Thursday, 26 October 2017

Scientists Link HPV To High Esophageal Cancer Risk

By: Chioma Umeha

Scientists have said that being infected with human papillomavirus (HPV) exposes one to high risk of having esophageal cancer. An agency report yesterday said that latest review of previous research linked infection with human papillomavirus (HPV) to a three-fold high chance of esophageal cancer. 

“This doesn’t mean it is present in all (esophageal cancers), but it may be a factor in a certain proportion of cases,” said Dr. Surabhi Liyanage, the study’s lead author. HPV is a very common sexually transmitted virus that is known to cause cervical cancer, anal cancer and some cancers of the reproductive organs and the upper throat. Liyanage, a graduate student at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, said there’s been a lot of debate among researchers about the role of HPV in cancer of the esophagus because most of the studies to date have been small and used disparate methods that make them hard to compare. 

According to the National Cancer Institute, nearly 18,000 people – roughly four out of every 100,000 – are diagnosed with esophageal cancer each year in the U.S. and 15,000 Americans die from it annually. Worldwide, esophageal cancer is the eighth most common cancer and responsible for some 400,000 deaths a year, according to World Health Organization data. To get a better handle on the relationship between HPV and esophageal cancer, Liyanage and her colleagues gathered results from all of the studies that have compared patients with the cancer to people without it. 

The studies focused on esophageal squamous cell carcinoma, one type of esophageal cancer that affects the lining of the esophagus. In each study, esophageal tissue samples from cancer patients and from patients without the cancer were examined to see if HPV was present. The 21 studies Liyanage’s group analyzed included 1,223 people with esophageal cancer and 1,415 people without cancer. HPV was found in the esophageal tissue of 35 percent of the cancer patients, compared to 27 percent of the people without esophageal cancer. Taken together, the studies link HPV infection of esophageal tissue to a three-fold greater risk of esophageal cancer, the researchers report in the online, journal PLOS ONE. 

If the general population’s rate of esophageal cancer is 4.4 out of every 100,000 people, a three-fold risk increase would raise those chances to 13.2 out of every 100,000. Two vaccines, Cervarix and Gardasil, have been developed to prevent infection with HPV. Some of Liyanage’s co-authors serve on advisory boards for the companies that make these vaccines and have received research funding from them. If HPV indeed causes esophageal cancer – and that remains to be determined – it’s possible that the vaccines could help prevent the cancer, Liyanage said. 

“However, this needs to be studied further. The benefits of cancer-preventing vaccines are not seen immediately, but after many years following vaccination,” Liyanage wrote in an email to Reuters Health. U.S. health officials would like for 80 per cent of teenage girls to receive the HPV vaccine, but last week they reported that rates of vaccination appear to be lingering closer to 53 percent. Liyanage said there are also other ways to reduce the risk of developing esophageal cancer, including avoiding smoking and excessive drinking. - See more at:

Brown sugar more nutritious than white sugar

Nigerians have been urged to change to brown sugar as their table sugar as it is far more nutritious than the conventional white sugar. The Managing Director of McNichols Consolidated Plc, Chimaraoke Ekpe, made this known during its media briefing in Ogun state recently to mark the company’s 10 years of existence in the country. 

According to him, the enormous health benefits of brown sugar cannot be over emphasized as it contains all natural nutrients directly from sugar cane extract which are vital to the health of the body. “It is free from chemicals like phosphoric acids, sulphuric dioxide as well as preservatives of bleaching agents which often destroys the natural ingredients. “This sugar is in its natural state without its ingredients been compromised. But for the white sugar, even though it is also gotten from sugar cane just like the brown sugar, after the normal extract which presents a brown colour, it is further refined and bleached to become pure white in colour, and in the process, majority of the nutrients are lost, leaving the sugar to contain only carbohydrate and its sweetness,” he explained. 
(R-L) Bolaji Abbas, Finance Manager, McNichols Consolidated Plc, Ogun State;
Ephraim Nwaimo, Human Resources and Administration Manager, McNichols Consolidated Plc,
Benediction Sadare, Representative, S.E Nomudja & Co Secretaries to McNichols Consolidated Plc;
Olusegun Layode, Chairman of the company; Chimaraoke Ekpe, Managing Director/CEO;
Christopher Nwachukwu, Sales Representative and Kingsley Ezem, Sales Representative, all of McNichols Consolidated Plc, during the celebration of the company’s 10 years of existence in the country weekend, in the company’s corporate office in Ogun State. 

