Canberra, June 21 (Xinhua/UNB) -- People with too much iron are more likely to contract diabetes and liver disease according to a joint study released on Friday.
While the medical issues associated with an iron deficiency have been well-documented, the study by researchers from the University of South Australia (UniSA) and Imperial College London revealed the implications of an iron surplus.
They found that people with high iron levels are protected against anaemia, a blood condition linked to iron deficiency, and are less likely to have high cholesterol but are also more likely to contract liver disease, diabetes and bacterial skin infections.
UniSA geneticist and co-author of the study Beben Benyamin said that the link between an iron surplus and a lower risk of high cholesterol was particularly important.
"We used a statistical method, called Mendelian randomization that employs genetic data to better estimate the causal effect of iron status on 900 diseases and conditions. Through this, we found a link between excess iron and a reduced risk of high cholesterol," he said in a media release.
"This could be significant given that raised cholesterol is a major factor in cardiovascular disease and stroke, causing around 2.6 million deaths each year according to the World Health Organization.
"In this study we have provided population-based evidence that iron is associated with certain diseases. The next step is to investigate whether direct manipulation of iron levels improve health outcomes through clinical trials."
Benyamin and co-author Dipender Gill from the Imperial College London also found that people with high iron levels are more likely to contract cellulitis, a bacterial skin infection that affects 21 million people in 2015 and kills 17,000.
Dhaka, Jun 21 (UNB) - Working long hours is linked to an increased risk of stroke; researchers say, BBC reported.
Long hours were defined in the French study as more than 10 hours on at least 50 days per year.
People who did long hours for more than a decade were at the greatest risk of stroke, they suggest.
But the UK's Stroke Association said there were lots of things people could do to counteract the effects of long hours, like exercising and eating well.
The researchers, from Angers University and the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, looked at data on age, smoking and working hours from a population study of more than 143,000 adults.
Just under a third worked long hours, with 10% working long hours for 10 years or more.
Overall, 1,224 had had a stroke.
'Work more efficiently'
Writing in the American Heart Association's journal Stroke, the researchers say people working long hours had a 29% greater risk of stroke, and those doing so for 10 years or more had a 45% greater risk.
Part-time workers and those who suffered strokes before working long hours were excluded from the study.
Dr Alexis Descatha, who led the research added: "The association between 10 years of long work hours and stroke seemed stronger for people under the age of 50. This was unexpected. Further research is needed to explore this finding.
"As a clinician, I will advise my patients to work more efficiently and I plan to follow my own advice."
This study looked at numbers, rather than reasons, but other research has found people who run their own businesses, CEOs and managers seem less affected by long hours - as opposed to those working irregular shifts and nights, or who have job-related stress.
Dr Richard Francis, head of research at the Stroke Association, said: "There are lots of simple things you can do to reduce the risk of a stroke, even if you work long hours.
"Eating a healthy diet, finding the time to exercise, stopping smoking and getting the recommended amount of sleep can make a big difference to your health."
Dhaka, June 20 (UNB) - African countries with small to medium-sized economies pay far more money for less effective drugs, a leading health expert has told BBC Newsday.
In countries such as Zambia, Senegal and Tunisia, everyday drugs like paracetamol can cost up to 30 times more than in the UK and USA.
Drug markets in poorer countries "just don't work", said Kalipso Chalkidou from the Centre for Global Development.
She said "competition is broken" due to a "concentrated supply chain".
Ms Chalkidou, director of global health policy at the organisation, co-authored a report on drug procurement that concluded that small to middling economy countries buy a smaller range of medicines, leading to weaker competition, regulation and quality.
It says richer countries, thanks to public money and strong processes for buying drugs, are able to procure cheaper medicines.
Poorer countries, however, tend to buy the most expensive medicines, rather than cheaper unbranded pharmaceuticals which make up 85% of the market in the UK and US.
The very poorest countries are not affected when foreign donors purchase medicine on their behalf, meaning their over-the-counter medicines remain at low cost.
"In the middle it's very problematic," Ms Chalkidou said.
Low- to middle-income countries "have little ability to negotiate prices down and quality assure products" and there are lots of mark-ups, often due to taxes and corruption.
She said less stringent regulation meant the quality of the drugs was also not as high.
"Without regulation, people perceive the products don't work, so pay extra money for things they think will work and won't work either," Ms Chalkidou explained.
The report recommends greater global co-operation and reforming World Health Organisation policy as well as policy in targeted countries to improve procurement practices.
Geneva, Jun 15 (AP/UNB) — The World Health Organization on Friday said the Ebola outbreak in Congo — which spilled into Uganda this week — is an "extraordinary event" of deep concern but does not yet merit being declared a global emergency.
The U.N. health agency convened its expert committee for the third time to assess the outbreak, which some experts say met the criteria to be designated an international emergency long ago.
