Contributor: Yi Chen
Second Hand Smoke Just As Bad
We've all been told about the negative impact on our physical health of second hand smoking. A new study suggests that passive smoking can also lead to poorer mental health. The study looked at 5,560 non-smoking adults and 2,689 smokers without history of mental illness from the Scottish Health Surveys. Psychological distress was apparent in 14.5 percent of the sample. Furthermore, high second hand smoke exposure among non-smokers were 50 percent more likely to report psychological distress. Lead author Dr. Mark Hamer, UCL Epidemiology & Public Health, commented that, "Our findings emphasize the importance of reducing second hand smoke exposure at a population level, not only for the benefit of our physical health but for our mental health as well."
Rough Terrain's Bad for the Back
A new study suggests that mountain bike riding is as risky as football, diving and cheerleading when it comes to spinal injuries. Dr. Marcel Dvorak, of the University of British Columbia in Canada, found that one in six spinal injuries relating to mountain bike riding was severe enough to result in complete paralysis. Dvorak and his colleagues identified 107 patients who were treated after mountain biking accidents at British Columbia's primary spine center. Surgery was required for nearly two-thirds of the mountain bikers and 40 percent of those injuries involved the spinal cord. Dvorak explained that the majority of the injuries resulted from either being propelled over the handlebars or falling from great heights.
Fewer Accidents, Safer Sex
"What kind of sex are these guys having? These injuries do not sound like normal sex that men in first world countries have. It's hard to assign credibily to studies about such abnormal behavior."
- Restoring Tally in the comments
A study finds that circumcised men are less likely to sustain cuts, abrasions and other minor injuries to the penis during sex. This also helps to explain why circumcision lowers the risk of HIV transmission. The study was led by Dr. Supriya D. Mehta from University of Illinnois at Chicago. Mehta and her colleagues used data from an HIV clinical trial in Africa where nearly 2,800 men were surveyed. The findings showed that circumcised men were 39 percent less likely to report any type of penile injuries during sex, compared to uncircumcised men. The findings also showed that circumcision can reduce a man's risk of HIV infection through heterosexual sex by up to 60 percent. Mehta's team wishes to look further into how penile injuries has a positive correlation in the transmission of HIV.
Too Much Burgers Are Never Good
The International Study on Allergies and Asthma in Childhood revealed that eating three or more burgers a week can boost a child's risk of asthma and wheeze. The research was based on data collected between 1995 and 2005 on 50,000 children ranging from eight to 12-years-old, and from rich and poor countries. The findings showed that a child's diet can influence the prevalence of asthma and wheeze. An unhealthy, fatty diet had the biggest effect on children developing respiratory symptoms. A diet that consisted of high-intake of fruit, fish and cooked green vegetables protected children against wheezing. The study does note that, "Burger consumption could be a proxy for other lifestyle factors. Particularly as the increased asthma risk associated with it was not found in poor countries."
Clean Teeth, Clean Health
"All this study found is that slobs have a higher risk of heart disease: slobs eat crap and don't exercise (and don't brush their teeth)"
- Crenobula in the comments
Brushing your teeth won't just keep the dentist away, but also cardiac doctors too. A new published research has found that those who have poor oral hygiene have an increased risk of heart disease, compared to those who brush their teeth twice a day. Professor Richard Watt from University College London analyzed data from over 11,000 adults who participated in the Scottish Healthy Survey. The research shows that participants who didn't frequently brush their teeth had a 70 percent increased risk of heart disease, compared to those who have a good oral hygiene routine. Professor Watt adds that, "Further experimental studies will be needed to confirm whether the observed association between oral health behavior and cardio vascular disease is in fact causal or merely a risk marker."
Switch to Tap Water Instead
"Anti-bottled water screeds are the new Reefer Madness. Environmentalists shouldn't go off the rails with fake health scares."
