Sunday, October 29, 2006

Curry good for your brain?

Since I am a keen curry-eater, I like this study

Eating curry may keep the brain active, a study of elderly Asians suggests. Consumers of curry were found to have sharper brains and better cognitive performance than those who never or seldom ate it. The magic ingredient may be curcumin, found in the curry spice turmeric, which possesses potent antioxidant and anti- inflammatory properties, say the authors of the study, led by Tze-Pin Ng from the National University of Singapore.

It is known that long-term users of anti-inflammatory drugs have a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer's, while antioxidants, such as vitamin E, have been shown to protect brain cells in laboratory experiments but have had limited success in alleviating cognitive decline in dementia patients.

In their study the team compared scores on the Mini-Mental State Examination for three categories of regular curry consumption in 1,010 Asians who were between 60 and 93 years old in 2003. Most of them ate curry at least occasionally (once every six months), 43 per cent ate it often or very often (between monthly and daily) while 16 per cent said that they never or rarely ate it.

The team report in the American Journal of Epidemiology that people who consumed curry "occasionally" and "often or very often" had significantly better MMSE scores than those who "never or rarely" ate it


Walking stops colds?

It seems unlikely that the control group got the same amount of total exercise

Half an hour's exercise a day cuts the risks of catching colds in half, a new trial suggests. Brisk walking is all that is needed, and the longer that you continue to exercise daily the greater the benefit. The trial recruited 115 older women from Seattle, Washington state. All were sedentary and either overweight or obese. For a year they were asked either to exercise daily or take part in a 45-minute stretching class once a week.

The women were randomly allocated to one or other of these groups, and every quarter were asked to fill in questionnaires asking them whether they had suffered colds or other upper respiratory infections in the previous three months. The results, published in The American Journal of Medicine, show that the daily exercise group had only half as many colds as the weekly stretch-class group. Over the final three months of the study the gap was even wider, with the stretchers suffering three times as many colds as the exercisers. "This adds another good reason to put exercise on your to-do list," said Cornelia Ulrich, the paper's senior author and an associate member of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre's public health sciences division in Seattle.

But moderation was the key. Other studies had shown that excessive exercise could increase the risk of colds. She said that the likeliest cause of the benefit, if it proved to be real, was the enhancement of the immune system.

More here

Perfect smile dangerous

In the quest for the perfect Hollywood smile, they provide an instant and cheap makeover for the mouth. But the teeth-whitening kits used by thousands of Britons who want polished molars can cause permanent damage, according to dentists. Super-strength whitening kits that promise to create brighter smiles by bleaching teeth with high levels of hydrogen peroxide dye can lead to chemical burns and aggravated gum disease, the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (BACD) announced yesterday. The do-it-yourself kits, on sale over the counter in Britain for as little as 10 pounds, are in demand as an alternative to surgical bleaching treatments offered by dental clinics at a cost of between 300 and 1,300 pounds.

Yet some kits available online are 250 times more concentrated than the legal limit and can cause damage or over-bleaching, resulting in so-called "fridge door teeth", clinicians claim. At worst, they may exacerbate gum disease, leading to tooth loss. Private dental clinics are burgeoning, with the market for cosmetic dentistry in Britain now said to be worth 1 billion. More than a quarter of Britons have had cosmetic dental work, including caps and braces. However, whitening treatments are the most popular, according to a recent survey. James Goolnik, a dentist and board member of the BACD, said that the kits offering a "cheap, quick fix" were ineffective and offered a false economy.

"Whitening is a bit like a facial in that it helps to unlock pores in your tooth so that stains are gently removed leaving teeth cleaner and brighter," he said. "All whitening is based on a hydrogen peroxide solution; the only difference in the hundreds of systems out there is the concentration and the way the solution is applied to your teeth. Not all of them are safe. "By law, shop-bought kits in the UK can't have a hydrogen peroxide concentration level more than 0.1 per cent. But other countries have no regulations at all."

Dr Goolnik said that take-home kits should be used with caution since they involved using poorly moulded mouth guards, often worn overnight, allowing leakage of gel or solutions containing hydrogen peroxide, a chemical typically associated with hair colourings, into the mouth. "If the gel goes on to the gums, it can cause blistering. In someone who has got irritation or decay, it can accelerate the process," he said. Dr Goolnik said that the kits with high levels of hydrogen peroxide were designed to be used by professional dentists, painted directly on to the teeth while the gums were protected. He said: "We are seeing more and more people coming in with damage caused by whitening kits . . . They go to the supermarket and see whitening toothpastes. There is no evidence they can actually whiten teeth and people might not see a difference, so they want the next thing up. At best they get no result, and at worst they get permanent sensitivity. "It is essential to invest, at a bare minimum, in going to see your dentist before you use one of these kits, but you don't want to spend money on whitening for no effect and only a dentist can get your teeth to the maximum whiteness."

A spokesman for the General Dental Council, which regulates dentistry in Britain, said: "Tooth-whitening products contain bleach and need to be handled with caution. Only registered dentists are permitted to apply materials and carry out procedures designed to improve the aesthetic appearance of teeth." Carmel McHenry, a spokeswoman for the British Dental Association said: "Liquids that discolour teeth will darken them again over time." She recommended a full dental assessment before the procedure.

A spokesman for Boots the Chemist, which sells its own brand of whitening kits, said: "People with sensitive teeth or gums are advised to talk to a dentist before using whitening kits, and all users are advised to pay careful attention to the detailed instructions on the packaging. Our own-brand kit uses a non-peroxide formula and has been extensively tested and passed as safe to use."



Just some problems with the "Obesity" war:

1). It tries to impose behavior change on everybody -- when most of those targeted are not obese and hence have no reason to change their behaviour. It is a form of punishing the innocent and the guilty alike. (It is also typical of Leftist thinking: Scorning the individual and capable of dealing with large groups only).

2). The longevity research all leads to the conclusion that it is people of MIDDLING weight who live longest -- not slim people. So the "epidemic" of obesity is in fact largely an "epidemic" of living longer.

3). It is total calorie intake that makes you fat -- not where you get your calories. Policies that attack only the source of the calories (e.g. "junk food") without addressing total calorie intake are hence pissing into the wind. People involuntarily deprived of their preferred calorie intake from one source are highly likely to seek and find their calories elsewhere.

4). So-called junk food is perfectly nutritious. A big Mac meal comprises meat, bread, salad and potatoes -- which is a mainstream Western diet. If that is bad then we are all in big trouble.

5). Food warriors demonize salt and fat. But we need a daily salt intake to counter salt-loss through perspiration and the research shows that people on salt-restricted diets die SOONER. And Eskimos eat huge amounts of fat with no apparent ill-effects. And the average home-cooked roast dinner has LOTS of fat. Will we ban roast dinners?

6). The foods restricted are often no more calorific than those permitted -- such as milk and fruit-juice drinks.

7). Tendency to weight is mostly genetic and is therefore not readily susceptible to voluntary behaviour change.

8). And when are we going to ban cheese? Cheese is a concentrated calorie bomb and has lots of that wicked animal fat in it too. Wouldn't we all be better off without it? And what about butter? It is just about pure fat. Surely it should be treated as contraband in kids' lunchboxes! [/sarcasm].


No comments: