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Jan 31
Better diet and nutrition critical in maintaining mental health
Scientists claim that a good diet and proper nutrition is essential in maintaining mental health.

A new international study led by the University of Melbourne and Deakin University has stated that as with a range of medical conditions, psychiatry and public health should now recognise and embrace diet and nutrition as key determinants of mental health.

Lead author, Dr Jerome Sarris said that while the determinants of mental health were complex, the emerging and compelling evidence for nutrition as a key factor in the high prevalence and incidence of mental disorders suggested that nutrition was as important to psychiatry as it is to cardiology, endocrinology and gastroenterology.

In the last few years, significant links have been established between nutritional quality and mental health. Scientifically rigorous studies have made important contributions to our understanding of the role of nutrition in mental health, he added.

Findings of the review revealed that in addition to dietary improvement, evidence now supports the contention that nutrient-based prescription has the potential to assist in the management of mental disorders at the individual and population level.

Studies show that many of these nutrients have a clear link to brain health, including omega-3s, B vitamins (particularly folate and B12), choline, iron, zinc, magnesium, S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe), vitamin D, and amino acids.

"While we advocate for these to be consumed in the diet where possible, additional select prescription of these as nutraceuticals (nutrient supplements) may also be justified," Dr Sarris said.

It was time for clinicians to consider diet and additional nutrients as part of the treating package to manage the enormous burden of mental ill health, he said.

The study is published in The Lancet Psychiatry today.

Jan 30
How green tea rids you of oral cancer
Green tea consists of an ingredient , which may help kill oral cancer cells, without touching the healthy cells, says a new research.

Associate professor Joshua Lambert at Penn State said that earlier studies had shown that epigallocatechin-3-gallate-EGCG-a compound found in green tea, killed oral cancer cells without harming normal cells, but researchers did not understand the reasons for its ability to target the cancer cells. The current study shows that EGCG may trigger a process in the mitochondria that leads to cell death.

The researchers studied normal human oral cells side-by-side with human oral cancer cells to determine how EGCG was affecting cancer cells differently than normal cells.

They grew the normal and cancer cells on petri dishes and then exposed them to EGCG, the major polyphenol found in green tea, at concentrations typically found in the saliva after chewing green-tea chewing gum. At various times, the researchers would collect the cells and check for oxidative stress and signs of antioxidant response.

The researchers said that a protein called sirtuin 3 -- SIRT3 -- was critical to the process, so the idea that EGCG might selectively affect the activity of sirtuin 3 in cancer cells-to turn it off-and in normal cells-to turn it on-was probably applicable in multiple kinds of cancers, Lambert said.

The study builds on earlier research on how EGCG affected oral cancer, a disease that is expected to kill more than 8,000 people in the United States this year.

He said the next step would be to study the mechanism in animals. If those tests and human trials are successful, the researchers then hope to create anti-cancer treatments that are as effective as current treatments without the harmful side effects.

Lambert said chemotherapy drugs just targeted rapidly dividing cells, so cancer divides rapidly, but so did the cells in your hair follicles and cells in your intestines, leading to a lot of side effects. But green tea consumption didn't have such side effects.

The study is published in the online issue of Molecular Nutrition and Food Research.

Jan 29
Beetroot juice boosts exercise function in heart patients
A small yet significant study shows that beetroot juice improves exercise function in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients.

The new research by Wake Forest University looked at a small group of COPD patients who drank beetroot juice as compared to a placebo drink before exercise.

"The intent of this study was to determine if acute ingestion of beetroot juice, which is rich with nitrates, prior to exercising could improve the exercise capacity of COPD patients," said Michael Berry, chair of Wake Forest's department of health and exercise science.

COPD makes it difficult for patients to breathe and worsens over time.

In turn, they tend to limit their activities, become more sedentary, and lose fitness and physical function.

The findings showed overall that those patients who drank beetroot juice were able to extend their exercise time and had reduced exercise diastolic and resting systolic blood pressures.

"This is the first study to demonstrate beneficial effects of dietary nitrite supplementation on exercise performance and blood pressure in patients with COPD," he added. One of the benefits of exercise is that if you get positive results, you are more likely to continue doing it.

