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Regular weigh-ins, simple tips help avoid Christmas weight gain

13/12/2018

Christmas Day is less than two weeks away and that means many of us will soon be gorging ourselves on all sorts of culinary delights. It’s a reality that will see a lot of people piling on the pounds this month ahead of the inevitable January fitness drive. But what if there was a simple way to limit the impact of Christmas feasting on our waistlines? A new study by the Universities of Birmingham and Loughborough in the UK suggests there is. According to the study involving 272 volunteers, regular home weigh-ins coupled with simple weight-loss tips can prevent people from putting on weight over the festive period. For the study, the volunteers were divided into two groups. One group weighed themselves regularly and were given dietary advice, including information on how many calories they needed to burn to negate Christmas food. The other group didn’t weight themselves and were only given a small amount of healthy lifestyle advice. The group that weighed themselves and had access to the additional information weighed 0.49kg less than the "comparison" group come the end of the study. Study lead author, Frances Mason, of the University of Birmingham's Institute of Applied Health Research, said “People gain a kilo of weight on average annually. Often this weight gain happens at Christmas, and is never fully lost. This could possibly be a factor driving the obesity epidemic.” In other words, by simply keeping track of your weight and understanding the impact the foods you are eating are having on your waistline, you stand a better chance of avoiding weight gain at a time of year that’s traditionally associated with piling on the pounds. [Related reading: Why being overweight increases your risk of cancer]

Could honeybees hold the secret to stem cell youth?

11/12/2018

Honeybees produce a substance called Royal Jelly. It is used in the nutrition of larvae, the development of new queen bees and to feed adult queen bees. In other words, it’s a substance that is hugely important for the survival of honeybee colonies. While the reasons why Royal Jelly stimulates some bee larvae to turn into queens rather than worker bees remain unclear, we do know that it (Royal Jelly) comprises water, proteins and sugars. With Royal Jelly’s amazing properties, it’s easy to see why some people believe it can unlock the fountain of youth. And new research now suggests that it actually might. According to the findings of a study published in the journal Nature Communications, Royal Jelly’s main active component, royalactin, bolsters the ability of stem cells to renew themselves i.e. royalactin has the ability to enable an organism to produce more stem cells and repair itself if necessary. Researchers from Stanford University said their study showed that Royal Jelly can be used across species and that their findings could be used to help treat individuals with disorders such as muscle wastage and neurodegenerative disease. However, the leader of the team from Stanford, Kevin Wang, doesn’t suggest everyone goes out and buy Royal Jelly right away. That’s because it’s not all made the same and some variants don’t even contain any royalactin. Nevertheless, the research is exciting and will no doubt lead to further studies being conducted in the future.

Could blocking a single gene be the key to curing obesity?

05/12/2018

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), obesity is a “global epidemic” that must be tackled if we are to prevent its ill effects. In the United States, nearly 40% of adults and 18.5% of children aged 2 to 19 are obese. Obesity is a major risk factor for type-2 diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer. That’s why finding effective ways to treat the condition is paramount. But now scientists say they are on the verge of creating a pill that could make obesity a thing of the past - without the need for diet and exercise. Sounds too good to be true, right? Nevertheless, the team at Flinders University in South Australia say that they key to curbing obesity could lie in a single gene known as RCAN1. The team found that when RCAN1 was removed in mice and they were then fed a high fat diet, they did not gain weight. In fact, they could eat as much food as they wanted over a prolonged period of time, the researchers say. Damien Keating, Ph.D., professor of molecular and cellular physiology at Flinders, and leader of the research team, said blocking RCAN1 allows the body to transform unhealthy white fat into calorie-burning brown fat. Stunning pictures of the mice used for the trial highlight the difference when RCAN1 was blocked and when it wasn’t. The results of the research are published in the journal EMBO Reports.

Bacteria in babies’ noses linked to faster common cold recovery

04/12/2018

Nobody likes to see a baby with a cold. After all, runny noses and a cough are bad enough when you’re fully grown, let alone when you’re still just an infant. But new research suggests that babies who are born with lots of different bacteria in their noses are more likely to recover quicker from their first cold and could help bolster the way we deal with colds going forward. The findings of the research are interesting because the common cold is caused by a virus, yet it would appear that bacteria found in the respiratory tract do play a part when it comes to recovery. Indeed, the researchers from the University Children's Hospital of Basel found that babies who have lots of different bacteria living in their nose tend to recover more quickly from their first respiratory virus. Moreover, babies with fewer different types of bacteria take longer to recover. Prof Tobias Welte, President of the European Respiratory Society, said: “There is an association between respiratory symptoms in babies in the first year of life and the development of asthma by school age. “We do not yet fully understand this link but the bacteria living in the upper airways could play a role.” He also welcomed further research to help determine the relationship between bacteria, respiratory infections and long-term lung health.

