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Nov 30
Sugar-free drinks equally bad for teeth
If you have switched to sugar-free drinks to avoid tooth decay, don't be rest assured that you have got rid of the problem. Even sugar-free drinks and foods may kick-off tooth decay, dentists have warned.

The researchers from University of Melbourne tested 23 different types of drinks, including soft drinks and sports drinks.

They found drinks that contain acidic additives and those with low pH levels cause measurable damage to dental enamel, even if the drink is sugar-free, Daily Mail reported.

The cocktail of chemicals and acids in sugar-free food and drinks can have the same impact, wearing away at the teeth, researchers from University of Melbourne said.

"Many people are not aware that while reducing your sugar intake doesn't reduce your risk of dental decay. The chemical mix of acids in some foods and drinks can cause the equally damaging condition of dental erosion," lead researcher Eric Reynolds was quoted as saying.

Dental erosion occurs when acid dissolves the hard tissues of the tooth. In its early stages, erosion strips away the surface layers of tooth enamel.

Researchers measured dental enamel softening and tooth surface loss following exposure to a range of drinks.

They found that the majority of soft drinks and sports drinks caused softening of dental enamel by 30 percent to 50 percent.

Both sugar-containing and sugar-free soft drinks (including flavoured mineral waters) produced measurable loss of the tooth surface, with no significant difference between the two groups of drinks, the study found.

"We have even found sugar-free confectionery products that are labelled 'tooth-friendly' and which when tested were found to be erosive," Reynolds said.

Nov 28
Lab-grown functional human liver cells to aid treatment
Researchers have developed a new approach to rapidly expand the number of human liver cells in the laboratory without losing their unique metabolic function.

"This is the holy grail of liver research," said the study's lead author Yaakov Nahmias from Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel.

The research could help advance a variety of liver-related research and applications, from studying drug toxicity to creating bio-artificial liver support for patients awaiting transplantations.

"Our technology will enable thousands of laboratories to study fatty liver disease, viral hepatitis, drug toxicity and liver cancer at a fraction of the current cost," Nahmias noted.

Thus far, attempts to expand human hepatocytes - cells that comprise 85 percent of the liver - in the laboratory resulted in immortalised cancer cells with little metabolic function.

The scarce supply of human hepatocytes and this inability to expand them without losing function is a major bottleneck for scientific, clinical and pharmaceutical development.

The new method, described as the "upcyte process," allows expanding human hepatocytes, resulting in a quadrillion cells from each liver isolation, compared to only a billion cells that can be isolated from a healthy organ.

"The approach is revolutionary," said Joris Braspenning from Germany-based biotechnoloy company Upcyte Technologies.

"Its strength lies in our ability to generate liver cells from multiple donors, enabling the study of patient-to-patient variability and idiosyncratic toxicity," Braspenning said.

The study appeared in the journal Nature Biotechnology.

Nov 27
Cocoa, green tea can help combat diabetes: Study
Cocoa and green tea contain substances that can help prevent and treat renal complications or diabetic retinopathy, a study has shown.

A study by Brazilian scientists said cocoa and green tea help diminish deaths of podocytes, cells that restrict the passing of proteins into urine.

The two contain polyphenols and themobromine that can diminish the impact of diabetes, Xinhua reported.

The research was carried out by injecting rats with diabetes and growing human and rat cell cultures which were exposed to high concentrations of glucose to imitate diabetes.

Till now, cocoa and green tea were known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

Nov 25
'Impulsive' brain area linked to obesity in kids
Certain food odours activate the impulse area of the brain in obese children, researchers report, adding that obesity can have a neurological link.

In order to fight obesity, it is crucial to understand the brain mechanisms of odour stimulus.

"This study has given us a better understanding that obesity has a neurological disorder component. The findings have the potential to affect treatment of obese patients," said Pilar Dies-Suarez, chief radiologist at Hospital Infantil de Mexico Federico Gomez.

The team studied 30 children between the ages of six and 10 years old.

Half of the children had a normal body mass index (BMI) between 19 and 24, and the other half exhibited a BMI over 30 which is classified as obese.

Each child was presented with three odour samples: chocolate, onion and a neutral odour of diluted acetone.

The results showed that in the obese children, the food odours triggered activation in the areas of the brain associated with impulse and the development of obsessive-compulsive disorder while the areas associated with impulse control exhibited no activity.