"If beetroot juice positively impacts those results, it could motivate COPD patients to continue to be physically active and improve their health," he added.

The research appeared in the journal Nitric Oxide: Biology and Chemistry.

Jan 28
Flexible work schedules of employees improve health, sleep
A new study has examined that people who have flexible work schedules have better health and they sleep properly than their counterparts.

Orfeu M. Buxton, associate professor of biobehavioral health, Penn State, said that in the absence of sufficient sleep, they are not as attentive or alert, they process information more slowly, miss or misinterpret social and emotional cues and decision making is impaired.

The researchers followed 474 employees as part of a Work, Family and Health Network study conducted at an information technology company, with about half of the employees serving as the control while the other half experienced the study intervention. Both employees and their supervisors participated.

The intervention was designed to reduce conflicts between work and personal life, and focused on two main cultural shifts: allowing employees to decide on when and where they worked and training supervisors to support their employees' personal lives. Those who were assigned to the intervention were encouraged to be completely flexible about when and where they would work at the office, from home or elsewhere while still working the same number of hours as the control group. All of the participants wore a sleep-monitoring watch, a device that tracks movement to monitor periods of sleep.

At 12 months, the researchers found that employees who participated in the intervention experienced an average of eight minutes more sleep per night, which is nearly an hour more sleep per week, than the control group. Intervention participants' perceptions of their sleep sufficiency also improved.

Buxton added that work can be a calling and inspirational, as well as a paycheck, but work should not be detrimental to healthIt is possible to mitigate some of the deleterious effects of work by reducing work-family conflict and improving sleep.

Jan 27
Chewing gum enhances oral health
Chewing gum can enhance oral health by removing 100 million bacteria from your mouth in just 10 minutes, suggests a new study.

Researchers at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands found that chewing gum can trap and remove bacteria from the oral cavity.

In the study, five biomedical engineering students were recruited to chew two different standard types of spearmint gum for various lengths of time ranging from 30 seconds to 10 minutes.

Afterwards, the gum was spit into a cup filled with sterile water to be analysed, 'Medical Daily' reported.

There were were about 100 million bacteria detected on each piece of chewed up gum, with the number increasing as chewing time increased.

However, after 30 seconds of chewing, the gum starts to lose its adhesiveness, meaning it traps fewer bacteria overall.

"Trapped bacteria were clearly visualised in chewed gum using scanning-electron-microscopy," researchers said in the paper published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Previous research has shown that using a new, clean toothbrush without any toothpaste can remove around 100 million colony-forming units (CFUs) per brush, which would put chewing of gum on par with the mechanical action of a toothbrush.

"Chewing gum however, does not necessarily remove bacteria from the same sites of the dentition as does brushing or flossing, therefore its results may be noticeable on a more long-term than those of brushing or flossing," researchers said.

Jan 24
Fatty acids in fish protect brain from mercury damage
The benefits of fish consumption during pre-natal development may offset the risks associated with mercury exposure, shows a study.

Nutrients found in fish have properties that protect the brain from the potential toxic effects of the chemical.

Compounds present in fish - specifically polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) - may actively counteract the damage that mercury causes in the brain.

The type of fatty acids a mother consumes during pregnancy may make a difference in terms of their child's future neurological development.

"It is also becoming increasingly clear that the benefits of fish consumption may outweigh, or even mask, any potentially adverse effects of mercury," said Edwin van Wijngaarden, associate professor in University of Rochester in Britain.

Mercury is found in the environment as a result of both natural and human activity.

Much of it ends up being deposited in the world's oceans and, as a result, fish harbour the chemical in very small amounts.

"It appears that relationship between fish nutrients and mercury may be far more complex than previously appreciated," said Philip Davidson, principal investigator of the Seychelles Child Development Study.

The study appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Jan 23
Is eating an orange really better than orange juice?
While it is believed that eating an orange is better than having orange juice, scientists have explained in a new study that it may not be that clear.

Although juice is indeed high in sugar, the scientists found that certain nutrients in orange juice might be easier for the body to absorb than when a person consumes them from unprocessed fruit.

Ralf Schweiggert, Julian Aschoff and colleagues note that oranges are packed with nutrients such as carotenoids and flavonoids that, among other benefits, can potentially help lower a person's risk for certain cancers and cardiovascular disease. But many people prefer to drink a glass of orange juice rather than eat the fruit.