Le Nobel de médecine 2018 récompense l’immunothérapie contre le cancer

30/11/2018

  Les lauréats du Nobel de médecine 2018, James Allison et Tasuku Honjo, ont révolutionné l’approche pour traiter les tumeurs, en trouvant le moyen d’activer la réponse du système immunitaire. Le Prix Nobel de médecine 2018 récompense l’Américain James Allison et le Japonais Tasuku Honjo, deux chercheurs qui ont développé une approche totalement innovante contre les cancers. De manière isolée, les deux hommes ont trouvé le moyen d’activer le système immunitaire de l’organisme pour l’aider à éliminer lui-même des tumeurs, une technique en plein essor appelée immunothérapie. Cancer: l’immunothérapie cherche à repousser ses limites Jusque-là, les médecins avaient accès à trois voies majeures pour lutter contre les cancers: la chirurgie, la radiothérapie pour irradier les tumeurs et les médicaments s’attaquant aux cellules tumorales, comme la chimiothérapie. Les travaux de James Allison, du centre MD Anderson de l’université du Texas et Tasuku Honjo, de l’université de Kyoto, apportent ainsi une quatrième approche, en stimulant le système immunitaire. Lymphocytes T La clé de l’approche inventée par les deux scientifiques, de manière totalement indépendante l’un de l’autre, repose sur le fonctionnement les lymphocytes T, les cellules responsables de la réponse immunitaire de l’organisme. Dans le cas de la plupart des tumeurs, les lymphocytes T n’arrivent pas à percevoir les cellules cancéreuses comme une menace, et n’essaient même pas de les détruire. Immunothérapie et chimio, une combinaison gagnante contre certains cancers James Allison a découvert un récepteur sur les lymphocytes T, appelé CTLA4, qui agit comme un frein sur leur fonctionnement. Avec un anticorps spécifique ciblant ce récepteur, un anti-CTLA4, Allison a prouvé qu’il pouvait guérir des souris victimes de tumeurs. Un succès spectaculaire qui a par la suite été reproduit chez l’homme, d’abord pour des mélanomes, puis pour bien d’autres types de tumeurs par la suite. De son côté, Tasuku Honjo a découvert une protéine, PD1, qui pouvait elle aussi agir comme un frein pour empêcher les lymphocytes T d’agir. Indépendamment des travaux d’Allison, le chercheur japonais a lui aussi trouvé un moyen d’inhiber PD1, permettant aux cellules du système immunitaires de s’attaquer efficacement à des mélanomes, puis à de nombreuses autres tumeurs. Cyrille Vanlerberghe, Le Figaro France

Rainforest vine compound starves resilient pancreatic cancer cells

29/11/2018

We recently wrote about how an exotic fish could help heal human hearts. Now, new research suggests that a rainforest vine compound is highly effective at killing treatment-resistant pancreatic cancer cells. Known for their ability to survive even the most inhospitable conditions, pancreatic cancer cells are notoriously difficult to kill. It’s one of the reasons why pancreatic cancer is so hard to treat and why the condition usually has a poor outlook. Indeed, the American Cancer Society (ACS) says the 5-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer patients is just 12-24 percent. However, researchers from the Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg in Germany and the Institute of Natural Medicine at the University of Toyama in Japan have discovered that a compound found in a Congolese rainforest plant can make pancreatic cancer cells susceptible to nutrient starvation. The compound, ancistrolikokine E3, has anti-austerity properties and inhibits the Akt/mTOR pathway of pancreatic cancer cells. It’s this pathway that enables these cancer cells to thrive even under conditions of low nutrients and oxygen – an ability in the cancer field known as ‘austerity.’ While more research is needed, the compound is seen as promising for the development of future anticancer drugs.

