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Feb 15
An egg a day doesn't risk your heart
Due to their cholesterol content, their reputation has been perceived as "bad" for quite some time, but now eggs are back in the game with a new study revealing that they don't increase the risk of heart attack.

The University of Eastern Finland study shows that a relatively high intake of dietary cholesterol or eating one egg every day is not associated with an elevated risk of incident coronary heart disease.

Furthermore, no association was found among those with the APOE4 phenotype, which affects cholesterol metabolism and is common among the Finnish population.

In the majority of population, dietary cholesterol affects serum cholesterol levels only a little, and few studies have linked the intake of dietary cholesterol to an elevated risk of cardiovascular diseases. Globally, many nutrition recommendations no longer set limitations to the intake of dietary cholesterol.

The study did not establish a link between dietary cholesterol or eating eggs with thickening of the common carotid artery walls, either.

The findings suggest that a high-cholesterol diet or frequent consumption of eggs do not increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases even in persons who are genetically predisposed to a greater effect of dietary cholesterol on serum cholesterol levels.

The findings are published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Feb 13
Head-down yoga postures fatal for glaucoma patients: Study
For people suffering from glaucoma, certain yoga positions - especially head-down postures - and other exercises like push-ups and lifting heavy weights may be dangerous, a team of US researchers has warned.

Glaucoma patients may experience increased eye pressure as the result of performing several different head-down positions while practicing yoga, claimed the researchers from New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai (NYEE).

Four inverted yoga positions - facing dog, standing forward bend, plow and legs up the wall - were key to the research.

"While we encourage our patients to live active and healthy lifestyles, certain types of activities, including pushups and lifting heavy weights, should be avoided by glaucoma patients," said Robert Ritch, senior study author and Director, Glaucoma Research, NYEE.

Damage to the optic nerve occurs in glaucoma patients when fluid pressure inside the eye rises. Elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) is the most common known risk factor.

Certain yoga postures and exercises increase "the risk of increasing IOP and possibly damaging the optic nerve," Ritch noted.

In previous research, studies and case reports had tested only the headstand position which showed a marked two-fold rise in IOP.

In the new study, researchers asked healthy participants with no eye-related disease and glaucoma patients to perform four inverted yoga positions.

Both normal and glaucoma study participants showed a rise in IOP in all four yoga positions, with the greatest increase of pressure occurring during downward facing dog.

When the measurements were taken after the participants returned to a seated position and again after waiting for 10 minutes, the pressure in most cases remained slightly elevated from the baseline.

"As we know that any elevated IOP is the most important known risk factor for development and progression of nerve damage to the eye, the rise in IOP after assuming the yoga poses is of concern for glaucoma patients and their treating physicians," explained study first author Jessica Jasien at NYEE.

"In addition, glaucoma patients should share with their yoga instructors their disease to allow for modifications during the practice of yoga," Jasien added.

The research team emphasises the importance of educating glaucoma patients on all of the risks and benefits of relating to physical exercise and their overall vision health.

"The new study will help clinicians advise their patients on the potential risk associated with various yoga positions and other exercises that involve inverted poses," the authors concluded in a paper published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Feb 12
Focus on quality, not quantity, of food to stay slim
Have you come across a few people who never seem to worry about weight and yet manage to stay slim? One secret that works behind their seeming effortlessness may actually be a sharp focus on the quality of food that they eat, suggests new research.

"These results are encouraging because they imply that instead of putting restrictions on one's diet and avoiding favourite foods, weight gain could be prevented early on by learning to listen to inner cues and putting emphasis on the quality instead of the quantity of food," said lead researcher Anna-Leena Vuorinen from the University of Tempere in Finland.

You know that one friend who never worries about weight and seems to stay effortlessly slim? That friend, and others like him might unknowingly possess secrets to helping those who struggle with their weight.

The findings are based on Global Healthy Weight Registry that surveyed adults who have successfully maintained a healthy body weight throughout their lives.

The registry was created by Cornell Food and Brand Lab of Cornell University in the US.

Those who voluntarily signed up for the registry answered a series of questions about diet, exercise and daily routines.

The researchers then divided the respondents into two groups. Group one, the mindlessly slim, consisted of 112 adults who reported that they did not maintain strict diets.

The other group consisted of those who dieted regularly, thought about food frequently and were highly conscious of what they ate.

After comparing the responses from each group, the researchers found that mindlessly slim individuals were more likely to use strategies that differ from traditional recommendations for weight loss or maintenance.

These strategies include eating high-quality foods, cooking at home and listening to inner cues in order to stay slim.

Also they did not indicate feeling as guilty as the other group about overeating.

Furthermore, mindlessly slim people were more likely to have an enjoyment-based, internally informed approach to food and eating, the study found.

The findings were presented recently at the annual scientific meeting of The Obesity Society in Los Angeles, US.

Feb 11
Radiation from X-rays, CT scans doesn't cause cancer
A new study has debunked the widespread belief that radiations from X-rays and CT scans can cause cancer.

Scientists said that it is time to hurl away an unproven, decades-old theoretical model that has led many people, including doctors to believe otherwise.

