Leprosy raises its head yet again in the country

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Imperative to detect cases on time and provide treatment

New Delhi, 15th April 2018: Recent WHO statistics indicate that India accounts for 60% of the world’s new leprosy cases. Apart from this, New Delhi is among regions that recorded an increased prevalence of the curable disease which often attracts social ostracism because of ignorance. There is a need to create awareness that this condition is completely curable using multi-drug therapy available free in public hospitals and treatment in early stages prevents disability.

Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease caused by ‘mycobacterium leprae’ that mainly affects the skin, peripheral nerves, eyes and the mucous membrane of the windpipe. Also known as Hansen’s disease, it was regarded as incurable in the past, and patients often became social outcasts.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee Dr K K Aggarwal, President Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) and Immediate Past National President Indian Medical Association (IMA), said, “This condition appears as a hypo-pigmented patch on skin with definite loss of sensation. The onset of leprosy is subtle and silent. It affects nerves, skin and eyes. Of all the communicable diseases, leprosy is very important for its potential cause for permanent and progressive physical disability. Untreated leprosy-affected person is the only known source for transmission of the bacteria. Respiratory tract, especially nose, is the major route of exit of the organism from the body of infectious persons. The disease-causing organism enters the body commonly through respiratory system by droplet infections. After entering the body, it migrates towards the nerves and skin.”

Apart from the skin patches, other signs of leprosy include numbness or tingling in hand or feet; weakness of hands, feet or eyelids; painful nerves; swelling or lumps in the face or earlobes; and painless wounds or burns on hands or feet.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Vice President of CMAAO, said, “Detection of cases before deformities set in and regular treatment (MDT) is an essential. MDT is available free of cost at all the Government Health Care Facilities in the country. Under the National Leprosy Eradication Programme, treatment is provided free of cost to all the cases diagnosed each year through the general health care system including NGO institutions.”

HCFI comment

Leprosy is perhaps one of the most misunderstood diseases and poses unique challenges.A holistic and multi-pronged approach including key policy changes, a public education campaign, sustainable livelihood programmes, skill training workshops, etc. can help in reducing the burden. It is also important to bring in other medical stakeholders to generate employment, identify interventions to dispel stigma and mainstream the affected people.

Urban India becoming increasingly deficient in Vitamin D

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Urban India becoming increasingly deficient in Vitamin D

Deficiency of this vitamin can even cause heart problems and infertility

New Delhi, 14th April 2018:A recent report by the ASSOCHAM Healthcare Committee has revealed that about 8 in 10 people in Delhi suffer from Vitamin D deficiency. Such a deficiency can cause chronic muscle pain, spasms, low energy levels, and depression. About 88% of Delhi’s population has a Vitamin D level that is less than normal. The need of the hour is to create awareness about the consequences of being deficient in this vitamin.

Vitamin D deficiency is defined as when 25-hydroxyvitamin D or 25(OH) D is less than 20 Nanogram/milliliter (ng/mL), insufficiency as between 20-29 ng/mL and sufficiency as 25 (OH) D more than 30 ng/mL.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee Dr K K Aggarwal, President Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) and Immediate Past National President Indian Medical Association (IMA), said, “A deficiency of Vitamin D deficiency can lead to bone mineralization, and bone softening diseases such as rickets in children and osteomalacia and osteoporosis in adults. The prime reason for this deficiency among people in urban cities such as Delhi could be insufficiency or non-exposure to sunlight, staying in air-conditioned rooms for long hours during the day. Vitamin D deficiency has also been associated with metabolic syndrome, heart diseases and even fertility. Five to 30 minutes of sunlight twice a week to your face, arms, legs, or back without sunscreen will enable you to make enough of the vitamin. Food and sun exposure should suffice, but if not, get 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily from a supplement.”

The current vitamin D mantra is that 40 days in a year for at least 40 minutes. One should expose 40% of the body to the sunlight either after sunrise or just before sunset.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Vice President of CMAAO, said, “Vitamin D2 ergocalciferol is found in food items and our body makes Vitamin D3 cholecalciferol in the presence of sunlight. While both are extremely important, if D2 can be obtained from food, even little exposure to sun can help the body produce D3.”

HCFI tips for getting vitamin D from food.


The following foods are good sources of Vitamin D.

  • Cod liveroil This oil comes from the liver of the cod fish and is considered extremely healthy. It helps ease joint pains and can be taken in capsule form or oil form.
  • Mushrooms If you love mushrooms, you are covered. Dried shitake mushrooms are a brilliant source of Vitamin D3 as well as Vitamin B. It is low in calorie and can be consumed daily.
  • Salmon This is another good source of D3, Omega 3 and protein.
  • Sunflowers seeds This seed not only have Vitamin D3 but also comes with monounsaturated fats and protein.

Be aware of what you are consuming to avoid

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Smoking can greatly increase the risk of this condition

New Delhi, 13th April 2018: Certain iron supplements may influence the development of colon cancer as per a recent study. It concludes that both ferric citrate and ferric EDTA, found in supplements, cause an increase in cellular levels of amphiregulin, a biomarker for cancer, even in low doses.Most supplements are only marked as ‘iron’ or ‘iron mineral’. It is important to be aware of what one is consuming.

With respect to incidence and mortality rates, in the Indian scenario, colorectal cancer stands fourth in men and third in women. The fact that about 25% to 30% of Indians are vegetarian offers some protection against cancer.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee Dr K K Aggarwal, President Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) and Immediate Past National President Indian Medical Association (IMA), said, “Your diet, weight, and level of physical activity can have a direct implication on your risk of developing colorectal cancer. History of adenomatous polyps (adenomas), especially if they are large, increase the risk of cancer. If you have had colorectal cancer, even though it has been completely removed, you are more likely to develop new cancers in other areas of the colon and rectum. The chances of this happening are greater if you had your first colorectal cancer when you were younger. Though the no. 1 cancer in women in urban areas is breast cancer and in rural areas is cancer of the cervix, the cancer of the rectum is on the rise as well.”

Some common symptoms of colon cancer include blood in stools, change in bowel habits, abdominal or rectal pain, constant or frequent urge to have bowel movements, weakness, and decreased appetite.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor of IJCP, said, “The choice of treatment for colorectal cancer depends on the stage of the disease, that is, how large the tumor has grown, how deeply it has invaded the layers of the colon or rectum, and whether it has spread to other organs like liver, lungs or some other parts of the body.S urgery or chemotherapy may be recommended only when the disease has advanced. However, prevention is always better than cure. Those with known risk factors or a family history of this condition should definitely take preventive measures at the earliest.”

Some tips from HCFI to prevent colon cancer.

Certain lifestyle modification can help prevent or decrease the chances of getting colorectal cancer.

  • Consume healthy food and a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Avoid or limit intake of fat, processed meat
  • Quit smoking and drinking; avoid too much of caffeine and keep yourself hydrated by drinking lots of water.
  • Keep yourself active physically and exercise for at least 30 minutes every day.

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