Saturday, January 31, 2009

Three Cups of Tea a Day Slashes Your Breast Cancer Risk

Posted by Neill Abayon

Just three cups of tea a day could slash the risk of breast cancer in young women, according to new research.

The chances of developing a tumour dropped by around 37 per cent in women under 50 who drank tea at least three times daily.

But older women who consumed similar amounts did not see any benefit, the study found.

Researchers think the anti-cancer properties of tea may have a more potent effect on the types of tumours that tend to grow in younger women.

Around 40,000 women a year in Britain are diagnosed with breast cancer. The disease affects one in nine women at some point in their lives.

Risk factors range from being overweight and having a family history of the disease to smoking and going through the menopause.

Although the health benefits of tea are well known, most of the evidence centres on heart disease.

A study last year showed four cups a day could reduce the risk of a heart attack.

But other recent studies suggest tea can protect against skin cancer, ovarian cancer and even weak bones.

Read the full article here.

Exercise Poses No Danger to Your Joints

Posted by Neill Abayon

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.

Exercise is an extremely popular leisure-time activity in many countries throughout the Western world and has for many become part of the modern lifestyle. It is widely promoted in as being beneficial for weight control, disease management in cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and for improving psychological well-being amongst an array of other benefits. In contrast, however, the lay press and community perception is also that exercise is potentially deleterious to one's joints, in particular those of the lower extremities.

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.

Read the full article here.

Is Water Pollution Making You Infertile?

Posted by Neill Abayon

New research strengthens the link between water pollution and rising male fertility problems. The study, by Brunel University, the Universities of Exeter and Reading and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, shows for the first time how a group of testosterone-blocking chemicals is finding its way into UK rivers, affecting wildlife and potentially humans. The research was supported by the Natural Environment Research Council and is now published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

The study identified a new group of chemicals that act as ‘anti-androgens’. This means that they inhibit the function of the male hormone, testosterone, reducing male fertility. Some of these are contained in medicines, including cancer treatments, pharmaceutical treatments, and pesticides used in agriculture. The research suggests that when they get into the water system, these chemicals may play a pivotal role in causing feminising effects in male fish.

Earlier research by Brunel University and the University of Exeter has shown how female sex hormones (estrogens), and chemicals that mimic estrogens, are leading to ‘feminisation’ of male fish. Found in some industrial chemicals and the contraceptive pill, they enter rivers via sewage treatment works. This causes reproductive problems by reducing fish breeding capability and in some cases can lead to male fish changing sex.

Read the full article here.

10 Diseases Linked To Soda

Posted by Neill Abayon

Statistics shows that Americans drink more soda than ever before. They account for more than 25 percent of all drinks consumed in the United States. More than 15 billion gallons were sold in 2000 -- about one 12-ounce can per day for every man, woman and child.

But here’s some information that may keep you away from opening the can:

1. Extra pounds

Soda is a significant contributor to obesity. Drinking a single can a day of sugary drinks translates to more than a pound of weight gain every month. And diet soda is just as likely to cause weight gain as regular, or even more -- it may sound counterintuitive, but people who drink diet soft drinks actually don’t lose weight. Artificial sweeteners induce a whole set of physiologic and hormonal responses that actually make you gain weight.

2. Liver damage

Soda damages your liver. Consumption of too many soft drinks puts you under increased risk for liver cirrhosis similar to the increased risk faced by chronic alcoholics.

3. Tooth decay

Soda dissolves the tooth enamel. Soft drinks are responsible for doubling or tripling the incidence of tooth decay. Soda's acidity is even worse for teeth than the solid sugar found in candy.

4. Kidney stones and chronic kidney disease

Colas of all kinds are well known for their high phosphoric acid content, a substance that changes the urine in a way that promotes kidney stone formation. Drinking one quart (less than three 12-ounce cans) of soda per week may increase your risk of developing kidney stones by 15 percent.

5. Diabetes

Anything that promotes weight gain increases the risk of diabetes. Drinking soda also stresses your body's ability to process sugar. Some scientists now suspect that this may explain why the number of Americans with type 2 diabetes has tripled from 6.6 million in 1980 to 20.8 million today.

Read the full article here.

Masturbation May Increase Risk of Prostate Cancer

Posted by Neill Abayon

A new study finds men who are sexually active in their 20s and 30s are more likely to develop prostate cancer — especially if they masturbate frequently.

