Dr. Carolyn Chambers Clark, Award-Winning Author and Wellness Nurse Practitioner

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Wellness Self-Care & Relationship Research Blog


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This blog presents some of the latest research findings on wellness self-care and relationships.
 
Topics are alphabetized by date so you can find what you're looking for...starting with abuse and aging to skin problems and weight loss. Scroll down to find what interests you.
 
abuse, June 5, December 15,  2008
aging, June 1, 28,29, September 3, 4, November
     28, 2008, April 5, May 12, May 28, July 6, 2009
Alzheimer's, July 26, August 15, 30, September 20,
     23, November 14, December 5, 12, 22, January
     29, February 12, 26, 27, April 2, July 3, 2009
anger, December 9, 2008
anxiety, February 3, June 29, 2009 (see also: depression,
     stress)
appetite May 29 2008, January, 2009
arthritis May 22, October 18, 2008, February 17, 24, Aprill 26, May 4,      23, June 5, 2009
asthma/allergies, July 11, 14, 15, August 9, 31,
     October 10, 2008, March 27, May 20, 2009
autism: September 9, 2008
babies: August 21,22,23, September 2, 12, October
     15, 31, 2008, January 7, 2009
bladder: October 21, 2008, January 22, 2009
cancer, May 24, 29 2008, June 4, 6, 11, 14, 19, 20, 21,
     27, July 1, 3, 5, 13, 21, 29, August 1, 5, 6,
     September 26, October 2, 24, 25, November 8, 9,
    12, 18, December 10, 18, 20, 31, 2008, January
    22, 23, 24, February 2, 3, 15, March 14, 18, 20,
    April 4, 16, 20, 24, May 3,5,7, 8, 11 14, 15, May 21, 26, June 2,6,11,
    12, 18, 19, 21, July 13,  2009
cesarean, June 9, July 14, August 5, depression, 2008
cerebral palsy, September 18, 2008
children, October 16, 17, 19, 20, 23, November 1,
     13, 18, December 7, 9, 24, 27, 2008, January 2, 9,
     13, 14, February 3, 4, 5, 6, 13, April 3, 2009
cough, May 29, 2008
depression:  July 9, December 6, 16, 24, 2008,
     January 3, February 3, 22, April 3, July 12, 16, 2009 (see also: anxiety,
     stress)
diabetes: May 20, August 24, September 3, 14,
     November 5, 6, 11, 30, December, 17, 19, 2008,
     February 16, 26, 28, May 23,  July 2, 12, 2009
digestion: July 12, October 12, 26, 2008, January
     26, April 13, June 27, 2009
dizziness/vertigo June 10 2008
ears, April 7, 8, 2009
environment, August 8, 10, 2008, January 1, 2009
exercise, June 16, August 28, November 4, 2008,
     February 13, 17, 19, 21, 22, 24,25, 28, March 1, 2, May 12,
     2009
eyes, March 2, June 26, 2009
falls, June 3, August 17, 2008
fatigue, July 28, 2008
fibroids, May 21& 25, July 19, 2008
goals, June 26 2008
headaches, March 6, 2009
heart/stroke/blood pressure/circulation: May 20, 28, 
    30, 31, 2008, June 17, 21, 22, 30, July 7, August  
    7, 15,  September 20, 21, October 13, 14, 18,
    November 3, 10, 11, 15, 17, 20, 29, December
    1, 3, 14, 21, 26, 29, 30, 2008, January 8, 18,
    February 8, 18, 19, 28, March 16, 17, 24, 28, 29, 
    31, April 30, May 2,3, 7, 10,  27, June 10, 13, July 2, 10, 11, 2009
HIV/AIDS, September 11, 2008
infection, July 16, August 5, 18, September 1,
     October 26, November 2, 7, 16, 2008, January,
     4, 21, February 1, 8, 23, April 6, 14, June 24, July 9,  2009
kidney, January 19, March 9, 29, June 28, 2009
liver/hepatitis, June 2, 18, 2008, March 8, 302009
lungs, March 10, April 23, 27, May 20, 24, 2009
medicines, September 15, October 23, 2008, January,
      10, 2009
memory loss, June 12, 13, July 2, August 2,
     November 14, 2008, January 2, 2009
menopause, April 2, 2009
mouth sores, May 29 2008
multiple sclerosis, Marh 25
osteoporosis, June 8, September 22, November 25,
     December 8, 2008, March 13, 29, 2009
pain, January 20, March 22, April 9, May 3, 6, June 8, 23, 2009
parenting October 7, 9, 15, 16, , 19, 23, November   
     13, 23, 24, 2008, January 2, 3,  February 4, 5, 7,
     9, 10, 11, 13, 20, 25, 27, March 1, 7, 12, 15, 23, 25,
    26, April 10, 12, 15, 21, 25,  May 3, 12, 13, 22, 30, June 15, 16, 30,
    July 4, 7, 8, 11, 2009
Parkinsons, September 20, November 19, 2008, July 1, 2009
PMS: July 9, 2008
pregnancy: July 20,  August 9,  August 15,
     October 4, 8, 27, November 11, 22, 2008,
     January 7, 15. 16, 17, 27, 30, February 6, March
     5, 19, April 22, May 19, June 22, July 9, 2009
problem-solving, July 17, October 22, 2008
relationships: May 27 008, June 8,9,23,24,25,
     July 6, 8, 14, 23-25, 31, August 3, 11,12, 14,
     21,22,23, September 2, 12. 17, October 16, 17,
     19, 23, November 13, 21, 26, December 13, 2008
     January 2, 3, 25, February 14, 27, March 3, 4, 21,
    April 28,  May 25, July 14, 2009
skin: May 23, July 10, October 6, 15, 2008
sleep: September 8, 19, 27, October 5, 18, 28,
     December 22, 2008, February 1, 3, 8, 2009
stress: October 11, December 4, 2008, July 12, 2009  (see also:
     anxiety, depression)
suicide: July 6, 2009
surgery/hospital: September 16, 28, October 3,
     November 1, December 11, 2008, January 5, 2009
teeth: July 18, August 26, September 10, December
     25, 2008
weight: May 26 2008, June 7, 2008, July 4, 22, 27,
     30, August 4, 7, 16, 19, 20, 24, 29, October 9, 29,
    30, November 11, 13, December 2, 11, 9, 24, 2008,
     January 6, 9, 11, 12, 31, February 3, 13, March
     11, 30, April 26, May 13, 26, June 20, July 5, 12, 2009

July 16, 2009

 

Depression: Internet therapy as effective as face-to-face with a therapist

 

In a discovery that could lead to new treatment approaches for depression, researchers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) have shown that Internet-based therapy programs are as effective as face-to-face therapies in combating the illness.

 

Patients in a clinician-assisted Internet-based treatment program experienced rates of recovery similar to those achieved by face-to-face therapy, the research found.

 

Moreover, the program – dubbed the Sadness program – required an average of only 111 minutes of clinician email contact per person over an eight-week period, significantly less than other comparable clinician-based therapies.

 

"The results will come as a surprise to many people who believed Internet-based programs wouldn't work in treating depression," said lead author of the study, Professor Gavin Andrews, from UNSW's School of Psychiatry.

 

"We knew that the Internet was successful at treating social phobias and other anxiety disorders but these conditions are, in many ways, low-hanging fruit.

 

"It was assumed that depression would be more difficult because of the lack of motivation usually associated with the illness," he said.

 

"But that simply wasn't the case."

 

In the study, Professor Andrews and UNSW colleague Dr Nick Titov, based at St Vincent's Hospital, randomly assigned 45 people who met diagnostic criteria for depression to the Sadness step program or to a waitlist control group.

 

Those in the treatment program completed six online lessons and weekly homework assignments, received weekly email contact from a clinical psychologist and contributed to a moderated online forum with other participants. They received an average of eight email contacts each from a qualified psychologist.

 

After completing the program, more than a third (34 percent) no longer met the criteria to be diagnosed as depressed – a result similar to face-to-face therapy.

 

A significant majority (82 percent) who completed a post-treatment questionnaire reported being either very satisfied or mostly satisfied with the overall program.

 

The results replicate those from a pilot trial and are consistent with findings in Internet-based trials for other mental disorders.

 

The findings suggested that the Internet could overcome many of the barriers to seeking treatment for depression – including the stigma associated with seeing a mental health professional, the limited availability of clinicians for face-to-face treatment, and the difficulties associated with seeking treatment during working hours.

 

For more information on anxiety and depression visit: http://www.crufad.org/

 

To see the online therapy program visit http://www.climate.tv

 http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090610091431.htm

 

July 14, 2009

 

Laptops Influence Fertility in Males

 

While fatherhood might be far from the minds of most young men, behavior patterns they establish early on may impact their ability to become a dad later in life. Excessive laptop use tops this list of liabilities, according to one reproductive specialist at Loyola University Health System (LUHS).

 

"Laptops are becoming increasingly common among young men wired into to the latest technology," said Suzanne Kavic, MD, director of the division of reproductive endocrinology at LUHS and associate professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology and department of medicine at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. "However, the heat generated from laptops can impact sperm production and development making it difficult to conceive down the road."

 

Kavic recommends placing laptops on desktops to prevent damaging sperm and decreasing counts and motility. Other tips to protect male fertility include:

 

Avoiding hot tubs

Wearing boxers instead of briefs

Refraining from ejaculating too frequently (the recommendation is to only engage in sexual intercourse every other day around ovulation)

Exercising moderately (one hour, three to five times per week)

Avoiding exercise that can generate heat or trauma to the genital area

Eating well

Taking a daily multivitamin

Getting eight hours of sleep per night

Staying hydrated and limiting caffeine to no more than two cups per day

Refraining from smoking

Avoiding drugs and excessive alcohol use

Minimizing exposure to toxins

Avoiding excessive weight gain or weight loss

Practicing stress reduction techniques

Forty percent of fertility issues are attributed to males. Other leading causes of male infertility include varicocoeles or enlarged varicose veins in the scrotum. This condition can raise the temperature in the testicles and damage or kill sperm. Other reasons include genital injuries or defects, certain sexually transmitted infections, prostatitis (an infection or inflammation of the prostate), immune and hormonal disorders and erectile dysfunction. Kavic also notes that underlying health issues and medications may be to blame for fertility issues.

 

"Medications for depression, blood pressure and certain heart conditions may lower libido or cause impotence," said Kavic. "Men should talk with their physicians to see if medication is necessary or if they can switch to another with fewer side effects."

 

For more on the topic, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090612202347.htm

 

July 13, 2009

 

Cancer: Diet May Prevent and Treat Prostate Cancer

 

A new review published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics assessed whether certain modifications in diet have a beneficial effect on the prevention of prostate cancer. Results suggest that a diet low in fat and red meat and high in fruits and vegetables is beneficial in preventing and treating prostate cancer.

 

Robert W.-L. Ma and K. Chapman conducted an evidence-based review of dietary recommendations in the prevention of prostate cancer as well as in the management of patients with prostate cancer.

 

The researchers found that a diet low in fat, high in vegetables and fruit, and avoiding high energy intake, excessive meat, and excessive dairy products and calcium intake may be helpful in preventing prostate cancer, and for patients diagnosed with prostate cancer.

 

Specifically, consumption of tomatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, green tea, and vitamins including Vitamin E and selenium seemed to propose a decreased risk of prostate cancer. Consumption of highly processed or charcoaled meats, dairy products, and fats seemed to be correlated with prostate cancer.

 

For more information on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090603103811.htm

 

July 12, 2009

 

Chronic Illness: Improving Home Environment May Reduce Risk

 

The origins of many adult diseases can be traced to early negative experiences associated with social class and other markers of disadvantage. Confronting the causes of adversity before and shortly after birth may be a promising way to improve adult health and reduce premature deaths, researchers argue in a paper published June 2 in The Journal of the American Medical Association. These adversities establish biological "memories" that weaken physiological systems and make individuals vulnerable to problems that can lie dormant for years.

 

"Improving the developmental trajectory of a child by helping the parents and improving the home environment is probably the single most important thing we can do for the health of that child," says co-author Bruce McEwen, Alfred E. Mirsky Professor and head of the Harold and Margaret Milliken Hatch Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology at The Rockefeller University. "Adverse childhood experience is one of the largest contributors to such chronic health problems as diabetes and obesity, psychiatric disorders, drug abuse – almost every major public health challenge we face."

 

In the report, McEwen and his co-authors distinguish between levels of stress experienced by young children. "Positive" and "tolerable" stress, with the support of adults, help the body and brain learn to cope with brief situations of adversity, while "toxic" stress, which can disrupt brain architecture and other organ systems, increases the risk for stress-related disease and cognitive impairment well into adulthood. Major risk factors for toxic stress include extreme poverty, recurrent physical and/or emotional abuse, chronic neglect, severe maternal depression, parental substance abuse, and family violence.

 

*Adult disease prevention begins with reducing toxic stress in early childhood, as a reduction in the number and severity of early adverse experiences will lead to a decrease in the prevalence of a wide range of health problems.

*High-quality early care and education programs can benefit lifelong health, not just learning, by providing safe, stable, responsive environments and evidence-based treatments for family mental health problems.

*Child welfare services represent an opportunity for lifelong health promotion by augmenting their exclusive focus on child safety and custody with comprehensive developmental assessments and appropriate interventions by skilled professionals.

*Health disparities linked to social class, race, and ethnicity are not primarily about health care access or quality, since these inequalities persist in countries that provide health care for all their citizens. These disparities are rooted in where and how we live, work, and play. Science is now telling us that they're also about how we as a society treat our youngest members.

 

For more on this topic, click on:

 http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090602181955.htm

 

July 11, 2009

 

Parenting: Protect Girl Athletes to Prevent Bone Lose and Heart/Blood Vessel Problems

 

A study led by sports medicine researcher Anne Hoch, D.O., at The Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee has revealed that young female professional dancers face the same health risks as young female athletes when they don't eat enough to offset the energy they spend, and stop menstruating as a consequence.

 

"These two components of the female athlete tetrad put them at higher risk for the other two; the cardiovascular and bone density deficits of much older, postmenopausal women," according to Dr. Hoch, associate professor of orthopaedic surgery and director of the Froedtert & the Medical College Women's Sports Medicine Center.

 

The researchers studied 22 professional ballerinas, all members of the Milwaukee Ballet Company, to determine the prevalence of disordered eating, amenorrhea (lack of menstruation), abnormal vascular function and low bone density. Study findings were presented at the American College of Sports Medicine meeting in Seattle, May 30.

 

The dancers completed questionnaires on their menstrual patterns and eating habits, and underwent a blood test for hormonal levels. Thirty-six percent of the group had disordered eating habits and 77 percent were in a calorie deficit. Twenty-seven percent were currently amenorrheic, 23 percent had low bone mass density and nine percent were taking birth control.

 

Arterial ultrasound measurements revealed that 64 percent had abnormal artery dilation in response to blood flow.

 

"It was unknown if professional dancers without menstrual periods have evidence of vascular dysfunction, yet some characteristics of the tetrad were common in this group," says Dr. Hoch. "Eighty-six percent had one or more components, and fourteen percent had all four."

 

July 10, 2009

 

High-dose Folic Acid Supplements Improved Vascular Function in Amenorrheic Runners

 

In a related study, presented earlier at the American Society of Sports Medicine meeting in Tampa, Fla., researchers at The Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee found that four to six weeks of high-dose folic acid supplementation could improve vascular function in young female runners who were amenorrheic (not menstruating).

 

This is the first study to use folic acid supplementation to improve vascular function in young runners, and is important because folic acid may not only decrease cardiovascular risks but also improve athletic performance for these women. The research was conducted at Froedtert Hospital.

 

"Previous studies have shown that amenorrheic women runners have decreased dilation in the main (brachial) artery of the arm in response to blood flow," says lead author Stacy Lynch, M.D., a women's sports medicine fellow at the College. "Athletic amenorrhea has a hormonal profile similar to menopause, when the earliest sign of cardiovascular disease is reduced vascular dilation, which can limit oxygen uptake and affect performance."

 

While the benefits for women of an active lifestyle, including running, are profound and well-known, there are nearly three million girls in high school sports and approximately 23 million women who run at least six times a week. The prevalence of athletic-associated amenorrhea among these runners is now estimated at 44 percent.

 

Vascular function returned to normal in the amenorrheic women after folic acid supplementation, and it remained at normal levels in the control group despite supplementation.

 

Important Tips for Young Female Athletes

 

Be aware of components of the female athlete tetrad:

 

Disordered eating,

Pre exercise carbohydrates and hydration (2 hrs. prior to exercise) and a recovery meal (within 30 minutes of exercise) are very important

Menstrual dysfunction

Average age of menarche in US is 12.5. It's abnormal if periods don't start by age 15.

Osteoporosis

"Irregular" weight bearing exercise, between ages 7 and12, is most beneficial for long-term bone mineral density. Calcium requirements for ages 11 to 24, per the National Institutes of Health, are 1,500 mg of calcium and 400 mg of Vitamin D daily

Early cardiovascular disease risk:

 

ACL prevention programs are a MUST for female soccer, basketball and volleyball players, 6 weeks prior to season

 

For more information, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090530094456.htm

 

July 9, 2009

 

Pregnancy: Get Sufficient Sunshine to Reduce Risk of Bacterial Vaginosis

 

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common vaginal infection in US women of childbearing age, and is common in pregnant women. BV occurs when the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina is disrupted and replaced by an overgrowth of certain bacteria. Because having BV puts a woman at increased risk for a variety of complications, such as preterm delivery, there is great interest in understanding how it can be prevented.

 

A recent study showed that 41% of all enrolled women had bacterial vaginosis, and that 93% had 25(OH)D levels indicative of vitamin D insufficiency.

 

In summary, these findings suggest that vitamin D insufficiency is associated with BV in the first 4 mo of pregnancy. Further, poor vitamin D status may contribute to the strong racial disparity in the prevalence of BV in US women.

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090514111414.htm

 

July 8, 2009

 

Parenting: Use Science to Convince Teens Not To Drink

 

Assume that your child will be tempted to drink alcohol at the end of the school year, advises the Science Inside Alcohol Project of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). So start talking to your child about alcohol right now.

 

Instead of just asking your teen not to drink, the Science Inside Alcohol Project suggests explaining how alcohol can affect his or her body. Here are five ways alcohol can ruin prom night or graduation:

 

They May Not Remember - Teens spend months preparing for prom and graduation and cherish those memories throughout their lives. But if they drink, there's a good chance they may not remember any of it. They May Get Into Fights – Research shows that teens who drink are often more violent than those who do not.

They May Get Really Sick – Who wants to spend prom night throwing up or so dizzy that he or she can't dance? Alcohol can irritate the stomach causing dehydration which often leads to vomiting and dizziness. Throwing up also may be a sign of alcohol poisoning, which causes body systems to break down and requires immediate medical care. That's a good way to ruin everyone's night.

They May Feel Horrible for the Next Couple of Days – Even small amounts of alcohol can cause a hangover which can lead to thirst, dizziness and lightheadedness. Headaches caused by blood vessel expansion and sleepiness due to narcotic effects on the central nervous system are other symptoms of a hangover. Your teen may have to forgo events scheduled for the next day or two while trying to get better. 

 

For more on this topic, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090520140410.htm

 

July 7, 2009

 

Parenting: Musical Wetting Alarm Effective for Toilet Training

 

A new study appearing in Neurology and Urodynamics evaluates the use of a daytime diaper that uses a musical “wetting alarm” for children in day-care centers. The findings show that wetting alarm diaper training is an effective option for toilet training in a child-friendly way.

 

Parents or day-care providers are informed quickly by the alarm when the diaper is soiled and wetted. The alarm thus releases caretakers from continuous observation of their charges and allows the adults to carry out their activities as long as they stay within the reach of the signal.

 

Toilet training is a milestone in a child’s development and rearing. The potential for side-effects such as hygienic problems, skin irritation and social embarrassment continues until a child has acquired the skills associated with toilet training. The age of initiation of toilet training has increased from under 18 months in the late 1940s to 21–36 months today. The convenience of disposable diapers, pull-up diapers and more efficient laundry facilities may contribute to this trend. Parents may also choose to postpone toilet training out of a belief that their child is too young to be trained.

 

In the U.S., approximately 60 percent of children under the age of 5 receive day care outside the home. As a result, they go through toilet training in day care.

 

 “We believe that one of the important advantages of the wetting alarm diaper training method is that the child and the caregiver are immediately informed of leakage,” says Wyndaele. “The alarm itself distracts the child out of his activity and strengthens the awareness of bladder behavior. By bringing the child to the bathroom at that moment, further reinforcement of its awareness is given.”

 

For more on this study and topic, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090603180934.htm

 

July 6, 2009

 

Suicide: Sedatives and Hypnotics Associated with Increased Risk in Older Adults

 

Sleeping tablets have been associated with a four-fold increase in suicide risk in the elderly. Researchers have shown that, even after adjusting for the presence of psychiatric conditions, sedatives and hypnotics were both associated with an increased risk of suicide.

 

According to one of the researchers, "Sedative treatment was associated with an almost fourteen-fold increase of suicide risk in the crude analyses and remained an independent risk factor for suicide even after adjustment for the presence of mental disorders. Having a current prescription for a hypnotic was associated with a four-fold increase in suicide risk in the adjusted model".

 

The researchers speculate that the drugs may raise suicide risk by triggering aggressive or impulsive behavior, or by providing the means for people to take an overdose. Given the extremely high prescription rates for these drugs, a careful evaluation of the suicide risk should always precede prescribing a sedative or hypnotic to an elderly individual".

 

For more on this topic, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090603195418.htm

 

 

July 5, 2009

 

Overweight Teens More Apt to Commit Suicide

 

Being overweight — or simply believing they are overweight — might predispose some U.S. teens to suicide attempts, according to a new study.

 

The study looked at more than 14,000 high school students to determine the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and suicide attempts, as well as the relationship between believing one is overweight — whether true or not —and suicide attempts.

 

“Our findings show that both perceived and actual overweight increase risk for suicide attempt,” said lead study author Monica Swahn, Ph.D. That association was as strong for boys as for girls, contrary to what the researchers had originally expected.

 

Teens who believed they were overweight were at greater risk for suicide attempts compared to those who did not believe they were overweight. Similarly, teens with a BMI that indicated they were indeed overweight were more likely to be at risk for suicide attempts. Those who perceived themselves as overweight and who actually had BMIs that put them into the “overweight” or “obese” category also were at greater risk.

 

 “Youth feel very pressured to fit in and to fit certain limited ideals of beauty,” Swahn said.

 

“This study adds another wake-up call to providers, parents, teachers and society about the need for screening for depression and suicide risk in all teens, with special attention to teens with perceived or actual obesity,” Omar said.

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090520064349.htm

July 4, 2009

 

Parenting: Helping With Homework Not as Helpful as Tying it to Future Goals

 

Helping middle school students with their homework may not be the best way to get them on the honor roll. But telling them how important academic performance is to their future job prospects and providing specific strategies to study and learn might clinch the grades, according to a research review.

 

"Middle school is the time when grades and interest in school decline," said Hill. "Entering puberty, hanging out with friends, wanting distance from parents and longing to make one's own decisions win over listening to parents and studying."

 

But adolescence is also a time when analytic thinking, problem-solving, planning and decision-making skills start to increase, Hill said. At this age, "teens are starting to internalize goals, beliefs and motivations and use these to make decisions. Although they may want to make their own decisions, they need guidance from parents to help provide the link between school and their aspirations for future work."

 

This type of parental involvement works for middle school students because it is not dependent on teacher relationships, like in elementary school. Middle school students have different teachers for each subject so it is much more difficult for parents to develop relationships with teachers and to influence their teenagers through their teachers, Hill said.

 

Parents' involvement in school events still had a positive effect on adolescents' achievement, Hill said, but not as much as parents' conveying the importance of academic performance, relating educational goals to occupational aspirations and discussing learning strategies.

 

"Lack of guidance is the chief reason that academically able students do not go to college," said Hill. "So communicating the value of education and offering curriculum advice about what to focus on helps these students plan their long-term goals."

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090519134711.htm

 

July 3, 2009

 

Alzheimer’s & Aging: Fish and Sunshine Helpful for Cognitive Function

 

Eating fish – long considered ‘brain food’ – may really be good for the old grey matter, as is a healthy dose of sunshine, new research suggests.

 

University of Manchester scientists in collaboration with colleagues from other European centres have shown that higher levels of vitamin D – primarily synthesised in the skin following sun exposure but also found in certain foods such as oily fish – are associated with improved cognitive function in middle-aged and older men.

 

The researchers found that men with higher levels of vitamin D performed consistently better in a simple and sensitive neuropsychological test that assesses an individual’s attention and speed of information processing.

 

 “Interestingly, the association between increased vitamin D and faster information processing was more significant in men aged over 60 years, although the biological reasons for this remain unclear.”

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090521084832.htm

 

July 2, 2009

 

Diabetes & Heart Disease: Get More Sun

 

Spending more time in the sunshine could help older people to reduce their risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.

 

Exposure to sunlight stimulates vitamin D in the skin and older people are more likely to have a vitamin D deficiency due to the natural aging process and changes in lifestyle.

 

His team found a high correlation between low vitamin D levels and the prevalence of metabolic syndrome. They found 94% of people in the study had a vitamin D (25-hydroxyvitamin D) deficiency or insufficiency. The results showed 42.3% of these people also had metabolic syndrome.

 

He added: “As we get older our skin is less efficient at forming vitamin D and our diet may also become less varied, with a lower natural vitamin D content. Most importantly, however, the dermal production of vitamin D following a standard exposure to UVB light decreases with age because of atrophic skin changes. When we are older we may need to spend more time outdoors to stimulate the same levels of vitamin D we had when we were younger.”

 

For more on this topic, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090511090940.htm

 

July 1, 2009

 

Parkinson’s: St. John’s Wort May Help

 

A research team from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM) has carried out a study entitled, “Hypericum perforatum. Possible option against Parkinson's disease”, which suggests that this plant with antidepressant properties has antioxidant active ingredients that could help reduce the neuronal degeneration caused by the disease.

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090511181252.htm

 

June 30, 2009

 

Parenting: Using Booster Seats for Kids Safely

 

While child booster car seat use has increased across the United States, many seats are improperly installed, leading to increased risk of serious injury for their little passengers.

 

Researchers from the Automotive Safety Program at Riley Hospital for Children and Indiana University School of Medicine have found that an alarming two-thirds of the booster seats observed in a study conducted throughout Indiana were not being used appropriately.

 

Booster seats raise their young occupants so that an adult seat belt fits correctly, decreasing risk of serious injury in a crash. Forty-four states now require that children who have outgrown a standard car seat with a 5-point harness use a booster seat when riding in a car or truck. Since use of the booster seat has increased, the researchers decided to investigate whether they are being used appropriately. They found major misuses in the transport of 65 percent of the children including such errors as a slack shoulder belt or placement of the shoulder belt behind the child's back, under an arm, or over an arm rest.

 

Resources to help parents are available from preventinjury.org and http://www.nhtsa.gov," said Joseph O'Neil, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics at the IU School of Medicine and a Riley Hospital pediatrician, who is the first author of the new study.

 

According to Dr. O'Neil, children of any age, who have outgrown child car seats, need a booster seat until, when sitting against the automobile's seat back, their knees extend over the seat at a 90 degree angle and ideally their feet touch the floor. As with car seats for younger children, booster seats should only be installed in the back seat of a vehicle. He urges parents to have all children under age 13 ride in the back seat to minimize their exposure to front impact collusions and powerful airbags.

 

For more on this topic, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090511122418.htm

 

June 29, 2009

 

Anxiety: Kava Safe and Effective

 

Researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia have found a traditional extract of Kava, a medicinal plant from the South Pacific, to be safe and effective in reducing anxiety.

 

To be published online this week in the Springer journal Psychopharmacology, the results of a world-first clinical trial which found that a water-soluble extract of Kava was effective in treating anxiety and improving mood. The Kava was prescribed in the form of tablets.

 

Lead researcher Jerome Sarris, a PhD candidate from UQ’s School of Medicine, said the placebo-controlled study found Kava to be an effective and safe treatment option for people with chronic anxiety and varying levels of depression.

 

“We’ve been able to show that Kava offers a natural alternative for the treatment of anxiety, and unlike some pharmaceutical options, has less risk of dependency and less potential of side effects,” Mr. Sarris said.

 

 “We also found that Kava had a positive impact on reducing depression levels, something which had not been tested before,” Mr. Sarris said. In 2002 Kava was banned in Europe, UK and Canada due to concerns over liver toxicity.

 

While the three-week trial raised no major health concerns regarding the Kava extract used, the researchers said larger studies were required to confirm the drug’s safety.

 

“When extracted in the appropriate way, Kava may pose less or no potential liver problems. I hope the results will encourage governments to reconsider the ban,” Mr. Sarris said.

 

“Ethanol and acetone extracts, which sometimes use the incorrect parts of the Kava, were being sold in Europe. That is not the traditional way of prescribing Kava in the Pacific Islands. Our study used a water-soluble extract from the peeled rootstock of a medicinal cultivar of the plant, which is approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration of Australia and is currently legal in Australia for medicinal use.”

 

For more about the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090511122619.htm

 

June 28, 2009

 

Infection/Inflammation: Ginseng can reduce inflammation

 

Laboratory experiments have demonstrated the immunological effects of ginseng. Researchers have now shown that the herb, much used in traditional Chinese and other Asian medicine, has anti-inflammatory effects.

 

Allan Lau led a team of researchers from the University of Hong Kong who identified seven ginseng constituents, ginsenosides, which showed immune-suppressive effects. He said, "The anti-inflammatory role of ginseng may be due to the combined effects of these ginsenosides, targeting different levels of immunological activity, and so contributing to the diverse actions of ginseng in humans".

 

The scientists treated human immune cells with different extracts of ginseng. They found that of the nine ginsenosides they identified, seven could selectively inhibit expression of the inflammatory gene CXCL-10. Lau concludes, "Further studies will be needed to examine the potential beneficial effects of ginsenosides in the management of acute and chronic inflammatory diseases in humans".

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090513215410.htm

 

June 27, 2009

 

Digestion: Hypnotherapy Can Help with Ulcerative Colitis

 

Ulcerative colitis can bew a nasty gastrointestinal disease that flares without warning and makes it vital to find a bathroom fast. The disease is often diagnosed when people are in their late 20s and early 30s. The flare-up is like having a severe stomach bug that can drag on for weeks.

 

Currently, the treatments for ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease, include a fistful of pills -- up to a cumbersome 12 a day that reduce the risk of flares but that many forget to take, as well as steroids or surgery to remove their colon.

 

In an early look at the data for the ongoing study, Keefer, a clinical health psychologist and an assistant professor of medicine at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, is finding that treatment with hypnotherapy enabled some subjects' to socialize more and get involved in activities such as eating at restaurants, exercising and road trips. Some subjects feel less impaired by their disease and are better at remembering to take their pills.

 

Participants complete eight weeks of hypnotherapy sessions. As a part of the study, subjects also listen to special relaxation tapes up to five times per week.

 

While it's too early in the study to know if the hypnotherapy has prolonged their remissions, only two of 12 subjects who have participated in the study for a full year have experienced a relapse, whereas based on their history, all 12 subjects would have been expected to have had two or more relapses within the year.

 

"These numbers are encouraging because the study specifically targets individuals who flare a couple times a year," Keefer said. Subjects are also expected to take their routine maintenance medication during the trial.

 

"Managing stress is really important for managing inflammatory bowel disease," Keefer said. "We see young adults about to get married, pregnant women, people worried about losing their jobs in this difficult economy. The body doesn't differentiate between good stress and bad stress. When people are under stress, their disease flares up."

 

In the experimental hypnosis sessions, Keefer suggests to subjects that they closely monitor their stress and be aware of how it's affecting them. "If they're not getting enough sleep, part of the hypnosis is encouraging them to know this is a trigger and make an effort to take naps and take it easier, " she said. "I also tell them your body can detect slight changes in stress and can adapt easily and not be affected."

 

Her preliminary data on the overall quality of life for 27 subjects after eight weeks of hypnotherapy showed that 80 percent of them reported an increased belief that they could affect and manage their disease versus 50 percent of subjects in standard care (no hypnotherapy.) In addition, subjects reported a 76 percent increase in the quality of their lives (the improvements were most notable in their bowel symptoms) compared to a 25 percent increase for standard care. In another measure, 73 percent of the subjects experienced a general improvement in their health and well being compared to a 25 percent increase for standard care.

 

"The preliminary results on the improved quality of life for the 27 subjects in this ongoing study (aiming for a total of 80 subjects) look positive so far," Keefer said.

 

Once the eight weeks of hypnotherapy are completed, subjects are expected to listen to the relaxation tapes or practice relaxation twice a week to maintain the benefits. They are also encouraged to "step up their practice" of relaxation tapes if they think they are at risk for a flare, Keefer said.

 

Currently the treatment for the disease is a maintenance medication called 5-ASA. "The problem is most people forget to take the full dose," Keefer said. If that doesn't work steroids are often the next treatment, but long-term use can cause joint problems and other side effects such as anxiety and insomnia. When doctors try to taper the patient off steroids, symptoms tend to flare again.

 

For more on the topic, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090513121207.htm

 

June 26, 2009

 

Eyes: Risk of Blindness May be Reduced by What You Eat

 

Regularly eating fish, nuts, olive oil and other foods containing omega-three fatty acids and avoiding trans fats appears to be associated with a lower risk for the eye disease age-related macular degeneration, according to two new reports.

 

By 2020, as many as 3 million Americans are expected to have late-stage age-related macular degeneration (AMD), according to background information in one of the articles. AMD is the leading cause of severe vision loss among individuals older than 65 in the developed world. Established risk factors include age, genetic markers and smoking (the only consistently reported modifiable risk factor).

 

Researchers of a recent study examining the use of foods and blindness reported: "In conclusion, our findings support the hypothesis that increased intake of omega-three polyunsaturated fatty acids and regular consumption of fish and/or nuts in the diet may protect against the development of early AMD," the authors write. These fatty acids may protect the eyes by preventing the buildup of plaque in the arteries or reducing inflammation, blood vessel formation and oxygen-related cell damage in the retina.

 

Joint effects of protection against AMD were suggested between the consumption of these foods and other factors, such as smoking, intake of unsaturated omega-6 fatty acids or beta carotene and the ratio of total blood cholesterol to HDL or "good" cholesterol. "These findings also suggest that an appropriate balance among various nutrients is essential for maximizing nutritional benefit," they continue. Further studies are needed to determine whether changing an individual's diet or recommending supplementation could prevent or delay the development of AMD.

 

Individuals who consumed higher levels of trans-unsaturated fats—found in baked goods and processed foods—were more likely to have late AMD, whereas those who consumed the most omega-three fatty acids were less likely to have early AMD. "Olive oil intake (100 milliliters or more per week vs. less than 1 milliliter per week) was associated with decreased prevalence of late AMD," the authors write. "No significant associations with AMD were observed for intakes of fish, total fat, butter or margarine."

 

Trans-unsaturated fatty acids have been shown to increase the risk of coronary heart disease through their effects on cholesterol levels and possibly through inflammation. In contrast, omega-three fatty acids are believed to protect against damage to the retina, thereby reducing risk for AMD. Although the primary fats found in olive oil (oleic acid and monounsaturated fatty acids) were not associated with AMD risk, olive oil contains other components that may have a protective effect, such as the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.

 

"Our findings suggest that people who follow a diet low in processed foods high in trans-unsaturated fatty acids and rich in omega-three fatty acids and olive oil might enjoy some protection from developing AMD," the authors conclude.

 

For more on the studies, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090511164235.htm

June 24, 2009

 

Infection: You Can’t Catch a Bird Flu Virus

 

Avian influenza viruses do not thrive in humans because the temperature inside a person's nose is too low, according to research published May 14 in the journal PLoS Pathogens. The authors of the study, from Imperial College London and the University of North Carolina, say this may be one of the reasons why bird flu viruses do not cause pandemics in humans easily.

