Friday, December 20, 2013
Aspirin may help in fight against 'anger syndrome'
All theory so far
If you have a quick temper it may calm you to learn that bouts of rage could be cured by simply taking an aspirin.
A study has found that uncontrollable anger may be the result of inflammation in the body. Intermittent explosive disorder (IED), which is known as “anger syndrome”, usually begins in the late teens and is defined as a “failure to resist aggressive impulses”.
US researchers found that IED sufferers had higher markers of inflammation in the blood. Levels of one protein were on average twice as high in those diagnosed with IED, while another marker molecule was present in those with the worst records of aggressive behaviour.
“These two markers consistently correlate with aggression and impulsivity but not with other psychiatric problems,” said Prof Emil Coccaro, the lead scientist from the University of Chicago.
“We don’t yet know if the inflammation triggers aggression or aggressive feelings set off inflammation, but it’s a powerful indication.”
The discovery, which is published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, raises the prospect of treating such anger with common drugs such as aspirin, an anti-inflammatory.
Prof Coccaro said uncontrollable rage was a mental health condition that should not be dismissed as “bad behaviour”. A study in 2006 found that the disorder affects up to five per cent of adults.
No evidence antibacterial chemicals used in liquid soaps actually prevent spread of germs... and they could even damage health, watchdog finds
The Food and Drug Administration said today there is no evidence that antibacterial chemicals used in liquid soaps and washes help prevent the spread of germs, and there is some evidence they may pose health risks.
The agency said it is revisiting the safety of chemicals like triclosan in light of recent studies suggesting they can interfere with hormone levels and spur the growth of drug-resistant bacteria.
The government's preliminary ruling lends new credence to longstanding warnings from researchers who say the chemicals are, at best, ineffective and at worst, a threat to public health.
Under its proposed rule released Monday, the agency will require manufacturers to prove that their antibacterial soaps and body washes are safe and more effective than plain soap and water.
Manufacturers will have a year to prove it after the FDA said: 'To put it simply, we need to collect additional information from the companies that make these products so that consumers can be confident about their effectiveness and about their safety.'
If companies cannot demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of their products, they would have to be reformulated, relabeled or possibly removed from the market.
The agency will take comments on its proposal before finalizing it in coming months.
'Due to consumers' extensive exposure to the ingredients in antibacterial soaps, we believe there should be a clearly demonstrated benefit from using antibacterial soap to balance any potential risk,' said Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA's drug center.
'The proposed rule covers only those antibacterial soaps and washes that are used with water. It does not apply to hand sanitizers, hand wipes or antibacterial soaps that are used in health care setting such as hospitals', the FDA said in their blog.
They aim to have their final rule by September 2016.
The agency's proposal comes more than 40 years after the agency was first tasked with evaluating triclosan and similar ingredients.
At least 2,000 different soap products contain triclosan or some other antimicrobial agent and it is also used in toothpaste to kill germs that cause gum disease, the FDA's Dr. Sandra Kweder said.
Ultimately, the government agreed to publish its findings only after a three-year legal battle with the environmental group, Natural Resources Defense Council, which accused the FDA of delaying action on triclosan.
The chemical is found in an estimated 75 percent of antibacterial liquid soaps and body washes sold in the U.S.
The FDA's preliminary rule only applies to personal hygiene products, but it has implications for a $1 billion industry that includes thousands of antibacterial products, including kitchen knives, toys, pacifiers and toothpaste.
Most of the research surrounding triclosan's safety involves animal studies, which cannot always be applied to humans.
But some scientists worry the chemical can disrupt hormones in humans too, raising the risk of infertility, early puberty and other developmental problems.
Other experts are concerned that routine use of antibacterial chemicals like triclosan is contributing to a surge in drug-resistant germs, or superbugs, that render antibiotics ineffective.
In March 2010, the European Union banned the chemical from all products that come into contact with food, such as containers and silverware.
Posted by jonjayray at 12:05 AM
Thursday, December 19, 2013
Eating lots of junk food for just one WEEK can damage your memory permanently
If you are a rat
Everyone knows that junk food is bad for the waistline, but new research suggests it can damage memory, too.
Australian researchers found that even a short term diet of junk food can have a detrimental effect on the brain’s cognitive ability.
The study suggests that obesity can trigger rapid changes in the brain.
Scientists from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) showed for the first time that rats fed a diet high in fat and sugar had impaired memory after just a week.
Interestingly, the results were similarly poor for the rats fed a healthy diet that had been given sugar water to drink, according to the study, which was published in the journal Brain, Behaviour and Immunity.
The animals found it more difficult to recognise specific places after their junk food diet and showed a lesser ability to notice when an object shifted to a new location.
The mice also had inflammation of the hippocampal region of the brain, which is associated with spatial memory.
‘We know that obesity causes inflammation in the body, but we didn't realise until recently that it also causes changes in the brain,’ said Professor Margaret Morris from UNSW Medicine, who co-authored the study.
‘What is so surprising about this research is the speed with which the deterioration of the cognition occurred,’ she said.
‘Our preliminary data also suggests that the damage is not reversed when the rats are switched back to a healthy diet, which is very concerning.’
Some aspects of the animals' memories were spared, regardless of their diets.
All the animals were equally able to recognise objects after eating either the healthy, healthy with sugar or ‘cafeteria’ diets, the latter of which was high in fat and sugar, including cake, chips and biscuits.
The change in the animals' memory appeared even before the mice eating junk food gained any weight.
‘We suspect that these findings may be relevant to people,’ said Professor Morris.
Poll: Americans want the government to stop banning everything they like
Americans want the government to stop acting like their mother. According to a Reason-Rupe poll, Americans do not want government to ban trans-fats, e-cigarettes, online poker, violent video games or genetic testing kits.
Many Americans are becoming frustrated with the government’s growing involvement in what they believe should be their personal decisions.
For one, they do not want the government to be their personal nutritionist. The poll found that 71 percent of Americans oppose the Food and Drug Administration’s proposed trans-fats ban. Only 24 percent of Americans would support measures to outlaw the additive.
The FDA also mandated that the genetic testing company 23andMe halt production of its DNA testing kits. The agency says the company has not gone through the testing required by the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938.
A 55 percent majority believes that the government should not be allowed to bar them from purchasing the kit. Thirty seven percent told Reason-Rupe that they want this ban to remain in place.
A large majority, 76 percent, said that the government should not be able to prohibit the sale of beverages with large amounts of caffeine. Twenty one percent think the government has the authority to ban the drinks.
Debates across the country have erupted over whether or not electronic cigarettes should be permitted in public places and seven cities have moved to ban the devices. However, 66 percent of those polled think people deserve legal rights to smoke e-cigarettes freely in public locations. Thirty-four percent are against the open use of the devices.
And Americans don’t want the government to act as a video game police. Sixty-six percent told Reason-Rupe that the government should not be able to decide whether they play games like Mario Cart or the gory zombie video game Left for Dead. Some 31 percent want violent video games banned.
Posted by jonjayray at 12:09 AM
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
14p-a-day tablet could ease pain for millions of arthritis sufferers without dangerous side effects
This appears to be a very early result from an uncontrolled study
Scientists believe they can help millions of people suffering from arthritis with a new 14p-a-day tablet. Spironolactone, usually used for high blood pressure and heart failure, could help people with osteoarthritis, it is claimed.
The research at Dundee University has shown it could be a breakthrough for the six million people suffering from the debilitating condition across the country.
Initial tests showed it has painkilling potential and now the scientists are setting up more trials to see its full potential, the Express reports.
Professor Alan Silman, medical director of Arthritis Research UK, has put £135,000 towards the cost of the research. He said: 'Spironolactone has been around for decades so we know it is safe.'
Osteoarthritis is most common among older people and causes swelling and stiffness in joints. There is no cure for the extremely painful condition and long-term treatment can include having artificial joints.
Researchers found Spironolactone, which lowers blood pressure, also works to lessen pain in arthritis sufferers.
The study, lead by Professor Marion McMurdo, head of ageing and health at Dundee University, gave 25mg of the drug every day for five months and found it helped sufferers.
Researchers are now bringing in 86 patients, all aged 70 or over, to carry out further tests.
These patients will either be given the drug or a placebo over a 12 week period and the results will help determine if their theory is correct.
A lip balm good enough to eat... literally! (No beetles were harmed making this edible, beetroot-infused strawberry lippy)
"Natural" ingredients guarantee nothing. Ricin is natural but also highly toxic
We've all stood in Body Shop and wondered if the strawberry bubble bath tastes as good as it smells. I dare say some of us have given it a whirl (and swiftly regretted it...). But now there is a beauty product that really is good enough to eat.
Australian natural skincare brand MooGoo have created a range of lip balms made entirely of ingredients that are chemical-free, completely vegetarian and wholly edible - especially important in lip products where most of the substance does end up eventually being eaten.