- MiriamQQ in the comments
Drinking bottled water might not be safer than drinking tap water, especially if you're in Canada. Researchers from C-crest Laboratories in Montreal found high-levels of heterotrophic bacteria counts in more than 70 percent of bottled water samples. These counts exceeded the recommended limits specified by the United States Pharmacopeia (USP). The study was initiated in response to a C-crest employee's complaint of foul taste and sickness after consumption of bottled water from the company. Sonish Azam, a researcher on the study, commented that although these bacteria do not cause any diseases, they could pose a risk for pregnant women, infants and the elderly. Azam urges the FDA, EPA and Health Canada to set a limit for heterotrophic bacteria counts in bottled drinking water.
Don't Eat Raw Crayfish
Six people who had consumed raw crayfish from streams and rivers in Missouri have been diagnosed with a rare parasitic infection. Washington University infectious diseases specialist, Gary Weil, MD, professor of medicine and of molecular microbiology, treated some of these patients. He commented that the infection, paragonimiasis, is very rare and hard to detect. The 'lung worm' causes fever, cough, chest pain, shortness of breath and extreme fatigue. The oval-shaped parasitic worms travel from the intestine to the lungs and can migrate to the brain or under the skin. The infection is generally not fatal and can be easily treated if properly diagnosed. The Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services have issued an alert to doctors, campers and residents across the state on this matter.
More Real, More Mean
A recent Brigham Young University study shows that reality TV programs display more aggression than non-reality TV shows. The researchers found on average 52 acts of aggression per hour on reality TV compared to 33 per hour for non-reality programs. Not surprisingly, The Apprentice topped the list at 85 acts of verbal or relational aggression per hour. While American Idol had 57 aggressive acts per hour, with thanks to Simon Cowell. Sarah Coyne, a BYU professor of family life and lead author of the study, claimed that she "knew the level of aggression was going to be high" but didn't think it was going to be "this high." Her concerns that reality programs are more likely to be imitated and although "audiences think that it won't affect them, we aren't as immune as we think we are."
Epilepsy and Happiness
Children with epilepsy often face challenges that inhibit their learning abilities and social acceptance from peers. Nevertheless, a recent survey suggests that children with epilepsy are happier than we think and their quality of life is comparable to that of their healthy siblings. Dr. Christine Bower Baca, a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar and a clinical instructor in the UCLA Department of Neurology, and her colleagues assessed 143 children with epilepsy, matching each to a healthy, non-epileptic sibling as a control, and to their parents or guardians. The study found that parents' ratings of their children's quality of life were significantly lower for their children. In contrast, children with epilepsy rated their own quality of life on a par with their siblings.
Tech and Health
Apple's recent patent shows a heart rate monitor embedded into an iPhone. The heart sensor-like technology will be able to seamlessly identify the user by his/her heart beat and even able to detect their mood. You probably know by now that everyone has different fingerprints. But did you know that each individual also has a unique heartbeat? Apple taps into this biometric technology so that the iPhone can simply authenticate the user as you as you pick up the phone, rather than requiring passwords or complicated face or fingerprint scans. By monitoring your heartbeats, the device will also be able to tell how you're feeling, what you've been eating and if you've just come back from a jog.
When Dark Chocolate Is Good
Researchers at Johns Hopkins have discovered that the compound epicatechin, found naturally in dark chocolate, may help protect the brain after a stroke. Epicatechin increases cellular signals that is known to shield nerve cells from damage. They found that the lab animals that had ingested the epicatechin before or after a stroke had suffered significantly less brain damage than the ones that had not been given the compound. Before you go and pig out on a bunch of dark chocolate, Sylvain Doré, Ph.D., from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, states that “Only few chocolates have the active ingredient. The fact that it says ‘dark chocolate’ is not sufficient.” The research also didn't conclude how much dark chocolate one needs to consume for it to be effective.