New ovarian cancer test is a ‘potential game-changer’

27/11/2018

Ovarian cancer treatment is much more effective if it’s administered during the early stages of the disease. In fact, when ovarian cancer is diagnosed early, approximately 94% of patients have a good prognosis post-treatment. However, the reality is that relatively few cases (about 20%) of ovarian cancer are diagnosed early, which makes treatment less effective. But a newly developed blood test could change this. Beyong a full pelvic exam, medical professionals, at present, have two options when it comes to testing for ovarian cancer: a transvaginal ultrasound and a cancer antigen 125 (CA 125) blood test. Unfortunately, both have significant limitations. For example, while the ultrasound can detect growths, it cannot determine whether they are cancerous. The CA 125 test looks for a specific ovarian cancer marker, but people with unrelated conditions also have high levels of this particular antigen. These limitations of the existing tests are one of the driving forces behind the development of the new blood test. The new test, developed by a team from Griffith University and the University of Adelaide (both in Australia), looks for telltale sugars associated with ovarian cancer cells. According to the findings of the team’s study, the new blood test detected large levels of the sugars in 90% of people with stage 1 ovarian cancer and 100% of people with later stage ovarian cancer. Moreover, the test detected none of the telltale sugars in healthy participants. Prof. James Paton, one of the study authors, said the test is a huge step toward diagnosing ovarian cancer in its early stages. “Ovarian cancer is notoriously difficult to detect in its early stages, when there are more options for treatment and survival rates are better. Our new test is therefore a potential game-changer,” he said.

Could an exotic fish hold the key to healing human hearts?

22/11/2018

People who have a heart attack sometimes experience heart muscle damage. As a result, many live with heart failure and may require a heart transplant in the future. But what if there was a way for human hearts to heal themselves? Scientists say an exotic fish could perhaps hold clues to making such an occurrence a reality. The Mexican tetra fish, which lives in freshwater, can, quite amazingly, repair its own heart. Popular with aquarium owners because of its unique coloring, the tetra fish has many different species, most of which can heal their own hearts following damage. To understand how the tetra fish do this, a team of researchers from the University of Oxford in the UK travelled to the Pachón cave in Mexico to study a tetra subspecies, the “blind cave tetra”. This remarkable fish has not only lost its ability to see, but also its color. Moreover, it can no longer regenerate heart tissue. By studying the blind cave tetra alongside other species of tetra, the team of researchers was able to create genetic profiles for both, allowing them to better understand what gives the tetra its amazing heart regeneration abilities. The team, led by Dr. Mathilda Mommersteeg, an associate professor at the University of Oxford, identified three separate genomes relevant to the tetra’s self-healing. Further analysis revealed two genes, lrrc10 and caveolin, were far more active in the river tetras. “A real challenge until now was comparing heart damage and repair in fish with what we see in humans. But, by looking at river fish and cave fish side by side, we've been able to pick apart the genes responsible for heart regeneration,” said Dr. Mommersteeg. Going forward, the research team hopes it may be possible to develop a way for heart attack patients to repair their own heart tissue.

Strength training better for the heart than aerobic exercise, study finds

20/11/2018

Strength training exercises benefit the heart more than aerobic activities, such as walking and cycling, new research suggests. The survey of more than 4,000 American adults found that static exercise, like lifting weights, is more effective at reducing the risk of heart disease than cardiovascular exercise. Specifically, while undertaking both static and dynamic exercise was associated with a 30% to 70% reduction of cardiovascular risk factors, the link was strongest for younger individuals who did static exercises. Nevertheless, any amount of exercise brings benefits and doing both static and dynamic types is still better than focussing on just one kind, the researchers from St. George's University in St. George's, Grenada said. Speaking about the findings of the research, Dr. Maia P. Smith, assistant professor at the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at St. George's University, said: “Both strength training and aerobic activity appeared to be heart healthy, even in small amounts, at the population level.” Current American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines recommend that American adults should undertake at least 150 minutes of heart-pumping physical activity every week. The same guidelines also stipulate that said activity should be spread across the week and not completed in just one or two days. Are you doing enough physical activity each week? If not, you could be increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease. [Related reading: Why being overweight increases your risk of cancer]

Action group calls for ban on ‘grotesquely sugary’ freakshakes

15/11/2018

So-called “freakshakes” (milkshakes that contain chocolates, sweets, cake, cream, sauce and more) should be banned because they have “grotesque levels of sugar and calories,” a UK charity has said. Action on Sugar, a charity concerned with sugar and its effects on our health, has called for the belt-busting creations to be removed from sale, following a survey it conducted. For the study, the charity surveyed milkshakes sold in restaurants and fast food shops across the UK to see how much sugar and how many calories they contained. Topping the survey (not in a good way) was the Toby Carvery Unicorn Freakshake, which contains an eye-watering 39 teaspoons of sugar and 1,280 calories. That’s more than half the recommended number of daily calories for an adult and over six times the amount of daily sugar for a seven to 10-year-old. Many of the milkshakes looked at by Action on Sugar contained more than half the recommended daily amount of calories for an adult. More worryingly, out of the 46 products looked at by the charity, all would be labelled red/high for excessive levels of sugar per serving. Speaking about the findings of the survey, Action on Sugar chairman, Graham MacGregor, said: “These very high calorie drinks, if consumed on a daily basis, would result in children becoming obese and suffering from tooth decay - that is not acceptable. “These high calorie milkshakes need to be reduced immediately below 300kcal per serving.” [Related reading: Why being overweight increases your risk of cancer]