The range features three lip balms, Cow Lick, Tingling Honey, and Strawberry Tinted, the last of which gets its lasting red hue from red beetroot extract rather than the usual cochineal insect dye.
A MooGoo spokesperson said: 'When we were looking at how to add a subtle and natural colour to our Edible Lip Balms, we found that most other brands used "Cochineal" as their natural red colouring.
'This can also be called "Carmine", "Natural Colours" or "Natural Red Number 4". This is made by boiling Cochineal insects in water and extracting the red dye from the insects as it breaks down.
'Although there is nothing wrong with this (except if you are a Cochineal beetle), it made us feel a bit funny about having bug residue on our lips, and so we looked for something nicer.'
After searching, MooGoo found that red beetroot extract gave a much more natural looking colour, and was totally bug-free and healthy when ingested. And instead of tasting like beetroot, MooGoo use a natural strawberry flavour for the taste.
The brand's all-natural balms were formulated after reading the ingredients on a lip balm they were used during a long car trip.
'The feel of the lip balms we used to use were great. The chemicals used were not. Especially on lips where most of the product is eventually eaten. 'Chemicals can build up in the body over time. What for years might be harmless, can all of a sudden cause a reaction.
'We have made a lip balms that feel similar to our favorite lip balms from before. However, because we make it for our own use, the ingredients are all edible.'
Posted by jonjayray at 12:11 AM
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Exercise just as good as drugs in war on major disease
Those who "enrolled on exercise programmes" may have been healthier to start with
Exercise could be as effective as some of the best drugs which protect against major diseases, research has found.
A study of more than 300 trials has found that physical activity was better than medication in helping patients recovering from strokes - and just as good as drugs in protecting against diabetes and in stopping heart disease worsening.
The research, published in the British Medical Journal, analysed data about studies on 340,000 patients diagnosed with one of four diseases: heart disease, chronic heart failure, stroke or diabetes.
Researchers said the findings suggested that regular exercise could be "quite potent" in improving survival chances, but said that until more studies are done, patients should not stop taking their tablets without taking medical advice.
The landmark research compared the mortality rates of those prescribed medication for common serious health conditions, with those who were instead enrolled on exercise programmes.
Most of the 305 studies examined involved patients had been given drugs to treat their condition. But 57 of the trials - involving 15,000 volunteers - examined the impact of exercise as a treatment.
The research found that while medication worked best for those who had suffered heart failure, in all the other groups of patients, exercise was at least as effective as the drugs which are normally prescribed.
People with heart disease who exercised but did not use commonly prescribed medications, including statins, and drugs given to reduce blood clots had the same risk of dying as patients taking the medication.
Similarly, people with borderline diabetes who exercised had the same survival chances as those taking the most commonly prescribed drugs.
Drugs compared with exercise included statins, which are given to around five million patients suffering from heart disease, or an increased risk of the condition.
The study was carried out by researcher Huseyin Naci of LSE Health, London School of Economics and Political Science and Harvard Medical School, with US colleagues at Stanford University School of Medicine.
He said prescription drug rates are soaring but activity levels are falling, with only 14 per cent of British adults exercising regularly.
In 2010 an average of 17.7 prescriptions was issued for every person in England, compared with 11.2 in 2000.
Mr Naci said: “Exercise should be considered as a viable alternative to, or alongside, drug therapy.”
Dr John Ioannidis, the director of the Stanford Prevention Research Center at the Stanford University School of Medicine, said: “Our results suggest that exercise can be quite potent.”
Other medications compared with exercise included blood-clotting medicines given to patients recovering from stroke, and alpha-glucosidase inhibitors given to patients on the cusp of developing diabetes.
Only the patients who were recovering from heart failure fared best when prescribed drugs, where anti-diuretic medication was most effective.
However, they said their analysis found far more trials examining drugs, than those which measured the impact of exercise.
They said there was a need for more research into the benefits of exercise for those suffering from serious health problems.
Researchers stressed that they were not suggesting that anyone should stop taking medications they had been prescribed, but suggested patients should think “long and hard” about their lifestyles, and talk to their doctors about incorporating more exercise into their daily routines.
Four hours of light gardening each week could cut kidney stones
Weak effects; correlational study; Interesting that "Intensity of activity was not associated with stone formation". Just doing SOMETHING had an apparent effect. Strongly indicative of a class effect
Four hours of light gardening a week is enough to lower the chance of developing kidney stones by nearly one third, researchers have found. A study has shown that even small amounts of exercise can radically reduce the risk.
Previous research has shown that being overweight almost doubles the chance of developing kidney stones. The condition can be incredibly painful and even require surgery.
Now Washington School of Medicine has found that keeping physically active can stop kidneys stones from forming.
They recommend three hours of average walking at 2-3 mph, four hours of light gardening, or one hour of moderate jogging at 6 mph.
The team also discovered that consuming more than 2200 calories per day increased the risk of developing kidney stones by up to 42 per cent.
Mathew Sorensen at the Washington School of Medicine and his colleagues conducted a study to evaluate whether energy intake and energy expenditure related to kidney stone formation.
They studied 84,225 women participating in the Women's Health Initiative, which has been gathering information such as dietary intake and physical activity in women since the 1990s.
"Even small amounts of exercise may decrease the risk of kidney stones—it does not need to be marathons, as the intensity of the exercise does not seem to matter," said Dr. Sorensen
"Being aware of calorie intake, watching their weight, and making efforts to exercise are important factors for improving the health of our patients overall, and as it relates to kidney stones.”
Although the study was only carried out on women, exercise is likely to have a similar effect on men.
In an accompanying editorial, Dr John Lieske of Mayo Clinic said: “Counselling for patients with stones often centers almost exclusively on diet, stressing increased fluid intake, normal dietary calcium, lower sodium, moderate protein, and reduced dietary oxalate.
“The results of Sorensen et al. suggest that a recommendation for moderate physical activity might reasonably be added to the mix," he wrote.
The study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology
Activity, Energy Intake, Obesity, and the Risk of Incident Kidney Stones in Postmenopausal Women: A Report from the Women’s Health Initiative
By Mathew D. Sorensen et al.
Obesity is a strong risk factor for nephrolithiasis, but the role of physical activity and caloric intake remains poorly understood. We evaluated this relationship in 84,225 women with no history of stones as part of the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study, a longitudinal, prospective cohort of postmenopausal women enrolled from 1993 to 1998 with 8 years’ median follow-up. The independent association of physical activity (metabolic equivalents [METs]/wk), calibrated dietary energy intake, and body mass index (BMI) with incident kidney stone development was evaluated after adjustment for nephrolithiasis risk factors. Activity intensity was evaluated in stratified analyses. Compared with the risk in inactive women, the risk of incident stones decreased by 16% in women with the lowest physical activity level (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR], 0.84; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], 0.74 to 0.97). As activity increased, the risk of incident stones continued to decline until plateauing at a decrease of approximately 31% for activity levels ≥10 METs/wk (aHR, 0.69; 95% CI, 0.60 to 0.79). Intensity of activity was not associated with stone formation. As dietary energy intake increased, the risk of incident stones increased by up to 42% (aHR, 1.42; 95% CI, 1.02 to 1.98). However, intake <1800 kcal/d did not protect against stone formation. Higher BMI category was associated with increased risk of incident stones. In summary, physical activity may reduce the risk of incident kidney stones in postmenopausal women independent of caloric intake and BMI, primarily because of the amount of activity rather than exercise intensity. Higher caloric intake further increases the risk of incident stones.
Monday, December 16, 2013
Aspirin is the best remedy for a sore throat, scientists say
Aspirin is one of the most effective remedies for a sore throat, says research. A couple of tablets, dissolved in water then gargled – not swallowed – reduced sore throat pain intensity within two hours in a study by the University of Cardiff Common Cold Centre. The effect lasted for more than six hours.
Inhaling products containing menthol was also useful.
‘It provides relief from nasal congestion by causing a cool sensation in the nose and also relieves the symptoms of sore throat and cough by a local anaesthetic action,’ said Professor Ron Eccles, who led the study.
Some types of honey can fight throat infections as it naturally contains hydrogen peroxide which has antibacterial properties, according to experts at Waikato University, New Zealand.
Honey given to children at bedtime did a better job of suppressing night-time coughs than dextromethorphan found in many over-the-counter cough syrups, said research by the University of Maryland.
One other rather more unusual remedy found to be effective was acupuncture in the ear. ‘It’s may be a placebo effect but it still works,’ said Prof Eccles.
An old/new pill PREVENTS breast cancer for many
Preventing the body making oestrogen may be a good idea in some ways but side effects should be considered. There's a lot of them
Thousands of women at high risk of breast cancer could benefit from a daily pill that halves their risk of developing the disease, according to scientists. Taking the drug anastrozole for five years cuts the risk by 53 per cent compared with a dummy pill, a trial found.
The results could transform the options for post-menopausal women with a family history of breast cancer or other risk factors.