The message, perhaps: Hold off until middle age.

The study also found that frequent sexual activity in a man's 40s appears to have little effect and even small levels of sexual activity in a man's 50s could offer protection from the disease. Most of the differences were attributed to masturbation rather than sexual intercourse.

However, some previous studies had generated much different findings. The bottom line: More study is needed to settle this one.

The study, led by the University of Nottingham, looked at the sexual practices of more than 431 men who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer before the age of 60, together with 409 controls who do not have prostate cancer.

Among men with prostate cancer, 34 percent had masturbated frequently in their 20s, compared to 24 percent among the control group. A similar spread was found for men in their 30s.

The results, based on questionnaires, are detailed in the journal BJU International (the British Journal of Urology).

The prostate gland secretes a milky fluid that mixes with sperm and seminal vesicle fluid to become semen. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among men in the United States, after lung cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 30,000 die from it each year.

Read the full article here.

Even a Single Brain Cell Can Hold a Memory

Posted by Neill Abayon

Memory has long been described as a function of brain cells getting together and forming connections. A new study finds single cells can remember things.

Individual nerve cells (called neurons) in the front part of the brain can hold traces of memories by themselves for up to a minute, perhaps longer.

The fleeting memories, which the researchers found in mice brains, are held in the most highly evolved part of the brain in a manner akin to the nonpermanent working memory of a computer.

"It's more like RAM [random access memory] on a computer than memory stored on a disk," said Don Cooper, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. "The memory on the disk is more permanent and you can go back and access the same information repeatedly. RAM memory is rewritable temporary storage that allows multitasking."

Mice brains are thought to function much like human brains, so the finding could help scientists better understand how our brains store rapidly changing information. Cooper likened the temporary one-cell memory storage to the sort of thing a card shark does when counting cards in a game of Black Jack. As casinos know, this is the memory that is most sensitive to the disruptive effects of alcohol and noisy distractions, Cooper points out. Hence, perhaps, the free drinks casinos offer up.

The discovery, detailed in the February issue of the journal Nature Neuroscience, could also lead to improved understanding of addictions, attention disorders and stress-related memory loss.

Read the full article here.

Is Your Home Causing Cancer?

Posted by Neill Abayon

Even products that meet government standards aren't completely safe, and can contribute to a variety of ailments, including cancer, ADHD, and asthma. Here are some products to watch out for:

Foam containers are made of polystyrene, whose chemical ingredients can seep into food. Styrene has been blamed for skin, eye, and respiratory irritation, depression, fatigue, decreased kidney function, and central nervous system damage. Xenoestrogens like styrene are suspected hormone disruptors, meaning that they mimic estrogen in your body and disrupt normal hormone functioning.

The little sheets that keep clothes fresh contain benzyl acetate, which has been linked to pancreatic cancer. Another ingredient, limonene can form formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.

Baby bottles and other hard plastic bottles are commonly made from polycarbonate plastics. When washed and heated, these plastics give off bisphenol-a, or BPA. BPA is a hormone disruptor that has been tied to developmental and neurological problems for unborn children. In animals BPA has contributed to reproductive system abnormalities such as infertility, enlarged prostate, and abnormal chromosomes.

The majority of home cleaning products contain harmful ingredients like ammonia, lye, phosphate, and chlorine, as well as toxic ethylene-based glycol ethers and terpenes that become dangerous when they interact with ozone in the air. The single most important thing to remember about cleaning products is that you need good ventilation when using them.

A chemical analysis of 30 of the bestselling scented household products and found that they contained known carcinogens and other dangerous chemicals. A recent study more than two dozen volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, which the EPA says can cause nose and throat irritation, headaches, shortness of breath, nausea, and dizziness.

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), the chemical in most plastic soda bottles, leeks the hormone-disrupting carcinogens called phthalates after repeated use. Deli plastic like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) can also release dioxins.

Color dyes have been linked to increased hyperactivity in children. Countless studies have produced evidence that dyes are an ADHD irritant.

Superglue and other super-strength adhesives can induce sensitization -- exposure can start with allergies and lead to asthma. Other hobby materials can be dangerous, too; people who deal with leaded toys, the chemicals involved in stained glass making and amateur metal refining should be careful.