The researchers found that the production of pasteurized orange juice slightly lowered the levels of carotenoids and vitamin C. But at the same time, it significantly improved the carotenoid and vitamin C bioaccessibility-or how much the body can absorb and use. And contrary to conventional wisdom, although juicing oranges dramatically cut flavonoid levels, the remaining ones were much more bioaccessible than those in orange segments.

The study is published in ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Jan 22
Coffee may protect against melanoma
Coffee drinkers may face lower risk of melanoma, as a new study has suggested that it may have a protective effect against the skin cancer.

Erikka Loftfield, M.P.H., of the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, used data from the NIH-AARP Diet and Health study to determine if there was an association between coffee consumption and risk of cutaneous melanoma.

Information on coffee consumption was obtained from 447,357 non-Hispanic white subjects with a self-administered food-frequency questionnaire in 1995/1996, with a median follow-up of 10 years. All subjects included in the analysis were cancer-free at baseline, and the authors adjusted for ambient residential ultraviolet radiation exposure, body mass index, age, sex, physical activity, alcohol intake, and smoking history.

Overall, the highest coffee intake was inversely associated with a risk of malignant melanoma, with a 20 percent lower risk for those who consumed 4 cups per day or more. There was also a trend toward more protection with higher intake, with the protective effect increasing from 1 or fewer cups to 4 or more. However, the effect was statistically significant for caffeinated but not decaffeinated coffee and only for protection against malignant melanoma but not melanoma in-situ, which may have a different etiology.

The researchers point out that the results are preliminary and may not be applicable to other populations, and therefore additional investigations of coffee intake are needed. However, they concluded that "Because of its high disease burden, lifestyle modifications with even modest protect ive effects may have a meaningful impact on melanoma morbidity."

The study is published in JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Jan 21
A glass of wine a day good for heart than none at all: Study
Drinking a small glass of wine a day may give you a better chance of avoiding heart failure than those who don't drink at all, according to scientists.

In a new study, scientists have discovered that middle-aged men who drink up to seven small glasses of wine or about three and a half pints of beer a week are 20 per cent less likely to develop heart failure when compared to teetotallers.

The study also found that the apparent protective effects were more marginal in women, but up to seven drinks a week still gave moderate female drinkers a 16 per cent reduced risk of heart failure over their non-drinking counterparts.

Researcher Scott Solomon of Harvard Medical School in Boston, said that these findings suggest that drinking alcohol in moderation does not contribute to an increased risk of heart failure and may even be protective.

He added that the study shows there is an association between drinking moderate amounts of alcohol and a lower risk of heart failure but this does not necessarily mean that moderate alcohol consumption causes the lowered risk.

However, researchers cautioned that the findings shouldn't be used as an excuse to booze it up as heavy alcohol use is certainly a risk factor.

For the study, researchers tracked drinking patterns and heart failure rates for 14,600 men and women aged between 45 and 64 over a period of 24 to 25 years.

The study also found that former drinkers had the highest risk of developing heart failure, a 19 percent and 17 percent increased risk among men and women respectively compared with abstainers.

The research has been published in the European Heart Journal.

Jan 20
Daily consumption of nuts improve overall health: Study
A recent study involving 14,386 young adults has revealed that daily consumption of tree nuts can promote good health.

Tree nuts that include almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts are a rich source of protein, fiber, unsaturated fats, and important vitamins and minerals.

Consumption of at least 44 grams of tree nuts per day, is associated with better nutrient adequacy in the diet and better diet quality.

"Consumption of tree nuts should be encouraged as part of a healthy diet by health professionals to improve diet quality and nutrient adequacy," said Carol O'Neil, professor at Louisiana State University's agricultural centre.

He also stressed the need for nutrition education programmes that increase awareness and consumption of tree nuts.

The team found that when it comes to nutrient adequacy for most nutrients, tree nut consumers fared better than non-consumers.

"This new research further supports the need to encourage people to eat tree nuts for overall health," stated Maureen Ternus, executive director of the International Tree Nut Council.

We need to encourage people to grab a handful of nuts every day, he added.