Earlier this year NHS guidelines recommended for the first time the drugs tamoxifen and raloxifene as a preventative measure for such women.
But the latest research shows anastrozole is more effective, has fewer side effects and is just as cheap – costing around £120 in total for a preventive course of pills.
Tamoxifen cuts the risk by a third, with protection lasting up to 20 years, but it has menopause-like side-effects such as hot flushes and more serious, rarer problems including an increased risk of cancer of the womb lining.
However, the NHS guidance meant almost half a million healthy women at higher risk had a less drastic alternative to having their breasts removed, a step taken by celebrities in this group such as Angelina Jolie.
The latest study looked at almost 4,000 postmenopausal women at high risk of breast cancer with an average age of 59. Half were given 1mg of anastrozole daily and half had a placebo.
In the five years of follow-up, 40 women in the anastrozole group developed breast cancer compared with 85 women in the placebo group – a cut of 53 per cent.
The IBIS II trial, funded by the Cancer Research UK charity, was published in The Lancet medical journal.
Professor Jack Cuzick, lead researcher and head of Queen Mary University of London’s Centre for Cancer Prevention, said the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) should urgently re-visit its guidance. ‘We now know anastrozole should be the drug of choice,’ he said.
Research shows some women taking tamoxifen long-term are deterred by the side effects.
Many breast tumours are fuelled by the hormone oestrogen. Anastrozole, brand name Arimidex, works by preventing the body making oestrogen and, like tamoxifen, has been used for years to prevent recurrence after surgery.
Women were deemed at high risk if they met criteria including having two or more blood relatives with breast cancer or having a mother or sister who developed it before the age of 50.
Experts fear there may be a significant delay in Nice reviewing the guidelines because it has only just produced them. Its guideline development group also looked at drugs like anastrozole, but there was not enough evidence at the time to support them.
Professor Tony Howell, of Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention and one of the trial investigators, said: ‘I saw over 200 women in Manchester after they completed five years on the study and found it difficult to tell whether they were on the active drug or placebo.
‘This provides us with another preventative option, which has the potential to save and prolong the lives of thousands of women.’
Professor Mark Baker, director of the Centre for Clinical Practice at Nice, said: ‘We will certainly consider this research – along with all other available evidence – when the Nice guideline on familial breast cancer is next updated.’
Dr Caitlin Palframan, Head of Policy at Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said: ‘The challenge will be ensuring drugs like these are actually offered on the NHS, as many eligible women still don't have access to the risk reducing treatments already recommended in national guidelines.
‘We're working closely with the NHS to ensure important drugs are made available to women when it's appropriate, with the support to help them make an informed choice about their options.’
Trial investigator Winthrop Professor Christobel Saunders, from The University of Western Australia’s School of Surgery, said: ‘The findings from this research may provide a new approach to prevent breast cancer, not only for women today, but also for their daughters and granddaughters in the future.’
Kate Law, director of clinical research at Cancer Research UK, said ‘This landmark study shows that anastrozole could be valuable in helping to prevent breast cancer in women at higher than average risk of disease. We now need accurate tests that will predict which women will most benefit from anastrozole and those who will have the fewest side-effects.’
Anastrozole was originally developed by British company Zeneca Pharmaceuticals, now AstraZeneca, and goes under the brand name Arimidex.
Posted by jonjayray at 12:21 AM
Sunday, December 15, 2013
Scientists believe genetic tweaks could significantly extend lifespans
If you are a worm. Since humans already live vastly longer than roundworms, this is a moronic extrapolation. We probably already have all the life-extending features that work
Living to the ripe old age of 500 might be a possibility if the science shown to extend worms' lives can be applied to humans, scientists have said.
U.S. researchers tweaked two genetic pathways in the tiny lab worm Caenorhabditis elegans and boosted the creature's lifespan by a factor of five.
The research raises the prospect of anti-ageing treatments based on genetic interactions, they said.
‘What we have here is a synergistic five-fold increase in lifespan,’ said lead scientist Dr Pankaj Kapahi, from the Buck Institute of Age Research, Novato, California.
‘The two mutations set off a positive feedback loop in specific tissues that amplified lifespan. ‘Basically these worms lived to the human equivalent of 400 to 500 years.’
Living to the age of 500 might be a possibility if the science shown to extend worms' lives can be applied to humans, scientists said. Two mutations set off a positive feedback loop in specific tissues that enabled worms to live to the human equivalent of 400 to 500 years
While it could take years of research to extend humans’ lives dramatically, the study raises the prospect of anti-ageing treatments informed by genetic interactions, according to Dr Kapahi.
‘In the early years, cancer researchers focused on mutations in single genes, but then it became apparent that different mutations in a class of genes were driving the disease process,’ he said.
While it could take years of research to extend humans' lives, the study raises the prospect of anti-ageing treatments informed by genetic interactions. ‘The same thing is likely happening in ageing,’ he added.
C. elegans, the first animal to have its whole genome (or genetic code) mapped, has been widely used in studies of ageing and lifespan.
The new research, reported in the journal Cell Reports, involved blocking key molecules that affect the action of insulin and a nutrient signalling pathway called Target of Rapamycin (TOR).
Single mutations in the TOR pathway were known to extend the lifespan of C. elegans by 30 per cent, while insulin-signalling mutations could double the amount of time they lived.
Adding the two together might have been expected to extend longevity by 130 per cent, but the combined impact turned out to be much greater.
The research may explain why it has proved so difficult to identify single genes responsible for the long lives enjoyed by human centenarians.
‘It's quite probable that interactions between genes are critical in those fortunate enough to live very long, healthy lives,’ said Dr Kapahi.
Future research is expected to use mice to see if the same effects occur in mammals.
‘The idea would be to use mice genetically engineered to have suppressed insulin signalling and then treat them with the drug rapamycin, which is well-known to suppress the TOR pathway,’ Dr Kapahi said.
Junk food and fizzy drinks cause children to be TWICE as unhappy as their healthier counterparts
This just means that middle class people were happier. Middle class people would be the "correct" eaters. The journal article is: "Well-Being in Adolescence—An Association With Health-Related Behaviors: Findings From Understanding Society, the UK Household Longitudinal Study"
Fast food and fizzy drinks could be causing widespread depression among in children. A study of 10 to 15-year-olds found that children who played sports and ate healthy foods were twice as likely to be happy.
More than 85 per cent of the 5,000 children polled admitted they did not eat five portions of fruit and veg a day, but those that did doubled their chances of a feeling of well-being.
Gender and age were key factors, with older children largely the least satisfied and girls more likely to eat healthy food.
Teenagers were more prone to eating fatty foods and takeaways, and were less happy than their younger peers.
‘Older children had more control over what they ate, and consumed more junk food,’ said researcher Dr Cara Booker, from the Institute for Social and Economic Research at Essex University.
During the study, happiness was graded through 20 questions including how well the children got on with their peers, whether they were kind and shared with others, and if they got restless or angry.
Children who ate their greens five times a day were happiest, while the ones that ate three to four a day were 20 per cent more likely to have a feeling of well-being.
The study by Essex University found that 37 per cent of boys took part in sport every day, compared with 22 per cent of girls
‘Teenagers were less likely to be happy than younger ones, but younger ones do have to deal with more socio-emotional problems as they are less developed emotionally,’ said Dr Booker.
Alcohol and smoking also played a role in the findings, with 25 per cent admitting to drinking in the previous four weeks, and seven per cent having smoked in the same period.
Children who smoked were five times less likely to be happy than non-smoking youngsters, and those that drunk alcohol were found to be about five times less cheery than their teetotal peers.
Of the younger children, eight per cent of 10 to 12 per cent had drunk alcohol.
'It goes along with what we expected to see, and when we put it together with previous findings it stands up and makes them more robust,’ said Dr Booker said.
‘In terms of eating junk food moderation is the key - we're not telling anyone they can't eat these foods, just that they shouldn't be consumed all the time.’
Posted by jonjayray at 12:08 AM
Friday, December 13, 2013
How traffic fumes can be deadly - even at 'safe' levels: Living near a busy road can increase risk of premature death by 7%
A tiny and hence totally insignificant effect
Living near busy roads could put men at higher risk of premature death – even when air pollution levels are rated as ‘safe’, claim researchers. A major study found exposure to traffic pollutants can push up the risk of dying by seven per cent, compared with living in quieter neighbourhoods.
There is mounting evidence of the health dangers of pollution, which is already known to play a part in asthma attacks, heart attacks and strokes.
Microscopic particles largely generated by diesel exhausts have been shown to cause lung damage and harmful changes in blood vessels and clotting.
But the latest study adds to research showing problems occur at levels well below those stipulated in current European Union (EU) air-quality directives.
The new research examined two decades of data from 22 studies involving over 367,000 residents of large cities in 13 European countries.
Researchers looked at the impact of prolonged exposure to tiny particles of soot or dust found in traffic fumes and industrial emissions, fine-particle matter known as PM 2.5.