Carpeting combines a lot of potentially unhealthy elements. The dyes and solvents used to produce and install it emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) including styrene, xylene, butlylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), and 4-Phenylcyclohexane (4-PC). Put together, these chemicals have caused respiratory and nervous system damage, as well as allergies, headaches, and nausea.

Particle board, fiberboard, plywood, paneling, and some insulation can emit formaldehyde, which the EPA calls a probable human carcinogen. These emissions can increase in humid summer months, and some people are more vulnerable than others.

Household bleach contains a concentrated form of chlorine. When people use chlorine bleach and an acid-based or ammonia-based cleaning product together, or even one after the other, they produce a cloramine gas that can be fatal. Short term effects of chlorine exposure include vomiting, difficulty breathing, coughing, and eye, ear, nose, and throat irritation.

The flame retardants used on upholstered furniture, mattresses, and electronic equipment have undoubtedly saved many lives, but there is a trade off. These polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs, have caused memory and learning problems in rats and mice, as well as slowing their thyroid function and neurological development.

Laser and ink-jet printers release volatile organic chemical emissions and ozone particulates, which have been linked to heart and lung disease after being inhaled.

Fragrances and other beauty and personal care products often contain the man-made chemicals called phthalates, or plasticizers, that have caused birth defects in male genitalia in animals and may cause lowered sperm count in boys and premature breast development in girls. These chemicals have been banned from baby toys, but not your perfume.

Nonstick and stain-resistant coatings include perfluorinated acids (PFAs). In animals, PFAs cause birth defects, thyroid hormone abnormalities, and liver damage.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Overwhelming Evidence That Sunlight Fights Cancer

Posted by Neill Abayon

A new paper analyses the case for vitamin D’s cancer-fighting power by looking at the well-known Hill criteria for examining causality in a biological system. The Hill criteria look at:

  1. Strength of association
  2. Consistency (repeated observation)
  3. Specificity (one agent, one result)
  4. Temporality (exposure precedes effect)
  5. Biological gradient (dose-response relation)
  6. Plausibility (e.g., mechanisms)
  7. Coherency (no serious conflict with the generally known facts of the natural history and biology of the disease)

The theory that solar ultraviolet radiation -- and by extension, vitamin D, which is produced when such radiation strikes your skin -- is a potent cancer fighter satisfies most, if not all, of the criteria. From a scientific point of view, therefore, vitamin D reduces the risk of many forms of cancer and increases survival rates once cancer reaches a detectable stage.

Read the full article here.

Women Warned: Eat Less or Weigh More

Posted by Neill Abayon

Women who don't try to eat less more than double their risk of substantial weight gain in middle age, a three-year study shows.

If you're a 40-something woman, it doesn't matter whether you're thin or overweight -- odds are, you'll gain weight over time if you don't make an effort to cut back on what you eat.

The finding comes from a study of 192 women with an average age of 40 by Brigham Young University researchers Larry A. Tucker, PhD, and Laura Bates. The women were not obese, had not yet reached menopause, and did not smoke.

At the start of the study the women underwent detailed physical exams, including measures of weight and body fat. They also underwent a seven-day analysis of the food they ate, in which they weighed and recorded every bit of food they put into their mouths.

Three years later, the women underwent another round of physical exams and food-intake analysis. The bottom line was no surprise: Women tend to gain weight and body fat as they age and become less physically active.

Read the full article here.

New Treatment for Blood Poisoning Could Be an Instant Hangover Cure

Posted by Neill Abayon

A bloodstream 'cleaner' which could save thousands of lives a year by quickly disabling poisons has been invented by British scientists, and and may even provide an instant hangover cure.

The team claims to have created a molecule that can attach itself to unwanted substances in the bloodstream such as an overdose of drugs or an anaesthetic no longer required following surgery.

The molecule, Bridion, created by a team from Schering Plough in Lanarkshire, has been used in trials with patients who had been given a paralysing drug as an anaesthetic in major surgery.

Existing treatments for poisonings and insect bites are complex while some drug overdoses, such as paracetamol, are very difficult to reverse.

The new receptor molecule forms a ring around the unwanted chemical, rendering it ineffective within three minutes, the time it takes the blood to circulate round the body. Both the molecule and the chemical can then be excreted naturally.