He said though the company produces both the white and the brown sugar, it is clearly stated on the labels on the various nutrients in both, so that consumers will make informed choice on which to patronise as their table sugar; “Checking the packs will clearly show that the nutrients listed in the brown sugar are more than the ones in the white sugar.” Ekpe, explained that because of the immense health benefits of the brown sugar, McNichols pioneered its packaging in the country into cubes and granules which are now readily available in stores across the country. According to him, he said, “inasmuch as sugar adds flavour to our meals, we do not promote excess consumption of sugar even though we produce and sell them, because excessive intake of sugar is damaging to the human body, causing health conditions like diabetes.” He, called on the media to assist other advocates of the use of brown sugar in the country such that people will begin to understand that the popularly used white sugar. 

In making sure the sugar produced adds more health value the body, he said both the brown sugar and the white sugar produced by the company are fortified with vitamin A, made into cubes and packed for easy preservation and usage. According to him, apart from production of sugar, McNichols is also one of the leading producers of custards in the country with high premium on its health benefits to Nigerians. He also explained that as the organization is marking its 10th year of existence, they have recorded a number of firsts in the manufacturing of sugar, custards and other products by the company. “We introduced granulated Family Sugar fortified with vitamin A in single serve packs for 5 naira and 10 naira for public consumption. This improved the health and well being of Nigerians, especially the low income earners who were before now forced to buy the unhealthily packed and unbranded sugar popularly called ‘Mallam sugar’ or ‘Tie-Tie sugar’ which in most cases do not contain vitamin A. “We have also opened up a new vista in cube sugar production in Nigeria being the first indigenous company to sustain cube sugar manufacturing in Nigeria. Until we succeeded at it, Nigerians did not believe it was possible for a Nigerian company to succeed in cube sugar manufacturing. 
Brown Sugar
On counterfeiting of its products, Ekpe said though they have not had issues with counterfeiting of its sugar products, but the counterfeiting of custard products has been suspected and this has been a source of worry for the organization. “Just recently, our custard products have been suspected to be counterfeited, so we are investigating it and when we are doubly sure, we shall invite National Agency for Food and Drug Agency and Control, NAFDAC, to investigate further and to bring the culprits to justice.” Ekpe, thanked the National Sugar Development Council for its efforts in pushing for the implementation of Nigeria Sugar Master Plan, especially, the ban on importation of sugar in retail packs. He, therefore called on the incoming federal government to make serious efforts to encourage local industries to create more jobs for young people through putting the sector in the right order. Among things he wants the government to focus on is the strict implementation of the ban on importation of products made outside Nigeria, especially the ban on importation of sugar in retail packs. 

“Most of the imported sugar do not contain vitamin A, which is another reason to discourage its importation into the country. “ He also called on the government to promote laws to protect small and medium enterprises, sustain the current effort to improve access to capital to small and medium enterprise, as well as ensuring of stable power supply. He also thanked staff, shareholders, distributors and consumers for being partners in contributing to the health of Nigerians through McNichols Consolidated Plc.

This story was published in Newswatch Times on April 16,  2015.

Wamco Commended For Pioneering Local Milk Development

 FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria, makers of Peak and Three Crowns milk  was recently commended for pioneering local milk sourcing, development and for improving the lives of Nigerian dairy farmers.

Chief Audu Ogbeh, Minister of Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), made the commendation recently, while inspecting the local milk collection facilities of FrieslandCampina WAMCO in Fashola village and Iseyin town, Oyo State.

The site is where the company’s state-of-the-art milk collection centres and offices operate under its Dairy Development Programme (DDP).

After inspecting the milk facilities and speaking with members of the host community, Chief Ogbeh who spoke on behalf of the Federal Government said: “It will be wonderful if each Nigerian child can get two pints of fresh Nigerian milk daily.

 “We express the gratitude of government to FrieslandCampina WAMCO for ongoing efforts in this regard. We appreciate and commend your commitment and investment because not many investors are willing to go this far. We are delighted.”

He also observed that FrieslandCampina WAMCO investments have guaranteed steady incomes for the Fulani farmers as well as an improved lifestyle.

 Ogbeh said: “We have seen Fulanis living in a Yoruba community and speaking fluent Yoruba. No fights, no quarrels, no threats of eviction. It is remarkable and FrieslandCampina WAMCO’s intervention should be commended for being instrumental to this.”

While thanking the Minister, Ben Langat, the Managing Director, FrieslandCampina WAMCO, explained: “No other dairy company in Nigeria has started collecting milk locally for production, only FrieslandCampina WAMCO, since 2011.

“Although there is a deficit of good infrastructure  like roads, power and water, still we are grateful to the Minister, FMARD, Sahel and the Oyo State Government for partnering with us.