They estimate that for every increase of 5 micrograms per cubic metre (5 µg/m3) in annual exposure to PM 2.5, the risk of dying from rises by seven per cent.
The risk of death increased only in men, not in women.
Study leader Dr Rob Beelen from Utrecht University in the Netherlands, said ‘A difference of 5 µg/m3 can be found between a location at a busy urban road and at a location not influenced by traffic.
‘Our findings support health impact assessments of fine particles in Europe which were previously based almost entirely on North American studies.’
In the study air pollution concentrations of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter were estimated at home addresses of participants, along with traffic load on nearly major roads.
Traffic density on the nearest road and total traffic load on all major roads within 100m of the residence were also recorded.
Among the participants, 29,076 died from natural causes during the average 14 years of follow up, says a report in The Lancet medical journal (must credit).
The results showed that long-term exposure to fine particles with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres (PM2.5) posed the greatest threat to health even within concentration ranges well below the limits in current European legislation.
The link between prolonged exposure to PM2.5 and premature death was significant even after taking into account factors such as smoking, obesity and activity levels.
Dr Beelen said ‘Our findings suggest that significant adverse health effects occur even at PM2.5 concentrations well below the EU annual average air-quality limit value of 25 µg/m3.
‘The WHO air-quality guideline is 10 µg/m3 and our findings support the idea that significant health benefits can be achieved by moving towards this target.’
Previous research found pregnant women exposed to ‘safe’ levels of air pollution have a higher risk of giving birth to small babies.
Jeremy Langrish and Nicholas Mills from the University of Edinburgh, writing a commentary in the journal, said ‘Despite major improvements in air quality in the past 50 years, the data from Beelen and colleagues’ report draw attention to the continuing effects of air pollution on health.
‘These data, along with the findings from other large cohort studies, suggest that further public and environmental health policy interventions are necessary and have the potential to reduce morbidity and mortality across Europe.
‘Movement towards more stringent guidelines, as recommended by WHO, should be an urgent priority.’
Prof Frank Kelly, Professor of Environmental Health at King’s College London, said ‘This study enhances an increasing scientific evidence base that PM2.5 poses a danger to health at concentrations below current EU limit values and supports the ongoing WHO review of European air quality policies.
‘Results such as these, plus recently published data claiming combustion emissions in the US account for 200,000 premature deaths per year, show that policy measures have enormous potential to create a cleaner and healthier environment.
‘Such action is particularly urgent in cities where concentrations of pollutants routinely breach current EU limit values, let alone the more stringent and health-based WHO guidelines - such as London.’
Why diet cola could be making you FATTER and WRINKLIER: Low-calorie drink could be to blame for spare tyre and withered skin
Diet colas have long been regarded as the dieter's friend - but one-calorie fizzy drinks may actually be the reason you can't shift that stubborn spare tyre.
Some health experts now believe the chemicals in the drink could actually be causing your body to lay down fat deposits around your middle - dubbed 'diet cola belly' - reports Get The Gloss.
And that's not all: some experts also believe diet cola’s mix of carbonated water, colourings and sweeteners such as aspartame and acesulfame K could also speed up the ageing process, and have disastrous health consequences.
Hoards of nutritionists and scientists now claim diet cola’s image as a 'healthy' alternative to the nine-teaspoons-of sugar, regular variety of the fizzy drink is wholly misplaced.
The fructose, artificial sweeteners, and sugar alcohols (another type of low-calorie sweetener) present in diet colas can all interfere with natural gut bacteria, according to Amanda Payne of Switzerland’s Institute of Food, Nutrition and Health which published a paper in the journal Obesity Reviews.
This messes up your metabolism and disrupts the body’s way of signaling to you that you’re full and satisfied.
As a consequence, the body pumps out insulin, the hormone that controls sugar levels and fat storage, so that you lay down what Toribio-Mateas calls 'diet cola belly in the form of more fat around the midriff' - just where you wanted to shed fat.
In addition to this: 'The fake sugars in the drink are hundreds of times sweeter than sugar and trick your brain into thinking real sugar is on the way,' says Toribio-Mateas. 'When the calories don’t arrive, it triggers a cascading effect that interferes with hunger signals, blood sugar levels and satiety.'
Amanda Griggs, director of health and nutrition at the Balance Clinic in London, says: 'phosphoric acid, the ingredient that gives diet cola its appealing tangy taste and the tingle you get when it is swallowed, can cause a host of problems'.
According to one, study, published in a 2010 issue of the FASEB Journal, it can even accelerate the ageing process.
It found that the excessive phosphate levels found in sodas caused lab rats to die a full five weeks earlier than the rats whose diets had more normal phosphate levels.
The excessive phosphate levels found in sodas caused lab rats to die a full five weeks earlier than the rats whose diets had more normal phosphate levels
Phosphoric acid has also been linked to lower bone density in some studies, including a discussion in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
In experiments at Harvard University, the mineral was found to make skin and muscles wither and to damage the heart and kidneys over time.
However, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a consumer watchdog group not affiliated with the food industry, only a small fraction of the phosphate in diets comes from additives in soft drinks. Most comes from meat and dairy products.
Sian Porter, spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association says diet colas may lack sugar, but the acidic nature of artificially sweetened fizzy varieties means they still attack tooth enamel.
'It’s not just the sugary drinks that are causing teeth problems,' says Porter. 'Sugar raises the risk of decay, but diet drinks are equally acidic and can cause erosion in the same way.'
It has also been shown to raise the risk of type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure by some researchers. To add to the dire news for diet cola fans, results of a ten-year study found a link with cardiovascular disease among those who drank it every day; cola drinkers were found to be 43 per cent more likely to suffer a stroke or heart attack during a ten-year period than those who abstained.
Other studies have shown that the phosphorus released from phosphoric acid in just two fizzy drinks a week can cause calcium to be leached from bones, raising the risk of osteoporosis.
Cola (both diet and regular varieties) seems particularly damaging to the skeleton. Typically, a can of diet cola contains 44-62mg of phosphoric acid - more than in many other soft drinks - and researchers at Tufts University in Boston showed that women who regularly drank three or more cans a day had four per cent lower bone mineral density in their hips compared to those who preferred other soft drinks.
Posted by jonjayray at 12:26 AM
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Father's folic acid intake BEFORE conception plays crucial role in long-term health of offspring
Rodent study only
A potential father's diet prior to conception can play a crucial part in the health of his future children, new research has found.
Canadian scientists discovered that sperm carries a 'memory' of the father's lifestyle, and is transferred to offspring follow conception.
The scientists said: ‘You are what your father eats’ and advised men thinking about starting a family to lay off junk food and fill up on green, leafy vegetables.
The advice follows a study of folic acid, a form of vitamin B, known to be key in the prevention of brain and spine defects such as spina bifida.
Women are advised to take supplements when they are trying to conceive and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy but it now appears that men also have to think about their levels.
Dr Kimmins, of McGill University in Montreal, compared the health of mice born to fathers deficient in folic acid to that of pups sired by males with normal levels of the vitamin. All of the mothers had normal levels of folic acid.
To the researcher’s surprise, the mice born to males low in folic acid were almost 30 per cent more likely to have birth defects, including some severe deformities of the spine and skull. Dr Kimmins said: ‘We were most taken aback by the increased incidence of birth defects.
‘Lots of attention has been paid to a mother’s health pre-conception yet the health of the father has been pretty much ignored. ‘Because men have their fertility through their life, they think they are good to go at any time and the focus has been on women because they are the incubators of the pregnancy. ‘But both men and women need to think about what they are doing pre-conception.’
The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, suggests that lack of folic acid makes subtle changes to the chemistry of the sperm’s DNA. These then have long-lasting consequences for the development of the unborn baby.
Dr Kimmins said it is too early to advise prospective fathers to take supplements, instead they should eat their greens.
Good sources of folic acid include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach, asparagus and peas, as well as liver, chickpeas and brown rice. Some breakfast cereals are fortified and mandatory fortification of flour is being discussed.
The advice may be particularly relevant to overweight men and junk food fans, as both being fat and eating fatty food affects the way the body uses folic acid.
Alcohol also interferes with the vitamin. Dr Kimmins said: ‘Young lads out bar hopping need to consider that all that alcohol isn’t going to be good for their future children.
‘Our research suggests that fathers need to think about what they put in their mouths, what they smoke and what they drink and remember they are caretakers of generations to come.’
Allan Pacey, a male fertility expert from Sheffield University, said that previous research has linked folic acid with boosting male fertility.
He said: ‘I wouldn’t suggest men rush out and buy supplements because I think a normal healthy diet will give them the right amount.’
Drinking milk as teens might not protect men's bones
Boys who drink more milk during their teenage years might not see any drop in their risk for hip fractures as adults, new research suggests. Just the opposite: Their risk actually might rise.
The finding, which was not observed among women, is based on the fracture history of nearly 100,000 white men and women, middle-aged and older, who recounted their milk-drinking habits decades earlier.
