Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Green tea 'slows prostate cancer'

Posted by Neill Abayon

A chemical found in green tea appears to slow the progression of prostate cancer, a study has suggested.

Green tea has been linked to a positive effect on a wide range of conditions, including heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer's disease.

The research, in the US journal Cancer Prevention Research, found a significant fall in certain markers which indicate cancer development.

A UK charity said the tea might help men manage low-risk tumours.

Although previous studies have shown benefits from drinking green tea - including some positive findings in relation to prostate cancer, there have been mixed results.

In this study, Philadelphia-based researchers tested a compound called Polyphenon E.

They were looking for a number of biomarkers - molecules - including vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) which are indicators of developing cancer.

Read the full article here.

Sleep disorders tied to mortality risk

Posted by Neill Abayon

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Poor quality sleep - whether from insomnia, sleep fragmentation, or nightmares - is associated with increased risk of death, according to several presentations this week in Seattle at SLEEP 2009, the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.

One study, conducted at Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, Pennsylvania, suggests that insomnia may be as hazardous as obstructive sleep apnea.

"Insomnia with objective short sleep duration is associated with an activation of the stress system, i.e., higher secretion of cortisol and increased risk of high blood pressure," said lead author Dr. Alexandros Vgontzas. He and his associates examined the effects of insomnia that persisted for at least 1 year and objective short sleep duration on mortality.

Read the full article here.

5 Powerful Reasons to Eat Slower

Posted by Neill Abayon

One of the problems in our daily lives is that many of us rush through the day, with no time for anything … and when we have time to get a bite to eat, we gobble it down.

That leads to stressful, unhealthy living.

And with the simple but powerful act of eating slower, we can begin to reverse that lifestyle immediately. How hard is it? You take smaller bites, you chew each bite slower and longer, and you enjoy your meal longer.

It takes a few minutes extra each meal, and yet it can have profound effects.

Read the full article here.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Health Benefits of Sex

Posted by Neill Abayon

A good sex life is one way to stay happy, healthy, and fit.

For example, sex can actually cause you to get fewer colds. Research has shown that couples who have sex weekly have a 30 percent increase in immunoglobulin A, an antibody that fights infection. Sex can also help women have a more predictable period schedule, as a result of being exposed to male pheromones.

In addition, having sex reduces stress -- for physiological as well as emotional reasons. Sex activates a nerve that has a calming effect. Having sex also lowers blood pressure, which reduces the risk of heart disease.

Sex can even reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and increase HDL (“good”) cholesterol!

The bitter side of sweeteners

Posted by Neill Abayon

New test detects artificial sweetener traces in German water

Sewage treatment plants fail to remove artificial sweeteners completely from waste water. What's more, these pollutants contaminate waters downstream and may still be present in our drinking water. Thanks to their new robust analytical method, which simultaneously extracts and analyses seven commonly used artificial sweeteners, Marco Scheurer, Heinz-Jürgen Brauch and Frank Thomas Lange from the Water Technology Center in Karlsruhe, Germany, were able to demonstrate the presence of several artificial sweeteners in waste water. Their findings(1) are published online this week in Springer's journal Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry.

A range of artificial sweeteners are commonly used in food and drinks, as well as drugs and sanitary products. The potential health risks of artificial sweeteners have been debated for some time. Until now, only sucralose has been detected in aquatic environments. Through the use of a new analytical method, the researchers were able to look for seven different artificial sweeteners (cyclamate, acesulfame, saccharin, aspartame, neotame, neohesperidin dihydrochalcone and sucralose) simultaneously, and show, for the first time, that a number of commonly used artificial sweeteners are present in German waste and surface water.

Read the full article here.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Poor Sleep Is Associated With Lower Relationship Satisfaction In Both Women And Men

Posted by Neill Abayon

A bidirectional association exists between couples' sleep quality and the quality of their relationship, according to a research abstract that will be presented on Wednesday, June 10, at SLEEP 2009, the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.
Results indicate that on a day to day basis, couples' relationship quality affects their sleep, and their sleep also affects their subsequent relationship functioning. For men, better sleep (as indicated by diary–based sleep efficiency) was associated with more positive ratings of relationship quality the next day. For women, negative partner interactions during the day were associated with poorer sleep efficiency for both themselves and their partner that night.

Read the full article here.

How Alcohol Changes the Brain ... Quickly

Posted by Neill Abayon

In the name of science, eight men and seven women drank alcohol through a straw while lying in an MRI scanner, presumably not all together, to see what would happen.

It went to their heads. Quickly, the researchers say.

Only 6 minutes after consuming an amount of alcohol equivalent to three beers — leading to a blood alcohol level of 0.05 to 0.06 percent, which impairs driving ability — changes had already taken place in the brain cells.

For one thing, the brain begins to run on the sugar in alcohol instead of using glucose, the normal brain food.