“So far we have provided 15 boreholes in the communities here in Oyo State. We are in this for the long run. We are investing funds and expertise in artificial insemination, cattle feeding and pasture for high yield in order to raise locally sourced milk to the desired levels for production” Langat said.

Chief Ogbeh assured FrieslandCampina WAMCO of government’s continued partnership, while he affirmed that improved local production of milk was the only panacea to lack of adequate milk supply.
“Indeed we need to improve the breed of our cattle and the Ministry will partner with FrieslandCampina WAMCO to develop the programme. The import bill on milk is very high, while milk consumption among young people is too low. We can’t continue like that because of the effect on their brain and capacity.”

On roads and water, Ogbeh also said, “Let me say from today that FrieslandCampina WAMCO can count on us to be your partners. Something has to be done about the roads not too long from now. We are happy to see the families, women and the community leaders and we will help with more boreholes.”

What You Ought To know About Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection, commonly referred as – ICSI is a simple way of saying “inject sperm into egg.” ICSI is a very effective method to fertilize eggs in the invitro-fertilisation (IVF) lab after they have been aspirated from the female. Its main use is for significant male infertility cases.

IVF with ICSI involves the use of specialized micromanipulation tools and equipment and inverted microscopes that enable embryologists to select and pick up individual sperm in a specially designed ICSI needle.

The needle is carefully advanced through the outer shell of the egg and the egg membrane - and the sperm is injected into the inner part (cytoplasm) of the egg. This usually results in normal fertilization in about 75 to 85 per cent of eggs injected with sperm.

However, first the woman must be stimulated with medications and have an egg retrieval procedure so we can obtain several eggs for in vitro fertilization and ICSI.

Who should be treated with intracytoplasmic sperm injection?
There is no ‘standard of care’ in this field of medicine regarding which cases should have the ICSI procedure and which should not.

Some clinics use it only for severe male factor infertility, and some use it on every case. The large majority of IVF clinics are somewhere in the middle of these 2 extremes.

The thinking about ICSI has changed over time, and experts are now doing more ICSI (as a percentage of total cases) than was done between 10 and 12 years ago. As experts learn more about methods to help couples conceive, the thinking will continue to evolve.

Common reasons used for performing ICSI
These include; severe male factor infertility that do not want donor sperm insemination. ICSI is also used on couples with infertility with sperm concentrations of less than 15 to 20 million per millilitre and on males with  low sperm motility - less than 35 per cent; very poor sperm morphology (subjective - specific cut-off value is debatable)

ICSI can also be used where there have been  previous IVF with no fertilization - or a low rate of fertilization (low percentage of mature eggs that were normally fertilized).

Sometimes it is used for couples that have a low yield of eggs at egg retrieval. In this scenario, ICSI is being used to try to get a higher percentage of eggs fertilized than with conventional insemination of the eggs (mixing eggs and sperm together).

How is ICSI performed?
The mature egg is held with a specialized holding pipette.
A very delicate, sharp and hollow needle is used to immobilize and pick up a single sperm.
This needle is then carefully inserted through the zona (shell of the egg) and in to the center (cytoplasm) of the egg.

The sperm is injected in the cytoplasm and the needle is removed.
The eggs are checked the next morning for evidence of normal fertilization.

Fertilization and pregnancy success rates with ICSI
IVF with ICSI success rates vary according to the specifics of the individual case, the ICSI technique used, the skill of the individual performing the procedure, the overall quality of the laboratory, the quality of the eggs, and the embryo transfer skills of the infertility specialist physician.

Sometimes IVF with ICSI is done for “egg factor” cases - low ovarian reserve situations. This is when there is either a low number, or low “quality “of eggs (or both).

In such cases, ICSI fertilization and pregnancy success rates tend to be lower.
This is because the main determinant of IVF success is the quality of the embryos.
The quality of the eggs is a crucial factor determining quality and viability of embryos.

In some cases, assisted hatching is done on the embryos prior to transfer, in order to maximize chances for pregnancy.

Enugu Women Embrace Exclusive Breastfeeding

To say that Mrs. Chinedu Chukwuma, an Enugu State indigene is a happy woman may seem as an understatement.   The healthy look of the two children of the 20-year-old mother easily gives away her source of happiness.  You could see the bond between Chinedu and her three-month-old baby, Ebelechukwu, as she cuddles her, all thanks to exclusive breastfeeding. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) explains, “Exclusive breastfeeding means that the infant receives only breast milk. No other liquids or solids are given - not even water - with the exception of oral rehydration solution, or drops/syrups of vitamins, minerals or medicines.”