"I don't consider this to be a definitive finding that would change the public-health message concerning milk at this point," said lead study author Diane Feskanich. "But even though we're very focused on milk in this country, we don't really have studies that have documented how people drink milk as kids and then have waited 50 to 60 years to see what happens to their bones.
"What we found was a little surprising. Teen milk consumption was associated with a higher fracture risk among men, but not women," said Feskanich, an assistant professor in the department of medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, in Boston.
Feskanich and her colleagues discussed their findings in the Nov. 18 online issue of the journal JAMA Pediatrics.
The researchers said milk has long been touted as an essential part of teen diets. The most recent dietary guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommend that adolescents drink at least three glasses of milk (or a dairy equivalent) each day.
The guidelines' goal is to ensure proper skeletal growth and health during adolescence, the time during which boys and girls amass roughly 95 percent of their future adult bone mineral content, the researchers said.
But they also said growing taller -- which can be spurred by drinking milk -- has itself has been linked to a greater risk for fractures, perhaps complicating milk's overall protective role regarding hip-fracture risk.
The investigators analyzed teen milk-consumption patterns that had been reported in 1986 by women participating in the Nurses' Health Study, and in 1988 by men participating in the Health Professional Follow-Up Study.
All participants were white, and milk-consumption histories (primarily involving whole milk) focused on the ages of 13 to 18. The participants' histories were provided solely on the basis of personal recall.
More than 35,000 men and nearly 62,000 women were tracked for 22 years. During this time, 490 hip fractures occurred among men and more than 1,200 occurred among women.
First, the researchers accounted for a number of possible influencing factors, such as current diet, weight, smoking history, exercise patterns, prescription drug use and current milk-consumption habits. They then determined that a man's risk for a hip fracture actually increased 9 percent for every additional daily glass of milk he had consumed while a teen.
However, no increase in adult hip fracture risk was seen among teen girls who drank more milk.
"The gender difference might be explained by several things," Feskanich said. "Difference in when women attain full height and maturity, or the fact that bone density is a bigger issue for men than women -- perhaps more of an issue than height. But at this point we're just hypothesizing."
Although the study found an association between more milk consumption in boyhood and higher risk of hip fractures in adulthood, it did not establish a cause-and-effect relationship.
In an editorial accompanying the study, Connie Weaver, a distinguished professor in the department of nutrition science at Purdue University, suggested that the findings may be flawed due to problems with the study's premise.
"When you look at the different findings concerning men and women, there are a number of reasons to ask if there is some problem with the study approach," she said.
"First of all, basic physiology among men and women ought to be the same, because calcium is the major mineral in all our bones," she said. "Their theory holds together based on the proposition that drinking milk will make boys taller and more prone to breaking bones, but the impact on height really shouldn't be different for boys and girls."
"There's also the fact that, both sexually and in terms of bones, boys and girls do develop at a different rate," she said. "To get an accurate look at the impact of teenage milk consumption, maybe the timelines shouldn't have been lined up to be exactly the same."
She also questioned how accurate the self-reports of past milk consumption might be.
"The ability to estimate what you ate a year ago is pretty difficult, not to mention decades back," Weaver said. "Boys and girls have different self-image perceptions, which we know influence what they tell you they eat. Girls always under-report; boys always over-report. That might correspond with milk consumption too."
"This is a very interesting hypothesis, but the finding just doesn't play out very logically," Weaver said. "No one should walk away from this study thinking that they or their kids should avoid milk when young."
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Scientists discover radiation 'bomb' that could wipe out HIV from sufferers’ body
Study in laboratory glassware only
For years, doctors have been treating HIV patients using anti-viral drugs, the effects of which can sometimes be mixed.
Now a group of scientists in New York have tried seeing if using powerful doses of radiation - a radioactive smart bomb - might be more effective, and the results are very encouraging.
Researchers found that in patients who were blasted with a combination of antiviral drugs and radiation, the treatment was even more effective and made the HIV virus became undetectable in the body.
Dr. Ekaterina Dadachova, Ph.D., from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, New York is behind this pioneering research which investigated the ability of radioimmunotherapy to kill white blood cells infected with HIV.
The radio active antibodies were also able to kill significantly more HIV-infected cells in the brain whilst doing less damage to the brains delicate systems.
'Antiretroviral treatment only partially penetrates the blood brain barrier, which means that even if a patient is free of HIV systemically, the virus is still able to rage on in the brain, causing cognitive disorders and mental decline,' Dr Dadachova said in a statement. 'Our study showed that radioimmunotherapy is able to kill HIV-infected cells both systemically and within the central nervous system.'
After 30 years of fighting the deadly and incurable virus, scientists think they may be able to find a way to really kill it.
Earlier this week the White House and the National Institutes of Health announced a new, $100 million effort to try to find a cure.
In the latest study, researchers tested a modified version of a therapy now used to treat leukemia on blood taken from 15 patients with HIV, and found evidence it could clean out infected cells.
These so-called latent cells are the main reason that HIV cannot be cured – they lie low in the body, quietly resting until drug treatment stops, and then roar back into action.
The team tried the new technique on 15 patients being treated for HIV.
It killed the infected cells that were still circulating in the patients, and even penetrated into the brain – something that not many drugs can do.
“The elimination of HIV-infected cells with RIT was profound and specific,” Dr. Dadachova said. “The radionuclide we used delivered radiation only to HIV-infected cells without damaging nearby cells.”
The human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS infects 35 million people globally and has killed another 36 million, according to the United Nations.
There’s no cure and experimental vaccines work only poorly.
Drug treatment called antiretroviral therapy can keep the virus suppressed to such low levels that patients are healthy and much less likely to infect others.
However, the virus always seems to remain in the body somewhere, and if the drug treatment is stopped, the cells usually start pumping out more virus again.
Reservoirs of latently infected cells persist in the body, preventing the possibility of a permanent cure.
In a few extremely rare cases, patients appear to have been cured.
RIT, which has historically been employed to treat cancer, uses monoclonal antibodies- cloned cells that are recruited by the immune system to identify and neutralize antigens.
Antigens are foreign objects like bacteria and viruses that stimulate an immune response in the body.
The antibody, designed to recognize and bind to a specific cell antigen, is paired with a radioactive isotope. When injected into the patient’s bloodstream, the laboratory-developed antibody travels to the target cell where the radiation is then delivered.
“In RIT, the antibodies bind to the infected cells and kill them by radiation,” Dr. Dadachova said. “When HAART and RIT are used together, they kill the virus and the infected cells, respectively.”
'We found that radioimmunotherapy could kill HIV-infected cells both in blood samples that received antiretroviral treatment and within the central nervous system, demonstrating RIT offers real potential for being developed into an HIV cure,'
Because the study was only conducted in blood samples and lab models, researchers say the next step is to test the treatment in clinical trials with humans.
Healthy diet 'may prevent dementia'
This is just the conventional wisdom -- that takes no account of contrary evidence. Neither Australians nor Scandinavians eat a Mediterranean diet but both live longer than those who do. But you would never guess that from the conventional medical literature. The idea that the Med diet is "healthier" is simply and plainly wrong. It was one of the errors of Ancel Keys but it lives on
THE battle against dementia should be refocused away from "dubious" drugs to the benefits of a Mediterranean diet, a group of British doctors and health experts say ahead of an international summit.
In a letter to British Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, they said persuading people to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, fish and olive oil was "possibly the best strategy currently available".
But it was being largely ignored because of the "low awareness and prestige given to diet by many in the medical profession", they warned, calling for an education program.
Dementia experts from G8 countries will gather in London this week for a meeting convened by David Cameron as part of the UK's presidency of the group of leading economies.
Hunt has called dementia a health and care "time bomb" with the number of people living with the condition expected to triple worldwide to 135 million by 2050, according to a recent report.
Critics are also concerned about high levels of anti-psychotic drug prescription.
Among signatories to the letter were former chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, Professor Clare Gerada, the chair of the National Obesity Forum, Professor David Haslam, Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at the University of Liverpool Simon Capewell and London cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra.
They said successfully encouraging people onto a healthier diet could have a "far greater impact in the fight to reduce the dramatic increasing rates of the disease than pharmaceutical and medical interventions" than the "dubious benefit of most drugs".
It can also protect against coronary heart disease, hypertension and diabetes.
Research by the University of Exeter's Medical School found a majority of studies suggested the diet could improve cognitive function, lower rates of decline and reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease.
However, results for mild cognitive impairment - the stage before Alzheimer's or dementia, when someone could be experiencing some cognitive difficulties - were inconsistent.
"The evidence base for the Mediterranean diet, in preventing all of the chronic diseases that is plaguing the western world is overwhelming," Dr Malhotra said. "This includes cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer's and cancer.
"Policy makers and the public need to know that such a diet is far more potent than the often dubious benefit of many medications and without side effects."
