Noise at work: bad for heart

Predictably, the particular sounds that cause problems are those that are persistent and so loud that you can't have a conversation without raising your voice.

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.

Source - Dr. Andrew Weil

Spoonful of brain power: Drinking coffee with sugar boosts memory and attention span

A cup of coffee is what millions of us rely on to kick-start the day. But new research shows that morning pick-me-up has a much more potent effect on the brain if it is taken with sugar.

Scientists at the University of Barcelona in Spain found taking caffeine and sugar at the same time boosted the brain’s performance more than taking them on their own. Researchers now believe each one boosts the effect of the other on brain functions such as attention span and working memory.

The findings come from brain scans carried out on 40 volunteers who were tested after they had coffee with sugar, coffee without sugar, sugar on its own or just plain water. The results, published in the journal Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental, suggest sugar-sweetened coffee may be the best way to prepare the brain for a busy day ahead.

But it’s likely that coffee lovers who do not take sugar will get the same benefits from enjoying a sugary snack with their drink.

Source - Daily Mail

Walking six miles a week boosts the brain

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.

Source - Independent

EU bans bisphenol A chemical from babies' bottles

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.

Source -BBC

Orange juice: Two glasses a day keeps the doctor at bay according to new study

Two glasses of orange juice a day can lower blood pressure and cut the risk of heart disease, scientists have found.

They have discovered that middle-aged men who drank half-a-litre of juice every day for a month, equivalent to about two glasses, saw a significant decline in their blood pressure readings.

Findings published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition confirms the presence of a natural plant chemical called hesperidin - part of a a class of disease-fighting compounds found in plant foods like tea, fruit, soya and cocoa. Although previous studies have hinted orange juice may be good for the heart, scientists have been uncertain exactly what gives it its protective powers.

Heart disease is Britain's biggest killer with around 270,000 people suffering a heart attack every year and nearly one in three die before they even reach hospital. High blood pressure, which puts our arteries under greater pressure when the heart beats, affects one in five people and is one of the major risk factors contributing to a cardiac arrest.

The World Health Organisation estimates that 50 per cent of all heart attacks and strokes are due to raised blood pressure.

Source - Daily Mail

Help your heart with a spoonful or two of vinegar a day

A spoonful or two of vinegar a day may boost your levels of good cholesterol.

Researchers believe that people who ­consume apple cider vinegar for eight weeks will have improved levels of good or HDL cholesterol compared with those given a placebo.

A clinical trial, currently underway in ­Minnesota in the U.S., has been looking at 120 people, half of whom have had the vinegar while the others are being given a placebo ­containing a 2 per cent balsamic vinegar ­solution in water. Apple cider vinegar — a common kitchen remedy for arthritis and gout — has already been shown to lower blood sugar levels and reduce appetite.

A separate study based on animals with ­diabetes, has already shown that apple cider vinegar lowered levels of bad cholesterol and improved good cholesterol. It’s thought the vinegar speeds up the processing of fats.

Source - Daily Mail

How a blast of sound can speed up healing your wounds

An ultrasound device that fires soundwaves into chronic wounds such as leg ulcers is being used to speed up the ­healing process.

Research shows treating wounds with high-intensity ­ultrasound — which helps to clean the wound of debris — can significantly improve the rate at which they heal. Now, a trial is underway to study this exact rate.

Chronic wounds such as ­diabetic foot ulcers and pressure sores cost the NHS around ­£1 billion a year to treat. A significant number of the people ­suffering from chronic wounds have ­diabetes — one in six people with ­diabetes will develop a non-healing ulcer. There are a number of treatments, from antibiotics to surgery, but in many cases wounds fail to heal for weeks, months, or years. In severe cases, amputation of a limb may be necessary.

Natural wound healing is a complex process involving many different types of cells moving to the area around a new wound within the first few hours. Their jobs include sealing the wound as quickly as possible, halting blood loss and creating a cover to stop infection.

Source - Daily Mail

Noisy home lives make children slow at school

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”.

Source - Independent

Garlic 'remedy for hypertension'

Garlic may be useful in addition to medication to treat high blood pressure, a study suggests.

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

Vitamin E linked to increased risk of some strokes

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.

Source - BBC

NHS funding for homeopathy risks misleading patients, says chief scientist

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

Green tea 'does NOT protect against breast cancer'

It may be packed with anti-oxidants but green tea does not protect against breast cancer, according to an extensive study.

Previous research on both animals and human cells had suggested the hot drink could boost the body's defenses against the cancer. However, the latest analysis looking at 54,000 women found no association between drinking green tea and breast cancer risk.

Dr Motoki Iwasaki, from the National Cancer Center, Tokyo, worked with a team of researchers to carry out the study.

He said: 'Results from human studies have been inconclusive. Our large-scale, population-based prospective cohort study is one of the first to include a wide range of tea intakes; women who drank green tea less than 1 cup per week to those who drank 10 or more cups per day.

'It found no overall association between green tea intake and the risk of breast cancer'

The study published in BioMed Central's open access journal Breast Cancer Research.

Source - Daily Mail

From garlic to bananas, don't bin the skin: Eating fruit and vegetable peel could combat cancer

Drop the peeler — ­eating the skins of fruit and ­vegetables could boost your nutritional intake of vitamins, combat cancer and increase your energy levels.

Dr Marilyn Glenville, former president of the Food and Health Forum at the Royal Society of ­Medicine, says: 'All fruit and vegetables have a "bio-synergy", which means the nutritional ­benefits of each part are reinforced by the others.'

And the skin is not the only healthy bit we discard — stalks and cores can also be packed with nutrients.

Here, we reveal the fruit and vegetables you should try to eat whole...

Kiwi fruit

The hairy skin of the kiwi fruit is high in antioxidants and thought to have ­anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and anti-­allergenic properties, says Dr Glenville.

‘The skin contains three times the anti­oxidants of the pulp; it also fights off bugs such as Staphylococcus and E-coli, which are responsible for food poisoning.’

HOW TO EAT IT: If regular kiwi skin is too tart for you, opt for ‘gold’ kiwi fruit, which have sweeter, less hairy skins, but with the same benefits. Use the skin if you are juicing the fruit.


Don’t panic — it’s the tough core of the pineapple, not the prickly skin you should be tucking into.

Source - Daily Mail

Jellyfish glow helps scientists to spot tumours deep inside the body

A technique jellyfish use to glow in the dark could help shed new light on cancer.

British scientists have found a way of using luminous cells from jellyfish to spot tumours deep within the human body. Researcher Professor Norman Maitland believes the technology could be at least ten times better than CT scanners at detecting tumours.

He said: ‘Cancers deep within the body are difficult to spot at an early stage and early diagnosis is critical for the successful treatment of any form of cancer. What we have developed is a process which involves inserting proteins derived from luminous jellyfish cells into human cancer cells. Then, when we illuminate the tissue, a special camera detects these proteins as they light up, indicating where the tumours are.’

American chemist Roger Tsien won the Nobel Prize for chemistry two years ago for purifying the protein behind the jellyfish’s glow.

‘When we heard about Dr Tsien’s work, we realised how that advance might be useful in the diagnosis of cancer,’ said Professor Maitland.

Source - Daily Mail

How to treat a cold without drugs

Medicines won’t heal a winter virus faster – and some will even prolong it. But the best remedies don’t need a trip to the chemist.

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.

Inhale steam

“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.”

Source - Indpendent