The chocolate smell elicited significant brain connections in obese children, compared to the normal-weight children.

"However, in the children with a normal BMI, the areas of the brain associated with pleasure regulation, organisation and planning, as well as regions governing emotional processing or memory function, became more active," the authors noted.

"If we are able to identify the mechanisms that cause obesity, we will be able to change the way we treat these patients, and in turn, reduce obesity prevalence and save lives," Dr Dies-Suarez concluded.

The findings will be shared at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) next month.

Nov 24
New method removes nanoparticles from blood with ease
A team of US engineers has developed a new technology that uses an electrical field to easily and quickly isolate drug-delivery nanoparticles from the blood.

The electronic chip can also serve as a tool to separate and recover nanoparticles from other complex fluids for medical, environmental and industrial applications.

Nanoparticles, which are generally one thousand times smaller than the width of a human hair, are difficult to separate from plasma - the liquid component of blood - owing to their small size and low density.

Traditional methods to remove nanoparticles from plasma samples typically involve diluting plasma.

These methods either alter the normal behaviour of the nanoparticles or cannot be applied to some of the most common nanoparticle types.

"This is the first example of isolating a wide range of nanoparticles out of plasma with a minimum amount of manipulation," said Stuart Ibsen, post-doctoral fellow at University of California-San Diego.

"We have designed a very versatile technique that can be used to recover nanoparticles in a lot of different processes," he added.

The new nanoparticle separation technology will enable researchers better monitor what happens to nanoparticles circulating in a patient's bloodstream.

Scientists can also use this technology in the clinic to determine if the blood chemistry of a particular patient is compatible with the surfaces of certain drug-delivery nanoparticles.

The chip contains hundreds of tiny electrodes that generate a rapidly oscillating electric field that selectively pulls the nanoparticles out of a plasma sample.

"It's amazing that this method works without any modifications to the plasma samples or to the nanoparticles," Ibsen noted in the study published in the journal Small.

Nov 23
Pick up walking pace to be heart healthy
Walking a little faster or for a few extra blocks may be good for older adults' hearts, according to a new study.

In the large prospective community-based study of older Americans, modest physical activity was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). This was true even among men and women older than age 75 at baseline - a rapidly growing population for whom regular activity has been advised, but with little supportive empirical evidence.

Led by senior author Dariush Mozaffarian, the Tufts University researchers found that after adjustment for other risk factors and lifestyle behaviors, those who were more active had significantly lower risk of future heart attacks and stroke.

Adults who walked at a pace faster than three miles per hour (mph) had a 50 percent, 53percent, 50percent lower risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke and total CVD, respectively, compared to those who walked at a pace of less than two mph.

Those who walked an average of seven blocks per day or more had a 36percent, 54percent and 47percent lower risk of CHD, stroke and total CVD, respectively, compared to those who walked up to five blocks per week.

Those who engaged in leisure activities such as lawn-mowing, raking, gardening, swimming, biking and hiking, also had a lower risk of CHD, stroke and total CVD, compared to those who did not engage in leisure-time activities.

The findings were similar in both men and women, in those above or below age 75 at baseline, and including only those with similarly good or excellent self-reported health.

Mozaffarian noted that these results are especially relevant because, with advancing age, the ability to perform vigorous types of activity often decreases. These support the importance of continuing light to moderate exercise to improve health across the lifespan.

The study appears in Circulation.

Nov 21
Moderate coffee while pregnant doesn`t harm baby's IQ
Coffee-lovers rejoice! If you were worried about giving up joe during pregnancy, then relax. A new study has revealed that women drinking and eating moderate amounts of caffeine during pregnancy are not harming their child's intelligence.

The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital research, one of the first studies to focus on how in utero caffeine exposure affects a child's future intelligence (IQ) and behavior later in childhood, found caffeine did not lead to a reduced IQ or increased behavioral problems.

Researchers did not find evidence of an adverse association of maternal pregnancy caffeine consumption with child cognition or behavior at 4 or 7 years of age, said principal investigator Mark A. Klebanoff.

Co-author Sarah Keim said that taken as a whole, they consider their results to be reassuring for pregnant women who consume moderate amounts of caffeine or the equivalent to 1 or 2 cups of coffee per day.