Dr Simon Poole, a leading advocate of the Mediterranean diet who organised the letter, said: "Educating all generations, including our children, in the importance of a good diet in maintaining health in old age is a project which will take years, but is absolutely essential."
Posted by jonjayray at 12:30 AM
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Healthy food labels blamed for rise in obesity as Australians fall into high sugar and fat trap
"HEALTHIER" foods could be to blame for rising obesity. New research from Nutrition Australia Queensland found 96 per cent of Queenslanders were unable to tell the difference between unhealthy and healthy food.
Sneaky labelling which touts high-sugar products as low-fat, and vice versa, makes it difficult for consumers to identify healthy choices.
High-sugar breakfast cereals, Caesar salads and frozen yoghurt often marketed as healthy alternatives are the most common culprits. The Nutrition Australia Queensland study found 78 per cent of people over indulged in the high sugar, high fat snacks once or twice a day.
NAQ senior nutritionist Aloysa Hourigan said confusion over what constituted healthy and unhealthy food was driving Queensland's obesity crisis.
"People are choosing foods that are often marketed as healthy but actually contain high amounts of sugar, fat and salt," Ms Hourigan said.
Did you know there are about 10 teaspoons of sugar in a can of regular soft drink?
"A lot of diet fads and marketing messages have added to the confusion. Many people are passing up healthy foods in favour of poor choices."
The survey found almost 80 per cent of people were eating 'extras' foods up to twice a day.
"By not knowing the difference between healthy and unhealthy foods, Queenslanders are placing themselves at a higher risk of developing potentially deadly chronic diseases like heart disease and type two diabetes."
She said the findings were a grim reminder that more education was required to cut through confusing marketing messages.
"There was a widespread unawareness about how often we should be eating 'extras' foods like chocolate bars and potato chips," she said.
This exceeds the Australian Dietary Guidelines which suggest most Australians should eat little or none of these foods as part of a healthy diet.
"With this amount of confusion it is probably not surprising that recent research found Queensland has the highest rate of obesity in Australia."
Stephanie Nievelstein, 22, said she made an effort to choose healthy food options but understood why some people were struggling to tell the difference.
"It can be hard to tell what's healthy when packages market themselves as good for you or 99 per cent fat free," she said. "You need to look at the label on the back to see what's in it but even then it's tempting just to reach for the bikkies and chocolates and tell yourself it's not that bad."
Ms Hourigan recommended cutting back on high-sugar foods and keeping a food diary to track eating habits.
"Research shows recording how much you consume is one way to help reduce consumption," she said. "There are plenty of free apps that can help people record what they eat or alternatively the old-fashioned way of using a pen and paper can be just as effective.
"A single chocolate bar a day might not sound like much but over a year it could lead to weight gain of around 12kg a year. Simply saying no could help people shed up to 12kg a year."
Study casts doubt on whether extra vitamin D prevents disease
Researchers cast doubt on the prevailing wisdom that vitamin D supplements can prevent conditions like cancer, diabetes and heart disease, saying on Friday low vitamin D may be a consequence, not a cause, of ill health.
The findings could have implications for millions of people who take vitamin D pills and other supplements to ward off illness - Americans spend an estimated $600 million a year on them alone.
Vitamin D, sometimes known as the "sunshine vitamin" is made in the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight and in found in foods like fish liver oil, eggs and fatty fish such as salmon, herring and mackerel.
It is known to boost the uptake of calcium and bone formation, and some observational studies have also suggested a link between low levels of vitamin D and greater risks of many acute and chronic diseases.
But it is not clear whether this is a cause-and-effect relationship, so various large trials have been conducted to try to test whether vitamin D supplementation can reduce the risk of developing disease.
Researchers led by Philippe Autier of France's International Prevention Research Institute in Lyon analyzed data from several hundred observational studies and clinical trials examining the effects of vitamin D levels on so-called non-bone health - including links to illness such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
They found that the benefits of high vitamin D levels seen in observational studies — including reduced risk of cardiovascular events, diabetes and colorectal cancer - were not replicated in randomized trials where participants were given vitamin D to see if it would protect against illness.
"What this discrepancy suggests is that decreases in vitamin D levels are a marker of deteriorating health," said Autier.
In other words, he explained, serious illness like cancer and diabetes may reduce vitamin D concentrations, but that does not necessarily mean that raising vitamin D levels would prevent the illness from occurring.
Yet experts not involved in Autier's review said its conclusions were not definitive, and cautioned against reading it as a reason to dissuade people from taking vitamin D.
"This paper is very useful because it highlights the need for more long term intervention studies specifically looking at the effect of proper vitamin D supplementation on disease risk," said Nigel Belshaw, research leader at Britain's Institute of Food Research.
"However, it does not suggest that taking vitamin D supplements cannot be useful in some cases for some purposes. Neither does it rule out a health advantage of increasing vitamin D levels in the blood for those who are deficient."
Helen Macdonald, a professor of nutrition and musculoskeletal health at Britain's University of Aberdeen stressed that vitamin D was important for bone health.
"And we already know that people who are at risk of vitamin D deficiency, like older people, pregnant and breastfeeding women, young children and people with darker skin, need to take a supplement because it is difficult to boost vitamin D levels from food sources alone," she said.
She added that Autier's study did, however, appear to confirm what many nutrition experts have suspected for a while - "that healthy people probably don't need to take a high dose supplement and that the best source of vitamin D for most people is sunlight in the summer, always taking care not to burn."
Posted by jonjayray at 12:06 AM
Monday, December 09, 2013
Do Smarter People Drink More Alcohol?
It appears they do, but is it because they are best able to afford it? My gin bill is considerable
It’s the booziest time of the year, and also the most hung over: According to one study, 96 percent of Americans have been hung over at work after a holiday party, or know someone who has. Creative hangover cures like dried sour plums and poached duck embryos may ease (or exacerbate) physical symptoms, but here’s something that might help the self-reproach: You can blame your hangover on your high IQ, because studies show there might be a positive correlation between intelligence and alcohol consumption.
The sooner you talk, the sooner you drink
Finnish researchers gathered data on 3,000 fraternal and identical twins and found that the sibling who was the first to develop verbal ability—speaking words, reading and using expressive language—also tended to be the first to try alcohol and to drink more heavily throughout adolescence. Verbal development may be correlated with social intelligence; the verbally precocious twin also had, on average, more friends, and could be more likely to end up in social situations where alcohol is present: “Good language skills reduce the likelihood of peer rejection… higher social activity predicts more frequent drinking in adolescence,” write the authors.
Earlier speaking age is also associated with better academic performance throughout middle and high school and a higher chance of graduating from college—and achieving higher levels of education is also correlated with higher alcohol consumption. The authors hypothesize that intelligence is correlated with curiosity and a desire for new experiences: “Cognitive performance and reading abilities in childhood are related to higher stimulation-seeking tendencies.”
Drinkers are evolutionarily adaptive
According to the Savanna-IQ Interaction Hypothesis posited by evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa, the human brain has trouble dealing with situations that did not exist in the Pleistocene environment we evolved in, but some brains (less intelligent ones) have more trouble than others. Writes Kanazawa, “the human brain has difficulty comprehending and dealing with entities and situations that did not exist in the ancestral environment…general intelligence evolved as a domain-specific psychological adaptation to solve evolutionarily novel problems.” Alcohol consumption is “evolutionarily novel”—humans began cultivating and consuming alcohol only about 10,000 years ago (though we may have ingested trace amounts of ethanol in fermented fruits before that)—so this model would predict a link between intelligence and drinking.
When Kanazawa analyzed data on UK children, he found that link. Drawing on the results of the National Child Development Study, which tracked for 50 years all British babies born during one week in March 1958, Kanazawa found that kids who scored higher on IQ tests grew up to drink larger quantities of alcohol on a more regular basis than their less intelligent peers. He evaluated other factors, including religion, frequency of church attendance, social class, parents’ education and self-reported satisfaction with life, and found that intelligence before age 16 was second only to gender in predicting alcohol consumption at age 23. In Kanazawa’s model, illicit drugs constitute another evolutionarily novel experience—and he (and others) have also found a link between high IQ and experimentation with drugs. In Kanazawa’s study, the higher a respondent’s IQ before age 16, the more psychoactive substances he or she had tried by age 42. Another study found that 30-year-old women who had earned high scores on an IQ test at age five were more than twice as likely to have smoked weed or used cocaine in the previous year; men who had scored highly on IQ tests as children were 50 percent more likely to have recently consumed amphetamines or ecstasy.
Smart people prefer wine
A study that compared 1,800 Danish men’s IQ scores to their drinking habits from the 1950s through 1990s found a strong correlation between high IQ in young adulthood and preference for wine over beer later in life, regardless of socioeconomic status. (Very few respondents—less than 1 percent—preferred spirits; this preference was unrelated to IQ.) Twenty-two percent of men who were grouped into the highest of five IQ categories at age 18 preferred wine in their 30s, compared to 9 percent of the men grouped in the lowest IQ category. By their 40s, the differences were even more pronounced: 39 percent of the men with the highest IQs, but only 13 percent of those with the lowest, preferred wine. According to the paper, "in the predominantly beer-drinking Danish population…wine drinking has traditionally been a sign of high social standing.” The correlation among income, education, social status and intelligence could explain their findings.
