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Apr 30
'Polygamy' puts you at 4-times higher risk of heart disease
If you practice polygamy and have multiple wives, your chances of developing heart disease is 4 times higher than others.

According to Dr Daoulah, until now no study had assessed the effect of polygamy on cardiovascular health. Men who practice polygamy have up to four concurrent wives who can reside in the same or different regions but do not normally reside in the same house. Polygamy is practiced mainly in North and West Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and Southeast Asia.

The prospective multicentre observational study examined the relationship between the presence and severity of coronary artery disease (CAD) and number of wives. It included consecutive patients referred for coronary angiography at 5 hospitals in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The 687 married men in the study had an average age of 59 years and 56 percent had diabetes, 57 percent had hypertension and 45 percent had a past history of CAD. Around two-thirds of the men had one wife (68 percent) while 19 percent had 2 wives, 10 percent had 3 wives and 3 percent had 4 wives. There were significant baseline differences according to the number of wives. Men with more than 1 wife were more likely to be older, live in a rural area, have a higher income and have a history of coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG).

Dr Daoulah said that men with multiple wives have to be well supported financially, and although Saudis and Emirati people are supported by their governments, polygamists may need more than one income. They may therefore take on extra employment or have the added pressure of travelling daily to urban areas for higher paid work.

The researchers found a significant association between number of wives and the presence of CAD, LMD and MVD. Risk increased with the number of wives. After adjusting for baseline differences, the researchers showed that men who practiced polygamy had a 4.6-fold increased risk of CAD, a 3.5-fold increased risk of LMD and a 2.6-fold elevated risk of MVD.

Dr Daoulah explained that the reason could be the need to provide and maintain separate households multiplies the financial burden and emotional expense.

However, he added that unmeasured confounding variables such as physical activity, level of intimacy, dietary habits and genetic effects from interbreeding with close relatives needs to be analyzed in greater depth as they may influence the outcome. In conclusion, the problem of coronary heart disease and polygamy was only an association and not necessarily a root cause therefore further studies were required to verify the link.

Apr 29
Exercise key to healthy brain among the ageing
Physical activities such as walking helps older adults lessen age-related decline in brain structure, says a new research.

The researchers found the relationship between fitness and brain structure only in older adults, but not younger adults.

"We found that higher levels of cardiorespiratory fitness were associated with enhanced brain structure in older adults," explained study author Scott Hayes, assistant professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine.

"We found that physical activities that enhance cardio-respiratory fitness, such as walking, are inexpensive, accessible and could potentially improve quality of life by delaying cognitive decline and prolonging independent function," he noted.

Cardio-respiratory fitness refers to the ability of the circulatory and respiratory systems to supply oxygen to skeletal muscles during sustained physical activities.

For the study, the researchers compared younger adults (age 18-31) to older adults (age 55-82). All participants had magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs) taken of their brains and their cardiorespiratory (heart and lung) fitness was measured while they exercised on a treadmill.

The researchers found cardio-respiratory fitness was positively linked to the structural integrity of white matter fiber bundles in the brain in the older adults, while no such association was observed in younger adults.

"We hope this study provides additional motivation for older adults to increase their levels of physical activity, which positively impacts health, mood, cognition and the brain," Hayes said.

The findings appeared online in the journal Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology.

Apr 28
Sugar and carbs actually making you fat
Our calorie-laden diets are generating more ill health than physical inactivity, alcohol and smoking combined, reveals significant research.

The results bust the myth that anyone - and that includes athletes - can outrun a bad diet.

"The evidence now suggests that up to 40 percent of those within a normal weight (BMI) range will none the less harbour harmful metabolic abnormalities typically associated with obesity," warned experts in an editorial that appeared in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Few people realise this and many wrongly believe that obesity is entirely due to lack of exercise - a perception that is firmly rooted in corporate marketing.

The prevalence of diabetes increases 11-fold for every 150 additional sugar calories consumed daily, compared with the equivalent amount of calories consumed as fat.

The evidence now suggests that carbs are no better.

Recent research indicates that cutting down on dietary carbohydrate is the single most effective approach for reducing all of the features of the metabolic syndrome and should be the primary strategy for treating diabetes, with benefits occurring even in the absence of weight loss.

Furthermore, research suggests that rather than carbohydrate loading ahead of intense exercise, athletes would be better off adopting a high fat low-carb diet.

The food environment needs to be changed so that people automatically make healthy choices, suggest the authors.

This "will have far greater impact on population health than counselling or education. Healthy choice must become the easy choice", they wrote.

They describe the public relations tactics of the food industry as "chillingly similar to those of Big Tobacco", which deployed denial, doubt, confusion and "bent scientists" to convince the public that smoking was not linked to lung cancer.

