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Health Bulletin


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  1. #1691
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Bowl of porridge slays heart disease

    A small bowl of porridge each day could be the key to a long and healthy life. A new long-term study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) has confirmed that eating more whole grains decreases a person's risk of death by up to 15% — particularly the risk from heart disease.

    The study also found that bran, a component of whole grain foods, was associated with similar beneficial effects with its intake linked with up to 6% lower overall death risk and up to 20% lower cardiovascular disease (CVD)-related risk.

    Whole grain intake was associated with up to 9% decreased risk of overall mortality and up to 15% decreased risk of CVD-related mortality. For each serving of whole grains (28g/day), the overall death risk dropped by 5%.


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  2. #1692
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Here's how chocolate keeps elders' brains sharp as they age

    Scientists have revealed that a diet rich in cocoa flavanols, can play an important role in maintaining cognitive health as people age.

    This study, conducted by researchers from Italy's University of L'Aquila and Mars, Incorporated, reinforces the results of several recent cognitive studies-throwing more light on the important role diet plays in maintaining cognitive health .

    Dr. Giovambattista Desideri, lead author on the paper said that the results of this study are encouraging-they support the idea that diet.

    This study was the second installment in a two-part investigation by this team into the effects cocoa flavanols have on the brain. The first study found cognitive and cardiometabolic benefits of habitual cocoa flavanol consumption in older adults who had been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Despite these findings, the question of the benefits of cocoa flavanols on cognitive function among individuals without MCI remained uncertain.

    This second study looked to address this question. Enrolling men and women aged 61-85 years with no evidence of cognitive dysfunction, the participants in this controlled, randomized, double-blind study were assigned to one of three flavanol groups, consuming a drink containing either high (993 mg), intermediate (520 mg) or low (48 mg) amounts of cocoa flavanols every day for eight weeks. The nutritionally matched drinks were specially prepared. The high- and intermediate-flavanol cocoa drinks were produced using Mars' patented Cocoapro process, while the low-flavanol drink was made with a highly processed, alkalized cocoa powder. Other than the inclusion of the test drink, normal diets and regular lifestyle were maintained throughout the study.

    At the start of the study and again after eight weeks, cognitive function was assessed using a battery of tests that examined memory, retention, recall, as well as executive function. Among those individuals who regularly consumed either the high- or intermediate-flavanol drinks, there were significant improvements in overall cognitive function after only eight weeks. As cognitive function was normal for this aged population, this study shows that even cognitively healthy individuals can quickly benefit from the regular inclusion of cocoa flavanols in their diets.

    The first study was published in the journal Hypertension in 2012, while the second was published in the AJCN.


  3. #1693
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Gene decides why some kids turn into troubled adults

    Researchers from North Carolina-based Duke University have identified a gene variant that may serve as a marker for children who are among society's most vulnerable.

    The findings are a step toward understanding the biology of what makes a child particularly sensitive to positive and negative environments.

    "This gives us an important clue about some of the children who need help the most," said Dustin Albert, research scientist at the Duke University's Centre for Child and Family Policy.

    The study found that children from high-risk backgrounds who also carried a certain common gene variant were extremely likely to develop serious problems as adults.

    Left untreated, 75 percent with the gene variant developed psychological problems by age 25, including alcohol abuse, substance abuse and antisocial personality disorder.

    The picture changed dramatically, though, when children with the gene variant participated in an intensive program called the Fast Track Project.

    During the project, researchers screened nearly 10,000 kindergartners for aggressive behaviour problems, identifying nearly 900 who were at high risk, and assigning half of that group to receive intensive help.

    After receiving support services in childhood, just 18 percent developed psychopathology as adults.

    "It is a hopeful finding. The children we studied were very susceptible to stress. But far from being doomed, they were instead particularly responsive to help," Albert noted.

    The findings could be a first step toward potential personalised treatments for some of society's most troubled children.

    The study appeared in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.


  4. #1694
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Emotional eating on the rise, biochemist tells ISC

    Emotional eating among Indians, especially among urban population is on the rise, a biochemist told the 102nd Indian Science Congress here today.

    Dr Jyoti Vora, Head Department of Biochemistry and Food Science and Quality Control at the Ruia College here was speaking at a symposium on the last day of the Congress, at Mumbai University's Kalina campus.
    "Food means different things to different people. We are emotionally involved with food. We eat when we feel lonely, also when we wish to celebrate and even when we are bored. Food not only meets the basic physical need but also social, emotional and psychological needs," she said.

    "Emotional eating is when you eat for reasons other than food. You are trying to satisfy your emotional requirements by eating," she said, adding that this type of eating was on the rise, specially among the urban populace.

    "When we began our research, we found that students are affected by this, be it over eating due to depression, boredom, loneliness and frustration," she said.