Why being overweight increases your risk of cancer

13/11/2018

We are often told that being overweight increases our risk of cancer. In fact, in the UK, obesity is the biggest preventable cause of cancer after smoking, according to Cancer Research UK. But why does being overweight increase a person’s likelihood of developing cancer? A group of scientists say they now know. The team from Trinity College Dublin say the reason overweight people are at greater risk of developing cancer is because a certain cell in the body that’s used to destroy cancer gets clogged with fat and stops working as a result. Publishing their findings in the Nature Immunology journal, the team said they were able to show that the body’s natural cancer-fighting cells get clogged by fat. They are hopeful that new drug treatments can be developed that will reverse the effects and restore the cancer-killing ability of said cells. Until then, though, the best advice remains to stay a healthy weight, stop smoking and cut down on alcohol. Speaking about the findings of the research, Dr Leo Carlin, from the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute, said: “Although we know that obesity increases the risk of 13 different types of cancer, we still don't fully understand the mechanisms underlying the link. “This study reveals how fat molecules prevent immune cells from properly positioning their tumour-killing machinery, and provides new avenues to investigate treatments.” [Related reading: Major study finds eating processed meat raises risk of breast cancer]

Early risers less likely to develop breast cancer, finds study

08/11/2018

Women who are larks, otherwise known as “morning people”, have a lower risk of developing breast cancer, a study has revealed. While the exact reason why remains unknown, the team of researchers from the University of Bristol in the UK say their findings are important and add to the growing understanding of how sleep affects our health. A person’s body clock (also known as their circadian rhythm) regulates when a person feels sleepy or awake over a 24-hour period. So-called morning people wake up earlier, peak earlier in the day and feel sleepy earlier in the evening. In contrast, “evening people” (night owls) get up later, peak later in the day and go to sleep later in the evening. Using a data analysis technique called Mendelian randomisation, the researchers looked at DNA snippets of more than 400,000 women. They discovered that women who were larks were less likely to have breast cancer than their night owl peers. Speaking about the findings of the research, Dr Rebecca Richmond, a researcher from the University of Bristol, told the BBC: “The findings are potentially very important because sleep is ubiquitous and easily modified. “Previous research has looked at the impact of shift work, but this is showing there may be a risk factor for all women.” Nevertheless, many questions still remain. For example, more research now needs to be conducted to see whether the body clock itself is directly impacting a person’s risk of developing cancer, or if factors like night owls breaking their natural circadian rhythm to accommodate jobs is having an impact. [Related reading: Major study finds eating processed meat raises risk of breast cancer]

Glowing chemical could make brain tumour surgery safer

06/11/2018

Patients with aggressive brain tumours could benefit from improved surgery outcomes by drinking a substance that makes their cancer glow pink, a trial suggests. For the trial, scientists gave patients with suspected glioma (a type of tumor that occurs in the brain and spinal cord) a drink containing 5-ALA, a substance that accumulates in fast-growing cancer cells and makes them glow pink. The hope is that the glowing tumours will be easier for surgeons to safely remove, as they can be more easily distinguished from healthy brain tissue. Glioma is the most common type of brain cancer and treatment usually involves removing as much of the tumour as possible. The prognosis for patients, however, is usually poor. Speaking about the trial, Dr Kathreena Kurian, study author and associate professor in brain tumour research at the University of Bristol, said: “There's an urgent need to have something while the patient is on the table, while the neurosurgeon is operating, which will guide them to find the worst bits. “The beauty of 5-ALA is that they can see where high-grade glioma is, while they're operating.” The results of the trial have not yet been published, but were presented at the 2018 NCRI Cancer Conference in Glasgow over the weekend. The next step, the researchers say, is to test 5-ALA in children with brain tumours.