Scientists used a model known as linear no-threshold (LNT) to estimate cancer risks from low-dose radiation such as medical imaging.

But, risk estimates based on this model are only theoretical and, as yet, have never been conclusively demonstrated by empirical evidence, they said.

The use of LNT model drives unfounded fears and excessive expenditures on putative but unneeded and wasteful safety measures, according to James Welsh, a professor at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine in US.

The LNT model dissuades many physicians from using appropriate imaging techniques and "discourages many in the public from getting proper and needed imaging, all in the name of avoiding any radiation exposure," Welsh and colleagues wrote in the study published in the American Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The said that the LNT model assumes there is no safe dose of radiation, no matter how small. However, the human body has evolved the ability to repair damage from low-dose radiation that naturally occurs in the environment.

They said that studies of atomic bomb survivors and other epidemiological studies of human populations have never conclusively demonstrated that low-dose radiation exposure can cause cancer.

Any claim that low-dose radiation from medical imaging procedures is known to cause cancer "should be vigorously challenged, because it serves to alarm and perhaps harm, rather than educate," they said.

The researchers suggested that the LNT model "should finally and decisively be abandoned."

The researchers reexamined the original studies, dating back more than 70 years, which led to adoption of the LNT model.

Feb 10
Honey can destroy harmful fungus, save lives
Researchers from Britain have identified the effect of honey used since ancient times for the treatment of several diseases, on pathogenic fungi that can cause devastating infections in vulnerable people.

Researchers from the University of Manchester in Britain discovered a powerful link between Surgihoney -- a medicinal type of honey and the destruction of Fusarium -- a fungus that can cause blindness or even death.

The researchers used different concentrations of Surgihoney, a biologically engineered honey that produces chemically reactive molecules containing oxygen, to test how effective it could be in destroying the fungus Fusarium, which is found on plants and in soil.

Even the lowest concentrations had a significant effect in breaking down the cell wall of the fungus, demonstrating its potential as a future treatment for patients, the study revealed.

Chronic infections, such as those found in long-lasting wounds comprise about 60-80 percent of infectious diseases in humans and the way fungi invades wounds is associated with the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics.

Chronic infections, such as those found in long-lasting wounds, in which fungi invades, comprise about 60-80 percent of infectious diseases in humans.

Biofilms -- thin layers of micro organisms, which group together -- contribute to the severity and delayed healing of such chronic wounds, the researchers said.

"Through my research I wanted to show the potential for honey as a healing agent to break through these biofilms and in doing so increase the process of healing. What I found amazing is that honey actually works better than some antifungals," Zain Habib Alhindi, research student at the Manchester University said in an official statement.

The study opens door for further work on the application of honey for many fungal infections and allows scientists to adopt different options for treating a range of superficial infections, researchers concluded.

Feb 09
Now, sunscreen that gives you instant Vitamin D
US researchers have found a new sunscreen that guarantees no loss of vitamin D, rather allows the body to produce the essential vitamin, a deficiency or insufficiency of which causes major health problems in both adults and children.

Researchers from Boston University in the US developed Solar D, through a process in which the ingredients of a sunscreen are altered in such a way that it does not impact its sun protection factor (SPF), but does allow the body to produce vitamin D.

"Solar D was designed with compounds with differing filter compositions to maximise vitamin D production while maintaining its sun protection for reducing erythema or burning of the skin," said Michael F. Holick, professor at Boston University.

Sun exposure has been the major source of vitamin D for most children and adults worldwide.

However, the increased risk of skin cancer led to the widespread usage of sunscreens.

As a result, an SPF of 30 when properly applied reduces the capacity of the skin to produce vitamin D by almost 98 percent, the researchers said.

There are several chemical compounds that are typically used in a sunscreen that efficiently absorbed varying wavelengths of UVB radiation, the researchers explained in the study published in the journal PLOS ONE.

After removing certain ingredients the researchers compared Solar D, which has an SPF of 30, to a popular commercial sunscreen with the same SPF, and found Solar D allowed for up to 50 percent more production of vitamin D in-vitro.

Feb 08
Meditation lowers pain, anxiety in breast cancer biopsy
Meditation eases anxiety, fatigue and pain for women undergoing breast cancer biopsies, new research says.

Researchers from the Duke Cancer Institute in Durham, US found that during such period even music is effective, but only to a lesser extent.

Meditation also helps lower pain during biopsy, the study said.

"Listening to guided meditation resulted in significantly lower biopsy pain during imaging-guided breast biopsy, and both meditation and music reduced patient anxiety and fatigue," said Mary Scott Soo, associate professor at Duke Cancer Institute.

There are medical approaches to ease anxiety by providing anti-anxiety drugs but they may sedate the patients, the researchers noted, adding that meditation is simple and inexpensive, and can be seen as a good alternative.

Anxiety and potential pain can also have a negative impact on patient care undergoing image-guided needle biopsies for diagnosing breast cancer, which are otherwise efficient and successful, the researchers indicated.