"Celebrity endorsements of sugary drinks and the association of junk food and sport must end," they declared, adding that health clubs and gyms need to set an example by removing the sale of these products from their premises.

Public health messaging has unhelpfully focused on maintaining a "healthy weight" through calorie counting but it is the source of the calories that matters.

"Sugar calories promote fat storage and hunger. Fat calories induce fullness or satiation," they contended.

"Let us bust the myth of physical inactivity and obesity. You can't outrun a bad diet," they concluded.

Apr 24
Indian scientists develop new drug for Parkinson's
Indian researchers have developed a new therapy that has been found to reverse Parkinson's-like symptoms in rats and the researchers believe that the findings could one day lead to a new therapy for human patients.

The researchers found that infusing the chemical dopamine into the brain can relieve symptoms in animal models of the disease.

"We designed neurotransmitter dopamine-loaded PLGA nanoparticles (DA NPs) to deliver dopamine to the brain," said Rajnish Kumar Chaturvedi and his colleagues from CSIR-Indian Institute of Toxicology Research in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.

Patients who develop this disease usually start experiencing symptoms around age 60 or older. The researchers noted that among other issues, people with Parkinson's lack dopamine in the brain.

Dopamine is a chemical messenger that helps nerve cells communicate with each other and is involved in normal body movements. Reduced levels cause the shaking and mobility problems associated with Parkinson's.

Symptoms can be relieved in animal models of the disease by infusing the compound into their brains.

But researchers have not yet figured out how to safely deliver dopamine directly to the human brain, which is protected by something called the blood-brain barrier that keeps out pathogens, as well as many medicines.

The researchers wanted to find a way to overcome this challenge.

They packaged dopamine in biodegradable nanoparticles that have been used to deliver other therapeutic drugs to the brain.

The resulting nanoparticles successfully crossed the blood-brain barrier in rats, released its dopamine payload over several days and reversed the rodents' movement problems without causing side effects.

The study was published in the journal ACS Nano.

Apr 23
Regular consumption of yoghurt does not boost health: Study
Consumption of dairy products is recommended as part of a healthy diet, but according to a new study, regular intake of yogurt does not improve physical or mental health.

The Spanish study involving more than 4,000 people analysed the relationship between the regular intake of yogurt and health-related quality of life, and found that there was no link with the improvement of the physical and mental parameters analysed.

For years various researchers have stated the benefits of eating yoghurt on a regular basis although its effectiveness has never been proven.

Led by researchers from the Autonomous University of Madrid, the study analysed the relationship between the consumption of yogurt and the change in the test score over a three-and-a-half-year period in a sample of 4,445 Spanish adults.

"The regular consumption of yogurt was not linked to health-related quality of life," lead author Esther Lopez-Garcia told Plataforma, SINC.

"For future research more specific instruments must be used which may increase the probability of finding a potential benefit of this food," Lopez-Garcia said.

"In comparison with people that did not eat yogurt, those who ate this dairy product regularly did not display any significant improvement in their score on the physical component of quality of life, and although there was a slight improvement mentally, this was not statistically significant," said Lopez-Garcia.

The main dietary guidelines in Spain and other countries support the consumption of dairy products as part of a healthy diet.

"This is because the majority of studies have focused on the effect as a whole, but it would be interesting to evaluate the independent association between each type of product and global health indicators," Lopez-Garcia said.

The study is published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Apr 22
Excessive intake of vitamins can lead to cancer
A new research has examined that excess use of vitamins and dietary supplements can increase the risk of cancer.

The study conducted by University of Colorado Denver suggested that over-the-counter supplements may actually increase cancer risk if taken in excess of the recommended daily amount.

Tim Byers, associate director for cancer prevention and control at the CU Cancer Center asserted that they were not sure why this was happening at the molecular level but evidence showed that people who take more dietary supplements than needed tend to have a higher risk of developing cancer.

One trial exploring the effects of beta-keratin supplements showed that taking more than the recommended dosage increased the risk for developing both lung cancer and heart disease by 20 percent. Folic acid, which was thought to help reduce the number of polyps in a colon, actually increased the number in another trial.

Byers asserted that when they first tested dietary supplements in animal models they found that the results were promising and eventually they were able to move on to the human populations.

He continued that people can get the daily recommended doses of vitamins and minerals in their diets by eating healthy meal and that many adults who take vitamin supplements may not need them.

Byers concluded that at the end of the day they have discovered that taking extra vitamins and minerals did more harm than good.

Apr 21
Soy foods help reduce breast cancer recurrence
Overturning prevalent suggestions that breast cancer patients should not eat soy foods, new research has found that long-term consumption of these foods actually reduces the risk of the disease recurring.

"This work suggests it is okay to continue consuming soy foods during breast cancer treatment," said the study's lead investigator Leena Hilakivi-Clarke, professor of oncology at the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in the US.