College graduates drink more
Researchers at the London School of Economics examined data on thousands of British adults in their 30s and found a positive correlation between educational attainment and daily drinking. The relationship was stronger for women: Women who had graduated from college were 86 percent more likely than women who hadn’t graduated high school to admit to drinking on most days. Possible explanations include: “a more intensive social life that encourages alcohol intake; a greater engagement into traditionally male spheres of life; a greater social acceptability of alcohol use and abuse; more exposure to alcohol use during formative years; and greater postponement of childbearing and its responsibilities among the better educated.”
The link between education and drinking holds for American adults: According to the U.S. Department of Health, rates of alcohol consumption rise with education level, with 68.4 percent of college graduates describing themselves as drinkers, compared with 35.2 percent for adults without high school diplomas—perhaps reflecting people bringing the binge-drinking habits they learn on campus into adulthood.
Australia: Gluttons for government intervention
The anti-obesity movement, unlike the targets of their attention, moves fast. As soon as they achieve one policy objective, it's on to the next.
Last week, the second annual Obesity Summit was held in Canberra by the not-for-profit health-promotion group Obesity Australia. Among those attending were many of the same activists who in June convinced the Gillard government to sign off on a new 'Health Star Rating' system for food. The government pledged that this anti-junk-food labelling system would become mandatory if, after two years, not enough food producers had signed on voluntarily.
Five months later, the health-mongers have already developed a new policy wish list, including extra taxes on unhealthy food, legal restrictions on food advertising aimed at children, and guidelines for GPs designed to make obesity a topic of every doctor's visit.
John Funder, head of Obesity Australia, says that the proposed GP guidelines would force patients to hop on the scales any time they visit a GP, even if they originally came in 'because they've got a cold or a broken toe.' The idea is to embolden doctors to raise the awkward subject of weight loss, since according to Funder, many GPs now consider mentioning a patient's weight 'an intrusion.'
Considering the intrusiveness of some of the exams these doctors routinely perform, and the various intimate, personal, and gastroenterological questions they ask their paper-gown-clad patients, Funder's proposed salve for their delicate sense of awkwardness may be a solution in search of a problem.
The second main policy push at the summit was a campaign to get the Australian Medical Association (AMA) to label obesity a 'disease.' The American Medical Association officially designated obesity a disease in June, but here in Australia the AMA has been reluctant to follow suit.
Calling obesity a disease sounds like a kind-hearted and non-judgmental way to reassure the overweight that their condition does not necessarily indicate a moral failing. But this policy push has nothing to do with overweight Australians' self-esteem and everything to do with obtaining government subsidies for 'stomach stapling' and other bariatric surgeries.
There are a multitude of weight-loss systems available on the market that are less expensive and less drastic than surgery, from nutritional counselling to personal fitness training to Jenny Craig. If our rule of thumb for government intervention is that the state should step in only when the market fails to provide, weight loss fails the test.
Four days after the Obesity Summit closed, the federal government announced a new Diabetes Task Force to be co-chaired by the doctor who gave the summit's opening lecture, which was titled, somewhat histrionically, 'An Obesity Apocalypse: Can It Be Averted?' That is as far as the government should go in supporting Obesity Australia's misguided policy agenda.
Posted by jonjayray at 12:15 AM
Sunday, December 08, 2013
Trying for a baby? Eat Brussels sprouts: Vegetable helps boost fertility in both men and women
Just theory. No research cited
Many people shudder at the thought of Brussels sprouts with their minds conjure up images of bitter, overcooked school vegetables. But new research suggests that couples who are trying for a baby should tuck into a regular helping of the festive staple.
According to studies, nine per cent of all conceptions take place over the Christmas period, making December the most fertile month of the year. Parties and festive tipples are thought to be partly responsible for this trend.
However, Neema Savvides, a nutritional therapist at the Harley Street Fertility Clinic, says the increased consumption of sprouts could also play a role. She said: ‘Believe it or not, this green micro cabbage is a baby making super food.
‘Firstly, they are bursting with folic acid which is essential for boosting fertility in both men and women. ‘This vitamin rich source also increases sperm levels and helps line the womb with the right nutrients raising sperm survival chances.
‘Another benefit of this folic rich food is that it also helps to decrease the risk of miscarriages and birth defects.’
Brussels sprouts also contain a phytonutrient called di-indolylmethane, which helps women absorb balanced levels of the hormone oestrogen.
In fact, it binds to environmental oestrogens, like pesticides and hormones in meat and dairy products, and helps rid the body of excess hormones – this boosts fertility.
The vegetable is also thought to lower cholesterol levels and have anti-inflammatory properties.
Trials discover that controversial sweetener aspartame is actually SAFE and doesn't cause headaches or nausea
The aspartame warriors will block their ears
The controversial sweetener aspartame has effectively been cleared as safe to eat by Government experts following human feeding trials.
Human guinea pigs were fed cereal snack bars, some of which contained the artificial sweetener, by a team of researchers at Hull York Medical School.
The study recruited 50 people who had reported reactions after consuming aspartame in the past, such as headaches and nausea.
There was also a control group of another 50 others who have eaten aspartame in food and fizzy drink over many years without any ill-effects.
However, the investigation found no evidence of harm in either those who reported past sensitivity to aspartame or the control group.
Significantly, this was a so-called double-blind trial where neither the trial participants or the researchers knew which of the bars was being eaten.
Yesterday, the Food Standards Agency announced that as a result of the British research, the Committee on Toxicity(CoT) had decided there is no need to ban or control the sale or consumption of the sweetener.
The FSA said: ‘The expert committee concluded that 'the results presented did not indicate any need for action to protect the health of the public'.’
The government watchdog has not released the full details of the research because they remain confidential until they have been published in a peer reviewed journal.
And despite concluding there is no reason to protect consumers, the FSA said the committee had not carried out an overall safety evaluation of aspartame
A separate safety evaluation is being conducted by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which is due to be published this month. The FSA said it will send the results of the British trial to EFSA, so they can be taken into account.
The conclusions of the experts on the CoT are unlikely to satisfy the many critics of aspartame, who include Erik Millstone, Professor of Science Policy at the University of Sussex.
He insists there is good quality independent research projects that have identified potential problems, ranging from premature births in women who enjoy diet drinks, to cancer.
Prof Millstone, of the university’s Science and Technology Policy Research unit, believes that EFSA’s evaluation is biased in favour of aspartame.
He claims the EFSA panel set up to carry out the safety assessment is dominated by experts linked to manufacturers or regulators that have previously supported aspartame.
The professor pointed to several studies that raise real questions about the safety of aspartame and justify the need for further research.
An EU funded project published in 2010 found pregnant women who down cans of fizzy drink containing artificial sweeteners appear to be at greater risk of having a premature baby,.
It is rare for a mother to be to give birth early - before 37 weeks - assuming all aspects of the pregnancy have been normal. The research found this low risk was increased by 38per cent if the woman was drinking an average of one can of diet drink a day.
The statistics, gathered by academics in Denmark, showed that a woman who routinely drank at least four cans a day could increase the risk by as much as 78per cent. This meant that if the risk of a premature birth was normally one in a 100, it increased to 1.78 in 100.
The professor also highlighted work by the independent Ramazzini Foundation in Italy, which has published research suggesting aspartame caused several types of cancer in rats at doses very close to the current acceptable daily intake for humans.
The concern about artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, relates to the fact that they contain methanol.
Methanol is a nerve toxin, which can be metabolised in the body to form formic acid, which is another nerve toxin, as well as formaldehyde, which is the chemical used to preserve dead bodies.
All of these research studies have formed part of the EFSA review. A paper detailing the review’s draft conclusions found they did not identify a health risk.
Posted by jonjayray at 12:13 AM
Friday, December 06, 2013
Keep eating vegetables to give your love life a glow: Plenty of fruit and veg helps make a person more attractive
This study had NO data on food intake of any kind!
Research shows that eating lots of fruit and vegetables gives people a golden glow that makes them look more attractive. And as we don’t find the yellowy colour more appealing in other contexts, the researchers believe we have learnt to link bronzed skin with good health.
This could help us pick a mate and also ensure we avoid sickly sorts who might pass on an infection.
Those who find it difficult to eat their greens will be pleased to know that even one or two extra portions a day can make a difference.
The finding comes from York, St Andrews and Cambridge University researchers who took photos of 20 men and women and then adjusted them to create four different versions.
In one set of images, the faces had the golden glow of someone who eats a lot of fruit and veg and in a second they had the less healthy complexion of someone who eats few greens. The third and fourth sets also had contrasting skin tones but the faces were jumbled up to create abstract images that were unrecognisable as being human.