 

There are 16 subtypes of avian influenza and some can mutate into forms that can infect humans, by swapping proteins on their surface with proteins from human influenza viruses.

 

Today's study shows that normal avian influenza viruses do not spread extensively in cells at 32 degrees Celsius, the temperature inside the human nose. The researchers say this is probably because the viruses usually infect the guts of birds, which are warmer, at 40 degrees Celsius. This means that avian flu viruses that have not mutated are less likely to infect people, because the first site of infection in humans is usually the nose. If a normal avian flu virus infected a human nose, the virus would not be able to grow and spread between cells, so it would be less likely to damage cells and cause respiratory illness.

 

The researchers also found that when they created a mutated human influenza virus by adding a protein from the surface of an avian influenza virus, this mutated virus struggled to thrive at 32 degrees Celsius. This suggests that if a new human influenza strain evolved by adopting proteins from an avian influenza virus, this would need to undergo further changes in order to adapt to the conditions in the human body.

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090514222019.htm

 

June 23, 2009

 

Pain: Simulated Acupuncture Can Help Back Pain

 

Three types of acupuncture therapy—an individually tailored program, standard therapy and a simulation involving toothpicks at key acupuncture points—appear more effective than usual care for chronic low back pain, according to a new report.

 

Back pain costs Americans at least $37 billion annually, according to background information in the article. Many patients with this condition are unsatisfied with traditional medical care and seek help from complementary and alternative care providers, including acupuncturists. "Back pain is the leading reason for visits to licensed acupuncturists, and medical acupuncturists consider acupuncture an effective treatment for back pain," the authors write.

 

Several recent studies have suggested that simulated acupuncture, or shallow needling on parts of the body not considered key acupuncture points, appear as effective as acupuncture involving penetrating the skin. To expand on these results, Daniel C. Cherkin, Ph.D., of Group Health Center for Health Studies, Seattle, and colleagues compared four different types of treatment in a randomized clinical trial involving 638 adults (average age 47) with chronic low back pain at Group Health in Seattle and Kaiser Permanente Northern California in Oakland.

 

"Compared with usual care, individualized acupuncture, standardized acupuncture and simulated acupuncture had beneficial and persisting effects on chronic back pain," the authors write. At the eight-week follow-up, 60 percent of the participants receiving any type of acupuncture (individualized, standardized or simulated) experienced a clinically meaningful improvement in their level of functioning, compared with 39 percent of those receiving usual care. At the one-year follow-up, 59 percent to 65 percent of those in the acupuncture groups experienced an improvement in function compared with 50 percent of the usual care group.

 

Several possible explanations exist for the effectiveness of simulated acupuncture, the authors note. Superficial stimulation of acupuncture points may directly stimulate physiological processes that result in reduced pain and improved function. Alternatively, the improvement may be due to another aspect of the treatment experience, such as interaction with the therapist or a belief that acupuncture will be helpful. "These findings raise questions about acupuncture's purported mechanisms of action," they write. "It remains unclear whether acupuncture or our simulated method of acupuncture provide physiologically important stimulation or represent placebo or non-specific effects."

 

"Our results have important implications for key stakeholders," they conclude. "For clinicians and patients seeking a relatively safe and effective treatment for a condition for which conventional treatments are often ineffective, various methods of acupuncture point stimulation appear to be reasonable options, even though the mechanism of action remains unclear. Furthermore, the reduction in long-term exposure to the potential adverse effects of medications is an important benefit that may enhance the safety of conventional medical care."

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090511164228.htm

 

June 22, 2009

 

Pregnancy: Home Birth or Hospital Birth?

 

Cheyney, who is a practicing midwife in addition to being an assistant professor of medical anthropology and reproductive biology, said she was surprised that physicians, when presented with scientifically conducted research that indicates homebirths do not increase infant mortality rates, still refuse to believe that births outside of the hospital are safe.

 

"Medicine is a social construct, and it's heavily politicized," she said.

 

Last year the American Medical Association passed Resolution 205, which states: "the safest setting for labor, delivery and the immediate post-partum period is in the hospital, or a birthing center within a hospital complex…" The resolution was passed in direct response to media attention on home births, the AMA stated.

 

What is interesting, Cheyney points out, is that 99 percent of American births occur in the hospital, but the United States has one of the highest infant mortality rates of any developed country, with 6.3 deaths per 1,000 babies born. Meanwhile, the Netherlands, where a third of deliveries occur in the home with the assistance of midwives, has a lower rate of 4.73 deaths per 1,000.

 

One of the biggest problems Cheyney sees is that physicians only come into contact with midwives when something has gone wrong with the homebirth, and the patient has been transported to the hospital for care. There are a number of reasons why this interaction often is tension-filled and unpleasant for both sides, she says.

 

First is the assumption that homebirth must be dangerous, because the patient they're seeing has had to be transported to the hospital. Secondly, the physician is now taking on the risk of caring for a patient who is unknown to them, and who has a medical chart provided by a midwife which may not include the kind of information the physician is used to receiving.

 

And because the midwife is often feeling defensive and upset, Cheyney said, the contact between her and the physician can often be tense and unproductive. Meanwhile, the patient, whose intention was not to have a hospital birth, is already feeling upset at the change in birth plan, and is now watching her care provider come into conflict with the stranger who is about to deliver her baby.

 

"It's an extremely tension-fraught encounter," Cheyney said, "and something needs to be done to address it." As homebirths increase in popularity, she added, these encounters are bound to increase and a plan needs to be in place so that doctors and midwives know what protocol to follow.

 

She is working with Lane County obstetrician Dr. Paul Qualtere-Burcher to draft guidelines that would help midwives and their clients decide when they need to seek medical help, based in large part on Cheyney's research, and another that would ask physicians to recognize midwives as legitimate caregivers.

 

Qualtere-Burcher said creating an open channel of communication isn't easy.

 

"I do get some pushback from physician friends who say that I'm too open and too supportive," he said. "My answer, to quote (President) Obama, is that dialogue is always a good idea."

 

Qualtere-Burcher said he believes that if midwives felt more comfortable contacting physicians with medical questions or concerns, there would be a greater chance that women would get medical help when they needed it.

 

"Treat (midwives) with respect, as colleagues, and they'll not be afraid to call," he said.

 

Qualtere-Burcher doesn't expect immediate buy-in, but hopes that if a small group on each side agrees to the plan, it will provide more evidence that a stronger relationship between physicians and midwives will lead to better outcomes for mothers and infants.

 

"We're having a meeting in early May to propose a draft for a model of collaborative care that might be the first of its kind in the United States," Cheyney said.

 

Cheyney is also pushing to get hospitals and the state records division to better track homebirths. The department of vital records had no way to indicate whether a birth occurred at home until 2008, and without being able to pull data, Cheyney said it's hard to explore the nature of home birth in Oregon.

 

For more on the study and home birthing, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090511151616.htm

 

June 21, 2009

 

Cancer: Diet and Exercise Reduce Decline in Cancer Survivors

 

A home-based diet and exercise program reduced the rate of functional decline among older, overweight long-term survivors of colorectal, breast and prostate cancer, according to a new study.

 

Because cancer and its treatment can bring on decline, eating a healthy diet and exercising may be the most important things consumers can do to stay well.

 

Miriam C. Morey, Ph.D., of Duke University, Durham, N.C., and colleagues conducted a randomized, controlled trial that tested a home-based diet and exercise intervention and its effect on functional decline among 641 older (age 65-91 years), overweight (BMI 25 or greater and less than 40) long-term (5 years or greater) survivors of breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer.

 

Overall health-related quality of life decreased in every subscale in the control group throughout the 12-month period. In the intervention group, who participated in the healthy diet and exercise behaviors, decreases in subscale scores were of lower magnitude and were sustained for overall health and mental health.

 

"In conclusion, this study provides data on a long overlooked, yet important faction in older long-term cancer survivors. Long-term survivors of colorectal, breast, and prostate cancer participating in a diet and exercise intervention reduced the rate of self-reported physical function decline in comparison with a group receiving no intervention," the researchers write.

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090512192914.htm

 

June 20, 2009

 

Weight Loss: Watch What You Drink, Not What You Eat

 

When it comes to weight loss, what you drink may be more important than what you eat, according to researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Researchers examined the relationship between beverage consumption among adults and weight change and found that weight loss was positively associated with a reduction in liquid calorie consumption and liquid calorie intake had a stronger impact on weight than solid calorie intake.

 

“Both liquid and solid calories were associated with weight change, however, only a reduction in liquid calorie intake was shown to significantly affect weight loss during the 6-month follow up,” said Benjamin Caballero MD, PhD, senior author of the study and a professor with the Bloomberg School’s Department of International Health.  “A reduction in liquid calorie intake was associated with a weight loss of 0.25 kg at 6 months and 0.24 kg at 18 months. Among sugar-sweetened beverages, a reduction of 1 serving was associated with a weight loss of 0.5 kg at 6 months and 0.7 kg at 18 months.  Of the seven types of beverages examined, sugar-sweetened beverages were the only beverages significantly associated with weight change.”

 

The results are published in the April 1, 2009, issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090402104732.htm

 

June 19, 2009

 

Cancer: Are Mammograms Worth It?

 

Women are often told that mammography saves lives. But rarely is the question asked, 'how often?' Researchers set out to examine how often this life-saving event occurs.

 

Unrealistic expectations may influence a woman's decision whether or not to participate in screening mammography. Over 90% of women think that 'early detection saves lives'. John D Keen and James E Keen, of the John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County and the University of Nebraska, respectively, aimed to promote informed decision-making by calculating the age-dependent absolute benefit of screening in three traditional ways: the absolute risk reduction from repeated screening, the number of women needed to screen repeatedly to save one life, and the survival percentages with and without mammography. They also estimated the average benefit of a single mammogram. Their novel concept of life-saving proportion is also relevant to economic analyses of screening.

 

They found there is a 0.1% increased chance of survival with screening than without it.

 

According to the authors, "We have assumed that a 'life saved' means screening helps cure one woman with breast cancer who would otherwise have died from the disease without screening ... However, all women with breast cancer may theoretically benefit from screening mammography through slowing the disease and therefore slightly prolonging their lives".

 

"For a woman in the screening subset of mammography-detectable cancers, there is a less than 5% chance that a mammogram will save her life. By comparing mammography's life-saving absolute benefit with its expected harms, a well-informed woman along with her physician can make a reasonable decision to screen or not to screen for breast cancer."

 

Dr Michael Retsky from the Harvard Medical School praises this study, noting that it is a positive step in the right direction considering that too often women aged 40-49 are asked to sign informed consent for mammography without being properly informed of the potential risks.

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090401200439.htm

 

June 18, 2009

 

Cancer: Taking Vitamins and Mineral Supplements Can Help for Years After

 

Individuals who took a dietary supplement called "factor D", which included selenium, vitamin E, and beta-carotene, continued to have lower gastric cancer and overall mortality 10 years after supplementation ceased compared with individuals who did not take the supplements, according to long-term follow-up data from the randomized, double-blind General Population Nutrition Intervention Trial in Linxian, China.

 

"The persistence of risk reduction for up to 10 years after treatment in this trial reinforces the validity of the original trial findings and is consistent with an emerging new paradigm in cancer prevention, namely, that prevention may be achievable with short-term as opposed to life-long treatment," the authors write.

 

For more about the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090324215806.htm

 

June 17, 2009

 

Cancer: Meat and Fats Increase Risk for Colon Cancer

 

A typical Western diet, rich in meat and fats and low in complex carbohydrates, is a recipe for colon cancer.

 

If you eat a healthy diet consisting of high levels of fruits and vegetables, your body will manufactured micro-organisms in your colon that can reduce your colon cancer risk.

 

However, gut microbes may also make toxic products from food residues. Diets high in meat will produce sulphur - this decreases the activity of 'good' bacteria that use methane and increases the production of hydrogen sulphide and other possible carcinogens by sulphur-reducing bacteria.

 

For more on this topic, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090330200714.htm

 

June 16, 2009

 

Parenting and ADHD: Pine Bark Extract May Help with Overactivity

 

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is the most common psychiatric disorder in children. Pycnogenol, an extract from the bark of the French maritime pine, consisting of phenolic acids, catechin, taxifolin and procyanidins, has shown improvement of ADHD in case reports and in an open study. Aim of the present study was to evaluate the effect of Pycnogenol on ADHD symptoms. Sixty-one children were supplemented with 1 mg/kg/day Pycnogenol or placebo over a period of 4 weeks in a randomised, placebo-controlled, doubleblind study.

 

Children were examined at start of trial, 1 month after treatment and 1 month after end of treatment period by standard questionnaires: CAP (Child Attention Problems) teacher rating scale, Conner's Teacher Rating Scale (CTRS), the Conner's Parent Rating Scale (CPRS) and a modified Wechsler Intelligence Scale for children. Results show that 1-month Pycnogenol administration caused a significant reduction of hyperactivity, improves attention and visual-motoric coordination and concentration of children with ADHD. In the placebo group no positive effects were found. One month after termination of Pycnogenol administration a relapse of symptoms was noted. Our results point to an option to use Pycnogenol as a natural supplement to relieve ADHD symptoms of children.

 

Source: European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 2006 Sep;15(6):329-35. Epub 2006 May 13. Links

Treatment of ADHD with French maritime pine bark extract, Pycnogenol.Trebatická J, Kopasová S, Hradecná Z, Cinovský K, Skodácek I, Suba J, Muchová J, Zitnanová I, Waczulíková I, Rohdewald P, Duracková Z.

Dept. of Child Psychiatry, Child University Hospital, Faculty of Medicine, Comenius University, Limbová 1, 833 40 Bratislava, Slovakia.

 

June 15, 2009

 

Parenting: Children Who Exercise 5 minutes Less Likely to be Obese

 

Children who exercise in bouts of activity lasting five minutes or longer are less likely to become obese than those whose activity levels are more sporadic and typically last less than five minutes each, Queen’s University researchers have discovered.

 

Two-thirds of the physical activity measured in the young people took place in short, sporadic sessions that lasted less than five minutes. Within the most active children, 25 percent of those who tended to accumulate their physical activity in bouts were overweight or obese, compared with 35 percent in those who tended to accumulate their activity in a sporadic manner.

 

For more about this study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090318113604.htm

 

June 11, 2009

 

Cancer: Licorice, the Herb, Not the Candy, Can Inhibit Colon and Rectal Cancer

 

A chemical component of licorice may offer a new approach to preventing colorectal cancer without the adverse side effects of other preventive therapies, Vanderbilt University Medical Center researchers report.

 

In the study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Raymond Harris, M.D., Ming-Zhi Zhang, M.D., and colleagues show that inhibiting the enzyme 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2 (11βHSD2) – either by treatment with a natural compound found in licorice or by silencing the 11βHSD2 gene – prevents colorectal cancer progression.

 

One promising target for chemoprevention is the enzyme cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2), which promotes colorectal cancer progression via the action of the enzyme's inflammatory products, the prostaglandins. Inhibiting this enzyme – with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or with selective COX-2 inhibitors like Vioxx or Celebrex – reduces the number and size of colon polyps in mice and in patients with an inherited predisposition to colon cancer. However, both types of drugs cause serious adverse side effects that limit their utility for chemoprevention.

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090324081433.htm

 

June 10, 2009

 

Heart Disease & High Blood Pressure: Avoid Energy Drinks

 

People who have high blood pressure or heart disease should avoid consuming energy drinks, according to a Henry Ford Hospital study to be published online Wednesday in the Annals of Pharmacotherapy.

 

Researchers found that healthy adults who drank two cans a day of a popular energy drink experienced an increase in their blood pressure and heart rate. No significant changes in EKG measurements were reported.

 

"Based on our findings, we recommend that people who have hypertension or heart disease and are taking medication for them to avoid consuming energy drinks because of a potential risk to their health," Dr. Kalus says.

 

Researchers believe the caffeine and taurine levels in energy drinks could be responsible for increases in blood pressure and heart rate. The brand of energy drink used in the study is not being identified because most energy drinks on the market boast similar levels of caffeine and taurine, a non-essential amino acid derivative often found in meat and fish. The caffeine levels in energy drinks are equivalent to at least one to two cups of coffee.

 

"Both caffeine and taurine have been shown to have a direct impact on cardiac function," Dr. Kalus says.

 

Heart rate increased 7.8 percent the first day and 11 percent the seventh day. Blood pressure increased at least 7 percent the first and seventh days. Dr. Kalus says the participants did not engage in any physical activity during the study, suggesting that the increases could have been higher.

 

For more on the study, click on?

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090325132456.htm

 

June 8, 2009

 

Pain: Sufficient Levels of Vitamin D Reduce Need for Pain Medication

 

Mayo Clinic research shows a correlation between inadequate vitamin D levels and the amount of narcotic medication taken by patients who have chronic pain.

 

A recent study found that patients who required narcotic pain medication, and who also had inadequate levels of vitamin D, were taking much higher doses of pain medication — nearly twice as much — as those who had adequate levels.

 

Vitamin D is known to promote both bone and muscle strength. Conversely, deficiency is an under-recognized source of diffuse pain and impaired neuromuscular functioning.

 

“Results the study suggest that patients who suffer from chronic, diffuse pain and are on narcotics should consider getting their vitamin D levels checked. Inadequate levels may play a role in creating or sustaining their pain," says Dr. Turner.

 

Many people who have been labeled with fibromyalgia are, in fact, suffering from symptomatic vitamin D inadequacy. Vigilance is especially required when risk factors are present such as obesity, darker pigmented skin or limited exposure to sunlight.

 

Because it is a natural substance and not a drug, vitamin D is readily available and inexpensive.

 

In addition to the benefits of strong muscles and bones, emerging research demonstrates that vitamin D plays important roles in the immune system, helps fight inflammation and helps fights certain types of cancer.

 

For more on this topic, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090320112114.htm

 

June 6, 2009

 

Cancer: Eating Soy as a Child Reduces Risk of Breast Cancer

 

Asian-American women who ate higher amounts of soy during childhood had a 58 percent reduced risk of breast cancer, according to a study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

 

"Childhood soy intake was significantly associated with reduced breast cancer risk in our study, suggesting that the timing of soy intake may be especially critical," said Korde. The underlying mechanism is not known. Korde said her study suggests that early soy intake may have a biological role in breast cancer prevention. "Soy isoflavones have estrogenic properties that may cause changes in breast tissue. Animal models suggest that ingestion of soy may result in earlier maturation of breast tissue and increased resistance to carcinogens."

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090324131442.htm

 

June 5, 2009

 

Arthritis: Vitamin C Can Help Prevent Gout

 

Men with higher vitamin C intake appear less likely to develop gout, a painful type of arthritis, according to a report in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

 

Gout is the most common type of inflammatory arthritis in men. In one twenty-year study, the relative risk of gout was

 

17 percent lower for those with a daily intake of 500 to 999 milligrams,

34 percent lower for those with an intake of 1,000 to 1,499 milligrams per day and 45 percent lower for those with an intake of 1,500 milligrams per day or higher.

 

Vitamin C appears to reduce levels of uric acid in the blood, the authors note; a buildup of this naturally occurring compound can form crystal deposits in and around joints, leading to the pain, inflammation and swelling associated with gout. Vitamin C may affect reabsorption of uric acid by the kidneys, increase the speed at which the kidneys work or protect against inflammation, all of which may reduce gout risk, the authors note.

 

"Given the general safety profile associated with vitamin C intake, particularly in the generally consumed ranges as in the present study (e.g., tolerable upper intake level of vitamin C of less than 2,000 milligrams in adults according to the Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine), vitamin C intake may provide a useful option in the prevention of gout," they conclude.

 

For more about this study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090309162007.htm

 

June 2, 2009

 

Cancer and Heart Disease: Eating Red and Processed Meat Associated with Death

"High intakes of red or processed meat may increase the risk of mortality," write Rashmi Sinha, PhD, from the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services in Rockville, Maryland, and colleagues. "Our objective was to determine the relations of red, white, and processed meat intakes to risk for total and cause-specific mortality."

The National Institutes of Health–AARP Diet and Health Study enrolled approximately half a million people aged 50 to 71 years at the beginning of the study. A food frequency questionnaire allowed estimation of meat intake.

Red meat included all types of beef and pork such as bacon, beef, cold cuts, hamburgers, hotdogs, steak, and meats in pizza, lasagna, and stew. White meat included chicken, turkey, and fish along with poultry cold cuts, canned tuna, and low-fat hotdogs. Processed meats could include either red or white meats in the form of sandwich meats or cold cuts as well as bacon, red meat and poultry sausages, and regular hotdogs and low-fat hotdogs made from poultry. The authors note that some of the meats may overlap in the 3 categories, but they were not duplicated or used in the same models in the study analysis.

Cardiovascular disease risk was increased for men and women in the highest quintile of intake of red meat  and processed meat. For the highest amount of white meat intake for both men and women, there was an inverse association for total mortality, cancer mortality, and mortality from all other causes.

"Red and processed meat intakes were associated with modest increases in total mortality, cancer mortality,and cardiovascular disease mortality," the study authors write. "In contrast, high white meat intake and a low-risk meat diet was associated with a small decrease in total and cancer mortality."

To read more about the study, click on:

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/590167?sssdmh=dm1.449817&src=nldne

 

May 30, 2009

 

Parenting: Make Sure Vitamin D Intake High Enough in Teens

 

Low levels of vitamin D were associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure, high blood sugar and metabolic syndrome in teenagers, researchers reported at the American Heart Association’s 49th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention.

 

Researchers found the adolescents with the lowest levels of vitamin D were:

 

2.36 times more likely to have high blood pressure;

2.54 times more likely to have high blood sugar; and

3.99 times more likely to have metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of cardiovascular disease and diabetes risk factors including elevated waist circumference, high blood pressure, elevated triglycerides, low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good”) cholesterol and high fasting glucose levels. The presence of three or more of the factors increases a person’s risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

 

Researchers used a biomarker of vitamin D to measure levels in blood. The biomarker measures vitamin D obtained from food, vitamin supplementation and exposure to sunlight.

 

The ethnic breakdown was similar to the general U.S. population: 64.7 percent non-Hispanic whites; 13.5 percent non-Hispanic blacks; and 11 percent Mexican Americans.

 

The study highlights the association between high levels of vitamin D and lower risk of heart disease. The highest levels of vitamin D were found in whites, the lowest levels in blacks and intermediate levels in Mexican Americans. Whites had almost twice as high levels as blacks.

 

Low levels of vitamin D are strongly associated with overweight and abdominal obesity. Since vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, it may be sequestered within adipose tissue. This may explain why those who are obese are more likely to be vitamin D deficient, Reis said.

 

 “These data on serum vitamin D levels in young people raise some concern about their food choices and even the amount of time they spend in the sunshine,” said Robert H. Eckel, M.D., American Heart Association past president. “The American Heart Association recommends an overall healthy diet and lifestyle, and that people get their nutrients primarily from food sources rather than supplements.”

 

Good food sources of vitamin D include cod liver oil, eggs, salmon, sardines, dandelion greens, halibut, liver, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and chunk white tuna.

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090311153406.htm

 

May 28, 2009

 

Healthy Weight and Lower Perceived Weight Reduce Aging Changes

 

Women who maintain a healthy weight and who have lower perceived stress may be less likely to have chromosome changes associated with aging than obese and stressed women, according to a pilot study that was part of the Sister Study.

 

Two recent papers published in Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention looked at the length of telomeres, or the repeating DNA sequences that cap the ends of a person's chromosomes. Telomere length is one of the many measures being looked at in the Sister Study. Telomeres protect the ends of chromosomes and buffer them against the loss of important genes during cell replication. Over the course of an individual's lifetime, telomeres shorten, gradually becoming so short that they can trigger cell death. The papers show that factors such as obesity and perceived stress may shorten telomeres and accelerate the aging process.

 

"Together these two studies reinforce the need to start a healthy lifestyle early and maintain it," said Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., the director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of the National Institutes of Health. The researchers who published these papers are from the NIEHS which sponsors the Sister Study.

 

One of the studies published this week found that women who were obese for a long time had reduced telomere length. The researchers looked at the relationship between various measures of current and past body size and telomere length in 647 women enrolled in the Sister Study. They found that women who had an overweight or obese body mass index (BMI) before or during their 30s, and maintained that status since those years, had shorter telomeres than those who became overweight or obese after their 30s. "This suggests that duration of obesity may be more important than weight change per se, although other measures of overweight and obesity were also important," said Sangmi Kim, Ph.D., epidemiologist and lead author on the paper. "Our results support the hypothesis that obesity accelerates the aging process," said Kim.

 

"Even so, women who reported above-average stress had somewhat shorter telomeres, but the difference in telomere length was most striking when we looked at the relationship between perceived stress and telomere length among women with the highest levels of stress hormones," said Christine Parks, Ph.D., an NIEHS epidemiologist and lead author on the paper. "Among women with both higher perceived stress and elevated levels of the stress hormone epinephrine, the difference in telomere length was equivalent to or greater than the effects of being obese, smoking or 10 years of aging."

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090316151033.htm

 

May 27, 2009

 

Heart Disease:  Wear a Mask to Protect Yourself from Pollution

 

Diesel exhaust causes arteries to lose their flexibility. Researchers found that exposure to engine pollution resulted in arterial stiffness in a group of healthy volunteers.

 

Nicholas Mills from the University of Edinburgh worked with a team of researchers to investigate the cardiovascular damage that can be caused by inhaling diesel smoke. He said, "Acute exposure to diesel exhaust is associated with an immediate and transient increase in arterial stiffness. This may, in part, explain the increased risk for cardiovascular disease associated with air pollution exposure".

 

The authors invited a group of 12 non-smoking young men to cycle on exercise bikes while breathing air that had either been filtered or been contaminated with smoke from a diesel engine. They found that when the subjects were exposed to the polluted air, the blood vessels in their wrists temporarily lost the ability to expand and contract. According to Mills, this can have serious consequences, "Stiff arteries can result in raised blood pressure and reduced blood flow in the heart. Arterial stiffness plays an important role in hypertension and is an independent predictor of mortality."

 

There is, however, something that cyclists and pedestrians in smog shrouded cities can do to limit the vascular effects caused by diesel exhaust. In a separate article also published in Particle and Fibre Toxicology, researchers report how wearing a facemask reduces exposure to airborne pollution particles and leads to a reduction blood pressure and improved heart rate control during exercise in a city centre environment. Jeremy Langrish from the University of Edinburgh said, "We tested a range of facemasks that differed widely in their efficiency as particle filters. In general, those masks designed to reduce occupational exposure to dusts in the workplace were more efficient than those marketed to cyclists and pedestrians."

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090312205224.htm

 

May 26, 2009

 

Weight Loss: Dietary Calcium is Important

 

Boosting calcium consumption spurs weight loss, according to a study published in the most recent issue of the British Journal of Nutrition, but only in people whose diets are calcium deficient.

 

Angelo Tremblay and his team at Université Laval's Faculty of Medicine made the discovery in a 15-week weight loss program they conducted on obese women. The participants consumed on average less than 600 mg of calcium per day, whereas recommended daily intake is 1000 mg. In addition to following a low calorie diet, the women were instructed to take two tablets a day containing either a total of 1200 mg of calcium or a placebo. Those who took the calcium tablets lost nearly 6 kg over the course of the program, the researchers found, compared to 1 kg for women in the control group.

 

"Our hypothesis is that the brain can detect the lack of calcium and seeks to compensate by spurring food intake, which obviously works against the goals of any weight loss program," said Angelo Tremblay, holder of the Canada Research Chair in Environment and Energy Balance. "Sufficient calcium intake seems to stifle the desire to eat more," he added.

 

Consuming sufficient calcium is therefore important to ensuring the success of any weight loss program. According to the researcher, over 50% of obese women who come to the clinic run by his research team do not consume the recommended daily intake.

 

A second study showed that the more people reduced their consumption of dairy products over the six-year period examined, the more weight and body fat they gained and the bigger their waistlines grew. In 2007, Angelo Tremblay and his team established a direct link between calcium and a lower cardiovascular risk profile among dieters.

 

For more on this study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090312115053.htm

 

May 25, 2009

 

Relationships: Romance Possible in Long-Term Relationships

 

Romance does not have to fizzle out in long-term relationships and progress into a companionship/friendship-type love, a new study has found. Romantic love can last a lifetime and lead to happier, healthier relationships.

 

"Many believe that romantic love is the same as passionate love," said lead researcher Bianca P. Acevedo, PhD, then at Stony Brook University (currently at University of California, Santa Barbara). "It isn't. Romantic love has the intensity, engagement and sexual chemistry that passionate love has, minus the obsessive component. Passionate or obsessive love includes feelings of uncertainty and anxiety. This kind of love helps drive the shorter relationships but not the longer ones."

 

The review found that those who reported greater romantic love were more satisfied in both the short- and long-term relationships. Companion-like love was only moderately associated with satisfaction in both short- and long-term relationships. And those who reported greater passionate love in their relationships were more satisfied in the short term compared to the long term.

 

Couples who reported more satisfaction in their relationships also reported being happier and having higher self-esteem.

 

Feeling that a partner is "there for you" makes for a good relationship, Acevedo said, and facilitates feelings of romantic love. On the other hand, "feelings of insecurity are generally associated with lower satisfaction, and in some cases may spark conflict in the relationship. This can manifest into obsessive love," she said.

 

This discovery may change people's expectations of what they want in long-term relationships. According to the authors, companionship love, which is what many couples see as the natural progression of a successful relationship, may be an unnecessary compromise. "Couples should strive for love with all the trimmings," Acevedo said. "And couples who've been together a long time and wish to get back their romantic edge should know it is an attainable goal that, like most good things in life, requires energy and devotion."

 

For more on this review, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090317153039.htm

 

May 24, 2009

 

Lungs: Overweight Associated with Decreased Lung Function

 

There's more bad news for people who carry excess weight around their waists: Not only is abdominal obesity associated with diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and a host of other health problems collectively known as "metabolic syndrome," a new study has found that a high waist circumference is strongly associated with decreased lung function—independent of smoking history, sex, body mass index (BMI) and other complicating factors.

 

The results were published in the second issue for March of the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

 

Abdominal obesity was defined as having a waist circumference of greater than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men.

 

This study demonstrated that only mild abdominal adiposity, even with a normal body mass index (BMI), in associated with lower lung function.

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090306084400.htm

 

May 23, 2009

 

Arthritis: Lose Weight to Reduce Risk of Knee and Hip Joint Replacements

 

Being fat increases the risk of primary joint replacement in osteoarthritis (OA). A new study found that increased waist circumference and body mass index (BMI) were associated with the risk of both knee and hip joint replacement.

 

Total joint replacement is an effective treatment for severe knee and hip OA, and obesity is recognized as being the most important modifiable risk factor for OA. BMI is the most commonly used measurement of obesity but does not account for the pattern of fat distribution, and cannot discriminate between adipose and non-adipose tissue.

 

The study determined that there was a 3 to 4-fold increased risk of primary joint replacement associated with body weight, BMI, fat mass and percentage fat. Waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio were also associated with an increased risk, suggesting that both biomechanical and metabolic mechanisms associated with adiposity contribute to the risk of joint replacement. The group also showed that fat mass and percentage fat were associated with an increased risk of primary knee and hip joint replacement even 10 to 15 years after their measurement.

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090305080145.htm

 

May 22, 2009

 

Parenting: Teens Eating Fish Think Better

 

Fifteen-year-old males who ate fish at least once a week displayed higher cognitive skills at the age of 18 than those who it ate it less frequently, according to a study of nearly 4,000 teenagers published in the March issue of Acta Paediatrica.

 

Eating fish once a week was enough to increase combined, verbal and visuospatial intelligence scores by an average of six per cent, while eating fish more than once a week increased them by just under 11 per cent.

 

"When they ate fish more than once a week the improvement almost doubled.

 

"We also found the same association between fish and intelligence in the teenagers regardless of their parents' level of education."

 

For more about the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090309092957.htm

 

May 21, 2009

 

Cancer: Red and White Wine Both Increase Breast Cancer Risk

 

The largest study of its kind to evaluate the effect of red versus white wine on breast-cancer risk concludes that both are equal offenders when it comes to increasing breast-cancer risk. The results of the study, led by researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, were published in the March issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention.

 

"We found no difference between red or white wine in relation to breast-cancer risk. Neither appears to have any benefits," Newcomb said. "If a woman drinks, she should do so in moderation – no more than one drink a day. And if a woman chooses red wine, she should do so because she likes the taste, not because she thinks it may reduce her risk of breast cancer," she said.

 

The researchers found that women who consumed 14 or more drinks per week, regardless of the type (wine, liquor or beer), faced a 24 percent increase in breast cancer compared with non-drinkers.

 

For more about the study click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090309092838.htm

 

May 20, 2009

 

Lungs: Spending More Than Two Hours a Day Watching TV Doubles Risk of Asthma

 

Young children who spend more than two hours glued to the TV every day double their subsequent risk of developing asthma, indicates research published ahead of print in Thorax.

 

The findings are based on more than 3,000 children whose respiratory health was tracked from birth to 11.5 years of age. The children were all participants in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), which has been following the long term health of 14,000 children and their parents.

 

The authors comment that the relationship between physical activity, sedentary behaviour and asthma is complex. But they point out that recent research has suggested that breathing patterns in children may be associated with sedentary behaviour, sparking developmental changes in the lungs and subsequent wheezing.

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090302213822.htm

 

May 19, 2009

 

Pregnancy: Vitamin B12 Needed to have Health Babies

 

Children born to women who have low blood levels of vitamin B12 shortly before and after conception may have an increased risk of a neural tube defect, according to an analysis by researchers at the National Institutes of Health, Trinity College Dublin, and the Health Research Board of Ireland.

 

Women with the lowest B12 levels had 5 times the risk of having a child with a neural tube defect compared to women with the highest B12 levels.

 

Women who consume little or no meat or animal based foods are the most likely group of women to have low B12 levels, along with women who have intestinal disorders that prevent them from absorbing sufficient amounts of B12.

 

Neural tube defects are a class of birth defects affecting the brain and spinal cord. One type, spina bifida, can cause partial paralysis. Another type, anencephaly, is a fatal defect in which the brain and skull are severely underdeveloped.

 

"Vitamin B12 is essential for the functioning of the nervous system and for the production of red blood cells," said Duane Alexander, M.D., director of the NICHD. "The results of this study suggest that women with low levels of B12 not only may risk health problems of their own, but also may increase the chance that their children may be born with a serious birth defect."

 

Women with levels in the deficient range (0-149 ng/L ) were at the highest risk: 5 times that of women with higher levels.

 

The study authors wrote that it is not known how B12 and folate might interact to influence the formation of the neural tube, the embryonic structure that gives rise to the spine and brain. They noted that the two vitamins are jointly involved with several key biochemical reactions, as well as with the synthesis of DNA. Lack of either Vitamin B12 or folate in any of these chemical processes theoretically could increase the risk of a neural tube defect.

 

"If women wait until they realize that they are pregnant before they start taking folic acid, it is usually too late," Dr. Mills said.

 

Similarly, he said, it would be wise for all women of childbearing age to consume the recommended amount of Vitamin B12, whether they are planning a pregnancy or not. "Half of the women who become pregnant each year in the U.S. were not planning to become pregnant."

 

"Our results offer evidence that women who have adequate B12 levels before they become pregnant may further reduce the occurrence of this class of birth defects," Dr. Mills said.

 

Vitamin B12 is available in milk, meats, poultry, eggs, as well as fortified cereals and some other fortified foods.

 

Folate is found in leafy green vegetables, fruits, and dried beans and peas.

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090302090140.htm

 

May 18, 2009

 

Parenting: Public Schools Outperform Private Schools in Math Instruction

 

In another “Freakonomics”-style study that turns conventional wisdom about public- versus private-school education on its head, a team of University of Illinois education professors has found that public-school students outperform their private-school classmates on standardized math tests, thanks to two key factors: certified math teachers, and a modern, reform-oriented math curriculum.