"Our study provides evidence for alternative energy utilization upon alcohol ingestion," said researcher Armin Biller at Heidelberg University Hospital "The brain uses an alcohol breakdown product instead of glucose for energy demands."

The concentration of substances such as creatine (energy metabolism), which protect brain cells, decreases as the concentration of alcohol increases. Choline, a component of cell membranes, was also reduced.

Read the full article here.

Exercise improves functional and reduces rheumatoid arthritis

Posted by Neill Abayon

Copenhagen, Denmark, Thursday 11 June 2009: Undertaking a supervised exercise programme can have beneficial effects on functional status and physical function, reduce the need for daily corticosteroid and anti-inflammatory intake and improve levels of depression and anxiety in people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), according to a new study presented today at EULAR 2009, the Annual Congress of the European League Against Rheumatism in Copenhagen, Denmark.

A three-month programme, comprising moderate aerobic and strengthening exercises, conducted for 50-60 minutes three times per week, proved not only to be safe and beneficial both physically and in terms of quality of life for patients, but was also associated with a stabilising effect in disease activity measured by DAS28*. During the Portuguese study's three month period, researchers observed the following:

  • A 33% improvement in the HAQ (Health Assessment Questionnaire) disability index measurement of physical functioning (assessing ability to undertake everyday activities such as dressing, eating and walking, and whether assistance from another person or disability aids is required) (p <>
  • An improvement in physical function, as outlined below:
    • 55% improvement in the 'sit and stand' test (p=0.018)
    • 10% improvement in the right-hand grip test (p=0.025) and 15% in the left-hand grip test (p=0.035)
    • 19% improvement in the walk time test (p=0.063)
Read the full article here.

Cancer boost from whole carrots

Posted by Neill Abayon

The anti-cancer properties of carrots are more potent if the vegetable is not cut up before cooking, research shows.

Scientists found "boiled before cut" carrots contained 25% more of the anti-cancer compound falcarinol than those chopped up first.

Experiments on rats fed falcarinol have shown they develop fewer tumours.

The Newcastle University study will be presented at NutrEvent, a conference on nutrition and health, to be held in France.

Lead researcher Dr Kirsten Brandt, from Newcastle University's School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, said: "Chopping up your carrots increases the surface area so more of the nutrients leach out into the water while they are cooked.

"By keeping them whole and chopping them up afterwards you are locking in nutrients and the taste, so the carrot is better for you all round."

The Newcastle scientist, along with colleagues at the University of Denmark, discovered the health benefits of falcarinol in carrots four years ago.

Read the full article here.

Alcohol’s Good for You? Some Scientists Doubt It

Posted by Neill Abayon

By now, it is a familiar litany. Study after study suggests that alcohol in moderation may promote heart health and even ward off diabetes and dementia. The evidence is so plentiful that some experts consider moderate drinking — about one drink a day for women, about two for men — a central component of a healthy lifestyle.

But what if it’s all a big mistake?

For some scientists, the question will not go away. No study, these critics say, has ever proved a causal relationship between moderate drinking and lower risk of death — only that the two often go together. It may be that moderate drinking is just something healthy people tend to do, not something that makes people healthy.

“The moderate drinkers tend to do everything right — they exercise, they don’t smoke, they eat right and they drink moderately,” said Kaye Middleton Fillmore, a retired sociologist from the University of California, San Francisco, who has criticized the research. “It’s very hard to disentangle all of that, and that’s a real problem.”

Read the full article here.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Swine Flu vaccine coming soon

Posted by Neill Abayon

DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Specialty drug maker Baxter International Inc. says it's in "full scale" production of a swine flu vaccine that will be commercially available in July.

The company based in Deerfield, Ill., made its announcement Friday, a day after the World Health Organization declared swine flu a global pandemic.

Baxter has said that its patented technology cuts in half the usual time it takes to develop a vaccine - to about 13 weeks instead of 26.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 45 swine flu deaths nationwide.

View the full article here.

Heart dangers seen in very young obese children

Posted by Neill Abayon

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Obese children as young as 7 have worrying levels of compounds linked to heart disease and heart attacks, U.S. researchers reported on Thursday.

They found that obese youngsters had up to 10 times the normal amount of a compound that reflects inflammation, and another that helps blood to clot -- both known to raise the risk of heart attacks and heart disease in adults.

"Our study finding suggests that we need more aggressive interventions for weight control in obese children," said Dr. Nelly Mauras of Nemours Children's Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, who led the study.

Obesity is hard to measure in children but pediatricians generally classify a child as obese if he or she is in the 95th percentile of weight for their age.

Mauras and colleagues studied 202 healthy children, 115 of them obese, and half of them past puberty.

The obese children had high levels of c-reactive protein, associated with inflammation, which is itself linked to heart disease. They also had abnormally high levels of the clotting factor fibrinogen compared to lean children of the same age and sex, Mauras told a meeting of the Endocrine Society.