For Chinedu, exclusive breastfeeding is not a new practice. She has done it before and had seen the benefits. She did not need any persuasion to adopt it for Eberechukwu, her second child. Apart from immunisation, she has had no reason to be shuttling between hospital and home unlike some mothers.

Chinedu told Independent during an investigative visit to Enugu that she came to know about exclusive breastfeeding while attending antenatal classes for her first baby. “We were told that it is a very good practice. I also did it for my first baby for six months and even this baby; I will also do it for him,” she said.

WHO recommends that infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health. Thereafter, to meet their evolving nutritional requirements, infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods, while continuing to breastfeed for up to two years or beyond. 

To promote the exercise, the Federal Government integrated education on exclusive breastfeeding into the antenatal programmes at the Primary Health Care(PHC) Centres for nursing mothers to be taught about its benefit.

Only recently Federal Government pledged its commitment towards supporting breastfeeding and improving funding to scale-up nutrition and breastfeeding practices across the country.

Mrs. Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, wife of the President, disclosed this in Abuja, during the Launch of 2016 Lancet Series on Breastfeeding and High - level Policy Dialogue on Promoting Breastfeeding for National Development in Nigeria.

Mrs. Buhari, represented by the wife of Niger State governor, Dr. Amina Abubakar Bello, informed that Federal Government would prioritise breastfeeding as part of the efforts to roll out the National Strategic plan of Action for Nutrition.

Ngozi Onuora, a Nutritionist at UNICEF at the Port Harcourt office of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Nigeria, addressing journalists recently at media training on child nutrition, said that exclusive breastfeeding reduces infant mortality.

Onuora explained that this is due to the protection it gives the baby against common childhood illnesses such as diarrhoea or pneumonia, and helps for quicker recovery during illness. She said: “Good nutrition is the bedrock of child survival, health and development. According to her, well-nourished children are better able to grow, learn, participate in and contribute to their communities. It also makes them resilient in the face of disease, disaster and other crisis.”

Mrs. Igbe Assumpta, a 26-year-old mother also attested to the benefits of practising exclusive breastfeeding. Though a student, she got the first information about exclusive breastfeeding from her elder sister who told her how beneficial it is before she started antenatal.

Igbe said, “Exclusive breastfeeding boosts my baby’s intelligent quotient, as she is very sharp. Even my friends who are not doing exclusive breastfeeding used to tell me that my baby is very sharp. My baby is also strong and healthy.

“Since I gave birth to her, I haven’t taken her to the hospital. It saves me money. My baby is five months and two weeks and I will complete the six months exercise. I will still practise it for my next baby. I also advise other women to go for exclusive breastfeeding.”

As for Celestina Nwankwo, a 35-years-old farmer and mother of six children, the difference between her children who were exclusively breastfed and those who were not is clear.

She told Independent, “I have done it for two of my children and I saw the difference. They don’t fall ill often; they do not go to toilet anyhow. My advice to mothers is that they should try and adopt exclusive breastfeeding because it is very good.

“I did not do exclusive breastfeeding for all my children. There is a big difference between those who benefitted from it and others who did not. The ones that were exclusively breastfed are very intelligent and are closer to me,” Celestina said.

The 35-years-old farmer also said she heard about it in the Health Centre during antenatal.
According to Mrs. Monica Igbofunanya, the Education Officer at Primary Health Centre (PHC) Agwu Local Government of Enugu State, the main challenge facing nursing mothers in the area is the mother- in-laws who try to persuade their daughter-in-laws to give pap or water to the children.

She said, “The major challenge is mother-in-laws who insist on feeding the baby with other foods and water after they have been delivered. I call most of them during their ANC period to counsel them with their husbands.”

To enable mothers to establish and sustain exclusive breastfeeding for six months, WHO and UNICEF recommend initiation of exclusive breastfeeding within the first hour of life, that is, the infant receives breast milk without any additional food or drink, not even water.

WHO further recommends that breastfeeding should be done on demand and that is as often as the child wants, day and night, and bars the use of bottles, teats or pacifiers.

However, despite how important and beneficial exclusive breastfeeding is, many women do not adopt it. WHO report has it that currently, less than 40 per cent of infants who are less than six months of age are exclusively breastfed worldwide. Many women go for artificial breast milk thereby leaving many children without necessary protection in their early stages of life.

Experts are worried given the Nigerian situation where many families hardly have enough to eat, not to talk of buying sufficient milk for their newborn babies.

