Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Antioxidants No Magic Bullet for Heart Disease in Women

A large study has found that popular antioxidant supplements such as vitamins C, E and beta-carotene don't prevent heart disease in high-risk women.

"Antioxidants are clearly not the magic bullet for heart disease prevention," said Dr. JoAnn E. Manson, the study's principal investigator and chief of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital, in Boston. "We didn't see an overall benefit or risk for these vitamins and cardiovascular disease."

The study shows that vitamins C, E and beta-carotene supplements are no substitute for conventional cardiovascular medications with proven results, added Dr. Nanette K. Wenger, an associate professor in the division of cardiology at the Emory University School of Medicine.

Women patients, in particular, seem to "love their antioxidants, and sometimes, for some reason, stop life-saving medications and start taking them," added Wenger, chairwoman of the data safety and monitoring board for the study.

The findings also mean "we have to redouble the efforts on conventional prevention" such as healthy diet, exercise, weight control and avoiding tobacco, Manson said. "One problem is that occasionally, if there is an expectation of benefit from popping a pill, people are less vigilant about controlling established risk factors and much more difficult lifestyle modifications," she added.

The results are published in the Aug. 13 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

Source: www.forbes.com

Smoking Ups Risk for Age-Linked Vision Loss

Current and former smokers are much more likely to develop the eye disease age-related macular degeneration (AMD) than people who never smoked, an Australian study finds.

AMD, the leading cause of blindness in affluent countries, is a progressive disease that affects the central portion of the retina.

Researchers at the University of Sydney followed the 2,454 study participants for 10 years.

They found that, compared to nonsmokers, current smokers were four times more likely to develop AMD and former smokers were three times more likely to have "geographic atrophy," an advanced form of AMD.

Combinations of current smoking, low levels of HDL ("good") cholesterol, a high ratio of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol, and low fish consumption were associated with a higher risk of late AMD than the effect of any risk factor alone, the researchers said.

"In summary, the findings from this large population-based prospective study add evidence to a possible causal relationship between smoking and the long-term risk of late, but not early, AMD," the researchers concluded.

The study is published in the journal Archives of Ophthalmology.

Source: www.forbes.com

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Study Lists Five Easy Ways to Save 100,000 Lives Yearly

A new study from the Partnership for Prevention lists five preventative measures that could save the lives of 100,000 Americans each year.

Funded by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the WellPoint Foundation, the study found that a few measures — such as more adults getting flu shots and being screened for cancer — could save tens of thousands of lives each year in the United States.

Here are the five ways:

Quit smoking, for good. 42,000 additional lives would be saved each year if 90 percent of the smokers who are advised by a health professional to quit are offered medication or other assistance. Today, only 28 percent of smokers receive such services.

Take aspirin. 45,000 additional lives would be saved each year if 90 percent of adults took aspirin daily to prevent heart disease. Today, fewer than half of American adults take aspirin preventively.

Get screened for colorectal cancer. 14,000 additional lives would be saved each year if 90 percent of adults age 50 and older were up to date with any recommended screening for colorectal cancer. Today, fewer than 50 percent of adults are up to date with screening.

Source: www.foxnews.com

When it comes to life partners women don't want macho men

The psychologists from Durham and St Andrews Universities found that women regard men with more feminine facial features as more committed and less likely to cheat on their partners.

The researchers questioned more than 400 British men and women regarding the digitally altered pictures of male faces made to look more masculine or feminine.

The participants were asked to judge the faces on the following categories: dominance, ambition, wealth, faithfulness, commitment, parenting and warmth; they did this by clicking on the point of a scale.

It was found that men with masculine faces and features such as a square jaw, larger nose and smaller eyes, were classed as significantly more dominant, less faithful, worse parents and as having personalities that were less warm.

Their more 'feminine' counterparts, however who had finer facial features with fuller lips, wide eyes and thinner, more curved eyebrows, were judged as far more suitable partners.

Both the women and the men who took part in the test judged the more feminine more favourably on faithfulness, commitment, parenting and warmth.

The scientists say the research supports earlier research about masculinity and perceptions of personality and gives further insight into what people see in others when choosing potential partners.

