Canadian researchers just published a study demonstrating that too much noise at work can more than double the risk of heart disease. The investigators, from the School of Environmental Health at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, collected data on more than 6,300 people age 20 and older. All the participants had taken part in a U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination survey between 1999 and 2004, and the study team asked them about their lifestyle and occupational health, as well as providing physical exams and blood tests.
Most of those who reported working in noisy surroundings were men whose average age was 40. The researchers noted that compared to study participants who worked in quiet environments, the men tended to be overweight and to smoke, both risk factors for heart disease.
But even when those risks from lifestyle were taken into account, the men who worked in noisy environments were two to three times more likely to have serious heart problems than a comparable group who worked in quiet places. We'll need more studies to confirm these findings, but the researchers speculated that loud noise leads to stress, which is not good for the cardiovascular system.
Healthy people who walk at least six miles a week have bigger brains, better memories and improved mental function compared with couch potatoes, a study has found. Among older people showing signs of forgetfulness, walking even five miles a week – a daily 20-minute trip to the shops – slowed the progression of their condition.
The findings suggest that walking is the best way of preserving both mental and physical health in old age. Research has shown that it is an ideal form of exercise for maintaining physical fitness and warding off heart disease. Now scientists have found that it can maintain mental fitness and ward off Alzheimer's disease as well. A 10-year study of more than 400 elderly people found that greater amounts of physical activity were associated with greater brain volume.
Dr Cyrus Raji, of the department of radiology at Pittsburgh University, who led the study, said: "Volume is a vital sign for the brain. When it decreases that means brain cells are dying. But when it remains higher brain health is being maintained." Dr Raji added: "We found that walking five miles a week protects the brain structure over 10 years in people with Alzheimer's and mild cognitive impairment."
Healthy adults needed to walk at least six miles a week to maintain brain volume and reduce their risk of mental decline. The results are due to be presented to the Radiological Society of North America today.
The European Commission has announced a ban on the use of bisphenol A (BPA) in plastic baby bottles from next year. The commission cited fears that the compound could affect development and immune response in young children.
There has been concern over the use of BPA for some time, with six US manufacturers removing it in 2009 from bottles they sold in the US, although not other markets. But a UK expert said he thought the move was "an over-reaction".
BPA is widely used in making hard, clear plastic and is commonly found in food and drink containers. A European Commission spokesman said the proposal had been approved after being presented to a committee of national government experts on Thursday - months earlier than scheduled - and approved.
The European parliament had called for the ban in June.
Children are starting nursery school unable to speak and listen properly because of chaotic and noisy home lives, according to an Ofsted report released today.
The education watchdog, which looked at how the best schools teach children to read, found televisions in constant use, noisy siblings and raised voices at home were impeding children’s language skills. The majority of schools with nursery classes visited by Ofsted reported that children are, increasingly, unprepared for learning, having poor listening and speaking skills. Some arrive without toilet training and using dummies.
The report states: "The schools attributed weak listening skills not only to poor conversation in the home but, very often, also to continuous background noise, such as constant television, the noise of siblings and raised voices, which are bound to dull sensitivity to the nuances of sounds."
The study reveals, in some cases, children’s speech is limited to basic statements such as, “Me want?”. Many youngsters have also “been no further from home than the nearest shopping centre”.
As a result, nursery classes focus on speaking, listening, increasing vocabulary and using sentences. They introduced structured days “to compensate for the chaotic home lives that too many of the children were experiencing”.
Australian doctors enrolled 50 patients in a trial to see if garlic supplements could help those whose blood pressure was high, despite medication.
Those given four capsules of garlic extract a day had lower blood pressure than those on placebo, they report in scientific journal Maturitas.
The British Heart Foundation said more research was needed.
Source: BBC News
Taking vitamin E could slightly increase the risk of a particular type of stroke, a study says.
The British Medical Journal study found that for every 1,250 people there is the chance of one extra haemorrhagic stroke - bleeding in the brain. Researchers from France, Germany and the US studied nine previous trials and nearly 119,000 people. But the level at which vitamin E becomes harmful is still unknown, experts say.
The study was carried out at Harvard Medical School, Boston, and INSERM in Paris. Haemorrhagic strokes are the least common type and occur when a weakened blood vessel supplying the brain ruptures and causes brain damage.
Researchers found that vitamin E increased the risk of this kind of stroke by 22%. The study also found that vitamin E could actually cut the risk of ischaemic strokes - the most common type of stroke - by 10%.
Ischaemic strokes account for 70% of all cases and happen when a blood clot prevents blood reaching the brain. Experts found vitamin E could cut the risk, equivalent to one ischaemic stroke prevented per 476 people taking the vitamin.
Patients are at risk of being misled over the benefits of homeopathy by the government's decision to fund the remedies on the NHS, the country's most senior scientist warned today.
Sir John Beddington, the government's chief scientific adviser, said patients might believe homeopathic treatments could protect them against serious illnesses, or treat existing conditions, because GPs and hospitals are allowed to prescribe them on the NHS.
Tens of thousands of people are given homeopathic pills and other preparations by their GPs or at Britain's four homeopathic hospitals, at an estimated cost to the NHS of between £4m and £10m a year. Most homeopathic remedies are diluted multiple times to the point that only water is left, while others are essentially sugar pills.
Professor Beddington said ministers agreed to fund homeopathy on the grounds of "public choice", despite there being "no real evidence" that the remedies work.
"I have made it completely clear that there is no scientific basis for homeopathy beyond the placebo effect and that there are serious concerns about its efficacy," Professor Beddington told the Commons science and technology committee today.
He went on to warn that government funding for homeopathy risked legitimising unproven treatments and that patients could harm their health by choosing these over conventional vaccines and medicines."There is a danger that the public will think that there is real efficacy for some serious conditions and I believe we have to work on that and make clear that this is not correct," he told the committee.
Source - Guardian
The average adult gets two to five colds a year. Children suffer the worst, with seven to 10 a year. The news today is that scientists may in the near future be able to cure colds and other viruses.
But for now, only the immune system can cure a cold and in most cases, it takes four to seven days. Conventional medicines might provide relief from symptoms, but don’t work against the virus or help our immune system throw off the infection. Some don’t even do that. Standard cough medicines, for instance, have been found to be no better than placebo.
Some doctors say suppressing coughs can be a bad thing since they are nature’s way of getting rid of respiratory debris. The good news is, you can take action to help your cold without even going out.
“The common cold is a collection of different viruses and your immune system’s response to them causes the symptoms of inflamed nasal passage and lining of the sinuses – which causes sneezing, runny nose and sore eyes,” explains Professor Steve Field, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners. “The best way to reduce this inflammation is to keep the nasal passages clear. Steam is wonderful at achieving this.”