Women diagnosed with breast cancer are often told not to eat soy foods or soy-based supplements because they can interfere with anti-estrogen treatment.

The notion that soy, specifically genistein (an isoflavone), can stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells and disrupt anti-estrogen treatment has been based on studies in mice that do not have immune cells known as cytotoxic T cells, known to attack breast cancer.

This led oncologists to advise their breast cancer patients not to eat soy foods.

The researchers found that in rats fed soy, specifically genistein (an isoflavone - organic compound), since before puberty, the T cell immune response was activated already before they started treatment with tamoxifen (an anti-estrogen therapy).

Also, during the treatment, the tumour's attempt to hide from an immune system attack was thwarted.

"Our results suggest that genistein's ability to activate anti-tumour immune responses and reduce expression of immunosuppressive mechanisms may explain why lifetime genistein intake reduces risk of breast cancer recurrence," Hilakivi-Clarke noted.

"But it is critical that genistein is consumed well before a tumour develops to program the tumour to exhibit good immune responses," Hilakivi-Clarke's doctoral student Xiyuan Zhang, the lead author of the current study, noted.

The study was presented at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2015 in Pennsylvania.

Apr 20
Mushrooms may boost your immunity
A mushroom species native to Asia may boost immunity when eaten daily, a new study has claimed.

Researchers from the University of Florida found increased immunity in people who ate a cooked shiitake mushroom every day for four weeks.

In the study led by UF Food Science and Human Nutrition Professor Sue Percival, 52 healthy adults, age 21 to 41, were given a four-week supply of dry shiitake mushrooms, popular in countries like Japan and China.

Participants took the mushrooms home, cleaned and cooked them. Then they ate one, 4-ounce serving of mushrooms each day during the experiment.

Through blood tests before and after the experiment, researchers saw better-functioning gamma delta T-cells and reductions in inflammatory proteins.

"If you eat a shiitake mushroom every day, you could see changes in their immune system that are beneficial," said Percival.

"We're enhancing the immune system, but we're also reducing the inflammation that the immune system produces," Percival said.

To be eligible for the study, participants could not be vegans or vegetarians. They also could not drink tea, take antioxidant supplements or probiotics before the study.

They also could not consume more than 14 glasses of alcoholic beverages per week or eat more than seven servings of fruits and vegetables per day during the experiment.

Percival said the dietary restrictions were imposed because fibre, tea and probiotics help the body's immune system, so researchers didn't want to start with people who already had a strong immune system.

Additionally, alcohol could suppress immunity, Percival said.

The study was published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

Apr 18
This is how green tea, apple benefit our health
Scientists have found evidence supporting the health benefiting facts about certain foods like green tea and apples.

Dr Paul Kroon and his team at the Institute of Food Research have shown that polyphenols in green tea and apples block a signalling molecule called VEGF, which in the body can trigger atherosclerosis and is a target for some anti-cancer drugs.

In the body, VEGF is a main driver of blood vessel formation in these cell types via a process called angiogenesis. Angiogenesis is crucial in cancer progression, as well as in the development of atherosclerotic plaques and plaque rupture which can cause heart attacks and stroke.

Using cells derived from human blood vessels, the researchers found that low concentrations of the polyphenols epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) from green tea and procyanidin from apples stopped a crucial signalling function of VEGF.

Inhibition of VEGF signalling by dietary polyphenols has previously been implicated in other studies, but this study provides the first evidence that polyphenols can directly interact with VEGF to block its signals, at the levels you would see in the blood stream after eating polyphenol rich foods.

Kroon said that if this effect happened in the body as well, it would provide very strong evidence for a mechanism that links dietary polyphenols and beneficial health effects.

Apr 17
Now, herbal tea that fights malaria
A new study has revealed about the journey of the antimalarial tea from herbal remedy to licensed phytomedicine.

The herbal remedy derived from the roots of a weed, which was traditionally used to alleviate malarial symptoms, was combined with leaves and aerial portions from two other plants with antimalarial activity, formulated as a tea, and eventually licensed and sold as an antimalarial phytomedicine.

The authors have presented the fascinating story and challenges behind the development of this plant-based treatment.

Merlin Willcox (University of Oxford, U.K.), Zephirin Dakuyo (Phytofla, Banfora, Burkina Faso) and coauthors discuss the antimalarial and pharmacological properties of the herbal medication derived from Cochlospermum planchonii (a shrubby weed known as N'Dribala), Phyllanthus amarus, and Cassia alata.

The authors provide a unique historical perspective in describing the early evaluation, development, and production of this phytomedicine.

They present the ongoing research and challenges in scaling up cultivation and harvesting of the plants and in production of the final product.

The article also describes other traditional uses of the medication, such as to treat hepatitis.

The study appears in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.