 

“According to our results, schools that hired more certified teachers and had a curriculum that de-emphasized learning by rote tended to do better on standardized math tests,” Lubienski said. “And public schools had more of both.”

 

Of the five factors, school size and parental involvement “didn’t seem to matter all that much,” Lubienski said, citing a weak correlation between the two factors as “mixed or marginally significant predictors” of student achievement.

 

They also discovered that smaller class sizes, which are more prevalent in private schools than in public schools, significantly correlate with achievement.

 

Lubienski said one reason private schools show poorly in this study could be their lack of accountability to a public body.

 

“There’s been this assumption that private schools are more effective because they’re autonomous and don’t have all the bureaucracy that public schools have,” Lubienski said. “But one thing this study suggests is that autonomy isn’t necessarily a good thing for schools.”

 

Another reason could be private schools’ anachronistic approach to math.

 

“Private schools are increasingly ignoring curricular trends in education, and it shows,” Lubienski said. “They’re not using up-to-date methods, and they’re not hiring teachers who employ up-to-date lesson plans in the classroom. When you do that, you aren’t really taking advantage of the expertise in math education that’s out there.”

 

Lubienski thinks one of the reasons that private schools don’t adopt a more reform-minded math curriculum is because some parents are more attracted to a “back-to-basics” approach to math instruction. The end result, however, is students who are “prepared for the tests of 40 years ago, and not the tests of today,” she said.

 

 “Private schools don’t invest as much in the professional development of their teachers and don’t do enough to keep their curriculum current,” she said. “That appears to be less of a priority for them, and they don’t have money designated for that kind of thing in the way public schools do.”

 

Lubienski hopes that politicians who favor more privatization would realize that the invisible hand of the market doesn’t necessarily apply to education.

 

Instead, some private schools try to attract parents by offering a basic skills curriculum, or non-academic requirements, such as students wearing uniforms.

 

Privatization also assumes that parents can make judgments about what schools are the best for their children.

 

For more about the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090226093423.htm

 

May 17, 2009

 

Cancer: Burnt or Charred Meat May Increase Rick of Pancreatic Cancer

 

Meat cooked at high temperatures to the point of burning and charring may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer, according to data presented at the American Association for Cancer Research 100th Annual Meeting 2009.

 

Kristin Anderson, Ph.D., associate professor at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, said the finding was linked to consumption of well and very well done meats cooked by frying, grilling or barbecuing. Cooking in this way can form carcinogens, which do not form when meat is baked or stewed.

 

Over the course of nine years, researchers identified 208 cases of pancreatic cancer. Preferences for high temperature cooked meat were generally linked with an increased risk; subjects who preferred very well done steak were almost 60 percent as likely to get pancreatic cancer as compared to those who ate steak less well done or did not eat steak. When overall consumption and doneness preferences were used to estimate the meat-derived carcinogen intake for subjects, those with highest intake had 70 percent higher risk than those with the lowest intake.

 

"We cannot say with absolute certainty that the risk is increased due to carcinogens formed in burned meat," said Anderson. "However, those who enjoy either fried or barbecued meat should consider turning down the heat or cutting off burned portions when it's finished; cook meat sufficiently to kill bacteria without excess charring. In addition, the precursors of cancer-causing compounds can be reduced by microwaving the meat for a few minutes and pouring off the juices before cooking it on the grill."

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090421154327.htm

 

May 16, 2009

 

Cancer: Walnuts May Reduce Risk of Breast Cancer

 

Walnut consumption may provide the body with essential omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and phytosterols that reduce the risk of breast cancer, according to a study presented at the American Association for Cancer Research 100th Annual Meeting 2009.

 

 Elaine Hardman, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine at Marshall University School of Medicine, said that while her study was done with laboratory animals rather than humans, people should heed the recommendation to eat more walnuts.

 

"Walnuts are better than cookies, french fries or potato chips when you need a snack," said Hardman. "We know that a healthy diet overall prevents all manner of chronic diseases."

 

Hardman and colleagues studied mice that were fed a diet that they estimated was the human equivalent of two ounces of walnuts per day. A separate group of mice were fed a control diet.

 

Standard testing showed that walnut consumption significantly decreased breast tumor incidence, the number of glands with a tumor and tumor size.

 

Molecular analysis showed that increased consumption of omega-3 fatty acids contributed to the decline in tumor incidence, but other parts of the walnut contributed as well.

 

"With dietary interventions you see multiple mechanisms when working with the whole food," said Hardman. "It is clear that walnuts contribute to a healthy diet that can reduce breast cancer."

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090421154325.htm

May 15, 2009

 

Cancer: Taking Vitamins and Mineral Supplements Can Help for Years After

 

Individuals who took a dietary supplement called "factor D", which included selenium, vitamin E, and beta-carotene, continued to have lower gastric cancer and overall mortality 10 years after supplementation ceased compared with individuals who did not take the supplements, according to long-term follow-up data from the randomized, double-blind General Population Nutrition Intervention Trial in Linxian, China.

 

"The persistence of risk reduction for up to 10 years after treatment in this trial reinforces the validity of the original trial findings and is consistent with an emerging new paradigm in cancer prevention, namely, that prevention may be achievable with short-term as opposed to life-long treatment," the authors write.

 

For more about the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090324215806.htm

 

May 14, 2009

 

Cancer: Meat and Fats Increase Risk for Colon Cancer

 

A typical Western diet, rich in meat and fats and low in complex carbohydrates, is a recipe for colon cancer.

 

If you eat a healthy diet consisting of high levels of fruits and vegetables, your body will manufactured micro-organisms in your colon that can reduce your colon cancer risk.

 

However, gut microbes may also make toxic products from food residues. Diets high in meat will produce sulphur - this decreases the activity of 'good' bacteria that use methane and increases the production of hydrogen sulphide and other possible carcinogens by sulphur-reducing bacteria.

 

For more on this topic, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090330200714.htm

 

May 13, 2009

 

Parenting and ADHD: Pine Bark Extract May Help with Overactivity

 

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is the most common psychiatric disorder in children. Pycnogenol, an extract from the bark of the French maritime pine, consisting of phenolic acids, catechin, taxifolin and procyanidins, has shown improvement of ADHD in case reports and in an open study. Aim of the present study was to evaluate the effect of Pycnogenol on ADHD symptoms. Sixty-one children were supplemented with 1 mg/kg/day Pycnogenol or placebo over a period of 4 weeks in a randomised, placebo-controlled, doubleblind study.

 

Children were examined at start of trial, 1 month after treatment and 1 month after end of treatment period by standard questionnaires: CAP (Child Attention Problems) teacher rating scale, Conner's Teacher Rating Scale (CTRS), the Conner's Parent Rating Scale (CPRS) and a modified Wechsler Intelligence Scale for children. Results show that 1-month Pycnogenol administration caused a significant reduction of hyperactivity, improves attention and visual-motoric coordination and concentration of children with ADHD. In the placebo group no positive effects were found. One month after termination of Pycnogenol administration a relapse of symptoms was noted. Our results point to an option to use Pycnogenol as a natural supplement to relieve ADHD symptoms of children.

 

Source: Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2006 Sep;15(6):329-35. Epub 2006 May 13. Links

Treatment of ADHD with French maritime pine bark extract, Pycnogenol.Trebatická J, Kopasová S, Hradecná Z, Cinovský K, Skodácek I, Suba J, Muchová J, Zitnanová I, Waczulíková I, Rohdewald P, Duracková Z.

Dept. of Child Psychiatry, Child University Hospital, Faculty of Medicine, Comenius University, Limbová 1, 833 40 Bratislava, Slovakia.

 

 

May 12, 2009

 

Parenting: Children Who Exercise 5 minutes Less Likely to be Obese

 

Children who exercise in bouts of activity lasting five minutes or longer are less likely to become obese than those whose activity levels are more sporadic and typically last less than five minutes each, Queen’s University researchers have discovered.

 

Two-thirds of the physical activity measured in the young people took place in short, sporadic sessions that lasted less than five minutes. Within the most active children, 25 percent of those who tended to accumulate their physical activity in bouts were overweight or obese, compared with 35 percent in those who tended to accumulate their activity in a sporadic manner.

 

For more about this study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090318113604.htm

 

May 11, 2009

 

Cancer: Frankincense May Prevent Bladder Cancer

 

Originating from Africa, India, and the Middle East, frankincense oil has been found to have many medicinal benefits. Now, an enriched extract of the Somalian Frankincense herb Boswellia carteri has been shown to kill off bladder cancer cells. New research demonstrates that this herb has the potential for an alternative therapy for bladder cancer.

 

Dr Lin said, "Frankincense oil may represent an inexpensive alternative therapy for patients currently suffering from bladder cancer."

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090317215312.htm

 

May 10, 2009

 

Stroke: Music Can Help Retrieve Sight

 

Patients who have lost part of their visual awareness following a stroke can show an improved ability to see when they are listening to music they like, according to a new study published March 23 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

 

The researchers believe that the improvement in visual awareness seen in these patients could be as a result of patients experiencing positive emotions when listening to music that they like. The team suggest that when a patient experiences positive emotions this may result in more efficient signalling in the brain. This may then improve the patient's awareness by giving the brain more resources to process stimuli.

 

Music appears to improve awareness because of its positive emotional effect on the patient, so similar beneficial effects may also be gained by making the patient happy in other ways.

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090323212120.htm

 

May 9, 2009

 

Cancer: Eat Salmon at least Once a Week to Prevent Prostate Cancer

 

Omega-3 fatty acids appear protective against advanced prostate cancer, and this effect may be modified by a genetic variant in the COX-2 gene, according to a report in Clinical Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

 

"Previous research has shown protection against prostate cancer, but this is one of the first studies to show protection against advanced prostate cancer and interaction with COX-2," said John S. Witte, Ph.D., professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California San Francisco.

 

"The COX-2 increased risk of disease was essentially reversed by increasing omega-3 fatty acid intake by a half a gram per day," said Witte. "If you want to think of the overall inverse association in terms of fish, where omega-3 fatty acids are commonly derived, the strongest effect was seen from eating dark fish such as salmon one or more times per week."

 

For more on this study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090324131444.htm

 

May 8, 2009

 

Cancer: Licorice, the Herb, Not the Candy, Can Inhibit Colon and Rectal Cancer

 

A chemical component of licorice may offer a new approach to preventing colorectal cancer without the adverse side effects of other preventive therapies, Vanderbilt University Medical Center researchers report.

 

In the study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Raymond Harris, M.D., Ming-Zhi Zhang, M.D., and colleagues show that inhibiting the enzyme 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2 (11βHSD2) – either by treatment with a natural compound found in licorice or by silencing the 11βHSD2 gene – prevents colorectal cancer progression.

 

One promising target for chemoprevention is the enzyme cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2), which promotes colorectal cancer progression via the action of the enzyme's inflammatory products, the prostaglandins. Inhibiting this enzyme – with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or with selective COX-2 inhibitors like Vioxx or Celebrex – reduces the number and size of colon polyps in mice and in patients with an inherited predisposition to colon cancer. However, both types of drugs cause serious adverse side effects that limit their utility for chemoprevention.

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090324081433.htm

 

May 7, 2009

 

Heart Disease & High Blood Pressure: Avoid Energy Drinks

 

People who have high blood pressure or heart disease should avoid consuming energy drinks, according to a Henry Ford Hospital study to be published online Wednesday in the Annals of Pharmacotherapy.

 

Researchers found that healthy adults who drank two cans a day of a popular energy drink experienced an increase in their blood pressure and heart rate. No significant changes in EKG measurements were reported.

 

"Based on our findings, we recommend that people who have hypertension or heart disease and are taking medication for them to avoid consuming energy drinks because of a potential risk to their health," Dr. Kalus says.

 

Researchers believe the caffeine and taurine levels in energy drinks could be responsible for increases in blood pressure and heart rate. The brand of energy drink used in the study is not being identified because most energy drinks on the market boast similar levels of caffeine and taurine, a non-essential amino acid derivative often found in meat and fish. The caffeine levels in energy drinks are equivalent to at least one to two cups of coffee.

 

"Both caffeine and taurine have been shown to have a direct impact on cardiac function," Dr. Kalus says.

 

Heart rate increased 7.8 percent the first day and 11 percent the seventh day. Blood pressure increased at least 7 percent the first and seventh days. Dr. Kalus says the participants did not engage in any physical activity during the study, suggesting that the increases could have been higher.

 

For more on the study, click on?

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090325132456.htm

 

May 6, 2009

 

Pain: Sufficient Levels of Vitamin D Reduce Need for Pain Medication

 

Mayo Clinic research shows a correlation between inadequate vitamin D levels and the amount of narcotic medication taken by patients who have chronic pain.

 

A recent study found that patients who required narcotic pain medication, and who also had inadequate levels of vitamin D, were taking much higher doses of pain medication — nearly twice as much — as those who had adequate levels.

 

Vitamin D is known to promote both bone and muscle strength. Conversely, deficiency is an under-recognized source of diffuse pain and impaired neuromuscular functioning.

 

“Results the study suggest that patients who suffer from chronic, diffuse pain and are on narcotics should consider getting their vitamin D levels checked. Inadequate levels may play a role in creating or sustaining their pain," says Dr. Turner.

 

Many people who have been labeled with fibromyalgia are, in fact, suffering from symptomatic vitamin D inadequacy. Vigilance is especially required when risk factors are present such as obesity, darker pigmented skin or limited exposure to sunlight.

 

Because it is a natural substance and not a drug, vitamin D is readily available and inexpensive.

 

In addition to the benefits of strong muscles and bones, emerging research demonstrates that vitamin D plays important roles in the immune system, helps fight inflammation and helps fights certain types of cancer.

 

For more on this topic, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090320112114.htm

 

May 5, 2009

 

Cancer: Eating Soy as a Child Reduces Risk of Breast Cancer

 

Asian-American women who ate higher amounts of soy during childhood had a 58 percent reduced risk of breast cancer, according to a study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

 

"Childhood soy intake was significantly associated with reduced breast cancer risk in our study, suggesting that the timing of soy intake may be especially critical," said Korde. The underlying mechanism is not known. Korde said her study suggests that early soy intake may have a biological role in breast cancer prevention. "Soy isoflavones have estrogenic properties that may cause changes in breast tissue. Animal models suggest that ingestion of soy may result in earlier maturation of breast tissue and increased resistance to carcinogens."

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090324131442.htm

 

May 4, 2009

 

Arthritis: Vitamin C Can Help Prevent Gout

 

Men with higher vitamin C intake appear less likely to develop gout, a painful type of arthritis, according to a report in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

 

Gout is the most common type of inflammatory arthritis in men. In one twenty-year study, the relative risk of gout was

 

17 percent lower for those with a daily intake of 500 to 999 milligrams,

34 percent lower for those with an intake of 1,000 to 1,499 milligrams per day and

45 percent lower for those with an intake of 1,500 milligrams per day or higher.

 

Vitamin C appears to reduce levels of uric acid in the blood, the authors note; a buildup of this naturally occurring compound can form crystal deposits in and around joints, leading to the pain, inflammation and swelling associated with gout. Vitamin C may affect reabsorption of uric acid by the kidneys, increase the speed at which the kidneys work or protect against inflammation, all of which may reduce gout risk, the authors note.

 

"Given the general safety profile associated with vitamin C intake, particularly in the generally consumed ranges as in the present study (e.g., tolerable upper intake level of vitamin C of less than 2,000 milligrams in adults according to the Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine), vitamin C intake may provide a useful option in the prevention of gout," they conclude.

 

For more about this study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090309162007.htm

 

May 3, 2009

 

Cancer and Heart Disease: Eating Red and Processed Meat Associated with Death

"High intakes of red or processed meat may increase the risk of mortality," write Rashmi Sinha, PhD, from the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services in Rockville, Maryland, and colleagues. "Our objective was to determine the relations of red, white, and processed meat intakes to risk for total and cause-specific mortality."

The National Institutes of Health–AARP Diet and Health Study enrolled approximately half a million people aged 50 to 71 years at the beginning of the study. A food frequency questionnaire allowed estimation of meat intake.

Red meat included all types of beef and pork such as bacon, beef, cold cuts, hamburgers, hotdogs, steak, and meats in pizza, lasagna, and stew. White meat included chicken, turkey, and fish along with poultry cold cuts, canned tuna, and low-fat hotdogs. Processed meats could include either red or white meats in the form of sandwich meats or cold cuts as well as bacon, red meat and poultry sausages, and regular hotdogs and low-fat hotdogs made from poultry. The authors note that some of the meats may overlap in the 3 categories, but they were not duplicated or used in the same models in the study analysis.

Cardiovascular disease risk was increased for men and women in the highest quintile of intake of red meat  and processed meat. For the highest amount of white meat intake for both men and women, there was an inverse association for total mortality, cancer mortality, and mortality from all other causes.

"Red and processed meat intakes were associated with modest increases in total mortality, cancer mortality,and cardiovascular disease mortality," the study authors write. "In contrast, high white meat intake and a low-risk meat diet was associated with a small decrease in total and cancer mortality."

To read more about the study, click on:

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/590167?sssdmh=dm1.449817&src=nldne

 

May 2, 2009

 

Parenting: Make Sure Vitamin D Intake High Enough in Teens

 

Low levels of vitamin D were associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure, high blood sugar and metabolic syndrome in teenagers, researchers reported at the American Heart Association’s 49th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention.

 

 

Researchers found the adolescents with the lowest levels of vitamin D were:

 

2.36 times more likely to have high blood pressure;

2.54 times more likely to have high blood sugar; and

3.99 times more likely to have metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of cardiovascular disease and diabetes risk factors including elevated waist circumference, high blood pressure, elevated triglycerides, low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good”) cholesterol and high fasting glucose levels. The presence of three or more of the factors increases a person’s risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

 

 

Researchers used a biomarker of vitamin D to measure levels in blood. The biomarker measures vitamin D obtained from food, vitamin supplementation and exposure to sunlight.

 

The ethnic breakdown was similar to the general U.S. population: 64.7 percent non-Hispanic whites; 13.5 percent non-Hispanic blacks; and 11 percent Mexican Americans.

 

The study highlights the association between high levels of vitamin D and lower risk of heart disease. The highest levels of vitamin D were found in whites, the lowest levels in blacks and intermediate levels in Mexican Americans. Whites had almost twice as high levels as blacks.

 

Low levels of vitamin D are strongly associated with overweight and abdominal obesity. Since vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, it may be sequestered within adipose tissue. This may explain why those who are obese are more likely to be vitamin D deficient, Reis said.

 

 “These data on serum vitamin D levels in young people raise some concern about their food choices and even the amount of time they spend in the sunshine,” said Robert H. Eckel, M.D., American Heart Association past president. “The American Heart Association recommends an overall healthy diet and lifestyle, and that people get their nutrients primarily from food sources rather than supplements.”

 

Good food sources of vitamin D include cod liver oil, eggs, salmon, sardines, dandelion greens, halibut, liver, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and chunk white tuna.

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090311153406.htm

 

May 1, 2009

 

Healthy Weight and Lower Perceived Weight Reduce Aging Changes

 

Women who maintain a healthy weight and who have lower perceived stress may be less likely to have chromosome changes associated with aging than obese and stressed women, according to a pilot study that was part of the Sister Study.

 

Two recent papers published in Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention looked at the length of telomeres, or the repeating DNA sequences that cap the ends of a person's chromosomes. Telomere length is one of the many measures being looked at in the Sister Study. Telomeres protect the ends of chromosomes and buffer them against the loss of important genes during cell replication. Over the course of an individual's lifetime, telomeres shorten, gradually becoming so short that they can trigger cell death. The papers show that factors such as obesity and perceived stress may shorten telomeres and accelerate the aging process.

 

"Together these two studies reinforce the need to start a healthy lifestyle early and maintain it," said Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., the director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of the National Institutes of Health. The researchers who published these papers are from the NIEHS which sponsors the Sister Study.

 

One of the studies published this week found that women who were obese for a long time had reduced telomere length. The researchers looked at the relationship between various measures of current and past body size and telomere length in 647 women enrolled in the Sister Study. They found that women who had an overweight or obese body mass index (BMI) before or during their 30s, and maintained that status since those years, had shorter telomeres than those who became overweight or obese after their 30s. "This suggests that duration of obesity may be more important than weight change per se, although other measures of overweight and obesity were also important," said Sangmi Kim, Ph.D., epidemiologist and lead author on the paper. "Our results support the hypothesis that obesity accelerates the aging process," said Kim.

 

"Even so, women who reported above-average stress had somewhat shorter telomeres, but the difference in telomere length was most striking when we looked at the relationship between perceived stress and telomere length among women with the highest levels of stress hormones," said Christine Parks, Ph.D., an NIEHS epidemiologist and lead author on the paper. "Among women with both higher perceived stress and elevated levels of the stress hormone epinephrine, the difference in telomere length was equivalent to or greater than the effects of being obese, smoking or 10 years of aging."

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090316151033.htm

 

April 30, 2009

 

Heart Disease:  Wear a Mask to Protect Yourself from Pollution

 

Diesel exhaust causes arteries to lose their flexibility. Researchers found that exposure to engine pollution resulted in arterial stiffness in a group of healthy volunteers.

 

Nicholas Mills from the University of Edinburgh worked with a team of researchers to investigate the cardiovascular damage that can be caused by inhaling diesel smoke. He said, "Acute exposure to diesel exhaust is associated with an immediate and transient increase in arterial stiffness. This may, in part, explain the increased risk for cardiovascular disease associated with air pollution exposure".

 

The authors invited a group of 12 non-smoking young men to cycle on exercise bikes while breathing air that had either been filtered or been contaminated with smoke from a diesel engine. They found that when the subjects were exposed to the polluted air, the blood vessels in their wrists temporarily lost the ability to expand and contract. According to Mills, this can have serious consequences, "Stiff arteries can result in raised blood pressure and reduced blood flow in the heart. Arterial stiffness plays an important role in hypertension and is an independent predictor of mortality."

 

There is, however, something that cyclists and pedestrians in smog shrouded cities can do to limit the vascular effects caused by diesel exhaust. In a separate article also published in Particle and Fibre Toxicology, researchers report how wearing a facemask reduces exposure to airborne pollution particles and leads to a reduction blood pressure and improved heart rate control during exercise in a city centre environment. Jeremy Langrish from the University of Edinburgh said, "We tested a range of facemasks that differed widely in their efficiency as particle filters. In general, those masks designed to reduce occupational exposure to dusts in the workplace were more efficient than those marketed to cyclists and pedestrians."

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090312205224.htm

 

April 29, 2009

 

Weight Loss: Dietary Calcium is Important

 

Boosting calcium consumption spurs weight loss, according to a study published in the most recent issue of the British Journal of Nutrition, but only in people whose diets are calcium deficient.

 

Angelo Tremblay and his team at Université Laval's Faculty of Medicine made the discovery in a 15-week weight loss program they conducted on obese women. The participants consumed on average less than 600 mg of calcium per day, whereas recommended daily intake is 1000 mg. In addition to following a low calorie diet, the women were instructed to take two tablets a day containing either a total of 1200 mg of calcium or a placebo. Those who took the calcium tablets lost nearly 6 kg over the course of the program, the researchers found, compared to 1 kg for women in the control group.

 

"Our hypothesis is that the brain can detect the lack of calcium and seeks to compensate by spurring food intake, which obviously works against the goals of any weight loss program," said Angelo Tremblay, holder of the Canada Research Chair in Environment and Energy Balance. "Sufficient calcium intake seems to stifle the desire to eat more," he added.

 

Consuming sufficient calcium is therefore important to ensuring the success of any weight loss program. According to the researcher, over 50% of obese women who come to the clinic run by his research team do not consume the recommended daily intake.

 

A second study showed that the more people reduced their consumption of dairy products over the six-year period examined, the more weight and body fat they gained and the bigger their waistlines grew. In 2007, Angelo Tremblay and his team established a direct link between calcium and a lower cardiovascular risk profile among dieters.

 

For more on this study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090312115053.htm

 

April 28, 2009

 

Relationships: Romance Possible in Long-Term Relationships

 

Romance does not have to fizzle out in long-term relationships and progress into a companionship/friendship-type love, a new study has found. Romantic love can last a lifetime and lead to happier, healthier relationships.

 

"Many believe that romantic love is the same as passionate love," said lead researcher Bianca P. Acevedo, PhD, then at Stony Brook University (currently at University of California, Santa Barbara). "It isn't. Romantic love has the intensity, engagement and sexual chemistry that passionate love has, minus the obsessive component. Passionate or obsessive love includes feelings of uncertainty and anxiety. This kind of love helps drive the shorter relationships but not the longer ones."

 

The review found that those who reported greater romantic love were more satisfied in both the short- and long-term relationships. Companion-like love was only moderately associated with satisfaction in both short- and long-term relationships. And those who reported greater passionate love in their relationships were more satisfied in the short term compared to the long term.

 

Couples who reported more satisfaction in their relationships also reported being happier and having higher self-esteem.

 

Feeling that a partner is "there for you" makes for a good relationship, Acevedo said, and facilitates feelings of romantic love. On the other hand, "feelings of insecurity are generally associated with lower satisfaction, and in some cases may spark conflict in the relationship. This can manifest into obsessive love," she said.

 

This discovery may change people's expectations of what they want in long-term relationships. According to the authors, companionship love, which is what many couples see as the natural progression of a successful relationship, may be an unnecessary compromise. "Couples should strive for love with all the trimmings," Acevedo said. "And couples who've been together a long time and wish to get back their romantic edge should know it is an attainable goal that, like most good things in life, requires energy and devotion."

 

For more on this review, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090317153039.htm

 

April 27, 2009

 

Lungs: Overweight Associated with Decreased Lung Function

 

There's more bad news for people who carry excess weight around their waists: Not only is abdominal obesity associated with diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and a host of other health problems collectively known as "metabolic syndrome," a new study has found that a high waist circumference is strongly associated with decreased lung function—independent of smoking history, sex, body mass index (BMI) and other complicating factors.

 

The results were published in the second issue for March of the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

 

Abdominal obesity was defined as having a waist circumference of greater than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men.

 

This study demonstrated that only mild abdominal adiposity, even with a normal body mass index (BMI), in associated with lower lung function.

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090306084400.htm

 

April 26, 2009

 

Arthritis: Lose Weight to Reduce Risk of Knee and Hip Joint Replacements

 

Being fat increases the risk of primary joint replacement in osteoarthritis (OA). A new study found that increased waist circumference and body mass index (BMI) were associated with the risk of both knee and hip joint replacement.

 

 

Total joint replacement is an effective treatment for severe knee and hip OA, and obesity is recognized as being the most important modifiable risk factor for OA. BMI is the most commonly used measurement of obesity but does not account for the pattern of fat distribution, and cannot discriminate between adipose and non-adipose tissue.

 

The study determined that there was a 3 to 4-fold increased risk of primary joint replacement associated with body weight, BMI, fat mass and percentage fat. Waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio were also associated with an increased risk, suggesting that both biomechanical and metabolic mechanisms associated with adiposity contribute to the risk of joint replacement. The group also showed that fat mass and percentage fat were associated with an increased risk of primary knee and hip joint replacement even 10 to 15 years after their measurement.

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090305080145.htm

 

April 25, 2009

 

Parenting: Teens Eating Fish Think Better

 

Fifteen-year-old males who ate fish at least once a week displayed higher cognitive skills at the age of 18 than those who it ate it less frequently, according to a study of nearly 4,000 teenagers published in the March issue of Acta Paediatrica.

 

Eating fish once a week was enough to increase combined, verbal and visuospatial intelligence scores by an average of six per cent, while eating fish more than once a week increased them by just under 11 per cent.

 

"When they ate fish more than once a week the improvement almost doubled.

 

"We also found the same association between fish and intelligence in the teenagers regardless of their parents' level of education."

 

For more about the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090309092957.htm

 

April 24, 2009

 

Cancer: Red and White Wine Both Increase Breast Cancer Risk

 

The largest study of its kind to evaluate the effect of red versus white wine on breast-cancer risk concludes that both are equal offenders when it comes to increasing breast-cancer risk. The results of the study, led by researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, were published in the March issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention.

 

"We found no difference between red or white wine in relation to breast-cancer risk. Neither appears to have any benefits," Newcomb said. "If a woman drinks, she should do so in moderation – no more than one drink a day. And if a woman chooses red wine, she should do so because she likes the taste, not because she thinks it may reduce her risk of breast cancer," she said.

 

The researchers found that women who consumed 14 or more drinks per week, regardless of the type (wine, liquor or beer), faced a 24 percent increase in breast cancer compared with non-drinkers.

 

For more about the study click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090309092838.htm

 

April 23, 2009

 

Lungs: Spending More Than Two Hours a Day Watching TV Doubles Risk of Asthma

 

Young children who spend more than two hours glued to the TV every day double their subsequent risk of developing asthma, indicates research published ahead of print in Thorax.

 

The findings are based on more than 3,000 children whose respiratory health was tracked from birth to 11.5 years of age. The children were all participants in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), which has been following the long term health of 14,000 children and their parents.

 

The authors comment that the relationship between physical activity, sedentary behaviour and asthma is complex. But they point out that recent research has suggested that breathing patterns in children may be associated with sedentary behaviour, sparking developmental changes in the lungs and subsequent wheezing.

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090302213822.htm

 

April 22, 2009

 

Pregnancy: Vitamin B12 Needed to have Health Babies

 

Children born to women who have low blood levels of vitamin B12 shortly before and after conception may have an increased risk of a neural tube defect, according to an analysis by researchers at the National Institutes of Health, Trinity College Dublin, and the Health Research Board of Ireland.

 

Women with the lowest B12 levels had 5 times the risk of having a child with a neural tube defect compared to women with the highest B12 levels.

 

Women who consume little or no meat or animal based foods are the most likely group of women to have low B12 levels, along with women who have intestinal disorders that prevent them from absorbing sufficient amounts of B12.

 

Neural tube defects are a class of birth defects affecting the brain and spinal cord. One type, spina bifida, can cause partial paralysis. Another type, anencephaly, is a fatal defect in which the brain and skull are severely underdeveloped.

 

"Vitamin B12 is essential for the functioning of the nervous system and for the production of red blood cells," said Duane Alexander, M.D., director of the NICHD. "The results of this study suggest that women with low levels of B12 not only may risk health problems of their own, but also may increase the chance that their children may be born with a serious birth defect."

 

Women with levels in the deficient range (0-149 ng/L ) were at the highest risk: 5 times that of women with higher levels.

 

The study authors wrote that it is not known how B12 and folate might interact to influence the formation of the neural tube, the embryonic structure that gives rise to the spine and brain. They noted that the two vitamins are jointly involved with several key biochemical reactions, as well as with the synthesis of DNA. Lack of either Vitamin B12 or folate in any of these chemical processes theoretically could increase the risk of a neural tube defect.

 

"If women wait until they realize that they are pregnant before they start taking folic acid, it is usually too late," Dr. Mills said.

 

Similarly, he said, it would be wise for all women of childbearing age to consume the recommended amount of Vitamin B12, whether they are planning a pregnancy or not. "Half of the women who become pregnant each year in the U.S. were not planning to become pregnant."

 

"Our results offer evidence that women who have adequate B12 levels before they become pregnant may further reduce the occurrence of this class of birth defects," Dr. Mills said.

 

Vitamin B12 is available in milk, meats, poultry, eggs, as well as fortified cereals and some other fortified foods.

 

Folate is found in leafy green vegetables, fruits, and dried beans and peas.

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090302090140.htm

 

April 21, 2009

 

Parenting: Public Schools Outperform Private Schools in Math Instruction

 

In another “Freakonomics”-style study that turns conventional wisdom about public- versus private-school education on its head, a team of University of Illinois education professors has found that public-school students outperform their private-school classmates on standardized math tests, thanks to two key factors: certified math teachers, and a modern, reform-oriented math curriculum.

 

“According to our results, schools that hired more certified teachers and had a curriculum that de-emphasized learning by rote tended to do better on standardized math tests,” Lubienski said. “And public schools had more of both.”

 

Of the five factors, school size and parental involvement “didn’t seem to matter all that much,” Lubienski said, citing a weak correlation between the two factors as “mixed or marginally significant predictors” of student achievement.

 

They also discovered that smaller class sizes, which are more prevalent in private schools than in public schools, significantly correlate with achievement.

 

Lubienski said one reason private schools show poorly in this study could be their lack of accountability to a public body.

 

“There’s been this assumption that private schools are more effective because they’re autonomous and don’t have all the bureaucracy that public schools have,” Lubienski said. “But one thing this study suggests is that autonomy isn’t necessarily a good thing for schools.”

 

Another reason could be private schools’ anachronistic approach to math.

 

“Private schools are increasingly ignoring curricular trends in education, and it shows,” Lubienski said. “They’re not using up-to-date methods, and they’re not hiring teachers who employ up-to-date lesson plans in the classroom. When you do that, you aren’t really taking advantage of the expertise in math education that’s out there.”

 

Lubienski thinks one of the reasons that private schools don’t adopt a more reform-minded math curriculum is because some parents are more attracted to a “back-to-basics” approach to math instruction. The end result, however, is students who are “prepared for the tests of 40 years ago, and not the tests of today,” she said.

 

 “Private schools don’t invest as much in the professional development of their teachers and don’t do enough to keep their curriculum current,” she said. “That appears to be less of a priority for them, and they don’t have money designated for that kind of thing in the way public schools do.”

 

Lubienski hopes that politicians who favor more privatization would realize that the invisible hand of the market doesn’t necessarily apply to education.

 

Instead, some private schools try to attract parents by offering a basic skills curriculum, or non-academic requirements, such as students wearing uniforms.

 

Privatization also assumes that parents can make judgments about what schools are the best for their children.

 

For more about the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090226093423.htm

 

April 20, 2009

 

Cancer: Charred Meat Increases Risk of Pancreatic Cancer

 

Meat cooked at high temperatures to the point of burning and charring may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer, according to data presented at the American Association for Cancer Research 100th Annual Meeting 2009.

 

 

Kristin Anderson, Ph.D., associate professor at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, said the finding was linked to consumption of well and very well done meats cooked by frying, grilling or barbecuing. Cooking in this way can form carcinogens, which do not form when meat is baked or stewed.

 

Over the course of nine years, researchers identified 208 cases of pancreatic cancer. Preferences for high temperature cooked meat were generally linked with an increased risk; subjects who preferred very well done steak were almost 60 percent as likely to get pancreatic cancer as compared to those who ate steak less well done or did not eat steak. When overall consumption and doneness preferences were used to estimate the meat-derived carcinogen intake for subjects, those with highest intake had 70 percent higher risk than those with the lowest intake.

 

"We cannot say with absolute certainty that the risk is increased due to carcinogens formed in burned meat," said Anderson. "However, those who enjoy either fried or barbecued meat should consider turning down the heat or cutting off burned portions when it's finished; cook meat sufficiently to kill bacteria without excess charring. In addition, the precursors of cancer-causing compounds can be reduced by microwaving the meat for a few minutes and pouring off the juices before cooking it on the grill."

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090421154327.htm

 

Walnut consumption may provide the body with essential omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and phytosterols that reduce the risk of breast cancer, according to a study presented at the American Association for Cancer Research 100th Annual Meeting 2009.

 

 Elaine Hardman, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine at Marshall University School of Medicine, said that while her study was done with laboratory animals rather than humans, people should heed the recommendation to eat more walnuts.

 

"Walnuts are better than cookies, french fries or potato chips when you need a snack," said Hardman. "We know that a healthy diet overall prevents all manner of chronic diseases."

 

Hardman and colleagues studied mice that were fed a diet that they estimated was the human equivalent of two ounces of walnuts per day. A separate group of mice were fed a control diet.

 

Standard testing showed that walnut consumption significantly decreased breast tumor incidence, the number of glands with a tumor and tumor size.

 

Molecular analysis showed that increased consumption of omega-3 fatty acids contributed to the decline in tumor incidence, but other parts of the walnut contributed as well.

