News & current topics

Multimorbidity in South Asian adults

Many conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, strokes, and kidney disease are present in many patients concurrently. This combination of diseases increases the risk of death. A number of diseases are related to higher risk of death. Interestingly, in this study, they found that the combined disease states affect nearly 1 in 10 urbanSouthAsians, and each additional disease or risk carries a progressively higher risk of death. The message from the study clearly warrants aggressive prevention not only to reduce death rates, but also to reduce the onset of risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, and smoking, thereby reducing the first event of a heart attack or stroke


Cashew Nut Consumption 

 This is an interesting study of the benefits of 30 gm of cashew nut consumption per day. Good cholesterol HDL increased, and BP decreased significantly in the cashew nut arm of the study. While there was no weight gain mentioned, one is still unsure about how much cashews to consume per day. Also, it is still not clear if HDL number is important or its function. A word of
caution, though. Weight gain can worsen diabetes and lack of exercise can aggravate other obesity-induced problems. More studies are needed to assess if there are other cardiovascular benefits with cashew nuts.

Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease

 This is a good summary of risk factors, health behaviors, diet, medication use and other community strategies used for prevention and intervention, comparator findings between South Asians and other communities. SouthAsians in the United States can differ in socioeconomic status, education, healthcare behaviors, attitudes, and health insurance, which can affect their risk and the treatment of heart attacks and strokes. South Asians have higher proportional mortality rates from atherosclerotic (plaques in the arteries), Heart and vascular disease compared with other Asian groups and non-Hispanic whites. The authors claim that there is no evidence of differences in the underlying reasons for the high risk of SAs. Majority of the risk in South Asians, according to them, is explained by the increased prevalence of known risk factors, especially those related to insulin resistance, and no unique risk factors in this population have been found. However, some experts may disagree. There may be genetic components that aggravate the risk or predispose to a higher prevalence of risk factors at a younger age and in a more accelerated fashion even in non-obese individuals. Further studies are needed that will address intervention at an earlier age using lower cut points of risk factors than is recommended by societies so as to prevent the onset of heart disease and/or strokes
Demographic history and genetic adaptation in the Himalayan region
inferred from genome-wide SNP genotypes of 49 populations
A very interesting study looking at the genetic adaptation at high altitudes. The authors genotyped 738 individuals belonging to 49 populations from Nepal, Bhutan, North India or Tibet at over 500,000 SNPs, and analyzed the genotypes. The Himalayan populations resembled otherSouth and EastAsians, but in addition, displayed their own specific ancestral component and showed strong population structure and genetic drift. They also found evidence for multiple admixture events involving Himalayan populations andSouth/EastAsians between 200 and 2,000 years ago. In comparisons with available ancient genomes, the Himalayans, like other East and South Asian populations, showed similar genetic affinity to Eurasian hunter-gatherers (a 24,000-year-old Upper Paleolithic Siberian), and the related Bronze Age Yamnaya. The high-altitude Himalayan populations all shared a specific ancestral component, suggesting that genetic adaptation to life at high altitude originated only once in this region and subsequently spread. Combining four approaches to identifying specific positively-selected loci, the authors confirmed that the strongest signals of high- altitude adaptation were located near the Endothelial PAS domain-containing protein 1 (EPAS1) and Egl-9 Family Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1 (EGLN1) loci, and discovered eight additional robust signals of high-altitude adaptation, five of which have strong biological functional links to such adaptation. In conclusion, the demographic history of Himalayan populations is complex, with strong local differentiation, reflecting both genetic and cultural factors; these populations also display evidence of multiple genetic adaptations to high-altitude environments.