Lead author, Dr. Lynda Boothroyd, a lecturer with Durham University's Department of Psychology, says the research shows a high amount of agreement between women about what they see, personality wise, when asked to 'judge a book by its cover'.

The survey also found that faces which appeared healthier were seen as more desirable in terms of all personality traits compared to those who looked unhealthy, and older faces were generally viewed more positively compared to younger ones.

Professor David Perrett from St Andrews University says the research also found that it is men's health that conveys all round good qualities for partnership and personality and contradicts claims that machismo denotes fitness and disease immunity.

He says masculinity may buy dominance but not necessarily tip top physical condition and women see a healthy man as a source of wealth, and fit for family life.

The study is published in the current edition of Personality and Individual Differences.

Source: www.news-medical.net

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Prevention Could Save 100,000 Lives in U.S., Study Says

Quitting smoking and four other simple preventive steps could save the lives of 100,000 Americans annually, researchers say.

Reuters reported Aug. 7 that the Partnership for Prevention said that the five steps were increased efforts to get smokers to quit, encouraging adults to take an aspirin a day to prevent heart disease, more colorectal and breast-cancer screenings, and annual flu shots for people over age 50.

"This shows so dramatically the potential impact of prevention," said Dr. Kathleen Toomey of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "These are really very modest, low-cost interventions that have such potentially dramatic impact on improving the health of the public ... Our nation has never truly invested in prevention."

Fewer than half of Americans take a low dose of aspirin daily to prevent heart disease, but if 90 percent did, it would save 45,000 lives each year, experts said. If 90 percent of smokers were advised by doctors to quit and offered cessation drugs, another 42,000 lives could be saved. "To actually implement this and have the impact of saving 100,000 lives will really require a multi-pronged approach with public health taking the lead," Toomey said.

Source: www.jointogether.org

Are diet foods making your kids fat?

Feeding children diet food and low-calorie drinks may, paradoxically, spur overeating and weight gain, a new Canadian study suggests.

That's because humans, like most animals, are able to instinctively match calorie intake with the body's needs, and are conditioned to associate food tastes with calories ingested.

But when children ingest diet or calorie-wise versions of foods normally high in calories, this can distort these important connections between taste and caloric content and lead to overeating, according to the research.

"Essentially, they are tricked or fooled by the taste, and conditioned to think it will always be low in calories," said David Pierce, a sociologist at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.

He is also the lead author of the study, published in today's edition of the journal Obesity.

The research was conducted on laboratory rats.However, Dr. Pierce said it is probably applicable to people because the "taste-conditioning process" is identical in rodents and humans.

He said the message for parents is straightforward: Feed children a healthy, well-balanced diet with sufficient calories to meet their energy needs. That way their bodies will be able to use taste-related cues to assess the energy value of their food correctly.

"I'm not saying people should not eat diet foods," he said. "I'm cautioning that it might be best to not give youngsters diet foods because it risks conditioning their tastes in a way that isn't beneficial."

To conduct the study, researchers carried out a series of elaborate experiments. Young rats were given sweet or salty Jell-O-like cubes that either contained high-calorie starch or were artificially sweetened and contained no starch. This was done to condition tastes.

Later, the rats were fed snacks, then regular meals, and food consumption was measured. Those who associated the taste of "diet" snacks with fewer calories routinely overate at meals.

The same experiment was conducted with lab rats that were bred to be lean or obese, with the same results. However, the additional calories (and weight gain) were more detrimental to the obese rats.

That suggests that children prone to obesity for genetic or other reasons, will be worse off in the long run if they consume diet foods in their formative years.

Dr. Pierce noted that the experiments were conducted on young rats, whose development is the equivalent of human children. When the tests were done on juvenile and adult rats, the outcome was not the same.

Source: www.theglobeandmail.com

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Bird flu kills Vietnamese student: state media

A Vietnamese student has died from the H5N1 strain of bird flu, the country's fourth victim of avian influenza this year, state media reported on Tuesday.

The 15-year-old victim's family had kept ducks at their home in Thanh Hoa province south of the capital Hanoi, the state-run Vietnam News Agency reported.

The death, which could not immediately be verified with government officials, would bring to 46 the number of people who have died of bird flu in Vietnam since the killer virus broke out here in late 2003.

Communist Vietnam, once the nation worst hit by bird flu, contained earlier outbreaks through mass vaccination campaigns, the culling of millions of poultry and public education initiatives.