Read the full story here.

New Cigarette Hazard: 'Third-Hand Smoke'

Posted by Neill Abayon

Parents who smoke often open a window or turn on a fan to clear the air for their children, but experts now have identified a related threat to children’s health that isn’t as easy to get rid of: third-hand smoke.

That’s the term being used to describe the invisible yet toxic brew of gases and particles clinging to smokers’ hair and clothing, not to mention cushions and carpeting, that lingers long after second-hand smoke has cleared from a room. The residue includes heavy metals, carcinogens and even radioactive materials that young children can get on their hands and ingest, especially if they’re crawling or playing on the floor.

Doctors from Mass General Hospital for Children in Boston coined the term “third-hand smoke” to describe these chemicals in a new study that focused on the risks they pose to infants and children. The study was published in this month’s issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Read the full article here.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Exercise Proven to Make Your Kids Smarter

Posted by Neill Abayon

Several researchers have been making the case that aerobic exercise improves not only a student's fitness level, but also their test scores.

The federal No Child Left Behind program encourages schools to focus more of the school day on the core academic subjects while reducing class time in peripheral subjects, like art, music, and physical education. Only 6 percent of American high schools now offer a daily gym class. In his latest book, "Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain," Harvard professor John Ratey argues for more physical fitness for students -- as a cure for not only their obesity but also their academic performance.

Exercise stimulates gray matter to produce brain-derived neurotropic factor, or BDNF. BDNF helps new neurons and their connections grow. In addition, levels of other neurotransmitters are increased after a strenuous exercise session.

Read the full article here.

Simple Way to Make Your Heart Healthier

Posted by Neill Abayon

There's evidence that not getting enough sleep can have serious consequences. Researchers have found that a lack of sleep can promote calcium buildup in the heart arteries, leading to the plaques that can then break apart and cause heart attacks and strokes.

Researchers have documented for the first time exactly how much of a risk shortened shut-eye can be. One hour less of sleep each night, on average, can increase coronary calcium by 16 percent. Among a group of almost 500 men and women, 27 percent of those getting less than five hours of sleep each night showed plaque in their heart vessels. Only 11 percent of those sleeping five to seven hours did, and mere 6 percent of subjects sleeping more than seven hours each night showed such atherosclerosis.

While the connection between sleep and heart disease is of growing interest to researchers, earlier studies had been inconclusive, in part because most of the trials relied on people's self-reported accounts of their sleeping habits. The new study aimed to record as accurately as possible the amount of sleep that the subjects got each night. Each volunteer wore a wrist monitor that measured and recorded activity at 30 second intervals.

10 Keys to a Successful Romantic Relationship

Posted by Neill Abayon

In romantic relationships, it’s the little things that count. A little gift, an off-hand compliment, a moment of physical contact can vastly strengthen a relationship. Psychologists Nathaniel Branden and Robert Sternberg have both researched and written about the challenges of romantic relationships. Their research has suggested 10 keys to keeping both partners content, satisfied, and happy with each other.

1. Tell your partner you love them

Although actions speak louder than words, words often speak more clearly than actions. Take a moment every now and then to verbalize your feelings for your partner.

2. Show some affection

Small acts of physical intimacy give your partner a warm feeling and convey the love and affection you feel for them. The littlest touch can be as important, or even more important, than the longest night of sexual intimacy.

3. Show appreciation for your partner

Let your partner know on a regular basis what it is that you like most about them -- what you admire, what makes you proud, what their strengths are in your eyes.

4. Share yourself

Don’t keep your likes and dislikes, dreams and fears, achievements and mistakes, or anything else to yourself. If it’s important to you, share it with your partner.

5. Be there for your partner

It’s obvious what you need to do when your partner faces a major life challenge like the loss of a job or the death of a loved one. But it’s just as important to be supportive when your partner faces life’s little challenges, too, such as an argument at work, a rough commute, or a misplaced check.

Read the full article here.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

How Caffeine During Pregnancy Can Damage Your Baby

Posted by Neill Abayon

A new study published online in The FASEB Journal 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. Although the study was in mice, the biological cause and effect described in the research paper is plausible in humans.