 

"With dietary interventions you see multiple mechanisms when working with the whole food," said Hardman. "It is clear that walnuts contribute to a healthy diet that can reduce breast cancer."

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090421154325.htm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 16, 2009

 

Cancer: Two or More Alcoholic Drinks a Day Could Increase Risk of Pancreatic Cancer

 

Men and women who consume two or more alcoholic drinks a day could increase their risk of developing pancreatic cancer, according to a study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

 

Unlike the previous studies, this current research pools data collected prospectively from 14 research studies, which included 862,664 individuals (319,716 men and 542,948 women). Data collected prospectively means information about dietary and environmental exposures were collected prior to diagnosis with pancreatic cancer. Researchers identified 2,187 individuals diagnosed with pancreatic cancer during the study.

 

Although, there was no statistically significant difference between men and women when comparing alcohol intake with risk of pancreatic cancer, the association was seen in women at two or more drinks per day. Comparatively, the researchers observed a higher risk among men who consumed three or more drinks a day.

 

No difference was observed by type of alcohol when comparing beer, distilled liquor or wine, according to Genkinger.

 

In addition to chronic pancreatitis and diabetes, smoking is considered the strongest risk factor for pancreatic cancer.

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090303161423.htm

 

April 15, 2009

 

Parenting: Make Sure Children and Adolescents Eat Enough Fruits and Vegetables

 

Children and adolescents aren't meeting guidelines for fruit and vegetable consumption, according to researchers at Ohio State University.

 

The researchers found 2-to-5 year-olds consumed significantly more fruit and juice than children ages 6 to 11 and 12 to 18 year olds. Total vegetable consumption was significantly higher among 12-to-18 year-olds. However, only 8 percent of vegetables consumed by children in all groups were dark green or orange; fried potatoes constituted about 46 percent of total vegetable consumption.

 

This study was published in the March 2009 Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090302183254.htm

 

April 14, 2009

 

Infections: Vitamin D May Arm the Immune System Against Colds and Flu

 

Vitamin D may be an important way to arm the immune system against disorders like the common cold, report investigators from the University of Colorado Denver (UC Denver) School of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Children's Hospital Boston.

 

In the largest and most nationally representative study of the association between vitamin D and respiratory infections, people with the lowest blood vitamin D levels reported having significantly more recent colds or cases of the flu. The risks were even higher for those with chronic respiratory disorders, such as asthma and emphysema. The report appears in the February 23 Archives of Internal Medicine.

 

"The findings of our study support an important role for vitamin D in prevention of common respiratory infections, such as colds and the flu," says Adit Ginde, MD, MPH, UC Denver Division of Emergency Medicine and lead author of the study. "Individuals with common lung diseases, such as asthma or emphysema, may be particularly susceptible to respiratory infections from vitamin D deficiency."

 

While vitamin C has been used for the prevention of colds and other respiratory disorders for decades, little scientific evidence supports its effectiveness. In contrast, in recent years evidence has accumulated that vitamin D – most commonly associated with the development and maintenance of strong bones – may also play a key role in the immune system. Circumstantial evidence has implicated the wintertime deficiency of vitamin D, which the body produces in response to sunlight, in the seasonal increase in colds and flu; and small studies have suggested an association between low blood levels of vitamin D and a higher risk of respiratory infections.

 

Study participants with the lowest vitamin D blood levels – less than 10 ng per milliliter of blood – were about 40 percent more likely to report having a recent respiratory infection than were those with vitamin D levels of 30 or higher. The association was present in all seasons and even stronger among participants with a history of asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including emphysema. Asthma patients with the lowest vitamin D levels were five times more likely to have had a recent respiratory infection; while among COPD patients, respiratory infections were twice as common among those with vitamin D deficiency.

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090223221242.htm

 

April 13, 2009

 

Digestion: Probiotics Beneficial for Ulcerative Colitis

 

The animal and clinical studies indicated that gastrointestinal bacteria play an important role in the development of UC, and the supplement of probiotics was beneficial for UC.

 

This investigation showed that all four strains of probiotics (E.feacalis, L.acidophilus, C.butyricum and B.adolescentis) could relieve symptom of experimental colitis.

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090217125339.htm

 

Note: Some of these probiotics are available as a supplement

 

April 12, 2009

 

Parenting: Babies Listen to Music While Asleep

 

Although adult perception has been extensively researched, how, or even if, the brains of newborn babies perceive patterns in the world remained a mystery.

 

That mystery has been at least partially solved by an EU-funded research project, EmCAP, which brought together what many would consider an unlikely consortium, comprising both neuroscientists and music technologists.

 

The results were exciting, demonstrating newborns had a sense of pitch from birth, and this was not something learned through experience as had previously been thought. The experiments showed they are even sensitive to the beat in music.

 

“The bottom line is we come into the world with brains that are continually looking for patterns, and telling us when there is something unexpected we should learn about,” says Denham.

 

István Winkler, who conducted the baby research, concludes this capability allows babies to learn about their environment and the important actors within it.

 

 “While it remains unclear whether a capacity for music is rooted in nature, rather than nurture, it is clear that musical competence is a special human capacity, shared across ages and cultures.” says project partner, Henkjan Honing.

 

Although the ability to detect musical patterns is present from birth, music cognition develops throughout life. However, music cognition is influenced not so much by musical expertise, as by experience. According to Honing, “Frequent listening to a certain musical genre allows listeners without formal musical training to become experts in that musical style.”

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090226082517.htm

April 10, 2009

 

Parenting: More Schooling Means Fewer Teenage Pregnancies

 

More compulsory schooling results in fewer teenage pregnancies. More school means less time for so-called risk activities, such as getting pregnant. And – the more schooling they have, the smarter the choices girls make.

 

The results show that one direct effect of more compulsory schooling is that more girls decide to postpone having children. This is entirely positive, believes Professor Salvanes, who points to extensive research documenting the undesirable effects of teenage pregnancies.

 

The researchers have compared conditions in Norway and the USA. Here in Norway, teenage mothers receive financial support from the state, which they do not in the USA. Teenage pregnancies are nonetheless far more common in the USA than they are here. Professor Salvanes’s research appears to indicate that the extent of compulsory schooling may be an explanatory factor. The researchers have examined the connection between education and child bearing. One hypothesis is that more school means less time for risk activities, such as getting pregnant. This is called the ‘confinement effect.’

 

Another effect of more school is an increase in human capital. The girls gain insight and knowledge, and this, combined with expectations of even more human capital in future, leads to girls postponing having children. The more education they have, the greater their expectations of their own educational level. Thus, these two effects of more compulsory schooling result in fewer teenage pregnancies. It also affects future choice of occupation and other choices.

 

One explanation argues that there is a close connection between parents and children as regards education. Parents with higher education have children who take higher education. The other explanation places greater emphasis on parents’ preferences. Some people simply have a higher preference for cognitive knowledge than others.

 

Professor Salvanes’s findings lean towards the latter explanation, i.e. that the family, and particularly the organisation of the family, is the key to understanding the production of human capital. Even though the parents’  educational level has consequences for the children’s educational level, this has nothing to do with the parents’ educational level as such.

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090218081132.htm

 

April 9, 2009

 

Pain: Exercise the Best Treatment for Low-Back Pain

 

A systematic review of the literature for high-quality scientific trials published in the February issue of The Spine Journal finds exercise in workplace and community settings effective in preventing new episodes of low-back problems.

 

Seven of the eight high-quality trials promoting various exercise programs were found

effective, but other common and popular methods failed including: reduced lifting programs, back or ergonomic educational interventions, lumbar supports, shoe inserts and stress management.

 

"Passive interventions such as lumbar belts and shoe inserts do not appear to work," Bigos said. "And eight trials found ergonomic interventions, of either reducing lifting, or back or ergonomic training sessions to be ineffective in preventing back problems."

 

For more on the back studies, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090220090750.htm

 

April 8, 2009

 

Ears: Supplements Can Help Keep Your Hearing

 

Many people take a vitamin each morning to maintain good nutrition, energy, bone strength, and overall health. Can popping a pill also protect our hearing against damage caused by loud noise?

 

The supplements used in recent research studies are composed of antioxidants — beta carotene and vitamins C and E — and the mineral magnesium. When administered prior to exposure to loud noise, the supplements prevented both temporary and permanent hearing loss in test animals.

 

The research builds on previous studies that demonstrated hearing loss is not just caused by intense vibrations produced by loud noises that tear the delicate structures of the inner ear, as once thought, said Josef Miller, Ph.D., who has studied the mechanisms of hearing impairment for more than 20 years and is a frequent collaborator of Le Prell's. Researchers now know noise-induced hearing loss is largely caused by the production of free radicals, which destroy healthy inner ear cells.

 

"The free radicals literally punch holes in the membrane of the cells," said Miller, the Townsend professor of communicative disorders at the University of Michigan.

 

The antioxidant vitamins prevent hearing damage by "scavenging" the free radicals. Magnesium, which is not a traditional antioxidant, is added to the supplement mix to preserve blood flow to the inner ear and aid in healing.

 

"We found that the antioxidant combination of vitamin E and salicylate — the active agent in aspirin —effectively prevented cell death and permanent noise-induced hearing loss even when treatments were delayed up to three days after noise insult," she said.

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090212093704.htm

 

April 7, 2009

 

Ears: Simple Ways to Reduce Tinnitus

 

Ringing, whining, whistling, hissing or whooshing. Any of those sounds in one or both ears when there is no external noise present could be a sign of tinnitus.

 

The February issue of Mayo Clinic Women’s HealthSource provides an overview of this common condition. It’s estimated that 10 percent to 15 percent of adults have prolonged tinnitus that often requires medical evaluation. This form of the problem can interfere with sleep, concentration and daily activities.

 

Tinnitus -- pronounced as either TIN-i-tus or ti-NIGHT-us, often is caused by age-related hearing loss. Exposure to loud noises also can damage hearing and lead to tinnitus. Tinnitus can be caused by something as simple as a buildup of wax blocking the ear canal. Some medications, certain antibiotics and cancer drugs can cause or worsen tinnitus. Aspirin -- taken in excessive amounts -- can cause temporary ringing in the ears, too.

 

The treatment depends on the root cause. But so far, there is no cure. A medication change or removal of earwax may diminish symptoms for some people.

 

Treatment strategies that may be beneficial include:

 

*Amplifying hearing with a hearing aid. This may help because the brain would rather process external sounds than be distracted by an internal noise.

*Avoiding excessive noise. Ear plugs can be helpful when operating noisy machines.

*Avoiding stimulants. Caffeine, nicotine and decongestants can aggravate tinnitus.

*Adding background noise. Turning on quiet music, a fan or other background noises can distract the brain from the internal noise.

*Using behavioral therapy. Relaxation techniques can help people cope with tinnitus or keep it controlled.

 

For more on this topic, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090204165913.htm

 

April 6, 2009

 

Infection: Vitamin B12 Lowers Risk for Canker Sores

 

A team of physicians at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev has discovered that a nightly dose of vitamin B12 is a simple, effective and low risk therapy to prevent Recurrent Aphthous Stomatitis (RAS), better known as "canker sores."

 

According to lead researcher Dr. Ilia Volkov, "the frequency of RAS is as much as 25 percent in the general population, however, until now, there has been no optimal therapeutic approach."

 

The researchers tested the effect of vitamin B12 on 58 randomly selected RAS patients who received either a dose of 1,000 mcg of B12 by mouth at bedtime or a placebo, and were tested monthly for six months. Approximately three quarters (74 percent) of the patients of the treated group and only a third (32 percent) of the control group achieved remission at the end of the study.

 

The treated patients expressed greater comfort, reported less pain, fewer ulcers, and shorter outbreaks during the six months while among the control group the average pain level decreased during the first half of the period but increased during the second half.

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090210092732.htm

 

April 5, 2009

 

Exercise: Gardening Can Help Old and Young Alike

 

Researchers at Kansas State University already have shown that gardening can offer enough moderate physical activity to keep older adults in shape. The researchers discovered that among the other health benefits of gardening is keeping older hands strong and nimble.

 

"One of the things we found is that older adults who are gardeners have better hand strength and pinch force, which is a big concern as you age," said Candice Shoemaker, K-State professor of horticulture.

 

"We found that with gardening tasks older adults can, among other things, improve their hand strength and self-esteem at the same time," Park said.

 

They are now analyzing data from an eight-week horticulture therapy program that targeted hand strength in stroke patients.

"They did tasks like mixing soil and filling pots," Park said. "They had to use their hands all of the time, so that was good exercise -- and they really enjoyed it.

 

They found that a task like raking, which uses the whole body, had the most exercise benefit, whereas activities like mixing soil or transplanting seedlings give the most benefit to the upper body.

 

Shoemaker, who also researches gardening as a prevention strategy to childhood obesity, said that studying the physical benefits of gardening is important for older adults because gardening is a physically active hobby that provides an alternative to sports or other exercise.

 

"There's a lot of natural motivation in gardening," Shoemaker said. "For one thing, you know there's a plant you've got to go out and water and weed to keep alive. If we get the message out there that older adults can get health benefits from gardening, they'll realize that they don't have to walk around the mall to get exercise."

 

For more about the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090203142517.htm

 

April 4, 2009

 

Breast Cancer: An Apple a Day May Keep the Doctor Away

 

Six studies published in the past year by a Cornell researcher add to growing evidence that an apple a day -- as well as daily helpings of other fruits and vegetables -- can help keep the breast-cancer doctor away.

 

The studies highlight the important role of phytochemicals, known as phenolics or flavonoids, found in apples and other fruits and vegetables. Of the top 25 fruits consumed in the United States, Liu reported in the same journal (56:18) that apples provide 33 percent of the phenolics that Americans consume annually.

 

In a study of apple peel published in the same journal (56:21), Liu reported on a variety of new phenolic compounds that he discovered that also have "potent antioxidant and anti-proliferative activities" on tumors. And in yet another study in the same journal (56:24), he reported on his discovery of the specific modulation effects that apple extracts have on cell cycle machinery. Recently, Liu's group also reported the finding that apple phytochemicals inhibit an important inflammation pathway (NFkB) in human breast cancer cells.

 

Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed invasive cancer and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women in the United States, said Liu.

 

"These studies add to the growing evidence that increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, including apples, would provide consumers with more phenolics, which are proving to have important health benefits. I would encourage consumers to eat more and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables daily."

 

For more on the studies, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090217125742.htm

 

April 3, 2009

 

Depression: Very Young Children Can Identify Depression and Anxiety in Themselves

 

University of Washington social scientists tracked first- and second-graders for seven years and found that anti-social behavior among girls and anxiety among both sexes predicted depression in early adolescence. Surprisingly, early signs of depression were not predictive of adolescent depression.

 

Data were collected annually from the children and their parents and teachers when the children were in the first or second grade. The children filled out surveys that measured their levels of depression, anxiety and anti-social behavior, as well as other measures that were not investigated in this study. Parents and teachers filled out questionnaires about the children's anti-social behavior and social competency, which measured such things as the youngsters' abilities to understand other people's feeling, to make new friends and resolve conflicts. Teachers also rated each child's academic performance. In addition, parents filled out questionnaires concerning family and marital conflict, family stress and parental depression.

 

"One finding from this study that is a mind-grabber is that young children can identify themselves as being anxious and depressed," said Mazza. "When they had scores that were elevated we were a bit surprised because we thought they would say, 'My life is fun and I play a lot.' But they are able to understand and report feeling depressed or anxious, and tell us so. This suggests giving health surveys in early elementary school is a good idea and we should talk to kids in the first and second grades because they can give us valuable information."

 

For more about the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090217141538.htm

 

April 2, 2009

 

Alzheimer’s: Mental Activities Can Delay or Prevent Memory Loss

 

Participating in certain mental activities, like reading magazines or crafting in middle age or later in life, may delay or prevent memory loss, according to a study released February 17 that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 61st Annual Meeting in Seattle, April 25 to May 2, 2009.

 

The study found that during later years, reading books, playing games, participating in computer activities and doing craft activities such as pottery or quilting led to a 30 to 50 percent decrease in the risk of developing memory loss compared to people who did not do those activities. People who watched television for less than seven hours a day in later years were 50 percent less likely to develop memory loss than people who watched for more than seven hours a day.

 

People who participated in social activities and read magazines during middle age were about 40 percent less likely to develop memory loss than those who did not do those activities.

 

"This study is exciting because it demonstrates that aging does not need to be a passive process. By simply engaging in cognitive exercise, you can protect against future memory loss," said study author Yonas Geda, MD, MSc, a neuropsychiatrist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.

 

For more about the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090217173022.htm

 

April 1, 2009

 

Menopause: Exercise Can Improve Quality of Life

 

Exercise appears to improve quality of life in postmenopausal women regardless of whether they lose weight, according to a report in the February 9 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

 

Physical inactivity is a risk factor for various chronic conditions including diabetes mellitus, heart disease, stroke and several types of cancers, according to background information in the article. Regular physical activity is often reported to improve mood, reduce stress and increase energy levels, all of which are measurements of quality of life.. All three exercise groups had significantly improved social functioning compared with the control group."

 

The researchers said, “The exercise doses are easily obtainable and were well tolerated by sedentary women, resulting in confidence that the exercise doses used in this study can be achieved by women in the community."

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090209163207.htm

 

March 31, 2009

 

Stroke: 4 Things to Do to Lower Your Risk

 

Four lifestyle behaviors that influence stroke risk are not smoking, physical activity, moderate alcohol consumption, and eating at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily.

 

Adherence to all 4 health behaviors is associated with a 2.3 times lower risk for stroke vs adherence to none of these behaviors.

 

For more about the study underpinning these suggestions, click on:

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/588615?sssdmh=dm1.435854&src=nldne

March 30, 2009

 

Liver: Weight Loss Can Help

In a recent study, Saint Louis University researchers found that weight loss of at least 9 percent helped patients reverse a type of liver disease known as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a finding that will allow doctors to give patients specific weight-loss goals that are likely to improve their livers. The finding comes from a study of the diet drug orlistat (also known as Xenical and Alli), which did not itself improve liver disease.

 

"The bottom line is that weight loss can help improve fatty liver disease," said Neuschwander-Tetri, who is a professor of internal medicine at Saint Louis University. "Now we know how much weight loss is needed for improvement, and we can give patients specific goals as they work to improve their health."

 

For more on this topic, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090217104439.htm

 

March 29, 2009

 

Kidney, Heart Disease, Osteoporosis: Processed & Fast Foods May be Harmful

Advanced kidney disease patients have a list of foods they know to avoid because they naturally contain a high level of the mineral phosphorus, which is difficult for their compromised kidneys to expel. But researchers from MetroHealth Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland have discovered that a great deal of processed and fast food actually contains phosphorus additives which can be just as dangerous for these patients.

 

High blood levels of phosphorus can lead to heart disease, bone disease, and even death among patients with advanced kidney disease. This is why these patients must avoid foods with naturally high levels of phosphorus – such as certain meats, dairy products, whole grains, and nuts. The research team discovered that it has become an increasingly common practice by food manufacturers to include phosphorus additives, such as sodium phosphate or pyrophosphate, to processed foods. The additives are used to enhance flavor and shelf life –particularly in meats, cheeses, baked goods, and beverages – and it is very difficult for American consumers to know whether or not these additives are present in products.

 

"Calories, fat, and sodium content are required to be listed on nutrition labels, but phosphorus is not," says Catherine Sullivan, M.S., R.D., lead researcher from the Center for Reducing Health Disparities, a joint center created and operated by MetroHealth and Case Western Reserve University. "This makes it impossible for kidney disease patients to know how much phosphorus they are eating. For example, we discovered that while chicken is often on dialysis patients' 'Safe List' of foods to eat, chicken from fast food and sit down restaurants often contains this phosphorus additive."

 

The researchers found they were able to significantly lower phosphorus levels among advanced kidney disease patients once they were taught to avoid foods containing phosphorus additives.

 

The study findings are most relevant to the half a million Americans with advanced kidney disease and the 10 million more with moderate kidney disease. However, the study authors note that even people with normal kidney function may be affected by these additives since previous research has found that high phosphorus diets appear to lower bone density and increase fracture risk as well.

 

"Phosphorus is already abundant in naturally-occurring foods," says study co-investigator Srilekha Sayre, M.D., M.S., MetroHealth and Case Western Reserve University. "By adding even more phosphorus to our food supply, we may be exceeding the body's regulatory ability, especially for those with kidney disease. We need to limit the use of these additives until their impact is better understood or at least encourage the Food and Drug Administration to require food manufacturers to report phosphorus content on nutrition food labels."

 

For more on this topic, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090210161912.htm

 

March 28, 2009

 

Heart Disease: High-Fat Diets Inflame Tissue Surrounding Blood Vessels

 

A study by researchers at the University of Cincinnati shows that high-fat diets, even if consumed for a short amount of time, can inflame fat tissue surrounding blood vessels, possibly contributing to cardiovascular disease.

 

Neal Weintraub, MD, and colleagues examined adipose tissue—or fat—surrounding the coronary arteries of humans.  The researchers found these fat cells to be highly inflamed, suggesting that they could trigger inflammation of the blood vessels, an important component of atherosclerosis.

 

They also found that the inflammation of fat tissues around the arteries of mice is increased by feeding the animals a high-fat diet for just two weeks.

 

“This is independent of weight gain or blood lipids—cholesterol levels,” says Weintraub, senior author of the study and chair of the cardiovascular diseases division at UC.

 

Weintraub says that high fat diets contribute to atherosclerosis—or the hardening of arteries—in a number of ways.

 

For more on the studies, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090218142001.htm

 

March 27, 2009

 

Alzheimer’s: Could a Soybean Product Help?

 

A vegan food renowned in Asia for its ability to protect against heart attacks also shows a powerful ability in lab experiments to prevent formation of the clumps of tangled protein involved in Alzheimer’s disease, scientists in Taiwan are reporting.

 

Rita P. Y. Chen and colleagues point out that people in Asia have been eating natto — a fermented food made from boiled soybeans —for more than 1,000 years. Natto contains an enzyme, nattokinase, that has effects similar to clot-busting drugs used in heart disease. Nattokinase is sold a dietary supplement to improve the body’s circulatory system.

 

For more on this topic, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090218223842.htm

 

March 27, 2009

 

Allergies, Asthma and Headaches: House Plants Could Help

 

The toxic gas formaldehyde is contained in building materials including carpeting, curtains, plywood, and adhesives. As it is emitted from these sources, it deteriorates the air quality, which can lead to "multiple chemical sensitivity" and "sick building syndrome", medical conditions with symptoms such as allergies, asthma, and headaches. The prevalence of formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds (VOC) is greater in new construction.

 

Researchers are studying the ability of plants to reduce formaldehyde levels in the air. A study led by Kwang Jin Kim of Korea's National Horticultural Research Institute compared the absorption rate of two types of houseplants. The results of the experiment on Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina) and Fatsia japonica, an evergreen shrub, were published in the Journal of American Society for Horticultural Science.

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090217141419.htm

 

March 26, 2009

 

Parenting: Dangerous Effects of Violent Video Games and Movies

 

Violent video games and movies make people numb to the pain and suffering of others, according to a research report published in the March 2009 issue of Psychological Science.

 

The report details the findings of two studies conducted by University of Michigan professor Brad Bushman and Iowa State University professor Craig Anderson.

 

"These studies clearly show that violent media exposure can reduce helping behavior," said Bushman, professor of psychology and communications and a research professor at the U-M Institute for Social Research.

 

"People exposed to media violence are less helpful to others in need because they are 'comfortably numb' to the pain and suffering of others, to borrow the title of a Pink Floyd song," he said.

 

For more about the studies, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090219202831.htm

 

March 25, 2009

 

Multiple Sclerosis: Breastfeeding May Reduce Risk of Relapse

 

Women who have multiple sclerosis may reduce their risk of relapses after pregnancy if they breastfeed their babies, according to a study released February 18 that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 61st Annual Meeting in Seattle, April 25 to May 2, 2009.

 

A total of 52 percent of the women with MS did not breastfeed or began supplemental formula feedings within two months of giving birth. Of those, 87 percent had a relapse after pregnancy compared to 36 percent of women with MS who breastfed exclusively for at least two months after pregnancy.

 

Sixty percent of the women reported their main reason for not breastfeeding exclusively was to start taking MS treatments again. Women who began taking MS treatments within the first two months after giving birth had significantly higher risk of suffering a relapse than women with MS who did not start taking medications early, regardless of whether they breastfed. Those who breastfed exclusively got their menstrual periods back later than the women who did not breastfeed or began early supplemental feedings.

 

For more on the study, click on

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090219202716.htm

 

March 24, 2009

 

Stroke: The Connection to Fast-Food Restaurants

 

The risk of stroke increases with the number of fast-food restaurants in a neighborhood, according to research presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2009.

 

Residents of neighborhoods with the highest number of fast-food restaurants had a 13 percent higher relative risk of suffering ischemic strokes than those living in areas with the lowest numbers of restaurants. The relative risk of stroke increased 1 percent for each fast-food restaurant in a neighborhood.

 

 “The data show a true association,” said Lewis B. Morgenstern, M.D., lead author of the study and director of the University of Michigan’s stroke program and professor of neurology and epidemiology in Ann Arbor. “What we don’t know is whether fast food actually increased the risk because of its contents, or whether fast-food restaurants are a marker of unhealthy neighborhoods.”

 

Neighborhoods with large numbers of the restaurants are prime areas for stroke prevention programs, Morgenstern said. “We need to consider targeting communities that have a lot of fast-food restaurants as places where we can improve health.”

 

The epidemiological study supports previous research that suggested a link between fast food and cardiovascular disease — to which some fast-food chains have responded by including more nutritious options to their menus.

 

Adapted from materials provided by American Heart Association.

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090219202714.htm

March 23, 2009

 

Parenting: Reducing Child’s Anxiety about Doctor and Dentist Visits

 

For many children, a trip to the doctor or dentist is a stressful experience. The sensory environment (i.e., the sounds, smells, and lights associated with the clinical setting) can cause a child's anxiety levels to rise. This is especially true in children with developmental disabilities who may have difficulty understanding the unfamiliar clinical environment.

 

A new study explores the relationship between the sensory environment and anxiety levels in children.

 

The first trip for the children included the typical sensory experiences of a dental office, including fluorescent lighting and the use of an overhead dental lamp. During the second trip, however, the researchers created a sensory adapted environment that modified the experience of the children. No overhead lighting was used, a slow moving repetitive color lamp was added, and the dental hygienist wore a special LED headlamp that directed the light into the child's mouth. The children listened to soothing music and were wrapped in a heavy vest that created a "hugging" effect. The dental chair itself was also modified to produce a vibration.

 

Dr. Shapiro and her colleagues found that anxiety levels decreased in all children when the sensory adapted environment was used. The duration of anxious behavior dropped significantly, from an average of 3.69 minutes to 1.48 minutes in typical children. The decreased anxiety levels were even more notable in children with developmental disability, with averages dropping from 23.44 minutes to 9.04 minutes. Dr. Shapiro and her colleagues are hopeful that this new method may have a potential use in other medical settings as well. As Dr. Shapiro notes, "This new approach may even replace sedatives and other invasive procedures in the future."

 

For more about the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090220074822.htm

 

March 22, 2009

 

Pain: Meditation Can Help

 

Zen meditation – a centuries-old practice that can provide mental, physical and emotional balance – may reduce pain according to Université de Montréal researchers. A new study in the January edition of Psychosomatic Medicine reports that Zen meditators have lower pain sensitivity both in and out of a meditative state compared to non-meditators.

 

"While previous studies have shown that teaching chronic pain patients to meditate is beneficial, very few studies have looked at pain processing in healthy, highly trained meditators. This study was a first step in determining how or why meditation might influence pain perception." says Grant.

 

During the meditation-like conditions it appeared meditators further reduced their pain partly through slower breathing: 12 breaths per minute versus an average of 15 breaths for non-meditators.

 

"Slower breathing certainly coincided with reduced pain and may influence pain by keeping the body in a relaxed state." says Grant. "While previous studies have found that the emotional aspects of pain are influenced by meditation, we found that the sensation itself, as well as the emotional response, is different in meditators."

 

The ultimate result? Zen meditators experienced an 18 percent reduction in pain intensity. "If meditation can change the way someone feels pain, thereby reducing the amount of pain medication required for an ailment, that would be clearly beneficial," says Grant.

 

For more on the study, click on: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090203110514.htm

 

March 21, 2009

 

Relationships: How to Judge Whether a Date is Really Interested

 

When it comes to assessing the romantic playing field -- who might be interested in whom -- men and women were shown to be equally good at gauging men's interest during an Indiana University study involving speed dating -- and equally bad at judging women's interest.

 

"The hardest-to-read women were being misperceived at a much higher rate than the hardest-to-read men. Those women were being flirtatious, but it turned out they weren't interested at all," said lead author Skyler Place, a doctoral student in IU's Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences working with cognitive science Professor Peter Todd. "Nobody could really read what these deceptive females were doing, including other women."

 

Readers can see how successful they are at judging romantic interest by participating in a new online study that contains the same task as the one described here.

 

To learn more or to participate in the 20-minute experiment being conducted by Place and his research colleagues, visit this site: https://www.indiana.edu/~abcwest/webexp/

 

 For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090130084155.htm

 

March 20, 2009

 

Breast Cancer: Taking Estrogen and Progesterone for More than Two Years Increases risk

 

A new large study of 68,369 postmenopausal women who were cancer-free at the beginning of the study confirms that the use of estrogen plus progesterone increases the risk of both ductal and lobular breast cancer far more than estrogen-only; suggesting a two-year "safe" period for the use of estrogen and progesterone; and finding that the increased risk for ductal cancers observed in long-term past users of hormone replacement therapy drops off substantially two years after hormone use is stopped.

 

The researchers confirmed the findings from previous work that estrogen and progesterone increases the risk of both ductal and lobular breast cancer far more estrogen alone. They also found the risk associated with use of estrogen and progesterone increases significantly and substantially within three years of beginning hormone use. The data showed no increased risk for women who used estrogen and progesterone for less than two years, potentially identifying a "safe" period for estrogen and progesterone use.

 

They also found no increased risk of breast cancer in women who had stopped using estrogen and progesterone two or more years ago, suggesting a window of two to three years for the risks of estrogen and progesterone both to become apparent after initial use and to diminish after cessation.

 

The use of estrogen and progesterone was associated with a doubling of risk of lobular cancer after three years of use, and a doubling of risk of ductal cancer with 10 years of use. Estrogen-only use was not associated with increased risk of ductal cancer, even after 20 years of use, but was associated with a 50 percent increase in risk of lobular cancer after 10 years of use.

 

Sources:

Eugenia E. Calle et al. Postmenopausal hormone use and breast cancer associations differ by hormone regimen and histologic subtype. Cancer, Published Online: January 20, 2008 DOI: 10.1002/cncr.24101

Adapted from materials provided by American Cancer Society, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS

 

March 19, 2009

 

Pregnancy: Zinc Supplements Can Protect Against Developmental Difficulties Associated with Alcohol Drinking

 

A recent animal study had three major findings: "One, fetal abnormalities caused by acute alcohol exposure in early pregnancy can be prevented by dietary zinc supplementation. Two, dietary zinc supplementation throughout pregnancy can protect against post-natal death caused by acute alcohol exposure in early pregnancy. Three, dietary zinc supplementation increases the mother's blood zinc to overwhelm the transient drop in zinc caused by alcohol, which we believe prevents the fetal zinc deficiency and subsequent fetal damage."

 

“What our studies do indicate is that dietary zinc supplementation could be as important as folic acid and applied as a simple prophylactic treatment in the human setting to prevent the effects of a range of insults in pregnancy."

 

While zinc supplementation is relatively common, and zinc tablets can easily be found in herbal shops, Coyle cautioned that zinc can also affect the absorption of other trace elements and cause anemia if taken in excess. "So one must be wary of taking zinc supplements without professional oversight, and this is particularly so in pregnancy," he said.

 

"Furthermore," he added, "although dietary zinc supplementation has been used in human pregnancy, we do not have any information regarding the dose that would be required to protect against damage from alcohol nor even the dosage that could be harmful to fetal development. Indeed, we have not tested our hypothesis in humans and so it would be unwise to extrapolate any of our findings to humans. We would predict that zinc supplementation would only be effective around the time of alcohol intake to prevent fetal zinc deficiency. Taking zinc supplements a day after alcohol consumption would probably be too late to prevent fetal damage. Obviously more research is needed."

 

For more on this story, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090202174452.htm

 

March 18, 2009

 

Cancer: Physical Activity Can Enhance Quality of Life for Lung Cancer Survivors

 

Survivors of early-stage lung cancer who take part in regular physical activity have a better quality of life, according to a study in the February issue of the journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, available online now. Patients who are more physically active report better mood, more vigor, and greater physical functioning, the study shows.

 

"Unfortunately, we see that most lung cancer survivors do not meet guidelines set for physical activity, especially in the six months following surgery," Coups says. "While it is certainly understandable that people might not be able to exercise as vigorously as they had done before lung surgery, our study suggests that healthcare providers ought to discuss the potential benefits of moderate physical activity among early-stage lung cancer survivors as a means of increasing their quality of life."

 

For more on the topic, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090203130702.htm

 

March 17, 2009

 

Heart Attack: 40% More Likely When Living in Environments with High Levels of Road Noise

 

Once people with impaired hearing or exposure to other sources of noise had been eliminated from the study, it was found that there was a 40 per cent higher risk of myocardial infarction in people exposed to road traffic noise exceeding 50 decibels. This relationship applied independently of other known risk factors for myocardial infarction, such as exposure to air pollutants.

 

"More research will be needed to establish a definite correlation between road traffic noise and myocardial infarction, but our results are supported by other studies showing the cardiovascular effects of noise, such as those concerning high blood pressure," says Professor Göran Pershagen, who led the study. "Councils should already be taking these results into account when planning new roads and residential areas."

 

Noise is a serious and growing environmental problem.

 

For more about the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090202135936.htm

 

March 16, 2009

 

Stress, Not Heart Disease

 

Each year, many people seek emergency treatment for unexplained chest pains. Several common factors among those affected, including stress at work, anxiety, depression and a sedentary lifestyle can lead to chest pain.

 

Chest pain is a common reason for patients to seek emergency treatment. A considerable number of patients who go to emergency departments are diagnosed with unexplained chest pain, which means that the pain cannot be linked to biomedical factors such as heart disease, or some other illness.

 

”The main difference between women and men with unexplained chest pain is that men were more likely to perceive their lives and jobs as being stressful, while women tended more to suffer from symptoms of depressions and anxiety,” says Annika Janson Fagring.

 

The patients, both men and women, experienced more symptoms of depression and anxiety, and work-related stress when compared with a reference group of people who were not suffering from heart disease. The male patients were more physically active in their spare time than the female patients, but compared with the reference group, both the men and the women with unexplained chest pain led a more sedentary lifestyle.

 

For more about this study, click on: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090209094551.htm

March 15, 2009

 

Parenting: Adolescent Girls Need Vitamin D for Muscle Strength

 

Vitamin D is significantly associated with muscle power and force in adolescent girls, according to a new study. Although vitamin D is naturally produced in the body through exposure to direct sunlight, vitamin D deficiency has become widely common in the United States. Vitamin D deficiency has been shown to have a significant negative impact on muscle and bone health, and can lead to conditions including osteoporosis and rickets.

 

A recent study found that “vitamin D is positively related to muscle power, force, velocity and jump height in adolescent girls."

 

"Vitamin D affects the various ways muscles work and we've seen from this study that there may be no visible symptoms of vitamin D deficiency," said Dr. Ward. "Further studies are needed to address this problem and determine the necessary levels of vitamin D for a healthy muscle system."