The study appears in American Journal of Epidemiology.

Nov 20
Shift workers at higher risk of diabetes, heart disease
If you work in shifts, you are more prone to heart ailments and diabetes as compared to people who work in regular daytime shifts, says a new study.

Researchers have long recognised that shift work can contribute to metabolic risk because of the continual disruption to the circadian system.

Shift workers are more likely to develop metabolic syndrome, coronary heart disease and Type 2 diabetes than employees with regular daytime shifts, researchers said.

Sleep disruption is among the factors that have contributed to rising rates of diabetes and obesity.

"Social jetlag refers to the mismatch between an individual's biological circadian rhythm and their socially imposed sleep schedules. Other researchers have found that social jetlag relates to obesity and some indicators of cardiovascular function," said Patricia M. Wong from the University of Pittsburgh.

"However, we found that even among healthy adults who experience a less extreme range of mismatches in their sleep schedule, social jetlag can contribute to metabolic problems.

"These metabolic changes can contribute to the development of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease," Wong added.

Researchers examined sleep patterns and cardiometabolic risk in a group of 447 men and women who were between the ages of 30 and 54.

Among the participants, nearly 85 percent had a later halfway point in their sleep cycle - a measurement known as midsleep - on free days compared to work days.

The other 15 percent had an earlier midsleep on free days than on work days.

Participants who had a greater misalignment between their sleep schedules on free and work days tended to have poorer cholesterol profiles, higher fasting insulin levels, larger waist circumference, higher body-mass index and were more resistant to insulin than those who had less social jetlag.

The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology amd Metabolism.

Nov 19
Obesity, diabetes literally 'bad to the bone'
A team of researchers has identified that bone in a "big boned" diabetic is weaker.

Obesity and Type 2 diabetes have been linked to several health issues, including an increased risk of bone fractures. In the new rat study, University of Missouri researchers examined how the development of obesity and insulin resistance contribute to bone-fracture risk and whether exercise prevents weight gain and diabetes and protects bone health.

They found obesity and Type 2 diabetes negatively affected bone, but exercise prevented weight gain and diabetes and increased bone strength. These findings could inform interventions to improve bone health among individuals with obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

Researchers once thought obesity was protective of bone because with more body mass, individuals have more bone mass; more bone mass typically decreases risk of osteoporosis and associated fractures, said researcher Pam Hinton, adding that they have come to realize that the people with obesity and Type 2 diabetes have an increased risk of fractures.

This study doesn't explain how exercise increased bone quality, Hinton said. The animals in the exercise group were healthier; they didn't develop the same insulin resistance and diabetes, which might explain why the bones of the exercising rats were healthier, Hinton said.

The study appears in the journal Metabolism.

Nov 18
Overweight men, not just women, face daily discrimination
Overweight men are just as likely as overweight women to experience subtle forms of discrimination when applying for a job or shopping at retail stores, says new research.

"We were interested in looking at biases toward men who are heavy in employment settings," said one of the researchers Enrica Ruggs from University of North Carolina, Charlotte (UNCC) in the US.

"A lot of the research that has looked at weight stigmatization or discrimination toward heavy people has tended to focus on women. It's perceived as more of a critical issue surrounding women, so we wanted to see if men experience some of the same types of detriments that women face," Ruggs noted.

The research involved two studies. In the first study, non-overweight men applied for jobs at retail stores and the same men applied at different stores wearing overweight prosthetics.

The researchers also wanted to investigate if overweight men would be subjected to discrimination as customers, so the same men posed as customers and visited other retail stores.

They found that when the men applied for jobs or were shopping as customers in their overweight prosthetics, they experienced more types of subtle discrimination, or what the researchers call "interpersonal discrimination".

"Employees they interacted with would try to end the interaction early, there was less affirmative behaviour like less nodding or smiling; there was more avoidance types of behaviour like frowning and trying to get out of the interaction," Ruggs said.

The findings suggest that men who are heavy are experiencing really negative behaviours more often than men who are not heavy.

The researchers also looked into the situation where male retail employee was overweight.

This study too found the same types of subtle discrimination was taking place, this time with the customer being the discriminator.

The researchers found, customers thought, the overweight representatives were less professional, their appearance was less neat and clean and they were more careless.

The study was published in the journal of Applied Psychology.