This outbreak, the second-deadliest in history, has killed more than 1,400 people since it was declared in August. Three members of the family who brought the virus into Uganda have died after attending the burial of an infected relative, a popular pastor, in Congo.
Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Dr. Preben Aavitsland, the acting chair of the committee, announced that the outbreak is "a health emergency in the Democratic Republic of the Congo" but that the situation should not be declared a global one.
For such a declaration, an outbreak must constitute a risk to other countries and require a coordinated response. The declaration typically triggers more funding, resources and political attention.
Aavitsland said the committee was "deeply disappointed" that WHO and the affected countries have not received the funding needed to stop the outbreak and delivered a blunt message to donors: "Step up."
WHO said $54 million is needed.
Aavitsland added that declaring an emergency could have "unintended consequences" such as airlines stopping flights or governments closing borders.
"It was the view of the committee that there is really nothing to gain by declaring a (global emergency) but there is potentially a lot to lose," he said.
The outbreak, occurring close to the borders of Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan, has been like no other. Mistrust has been high in a region that had never faced Ebola before and attacks by rebel groups have undermined aid efforts. Several health workers have been killed.
On Thursday, WHO's emergencies chief acknowledged the agency has been unable to track the origins of nearly half of new Ebola cases in Congo amid the challenges, suggesting it doesn't know where the virus is spreading.
Friday's announcement quickly drew criticism from some experts.
"I respect the advice of the emergency committee but do believe a public health emergency of international concern would have been justified," said Dr. Jeremy Farrar, director of Wellcome, one of Britain's biggest donors and a funder of Ebola vaccine research. "The epidemic is in a frightening phase and shows no sign of stopping anytime soon," he said in a statement.
Congo's health minister, Dr. Oly Ilunga, told The Associated Press that WHO's decision to not declare the outbreak a global emergency was a testament to the country's response efforts, which he called "effective."
In Uganda, authorities said the country now had just one suspected Ebola case, who had no contact with the infected family and remained in isolation. They did not give more details. Ninety-eight contacts with infected people have been identified. The health minister on Friday asked Ugandans not to shake hands or otherwise touch each other "until we are Ebola-free."
Alexandra Phelan, a global health expert at Georgetown University, said the legal criteria for declaring Ebola a global emergency have long been met, even before the virus reached Uganda.
"Given that we are still seeing daily numbers of cases in the double digits and we do not have adequate surveillance, this indicates the outbreak is a persistent regional risk," she said.
Phelan said she was concerned WHO might have been swayed by political considerations.
As the far deadlier 2014-16 Ebola outbreak raged in West Africa, WHO was heavily criticized for not declaring a global emergency until nearly 1,000 people had died and the virus had spread to at least three countries. Internal WHO documents later showed the agency feared the declaration would have economic and social implications for Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
Dr. Axelle Ronsse, emergency coordinator for Medecins Sans Frontieres, was unsure whether a declaration would help. She said outbreak responders, including WHO, should reevaluate their strategies to contain the spiraling outbreak.
"It's quite clear that it's not under control," she said. "Now may be the time to reset and see what should be changed at this point."
Ogden, Jun 11 (AP/UNB) — When doctors said her youngest child would be a girl, Amie Schofield chose the name Victoria. Then doctors said the child would be a boy, so she switched to Victor.
It turned out neither was exactly right. The blue-eyed baby was intersex, with both male and female traits.
So Schofield and her husband decided to call the infant Victory. The name is a hope for triumph over the secrecy and shame and the pain and discrimination suffered by intersex people.
Amie Schofield knows the suffering better than most: This was not her first intersex child.
Some two decades earlier, she gave birth to another child whose body did not align with common expectations of boys or girls. Schofield agreed to have that child undergo surgery that tipped the scales of gender to masculine.
But the operation did not settle the issue of gender in the child's mind, or protect them from a savage beating decades later.
With Victory, Schofield has been given an opportunity to try again. Her parents want her to be accepted for who she is. Instead of changing Victory, they are intent on changing the world so it is more accepting of intersex people.
"What I hope is what every parent hopes for their kid," Schofield said. "We don't want her to look at herself and think there's something wrong just because she's different."
Amie first married when she was young, and had her first child more than 20 years ago. Instead of having one X chromosome and one Y chromosome, as men have, or two X chromosomes, as is typically female, the child had two X's and a Y.
Intersex people are not to be confused with transgender. Intersex is an umbrella term for a number of conditions where internal or external sex characteristics aren't exactly like typical male or female bodies. They are a larger group than is commonly acknowledged; estimates range from about 3 in every 200 births to 1 in 2,000.
"I'm convinced every single person on this planet has met someone who's intersex," said Georgiann Davis, a sociologist at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas who is intersex and is the board president of interACT: Advocates for Intersex Youth.
Some intersex conditions are known to run in families, though that's rare for XXY chromosomes, said Dr. Adrian Dobs, director of the Klinefelter Center at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Not everyone with the disorder is considered intersex, and most identify as male.