 

For more on vitamin D and adolescent girls, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090203080730.htm

 

March 14, 2009

 

Breast Cancer: Extra Virgin Olive Oil May Help to Combat It

 

News Researchers of the Catalonian Institute of Oncology (Spain) and the University of Granada (Spain) have discovered that extra virgin olive oil may help to combat breast cancer, according to a paper published in a recent issue of ‘BMC Cancer’. The scientists have confirmed the bioactivity of polyphenols (this is, natural antioxidants) present in olive oil in breast cancer cell lines.

 

For more about this study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090205113743.htm

 

March 13, 2009

 

Osteoporosis: Eat Less Meat and Cereals

 

A new study funded in part by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) suggests that neutralizing an acid-producing diet may be an important key to reducing bone breakdown, or "turnover," while aging. The study comes on the heels of several ARS-reported studies suggesting that consuming more-than-recommended amounts of calcium may not be the main answer to protecting bone.

 

Fruits and vegetables are metabolized to bicarbonate and thus are alkali-producing. But the typical American diet is rich in protein and cereal grains that are metabolized to acid, and thus are acid-producing. With aging, such diets lead to a mild but slowly increasing metabolic "acidosis."

 

The authors concluded that increasing the alkali content of the diet, for example by consuming more fruits and vegetables, merits further study as a safe and low-cost approach to improving skeletal health in older men and women.

 

For more on this topic, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090131124439.htm

 

March 12, 2009

 

Parenting: Encourage Children to Play Instruments to Up Reading and Math Achievement

 

A new study in the journal Social Science Quarterly reveals that music participation, defined as music lessons taken in or out of school and parents attending concerts with their children, has a positive effect on reading and mathematic achievement in early childhood and adolescence.

 

Music is positively associated with academic achievement, especially during the high school years.

 

For more on this story, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090210110043.htm

 

March 11, 2009

 

Weight Loss: Arginine May Help

 

A Texas AgriLife Research scientist and fellow researchers have discovered that arginine, an amino acid, reduces fat mass in diet-induced obese rats and could help fight human obesity.

 

The research found dietary arginine supplementation shifts nutrient partitioning to promote skeletal-muscle gain, according to the researchers. The findings were published recently in the Journal of Nutrition.

 

Arginine-rich foods include seafood, watermelon juice, nuts, seeds, algae, meats, rice protein concentrate and soy protein isolate.

 

For more about this story, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090204161848.htm

 

March 10, 2009

 

Lungs: Laser Printers May Damage

 

The identity and origin of tiny, potentially hazardous particles emitted from common laser printers have been revealed by a new study at Queensland University of Technology.

 

Almost one third of popular laser printers emit large numbers of ultrafine particles. These tiny particles are potentially dangerous to human health because they can penetrate deep into the lungs.

 

Professor Morawska said the latest study found that the ultrafine particles formed from vapours which are produced when the printed image is fused to the paper.

 

"The printer with better temperature control emitted fewer particles."

 

Professor Morawska said this research provided information which would help consumers better understand the risks of laser printers and would help the printer industry to design low or no emission printers.

 

For more information, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090211094043.htm

 

March 9, 2009

 

Kidney Disease: Linked to Drinking Fructose-Sweetened Sodas

 

Women who drink two or more cans of soda pop per day are nearly twice as likely to show early signs of kidney disease, a recent study has found.

 

In recent years, diabetes, obesity and kidney disease have been increasing, along with consumption of high fructose corn syrup, the sweetener used in most sodas.

 

But what's most important is the amount of sugar, not the type, Shoham said. "I don?t think there is anything demonic about high fructose corn syrup per se," Shoham said. "People are consuming too much sugar. The problem with high fructose corn syrup is that it contributes to over consumption. It's cheap, it has a long shelf life and it allows you to buy a case of soda for less than $10."

 

Shoham and colleagues concluded that additional studies are needed to determine whether the elevated risk of kidney disease is due to high fructose corn syrup itself, an overall excess intake of sugar, unmeasured lifestyle factors or other causes.

 

A recent pilot study by other researchers, reported in the journal Environmental Health, found that nine of 20 commercial samples of high fructose corn syrup from three manufacturers contained detectable levels of mercury. "This adds the intriguing possibility that it is not just the sugar itself in high fructose corn syrup that is harmful, because mercury is harmful to kidneys as well," Shoham said.

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090209125821.htm

 

March 8, 2009

 

Overweight: Eat Fish and Use Canola Oil to Protect the Liver

 

According to a recent study, diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids protect the liver from damage caused by obesity and the insulin resistance it provokes. This research should give doctors and nutritionists valuable information when recommending and formulating weight-loss diets and help explain why some obese patients are more likely to suffer some complications associated with obesity. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in canola oil and fish.

 

"Doctors are always looking for simple and easy ways to counter the harmful effects of obesity, and the great thing about this study is that the information can be used at dinner tonight," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. "It's not unlikely that eating lots more fish or a simple switch to canola oil will make a difference."

 

For more on the topic, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090212150842.htm

 

March 7, 2009

 

Parenting: Be a Role Model for Eating

 

There may be a reason teenagers eat more burgers and fries than fruits and vegetables: their parents.

 

In a new policy brief released today by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, researchers found that adolescents are more likely to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day if their parents do. Contrarily, teens whose parents eat fast food or drink soda are more likely to do the same.

 

Educating parents about unhealthy food choices, as well as how to plan and prepare healthier fare, would help in reducing teen obesity, according to the authors of the policy brief. They also recommend employment policies that promote a better work-life balance. Given a more flexible schedule, more families might have time to prepare food at home and engage more often in family meals — an activity that has been linked to healthier lifestyles.

 

Healthy "food environments," such as supermarkets, farmers markets and other retail food outlets that offer fruits and vegetables instead of fast food, are also important in helping parents and teens practice healthy behaviors, the brief's authors said.

 

For more details of the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090209125824.htm

 

March 6, 2009

 

Overweight: Linked to Migraines

 

Overweight people who are between the ages of 20 and 55 may have a higher risk of experiencing migraine headaches, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 61st Annual Meeting in Seattle, April 25 to May 2, 2009.

 

"These results, while still in the early stages, suggest that losing weight in the stomach area may be beneficial for younger people who experience migraine and especially so for women," said study author B. Lee Peterlin, DO, of Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, PA, and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.

 

"Men and women have body tissue distributed in different ways. After puberty women show more fatty tissue deposits in the hip and thigh area while men predominantly have more fatty tissue in the belly region. After menopause, women show more fatty tissue in the belly area as well. For some diseases, including heart disease and diabetes, excess fat around the waistline appears to be a stronger risk factor than total body obesity," Peterlin said.

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090212161812.htm

 

March 5, 2009

 

Pregnancy:  Women Hoping to Become    Pregnant Not Following Healthy Lifestyles

 

Very few women follow the nutritional and lifestyle recommendations before they become pregnant, even when pregnancy is in some sense planned. Nutrition and lifestyle advice is widely available for women during pregnancy, but much less emphasis is given to advice for women who may become pregnant. Yet promoting good health and nutrition before pregnancy may be at least as important as during pregnancy as the time around conception is vital for the development of the baby.

 

In a recent study, participants were equally likely to consume five or more portions of fruit and vegetables per day, but only 57% of those who became pregnant had taken any strenuous exercise in the past three months compared with 64% of those who did not become pregnant.

 

In conclusion, our data show limited evidence of changes in health behaviours before pregnancy, say the authors. They call for greater publicity for pre-pregnancy recommendations, but point out that substantial unplanned pregnancy rates mean that greater efforts are needed to improve the nutrition and lifestyles of all women of child-bearing age.

 

In an accompanying editorial, public health experts from the University of Southern Denmark believe there is a need to reconsider the timing and setting for public health campaigns aimed at improving the conditions for the developing fetus. They also suggest that it is time to not only focus on women, but include men as targets for health promotion too.

 

For more specifics on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090212210726.htm

March 4, 2009

 

Relationships: Experiences or Gift-Giving and Happiness

 

Past research has shown that opting for shared experiences such as vacations and theatre tickets will lead to more long-term happiness than will buying material goods. However, new research to be published in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Consumer Research shows that sometimes experiences can backfire.

 

So, when considering the perfect romantic gift, it may be best to forgo the risky adventure vacation (with its risk of danger and bad weather) in favor of a safer gift, such as a piece of jewelry. A bad choice of an experience could make your valentine unhappy for a much longer time than will a badly chosen material gift. On the other hand, if you have a good reason to suspect that the purchase will turn out well (if it is her favorite restaurant, for instance, or the movie tickets she has been hinting about) then experiences are the way to go and will leave your valentine happier (and more appreciative) longer than any material gift could.

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090211111000.htm

 

March 3, 2009

 

Relationships: What Men and Women Want in a Mate

 

Men are increasingly interested in an educated woman who is a good financial prospect and less interested in chastity. Women are increasingly interested in a man who wants a family and less picky about whether he's always Mr. Nice Guy.

 

That's according to a study by University of Iowa sociologists Christine Whelan and Christie Boxer. They analyzed results of a 2008 survey of more than 1,100 undergraduates at the UI, the University of Washington, the University of Virginia and Penn State University, comparing the results to past mate-preference studies.

 

Today, women, like men, put love at the top of the list, with dependability and emotional stability rounding out the top three characteristics in Mr. Right.

 

Women rate desire for home and children much higher in importance than men do. In 2008, women rated desire for home and children fourth men ranked it ninth.

 

What Men Want

 

Essential characteristics:

 

Mutual attraction and love.

Dependable character.

Emotional stability.

Important characteristics:

 

Education and intelligence.

Good looks.

Ambition.

Desirable characteristics:

 

Good financial prospect.

Good cook and housekeeper.

Unimportant characteristics:

 

Similar political background.

Chastity.

What Women Want

 

Essential characteristics:

 

Mutual attraction and love.

Dependable character.

Emotional stability.

Important characteristics:

 

Education and intelligence.

Desire for home and children.

Ambition.

Desirable characteristics:

 

Good looks.

Refinement.

Unimportant characteristics:

 

Similar political background.

Chastity.

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090205182737.htm

 

March 2, 2009

 

Eyes: Vigorous Exercise May Prevent Vision Loss

 

Two new studies tracked approximately 41,000 runners for more than seven years, and found that running reduced the risk of both cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.

 

 “In addition to obtaining regular eye exams, people can take a more active role in preserving their vision,” says Paul Williams, an epidemiologist in Berkeley Lab’s Life Sciences Division who conducted the research. “The studies suggest that people can perhaps lessen their risk for these diseases by taking part in a fitness regimen that includes vigorous exercise.”

 

 “These findings are compelling because of the large size of the study, and the fact that we are looking at something that is fairly well defined: vigorous exercise, as opposed to more moderate exercise,” says Williams.

 

It is unclear whether people might also lower their risk for cataracts and age-related macular degeneration by walking.

 

“We know there are important health benefits to walking, including lowering heart disease risk,” says Williams. “It is quite likely that the studies’ results might apply to a lesser extent to smaller doses of more moderate exercise.”

 

For more on the studies, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090210092840.htm

 

March 1, 2009

 

Parenting: Keep Your Preschoolers Active

 

The rate of childhood obesity has risen significantly in the United States, with many children becoming overweight at younger ages. At the same time, the number of preschoolers in center-based programs is also on the rise. Now a new study finds that, contrary to conventional wisdom, preschoolers don't move around a lot, even when they're playing outside.

 

They found that the preschoolers were inactive for much of their preschool day, with 89 percent of physical activity characterized as sedentary. Even when they played outside, a time when children are expected to move around, 56 percent of their activities were sedentary.

 

Furthermore, teachers very rarely encouraged the children to be physically active. But when balls and other items were made available, especially outside, and when they had open spaces in which to play, the children were more likely to be active.

 

"The low levels of children's activity and the lack of adult encouragement point to a need for teachers to organize, model, and encourage physical activity," according to William H. Brown, professor in the College of Education at USC and the study's lead author. "Because children's health and physical well-being are an important part of development, their physical activity needs to be increased in order to promote healthy lifestyles, particularly for preschoolers who are growing up in low-income families and who are at greater risk for poor health outcomes."

 

For more on this topic, click on: 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090206081305.htm

 

February 28, 2009

 

Diabetes, Stroke, Heart Disease: Exercise May Help

 

Sedentary, obese older adults appear to improve their functional abilities and reduce insulin resistance through a combination of resistance and aerobic exercises, according to a new report.

 

“Aging is associated with a marked increase in insulin resistance, a primary defect that precedes serious diseases, including diabetes, stroke and coronary heart disease…and is also associated with a progressive increase in functional limitations that affect activities of daily living and quality of life and that are highly predictive of subsequent disability."

 

For six months, participants were randomly assigned to one of four groups: resistance exercise (one set of nine exercises, 20 minutes three times per week), aerobic exercise (30 minutes of moderate-intensity treadmill walking five times per week), combined exercise (30 minutes of aerobic exercise three times per week plus 60 minutes of resistance training weekly) and a control group that did not exercise.

 

After six months, insulin resistance and cardiorespiratory fitness improved in the aerobic and combined exercise groups as compared with the control group.

 

For more about the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090126173621.htm

 

February 27, 2009

 

Parenting: Give Your Child a Popular Name to Increase Popularity and Peer Relationships

 

A new study in the journal Social Science Quarterly examined the relationship between first name popularity in adolescents and tendency to commit crime. Results show that, regardless of race, juveniles with unpopular names are more likely to engage in criminal activity.

 

The least popular names (such as Alec, Ernest, Ivan, Kareem, and Malcolm) were associated with juvenile delinquency among both blacks and whites. While the names are likely not the cause of crime, they are connected to factors that increase the tendency to commit crime, such as a disadvantaged home environment, residence in a county with low socioeconomic status, and households run by one parent.

 

Also, adolescents with unpopular names may be more prone to crime because they are treated differently by their peers, making it more difficult for them to form relationships. Juveniles with unpopular names may also act out because they consciously or unconsciously dislike their names.

 

For more about the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090128113244.htm

 

February 26, 2009

 

Alzheimer’s and Diabetes: Statins Can Lead to Adverse Effects

 

A paper co-authored by Beatrice Golomb, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and director of UC San Diego's Statin Study group cites nearly 900 studies on the adverse effects of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (statins), a class of drugs widely used to treat high cholesterol.

 

"Muscle problems are the best known of statin drugs' adverse side effects," said Golomb. "But cognitive problems and peripheral neuropathy, or pain or numbness in the extremities like fingers and toes, are also widely reported." A spectrum of other problems, ranging from blood glucose elevations to tendon problems, can also occur as side effects from statins.

 

The paper cites clear evidence that higher statin doses or more powerful statins – those with a stronger ability to lower cholesterol – as well as certain genetic conditions, are linked to greater risk of developing side effects.

 

"Physician awareness of such side effects is reportedly low," Golomb said. "Being vigilant for adverse effects in their patients is necessary in order for doctors to provide informed treatment decisions and improved patient care."

 

The paper also summarizes powerful evidence that statin-induced injury to the function of the body's energy-producing cells, called mitochondria, underlies many of the adverse effects that occur to patients taking statin drugs.

 

Mitochondria produce most of the oxygen free radicals in the body, harmful compounds that "antioxidants" seek to protect against. When mitochondrial function is impaired, the body produces less energy and more "free radicals" are produced. Coenzyme Q10 ("Q10") is a compound central to the process of making energy within mitochondria and quenching free radicals. However, statins lower Q10 levels because they work by blocking the pathway involved in cholesterol production – the same pathway by which Q10 is produced. Statins also reduce the blood cholesterol that transports Q10 and other fat-soluble antioxidants.

 

"The loss of Q10 leads to loss of cell energy and increased free radicals which, in turn, can further damage mitochondrial DNA," said Golomb, who explained that loss of Q10 may lead to a greater likelihood of symptoms arising from statins in patients with existing mitochondrial damage – since these people especially rely on ample Q10 to help bypass this damage. Because statins may cause more mitochondrial problems over time – and as these energy powerhouses tend to weaken with age—new adverse effects can also develop the longer a patient takes statin drugs.

 

"The risk of adverse effects goes up as age goes up, and this helps explain why," said Golomb. "This also helps explain why statins' benefits have not been found to exceed their risks in those over 70 or 75 years old, even those with heart disease." High blood pressure and diabetes are linked to higher rates of mitochondrial problems, so these conditions are also clearly linked to a higher risk of statin complications, according to Golomb and co-author Marcella A. Evans, of UC San Diego and UC Irvine Schools of Medicine.

 

For more about statins, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090127090735.htm

 

February 25, 2009

 

Exercise and Kids' Scores on Tests

 

A new study in the Journal of School Health found that physically fit kids scored better on standardized math and English tests than their less fit peers.

 

Results of their study show that there is a significant relationship between students’ academic achievement and physical fitness. The odds of passing both standardized math and English tests increased as the number of fitness tests passed increased, even when controlling for gender, race/ethnicity, and socio-economic status.

 

School time and resources are often diverted from Physical Education and opportunities for physical activity such as recess. However, this study shows that students who do well on fitness tests also do well on math and English standardized tests.

 

“For families and schools, these results suggest investments of time and resources in physical activity and fitness training may not detract from academic achievement in core subjects, and, may even be beneficial,” the authors conclude.

 

For more information, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090128113246.htm

 

February 24,2009

 

Arthritis: Exercise May be Beneficial

 

There is no good evidence supporting a harmful effect of exercise on joints in the setting of normal joints and regular exercise, according to a review of studies published in this month's issue of the Journal of Anatomy.

 

Researchers from Boston, USA, and Ainring, Germany, reviewed existing studies on the relationship between regular exercise and osteoarthritis (OA) and concluded that in the absence of existing joint injury there is no increased risk of OA from exercise.

 

"The largest modifiable risk factor for knee OA is body weight, such that each additional kilogram of body mass increases the compressive load over the knee by roughly 4kg".

 

Exercise can reduce body-weight and thereby reduce the risk of OA, rather than increase it.

 

For more, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090127101854.htm

 

February 23, 2009

 

Infections: Blue light Can Destroy Bacteria

 

Two common strains of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, commonly known as MRSA, were virtually eradicated in the laboratory by exposing them to a wavelength of blue light.

 

Antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections represent an important and increasing public health threat. At present, fewer than 5% of staphylococcal strains are susceptible to penicillin, while approximately 40%-50% of Staph aureus isolated have developed resistance to newer semisynthetic antibiotics such as methicillin as well.

 

The authors of a new study exposed bacterial colonies of MRSA to various doses of 470-nm light, which emits no UV radiation.

 

The authors report that the higher the dose of 470-nm blue light, the more bacteria were killed. High-dose photo-irradiation was able to destroy 90.4% of the US-300 colonies and the IS-853 colonies. The effectiveness of blue light in vitro suggests that it should also be effective in human cases of MRSA infection, and particularly in cutaneous and subcutaneous infections.

 

"It is inspiring that an inexpensive naturally visible wavelength of light can eradicate two common strains of MRSA.

 

For more about this topic, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090129131839.htm

 

February 22, 2009

 

Depression: Even Meager Levels of Physical Activity Can Help

 

A new study from Indiana University suggests that even meager levels of physical activity can improve the mood of people with serious mental illnesses (SMI) such as bipolar disorder, major depression and schizophrenia.

 

Physical activity is considered most forms of sustained movement, such as house cleaning, gardening, walking for transportation or formal exercise.

 

The study notes that walking is one of the most frequently advocated forms of physical activity in psychiatric rehabilitation programs. Such programs, according to the study, would appear to afford both physiological and psychological benefits.

 

For more about the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090114110931.htm

 

February 21, 2009

 

Exercise: What May be Preventing You From Being More Active

 

The main factors influencing the amount of physical exercise people carry out are their self-perceived ability and the extent of their desire to exercise. A study of 5167 Canadians has shown that psychological concerns are the most important barriers to an active lifestyle.

 

"Our findings highlight the need for health promotion programs to enhance people's confidence and motivation, as well as providing education on the health benefits of physical activity".

 

"Confidence in one's personal ability to carry out exercise plays a central role in the direction, intensity and persistence of health-behavior change. People who have higher PA self-efficacy will perceive fewer barriers to PA, or be less influenced by them, and will be more likely to enjoy PA".

 

Likewise, participants were asked to what extent they intended to be physically active over the next six months. This 'intention score' was another important independent correlate of physical activity.

 

For more, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090115190449.htm

 

February 20, 2009

 

Parenting: Paintballs are Dangerous

 

Paintballs can cause severe and 'visually devastating' eye injuries, especially when used in unsupervised settings without proper eye protection, reports a study in the February issue of the American Journal of Ophthalmology.

 

 “Eye injuries secondary to high-velocity paintballs can cause tremendous damage to vital ocular structures often requiring extensive surgical intervention," comments Dr. Kyle J. Alliman of Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. "Unfortunately, visual loss is often permanent.”

 

The injuries were often quite severe, including rupture of the eyeball in 28 percent of patients and detached retina in 19 percent. Surgery was required in 81 percent of patients—including eventual removal of the eye (enucleation) in 22 percent. Even when the eye was saved, many patients had permanent visual loss. Overall, near-normal vision (20/40 or better) was restored in only 36 percent of eyes.

 

All of the patients were injured when using paintballs in a "non-recreational, uncontrolled setting," according to Dr. Alliman. None of the injuries occurred in formal, sponsored event. In all but one of the 36 cases, the patient was not wearing any type of eye protection when the injury occurred.

 

For more on the study, click on:

 http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090115081739.htm

 February 19, 2009

 

Heart/Blood Vessels: Exercise Helps

 

Patients with peripheral arterial disease (PAD), which can include symptoms such as pain in the legs, who participated in supervised treadmill exercise improved their walking endurance and quality of life, according to a new study. The treadmill exercise also improved walking performance for PAD patients without the classic symptoms of pain in the leg muscles.

 

"Based on findings reported in this trial, physicians should recommend supervised treadmill exercise programs for PAD patients, regardless of whether they have classic symptoms of intermittent claudication," the authors conclude.

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090113174426.htm

 

February 18, 2009

 

Heart Disease: Salt Reduction Reduces the Risk

 

A new study shows that salt reduction may offer cardioprotective effects beyond blood pressure reduction.

 

The study by Dickinson et al provides "further evidence of the importance of decreasing sodium intake to improve blood vessel health and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, one of the leading causes of disability and death in the U.S. These researchers showed that sodium reduction is beneficial for people who have normal blood pressure and those who are overweight or obese, and the benefits start in just a few weeks."

 

Johnson added, "Regardless of one's body weight or blood pressure, sodium reduction offers many health benefits."

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090116142126.htm

 

February 17, 2009

 

Arthritis Knee Pain: Exercise the Quadriceps

 

A recent study showed that those with the greatest quadriceps strength had less knee pain and better physical function than those with the least strength.

 

According to the study, “Our findings, which also include an association of greater quadriceps strength with less knee pain and physical limitation over followup, suggest that greater quadriceps strength has an overall beneficial effect on symptomatic knee OA,” the authors state. This effect may be due to a strengthening of the vastus medialis obliquus (a quadriceps muscle that pulls the kneecap inward), that may stabilize the kneecap and help prevent cartilage loss behind part of the knee cap.

For more on the study, click on:

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090113174539.htm

 

February 16, 2009

 

Diabetes: Help Control it By Eating Low Glycemic

 

A new Cochrane review finds that following a low glycemic index diet helps people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes to improve their blood glucose (blood sugar) control significantly.

 

The highest GI is 100, based on consuming foods like white bread or straight glucose, according to the American Diabetes Association. Low GI foods have a score of 55 or less. Glycemic load is a combined measure that takes into account the amount of carbohydrate in a food, as well as its GI score, and represents the overall glycemic effect of the diet.

 

The point for people "is to lower the GI or GL of the diet, rather than to follow specific diet plans, which over the longer term can be very difficult to maintain," Thomas said. By knowing which foods to eat and which to avoid, "low GI rye bread instead of high GI white bread, or basmati rice instead of white rice - a person can gradually adapt their diet to become more low GI," she said.

 

For more on this topic, click on:

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090120212945.htm

 

February 15, 2009

 

Breast Cancer: Breastfeeding Can Protect

 

Women who breastfeed for greater than two years have a significantly reduced risk of developing breast cancer later in life. It has been difficult to determine the cause of this benefit, however, due to the lack of a suitable animal model of extended lactation.

Now there is one.

 

For more about this model, click on:

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090122080721.htm

 

February 14, 2009

 

Relationships: To Reduce Racial Bias, Help People Improve Their Ability To Distinguish Between Faces of Individuals of a Different Race

 

 “The idea is this that this sort of perceptual training gives you a new tool to address the kinds of biases people show unconsciously and may not even be aware they have,” said Michael J. Tarr, a Brown cognitive neuroscientist and a senior author of the paper.  “There is a strong connection between the way we perceive and categorize the world and the way we end up making stereotypes and generalizations about social entities.”

 

While the researchers are not claiming they can eliminate racial bias, they suggest that teaching people to tell the difference better between individual faces of a different race is at least one way to help reduce that bias.

 

Lebrecht said that developing a system that teaches people to make those distinctions should be helpful in reducing generalizations based on social stereotypes.

 

“If you give people the tools to start individuating, maybe they will make more individual (rather than stereotypical) attributions,” she said.

 

For more about the study, click on:

 http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090120204759.htm

 

February 13, 2009

 

Parenting: Exercising Important Even if Kids Don’t Lose Weight

 

The research shows that school-based programs increased the time children spent exercising and reduced the time spent watching television. Programs also reduced blood cholesterol levels and improved fitness – as measured by lung capacity. However, programs made little impact on weight, blood pressure or leisure time activities.

 

Physical inactivity is a key factor behind 1.9 million deaths every year and almost a quarter of all cases of coronary heart disease. People who are overweight as children are more likely to develop heart disease as adults. Exercise helps to maintain a healthy weight, yet studies show most children do not do enough exercise to give any health benefit. The World Health Organisation has identified schools as important settings for promotion of physical activity among children.

 

"Given that there are at least some beneficial effects, we would recommend that schools continue their health promotion programs. These activities should also be supported by public health unit staff, and parents and teachers as positive role models," says lead researcher, Maureen Dobbins, who works at the School of Nursing at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada.

 

Dobbins believes that schools should make spaces in their timetables to create environments that encourage pupils to engage in physical activity each day as well as having an ethos that encourages increased duration of moderate to vigorous activity each week. "Schools have great opportunities to help pupils learn how to promote health and minimise the risk of acquiring a chronic disease. Providing a healthy structure to their day should enable them to develop healthier lifestyles that may track in adulthood," she says.

 

Because children may view exercising as work, “the key is to promote physical activity by getting children and adolescents to 'play' in ways that promote better fitness levels, while at the same time represent fun and adventurous activities," says Dobbins.

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090120204919.htm

 

February 12, 2009

 

Alzheimer’s: Apple Juice May Delay It

 

A growing body of evidence demonstrates that we can take steps to delay age-related cognitive decline, including in some cases that which accompanies Alzheimer's disease, according to a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

 

A research team at the University of Massachusetts have carried out a number of laboratory studies demonstrating that drinking apple juice helped mice perform better than normal in maze trials, and prevented the decline in performance that was otherwise observed as these mice aged.

 

In the most recent study Shea and his team demonstrated that mice receiving the human equivalent of 2 glasses of apple juice per day for 1 month produced less of a small protein fragment, called "beta-amyloid" that is responsible for forming the "senile plaques" that are commonly found in brains of individuals suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

 

Dr. Shea commented that "These findings provide further evidence linking nutritional and genetic risk factors for age-related neurodegeneration and suggest that regular consumption of apple juice can not only help to keep one's mind functioning at its best, but may also be able to delay key aspects of Alzheimer's disease and augment therapeutic approaches."

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090122100826.htm

February 11, 2009

 

Parenting: Avoid Packing School Lunches for Pre-Schoolers

 

Sack lunches sent from home may not regularly provide adequate nutrients for the growth and development of young children, according to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin and Third Coast Research and Development Inc. of Galveston, Texas. The study included 74 three to five-year-olds attending full-time child-care centers that required parents to provide lunches. Lunch contents were observed and recorded for three consecutive days.

 

The researchers found more than 50 percent of lunches provided less than minimum amounts of calories, carbohydrates, vitamin A, calcium, iron and zinc, and 96 percent of lunches provided less than minimum recommended amounts of dietary fiber. The lunches did contain 114 percent of the recommended amount of sodium.

 

When parents were asked if lunch provides an important opportunity for their children to receive nutrients, all 97 agreed. But 63 percent responded that they tend to pack only foods they know their child will eat.

 

“When parents do not consistently pack a nutritious sack lunch they miss an opportunity to teach and reinforce good dietary habits to their children. As child-care centers shift the responsibility for providing meals and snacks to parents, they must address the practices that affect the long-term health and well-being of the children they serve,” the researchers said.

 

For more on this study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090106144947.htm

 

February 10, 2009

 

Parenting: Praise Your Child for Whatever Skills They Show to Reduce Depression

 

Students’ successes in the first grade can affect more than their future report cards. In a new study, University of Missouri researchers found links among students’ weak academic performance in the first grade, self-perceptions in the sixth grade, and depression symptoms in the seventh grade.

 

 “We found that students in the first grade who struggled academically with core subjects, including reading and math, later displayed negative self-perceptions and symptoms of depression in sixth and seventh grade, respectively,” said Keith Herman, associate professor of education, school and counseling psychology in the MU College of Education. “Often, children with poor academic skills believe they have less influence on important outcomes in their life. Poor academic skills can influence how children view themselves as students and as social beings.”

 

Herman suggests that because differences in children’s learning will continue to exist even if all students are given effective instruction and support, parents and teachers should acknowledge student’s skills in other areas. 

 

“One of the main ways children can get others to like them in school is by being good students. Children with poor academic skills may believe that they have one less method for influencing important social outcomes, which could lead to negative consequences later in life. Children’s individual differences will always exist in basic academic skills, so it is necessary to explore and emphasize other assets in students, especially those with lower academic skill relative to their peers,”.

 

For more about the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090108111425.htm

 

February 9, 2009

 

Parenting: Limit TV to Help Children's Development

 

A leading child expert is warning parents to limit the amount of television children watch before the age of two, after an extensive review published in the January issue of Acta Paediatrica showed that it can do more harm than good to their ongoing development.

 

For more on the studies on television and young children, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090113074419.htm

 

February 8, 2009

 

Infections, Heart Disease, Illness, and Death: Get at Least 7 hours of Sleep a Night to

Reduce Your Risk for All of them

 

Individuals who get less than seven hours of sleep per night appear about three times as likely to develop respiratory illness following exposure to a cold virus as those who sleep eight hours or more, according to a report in the January 12 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

 

Studies have demonstrated that sleep deprivation impairs some immune function, according to background information in the article. Research indicates that those who sleep approximately seven to eight hours per night have the lowest rates of heart disease illness and death. However, there has previously been little direct evidence that poor sleep increases susceptibility to the common cold.

 

The less an individual slept, the more likely he or she was to develop a cold. Lower sleep efficiency was also associated with developing a cold—participants who spent less than 92 percent of their time in bed asleep were five and a half times more likely to become ill than those whose efficiency was 98 percent or more. Feeling rested was not associated with colds.

 

The results suggest that seven to eight hours of sleep per night is a reasonable target, they conclude.

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090112201127.htm

 

February 7, 2009

 

Parenting: Tuna Capsules Will Help Premature Babies

 

Adelaide researchers have made a world breakthrough in treating premature babies at risk of developmental disorders.

 

A six-year study led by Dr Maria Makrides from the Women's & Children's Health Research Institute and Professor Bob Gibson from the University of Adelaide has demonstrated that high doses of fatty acids administered in the form of tuna oil capsules to pre-term infants via their mother's breast milk or infant formula can help their mental development.

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090114092844.htm

 

February 6, 2009

 

Pregnancy: Avoid Alcohol to Reduce Teen Alcohol Use

 

Rats whose mothers were fed alcohol during pregnancy are more attracted to the smell of liquor during puberty. Researchers have shown that rats exposed during gestation find the smell of alcohol on another rat's breath during adolescence more attractive than animals with no prior fetal exposure.

 

 Fetal ethanol experience is believed to train the developing sense of smell to find ethanol odor more attractive. The authors describe how, in both rats and humans, fetal exposure changes how the odor and flavor of ethanol are perceived. They write, " Such learning may be a fundamental feature of all mammalian species because it is important (from a survival standpoint) for the pre-weanling animal to accept and be attracted to the food sources consumed by the mother". In this study the authors found that rats unexposed to ethanol were significantly less likely to follow an intoxicated peer than those with gestational experience.

 

The authors also found that the behavioural effects of fetal ethanol were not seen in otherwise unexposed adult rats. They say that this shows adolescence is a key time for perpetuating fetal experiences. According to Youngentob, "Such a proposition is clinically relevant since, in humans, adolescence is a key transition point for emergent patterns of alcohol abuse".

 

Speculating further on this study's implications for human problem drinking, Youngentob added, "Within the context of 'at risk' adolescents, prior exposure to ethanol may, among other things, worsen the consequences of alcohol-related social interaction by increasing teenagers' propensity to engage in such settings".

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090114200001.htm

 

Parenting: Avoid Feeding Children High Fat/High Protein Diets

 

If you have trouble keeping weight off and you're wondering why – the surprising answer may well be the cheeseburgers you ate – when you were a toddler.

 

Surprising new research by University of Calgary, Faculty of Kinesiology researcher Dr. Raylene Reimer, published in an international journal, indicates a direct connection between an adult's propensity to put on weight and our early childhood diet.

 

"My research has shown that the food we eat changes how active certain genes in our body are – what we call genetic expression. In particular we believe that our diet has a direct influence on the genes that control how our bodies store and use nutrients," says Reimer. "There's a growing body of work that indicates a relationship between our health as adults and our early diet, and even our mother's diet. This research shows for the first time that our early childhood diet may have a huge impact on our health as adults."

 

The results were astonishing. The group of rats who were reared on the high protein diet as packed on much more weight and body fat than the rats who had 'grown up' eating the high-fibre diet, who put on the least amount of weight and body fat.

 

"I believe this study clearly shows that the composition of early childhood diet may have a direct lifelong impact on genes that control metabolism and obesity risk," says Reimer. "This study clearly indicates that diet composition alone can change the trajectory of circulating satiety hormones and metabolic pathways that influence how we gain weight or control blood sugar as adults."

 

For more about the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090114160546.htm

February 6, 2009

 

Pregnancy: Taking Fish Oil Supplements can Improve the Nervous System Development in Your Child If You Breast Feed

 

Investigators observed an 80% reduction in the proportion of baby girls with significant mental delays when they had a diet rich in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These are the findings of a randomized controlled trial published in the January 14, 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

 

Although the researchers did not see statistically significant benefits in boys or babies born weighing less than 1250 g, they say that there appeared to be a reduction in the proportion of babies with significant mental delay in these groups with high-DHA treatment.

 

"We recommend increased DHA for all preterm infants born at less than 33 weeks' gestation," lead author Maria Makrides, PhD, from the Women's and Children's Hospital in Adelaide, Australia told Medscape Neurology & Neurosurgery.

 

The research team randomly assigned babies born at less than 33 weeks' gestation to either a high-DHA diet or a standard-DHA diet from about day 4 of life until the time they were due to be born. Infants were from 5 Australian tertiary hospitals.

 

"An important and unique aspect of the study was that the intervention was largely delivered to the baby through expressed breast milk," Dr. Makrides said. "We supplemented nursing women with about 1 g of DHA per day in tuna-oil supplements to increase the DHA content of their milk." If the mother could not express enough breast milk for her baby, an infant formula with a matching DHA content was provided.

 

Although the study didn’t address tuna itself, eating up to six ounces of canned chunk white/light tuna a week might also work.

 

February 5, 2009

 

Parenting: Adolescents and Risky Behavior

 

In a pair of related studies released by Seattle Children's Research Institute and published in the January 2009 issue of Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine, researchers found that 54 percent of adolescents frequently discuss high-risk activities including sexual behavior, substance abuse or violence using MySpace, the popular social networking Web site (SNS).