Some women, out of ignorance or a show of affluence, introduce artificial breast milk to their babies within the first six months. Many of them claim that breast milk alone cannot satisfy their babies.
Sadly, some health workers even encourage mothers to give their babies artificial milk soon after delivery. In some hospitals where artificial milk is forbidden for new born babies, some health workers secretly help the mothers feed their babies with artificial milk.

Again, some mothers and mothers-in-law make things difficult for their daughters and daughters-in-law who want to breastfeed their babies exclusively. They still regale in the old tradition that new born babies must be fed with water which they believe the baby needs most to be alive. Refusal to abide by such tradition often results to misunderstanding.

Meanwhile, some working class women, out of circumstances, are forced not to breastfeed their babies exclusively for the recommended six months.
Some organisations, especially private ones, give six weeks maternity leave and do not allow the women to come to work with their new born babies. Many organisations do not have cr├Ęche for new born babies, thereby forcing them to either stop breastfeeding abruptly or combining breast milk with artificial milk.

Corroborating earlier views, Dr. Chris Osa Isokpunwu of the Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja, told journalists during a two-day Media Dialogue on Leveraging Resources for Child Malnutrition in Nigeria that exclusive breastfeeding for six months prevents childhood illnesses like diarrhoea, infection

He said that exclusive breastfeeding prevents childhood obesity and the associated non- communicable diseases in adulthood, adding that the mother only needs to be adequately fed on normal family diet.

Isokpunwu revealed that “it is cheaper when compared to what is spent on baby formula, hospital bills, energy cost of boiling water and sterilisation of bottles, cups and spoons, and above all, the consequences of non-communicable diseases like diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases later in life.”

To curb child malnutrition, WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding of infants for six months as the breast milk contains all the nutritional value a child needs for proper growth and continuous breastfeeding and adequate complementary foods until 24 months.

The basic drivers of malnutrition are poverty, failure in governance, institutional weaknesses, gender issues, the underlying causes are food insecurity, inadequate care, access to health care services, while the immediate causes of malnutrition are; inappropriate food intake and diseases.

With Nigeria currently recording a huge number of malnourished children, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) might just be affected years from now as malnutrition accounts for low Intelligent Quotient (IQ) of an individual.

Every single day in Nigeria, malnutrition accounts for 2,300 under-five deaths and 145 women of child bearing age and this makes the country the second largest contributor to the under-five and maternal mortality rate in the world.

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) data said annually, up to one million children die before the age of five in Nigeria, 50 per cent of the cause is undernutrition, and 26 per cent are neonatal deaths and figures by World Bank suggests that Nigeria loses over US$1.5 billion in GDP annually to vitamin and mineral deficiencies alone.

Also a survey by UNICEF indicates that malnutrition does not just make the child stunted, wasted, it also prevents the child from achieving his potential and children who are malnourished in their first two years of life lose 11cm of potential height.

Nigerian Breweries Introduces First Zobo Flavoured Alcoholic Drink

In line with its social responsibility to guarantee consumers’ satisfaction, Nigeria Breweries Plc, one of  the foremost brewer in the country has raised the bar in the Ready-to-Drink (RTD) market with the launch of “Ace Desire,” the first zobo-flavoured alcoholic drink.

Marketing Director, Nigerian Breweries Plc, Mr. Franco Maria Maggi, explained to Journalists at the launch in Lagos on Thursday, that Ace Desire is a sophisticated blend of spirit, natural Hibiscus or zobo extracts, being the traditional beverage produced from Hibiscus leaves.

“This rich combination of a balanced mix of spirit and Hibiscus extracts contains 5.5 per cent alcohol, and offers a tingling sensation and rich aroma”, he said.

 According to him, Ace Desire, packaged in a 33cl glass bottle, stands out amongst other products on the Ready-to-Drink category.

He added that Nigerian Breweries, “the house of quality” has delivered on yet another promise to delight consumers with the introduction of Ace Desire.

“The brand’s ambition is to lead in the Nigerian RTD category by establishing itself as the relentless pioneer of innovation”, Maggi said, while also promising that the product will be available in outlets across the country over the next few weeks.

Mr. Franco Maria Maggi disclosed that the extensions of the Ace brand have always been informed by the need to satisfy different consumer taste profiles that evolve and change over time.

It would be recalled that Nigerian Breweries launched the Ace brand in December 2014 with an apple-flavoured alcoholic drink called Ace Passion.

In March 2015, Ace Roots, a spirit mixed alcoholic drink made from African herbs and fruits joined the Ace family, while Ace Rhythm, a mix of Vodka and Citrus was unveiled in November 2015.

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