    "For example, if you don't eat what your friend has prepared, you feel bad and therefore you eat it," she said.

    "We selected students from 18 to 30 year age group and observed that a lot of the population of this category suffers from micro nutrients deficiency," she said.

    Vora blamed the tech savvy young generation's smartphone obsession to a lot of emotional eating.
    "The smartphone is a very non-smart idea as far as eating is concerned. Because most of the time we find students are playing with phones while eating. What they are eating from their tiffins could be sawdust for all you know because they are not paying attention to what they are eating," she added.

    Students said they tend to eat more when exams approach and still feel hungry, Vora said.


  5. #1695
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Anger may indicate good health in a few cultures

    Anger may actually be linked with better, not worse, health in certain cultures — contrary to the popular belief of West, a study suggests. "Many of us in Western societies naively believe that anger is bad for health," said Shinobu Kitayama of the University of Michigan.

    "But our study suggests that truism linking anger to ill health may be valid only within the cultural boundary of the 'West', where anger functions as an index of frustration, poverty, low status and everything else that potentially compromises health," said Kitayama.

    Researchers examined data from American participants drawn from the Midlife in the US survey and data from Japanese participants drawn from the Midlife in Japan survey.

    The data showed that greater anger expression was associated with increased biological health risk among American participants. But it was associated with reduced biological health risk among Japanese.

    Together, these findings suggest that the link between anger expression and health reflects different experiences across cultural contexts.


  6. #1696
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    It’s official: Music does bind mankind

    The 19th century writer Henry Wadsworth Longfellow called music the "universal language of mankind" and now there may be scientific proof he was right.

    Whether enjoyed by a hipster in a dive bar in downtown Montreal or at a Pygmy ceremony in the depths of the Congolese rainforest new research has found that music can emotionally affect different groups in precisely the same way.

    Academic researchers travelled to the Congo to study how an isolated group responded to music from Wagner to Star Wars. The Mbenzele Pygmies live without radio, television and even electricity.

    They compared the results with the way a group of Canadians from downtown Montreal responded to the same, largely classical, western music and that created by the Pygmies.

    "People have been trying to figure out for quite a while whether the way that we react to music is based on the culture that we come from or on some universal features of the music itself," said Stephen McAdams, from McGill's Schulich School of Music. "Now we know that it is actually a bit of both."

    Those participating would mark the end of each clip with an emoticon expressing how the music made them feel from a range of calm to excited. There were also tests using biosensors to check heart rate and sweat on the palms, the breathing rate and little sensors to measure changes in smiling and frowning muscles.

    Professor McAdams said the "arousal dimension in some of the fast-paced music as well as the slower-paced pieces caused the same response. There are a lot of different responses to music, often down to cultural issues, but there are universal ones too."

    The team, made up of researchers from McGill University, Technische Universitat Berlin and l'Universite de Montreal, played both groups 19 musical extracts of between 30 and 90 seconds long. They were comprised of 11 western pieces and eight by the Pygmies.


  7. #1697
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    More sun may mean fewer kids, grandkids

    Increased UV radiation can have an effect on human fertility over generations, a new study has warned.

    Researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) studied information from more than 9,000 people listed in the church records from 1750 to 1900 in Norway.

    Gine Roll Skjaervo found that children born in years with lots of solar activity had a higher probability of dying compared to children who were born in years with less solar activity.

    On average, the lifespan of children born in years that had a great deal of solar activity was 5.2 years shorter than other children. The largest difference was in the probability of dying during the first two years of life.

    Children who were born in years with lots of sunshine and who survived were also more likely to have fewer children, who in turn gave birth to fewer children than others.

    This finding shows that increased UV radiation during years of high solar activity had an effect across generations.

    Skjaervo used information on the number of sunspots as an indication of the amount of UV radiation in a given year. The number of sunspots reaches a maximum every 11 years on average, which results in more UV radiation on Earth during years with high sunspot and solar activity.

    UV radiation can have positive effects on human vitamin D levels, but it can also result in a reduction of vitamin B9 (folate). It is known that low folate levels during pregnancy are linked to higher child mortality.

    The NTNU study showed that families from the lowest socio-economic groups were most affected by UV radiation.

    This is probably related to the time period researchers studied, which was a time of clear class distinctions in Norway, especially in rural areas, the study said.

    Women who worked in the fields were more exposed to the sun than other women. In many cases they also had a poorer diet.

    "There are probably many factors that come into play, but we have measured a long-term effect over generations. The conclusion of our study is that you should not sunbathe if you are pregnant and want to have a lot of grandchildren," said Skjaervo.

    The study was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.


  8. #1698
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Playing catch helps elderlies improve balance

    The elderly can improve their balance and prevent falls with a simple training exercise of catching a weighted medicine ball, a study says.