 

With the rise in SNSs' popularity and use, parents and those who work with teens have concerns that these sites might expose teens to ill-intentioned online predators, cyberbullies and increased peer pressure. There are also fears that university enrollment and future hiring decisions may be compromised by what adolescents post online in personal profiles. SNSs like Facebook.com and MySpace.com are increasingly popular; MySpace, the most commonly used SNS, has more than 200 million profiles, with 25 percent belonging to youth under 18, according to multiple studies.1, 2

 

We need to devise ways to teach teens and their parents to use the internet responsibly. In the 90's we talked about a digital divide that separated rich from poor. That divide is quickly narrowing, but a new one is emerging rapidly: the 21st century digital divide separates too many clueless parents from their Internet-savvy children."

 

They found that 54 percent of the MySpace profiles contained high-risk behavior information, with 41 percent referencing substance abuse, 24 percent referencing sexual behavior and 14 percent referencing violence. In the study, females were less likely to display violent information than males, and teens who reported a sexual orientation other than "straight" showed increased displays of references to sexual behaviors. Profiles that demonstrated church or religious involvement were associated with decreased displays of risky behaviors, as were profiles that indicated engagement in sports or hobbies.

 

"When online displays of dangerous behavior discuss actual behaviors, the good news is that teens may be amenable to participating in online interventions. Our related study looked at this, and we were happy to see that even a brief email intervention may be feasible and showed promise for influencing online behavior."

 

For tips for parents and healthcare providers, click on: http://www.seattlechildrens.org/home/press_room/teens_and_myspace.asp.

 

For more about the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090105175317.htm

February 4, 2009

 

Cognitive Deficets and Lower Reading Levels Correlated with Third Hand Smoking

 

In the January issue of Pediatrics, researchers at MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) and colleagues across the country describe how tobacco smoke contamination lingers even after a cigarette is extinguished – a phenomenon they define as "third-hand" smoke.

 

"When you smoke – anyplace – toxic particulate matter from tobacco smoke gets into your hair and clothing," says lead study author, Jonathan Winickoff, MD, MPH, assistant director of the MGHfC Center for Child and Adolescent Health Policy. "When you come into contact with your baby, even if you're not smoking at the time, she comes in contact with those toxins. And if you breastfeed, the toxins will transfer to your baby in your breast milk." Winickoff notes that nursing a baby if you're a smoker is still preferable to bottle-feeding, however.

 

Particulate matter from tobacco smoke has been proven toxic. According to the National Toxicology Program, these 250 poisonous gases, chemicals, and metals include hydrogen cyanide, carbon monoxide, butane, ammonia, toluene (found in paint thinners), arsenic, lead, chromium (used to make steel), cadmium (used to make batteries), and polonium-210 (highly radioactive carcinogen). Eleven of the compounds are classified as Group 1 carcinogens, the most dangerous.

 

Small children are especially susceptible to third-hand smoke exposure because they can inhale near, crawl and play on, or touch and mouth contaminated surfaces. Third-hand smoke can remain indoors even long after the smoking has stopped. Similar to low-level lead exposure, low levels of tobacco particulates have been associated with cognitive deficits among children, and the higher the exposure level, the lower the reading score. These findings underscore the possibility that even extremely low levels of these compounds may be neurotoxic and, according to the researchers, justify restricting all smoking in indoor areas inhabited by children.

 

Winickoff's study shows that increasing awareness of how third-hand smoke harms the health of children may encourage home smoking bans. It also will be important to incorporate knowledge about third-hand smoke contamination into current tobacco control campaigns, programs, and routine clinical practice.

 

For more about third hand smoke, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081229105037.htm

 

February 3, 2009

 

Overweight, Cancer, Hormone Imbalance, Psychological & Sleep Disorders

Related to High Fat Diet

 

Indulgence in a high-fat diet can not only lead to overweight because of excessive calorie intake, but also can affect the balance of circadian rhythms – everyone’s 24-hour biological clock, Hebrew University of Jerusalem researchers have shown.

 

The biological clock regulates the expression and/or activity of enzymes and hormones involved in metabolism, and disturbance of the clock can lead to such phenomena as hormone imbalance, obesity, psychological and sleep disorders and cancer.

 

While light is the strongest factor affecting the circadian clock, Dr. Oren Froy and his colleagues of the Institute of Biochemistry, Food Science and Nutrition at the Hebrew University’s Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment in Rehovot, have demonstrated in their experiments with laboratory mice that there is a cause-and-effect relation between diet and biological clock imbalance.

 

For more about the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081228191054.htm

 

February 2, 2009

 

Leukemia: Grape Seeds Kill Cancer Cells

 

An extract from grape seeds forces laboratory leukemia cells to commit cell suicide, according to researchers from the University of Kentucky. They found that within 24 hours, 76 percent of leukemia cells had died after being exposed to the extract.

 

"These results could have implications for the incorporation of agents such as grape seed extract into prevention or treatment of hematological malignancies and possibly other cancers," said the study's lead author, Xianglin Shi, Ph.D., professor in the Graduate Center for Toxicology at the University of Kentucky.

 

"What everyone seeks is an agent that has an effect on cancer cells but leaves normal cells alone, and this shows that grape seed extract fits into this category," he said.

 

Hematological cancers – leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma – accounted for an estimated 118,310 new cancer cases and almost 54,000 deaths in 2006, ranking these cancers as the fourth leading cause of cancer incidence and death in the U.S.

 

Given that epidemiological evidence shows that eating vegetables and fruits helps prevent cancer development, Shi and his colleagues have been studying chemicals known as proanthocyanidins in fruits that contribute to this effect. Shi has found that apple peel extract contains these flavonoids, which have antioxidant activity, and which cause apoptosis in several cancer cell lines but not in normal cells. Based on those studies, and findings from other researchers that grape seed extract reduces breast tumors in rats and skin tumors in mice, they looked at the effect of the compound in leukemia cells.

 

For more about the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081231005257.htm

 

February 1, 2009

 

Infection: Lack of Good Sleep Linked with Susceptibility to the Common Cold

 

Poorer sleep efficiency and shorter sleep duration in the weeks before exposure to a rhinovirus are linked to greater susceptibility to the common cold, according to the results of a study reported in the January 12 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

 

"Sleep quality is thought to be an important predictor of immunity and, in turn, susceptibility to the common cold," write Sheldon Cohen, PhD, from the Department of Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and colleagues. "This article examines whether sleep duration and efficiency in the weeks preceding viral exposure are associated with cold susceptibility."

 

Participants who reported less than 7 hours of sleep were 2.94 times (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.18 - 7.30) more likely to get a cold than those with 8 hours or more of sleep, suggesting a graded association with average sleep duration. Similarly, participants with less than 92% sleep efficiency were 5.50 times (95% CI, 2.08 - 14.48) more likely to get a cold than those with 98% or more efficiency, also suggesting a graded association with sleep efficiency.

 

"Poorer sleep efficiency and shorter sleep duration in the weeks preceding exposure to a rhinovirus were associated with lower resistance to illness," the study authors write. "Because of the prospective design and the controls for multiple confounding factors, these results strongly suggest the possibility of sleep playing a causal role in cold susceptibility. Moreover, the use of a maximally reliable multiple day assessment of sleep habits increases our confidence in the findings of this study."

 

For more about the study, Click on:

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/586687?sssdmh=dm1.422134&src=nldne

 

January 31, 2009

 

Weight Loss: Restraint is Important

 

Lots of experts disagree over the seemingly obvious notion of keeping weight off by trying to eat less – a debate that centers on whether the practice backfires, leading to binging and weight gain.

 

Now a new study shows that practicing restraint becomes more important with age.

 

Women who participated in the study had more than twice the risk of substantial weight gain if they did not become more restrained in their eating.

 

Because the body's energy requirements progressively decline with age, energy intake must mirror that decrease or weight gain occurs,” said Davidson, a research fellow at Columbia’s Obesity Research Center. “Dr. Tucker's observation that women who practice eating restraint avoid the significant weight gain commonly observed in middle age is an important health message.”

 

“Weight gain and obesity bring a greater risk of diabetes and a number of other chronic diseases,” Tucker said. “Eating properly is a skill that needs to be practiced.”

 

Professor Tucker’s Tips for Better Eating:

 

Record what you eat and how much

Put less food on your plate

Eat more fruits and vegetables; the food pyramid recommends at least five servings per day

 

For more on this article, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090102163237.htm

 

January 30, 2009

 

Pregnancy: Two Cups of Coffee Can Reduce Heart Function and Body Fat For the Life of a Child

 

A new study shows that the equivalent of one dose of caffeine (just two cups of coffee) ingested during pregnancy may be enough to affect fetal heart development and then reduce heart function over the entire lifespan of the child. In addition, the researchers also found that this relatively minimal amount of exposure may lead to higher body fat among males, when compared to those who were not exposed to caffeine.

 

"Caffeine is everywhere: in what we drink, in what we eat, in pills that we use to relieve pain, and even in candy," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. "This report shows that despite popular notions of safety, there's one place it probably shouldn't be: in the diet of an expectant mother."

 

For more about the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081216133440.htm

 

January 29, 2009

 

Memory and Understanding: Paper Text Probably Better Than Computer

 

Clicking and scrolling interrupt our attentional focus. Turning and touching the pages instead of clicking on the screen influence our ability for experience and attention. The physical manipulations we have to do with a computer, not related to the reading itself, disturb our mental appreciation, says associate professor Anne Mangen at the Center for Reading Research at the University of Stavanger in Norway. She has investigated the pros and cons of new reading devices.

 

Mangen maintains that reading on a screen generates a new form of mental orientation. The reader loses both the completeness and constituent parts of the physical appearance of the reading material. The physical substance of a book offers tranquility. The text does not move on the page like it does on a screen.

 

"Several experiments in cognitive psychology have shown how a change of physical surroundings has a potentially negative affect on memory. We should include this in our evaluation of digital teaching aids. The technology provides for a number of dynamic, mobile and ephemeral forms of learning, but we know little about how such mobility and transience influence the effect of teaching. Learning requires time and mental exertion and the new media do not provide for that," Mangen believes.

 

"We experience to day a one-sided admiration for the potentials in the technology. ICT is now introduced in kindergarten without much empirical research on how it influences children’s learning and development. The whole field is characterized by an easy acceptance and a less subtle view of the technology," the researcher says.

 

"Swedish researchers believe we understand more and better when reading on paper than when we read the same text on a screen. We avoid navigating and the small things we don't think about, but which subconsciously takes attention away from the reading. Also texts on a screen are often not adapted to the screen format. The most important difference is when the text becomes digital. Then it loses its physical dimension, which is special to the book, and the reader loses his feeling of totality."

 

For more on reading, memory and understanding, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081219073049.htm

 

January 27, 2009

 

Pregnancy: Women Who Smoke in the First Trimester Increase Risk of Cleft Lip in Newborns

 

Smoking during the first trimester of pregnancy is clearly linked with an increased risk of cleft lip in newborns. Genes that play a role in detoxification of cigarette smoke do not appear to be involved. This is shown in a new study published in the journal Epidemiology.

 

Oral clefts are one of the most common birth defects. Closure of the lip occurs about 5 weeks into pregnancy, followed by closure of the palate at week 9. If this does not happen, a cleft lip and/or cleft palate are the result, requiring surgery. The researchers wanted to see if smoking or exposure to passive smoking play a role in these defects and whether genes influence the oral cleft risk through the way toxic chemicals in cigarette smoke are processed.

 

The study is based on an extensive Norwegian case-control study on oral clefts with collaborating researchers from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, University of Bergen, Rikshospital, Haukeland University Hospital and the National Institutes of Health in USA. Between 1996 and 2001, 676 babies born with oral clefts were referred for cleft surgery, and of these, 573 took part in the study. 763 babies born during the same period in Norway were randomly selected as controls.

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081218094559.htm

 

January 26, 2009

 

Probiotics Help with Diarrhea Caused by Antibiotics

 

Up to one in five people on antibiotics stop taking their full course of antibiotic therapy due to diarrhea. Physicians could help patients avoid this problem by prescribing probiotics, according to a study by researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University published in American Family Physician.

 

Antibiotics target "bad" bacteria but may also kill the "good" bacteria in the large intestine, leading to diarrhea. Diarrhea can also result from bacterial and viral infections. Probiotics─cultures of "good" microorganisms similar to those normally found in the gut ─ have been promoted as restoring the microbial balance disrupted by antibiotics and infections. Probiotic bacterial strains are added to certain yogurts and brands of miso and other fermented foods, and are also available as powders and pills sold in health food stores.

 

The Einstein scientists reviewed the medical literature and found seven, high-quality studies in which probiotics were administered to people. The researchers concluded that the studies support the use of probiotics for avoiding diarrhea resulting from antibiotic use or from gastrointestinal viral or bacterial infections. In addition, the probiotics used in these studies were found to rarely cause adverse effects, even in children.

 

For more on probiotics and antibiotics, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081217190443.htm

 

January 25, 2009

 

Relationships: What Kind of Mates Do Women Prefer?

 

A new study in the journal Personal Relationships reveals that women prefer mates who are recognized by their peers for their skills, abilities, and achievements, while not preferring men who use coercive tactics to subordinate their rivals. Indeed, women found dominance strategies of the latter type to be attractive primarily when men used them in the context of male-male athletic competitions.

 

“These findings directly contradict the dating advice of some pop psychologists who advise men to be aggressive in their social interactions. Women most likely avoid dominant men as long-term romantic partners because a dominant man may also be domineering in the household.” the authors conclude.

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081217123825.htm

 

January 24, 2009

 

Breast Cancer: Extra Virgin Oil May Help

 

Good quality extra-virgin olive oil contains health-relevant chemicals, ‘phytochemicals’, that can trigger cancer cell death. New research sheds more light on the suspected association between olive oil-rich Mediterranean diets and reductions in breast cancer risk.

Javier Menendez from the Catalan Institute of Oncology and Antonio Segura-Carretero from the University of Granada in Spain led a team of researchers who set out to investigate which parts of olive oil were most active against cancer. Menendez said, “Our findings reveal for the first time that all the major complex phenols present in extra-virgin olive oil drastically suppress overexpression of the cancer gene HER2 in human breast cancer cells”.

Extra-virgin olive oil is the oil that results from pressing olives without the use of heat or chemical treatments. It contains phytochemicals that are otherwise lost in the refining process. Menendez and colleagues separated the oil into fractions and tested these against breast cancer cells in lab experiments. All the fractions containing the major extra-virgin phytochemical polyphenols (lignans and secoiridoids) were found to effectively inhibit HER2.

For more on the findings, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081217192815.htm

January 23, 2009

Breast Cancer: Broccoli and Cabbage Help

 

An anti-cancer compound found in broccoli and cabbage works by lowering the activity of an enzyme associated with rapidly advancing breast cancer, according to a University of California, Berkeley, study appearing in the online early edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

 

Firestone, Bjeldanes and their colleagues showed that I3C inhibits the enzyme elastase, which at high levels in breast cancer cells heralds a poor prognosis: decreased response to chemotherapy, reduced response to endocrine treatment and reduced survival rates.

 

For more than 15 years, Firestone, Bjeldanes and their colleagues have studied the anti-cancer benefits of vegetables in the cabbage family that are lumped together in the genus Brassica and, because of their cross-shaped flowers, are often referred to as cruciferous vegetables.

 

For more about broccoli as a cancer preventive, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081203092435.htm

 

January 22, 2009

 

Bladder Cancer: Selenium May Prevent

 

A study published in the December issue of Cancer Prevention Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, suggests that selenium, a trace mineral found in grains, nuts and meats, may aid in the prevention of high-risk bladder cancer.

 

In the entire study population, there was no inverse association between selenium and bladder cancer, but women (34 percent), moderate smokers (39 percent) and those with p53 positive cancer (43 percent) had significant reductions in bladder cancer with higher rates of selenium.

 

While other studies have shown a similar association between selenium and bladder cancer among women, this study is one of the first to show an association between selenium and p53 positive bladder cancer.

 

For more about the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081208080958.htm

 

January 21, 2009

 

Infections: Brushing Teeth 3X a Day in Hospital Reduces Risk

 

Hospital-borne infections are a serious risk of a long-term hospital stay, and ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP), a lung infection that develops in about 15% of all people who are ventilated, is among the most dangerous.  With weakened immune systems and a higher resistance to antibiotics, patients who rely on a mechanical ventilator can easily develop serious infections — as 26,000 Americans do every year.

 

Thanks to a proven new clinical approach developed by Tel Aviv University nurses, though, there is a new tool for stopping the onset of VAP in hospitals.

 

This new high-tech tool? An ordinary toothbrush.

 

Three Times a Day Keeps Pneumonia Away

 

For more about the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081211141842.htm

 

January 20, 2009

 

Back Pain: Use Weights for Most Relief

 

People who use weight training to ease their lower back pain are better off than those who choose other forms of exercise such as jogging, according to a University of Alberta study.

 

The study, done in conjunction with the University of Regina, showed a 60 per cent improvement in pain and function levels for people with chronic backache who took part in a 16-week exercise program of resistance training using dumbbells, barbells and other load-bearing exercise equipment.

 

In contrast, people who chose aerobic training such as jogging, walking on a treadmill or using an elliptical machine to ease their back pain only experienced a 12 per cent improvement, said Robert Kell, an assistant professor of exercise physiology at the University of Alberta, Augustana Campus.

 

For more about the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081211141848.htm

 

January 19, 2009

 

Kidney Disease: Vitamin B1 Can Reverse

 

Researchers at the University of Warwick have discovered 300 mg a day of thiamine – vitamin B1 – can reverse the onset of early diabetic kidney disease.

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081208092149.htm

 

January 18, 2009

 

Stroke Risk Reduced by Eating Fish

 

Higher intake of an omega-3 essential fatty acid, EPA, can decrease risk of suffering a second stroke, according to a study conducted by researchers from Toyama University Hospital in Japan and published in the journal Stroke.

 

Researchers studied 18,645 high cholesterol patients and randomly assigned them to receive one of two cholesterol-lowering statin drugs: pravastatin (also known as Pravachol or Selektine) or simvastatin (also known as Zocor). While 9,319 of the patients received only the designated statin, the other 9,326 had their medication supplemented with 1,800 milligrams per day of EPA. Approximately 5 percent of the patients in each group had previously suffered a stroke.

 

At the end of five years, the researchers noted that EPA appeared to significantly decrease the risk of a second stroke (6.8 strokes in the EPA group, compared to 10.5 percent in the control group) even though the study was carried out in Japan, where a diet high in oily fish leads most people to have relatively high blood levels of EPA to begin with.

 

Sources for this story include: www.reuters.com

 

January 17, 2009

 

Caesarean Delivery Associated with Low Vitamin D

 

Vitamin D deficiency in pregnancy is associated with increased odds of primary cesarean delivery, according to the results of a study reported in the December 23 Online First issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

 

For the full article, click on:

 http://cme.medscape.com/viewarticle/585814

 

January 16, 2009

 

Pregnancy: Vitamin D may help

 

A team of UCLA researchers reports for the first time that vitamin D induces immune responses in placental tissues by stimulating production of the antimicrobial protein cathelicidin.

 

Their discovery suggests that placental innate immunity can be enhanced if pregnant women supplement their diets with vitamin D.

 

For more on this research, click on:

 http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081201162125.htm

 

January 15, 2009

 

Pregnancy: Avoid Cholesterol-lowering Statins

 

Pregnant women or those hoping to start or extend a family should talk to their physician about avoiding using the cholesterol-lowering drugs statins, say scientists.

 

For more about the study, click on:

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081209085620.htm

 

January 14, 2009

 

Children: Cross-Gender Bullying

 

Much more cross-gender bullying – specifically, unpopular boys harassing popular girls – occurs in later elementary school grades than previously thought, meaning educators should take reports of harassment from popular girls seriously, according to new research by a University of Illinois professor who studies child development.

 

“We found that a lot of male bullies between fourth and sixth grade are bullying girls – more than people would have anticipated – and a substantial amount of that boy-girl, cross-gender bullying goes unreported,” he said.

 

 “Bullies are generally more popular than their victims, and have more power over their victim, whether it’s physical strength or psychological power,” Rodkin said. “Researchers have taken it for granted that a bully will also have a higher social status than their victims. Based on our research, that’s not necessarily the case.”

 

The classic bullying paradigm follows what Rodkin calls the “whipping boy” syndrome: the powerful, popular bully tormenting an unpopular victim. (Think Biff Tannen bullying George McFly in “Back to the Future.”)

 

 “In those cases where it was a boy picking on a girl, the bullies were regarded by their classmates as being quite unpopular,” Rodkin said. “They were not alpha males, and they were probably more reactive in their aggression compared to the classic bully.”

 

Could the explanation for the high proportion of boys bullying girls simply be that it’s part of the clumsy transition we all make into adolescence?

 

“You could say it’s normal behavior for kids – what’s been called ‘push-and-pull courtship’ – a result of learning about the birds and the bees,” Rodkin said. “But the fact that these unpopular boys were very aggressively targeting girls subtracts from the idea that it’s normal.”

 

Despite being perceived by their classmates as being “popular,” bullies also are nominated by their peers as being among those liked the least.

 

“Bullies are always aggressive, and they’re never likeable,” Rodkin said. “For a generation of research, being popular was equated with being liked. Popularity is an extremely important dimension of social life in any social structure, whether it’s kids or adults, but ultimately it’s a gauge of whether others think you have social influence, not if you’re likeable. Popularity doesn’t necessarily translate into what kind of person you want your child to become.”

 

Paradoxically, a bully’s victims are also disliked.

 

“Both bullies and victims are highly disliked by their peers,” Rodkin said. “There’s a stigma attached to being aggressive, as well as to being weak. Both qualities are looked down upon.”

 

Rodkin believes that exploring the bully-victim social dynamic is fruitful in that it will allow for a more complete representation of children’s social environments for parents and educators.

 

“Just because a kid is popular,” he said, “doesn’t mean that they’re problem-free or nothing bad is going on. There are a lot of dangers for girls and boys over middle childhood and adolescence, dangers that could continue in relationships between men and women later in life.”

 

Source:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081209221711.htm

 

January 13, 2009

 

Children: Preventing Injuries

 

More than 2000 children die every day as a result of an unintentional, or accidental injury, and every year tens of millions more worldwide are taken to hospitals with injuries that often leave them with lifelong disabilities, according to a new report by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF.

 

The report finds that the top five causes of injury deaths are:

 

Road crashes: They kill 260 000 children a year and injure about 10 million. They are the leading cause of death among 10-19 year olds and a leading cause of child disability.

Drowning: It kills more than 175 000 children a year. Every year, up to 3 million children survive a drowning incident. Due to brain damage in some survivors, non-fatal drowning has the highest average lifetime health and economic impact of any injury type.

Burns: Fire-related burns kill nearly 96 000 children a year and the death rate is eleven times higher in low- and middle-income countries than in high-income countries.

Falls: Nearly 47 000 children fall to their deaths every year, but hundreds of thousands more sustain less serious injuries from a fall.

Poisoning: More than 45 000 children die each year from unintended poisoning.

"Improvements can be made in all countries," said Dr Etienne Krug, Director of WHO's Department of Violence and Injury Prevention and Disability. "When a child is left disfigured by a burn, paralysed by a fall, brain damaged by a near drowning or emotionally traumatized by any such serious incident, the effects can reverberate through the child's life. Each such tragedy is unnecessary. We have enough evidence about what works. A known set of prevention programmes should be implemented in all countries."

 

The report outlines the impact that proven prevention measures can have. These measures include laws on child-appropriate seatbelts and helmets; hot tap water temperature regulations; child-resistant closures on medicine bottles, lighters and household product containers; separate traffic lanes for motorcycles or bicycles; draining unnecessary water from baths and buckets; redesigning nursery furniture, toys and playground equipment; and strengthening emergency medical care and rehabilitation services.

 

It also identifies approaches that either should be avoided or are not backed by sufficient evidence to recommend them. For example, it concludes that blister packaging for tablets may not be child resistant; that airbags in the front seat of a car could be harmful to children under 13 years; that butter, sugar, oil and other traditional remedies should not be used on burns and that public education campaigns on their own don't reduce rates of drowning.

 

For more information on the report, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081210090825.htm

 January 12, 2009

 

Weight Gain During Puberty and Vitamin D

 

Insufficient vitamin D can stunt growth and foster weight gain during puberty, according to a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Even in sun-drenched California, where scientists from the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) and the University of Southern California conducted their study, vitamin D deficiency was found to cause higher body mass and shorter stature in girls at the peak of their growing spurt.

 

While lack of vitamin D is common in adults and has been linked to diseases such as osteoporosis, cancer and obesity, until this study, little was known about the consequences of insufficient vitamin D in young people. The research team measured vitamin D in girls aged 16 to 22 using a simple blood test (25-hydroxy vitamin D). They also assessed body fat and height to determine how vitamin D deficiency could affect young women's health.

 

"The high prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency in young people living in a sun-rich area was surprising," says study lead author, Richard Kremer, co-director of the Musculoskeletal Axis of the MUHC. "We found young women with vitamin D insufficiency were significantly heavier, with a higher body mass index and increased abdominal fat, than young women with normal levels."

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081210122238.htm

 

January 11, 2009

 

Sugar Can Be as Addictive as Drugs

 

A Princeton University scientist will present new evidence today demonstrating that sugar can be an addictive substance, wielding its power over the brains of lab animals in a manner similar to many drugs of abuse.

 

At the annual meeting of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology in Scottsdale, Ariz., Hoebel will report on profound behavioral changes in rats that, through experimental conditions, have been trained to become dependent on high doses of sugar.

 

"We have the first set of comprehensive studies showing the strong suggestion of sugar addiction in rats and a mechanism that might underlie it," Hoebel said. The findings eventually could have implications for the treatment of humans with eating disorders, he said.

 

Lab animals, in Hoebel's experiments, that were denied sugar for a prolonged period after learning to binge worked harder to get it when it was reintroduced to them. They consumed more sugar than they ever had before, suggesting craving and relapse behavior. Their motivation for sugar had grown. "In this case, abstinence makes the heart grow fonder," Hoebel said.

 

The rats drank more alcohol than normal after their sugar supply was cut off, showing that the bingeing behavior had forged changes in brain function. These functions served as "gateways" to other paths of destructive behavior, such as increased alcohol intake. And, after receiving a dose of amphetamine normally so minimal it has no effect, they became significantly hyperactive. The increased sensitivity to the psychostimulant is a long-lasting brain effect that can be a component of addiction, Hoebel said.

 

Hoebel has shown that rats eating large amounts of sugar when hungry, a phenomenon he describes as sugar-bingeing, undergo neurochemical changes in the brain that appear to mimic those produced by substances of abuse, including cocaine, morphine and nicotine. Sugar induces behavioral changes, too. "In certain models, sugar-bingeing causes long-lasting effects in the brain and increases the inclination to take other drugs of abuse, such as alcohol," Hoebel said.

 

Hoebel and his team also have found that a chemical known as dopamine is released in a region of the brain known as the nucleus accumbens when hungry rats drink a sugar solution. This chemical signal is thought to trigger motivation and, eventually with repetition, addiction.

 

Hungry rats that binge on sugar provoke a surge of dopamine in their brains. After a month, the structure of the brains of these rats adapts to increased dopamine levels, showing fewer of a certain type of dopamine receptor than they used to have and more opioid receptors. These dopamine and opioid systems are involved in motivation and reward, systems that control wanting and liking something. Similar changes also are seen in the brains of rats on cocaine and heroin.

 

In experiments, the researchers have been able to induce signs of withdrawal in the lab animals by taking away their sugar supply. The rats' brain levels of dopamine dropped and, as a result, they exhibited anxiety as a sign of withdrawal. The rats' teeth chattered, and the creatures were unwilling to venture forth into the open arm of their maze, preferring to stay in a tunnel area. Normally rats like to explore their environment, but the rats in sugar withdrawal were too anxious to explore.

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081210090819.htm

 

January 10, 2009

 

Complementary and Alternative Therapies Used by Adults and Children

 

Approximately 38 percent of adults in the United States aged 18 years and over and nearly 12 percent of U.S. children aged 17 years and under use some form of complementary and alternative approach to traditional medicine, according to a new nationwide government survey.

 

This survey marks the first time questions were included on children's use of these procedures, which is a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products such as herbal supplements, meditation, chiropractic, and acupuncture that are not generally considered to be part of conventional medicine.

 

Complementary and Alternative Procedure Use Among Adults

 

The most commonly used nonmedical therapies among U.S. adults were:

 

Nonvitamin, nonmineral, natural products (17.7 percent) Most common: fish oil/omega 3/DHA, glucosamine, echinacea, flaxseed oil or pills, and ginseng

Deep breathing exercises (12.7 percent)

Meditation (9.4 percent)

Chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation (8.6 percent)

Massage (8.3 percent)

Yoga (6.1 percent).

 

Adults used nonmedical therapies most often to treat pain including back pain or problems, neck pain or problems, joint pain or stiffness/other joint condition, arthritis, and other musculoskeletal conditions. Adult use of complementary and alternative therapies for head or chest colds showed a marked decrease from 2002 to 2007 (9.5 percent in 2002 to 2.0 percent in 2007).

 

Consistent with results from the 2002 data, in 2007 nonmedical therapies use among adults was greater among:.

 

Women (42.8 percent, compared to men 33.5 percent)

Those aged 30-69 (30-39 years: 39.6 percent, 40-49 years: 40.1 percent, 50-59 years: 44.1 percent, 60-69 years: 41.0 percent)

Those with higher levels of education (Masters, doctorate or professional: 55.4 percent)

Those who were not poor (poor: 28.9 percent, near poor: 30.9 percent, not poor: 43.3 percent)

Those living in the West (44.6 percent)

Those who have quit smoking (48.1 percent)

 

CAM Use Among Children

 

Overall, complementary and alternative therapies use among children is nearly 12 percent, or about 1 in 9 children, and were used most often for back or neck pain, head or chest colds, anxiety or stress, other musculoskeletal problems, and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD).

 

The most commonly used nonmedical therapies among children were:

 

Nonvitamin, nonmineral, natural products (3.9 percent) Most common: echinacea, fish oil/omega 3/DHA, combination herb pill, flaxseed oil or pills, and prebiotics or probiotics

Chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation (2.8 percent)

Deep breathing exercises (2.2 percent)

Yoga (2.1 percent).

 

For more on the study, click on: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081210121918.htm

 

January 9, 2009

 

Obese Teens

 

California's low-income teenagers have a lot in common: Sugary soda. Fast-food restaurants. Too much television. Not enough exercise. The result: Low-income teenagers are almost three times more likely to be obese than teens from more affluent households, according to new research from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

 

"Our neighborhoods are literally making us fat," said Susan H. Babey, one of the policy brief's authors. "We need better strategies and more thoughtful urban planning if we are going to make our towns and cities livable, not just places where we live."

 

Among other recommendations to combat teen obesity, the policy brief's authors urge city planners to consider zoning ordinances to regulate the number of fast-food restaurants while providing incentives to attract grocery stores and other outlets that stock fresh fruits and vegetables. The Los Angeles City Council recently used data from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research to support such a moratorium on new fast-food restaurants in South Los Angeles. The policy brief's authors also called for greater opportunities for physical activity and education, as well as campaigns to promote family dinners and discourage excessive television viewing.

 

Among the findings of the policy brief:

 

More sugary soda: 67 to 71 percent of low-income teens reported having at least one glass or can of soda on the previous day, compared with 55 percent of more affluent teens.

 

More fast food: 46 to 49 percent of low-income teens reported eating fast food on the previous day, compared with 37 percent of more affluent teens.

Fewer family meals: Up to 11 percent of low-income teens reported that they had never eaten dinner with a parent or guardian during the previous week. The rate is twice that of more affluent teens.

Fewer opportunities for organized sports: 36 to 37 percent of low-income teens were on a school sports team in the previous year, compared with 49 percent of more affluent teens.

 

Less physical activity: Nearly one in five, or 18 percent, of low-income teens did not get at least 60 minutes of physical activity in a week — the minimum amount of physical activity recommended by the 2005 federal Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

More television: 56 percent of low-income teens watch more than two hours of television per day, compared with 46 percent of more affluent teens.

 

For more information on The California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), the nation's largest state health survey and one of the largest health surveys in the United States, click on:

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081210131042.htm

 

January 8, 2009

 

Risk of Heart Disease for Women

 

Living in a household with several generations of relatives triples a woman's risk of serious heart disease, suggests research published ahead of print in the journal Heart.

 

After taking account of factors likely to influence the results, women who lived with a partner, children, and their parents, or their spouse's parents, were two to three times more likely to be diagnosed with coronary heart disease than women who just lived with a partner.

 

But they were no more likely to die of their disease than their peers who lived with just a partner, suggesting that while living arrangements may boost the risk of diagnosis, it does not affect prognosis, say the authors.

 

But it wasn't just women living with parents and children who were at increased risk of serious heart problems.

 

Women who lived with a partner and children were also twice as likely to be diagnosed with coronary heart disease as those who lived in households without children.

 

The presence of other close relatives, especially parents, seems to deter women from unhealthy behaviours, such as heavy drinking and smoking, which could boost their susceptibility to heart disease, the authors point out. But the stress of fulfilling multiple roles as daughter/daughter in law, mother and partner probably has a deleterious effect on heart health, they suggest.

 

Over the long term, this is likely to boost levels of stress hormones and inflammatory proteins, which in turn may strengthen the effects of other risk factors, such as high blood pressure, or diabetes, they conclude.

 

For more on the study, click on:

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081210205046.htm

 

January 7, 2009

 

Pregnancy and Smoke

 

Typically, tobacco companies market harm-reduction cigarettes as being safer than traditional "full-flavored" brands, leading many smokers to conclude that the use of harm-reduction brands lowers their exposure to toxicants.

 

But a UC Riverside study now shows that smoke from these "light" or "low-yield" harm-reduction cigarettes retains toxicity and that this toxicity can affect prenatal development.

 

"Many chemicals found in harm-reduction cigarette smoke have not been tested, and some are listed by manufacturers as safe," said Prue Talbot, a professor of cell biology who led the study. "But our tests on mice clearly show that these chemicals adversely affect reproduction and associated development processes. The effects are likely to be the same in humans, in which case pregnant women would be particularly vulnerable to the effect of smoke from these cigarettes."

 

"Dr. Talbot's work significantly enhances our understanding of the harmful effects of smoking on very early pregnancy," said Olga Genbacev, a senior scientist in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at UC San Francisco, who was not involved in the research. "This study for the first time sends a clear message to nonsmoking women of reproductive age who are planning to become pregnant that they must avoid exposure to sidestream smoke."

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081208180510.htm

 

January 6, 2009

 

Weight Loss: Diet and Exercise Work

 

Severely obese patients who have lost significant amounts of weight by changing their diet and exercise habits may be as successful in keeping the weight off long-term as those individuals who lost weight after bariatric surgery, according to a new study published online by the International Journal of Obesity.

 

While weight loss and maintenance were comparable between the two treatments, patients who relied on non-surgical methods had to work harder over a longer duration to maintain their weight losses, say researchers from The Miriam Hospital's Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine.

 

"Our findings suggest that its possible to maintain large weight losses through intensive behavioral efforts, such as changing your approach to eating and exercise, regardless of whether you lost weight with bariatric surgery or through non-surgical methods," says lead author Dale Bond, PhD, of The Miriam Hospital's Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine. "Behavioral modifications and lifestyle changes are critical components to long-term weight loss maintenance."

 

There were no significant differences in the caloric intake or the amount of weight regain between the surgical and non-surgical groups; both regained an average of about four lbs. each year. However, researchers identified behavioral differences between the two groups, with bariatric patients reporting greater fat and fast food consumption, less conscious control over their eating and higher incidences of depression and more stress than non-surgical patients.

 

Similar differences were observed with physical activity behaviors. Only one-third of the surgical group reported engaging in a level of physical activity consistent with recommendations for preventing weight regain compared with 60 percent of the non-surgical group.

