Tag Archives: immunity

The Best and Worst Doctors of 2011,part 2

Took me some time to compile this list, so here goes:

The Best Doctors

1.Drs Beutler, Hoffman and Steinman

These three were the winners of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Medicine and the impact of their research will be felt for many years to come.

In essence, they discovered receptor proteins in the body that can spot bacteria and other microorganisms and then activate the body’s innate immunity to defend itself. These dendritic cells activate the T cells which then produce antibodies which attack the invading germs.

Their studies determine  how clinicians prevent and treat infection, inflammatory diseases, and cancer in the future. Strangely enough, one of them, Dr Steinman (right,above pic) himself died of cancer of the pancreas before he won the award. This disease was one of the potential beneficiaries of his research.

2. Dr Valentin Fuster

This Spanish cardiologist, who is the Head of Mount Sinai Heart Centre in New York, is the only person to be awarded the top research awards from all the four main cardiovascular organisations.

He is best known for his profound contribution towards the understanding and prevention of atherothrombosis and was the first to have highlighted the role of platelets in acute coronary syndromes. In other words, how heart attacks happen-see below.

Dr Mark Kris

Lung cancer specialist at one of the top cancer centres in the world, Memorial Sloan-Kettering in Houston,Texas, he was recognised for his  dedication and compassion in his professional work and volunteer efforts by being awarded the inaugural ASCO Humanitarian Award .

He has built homes for families in Hyde Park, New York,  gone to Costa Rica to build a basketball court and a church and made several trips to assist with earthquake relief in Haiti; and helped with relief efforts in Biloxi, Mississippi  after it was hit byHurricane Katrina.

Of course, to the unsung heroes out there,those who have toiled without bells and whistles, well done for being a credit to your profession!


Escaping Swine Flu


Typical symptoms: sudden fever (38C or above) and sudden cough 1. Other symptoms include: Tiredness and chills 2. Headache, sore throat, runny nose and sneezing 3. Stomach upset, loss of appetite, diarrhoea 4. Aching muscles, limb or joint pain Source: NHS

Today’s print media highlighted the possible shortage of swine flu vaccine (when it eventually becomes available). The Director-General of WHO, Dr Margaret Chan was even reported to have accused Western nations of hoarding the vaccine and appealed to the big pharmas to divert just 10% of the supplies to developing countries so as not to deprive the less fortunate.

There is also a sense of panic developing as the number of deaths throughout the world rise to 700 (see here). Currently, the only form of possible cure, apart from the vaccine, is by taking Tamiflu or Relenza capsules by mouth. But they don’t come cheap at USD 60 per course. Besides, supplies are scarce and they need to be taken within 48 hours of the onset of the symptoms to be effective.

So where does that leave most of us, especially those who don’t like popping pills?

A comforting fact is that 95% of those who contracted swine-flu recover from it without any complications – this is a reassuring fact that is not emphasized by media hype. Apart from this consolation, an important principle is that the virus attacks those with diminished immunity. That explains why many of those that succumbed are either elderly, the very young, pregnant women, sufferers of chronic disease or thse taking steroids.


How can one increase one’s immunity?

  • Leading a  healthy lifestyle. Hate to repeat it, but regular exercise, no smoking, enough sleep and reducing stress are indispensable pillars.
  • Hygienic measures. Perhaps the most important preventive measure is washing the hands. You need to cough and sneeze safely too, because the tiny droplets expelled can contain the virus.
  • Hydration. Drinking water often and adequately (about 2 litres daily) is an important measure too.
  • Supplements to enhance the immune system. Zinc, selenium and ginseng have these properties.
  • Antioxidants. No need to buy expensive over-the-counter stuff. Taking them naturally is even better – berries,green tea, dark chocolate, coffee and red wine all have antioxidants.
  • Staying away from crowded places. This comes in last in my book as many of us just can’t avoid this, especially public commuters!

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