According to Scott Rivkees, Yale's Associate Chair of Pediatric Research and a senior researcher on the study, "Our studies raise potential concerns about caffeine exposure during very early pregnancy, but further studies are necessary to evaluate caffeine's safety during pregnancy."

To reach their conclusion researchers studied four groups of pregnant mice under two sets of conditions for 48 hours. The first two groups were studied in "room air," with one group having been injected with caffeine and another injected with saline solution. The second two groups were studied under conditions where ambient oxygen levels were halved, with one group receiving caffeine and the other receiving saline solution. They found that under both circumstances, mice given caffeine produced embryos with a thinner layer of tissue separating some of the heart's chambers than the group that was not given caffeine.

Read the full article here.

Medicinal Benefits of the Acai Berry

Posted by Neill Abayon

A little known berry from the jungles of the Amazon may be the cure-all for many ailments. The amazon jungles stretch over more than 1 billion acres and includes a wealth of plants and fruits that may have medical benefits. The acai berry comes from the Amazon region, native only to Central and South America. Over the last two decades, this small purple berry has caused a sensation in the scientific and medical worlds. Learn about some of the medicinal and culinary uses of this little known miracle berry called the acai.

The acai berry grows on tall palms located in the rain forest. The bunches of dark purple fruits dangle like grapes on a vine until they are ready to be harvested. Each year, the acai berry is harvested only two times. Because the fruit begins to break down immediately upon harvesting it is nearly impossible to store and ship. Regions local to the Amazon may receive over night shipments when the fruit is picked but places like the United States and Canada never get a chance at the fresh fruits. Luckily the fruits are widely used in sports bars, nutritional supplements, desserts, beverages, and in other various forms.

Although the acai berry looks similar to a grape, it is generally much larger. The acai berry is about 1 inch around and most of the fruit is actually seed. Very little fruit is extracted from each berry because it has such a large seed. The taste of the acai is very unique and it is nothing like a grape, but more like a berry. The acai has a very identifiable rich taste, kind of like a mix of dark berries. In the native countries the berries may be served as a drink or as a custard/pudding like dish. Unfortunately, the acai palm has not been successfully introduced to the rest of the world as it prefers a specific climate.

Not only does the acai taste good, but it may be good for your health! Recent studies of the acai berry has indicated it may be the solution to a number of health and aging related problems. The acai berry is high in healthy fats, rich in protein, and is a good source of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. In the Amazon region, the acai berry is one of the most nutritious foods available and is a large part of the natives diet. In Central and South America the acai berry has been used to cure infection, boost energy, calm inflammation, and to boost immune health among many uses.

The acai berry may also be able to help control blood sugar, cholesterol, arthritis, and prostate problems. Because acai acts similar to an antibiotic it may also help the body heal, rid it self of infection and/or disease, and could even help with weight loss. Juices and health drinks made with the acai berry have recently been introduced to the United States. When traditional medicine and alternatives fail, those suffering from a range of ailments are now trying acai juice and achieving real results. According to Sound Concepts ( it has been reported that acai juice has helped reduce and/or eliminate fatigue, arthritis, rare disease, and has increased energy, range of motion, and flexibility for those people drinking the juice daily.

The acai berry has properties so wonderful it has been discussed on shows airing on CBS, NBC, and ABC. Because the acai berry is relatively new to the United States, few studies of the actual benefits have been conducted. But, there are plenty of studies indicating the acai berry is one of the best sources for complete nutrition. The acai berry may also help lower bad cholesterol levels, help curb insomnia, promote immune health, and boost libido.

Sleep Disorder Could Signal Neurological Disease

Posted by Neill Abayon

People with a disorder that causes them to kick or cry out during deep sleep are more likely to develop dementia or Parkinson's disease, a new Canadian study suggests.

"It's basically a disorder where you act out your dreams at night," explained study author Dr. Ronald B. Postuma, of McGill University in Montreal. "When people who have RBD [REM Sleep Behavior Disorder] dream they are in a fight, which is very common, they will make punching movements."

While sleep disorders are common, researchers emphasized that the majority are due to the stress of modern life and will not necessarily lead to neurological diseases.

"Half the population has a sleep problem, but most of the time, they're benign," said Michael Jakowec, an assistant professor of neurology at George and Mary Lou Boone Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders Research Center at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine. "We live in a society with anxiety, stress, late night TV and cappucinos."

Read the full article here.