treat diabetes, Gagner said by email.

 “In fact, even patients that are non-obese but have type 2 diabetes can get these operations,” Gagner added. “Having no more diabetes is a big thing, as diabetes attacks small blood vessels and leads to blindness, renal failure on dialysis or need for renal transplant, heart attacks and amputation of limbs.”

Courtesy - Deccan Hearald


Friday, 23 February 2018 03:38

Surgery may affect patients’ memory: study

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Reduced immediate memory scores at the second visit were significantly associated with the number of operations in the preceding nine years. Working memory decline was associated with longer cumulative operations, researchers said.


Patients may score slightly lower on certain memory tests after undergoing surgery, a study suggests.

The study published in the journal Anaesthesia involved 312 participants who had surgery and 652 participants who had not (with an average age in the 50s).

Surgery between tests was associated with a decline in immediate memory by one point out of a possible maximum test score of 30 points, researchers said.

Memory became abnormal in 77 out of 670 participants with initially normal memory comprising 18 per cent of those who had had surgery compared with 10 per cent of those who had not, they said.

“The cognitive changes we report are highly statistically significant in view of the internal normative standards we employ, and the large sample size of the control, or non-surgery, population,” said Kirk Hogan from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US.

“However, the cognitive changes after surgery are small – most probably asymptomatic and beneath a person’s awareness,” said Hogan.

No differences in other measures of memory and executive function were observed between participants having and not having surgery.

Reduced immediate memory scores at the second visit were significantly associated with the number of operations in the preceding nine years.

Working memory decline was associated with longer cumulative operations, researchers said.

“The results await confirmation both in follow-up investigations in our own population sample after more surgeries in aging participants, and by other investigators with other population samples,” said Hogan.

He noted that it is too early to recommend any changes in clinical practice regarding prevention, diagnosis, management, and prognosis of cognitive changes after surgery.


Courtesy - Indian Express



A study suggests that there might be something about helping strangers that impacts one's moral identity or perceptions of self in a more significant way than helping friends or family members, although these are beneficial behaviours as well

Lending a helping hand to strangers can help teenagers improve self esteem and boost confidence, suggests new research. While adolescents who exhibited pro-social behaviour — such as helping, sharing and comforting — towards strangers had higher self-esteem a year later, the same was not true for those in the study who exhibited pro-social behaviour solely to friends and family, found the research published in the Journal of Adolescence.

“This study helps us to understand that young people who help those with whom they do not have a relationship report feeling better about themselves over time,” said study co-author Laura Padilla-Walker, Professor at Brigham Young University in the US.

“Given the importance of self-esteem during the teen years, this is an important finding. It suggests there might be something about helping strangers that impacts one’s moral identity or perceptions of self in a more significant way than helping friends or family members, although these are beneficial behaviours as well,” Padilla-Walker said.

In the study, researchers looked at 681 adolescents, 11-14 years old, in two US cities. The participants responded to 10 statements such as “I feel useless at times” or “I am satisfied with myself” to assess self-esteem. “Not all helping is created equal, and we’re finding that pro-social behaviour toward strangers is protective in a variety of ways that is unique from other types of helping,” Padilla-Walker said.

Another important finding was that the link between pro-social behaviour and self-esteem was over a one-year time period and present across all three age lags in the study.

Courtesy - Indian Express

Saturday, 03 December 2016 02:39

Found: Gene that limits desire to drink alcohol!

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Researchers have identified a gene variant that suppresses the desire to drink alcohol, an advance that could lead to development of drugs to regulate alcohol consumption.

The findings are based on the largest genome-wide association meta-analysis and replication study to date, mapping and comparing the genetics of over 105,000 light and heavy social drinkers, researchers said.

"The study identified a variation in the beta-Klotho gene linked to the regulation of social alcohol consumption. The less frequent variant – seen in approximately 40 per cent of the people in this study – is associated with a decreased desire to drink alcohol," said Dr David Mangelsdorf, from The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre in the US.