When Carbs Are Good
One of the best sources of carbohydrates are whole grains and now there's even more reason to include them in your diet. Studies within Healthgrain show that by having a diet rich whole grain improve metabolism, reduce risk of obesity and health problems like type 2 diabetes and cardio-vascular disease. Generally speaking, rye products produce a beneficial blood glucose profile following a meal, in comparison to white wheat. People often feel fuller for longer and are more satisfied after a meal that's filled with whole grains. Next time for lunch, skip the white bread and have
Think Green Exercise
New research suggests that just five minutes of exercising outdoors can can generally improve your mood, self-esteem and mental health. Doctors Jo Barton and Professor Jules Pretty from the University of Essex are labeling this has "green exercise" and show how exercising in a park, backyard, or other green space can have great benefits. Pretty, a Professor of Environment and Society at Essex, stated that, "For the first time in the scientific literature, we have been able to show dose-response relationships for the positive effects of nature on human mental health." The study looked at 1,252 participants from the UK and revealed that the biggest effect was seen in just five minutes of daily activity done outside.
How Long You Sleep Matters
A recent study published in the Sleep journal indicates that constantly sleeping too much or not enough can have an adverse effect on your health. Professor Francesco Cappuccio, leader of the Sleep, Health and Society Programme at the University of Warwick, said "whilst short sleep may represent a cause of ill-health, long sleep is believed to represent more an indicator of ill-health." There's a direct link between sleeping less than six hours a night and an increased chance of dying prematurely. However, consistently sleeping over nine hours a night is a sign of a potentially fatal illness. Professor Cappuccio suggests that sleeping between six to eight hours a night for an optimal health.
Broccoli a Day Keeps Cancer away
University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center is currently studying sulforaphane, a compound derived from broccoli and broccoli sprouts. Recent lab results have shown that sulforaphane could help prevent or treat breast cancer. The compound targets and kills cancer cells to stop the growth of tumors and to prevent new ones from forming. At the moment, chemotherapies don't work against cancer stem cells, so this new break-through gives hope to patients suffering from breast cancer. Duxin Sun, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the U-M College of Pharmacy, is currently developing a method to extract and preserve sulforaphane and will be developing a clinical trial soon. Previously, there has often been research showing the effects of sulforaphane on cancer.
Relatives No Better for Kids
Children living with relatives other than their birth parents could have an increased risk for physical and mental health problems. Sara B. Eleoff, MD, from the University Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in New York, used data from a 2007 national survey of more than 91,000 children. She concluded that, "Children who live in kinship care with a relative have more special health care needs, mental health problems such as ADHD and depression, and dental problems compared with children who live with their parents." Dr. Eleoff suggests health care providers, educators and public health agencies should identify and monitor these children as they may need additional services and supports.
"Not this guy again! The Indian Rationalist Association labels him a 'village fraud.'"
- Gurkin in the comments
Indian scientists are monitoring Prahlad Jani, an 82-year-old man who claims he has not eaten or drunk anything for 70 years. Jani is being studied by India's Defence Research Development Organisation. Jain has so far spent six days without food or water and his body shows no signs of hunger or dehydration. Dr G. Ilavazhagan, director of the Defence Institute of Physiology & Allied Sciences says this could be "a breakthrough in medical science," but others are labeling Jani as a fraud and the research as "dangerous." Leading Australian nutritionist, Dr Joanna McMillan Price states, "Your spiritual beliefs can give mental strength but the idea that spirituality can replace food and water is ludicrous." In 2003 Jain was monitored for 10 days.
Blink If You're Daydreaming
A new study suggests that you tend to blink more often when you're daydreaming or when your mind is wandering off. Daniel Smilek, cognitive neuroscientist of the University of Waterloo, researched on what happens when the mind wanders. 15 volunteers participated in this experiment. They were asked to read a passage from a book on a computer whilst a sensor tracked their eye movements, including blinks. At random intervals, they were to indicate if they were paying attention or not. The findings suggest we blink more when we're not paying attention to limit the brain from receiving external information. When we daydream, the part of the brain that processes external surroundings become less active and wishes to receive less information.
Fluorescent Makes Tumor Glow
A fluorescent compound that makes tumors glow can help doctors detect tumors in its earlier stages and before they turn deadly. Lawrence Marnett, Ph.D., led the research team at Vanderbilt University to develop the compound. Their findings are published in the May 1 issue of Cancer Research. The compound is made up from fluorescent inhibitors of the enzyme cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2). COX-2 can assist in monitoring a tumor's transition and defining tumor margins during surgical removal. Lawrence Marnett expresses that, "We're very excited about these new agents and are moving forward to develop them for human clinical trials."