But the virus resurfaced strongly earlier this year, especially among waterfowl, hitting scores of poultry farms in an outbreak that at its peak in May spread to 18 of Vietnam's 64 provinces and municipalities.

As of this week, only three provinces remained affected, and 160 million head of poultry had received bird flu shots in the year's first round of vaccinations which was ongoing or finished in all provinces, officials said.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) had recorded 319 cases of bird flu in humans worldwide, 192 of which were fatal. The Geneva-based body has yet to confirm the latest death in Vietnam with laboratory tests.

Experts fear the global death toll could rise sharply if the virus were to mutate and become easily transmissible between humans, leading to a global pandemic with the potential to kill millions.

Last week WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl said global bird flu cases appeared to have stabilised among humans but that several developing nations had not been able to stem its spread among poultry and domesticated birds.

Source: www.france24.com

Researchers show Alzheimer's link to Glaucoma

A protein that damages tissue in the brains of Alzheimer's patients is also the main cause of blindness worldwide, British researchers said in a new finding that may lead to better treatment for both diseases.

In a study published in the U.S. journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, on Monday the scientists said the same protein, beta-amyloid, which plays a key role in the brain-wasting illness also causes nerve cell damage in the eye from blindness-inducing glaucoma.

Recent studies have suggested connections between Alzheimer's and glaucoma and the new finding bolsters that evidence, said Francesca Cordeiro, a glaucoma specialist at London's University College and leader of the study.

"This is the first time anybody has provided evidence that the same protein in Alzheimer's causes retinal nerve cell loss," she said in a telephone interview.

Scientists do not know what causes glaucoma which affects some 65 million people worldwide.

Most treatments seek to lower the build-up in pressure from fluids in the eye, but the treatment does not work for as many as 30 percent of glaucoma patients, Cordeiro said.

Source: http://uk.reuters.com

Young Children Prefer The Taste Of Branded Fast Foods

A new US study suggests that preschool children prefer the taste of fast food and drinks from McDonald's branded packages to the same food and drinks from unbranded packages.

The study is reported in the August issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the journals in the JAMA/Archives.

The incentive for the study is explained in the paper's introduction which describes how food marketing that targets children is widespread:

"The food and beverage industries spend more than 10 billion dollars per year to market to children in the United States," wrote the authors.

By the time they are two years old children may already have beliefs about certain brands, and by the age of 6 they can recognize brands and say which products they belong to.

Thomas N Robinson of the Stanford University School of Medicine in California, and colleagues carried out the study where 63 preschool children aged between 3 and 5 tasted 5 pairs of packages of the same McDonald's food and drinks. One of the pair in each case bore the McDonald's brand, while the other was unbranded, in plain packages.

Altogether the children performed over 300 tasting comparisons.

The food that the children tasted was: a quarter of a McDonald's hamburger, a Chicken McNugget, some McDonald's french fries, and two baby carrots.

The drink they tasted was about three ounces of 1 per cent fat milk, or apple juice in the case of one participant who was not allowed milk.

The parents then filled out a questionnaire about their children's age, race and ethnicity, and how familiar they were with McDonald's food and toys and also about their television viewing habits and preferences.

The results showed that:
  • On average, the children preferred the taste of the food and drink in the McDonald's packaging over the identical products in unmarked packaging.
  • The result for hamburgers was 48.3 per cent vs. 36.7 per cent.
  • For chicken nuggets the result was 59 per cent vs. 18 per cent.
  • For baby carrots the result was 54.1 per cent vs. 23 per cent.
  • For french fries the result was 76.7 per cent vs. 13.3 per cent.
  • For milk or apple juice the result was 61.3 per cent vs. 21 per cent.
  • Futher analysis showed that 4 out of 5 times, children preferred the taste of food and drink that they thought was from McDonald's.
  • Preschool children who had more TV sets in their homes, and children who ate McDonald's foods more frequently were also more likely to prefer McDonald's branded food and drink to the identical unbranded items.
The authors suggested this study strengthened the justification for tighter regulation or banning of advertising and marketing of high calorie, low nutrient food and drink, if not of all marketing that is aimed at young children.

Source: www.medicalnewstoday.com