Read the full article here.

Obesity ops 'raise fracture risk'

Posted by Neill Abayon

People who have obesity operations, such as gastric bypasses or banding, double their risk of suffering fractures, US research suggests.

Researchers for the Mayo Clinic in the US reviewed nearly 100 surgical cases spanning 21 years for their study.

They found a fifth of patients suffered fractures - twice the rate typical for their age - with most breaks occurring in the bones of the hands and feet.

The findings will be presented at the Endocrine Society Annual Meeting.

In the study, 21 individuals experienced 31 fractures within an average of seven years after their weight loss or bariatric surgery.

View the full article here.

Researchers uncover how nanoparticles may damage lungs

Posted by Neill Abayon

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Researchers in China appear to have uncovered how nanoparticles which are used in medicine for diagnosis and delivering drugs may cause lung damage.

Nanotechnology, or the science of the extremely tiny, is an important industry. One nanometer is one-billionth of a meter.

Apart from medicine, it is used in products like sporting goods, cosmetics, tires and electronics and has a projected annual market of around US$1 trillion by 2015.

However, concerns are growing that it may have toxic effects, particularly to the lungs. But it has never been clear how the damage is caused.

In an article published in the Journal of Molecular Cell Biology, the Chinese experts said a class of nanoparticles used in medicine, ployamidoamine dendrimers (PAMAMs), may cause lung damage by triggering a type of programed cell death known as autophagic cell death.

In experiments, they observed how several types of PAMAMs killed human lung cells but found no evidence that the cells were dying by apoptosis, a natural and common type of cell death.

View the full article here.

Can Omega-3 Fatty Acids Prevent Depression In Coronary Heart Disease?

Posted by Neill Abayon

Depression is an established risk factor for the development of coronary heart disease (CHD) in healthy patients and for adverse cardiovascular outcomes in patients with existing CHD. Dietary factors resulting in lower levels of omega–3 fatty acids not only increase CHD risk, but may also be involved in the pathophysiology of depression.

The investigators measured red blood cell levels of two omega–3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and assessed depressive symptoms in a cross-sectional study of 987 adults with CHD. Omega –3 fatty acids were blindly measured in fasting venous blood samples using capillary gas chromatography to measure the fatty acid composition of red blood cell membranes. Red blood cell levels of EPA and DHA are presented as a percentage composition of total fatty acid methyl esters.

View the full article here.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Acupuncture Can Relieve Symptoms Of Indigestion In Pregnancy

Posted by Neill Abayon

A new study has suggested that acupuncture can help ease the symptoms of indigestion in pregnancy.

Digestive disorders are one of the most frequent complaints in pregnancy, with 45 to 80 per cent of women reporting heartburn, pain or discomfort, egurgitation, belching and bloating.

Researchers from Sao Paulo University in Brazil say that such symptoms tend to get worse as a pregnancy progresses.

For the study, they involved 36 women aged 15 to 39 who were 15 to 30 weeks into their pregnancy.

All were suffering symptoms of indigestion and none had had acupuncture in the previous year or had an underlying condition that could have caused the symptoms, and none had a history of similar problems before they fell pregnant.

On average, 12 needles were used and were left in the body for about 25 minutes per session.

The researchers found that average heartburn intensity fell by at least a half in 75 per cent women receiving acupuncture compared with 44 per cent women not receiving it.

Read the full article here.

Even modest exercise can reduce negative effects of belly fat

Posted by Neill Abayon

URBANA – A new University of Illinois study suggests that moderate amounts of exercise alone can reduce the inflammation in visceral fat—belly fat, if you will—that has been linked with metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors that predict heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

"In the study, the benefits of exercise were apparent, even without a change in diet. We saw improvements in insulin sensitivity, less fat in the liver, and less inflammation in belly fat," said Jeffrey Woods, a U of I professor of kinesiology and community health and faculty member in the U of I Division of Nutritional Sciences and the Integrative Immunology and Behavior Program.

Belly fat is particularly dangerous because it produces inflammatory molecules that enter the bloodstream and increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes, he said.

"Scientists now know that obesity is associated with a low-grade systemic inflammation. Obese people have higher levels of circulating inflammatory markers, such as C-reactive protein (CRP), which are produced and secreted by fat tissue. This inflammation then triggers the systemic diseases linked with metabolic syndrome, such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease," he said.

In the study, Woods and his colleagues examined the effects of diet and exercise on the inflammation of visceral fat tissue in mice. A high-fat diet was first used to induce obesity in the animals. After 6 weeks, mice were assigned to either a sedentary group, an exercise group, a low-fat diet group, or a group that combined a low-fat diet with exercise for 6 or 12 weeks so the scientists could compare the effects in both the short and long term.

Read the full article here.