Doctors have long performed surgery and administered hormones to intersex kids to make their bodies more like typical boys or girls, but there's a growing pushback. Five states have considered banning surgery until they're old enough to consent, citing serious potential side effects, but most bills have stalled amid pushback from doctors' groups who say the proposals go too far.
Amie took doctors' advice and raised her first baby as a boy, agreeing to surgery to bring down undescended testicles.
But the onset of puberty brought hips and breasts, something that didn't go unnoticed by other teenagers in the small Idaho town where mother and child lived at the time.
"It's not something I really thought about until they started making fun of me," said Amie's eldest, speaking on condition of anonymity because of fear of violence.
The teenager developed a kind of armor: binders and sports bras, then layers of shirts for bulk, followed by a jacket that never came off, all in a goth style to create a distraction. There were beatings, and the teen developed a strategy: Keep a straight face. Don't scream. Don't say anything. The startled bully might just back off.
Amie Schofield allowed her child to experiment with nail polish and dresses at home, but in the years after the fatal beating of gay man Matthew Shepard in nearby Wyoming, she was terrified to go public. She aches when she thinks about those years.
"I wish that we could have been open," she said. "I wish I had understood more so that maybe I could have made it easier."
The move to Utah put the teenager in touch with other LGBTQ people, and for the first time exploring femininity publicly seemed possible. Instead of a beating, wearing a dress might earn supportive shouts like "keep doing you!"
That all changed one night in 2014. As they (the pronoun preferred by this person) walked to a Salt Lake City bar wearing a favorite tie-dye dress, a man shouted, "Where you going mama? You're looking pretty good in that dress!"
Never having been hit on before, they turned to say thank you. But the man's face changed when he heard a deep voice that didn't match that female body. He blew up, spewing gay slurs, and charged, weighted pipe in hand.
He landed a number of powerful blows. Blood sprayed everywhere before he fled, leaving the young person for dead.
A large gash to the head was treated with staples at a hospital. Police investigated, but couldn't catch the assailant, according to officials.
Amie was in the hospital after giving birth to Victory when she heard about the attack on her eldest child. She felt angry, helpless — and determined to protect her baby. She didn't want her youngest child to live with the secrecy and fear that colored her first child's teenage years.
"I don't want her to live that kind of life," she said.
Like her half-sibling, Victory has XXY chromosomes. She also has a separate condition that means her body doesn't fully respond to male hormones. Her genitalia are ambiguous, but due to the Y chromosome doctors marked the birth certificate as male, and encouraged Victory's parents to raise the baby as a boy.
Amie and her husband took newborn Victory home. The family lives north of Salt Lake City on a plot of land ringed by mountains where they raise chickens, goats and pigs along with Victory and her two brothers.
They decided to raise the baby without pushing either gender. There would be no surgery. At 18 months, Victory began gravitating toward dresses and bows, and loudly insisting on wearing her hair long. Their then-pediatrician Nisha Baur said Victory's parents took things as they came during her earliest years. "They were very open to just accepting whatever was going to happen," she said.
Today, Victory is a vivacious 5-year-old with a toothy grin, blond hair and a quick mind. She's mostly deaf due to a separate genetic condition, but communicates clearly with signs, some words and sheer force of personality. She runs around the house at top speed, cradling a reluctant kitten, perching next to her great-grandmother to read a book or running for the bus in a sparkling silver backpack with butterfly wings.
Victory knows her body is different from those of her mother, father or brothers, but it doesn't seem to bother her, Amie Schofield said.
Her eldest child lives outside the state. They recovered physically from the attack, but for months afterward there was a constant sense of deep fear. They retreated into masculine clothing, affecting as deep a voice as possible, attempting to grow out what little facial hair they have.
Knowing Victory was born intersex brought a sense of comradeship but also fear for her. "I'm scared of how society will treat her," they said.
Victory's parents share that apprehension. There are so many hazards ahead.
Victory's father, Michael Schofield, formally left the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints shortly after she was born. The faith doesn't have an official position on intersex people, but is doctrinally opposed to same-sex marriage and intimacy.
"Will she marry a boy or a girl? Which one is right? Which one is wrong?" said Schofield, a federal worker. "I don't want to do that ... she's free to make her own choices."
Her parents would like to change the designation on her birth certificate from boy to girl, but Utah law requires a court order and some judges in their area won't approve the changes. Amie Schofield and Victory have gone to the capitol to speak out in favor of changing the law, so far unsuccessfully.
The deaf school she attends has single-user, non-gendered restrooms, but what happens if she changes schools? What will dating be like one day? Will she have trouble as she applies for jobs, or apartments, or schools? Could she also be targeted by violence? How will she feel about not being able to have children?
Her mother can only hope to teach her to handle these dilemmas herself. "It's not something I can save her from," Amie Schofield said.
But whatever comes, the family isn't going to hide.
"I hate the secrecy," she said. "She's just so smart, so full of life. She's just a normal girl."