 

The researchers note that susceptibility to cues that trigger impulsive overeating was the only behavior associated with a greater risk of weight regain in both groups.

 

"These findings underscore the need for eating and activity interventions focused on bariatric surgery patients," says Bond, who is also a research fellow in psychiatry (weight control) at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. "Future research should focus on ways to increase and maintain physical activity and better monitor psychological parameters in bariatric surgery patients to facilitate optimal long-term weight control."

 

For more about the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081208123257.htm

 

January 5, 2009

 

Cosmetic Surgery: Women's Magazines Downplay Emotional Health Risks Study Finds

 

While the emotional health implications of cosmetic surgery are still up for scientific debate, articles in women's magazines such as The Oprah Magazine and Cosmopolitan portray cosmetic surgery as a physically risky, but overall worthwhile option for enhancing physical appearance and emotional health, a UBC study has found.

Male opinions on female attractiveness are routinely used to justify cosmetic surgery and that a disproportionate amount of articles are devoted to breast implants and cosmetic surgery among women aged 19-34.

 

"Alongside beauty, clothing and diet advice, women's magazines present cosmetic surgery as a normal practice for enhancing or maintaining beauty, becoming more attractive to men and improving emotional health," says Andrea Polonijo, who conducted the research at UBC as an undergraduate honours thesis in the Dept. of Sociology.

 

"Magazines are communicating the physical risks of cosmetic surgery more than the emotional health risks," says Polonijo, noting that studies have found that emotional health issues such as anxiety and depression may arise or increase in women who undergo physically successful cosmetic surgery, regardless of their preoperative emotional state. Of the articles that mention emotional health, only 18 per cent suggest cosmetic surgery may be detrimental to emotional well-being, the study found.

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081211093548.htm

 

January 4, 2009

 

Infection: Protect Yourself When Driving

 

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have found evidence of a novel pathway for potential human exposure to antibiotic-resistant bacteria from intensively raised poultry — driving behind the trucks transporting broiler chickens from farm to slaughterhouse.

 

A study by the Hopkins researchers found increased levels of pathogenic bacteria, both susceptible and drug-resistant, on surfaces and in the air inside cars traveling behind trucks that carry broiler chickens. The study is the first to look at exposure to antibiotic-resistant bacteria from the transportation of poultry. The findings are published in the first issue of the Journal of Infection and Public Health.

 

Typically, broiler chickens are transported in open crates on the back of flatbed trucks with no effective barrier to prevent release of pathogens into the environment. Previous studies have reported that these crates become contaminated with feces and bacteria.

 

The new study was conducted on the Delmarva Peninsula—a coastal region shared by Maryland, Delaware and Virginia, which has one of the highest densities of broiler chickens per acre in the United States. The researchers collected air and surface samples from cars driving two to three car lengths behind the poultry trucks for a distance of 17 miles.

 

The cars were driven with both air conditioners and fans turned off and with the windows fully opened. Air samples collected inside the cars, showed increased concentrations of bacteria (including antibiotic-resistant strains) that could be inhaled. The same bacteria were also found deposited on a soda can inside the car and on the outside door handle, where they could potentially be touched.

 

The strains of bacteria collected were found to be resistant to three antimicrobial drugs widely used to treat bacterial infections in people. These drugs are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use as feed additives for broiler poultry. The study findings were also consistent with other studies on antibiotic resistance in poultry flocks and poultry products.

 

For more about the study, click on:

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081124130946.htm

 

January 3, 2009

 

Depression and Mother’s Relationships with Teen Daughters

 

A new study in the journal Family Relations examined the effects of a mother’s psychological control on the risk for depression of African American adolescents.

 

Researchers found that girls whose mothers played mental games with them like making them feel guilty or withdrawing expressions of love reported much higher levels of depressive symptoms and lower levels of personal agency.

 

Psychological control did not affect the psychological well-being of boys.

 

Jelani Mandara and Crysta L. Pikes examined a sample of 152 African American students in the ninth through twelfth grade at a high school in a large Midwestern city. The sample consisted of 102 females and 50 males. Researchers assessed the degree to which maternal psychological control had an effect on depressive symptoms.

 

Mandara and Pikes suggested that, “The key for practitioners will be to impress upon parents the need to find a balance between psychological autonomy and behavioral regulation at each stage of their children’s development.”

 

Source:

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081124131229.htm

 

January 2, 2009

 

Risky Sexual Behavior in Teens: What Brings it On?

 

Watching plenty of television combined with low self-esteem, poor relationships with parents, and low academic achievement are some of the factors that may add up to young people having sex before the age of 15. Alternatively, a parent's positive influence may go a long way to reduce risky sexual behavior during adolescence, according to Myeshia Price and Dr. Janet Hyde from the University of Wisconsin in the USA.

 

Adolescents who engage in sexual acts before the age of 15 are likely to do so without adequate protection, putting them at higher risk of sexually transmitted infections and, for girls, unwanted pregnancies. In 2006, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 750,000 pregnancies and almost half of new cases of sexually transmitted infections were among adolescents.

 

One factor had a particularly large effect: the amount of time spent watching television. Across all risk factors, the more factors pushing young people to have sex early, the more likely they were to do so. For example, compared to an adolescent with zero risks, someone with three of the above influences (the average for the studied sample) was five times more likely to have had sex by the age of 15. These findings strongly suggest that intervention programs aimed at reducing the number of adolescents who have sex at a younger age are more likely to be effective if they target a combination of factors.

 

This study also shows that parents influence adolescents' decision to engage, or not, in early sexual activity. The authors recommend that "preventive measures should not be left up to teachers and counselors alone, but might include parents." They add that "positive influence from parents, coupled with comprehensive education programs, have the potential to have an unsurpassed effect on early adolescent sexual activity."

 

For more on this study, click on:

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081124102744.htm

 

January 1, 2009

 

Toxic Home Environments

 

 “People more readily equate pollution with large-scale contamination and environmental disasters, yet the products and activities that form the backdrop to our everyday lives — electronics, cleaners, beauty products, food packaging — are a significant source of daily personal chemical exposure that accumulates over time,” said sociologist Rebecca Gasior Altman, lead author of the study, “Pollution Comes Home and Gets Personal: Women’s Experience of Household Chemical Exposure.” Altman received a Ph.D. from Brown in 2008.

 

The study documents that an important shift occurs in how people understand environmental pollution, its sources and possible solutions as they learn about chemicals from everyday products that are detectable in urine samples and the household dust collecting under the sofa.”

 

The researchers interviewed 25 women, all of whom had participated in an earlier study, the Silent Spring Institute’s Household Exposure Study (HES), which tested for 89 environmental pollutants in air, dust and urine samples from 120 Cape Cod households. The study found about 20 target chemicals per home on average, including pesticides and compounds from plastics, cleaners, furniture, cosmetics, and other products. Nearly all participants in the HES chose to learn their personal results, and the 25 selected for the current research were interviewed about their experiences learning the results for their home and the study as a whole.

 

For more on this study, click on:

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081121092451.htm

 

December 31, 2008

 

Breast Cancer: Some Invasive Breast Cancers Spontaneously Regress

 

"Because the cumulative incidence among controls never reached that of the screened group, it appears that some breast cancers detected by repeated mammographic screening would not persist to be detectable by a single mammogram at the end of six years," the authors write. "This raises the possibility that the natural course of some screen-detected invasive breast cancers is to spontaneously regress."

 

"Although many clinicians may be skeptical of the idea, the excess incidence associated with repeated mammography demands that spontaneous regression be considered carefully," they continue.

 

"Spontaneous regression of invasive breast cancer has been reported, with a recent literature review identifying 32 reported cases. This is a relatively small number given such a common disease. However, as some observers have pointed out, the fact that documented observations are rare does not mean that regression rarely occurs. It may instead reflect the fact that these cancers are rarely allowed to follow their natural course."

 

The findings do not answer the question of whether mammograms prevent deaths from breast cancer, the authors note. "Instead, our findings simply provide new insight on what is arguably the major harm associated with mammographic screening, namely, the detection and treatment of cancers that would otherwise regress," they conclude.

 

"Perhaps the most important concern raised by the study by Zahl et al is that it highlights how surprisingly little we know about what happens to untreated patients with breast cancer," Drs. Kaplan and Porzsolt continue. "In addition to not knowing the natural history of breast cancer for younger women, we also know very little about the natural history for older women. We know from autopsy studies that a significant number of women die without knowing that they had breast cancer (including ductal carcinoma in situ). The observation of a historical trend toward improved survival does not necessarily support the benefit of treatment."

 

"If the spontaneous remission hypothesis is credible, it should cause a major re-evaluation in the approach to breast cancer research and treatment. Certainly it is worthy of further evaluation," they conclude.

 

For more on this story, click on:

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081124165117.htm

 

December 30, 2008

 

 Heart Attack: What to Do

 

If you witness an individual collapse suddenly and unexpectedly, perform uninterrupted chest compressions even if the patient gasps or breathes in a funny way, research from the Resuscitation Research Group at The University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center shows.

 

When an individual breathes abnormally or gasps after collapsing from sudden cardiac arrest there is a greater chance of surviving, the researchers report. Gasping can be thought of as a survival reflex triggered by the brain.

 

"Gasping is an indication that the brain is still alive, and it tells you that if you start and continue uninterrupted chest compressions, the person has a high chance of surviving," said Gordon A. Ewy, MD, corresponding author of the study, professor and chief of cardiology at the UA and director of its Sarver Heart Center. "We need people to promptly recognize sudden cardiac arrest, to call 9-1-1 and to start chest compressions right away."

 

Gasping has been described as snoring, gurgling, moaning, snorting or agonal or labored breathing. However, bystanders often misinterpret gasping and other unusual vocal sounds as normal breathing and don't call 9-1-1 or begin lifesaving chest compressions quickly enough, Dr. Ewy said.

 

The authors hope their findings lead to greater willingness of untrained bystanders to jump in and perform continuous chest compressions. Bystander-initiated CPR has been shown to be a cardiac arrest victim's only chance of survival until an automated external defibrillator or the paramedics get to the scene.

 

Many bystanders are hesitant to perform mouth-to-mouth ventilation, and in a case of a witnessed (seen or heard) collapse, so-called rescue breathing is not necessary and may be harmful, Dr. Ewy said. "When the patient gasps, there is a negative pressure in the chest, which not only sucks air into the lungs but also draws blood back to the heart. In contrast, mouth-to-mouth breathing creates overpressure in the chest and actually inhibits blood flow back to the heart. Gasping during cardiac arrest is much better than mouth-to-mouth breathing."

 

But what about choking? "That's very different," Dr. Ewy said. "Someone who is choking will be seen to grasp their throat and struggle to breathe, which means they're responsive. These individuals need the Heimlich maneuver." A primary cardiac arrest is the witnessed unexpected collapse of an individual who is not responsive, Dr. Ewy said. "Cardiac arrest will cause the stricken individual to pass out and collapse to the ground within seconds."

 

Performing uninterrupted chest compressions (a technique developed at the UA Sarver Heart Center and endorsed by the American Heart Association as "Hands-Only CPR" for lay individuals) may cause a person who has stopped gasping to resume gasping. "This scares many people and they stop pressing on the chest," Dr. Ewy said, "This is bad because gasping is an indication that you're doing a good job."

 

For more on what to do when someone collapses, click on:

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081124165125.htm

 

December 29, 2008

 

Blood Pressure: Having it Taken in a Medical Office May Not Predict Future Heart Risks

 

About 10 percent to 30 percent of individuals with high blood pressure have a condition known as resistant hypertension: blood pressure remains high despite treatment with at least three antihypertensive drugs, always including a diuretic (medication that increases urine output). Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring, or measuring blood pressure at regular intervals throughout the day, is increasingly important in managing patients with this condition because of the possibility of a white-coat effect (when an individual only has high blood pressure at the physician's office).

 

Gil F. Salles, M.D., Ph.D., studied 556 patients with resistant hypertension who attended an outpatient clinic between 1999 and 2004. Participants underwent a clinical examination and had their blood pressure monitored continuously during a 24-hour period (every 15 minutes throughout the day and every 30 minutes at night). They were followed up at least three to four times a year until December 2007.

 

After a median (midpoint) follow-up period of 4.8 years, 109 (19.6 percent) of participants had a cardiovascular event or died of cardiovascular disease. This included 44 strokes, 21 heart attacks, 10 new cases of heart failure and five sudden deaths. Seventy patients (12.6 percent) died, including 46 (8.3 percent) of cardiovascular causes.

 

Blood pressure measured in the office did not predict any of these events, whereas higher average ambulatory blood pressures (both systolic or top-number and diastolic or bottom-number) were associated with the occurrence of fatal and non-fatal heart events. This association remained after controlling for office blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease. When considered separately, nighttime blood pressure was superior to daytime blood pressure in predicting heart events. If nighttime systolic blood pressure increased by 22 millimeters of mercury, risk for future heart events increased by 38 percent, whereas an increase of 14 millimeters of mercury in diastolic blood pressure increased heart risks by 36 percent.

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081124165119.htm

 

December 28, 2008

 

Depression, Immune System, Grades, Health Problems: Letters of Gratitude Help

 

Want to quickly improve your happiness and satisfaction with life? Then the pen may be a mighty weapon, according to research done by Kent State University's Dr. Steven Toepfer.

 

He enlisted students from six courses to explore the effects of writing letters of gratitude to people who had positively impacted the students' lives. Over the course of a six-week period, students wrote one letter every two weeks with the simple ground rules that it had to be positively expressive, required some insight and reflection, were nontrivial and contained a high level of appreciation or gratitude.

 

After each letter, students completed a survey to gauge their moods, satisfaction with life and feelings of gratitude and happiness.

 

"I saw their happiness increase after each letter, meaning the more they wrote, the better they felt," says Toepfer, who also witnessed improvement in participants' life satisfaction and gratitude throughout the study. "The most powerful thing in our lives is our social network. It doesn't have to be large, and you don't always need to be the life of the party, but just having one or two significant connections in your life has shown to have terrific psychological and physical benefits."

 

In all, 75 percent of the students said they planned to continue to write letters of gratitude even when the course was over.

 

Studies demonstrate, according to Toepfer, that practicing expressive writing is often associated with fewer health problems, decreased depression, an improved immune system and improved grades.

 

"We are all walking around with an amazing resource: gratitude," says Toepfer. "It helps us express and enjoy, appreciate, be thankful and satisfied with a little effort. We all have it, and we need to use it to improve our quality of life."

 

For more on being grateful, click on:

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081125113005.htm

 

December 26, 2008

 

Childhood Constipation: As Serious and Expensive as Asthma

 

In a new study, Doctor Carlo Di Lorenzo and his team at Nationwide Children's Hospital found constipation can lead to serious health issues and skyrocketing costs, to the tune of nearly four billion dollars a year. That equals the cost of treating childhood asthma or even ADHD. Di Lorenzo, who is also with the Ohio State University, says parents don't realize constipation can be just as serious. It can result in pain, problems at school, and sometimes the need for surgery.

 

"The day-to-day struggle caused by constipation can often be emotionally devastating, and can also have an impact on the overall health and well-being of affected children and their families."

 

What to do:

 

*talk to your children/grandchildren about their bathroom habits and make sure they are having a bowel movement at least every other day

 

*make fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grain cereals available daily in tasty ways, e.g., smear peanut butter on apple slices, roll bananas in apple juice and then in crushed nuts, make a tasty bean dip to dip sticks of celery, carrots and other vegetables in, offer whole grain cereals as a snack or with milk and banana

 

*for mild cases of constipation, prune or apple juice, of high-fiber cereal, may help.

 

*make sure the child drinks at least 6-8 glasses a day, drunk regularly throughout the day (at least 3-4 glasses while at school) ensuring that plenty of additional fluid is drunk during warm weather and/or when exercising or in active play

 

*counsel children to go to the toilet when the urge occurs

 

*find comfortable ways for children to use unfamiliar toilets when traveling or visiting others; ask them what would make it easier for them to use the toile and then try to replicate those conditions

 

*if the problem persists, parents should seek the advice of a medical professional.

 

For more information, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081126122319.htm

 

December 25, 2008

 

Heart Disease: Hormone Therapy Risks

 

Hormone therapy could accentuate certain pre-existing heart disease risk factors and a heart health evaluation should become the norm when considering estrogen replacement, new research suggests.

 

The research also showed that in women without existing atherosclerosis, hormone therapy use included some positive effects on lipids but also some negative effects related to heart health. The U-M study came about, Sowers said, in trying to explain what's behind the so-called timing hypothesis. The timing hypothesis suggests that if a woman implements a hormone therapy program within six years of her final menstrual period, this narrow window is enough to deter heart disease from developing with the onset of menopause. But the U-M findings suggest that explanation isn't quite so simple.

 

Even within the six-year window, there were negative aspects related to heart disease. While the positive outcomes on HDL and LDL cholesterol levels were observed, Sowers said, researchers also saw negative outcomes in terms of the inflammation process—which can be related to heart disease.

 

"The woman should say to her health care provider, 'What kind of information do we need to gather in order to make an informed decision about whether or not hormone therapy should be pursued,'" Sowers said. '"I understand there could be some heart disease risk, but that the risk may be based upon where I am now, and can you tell me where that is?'"

 

For more about the study, click on:

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081125161533.htm

 

December 24, 2008

 

Teeth: What Drinks Corrode Them?

 

Today, the average size soft drink is 20 ounces and contains 17 teaspoons of sugar. More startling is that some citric acids found in fruit drinks are more erosive than hydrochloric or sulfuric acid—which is also known as battery acid. These refined sugars and acids found in soda and citrus juice promote tooth erosion, which wears away the hard part of the teeth, or the enamel. Once tooth enamel is lost, it's gone forever.

 

There is a beverage that does not produce such irreversible results. When deciding between the many options available, the best thing to drink to avoid tooth erosion is brewed tea, according to a study in the July/August issue of General Dentistry, the clinical, peer-reviewed journal of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD).

 

Apart from tasting good, brewed tea has many health benefits. Tea is loaded with natural antioxidants, which are thought to decrease incidence of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

 

Mohamed A. Bassiouny, DMD, BDS, MSc, PhD, the lead author of the study, compared green and black tea to soda and orange juice in terms of their short- and long-term erosive effect on human teeth. The study found that the erosive effect of tea was similar to that of water, which has no erosive effect. And, when comparing green versus black, he discovered that there is a better option among those as well.

 

Dr. Bassiouny says that "when we look at tea and read about the benefits, it's amazing—not because green tea is 'the in thing'—but because there are advantages." He adds that much research done overseas, in countries such as Japan and Europe, found that green tea was identified to being superior over black due to its natural flavonoids (plant nutrients) and antioxidants.

 

But, if you do drink tea, experts suggest avoiding additives such as milk, lemon, or sugar because they combine with tea's natural flavonoids and decrease the benefits. In addition, stay away from prepackaged iced teas because they contain citric acid and high amounts of sugars. It does not matter whether the tea is warm or cold—as long as it is home brewed without additives.

 

Tips to decrease tooth erosion:

 

Reduce or eliminate carbonated beverages. Instead, drink water, milk, or tea

 

Skip the additives such as sugar, lemon, and milk

 

Drink acidic drinks quickly and through a straw

 

Chew sugar-free gum to increase saliva flow in your mouth

 

Rinse with water to neutralize the acids, and wait an hour before brushing

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081125132514.htm

 

December 23, 2008

 

Overweight Children: Work to Ban Fast Food Ads

 

According to a new study being published this month in the Journal of Law and Economics a ban on fast food ads could reduce childhood obesity by 18%. The study also reports that eliminating the tax deductibility associated with television advertising would result in a reduction of childhood obesity, though in smaller numbers.

 

The authors found that a ban on fast food television advertisements during children's programming would reduce the number of overweight children ages 3-11 by 18 percent, while also lowering the number of overweight adolescents ages 12-18 by 14 percent. The effect is more pronounced for males than females.

 

Though a ban would be effective, the authors also question whether such a high degree of government involvement—and the costs of implementing such policies—is a practical option. Should the U.S. pursue that path, they would follow Sweden, Norway and Finland as the only countries to have banned commercial sponsorship of children's programs.

 

The study also found that the elimination of tax deductibility tied to advertising would similarly produce declines in childhood obesity, albeit at a smaller rate of 5-7 percent. Advertising is considered a business expense and, as such, it can be used to reduce a company's taxable income. The authors deduce that, since the corporate income tax rate is 35 percent, the elimination of the tax deductibility of food advertising costs would be equivalent to increasing the price of advertising by 54 percent.

 

Such an action would consequently result in the reduction of fast food advertising messages by 40 percent for children, and 33 percent for adolescents.

 

A 2006 report issued by the Institute of Medicine indicated there is compelling evidence linking food advertising on television and increased childhood obesity. "Some members of the committee that wrote the report recommended congressional regulation of television food advertisements aimed at children, but the report also said that the final link that would definitively prove that children had become fatter by watching food commercials aimed at them cannot be made," says Grossman.

 

"Our study provides evidence of that link," he says.

 

The Centers for Disease Control estimate that, between 1970 and 1999, the percentage of overweight children ages 6-11 more than tripled to 13 percent. Adolescents between the ages of 12 and 19 also saw a significant increase, reaching 14 percent.

 

Research indicates that there is an 80 percent chance an overweight adolescent will be an obese adult and that over 300,000 deaths can be attributed to obesity and weight in the United States every year.

 

For more on this study, click on:

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081119120149.htm

 

December 22, 2008

 

Alzheimer’s: Staying Away From Fast Food May Prevent It

 

Mice that were fed a diet rich in fat, sugar and cholesterol for nine months developed a preliminary stage of the morbid irregularities that form in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. The study results, published in a doctoral thesis from the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet (KI), give some indications of how this difficult to treat disease might one day be preventable.

 

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, there being roughly 90,000 patients with the disease in Sweden today. The underlying causes of Alzheimer’s disease are still something of a mystery, but there are a number of known risk factors. The most common is a variant of a certain gene that governs the production of apolipoprotein E, one of the functions of which is to transport cholesterol. The gene variant is called apoE4 and is found in 15-20 per cent of the population.

 

For her doctoral thesis, Susanne Akterin studied mice that had been genetically modified to mimic the effects of apoE4 in humans. The mice were then fed for nine months on a diet rich in fat, sugar and cholesterol, representing the nutritional content of most fast food.

 

“On examining the brains of these mice, we found a chemical change not unlike that found in the Alzheimer brain,” says Ms Akterin, postgraduate at KI Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.

 

The change in question was an increase in phosphate groups attached to tau, a substance that forms the neurofibrillary tangles observed in Alzheimer’s patients. These tangles prevent the cells from functioning normally, which eventually leads to their death. Ms Akterin and her team also noted indications that cholesterol in food reduced levels of another brain substance, Arc, a protein involved in memory storage.

 

“We now suspect that a high intake of fat and cholesterol in combination with genetic factors, such as apoE4, can adversely affect several brain substances, which can be a contributory factor in the development of Alzheimer’s,” says Susanne Akterin.

 

Previous research has shown that a phenomenon known as oxidative stress in the brain and a relatively low intake of dietary antioxidants can also increase the risk of Alzheimer’s. Ms Akterin has now demonstrated in her thesis that two antioxidants are dysfunctional in the brains of Alzheimer patients, which can lead to nerve cell death.

 

“All in all, the results give some indication of how Alzheimer’s can be prevented, but more research in this field needs to be done before proper advice can be passed on to the general public,” she says.

 

What to Do:

 

Although more research is needed, it’s not too early to reduce intake of high fat-high sugar fast food; that action alone can prevent overweight and other diseases related to low intake of dietary antioxidants.

 

Source:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081128082937.htm

 

December 21, 2008

 

Cancer: Exercise and Resk Lower Women’s Risk

 

Exercise is good for more than just your waistline. A recent study presented at the American Association for Cancer Research's Seventh Annual International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research suggests that regular physical activity can lower a woman's overall risk of cancer – but only if she gets a good night's sleep. Otherwise, lack of sleep can undermine exercise's cancer prevention benefits.

 

"Greater participation in physical activity has consistently been associated with reduced risk of cancer incidence at several sites, including breast and colon cancers," said James McClain, Ph.D., cancer prevention fellow at the National Cancer Institute and lead author of the study. "Short duration sleep appears to have opposing effects of physical activity on several key hormonal and metabolic parameters, which is why we looked at how it affected the exercise/cancer risk relationship."

 

Even though the exact mechanism of how exercise reduces cancer risk isn't known, researchers believe that physical activity's effects on factors including hormone levels, immune function, and body weight may play an important role. The study examined the link between exercise and cancer risk, paying special attention to whether or not getting adequate sleep further affected a women's cancer risk.

 

Researchers assessed the association between physical activity energy expenditure (PAEE), sleep duration and incidence of overall, breast, and colon cancer in 5,968 women at least 18 years old with no previous cancer diagnoses. The women completed an initial survey in 1998 and were then tracked through the Washington County Cancer Registry and Maryland State Cancer Registry for nearly 10 years.

 

The results pointed to a sleep-exercise link. "Current findings suggest that sleep duration modifies the relationship between physical activity and all-site cancer risk among young and middle-aged women," he said.

 

For more information on the study, click on:

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081117153154.htm

 

December 20, 2008

 

Heart Disease & Stroke: Binge Drinking May Drive It

 

As the holidays arrive, a group of researchers has identified the precise mechanisms by which binge drinking contributes to clogs in arteries that lead to heart attack and stroke, according to a study published today in the journal Atherosclerosis. The works adds to a growing body of evidence that drinking patterns matter as much, if not more, to risk for cardiovascular disease than the total amount consumed.

 

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), going on a 'binge' means having five or more drinks for men, and four or more drinks for women, in two hours. Many studies suggest that an irregular pattern of heavy drinking brings about a two-fold increase in risk for a fatal heart attack, even as moderate drinking has been shown to reduce risk (the red wine effect). About 65 percent of Americans drink alcohol, with 15 percent reporting binge patterns in a national survey of problem drinkers.

 

Alcoholic beverages contain ethanol, which is mostly converted into acetaldehyde once in the human system at 'binge' levels, with the levels of acetaldehyde remaining high for many hours after the binge has ended. The current study clarified for the first time that binge levels of acetaldehyde cause an important type of immune cell, the monocyte, to become better able to stick to blood vessel walls, an important step in initiating atherosclerotic disease. Clarifying these mechanisms promises to empower the design of new treatments to counter the effects when combined with lifestyle change, researchers said.

 

In the past, experts believed that atherosclerosis developed when too much cholesterol clogged arteries with fatty deposits called plaques. When blood vessels became completely blocked, heart attacks occurred. Now most believe that the reaction of the body's immune system, more than the build-up itself, creates heart attack risk. Vessel walls mistake fatty deposits for intruders, akin to bacteria, and call for help from the immune system. Among other cell types, monocytes arrive with the goal of preventing infection, but end up causing inflammation that drives blood vessel blockage.

 

"Factors like binge-drinking have been linked to increased risk for heart disease, and the newer inflammatory model is beginning to explain how," said John Cullen, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Rochester Medical Center. "One of our experiments found that acetaldehyde, at levels found in the blood after binge drinking, increased the number of monocytes that can adhere to cells lining blood vessels by 700 percent," said Cullen, who led the study.

 

Health psychologists argue that motivating people to stop binging depends upon their belief that it is harming them. Thus, the authors of the current study hope the results empower public health campaigns that discourage binge drinking.

 

Specifically, the current study found that acetaldehyde stimulated monocyte adhesion through its effect on three important proteins, CCR2, P-selectin, and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα).

 

Further studies are underway to confirm that these actions of acetaldehyde underlie, in part, the detrimental effects of binge drinking on cardiovascular disease.

 

What to Do:

 

*If you plan to drink, limit your intake to less than four drinks (men), and three drinks (women), in two hours.

 

*Spread your holiday drinking out or try drinking sparkling apple juice; it’s a healthy and tasty alternative.

 

For more on heart disease and binge drinking, click on:

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081126081403.htm

 

December 19, 2008

 

Breast Cancer: Taking Hormones May Be Linked Genetically

 

Breast cancer, the leading cause of death among women in France, is the most commonly occurring cancer in women. Sporadic breast cancer, which is non-hereditary, turns out to be the most widespread, representing 85 to 90% of all cases, but remains the least well-known. Researchers at CNRS and CEA (1), working with a team from Hôpital Saint-Louis (2), have just discovered the cause of 50% of sporadic breast cancers.

 

The results should also explain epidemiological studies which suggest that hormone treatment predisposes patients to breast cancer. The work is published in Cancer Research.

 

More than four out of five breast cancers are not related to hereditary factors. These cancers, which are called sporadic, are due to causes which were until recently considered complex and poorly understood. On the other hand, hereditary forms of cancer, which represent only 10 to 15% of breast cancers, have for years been the subjects of studies, work which has resulted in the identification of ten genes whose mutation increases the risk of cancer in an individual.

 

A link between hereditary and sporadic cancers It turns out that the AKT1 protein is over-expressed in 50% of sporadic breast cancers. Could this protein play a key role in predisposition to non hereditary breast cancer? Results from this study show a single, previously undetected, link between sporadic and hereditary cancers: the DNA damage response system.

 

The researchers have also suggested that hormone treatment may confer upon patients a predisposition to breast cancer. As AKT1 is activated by hormones, hormone treatment (3) could indeed, in some cases, result in the chronic activation of the molecule. If this is the case, it could lead to a deregulation of the BRCA1 gene, and, as a result, to breast cancer. These first results still need to be confirmed, something that the team led by Bernard Lopez (4) will do soon through further laboratory and clinical studies.

 

For more on genetic ties between breast cancer and hormones, click on:

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081121081059.htm

 

Diabetes: Diuretics May Put You at Risk

 

Johns Hopkins researchers have discovered that a drop in blood potassium levels caused by diuretics commonly prescribed for high blood pressure could be the reason why people on those drugs are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. The drugs helpfully accelerate loss of fluids, but also deplete important chemicals, including potassium, so that those who take them are generally advised to eat bananas and other potassium-rich foods to counteract the effect.

 

"Previous studies have told us that when patients take diuretic thiazides, potassium levels drop and the risk of diabetes climbs to 50 percent," says lead researcher Tariq Shafi, M.D., M.H.S., of the Department of Nephrology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "Now, for the first time, we think we have concrete information connecting the dots."

 

Thiazides, such as chlorthalidone, are an inexpensive and highly effective way to treat high blood pressure and have been used widely for decades. However, their association with diabetes has forced many hypertension suffers to use other medications that can be several times as expensive, says Shafi.

 

"This study shows us that as long as physicians monitor and regulate potassium levels, thiazides could be used safely, saving patients thousands of dollars a year," says Shafi. "It could be as simple as increasing the consumption of potassium-rich foods like bananas and oranges and/or reducing salt intake, both of which will keep potassium from dropping."

 

The results, published online this month in the journal Hypertension, showed that for each 0.5 milliequivalent-per-liter (MEq/L) decrease in serum potassium, there was a 45 percent increased risk of diabetes. None of the people in the group receiving the fake drug developed low potassium levels. Shafi says these findings should encourage physicians to establish a potassium baseline by checking hypertensive patients' medical records to determine their potassium levels before prescribing thiazides.

 

"We would normally look at the number only after six weeks of treatment to make sure it was not low enough to cause heart problems. As a result, we might not be aware that it dropped significantly from where it was before treatment — putting the patient at risk for developing diabetes," says Shafi.

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081124165257.htm

 

December 18, 2008

 

Cancer: Nausea Due to Radiotherapy Reduced by Acupuncture with or without Needles

 

Acupuncture works - but it works equally well with or without needle penetration. This conclusion can be drawn from a treatment study involving cancer patients suffering from nausea during radiotherapy.

 

The acupuncture study of 215 patients who were undergoing radiation treatment in the abdomen or pelvic region chose by lot one of these two acupuncture types.

 

109 received traditional acupuncture, with needles penetrating the skin in particular points. According to ancient Chinese tradition, the needle is twisted until a certain 'needle sensation' arises. The other 106 patients received a simulated acupuncture instead, with a telescopic, blunt placebo needle that merely touches the skin.

 

The acupuncture was performed by physiotherapists two or three times a week throughout the five-week radiation period.

 

Afterwards 95 percent of the patients in both groups felt that the acupuncture treatment had helped relieve nausea, and 67 percent had experienced other positive effects such as improved sleep, brighter mood, and less pain.

 

The final study shows that patients that received traditional or simulated acupuncture felt considerably better than the group that had only received care following ordinary routines. The difference, 37 percent compared with 63 percent of nauseous patients, is statistically significant. On the other hand, there was no difference between the two acupuncture groups.

 

The effects therefore seem not be due to the traditional acupuncture method, as was previously thought, but rather a result of the increased care the treatment entails. Patients could converse with the physiotherapists, they were touched, and they had extra time for rest and relaxation.

 

For more on the study, click on:

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081201082353.htm

 

December 17, 2008

 

Vitamin K May Help Prevent Diabetes in Men and Women Who Aren’t Oveweight

 

Vitamin K slowed the development of insulin resistance in elderly men in a study of 355 non-diabetic men and women ages 60 to 80 who completed a three-year clinical trial at the Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University (USDA HNRCA).

 

"Men who received vitamin K supplementation had less progression in their insulin resistance by the end of the clinical trial," said Sarah Booth, senior author and director of the Vitamin K Laboratory at the USDA HNRCA. Because many of the women in the study were overweight, the researchers believe Vitamin K did not help them as much. This could be because vitamin K is stored in the fat; “…if there is excess fat, vitamin K may not be readily available to cells that require it to process glucose.”

 

Among those given vitamin K, both men and women took daily multivitamins containing 500 micrograms of vitamin K, five times the Adequate Intake (AI) recommended by the Institute of Medicine's Food and Nutrition Board, with instructions to maintain normal diets without any additional supplementation. They also received a calcium and vitamin D supplement. Men and women in the control group received no vitamin K supplementation but did receive the multivitamin and the calcium and vitamin D supplement. For the present study, insulin resistance was assessed by the homeostasis model (HOMA-IR). Additionally, participants' blood glucose and blood insulin levels were measured following a minimum 10-hour fast. In addition to improved insulin resistance, the supplemented men had lower blood insulin levels compared to the unsupplemented men at the conclusion of the study.

 

Insulin is a hormone which plays a role in transporting sugar into cells so it can be converted into energy. A pre-cursor to diabetes, insulin resistance occurs when the body cannot use insulin properly, causing glucose to build up in the blood. People who are obese or overweight are prone to insulin resistance because excess fat can interfere with insulin function.

 

Food Sources of Vitamin K:

 

Although vitamin K supplements were used for the study, the authors say the study dosage is attainable by consuming a healthy diet. Foods considered good sources of vitamin K include brussels sprouts, broccoli, and dark, leafy greens, such as spinach and collards.

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081126122211.htm

 

December 16, 2008

 

For Depression, Cognitive Group Therapy More Effective Than Prescription Drugs

 

Research shows for the first time that a group-based psychological treatment, Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), could be a viable alternative to prescription drugs for people suffering from long-term depression.

 

In a study, published December 1, 2008 in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, MBCT proved as effective as maintenance anti-depressants in preventing a relapse and more effective in enhancing peoples' quality of life. The study also showed MBCT to be as cost-effective as prescription drugs in helping people with a history of depression stay well in the longer-term.

 

The randomised control trial involved 123 people from urban and rural locations who had suffered repeat depressions and were referred to the trial by their GPs. The participants were split randomly into two groups. Half continued their on-going anti-depressant drug treatment and the rest participated in an MBCT course and were given the option of coming off anti-depressants.

 

Over the 15 months after the trial, 47% of the group following the MBCT course experienced a relapse compared with 60% of those continuing their normal treatment, including anti-depressant drugs. In addition, the group on the MBCT programme reported a higher quality of life, in terms of their overall enjoyment of daily living and physical well-being.