"Excessive alcohol consumption is a major public health problem worldwide, causing more than 3 million deaths per year," said Steven Kliewer, a Professor at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Researchers worked on beta-Klotho and the liver hormone fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) that binds to the beta-Klotho-FGF21 receptor complex.

They conducted experiments in mice to better understand the role of beta-Klotho in alcohol drinking behaviour.

The beta-Klotho gene directs the production of the beta-Klotho protein that forms part of a receptor complex in the brain.

The study could lead to development of drugs to regulate alcohol consumption – possibly even in those with drinking problems, researchers said.

A shift from heavy to moderate social drinking could have major public health benefits, such as reduced cardiovascular disease risk, they said.

The study compared the genetics of light and heavy social drinkers of European ancestry participating in nearly four dozen other large population studies worldwide.

In addition to providing samples for genetic analysis, the participants answered questionnaires on their weekly drinking habits.

Heavy drinking was defined as more than 21 drinks per week for men and over 14 drinks per week for women. Light drinking was considered to be 14 drinks or less per week for men and seven drinks or less per week for women.

The beta-Klotho gene codes for the protein beta-Klotho, which forms a receptor complex in the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) with classic receptors for FGF21, a hormone produced in the liver.

"The gene in the current study seems to work via a feedback circuit that goes from the liver, which processes alcohol, to the brain, where beta-Klotho and classic FGF21 receptors form a cellular machine, or receptor complex, which binds to the liver hormone FGF21 to signal the response to alcohol," Mangelsdorf said.

The less common gene variant identified in this study is related to a decreased desire for alcohol. So, people who have this variant tend to drink less than those without it, he said.

The study was published in the journal PNAS.

Courtesy – Deccan Herald                       

Friday, 25 November 2016 18:26

Lightning strikes can improve storm forecasts: study

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Data gathered from lightning strikes can help precisely forecast storms, a new study has found. The study presents a new way to transform lightning strikes into weather-relevant information. The US National Weather Service has begun to use lightning in its most sophisticated forecasts, researchers said.

This method, however, is more general and could be used in a wide variety of forecasting systems, anywhere in the world, they said. "When you see lots of lightning you know where the convection, or heat-driven upward motion, is the strongest, and that is where the storm is the most intense," said Robert Holzworth, professor at University of Washington in the US.

"Almost all lightning occurs in clouds that have ice, and where there's a strong updraft," said Holzworth. Researchers tested their method on two cases: the summer 2012 derecho thunderstorm system that swept across the US and a 2013 tornado that killed several people in the Midwest.

"Using lightning data to modify the air moisture was enough to dramatically improve the short-term forecast for a strong rain, wind and storm event," said Ken Dixon, a former UW graduate student who now works for The Weather Company.

The simple method might also improve medium-range forecasts, for more than a few days out, in parts of the world that have little or no ground-level observations. The study used data from the UW-based WorldWide Lightning Location Network, which has a global record of lightning strikes going back to 2004.

Researchers use lightning to improve forecasts for convective storms, the big storms that produce thunderstorms and tornadoes. Apart from ground stations, weather forecasts are heavily dependent on weather satellites for information to start or "initialise" the numerical weather prediction models that are the foundation of modern weather prediction.

What is missing is accurate, real-time information about air moisture content, temperature and wind speed in places where there are no ground stations. "We have less skill for thunderstorms than for almost any other meteorological phenomenon. The results show that lightning data has potential to improve high-resolution forecasts of thunderstorms and convection," said Cliff Mass, professor at UW.

The new method could be helpful in forecasting storms over the ocean, where no ground instruments exist. Better knowledge of lightning-heavy tropical ocean storms could also improve weather forecasts far from the equator, Mass said, since many global weather systems originate in the tropics. The study was published in the Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology.

Courtesy – Deccan Herald

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