    As people age, they lose the anticipatory postural control - the ability to ready themselves to maintain balance.

    In effect, the resources for maintaining balance become more limited, and people become less stable and more prone to falls.

    "Our group is the first to look at whether a specially designed rehabilitation protocol can enhance postural control adjustment and subsequently improve overall balance," said Alexander Aruin, professor of physical therapy at University of Illinois at Chicago.

    The researchers asked a group of healthy young adults to stand and catch a medicine ball. In the another study, they asked the same of a group of healthy older adults.

    The researchers measured the electrical activity of leg and trunk muscles to look for differences in the two age groups' ability to generate anticipatory postural adjustments both before and after the single short training session.

    Training-related improvements were seen in both groups.

    In older adults, the researchers found that not only can they improve, but they also improve at performing a task that was not part of the training.

    "There was a transfer effect," Aruin said.

    The findings appeared online in two journals: Electromyography and Kinesiology and Experimental Brain Research.


  9. #1699
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Nobel laureate sounds alarm over excessive antibiotic use

    Alarmed over the increasing use of antibiotics to treat even common ailments, Nobel laureate Dr John Robin Warren has warned of a "disaster" if excessive use of antibiotics is not stopped.

    "I think one of the current issues globally is the increasing use of antibiotics and the increasing resistance to antibiotics. If that keeps growing, we are going to be in real trouble," Warren, who was in Mumbai for the 102nd Indian Science Congress, told PTI.

    Speaking on the global perspective on challenges in medical research, Warren who hails from Adelaide in Australia, said, "Doctors should stop prescribing antibiotics when they are not needed.

    "Patients also insist to the doctors to prescribe antibiotics for things like cold, even when the doctor knows that the antibiotics is not going to be of any assistance at all. So he (doctor) shouldn't give them to the patient. But people tend to prescribe when the patient demands it," he said.

    Asked if he saw a decline in prescription of antibiotics after a report by the World Health Organization (WHO) said resistance to antibiotics poses a "major global threat" to public health, Warren said, "It is a very difficult situation. It is not a disaster yet, but could easily become one."

    "I haven't seen things improving (after the WHO report)," Warren said.

    Warren awarded the Nobel for his work in Physiology in 2005 for his discovery on the 'bacterium Helicobacter pylori' and its role in gastritis and peptic ulcer diseases.

    "When we started on our journey, scientific and technological tools were not advanced. Science believed that bacteria couldn't grow in stomach, good biopsies were rare, and there were no clinical specimens.

    "Gastritis was not understood well by the medical fraternity. But we refused to be discouraged, kept experimenting with determination and after years of dedicated hard work, discovered the bacterial strain," he said.

    "It was a quite a miracle and opened new vistas in discovering treatments for Gastritis and peptic ulcers for making the life of human beings more productive and healthy," Warren said.


  10. #1700
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Optimistic people have healthier hearts: Study

    Optimistic people have significantly better cardiovascular health than pessimistic peers, a study of over 5,000 adults has found.

    US researchers found that people who were the most optimistic were twice as likely to have ideal cardiovascular health with better blood sugar and total cholesterol levels.

    "Individuals with the highest levels of optimism have twice the odds of being in ideal cardiovascular health compared to their more pessimistic counterparts," said lead author Rosalba Hernandez, a professor of social work at the University of Illinois.

    "This association remains significant, even after adjusting for socio-demographic characteristics and poor mental health," Hernandez said.

    Participants' cardiovascular health was assessed using seven metrics: blood pressure, body mass index, fasting plasma glucose and serum cholesterol levels, dietary intake, physical activity and tobacco use - the same metrics used by the American Heart Association to define heart health.

    In accordance with AHA's heart-health criteria, the researchers allocated 0, 1 or 2 points - representing poor, intermediate and ideal scores, respectively - to participants on each of the seven health metrics, which were then summed to arrive at a total cardiovascular health score. Participants' total health scores ranged from 0 to 14, with a higher total score indicative of better health.

    The participants, who ranged in age from 45-84, also completed surveys that assessed their mental health, levels of optimism, and physical health, based upon self-reported extant medical diagnoses of arthritis, liver and kidney disease.

    Individuals' total health scores increased in tandem with their levels of optimism. People who were the most optimistic were 50 and 76 per cent more likely to have total health scores in the intermediate or ideal ranges, respectively.

    The association between optimism and cardiovascular health was even stronger when socio-demographic characteristics such as age, race and ethnicity, income and education status were factored in.People who were the most optimistic were twice as likely to have ideal cardiovascular health, and 55% more likely to have a total health score in the intermediate range, the researchers found. Optimists had significantly better blood sugar and total cholesterol levels than their counterparts.

    They also were more physically active, had healthier body mass indexes and were less likely to smoke.A paper on the research appears in the journal Health Behavior and Policy Review


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