Saturday September 21, 2019

Coral Reefs: Natural sources of cancer medicines

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coral_reef_4By Meghna

What do Lakshwadeep Islands, the islands of the Gulf of Mannar, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the islands of the Gulf of Kachch have in common?

All of them have Coral Reefs.

To a common man, coral reefs would simply appear as hordes of beautiful colours and shapes, scattered across rocks, under crystal blue waters. But, in reality there is much more to coral reefs than just their beauty and vibrancy.

Not everyone knows that Coral reefs have medicinal properties. The substances extracted from Coral Reefs are well known to be used in making medicines for a wide variety of diseases, ranging from diabetes and heart diseases to Alzheimer’s.

A substance extracted from the Caribbean sea sponge, is used to manufacture a medicine named Ara-C, which is a popularly known and widely used medicine in chemotherapy treatments of people diagnosed with leukemia and lymphoma.

Another medicine, Yondelis, which is extracted from sea squirt, is used in Europe to treat sarcoma.

“Coral reefs have an incredible diversity of life—from plants, animals and fungi down to the tiniest micro-organism. And this diversity holds so much potential for medical research. In fact, we are 300 to 400 times more likely to find that next big medical breakthrough in our reefs than on land,” Stephanie Wear, a marine scientist at The Nature Conservancy foundation was quoted by a website.

Many coastal communities and even nations—depend on coral reefs for their livelihoods, but, due to climate change, overfishing, pollution, and unsustainable coastal development, the reefs are now endangered. In fact, the coral reefs of the caribbean are known to have diminished upto 90% already! Due to discarded fishing gears,coastal erosion, development, deforestation and other terrestrial activities, increasing sediment loads are being transported to coral reefs via river discharges and surface run off. A combined analysis data spanning 25 years has revealed that in the Caribbean, coral reefs are declining at a rate of 5.5% – 9.2% per year. In the Indo-Pacific region, a 2% loss of coral reefs per year has been estimated. These activities have posed a severe threat to the coral reefs.

Today, 33% of coral species are listed on the ‘Red List of endangered species’ of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Scientists nowadays have been cultivating the coral reefs in nurseries and when they have matured sufficiently, they are restored back into the sea. The survival of coral reefs is essential for mankind to thrive, because they contain answers to a myriad of ailments.

It is quite possible that many of the benefits of these reefs are still unknown to us. Who knows, with the progress of science, we might just be able to get remedies for more and more ailments.

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Physicians Happy While Traders in Shock on Ban on E-Cigarettes in India

With the Union Cabinet directing a blanket ban on e-cigarettes in the country, physicians welcomed the step while e-cigarette traders expressed shock and anger

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e-cigarettes, health, union, ban, india
A man exhales while smoking an e-cigarette, Aug. 28, 2019. VOA

With the Union Cabinet directing a blanket ban on e-cigarettes in the country with complete suspension of their manufacturing, import, export, distribution and storage, physicians welcomed the step while e-cigarette traders expressed shock and anger over the decision.

“Although, e-cigarettes are little less lethal then the conventional cigarettes, we cannot shun away the fact that it contains harmful ingredients. These chemicals can potentially affect the lungs and overall health of the individual in the long run,” Rajesh Chawla, Senior Pulmonologist at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital in New Delhi, told IANS.

Industry body TRENDS which represents importers, distributors and marketers of ENDS, or Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems in India, termed the decision to ban e-cigarettes “ironic and erratic”.

“This ban on e-cigarettes on the basis of ‘selective sourcing of scientific and medical opinion’ and without holding a single stakeholder meeting is nothing short of a complete murder of democratic norms,” said Praveen Rikhy, Convenor, TRENDS (Trade Representatives of ENDS).

“All our representations sharing best practices from other countries – 70 developed countries have allowed regulated sale of e-cigarettes, have been completely ignored. We will now initiate a formal campaign to help MPs understand the issue, clarify misapprehensions and misinformation spread by lobby groups and support the farmer groups who see the growth of the e-cigarette sector as a global market opportunity for nicotine,” Rikhy said.

e-cigarettes, health, union, ban, india
The Donald Trump administration on September 12 said that it plans to ban the sale of non-tobacco-flavoured e-cigarettes in the US following six deaths. Pixabay

While e-cigarettes have been marketed as a way for adults to quit conventional smoking, a recent outbreak of lung illness associated with use of vaping products in the US has raised concerns about the safety of these products.

The Donald Trump administration on September 12 said that it plans to ban the sale of non-tobacco-flavoured e-cigarettes in the US following six deaths linked to vaping.

Health authorities have documented a total of 450 cases involving e-cigarettes, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which issued a health warning against vaping.

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“I entirely support the idea of a ban on e-cigarettes; it is a step in the right direction,” Manoj Luthra, CEO, Jaypee Hospital in Noida, told IANS.

“E-cigarettes have been projected as a means to help people to quit smoking tobacco and also being non-polluting. However, these have their own health hazards and are addictive as well. These contain nicotine and other chemical vapours which will certainly have ill effects on the heart and lung and other organs as well,” he said. (IANS)