Friday, December 11, 2009

Keeping youngsters squeaky clean could be bad for their heart (?)

Parents obsessed with cleanliness could be actually harming their children's hearts, claim some scientists. This is something of an old chestnut by now. Excess cleanliness was the ruling explanation for asthma for a while but recently seems to have run out of steam in that field after some inconsistent findings (e.g. here). The study below is a joke -- one of the more extravagant examples of epidemiological speculation. There are MANY differences between Filipinos and Americans and seizing on just one as THE explanation is faith, not science

The trend for antibacterial soaps could increase youngster's chance of being unhealthy later in life as exposure to everyday germs may prevent heart disease in adulthood. The study is the first to look at how contact with germs early in life affect the immune systems response to diseases associated with ageing in adulthood. It suggests that exposure to infectious bacteria early in life may actually protect individuals from cardiovascular diseases that can lead to death as an adult. It does this by damaging the body's natural response to attack – namely inflammation of the surrounding tissue. Over inflamation is actually a bad thing that can lead to increased blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

Professor Thomas McDade, lead author of the study at Northwestern University, in Chicago, said: “Contrary to assumptions related to earlier studies, our research suggests that ultra-clean, ultra-hygienic environments early in life may contribute to higher levels of inflammation as an adult, which in turn increases risks for a wide range of diseases.” Relatively speaking, humans only recently have lived in such hyper-hygienic environments, he stressed.

The study compared research results from a long-term project in the Philippines, which followed the lifestyle and health 3,300 families over 22 years, with those from a similar American survey. In particular they looked at the level of a substance in the blood – known as C-reactive protein (CRP)- which is a predictor of heart disease.

Blood tests showed that CRP levels in the Filipino young adults were at least 80 per cent lower relative to their American counterparts, though the Filipinos suffered from many more infectious diseases as infants and toddlers. Anecdotal evidence also showed their environments were much less hygienic when they were growing up. The results were published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

“In the U.S we have this idea that we need to protect infants and children from microbes and pathogens at all possible costs,” Professor McDade said. “But we may be depriving developing immune networks of important environmental input needed to guide their function throughout childhood and into adulthood. "Without this input, our research suggests, inflammation may be more likely to be poorly regulated and result in inflammatory responses that are overblown or more difficult to turn off once things get started.”


Can grape juice help bring back your memory?

12 people is a tiny sample. Results unlikely to be statistically significant

Drinking purple grape juice can reduce or even reverse memory loss, scientists claim. In a study, those who drank a pure variety for 12 weeks saw their performance improve in a series of mental tests. Experts believe antioxidants in the skin and juice of the fruit are behind the results. Scientists from the psychiatry department at the University of Cincinnati carried out a study involving 12 people with early memory loss.

They were split into two groups, with one drinking pure 100 per cent Concord juice from grapes grown in the Concord region of Massachusetts, and the other a placebo. Both groups were given regular memory tests over three months. These involved them being asked to learn lists and remember items placed in a certain order. The researchers found the results of those who drank the grape juice showed an improvement the longer the trial went on.

Dr Robert Krikorian, who carried out the study, presented the findings at the International Polyphenols and Health Conference in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, yesterday. 'Following the treatment, those drinking Concord grape juice demonstrated a significant improvement in list learning,' he said. 'And trends suggested improved short-term memory retention and spatial, non-verbal memory. 'The results involving Concord grape juice are very encouraging and certainly warrant an additional study. 'A simple, easy-to-incorporate dietary intervention that could improve or protect memory function, such as drinking Concord grape juice, may be beneficial for the ageing population.'

The study adds weight to the theory that antioxidant-rich foods and drinks may help preserve brain function and slow or reverse memory decline. [Even if they reduce your lifespan]

Dr Krikorian's trial involved a dozen adults aged 75-80 suffering from early memory loss. During the 12 weeks in which each participant in the trial drank 100 per cent Concord grape juice or a placebo, they were assessed for memory function including verbal and non-verbal tasks.

In 2006 research in the U.S. found that drinking fruit and vegetable juices frequently could significantly cut the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. The large-scale study at Vanderbilt University followed almost 2,000 people for up to ten years. Scientists found that the risk was 76 per cent lower for those who drank juice more than three times a week, compared with those who drank it less than once a week. [Possibly because juice drinking is a practice most popular among the middle class. The workers probably drink Coke]


1 comment:

Sharon said...

re: "one drinking pure 100 per cent Concord juice" - - - in what quantity? 4 ounces? 6 ounces?