Spice Up Your Food
If you enjoy spicy food with lots of hot peppers and chillies, now there's even more of a reason to like them. The burning, heat sensation you experience when eating a hot pepper is caused by the substance capsaicin. There has been a growing amount of evidence that capsaicin may help to burn that extra bit of fat when you're exercising. For those who can't handle chillies, look out for the non-spicy versions of peppers containing dihydrocapsiate (DCT). David Hever, Professor of Medicine and Public Health at UCLA Center for Human Nutrition, recently revealed convincing evidence that DCT significantly increased fat oxidation. So for your next meal, why not add some more peppers?
Be Alert, Not Alarmed
Last week, media went into a frenzy as a new, deadly strain of fungus was found in the Pacific Northwest. The fungus, Cryptococcus gattii, is reported to be spreading from Vancouver Island, Washington state and Oregon down to California. It has already been linked to six human deaths, 15 other infections and has been tested to be deadly to lab animals. Before you get into you a frantic panic mode, Edmond Byrnes, a graduate student in microbiology and molecular genetics at Duke University has some comforting news. He explains that,"These infections are still rare, and from an overall health perspective, I don't think anyone should be concerned." A CDC epidemiologist also agrees that people and doctors should be aware of the outbreak, but certainly not be alarmed by it.
FOUR STRIKES and YOU'RE OUT
Archives of Internal Medicine revealed this week that by having just four unhealthy habits can premature your age by as much as 12 years. The bad habits include smoking, not exercising, low intake of fruit and vegetables and consuming too much alcohol. The analysis was conducted with nearly 5,000 adults as they were tracked for two decades. The stats showed that the people who had all four unhealthy habits were nearly four times more likely to have died during the study compared with the healthiest people who had none of the habits. Dr. Walter Willett, the chair of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, responded to this study stating that a "healthy lifestyle practices that are modest and simple...can profoundly affect our chances of living to an old age."
COOL BENEFITS of SLUSHIES
Most of us have experienced the downside to working out in the heat. Feeling lethargic, performing slower or how every movement seems to take more of an effort. Research has shown that the hotter it is, the harder it is to exercise. It also reveals that by being chilled before a strenuous activity can help with endurance. There are apparatuses that can assist, such as cooling vests or portable cooling tubs. However, something as simple as drinking a sweet, cold slushie before a workout can also improve your performance. A new study reveals that young male recreational athletes who drank a slushie before running on a treadmill would go on average 10 minutes longer than when they only drank syrup-flavored cold water.
MONEY and FRIENDS
Research has shown that living a materialistic lifestyle won't make you liked by others or make you happier in the long-term. Leaf Van Boven, psychology professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, has recently published his studies in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. The study reveals that people tend to have a negative stereotypes about materialistic people, often describing them as "selfish" and "self-centered." Buyers are suggested to purchase experiences rather than goods if you want to be liked by your friends and feel happier too. So next time you want to buy that car or expensive bag, maybe swap it for a resort vacation instead.
Working Leads to Smiles
Research has shown that going to work is actually good for your health both physically and mentally in the long-term. Due to health-related issues, people sometimes take weeks, months and even years off work. However, this actually leads to other problems like social isolation, diminished confidence levels and mental health complications. The UK has recently introduced Fitness to Work certificates. This would hopefully encourage sick or injured employees to get back to work faster.
Great News for Mums-to-Be
Maternal mortality rates sees a sharp decline for the first time in decades. Findings published in the medical journal The Lancet reveal that deaths relating to childbirth and pregnancy have decreased from 526,300 in 1980 to about 342,900 in 2008. The figures were pulled from death records, censuses, surveys and published studies from 181 countries. Factors that might have contributed to the improvement are: lower pregnancy rates in some countries; improved nutrition and access to health care; more education for women; and better medical training. The journal's editor, Dr. Richard Horton, stated that the newly released figures would help the cause in raising awareness of maternal health, rather than hinder it.