Patients who experience pain and anxiety may move during the procedure, which can reduce the effectiveness of biopsy, or they may not adhere to follow-up screening and testing, the researchers revealed in the study published online in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

The researchers enrolled 121 women undergoing breast cancer diagnosis at Duke and randomly assigned them to receive one of three approaches as they underwent stereotactic and ultrasound-guided biopsy: a recorded meditation, music, or standard care with a technologist offering casual conversation and support.

The meditation was a guided "loving/kindness" script that focused on building positive emotions such as compassion towards oneself and others and releasing negative emotions.

Patients in the music group listened to their choice of instrumental jazz, classical piano, harp and flute, nature sounds or world music. Standard-care patients received supportive and comforting dialogue with the radiologist or technologist.

Immediately before and after biopsy, participants completed questionnaires measuring nervousness and anxiety, ranking biopsy pain between a low of zero to a high of 10, and assessing feelings of weakness and fatigue.

Patients in the meditation and music groups reported significantly greater reductions in anxiety and fatigue after biopsy than those receiving standard care. The standard-care patients reported increased fatigue after biopsy, the researchers concluded.

Feb 06
Every hour of sitting may up diabetes risk: Study
Every extra hour a day spent sitting could increase the risk of developing diabetes by about a fifth, new study has warned.

The study by Julianne van der Berg of Maastricht University in the Netherlands and colleagues investigated cross-sectional associations of total duration and patterns of sedentary behaviour with glucose metabolism status and the metabolic syndrome.

Each extra hour of daily sedentary time (for example spent sitting at a computer) was associated with a 22 per cent increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, researchers said.

The study participants used a thigh-worn accelerometer, which classifies sedentary behaviour using data on posture, as this has shown to be an accurate means of assessing sedentary behaviour.

The study included 2,497 participants (mean age 60 years, 52 per cent men) who were asked to wear their accelerometer 24 hours per day for 8 consecutive days.

Researchers calculated the daily amount of sedentary time, daily number of sedentary breaks, number of prolonged sedentary periods (of 30 minutes or more), and the average duration of these sedentary periods.

To determine diabetes status, participants underwent an oral glucose tolerance test.

Overall, 1,395 (56 per cent) participants had a normal glucose metabolism, 388 (15 per cent) had an impaired glucose metabolism and 714 (29 per cent) had type 2 diabetes.

Participants with type 2 diabetes spent the most time sedentary, up to 26 more minutes per day in comparison with participants with an impaired or normal glucose metabolism.

The increased risk of diabetes per additional hour of sedentary time was 22 per cent.

No significant associations were seen for the number of sedentary breaks, the number of prolonged sedentary periods or average duration of these sedentary periods with diabetes status.

The study is the largest in which this type of posture-identifying accelerometry has been used to objectively measure total duration and patterns of sedentary behaviour in a cohort of people with type 2 diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance, and normal glucose metabolism, researchers said.

"An extra hour of sedentary time was associated with a 22 per cent increased odds for type 2 diabetes," they said.

The study was published in the journal Diabetologia.

Feb 05
Epilepsy drug brings hope for multiple sclerosis patients
A commonly-used epilepsy drug has brought hope for multiple sclerosis sufferers as it may help prevent nerve damage.

The University College London study found that the drug phenytoin slowed the progress of optic neuritis, a symptom leading to blurred vision, and scientists believe it could have a similar protective effect throughout the brain.

Currently there are no neuroprotective drugs available for MS sufferers, whose nerve fibres are attacked by their own immune system.

In the study, 86 people with acute optic neuritis were either given phenytoin or an inactive placebo "dummy drug" for three months and at the end of the trial, the group who received the genuine drug had on average 30 percent less damage to the nerve fibre layer at the back of the eye.

Lead researcher Dr Raj Kapoor said that these are promising results and if the findings are confirmed by larger, Phase III trials, could lead to a new treatment that protects nerves from the damage caused both in optic neuritis and throughout the central nervous system in other attacks of MS.

The findings are reported in the journal The Lancet Neurology.

Feb 04
Anxiety, sleeping pills don't put you at increased dementia risk
A new study has suggested that taking drugs for anxiety and sleep problems is not associated with an increased dementia.

These results from the University of Washington (UW) and Group Health in Seattle do not support a direct (causal) association between benzodiazepine (widely used drugs to treat anxiety and insomnia) use and dementia, say the researchers.

However, the researchers suggest that healthcare providers should avoid benzodiazepines in older adults to prevent important adverse health outcomes.

Benzodiazepines are widely prescribed among older adults to manage sleep, anxiety and depressive disorders. Some studies have suggested that benzodiazepine use could be associated with an increased risk of dementia, but results are conflicting.

The study involved 3,434 participants at Group Health aged 65 and older without dementia at study entry, who were followed for an average of seven years.

During follow-up, 797 participants developed dementia, of whom 637 developed Alzheimer's disease.

The team found no association between the highest level of benzodiazepine use (the median level of use in this group was equivalent to about one year of daily use) and dementia or cognitive decline.

Contrary to expectations, they found a small increased risk for dementia in people with low (up to one month) or moderate (one to four months) use.

The study appears in The BMJ.

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