 

During the eight-week trial, groups of between eight and fifteen people met with one therapist. They learned a range of meditation exercises that they could continue to practice on their own once the course ended. Many of the exercises were based on Buddhist meditation techniques and helped the individual take time to focus on the present, rather than dwelling on past events, or planning for future tasks. The exercises worked in a different way for each person, but many reported greater acceptance of, and more control over, negative thoughts and feelings.

 

Professor Willem Kuyken of the University of Exeter said: "Anti-depressants are widely used by people who suffer from depression and that's because they tend to work. But, while they're very effective in helping reduce the symptoms of depression, when people come off them they are particularly vulnerable to relapse. MBCT takes a different approach – it teaches people skills for life. What we have shown is that when people work at it, these skills for life help keep people well."

 

One participant explains how the techniques learned on the trial have helped him in his daily life: "It's helped me immensely. It's given me the ability to come up against something that would have previously thrown me, think it through, come up with a solution and then move on. It's helped me deal with recurrent thoughts."

 

He says: "My view of the world has changed and I look at life in a new light. I'm much more cheerful and positive. Other people noticed a change. My friends and family were very quick to comment that I was showing an improvement."

 

Di concludes: "It was very worthwhile and I would highly recommend it to anyone who has similar problems. It's a very sound way of combating mental illness and promoting mental health."

 

The group context of MBCT can help participants share their individual experiences of depression, and find common ground in symptoms suffered and warning signs to heed, and help keep each other "on track" with the practical homework involved. Stephen, another participant, believes that, in addition to the group's support, self-discipline helped him complete the eight week course and has been essential for him to continue regular practice at home. He says: "Persistence and determination are necessary during the course and become even more vital when you're on your own."

 

For more details on the study and the therapy, click on:

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081130201928.htm

December 15, 2008

 

What Works To Prevent Child Abuse?

 

A collaborative study involving the University of Warwick and academic colleagues from Canada, New Zealand, and America examined all five major subtypes of child maltreatment – physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, neglect and exposure to intimate-partner violence.

 

Key findings from the paper on interventions show that the strongest evidence about ‘what works’ comes from studies about preventing abuse before it has occurred. These show that

 

*interventions such as the Nurse Family Partnership home visiting programme, which begins in pregnancy, and is currently being trialled at 20 sites in the UK, is effective in preventing physical abuse and neglect. (The US has a similar program)

 

*training of the existing childcare workforce in the use of the Triple P Positive Parenting Programme alongside other universal media and communication strategies may also prevent abuse and deserves further research

 

*hospital based education programmes that teach new parents about the dangers of infant shaking and ways to handle persistent crying can help.

 

*school based educational programmes appear to have a role in improving children’s knowledge and protective behaviours although it is not yet clear whether they prevent sexual abuse.

 

*parent-child interaction therapy is one of the few interventions that have been shown to prevent the recurrence of child physical abuse, and the review identifies a number of ways of working with children traumatised by abuse to prevent further impairment.

 

*the evidence also suggests that children who are removed from abusive homes and placed in foster care have better outcomes, as do children who are not later reunified with their biological parents. Enhanced foster care, leads to better mental health outcomes for children compared with traditional foster care.

 

For more on the study, click on:

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081203084526.htm

 

December 14, 2008

 

You May Need More Vitamin D to Prevent Heart Disease & Stroke

 

A growing body of evidence links low vitamin D levels to common risk factors such as hypertension, obesity and diabetes, as well as major cardiovascular events including stroke and congestive heart failure.

 

In their review article, published in the December, 9, 2008, issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC), the authors issue practical recommendations to screen for and treat low vitamin D levels, especially those with risk factors for heart disease or diabetes.

 

It is estimated that up to half of U.S. adults and 30 percent of children and teenagers have vitamin D deficiency of the heart and blood vessels.

 

Although most of the body's vitamin D requirements can come from sun exposure, indoor lifestyles and use of sunscreen, which eliminates 99 percent of vitamin D synthesis by the skin, means many people aren't producing enough.

 

Vitamin D can also be consumed through supplements and food intake. Natural food sources of vitamin D include salmon, sardines, cod liver oil, and vitamin D-fortified foods including milk and some cereals.

 

Major risk factors for vitamin D deficiency include: older age, darkly pigmented skin, increased distance from the equator, winter season, smoking, obesity, renal or liver disease and certain medications.

 

Taking Vitamin D as a supplement:

 

1,000 to 2,000 IU vitamin D3 daily

 

OR

 

Sunlight exposure for 10 minutes for Caucasian patients (longer for people with increased skin pigmentation) between the hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

 

Note: Vitamin D supplements appear to be safe. In rare cases, vitamin D toxicity (causing high calcium levels and kidney stones) is possible, but only when taking in excess of 20,000 units a day.

 

For more on Vitamin D, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081201200032.htm

 

December 13, 2008

 

Parents with an “Empty Next” May Improve their Marriage

 

The phrase “empty nest” can conjure up images of sad and lonely parents sitting at home, twiddling their thumbs, waiting for their children to call or visit, but a new study suggests that an empty nest may have beneficial effects on the parents’ marriage.

 

University of California, Berkeley psychologists tracked the marital satisfaction of a group of women over 18 years, from the time they were in their 40s to when they were in their early 60s.

 

The results of this study revealed that marital satisfaction increased as the women got older. Marital satisfaction increased for women who stayed with the same partners and for women who remarried.

 

Women who had made the transition to an empty nest increased more in marital satisfaction than women who still had children at home. The results suggest that women whose children had left home enjoyed their time with their partners more compared to women whose children were still at home. In other words, it was an increase in the quality, and not the quantity, of time spent together once children moved out, that led to increases in marital satisfaction.

 

Gorchoff is quick to point out that the results do not suggest that all children should be sent away to boarding school for the sake of their parents’ marriage. Rather, she notes that “this research does suggest that women should not wait until their children leave home to schedule enjoyable time with their partners.”

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081202133236.htm

 

December 12, 2008

 

Exercise to Reduce Risk of Alzheimer’s

 

Older adults who exercise regularly show increased cerebral blood flow and a greater number of small blood vessels in the brain, according to findings presented December 2, 2008  at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

 

The study, conducted at the University of North Carolina (UNC) – Chapel Hill, is the first to compare brain scans of older adults who exercise to brain scans of those who do not.

 

"Our results show that exercise may reduce age-related changes in brain vasculature and blood flow," said presenter Feraz Rahman, M.S., currently a medical student at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. "Other studies have shown that exercise prevents cognitive decline in the elderly. The blood vessel and flow differences may be one reason."

 

The results showed that the inactive group exhibited fewer small blood vessels in the brain, along with more unpredictable blood flow through the brain.

 

For more about the study, click on:

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081201081727.htm

 

December 11, 2008

 

Is Gastric Surgery a Good Choice for the Severely Obese?

 

Severely obese patients who underwent two different gastric bypass techniques had lost up to 31 per cent of their Body Mass Index (BMI) after four years, with no deaths reported among the 50 study subjects, according to the November issue of the British Journal of Surgery.

 

The number of patients suffering from high blood pressure fell by 76 per cent, diabetes fell by 90 per cent and cases of dyslipidaemia – abnormal concentrations of lipids or lipoproteins in the blood – fell by 77 per cent.

 

However 29 complications were reported in 27 patients, including minor wound infections and narrowing of the anastomotic suture, and ten patients had to be operated on again in the four-year period after surgery.

For more about the study, click on:

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081118071426.htm

 

December 10, 2008

 

Cancer Decreasing Because of Smoking Cessation and Screening, Not Treatment

 

Improvements in behavior and screening have contributed greatly to the 13 percent decline in cancer mortality since 1990, with better cancer treatments playing a supporting role, according to new research from David Cutler of Harvard University.

 

In this research, the reasons for the decline vary by type of cancer, but screening and behavioral changes have contributed both equally and substantially.

 

Behavioral changes have had the greatest effect on lung cancer, Cutler says, where smoking cessation has had a tremendous impact. Other types of cancer have not been similarly impacted by the reduction in smoking. "The immense effort put into reducing smoking the past few decades has really paid off," Cutler noted.

 

In contrast, screening has proven especially effective in early detection of colorectal and breast cancer, but less so in identifying lung or prostate cancer. Colonoscopies also have a preventive value in removing polyps, and so preventing the formation of colon cancer.

 

Cutler found that treatment of cancer after its detection has been the least decisive of the three factors in cutting the cancer mortality rate.

 

"Drugs that are quite expensive have been shown to extend life by only a few months among patients with metastatic cancer, which raises questions about the relative value of such costly treatments," he says. "In contrast, while screening can be expensive, increased screening has led to significantly longer life expectancy for those diagnosed early with colorectal or breast cancer."

 

"We typically think of the war on cancer as developing a new cure," says Cutler. "An equally important question is figuring out how we can take what we know and make it work for more people. We should think about the war as not just developing the next weapon, but using what we have in a smarter way. A health care system working for cancer would prevent people from getting it, catch it early, and then treat people accordingly. If our healthcare sys-tem was focused in this way, there could be a huge benefit."

 

The research was funded by the National Institutes on Aging.

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081202133224.htm

 

December 9, 2008

 

Exercise can Reduce Anger Expression in Overweight Children

 

The first published study on the topic looked at 208 typically sedentary 7- to 11-year-olds who participated in a 10-15 week afterschool aerobic exercise program or maintained their usual inactive routine. The Pediatric Anger Expression Scale, used to gauge common anger expressions such as slamming doors and hitting, was given before and after the program. Exercise had a significant impact on anger expression in children.

 

The finding fits with evidence that exercise reduces depression and anxiety in children and with what's considered common knowledge that exercise helps adults manage anger, she said.

 

What to Do:

 

*If you’re a parent, grandparent, or caregiver, keep children moving and share this study with teachers.

 

*If you’re a teacher, push for physical activity for kids at your school; exercise can help kids control their behavior.

 

Other research on overweight children has shown regular physical activity not only reduces fatness but improves cognition and reduces insulin resistance – which can lead to diabetes.

 

For more about the study and more suggestions, click on:

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081124130951.htm

 

December 8, 2008

 

Eat Less Protein and Cereal Grains to Strengthen Bones

 

A new study found that increasing the alkali content of the diet, with a pill or through a diet rich in fruits and vegetables has the opposite effect and strengthens skeletal health.

 

Calcium and vitamin D have received the most attention regarding bone health but there is increasing evidence that the acid/base balance of the diet is also important.

 

Average older adults consume diets that, when metabolized, add acid to the body, increase bone resorption, a process by which bones are broken down to release minerals such as calcium, phosphates, and alkaline (basic) salts into the blood, leading to declines in bone mass and increases in fracture risk.

 

Eating fruits and vegetables means that when they are metabolized they add bicarbonate, an alkaline compound, to the body;  bicarbonate has a favorable effect on bone resorption and calcium excretion.

 

In this study, 171 men and women aged 50 and older were randomized to receive placebo or doses of either: potassium bicarbonate, sodium bicarbonate, or potassium chloride for three months. Researchers found that subjects taking bicarbonate had significant reductions in calcium excretion, signaling a decrease in bone resorption.

 

For more about the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081203084314.htm

December 7, 2008

 

Getting Kids to Eat more Whole Grains

 

Elementary school students will eat more whole grains when healthier bread products are gradually introduced into their school lunches, a new University of Minnesota study shows.

 

Whole grain breads are strongly recommended as part of a healthy diet, but children and pre-teens won't always eat them. The study included meals fed to kindergartners through sixth-graders at two Hopkins, Minn., elementary schools over the course of a school year. Students didn't throw away more bread products until the percentage of whole-grain flour in the bread and rolls reached about 70 percent.

 

The research is important because it shows that a gradual approach to improving children's overall diets can be successful both for parents and school food-service workers, said Len Marquart, one of the study's authors and an associate professor at the university.

 

For more about the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081107143845.htm

 

December 6, 2008

 

Unhappiness and TV

 

Are happy or unhappy people more attracted to television? This question is addressed by a new 30-year analysis of US national data of nearly 30,000 adults by John Robinson and Steven Martin from the University of Maryland in the US. Examining the activity patterns of happy and less happy people in the General Social Survey (GSS) between 1975 and 2006, the authors found that happy people were more socially active, attended more religious services, voted more and read more newspapers.

 

In contrast, unhappy people watched significantly more television in their spare time. Unhappy people watched an estimated 20 percent more television than very happy people, after controlling for their education, income, age and marital status - as well as other demographic predictors of both viewing and happiness.

 

Unhappy people were also more likely to have unwanted extra time on their hands (51 percent) compared to very happy people (19 percent) and to feel rushed for time (35 percent vs. 23 percent). Of the two, having extra time on their hands was the bigger burden.

 

Professor Martin concluded by making a comparison with addiction: "Addictive activities produce momentary pleasure but long-term misery and regret. People most vulnerable to addiction tend to be socially or personally disadvantaged, with TV becoming an opiate."

 

For more about the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081113080006.htm

 

December 5, 2008

 

Pycnogenol May Protect Against Alzheimer’s

 

Oxidative stress is one of the hypotheses involved in the cause of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Pycnogenol (PYC) has antioxidant properties and stabilizes intracellular antioxidant defense systems including glutathione levels. A recent study investigated the

protective effects of PYC on oxidative cell toxicity in

cultured SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells. The researchers found PYC significantly stopped protein damage and cell death. These protective effects provide support that PYC may provide a promising

approach for the treatment of oxidative stress-related

neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

 

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18822368?dopt=AbstractPlus

 

December 4, 2008

 

Staying Calm: Research-Based Tips

 

 “Research suggests that the subdued green light enhances the production of dopamine in the brain and provide a calming sensation. In addition, the artificial blue sky helps create a mild form of sensory deprivation that will help them turn their attention inward and distract them away from daily stress.”

 

Combat Stress with Simple Measures

 

Are you stressed? If you answer yes to the following questions, you may be:

 

1) Do you seem to glance at your watch more than others?

 

2) When someone takes too long to get to the point, do you feel like hurrying them along?

 

3) Are you often the first person to finish at mealtimes?

 

4) When walking along a street, do you often feel frustrated because you are stuck behind others?

 

5) Would you become irritable if you sit for an hour without doing anything?

 

6) Do you walk out of restaurants or shops if you encounter even a short queue?

 

7) If you are caught in slow-moving traffic, do you seem to get more annoyed than other drivers?

 

Stress busting tips:

 

Being stressed can increase your blood pressure, affect your ability to concentrate, and weaken your immune system.

 

Those who can’t make it to the world’s most relaxing room might want to try the following 10 techniques to help combat stress:

 

1) Head for the countryside. Research shows that spending around thirty minutes in green and quiet surroundings will make you feel significantly more relaxed.

 

2) Listen to soothing music. Listening to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, a relaxation tape, or nature sounds lowers your blood pressure.

 

3) Carry out a relaxation exercise. Starting at your toes and working upwards, spend a few moments slowly tensing, and then releasing, the muscles of each part of your body.

 

4) Spend time with friends. Being with people you like helps distract you from anxious thoughts and lifts your mood.

 

5) Help others. Research shows that even carrying out a small act of kindness, such as making a donation to charity, helps improve your mood and decreases stress.

 

6) Accept what you can’t change. There is no point dwelling on the past, or thinking about what can’t be altered. Instead, focus on how you can create a better future.

 

7) Smile more. Don’t take life too seriously, and improve your ability to cope with stressful situations by seeing the funny side of whatever happens.

 

8) Use lavender. Research shows that most people find the smell of lavender especially relaxing, and that it also helps them get a good night’s sleep.

 

9) Hit the gym. Exercise promotes the production of endorphins, which, in turn, make you feel better about yourself and become more relaxed.

 

10) Look at the sky. If it is a nice day, lie on the grass, look up at a clear sky, and allow positive thoughts and images to drift through your mind.

 

For the full article, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081020192707.htm

 

December 3, 2008

 

Potassium as Important as Sodium in High Blood Pressure

 

“The lower the potassium in the urine, hence the lower the potassium in the diet, the higher the blood pressure," says Dr. Hedayati, who led the study. "This effect was even stronger than the effect of sodium on blood pressure."

 

The relationship between low potassium and high blood pressure remained significant even when age, race, and other cardiovascular risk factors—including high cholesterol, diabetes, and smoking—were taken into account.

 

Previous studies, including the landmark “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension” study (DASH), have linked potassium deficiency to high blood pressure.  The new results support this conclusion, and provide important new data on the relationship between potassium and blood pressure in a sample that was 50% African American.  "Our study included a high percentage of African-Americans, who are known to consume the lowest amounts of potassium in the diet," according to Dr. Hedayati.

 

Meanwhile, they urge efforts to increase the amount of potassium in the diet, as well as lowering sodium.  "High-potassium foods include fruits such as bananas and citrus fruits and vegetables," says Dr. Hedayati.  "Consuming a larger amount of these foods in the diet may lower blood pressure."

 

For more about the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081109074611.htm

 

December 2, 2008

 

Large Waist Doubles Risk of Dying Early

 

Having a large waistline can almost double your risk of dying prematurely even if your body mass index is within the 'normal' range, according to a new study of over 350,000 people across Europe, published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

 

The study provides strong evidence that storing excess fat around the waist poses a significant health risk, even in people not considered to be overweight or obese. It suggests that doctors should measure a patient's waistline and their hips as well as their body mass index as part of standard health checks, according to the researchers, from Imperial College London, the German Institute of Human Nutrition, and other research institutions across Europe.

 

The risk of premature death was around double for subjects with a larger waist (more than 120cm or 47.2in for men and more than 100cm or 39.4in for women) compared to subjects with a smaller waist (less than 80cm or 31.5in for men and less than 65cm or 25.6in for women). Body mass index is commonly used to assess if a person is of 'normal' weight.

 

Each 5cm increase in waist circumference increased the mortality risk by 17% in men and 13% in women.

 

Professor Riboli added: "The good news is that you don't need to take an expensive test and wait ages for the result to assess this aspect of your health - it costs virtually nothing to measure your waist and hip size. Doctors and nurses can easily identify people who need to take certain steps to improve their health by routinely monitoring these measurements. If you have a large waist, you probably need to increase the amount of exercise you do every day, avoid excessive alcohol consumption and improve your diet. This could make a huge difference in reducing your risk of an early death."

 

For more about the study, click on:

from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081112194915.htm

 

December 1, 2008

 

Vitamin Can Lower Inflammation in Heart Disease Help as Much as Statins

 

A new study led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, adds to the evidence that vitamin C supplements can lower concentrations of C-reactive protein (CRP), a central biomarker of inflammation that has been shown to be a powerful predictor of heart disease and diabetes. The same study found no benefit from daily doses of vitamin E, another antioxidant.

 

The study led by Block, currently online and scheduled to appear in the Jan. 1 issue of the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine, shows that for healthy, non-smoking adults with an elevated level of CRP, a daily dose of vitamin C lowered levels of the inflammation biomarker after two months compared with those who took a placebo. Participants who did not start out with elevated CRP levels saw no benefit from vitamin C supplementation.

 

"This is an important distinction; treatment with vitamin C is ineffective in persons whose levels of CRP are less than 1 milligram per liter, but very effective for those with higher levels," said Block. "Grouping people with elevated CRP levels with those who have lower levels can mask the effects of vitamin C. Common sense suggests, and our study confirms, that biomarkers are only likely to be reduced if they are not already low."

 

The researchers said that for people with elevated CRP levels, the amount of CRP reduction achieved by taking vitamin C supplements in this study is comparable to that in many other studies of cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins. They noted that several larger statin trials lowered CRP levels by about 0.2 milligrams per liter; in this latest study, vitamin C lowered CRP by 0.25 milligrams per liter.

 

"This finding of an effect of vitamin C is important because it shows in a carefully conducted randomized, controlled trial that for people with moderately elevated levels of inflammation, vitamin C may be able to reduce CRP as much as statins have done in other studies," said Block.

 

The UC Berkeley-led study looked at the separate effects of two antioxidants: vitamin C and vitamin E. The researchers randomly divided 396 healthy, non-smoking adults from the San Francisco Bay Area into groups taking daily doses of either 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C, 800 international units of vitamin E or a placebo. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin C is 90 milligrams per day for men and 75 milligrams per day for women. The researchers noted that the suggested upper limit for vitamin C is 2,000 milligrams per day, or twice the level used in the study.

 

Participants who had baseline CRP levels less than 1 milligram per liter saw no significant effect on CRP levels after taking vitamin C supplements. However, those who started off with CRP levels of 1 milligram per liter or higher saw a 16.7 percent drop in levels after two months of treatment with vitamin C.

 

For people who have elevated CRP but not elevated LDL cholesterol, our data suggest that vitamin C should be investigated as an alternative to statins, or as something to be used to delay the time when statin use becomes necessary."

 

For more about the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081113091630.htm

 

November 30, 2008

 

Green Tea May Prevent or Delay Diabetes

 

A powerful antioxidant in green tea may prevent or delay the onset of type 1 diabetes, Medical College of Georgia researchers say.

 

Researchers treated a control group of mice with water and a test group with a purified form of EGCG dissolved in the drinking water. At 16 weeks, the EGCG-fed mice were 6.1 times more likely to be diabetes-free than the water-fed group, and 4.2 times more likely at 22 weeks.

 

The proliferation phenomenon also can be observed in psoriasis, an autoimmune disease affecting the skin and joints, says Dr. Hsu. "Normal skin cells turn over every 30 days or so, but skin cells with psoriasis turn over every two or three days." Dr. Hsu's group previously found that green tea polyphenols, including EGCG, inhibited rapid proliferation in an animal model for human psoriasis.

 

"The benefit of using green tea in preventing or slowing these autoimmune diseases is that it's natural and not known to harm the body," says Dr. Gillespie, periodontics chief resident at Fort Gordon's Tingay Dental Clinic. "EGCG doesn't have the negative side-effects that can be associated with steroids or other medications that could otherwise be prescribed."

 

For more on the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081023144119.htm

 

 

November 29, 2008

 

Eat Whole Grains to Reduce Heart Failure Risk

 

About 5 million people in the United States suffer from heart failure (HF). While some reports indicate that changes to diet can reduce HF risk, few large, prospective studies have been conducted. In a new study researchers observed over 14,000 participants for more than 13 years and found that whole grain consumption lowered HF risk, while egg and high-fat dairy consumption raised risk. Other food groups did not directly affect HF risk.

 

Writing in the new article, Jennifer A. Nettleton, Ph.D., states, “Although risk estimates were modest (7% lower risk per 1-serving increase in whole grain intake; 8% greater risk per 1-serving increase in high-fat dairy intake; 23% greater risk per 1-serving increase in egg intake), the totality of literature in this area suggests it would be prudent to recommend that those at high risk of HF increase their intake of whole grains and reduce intake of high-fat dairy and eggs, along with following other healthful dietary practices consistent with those recommended by the American Heart Association.”

 

For more about the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081027082230.htm

 

November 28, 2008

 

Aging: How to Thrive

 

Older adults who have a positive outlook, lower stress levels, moderate alcohol consumption, abstention from tobacco, moderate to higher income and no chronic health conditions are more likely to thrive in their old age, according to a study that examined factors over a decade.

 

"Many of these factors can be modified when you are young or middle-aged," said David Feeny, PhD, co-author and senior investigator at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research. "While these findings may seem like common sense, now we have evidence about which factors contribute to exceptional health during retirement years."

For more about the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081027140726.htm

 

November 27, 2008

 

Itching and Stress

 

Current research suggests that stress may activate immune cells in your skin, resulting in inflammatory skin disease.

 

Skin provides the first level of defense to infection, serving not only as a physical barrier, but also as a site for white blood cells to attack invading bacteria and viruses. The immune cells in skin can over-react, however, resulting in inflammatory skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis and psoriasis.

 

Stress can trigger an outbreak in patients suffering from inflammatory skin conditions. This cross talk between stress perception, which involves the brain, and the skin is mediated the through the "brain-skin connection".

 

For more about the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081027082123.htm

 

November 26, 2008

 

Relationships: Attracting a Man

 

Two University of Rochester psychologists have been examining the answer to the old question of what attracts men to women.

 

Through five psychological experiments, Andrew Elliot, professor of psychology, and Daniela Niesta, post-doctoral researcher, demonstrated that the color red makes men feel more amorous toward women. And men are unaware of the role the color plays in their attraction.

 

The research provides the first empirical support for society's enduring love affair with red. From the red ochre used in ancient rituals to today's red-light districts and red hearts on Valentine's Day, the rosy hue has been tied to carnal passions and romantic love across cultures and millennia. But this study, said Elliot, is the only work to scientifically document the effects of color on behavior in the context of relationships.

 

"It's only recently that psychologists and researchers in other disciplines have been looking closely and systematically at the relationship between color and behavior. Much is known about color physics and color physiology, but very little about color psychology," said Elliot. "It's fascinating to find that something as ubiquitous as color can be having an effect on our behavior without our awareness."

 

"Our research demonstrates a parallel in the way that human and nonhuman male primates respond to red," concluded the authors. "In doing so, our findings confirm what many women have long suspected and claimed – that men act like animals in the sexual realm. As much as men might like to think that they respond to women in a thoughtful, sophisticated manner, it appears that at least to some degree, their preferences and predilections are, in a word, primitive."

 

In another study, the shirt of the woman in the photograph, instead of the background, was digitally colored red or blue. In this experiment, men were queried not only about their attraction to the woman, but their intentions regarding dating. One question asked: "Imagine that you are going on a date with this person and have $100 in your wallet. How much money would you be willing to spend on your date?"

 

Under all of the conditions, the women shown framed by or wearing red were rated significantly more attractive and sexually desirable by men than the exact same women shown with other colors. When wearing red, the woman was also more likely to score an invitation to the prom and to be treated to a more expensive outing.

 

The red effect extends only to males and only to perceptions of attractiveness. Red did not increase attractiveness ratings for females rating other females and red did not change how men rated the women in the photographs in terms of likability, intelligence or kindness.

 

For more about the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081028074323.htm

 

November 25, 2008

 

Osteoporosis: Bisphosphonates May Create Serious Heart Disease

 

People who take bisphosphonates for osteoporosis may be at risk for serious atrial fibrillation (AF), or irregular heartbeats, according to a new study.

 

The research, presented at CHEST 2008, the 74th annual international scientific assembly of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP), shows that people taking alendronate or zoledronic acid, two common medications to prevent or slow the occurrence of osteoporosis, were significantly more likely to experience serious AF, including hospitalization or death, compared with placebo.

 

For more about the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081027101338.htm

 

Safe ways to protect against osteoporosis include:

 

*exercise, such as walking daily, to reverse bone loss

*put kelp in or on your foods (a rich source of important minerals)

*reduce or eliminate the following foods that may cause your body to excrete calcium:

  animal protein (meat, chicken, turkey, eggs, cheese, etc.), salt and sugar or sugary foods,  
  caffeine, alcohol, carbonated drinks/sodas, almonds, asparagus, beet greens, cashews,  chard, rhubarb, and spinach

*find alternatives to long-term use of corticosteroids, some diuretics, anti-seizure  medications, tranquilizers, anticoagulants, or sodium fluoride; calcitonin may help but  should not be taken by anyone with a history of kidney stones

*eat plenty of foods high in calcium and vitamin D: broccoli, chestnuts, clams, dandelion greens, most dark green leafy vegetables, flounder, hazelnuts, kale, kelp, molasses, oats,  oysters, salmon, sardines with bones, sea vegetables, sesame seeds/tahini, turnip greens and wheat germ

*eat foods that contain sulfur, which is needed for healthy bones: garlic and onions especially

*consume whole grains and calcium foods at different times

*avoid yeast (breads, beer and more; read labels)

*a cup of horsetail or oatstraw tea a day can help absorb calcium

*if taking a calcium supplement, calcium carbonate contains the most elemental calcium, but must be taken with meals; test the absorbability of your supplement by placing a tablet in a cup of vinegar and stirring it every few minutes; if it doesn’t dissolve in half an hour, choose another supplement

*you may need a digestive enzyme with betaine hydrochloride with meals to help you absorb calcium and other nutrients

 

For more on this topic, refer to Balch and Balch, Prescription for Nutritional Healing.

 

November 24, 2008

 

Parenting: Take Pictures of Your Child When Dirty and Crying to Add Abduction Efforts

 

People's ability to recognize abducted children is impaired when they view a photo of a smiling, clean child, but come into contact with the same child whose appearance is very different because he or she is upset, crying, disheveled or unkempt.

 

Two experiments were conducted to test the ability of adults to recognize children from photos. Over 150 adults were shown pictures of children that were either "cleaned up" as they would typically appear, in school photos, happy and clean, as well as a "dirtied up" picture, where the child looked dirty, tired, sad or angry.

 

Results from the study show that recognition is best when the original appearance of the child matched the appearance when memory is later tested.

 

The researchers have strongly suggested that parents have both types of pictures available (clean and dirty) in case their child is abducted or missing. "If both types of facial appearance were shown to the public or possible eyewitnesses, the chances of recognizing the child may increase," said Gier.

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081028205652.htm

 

November 23, 2008

 

Parenting: Help Children Face their Fears to Help Them Manage Anxiety

 

Helping children face their fears may be more productive than focusing on other techniques to help them manage their anxieties, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in Chicago.

 

The research, which identified similarities between cognitive behavioral therapy administered in a clinical practice and protocols recommended in common treatment manuals, showed that as children were taught to face their fears, their ability to function increased.

 

The study also showed that children were able to complete exercises exposing them to their fears much earlier than suggested in the treatment manuals. The more children focused on other techniques for managing their anxieties, however, the less improvement they showed in functioning.

 

According to Dr. Whiteside, treatment that was shorter and began exposures earlier than standard manuals recommended not only improved the children's ability to function but also could to be more cost-effective.

 

To read more about the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081029181548.htm

 

November 22, 2008

 

Pregnancy: Gaining More Than 40 Pounds While Pregnant Doubles Risk of Heavy Baby

 

A study by the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research of more than 40,000 women and their babies found that women who gained more than 40 pounds during their pregnancies were nearly twice as likely to have a heavy baby.

 

A big baby also poses serious risks for both mom and baby at birth--for mothers, vaginal tearing, bleeding, and often C-sections, and for the babies, stuck shoulders and broken collar bones.

"This is one more good reason to counsel women to gain the ideal amount of weight when they are pregnant," said study co-author Kim Vesco, MD, MPH, an obstetrician and gynecologist with Kaiser Permanente in Portand, Oregon. "From a practical standpoint, women who gain too much weight during pregnancy can have a very difficult time losing the weight after the baby is born."

 

The study followed 41,540 women who gave birth in Washington, Oregon and Hawaii from 1995-2003. More than 20 percent of the women who gained more than 40 pounds—which is the maximum recommended pregnancy weight gain--- gave birth to heavy babies. In contrast, less than 12 percent of women with normal weight gain had heavy babies.

 

At greatest risk were the women who gained more than 40 pounds and also had gestational diabetes; nearly 30 percent of them had heavy babies. That risk was significantly reduced-- to only 13 percent-- when women with gestational diabetes gained less than 40 pounds.

 

For more about the study, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081031102041.htm

 

November 21, 2008

Relationships: Do You Get Interrupted a Lot? Your Non-Verbal Messages May Be At Fault

 

People talk to exchange information. Yet understanding another person involves far more than just the content of the message. Only with the correct intonation and facial expression does the message acquire meaning. People can improve their communication skills by deliberately managing these non-verbal messages.

The former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was also regularly interrupted. The Iron Lady took no notice of this and carried on talking. Yet unconsciously she gave signals that she had finished speaking. One possible solution is to adjust the intonation and only to return eye contact when you have finished speaking.

 For complete article, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081015100041.htm

 November 20, 2008

High Blood Pressure and Chicken Soup

 

Chicken soup, that popular home remedy for the common cold sometimes known as "Grandma's Penicillin," may have a new role alongside medication and other medical measures in fighting high blood pressure, scientists in Japan are reporting.

 

Ai Saiga and colleagues cite previous studies indicating that chicken breast contains collagen proteins with effects similar to ACE inhibitors, mainstay medications for treating high blood pressure.

 

To read the complete article, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081013110117.htm

 

November 19, 2008

 

Parkinson's and Vitamin D

 

A majority of Parkinson's disease patients had insufficient levels of vitamin D in a new study from Emory University School of Medicine.

 

The fraction of Parkinson's patients with vitamin D insufficiency, 55 percent, was significantly more than patients with Alzheimer's disease (41 percent) or healthy elderly people (36 percent).

 

The finding adds to evidence that low vitamin D is associated with Parkinson's, says first author Marian Evatt, MD, assistant professor of neurology at Emory.

 

Most Americans get the majority of their vitamin D from exposure to sunlight or by dietary supplements; fortified foods such as milk and packaged cereals are a minor source. Only a few foods in nature contain substantial amounts of vitamin D, such as salmon and tuna.

 

The body's ability to produce vitamin D using UV-B radiation from the sun decreases with age, making older individuals at increased risk of vitamin D deficiency.

 

Doctors have known for decades that vitamin D plays a role in bone formation, Evatt says. More recently, scientists have been uncovering its effects elsewhere, including producing peptides that fight microbes in the skin, regulating blood pressure and insulin levels, and maintaining the nervous system. Low vitamin D levels also appear to increase the risk of several cancers and auto-immune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and diabetes.

 

Previous studies have shown that the part of the brain affected most by Parkinson's, the substantia nigra, has high levels of the vitamin D receptor, which suggests vitamin D may be important for normal functions of these cells, Evatt says.

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081013171503.htm

 

November 18, 2008

 

Do Cell Phones Increase the Risk of Brain Tumors?

 

  Major research initiatives are needed immediately to assess the possibility that using cellular phones may lead to an increased risk of brain tumors, according to an editorial in the November issue of the journal Surgical Neurology.

 

 Recent studies have raised concerns that long-term exposure to electromagnetic fields (ELF) from cell-phone handsets can increase the risk of brain cancers and other nervous system tumors, according to the editorial by Dr. Ron Pawl, a neurosurgeon at Lake Forest Hospital, Lake Forest, Ill. He calls for collaborative research initiatives to determine whether the link between cell phones and brain cancer is real.

 

Scientists have long been concerned over the possibility that ELF exposure may increase the risk of brain cancers. Until recently, however, research has shown no clear link between cell phone use and brain tumors.

 

Earlier this year, a Swedish research group published an epidemiologic study suggesting an increased risk of brain cancers (gliomas) as well as acoustic nerve tumors (neuromas) in people using cell phones for ten years or longer. Tumors were more likely to develop on the same side as the cell phone was used. Other studies by the same group suggested that the use of wireless handsets in cordless home phones posed the same risk.

 

After reviewing the evidence, one author even suggested that long-term cell phone use is "more dangerous to health than smoking cigarettes." Other recent commentators have raised similar concerns.

 

The findings are alarming in light of the exponential growth of cell phones—now including widespread use by children and teenagers. The damaging effects of ELF, if any, might be even greater in the developing brain.

 

The problem, according to Dr. Pawl, is that no other research groups have performed actual studies showing a clear relationship between brain tumors and ELF. He calls on scientific societies to play a leading role in designing and conducting studies that will definitively determine the risks of brain cancer associated with ELF exposure, particularly from cell phones. "It seems that a cooperative effort by both the scientific community and state governing bodies will be needed," writes Dr. Pawl. "Some spearhead is now necessary in view of the magnitude and seriousness of the situation."

 

To read the complete article, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081020093456.htm

 

November 17, 2008

 

Be Physically Active Now to Protect Yourself From and After a Stroke

 

A new study shows that people who are physically active before suffering a stroke may have less severe problems as a result and recover better compared to those who did not exercise before having a stroke.

 

The study found that the top 25 percent of people who exercised the most were two-and-a-half-times more likely to suffer a less severe stroke compared with people who were in the bottom quarter of the group. The most active also had a better chance of long-term recovery.

 

What you can do:

 

Exercise that can help protect you includes:

 

  • light housework,
  • taking a walk outside,
  • lawn care,
  • gardening or
  • participating in a sport

For the full article, click on:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081020171229.htm

 

November 16, 2008