Volunteers then rated the attractiveness of the images.
The yellowness of the abstract images didn’t make a difference but the more golden faces were clearly judged as being better looking. The results suggest that rather than being a colour we find attractive in general, yellow tells us something special when part of someone’s skin tone.
Are Vitamin C-infused showers the secret to healthy hair and skin? The new beauty trend promising to eliminate dandruff, frizz, and eczema
Flu season’s favored antidote - Vitamin C - is now being taken out of the vitamin capsule and into the shower - but not to ward off sickness.
By reducing water’s chlorine content, Vitamin C filters - which can be purchased online for between $35 and $125 - are said to leave the hair and skin in better condition.
The devices are said to neutralize, and therefore reduce chlorine’s residual side effects like dry skin, dandruff, frizzy hair, headaches, and itchy eyes, researchers say. They can even help subside eczema.
Much like its use in pool maintenance, chlorine is typically deployed into public water supplies to disinfect the water as it travels through pipelines.
While the chlorine loses its purpose once it reaches your tap, it can still leave behind the aforementioned reactions. Vitamin C has been deemed as a foil to these side effects.
Vitamin C ‘eats’ or consumes the chlorine, and has been promoted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a proven chlorine neutralizer.
Chlorine filtering devices loaded with Vitamin C are already being installed in luxury hotels and condominium buildings in cities across the U.S.
The MGM Grand in Las Vegas says that Vitamin C shower filters are a key tool in ‘promoting healthy hair [and] skin.’ The hotel has installed the filters in its ‘Stay Well’ rooms.
The filters are popping up in luxury apartments too. Leonardo DiCaprio is reportedly moving into a New York City ‘health-centric’ condominium complex where the showers come furnished with Vitamin C filters.
The devices, some of which are offered as complete filtering showerheads, and others as screw-on showerhead attachments, each come with refillable cartridges that last somewhere between one and three months.
But do they work? Online reviewers seem to offer a range of opinions – making the filters’ effectiveness seem unclear.
Posted by jonjayray at 12:22 AM
Thursday, December 05, 2013
New Study Puts Abortion-Breast Cancer Link Back in the Spotlight
Not that any evidence will convince abortion supporters
A new study pointing to a link between breast cancer and abortion among Chinese women may breathe new life into a debate over a long-contentious issue which both sides have accused the other of exploiting to promote its cause.
The meta-analysis by Chinese researchers, published in the peer-reviewed journal Cancer Causes and Control, found a 44 percent increased breast cancer risk after an abortion. It also found that the risk grew significantly with subsequent abortions – a 76 percent increase after two abortions, 89 percent after three.
“In summary, the most important implication of this study is that IA [induced abortion] was significantly associated with an increased risk of breast cancer among Chinese females, and the risk of breast cancer increases as the number of IA increases,” said the authors, from the Tianjin Medical University Cancer Hospital’s epidemiology and biostatistics department.
Just a month ago, Chinese media were reporting on a global breast cancer study which noted a 20-30 percent increase in breast cancer incidence among middle-aged urban Chinese women over the past decade.
Among younger women, the study released by GE Healthcare found relatively low incidence, but said that would likely change.
“[O]ne may expect that the fundamental changes in reproductive patterns in China brought about by the implementation in the 1970s of the one-child policy, as well as current lifestyle changes in China caused by rapid economic growth, will potentially lead to dramatically increased rates of breast cancer in Chinese women,” it said.
The researchers at the Tianjin hospital, China’s leading cancer research and treatment institute, noted that an “alarming” increase in the incidence of breast cancer in China has coincided with implementation of the one-child policy.
That government program has restricted most Chinese couples to one child, with some exceptions for rural and ethnic minority couples. Tweaks have been made along the way, but abortion continues to be a central feature in a policy that entails prohibitive fines, loss of jobs or other punishments for those who contravene their birth quota.
Cases of forced abortion and sterilization as well as infanticide have also been recorded under the policy, while sex-selective abortions favoring boys have resulted in an increasingly lopsided gender ratio, with major sociological implications.
Women’s Rights Without Frontiers president Reggie Littlejohn, who campaigns against China’s birth-limitation policies, said the new study revealed yet another abuse.
“The strong association of abortion and breast cancer established by this study brings the women’s rights violations under the one child policy to a new level: a woman pregnant in China without a birth permit is subjected to both government imposed forced abortion, and also breast cancer as a result of it,” she said in a statement. “Where abortion is forced, the subsequent development of breast cancer becomes a violation of women’s rights in itself.”
The Chinese study was welcomed by Joel Brind, professor of endocrinology at Baruch College, City University of New York and a science advisor to the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer.
In an analysis, Brind called it “a real game changer” after years of attempts by various interests to discredit earlier findings, including his own, regarding an “abortion-breast cancer” (ABC) link.
In a meta-analysis published in 1996, Brind reported that women had a 30 percent greater chance of developing breast cancer after an abortion.
Since then, said Brind, abortion advocates, charities and government agencies had “relentlessly targeted the ABC link with fraudulent studies and other attacks.”
In 2003, the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI) held an expert workshop that concluded that induced abortion is not linked to an increase in breast cancer risk.
The NCI’s 2003 finding is widely cited, by groups like the Guttmacher Institute, which notes that despite the NCI declaration, “medically inaccurate claims” on an ABC link can still be found in the abortion counseling materials required in some U.S. states.
The Center for Reproductive Rights similarly complained this year that despite the NCI finding, newly-enacted legislation in Kansas forces doctors “to affirm scientifically inaccurate information, such as a nonexistent link between abortion and the risk of breast cancer.”
The American Cancer Society also cites the 2003 NCI workshop findings, but is a little more cautious in its language: “At this time, the scientific evidence does not support the notion that abortion of any kind raises the risk of breast cancer or any other type of cancer.”
In 2009, an American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists committee argued that earlier findings of an ABC link were “methodologically flawed,” since there was likely “reporting bias” present.
The committee said that when retrospective studies rely on asking women about their abortion history, “the sensitive nature of abortion” could affect the accuracy of the responses.
In China, however, there is little stigma attached to abortion, a procedure often euphemistically labeled “artificial miscarriage.” Figures released in September by China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission showed that more than 13 million abortions take place in the country’s hospitals each year, confirming figures first made public in 2009.
In fact, the new study's Chinese authors make the observation that, “The lack of a social stigma associated with induced abortion in China may limit the amount of underreporting.”
And that is one of the reasons Brind calls the new study a “game changer.”
“Putative underreporting of abortions by healthy women has been routinely invoked to discredit the ABC link – the lack of credible evidence notwithstanding,” Brind said. “This line of attack – variously called the “response bias” or “recall bias” or “reporting bias” argument, has now been neutralized.”
Could Alzheimer's be Type 2 diabetes?
Scientists claim extra insulin produced by those with disease disrupts brain chemistry. But this is rodent research with dubious generalizability
Alzheimer's and diabetes may be the same disease, scientists claim. They have uncovered evidence that the debilitating form of dementia may be late stages of type 2 diabetes.
The discovery would explain why nearly three quarters of patients with this form of diabetes go on to develop Alzheimer’s.
Researchers from Albany University, New York State, believe the excess insulin they produce gets into the brain and disrupts key chemicals.
Eventually masses of amyloid proteins - which poison brain cells - are created because of the excess which leads to Alzheimers, they say.
Ewan McNay from the University said: 'People who develop diabetes have to realise this is about more than controlling their weight or diet. It’s also the first step on the road to cognitive decline.
'At first they won’t be able to keep up with their kids playing games, but in 30 years’ time they may not even recognise them.'
According to the National Diabetes Audit, about 2.5m people have Type 2 diabetes, 80 per cent of which were overweight or obese. Alzheimer's affects 500,000 Britons.
The increased risk of Alzheimer's for those with Type 2 has been suspected among the scientific community for a while.
However, as many people with Type 2 are obese and therefore have shorter life-expectancies, little research has been conducted.
The scientists experimented on rats, feeding them a diet with a high-fat content in the hope the would develop Type 2.
They then tested the animal's brains and found their memory skills rapidly went down hill as their diabetes progressed.
When researchers looks at the rats' brains areas of amyloid protein could be seen. Patients with Alzheimer's have similar patterns.
McNay, who says he's cut down on chocolate since conducting the research, believes the clumps develop because, as the body becomes resistant to insulin, it produces more of the hormone.
Excess insulin then travels to the brain where it is supposed to be controlled by an enzyme that breaks down amyloid.
He explained: 'High levels of insulin swamp this enzyme so that it stops breaking down amyloid.
'The latter then accumulates until it forms toxic clumps that poison brain cells. It’s the same amyloid build-up to blame in both diseases — T2 diabetics really do have low-level Alzheimer’s.'
Posted by jonjayray at 12:18 AM