High and low BMI linked to reduced life expectancy

31/10/2018

A new study, one of the largest of its kind, suggests being the wrong weight i.e. overweight or underweight cold knock four years off a person’s life expectancy. According to the study, the findings of which were published in the Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology journal, from the age of 40, people towards the higher end of the healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) range (a healthy BMI ranges from 18.5 to 25) had the lowest risk of dying from disease, including cancer and heart disease. In contrast, individuals who had BMI scores of less than 18.5 or more than 30 had life expectancies that were 4.4 years and 3.85 years shorter respectively. BMI scores, which are calculated by dividing a person’s weight (in kilograms) by their height (in metres squared), are still considered by health professionals to be the simplest and most accurate way to work out if someone is overweight or underweight. For the population-based cohort study, researchers analysed anonymised data on 3.6 million adults from the U.K. Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD). Dr Krishnan Bhaskaran, lead author of the study, said: “The most striking thing about our findings was how widely BMI was linked to different causes of death. BMI was associated with deaths from nearly all major causes.” He added that the research reinforces the importance of maintaining a healthy body weight. Perhaps the most interesting finding is that people who have low BMI scores are at as much risk, if not more, of reducing their life expectancies.

UK university students are increasingly seeking mental health support

30/10/2018

There’s been a worrying increase in the number of university students in the UK seeking mental health support over the past five years, a new analysis by the BBC has found. Between 2012 and 2017, the number of students seeking mental health support rose from 50,900 to 78,100 (an increase of 53.44%). This is despite the number of people going to university actually dropping slightly over this period. Furthermore, at the same time, budgets for student mental health support services actually increased by more than 40%. According to the National Union of Students (NUS), young people attending university are under increasing pressure to do well. Eva Crossan Jory, Vice-President of the NUS, said: “There is a growth in demand [for mental health services] over the last decade, in part, because the reality of studying in the UK has changed so much. “Many are balancing work, study and caring responsibilities. With fees so high, and the job market so competitive, students feel they have to continually push themselves, perhaps more so than before.” One university in the UK in particular, the University of Bristol, hit the headlines because of its high suicide rates. Since October 2016, 11 students have taken their own lives at the university. A spokesperson for the university said it had adopted an institution-wide approach to help identify vulnerable students as early as possible and get them the right support.

Some meat substitute products saltier than Atlantic seawater, study finds

25/10/2018

A significant proportion of meat-free burgers, sausages and mince contain unacceptable levels of salt, a campaign group has found. According to Action on Salt, 28% of the 157 meat substitute products studied by them did not meet Public Health England (PHE) voluntary salt targets. In some cases, products were found to be saltier than Atlantic seawater, the report says. Action on Salt is calling on PHE to take “urgent action” to make food manufacturers adhere to maximum recommended salt levels. Out of all the meat-free products investigated by Action on Salt, only three were found to be low in salt. Tofurky's Deli Slices Hickory Smoked and Tesco's Meat Free Bacon Style Rashers were the saltiest meat substitutes studied, containing, 3.5g and 3.2g of salt per 100g respectively. PHE's salt target for meat-free bacon is 1.88g of salt per 100g. For comparison, seawater has around 2.5g of salt per 100g. While their meat-free bacon was found to be extremely high in salt, Tesco’s Meat-Free Mince had one of the lowest salt levels of all the products analysed – just 0.2g of salt per 100g. Speaking about the findings of the study, Mhairi Brown, nutritionist at Action on Salt, said: “The food industry has ensured greater availability of meat-free alternatives, but now they must do more to ensure that meat-free alternatives contain far less salt - at the very least lower than their meat equivalents. “This survey drives home the urgent need for Public Health England to reinvigorate the UK's salt reduction strategy.”

Children should not be given decongestants, says review

23/10/2018

Children are more prone to catching colds than adults. In fact, kids get around six to eight colds a year – that’s twice as many as adults. But what are the best remedies for youngsters with a common cold? Well, according to a review of over-the-counter treatments published in The BMJ, there’s little evidence that any of them work, and some, like decongestants, could actually do more harm than good. That’s because decongestants and combination drugs that contain decongestants can cause drowsiness, headaches, insomnia and upset stomach. Furthermore, if they are given to children under the age of 2, they can cause serious complications such as convulsions and rapid heart rate. In reality, there is no cure for the common cold. While it can cause irritating and uncomfortable symptoms, including a sore throat, cough, congestion, sneezing and a raised temperature, after a week or so, they usually go away on their own. So what’s the answer? Saline nasal washes, says Dr Rahul Chodhari, consultant paediatrician and spokesman for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. They can be applied several times a day, with zero side effects, and help to clear mucus from the nasal cavity, reducing congestion. Dr Chodhari advises that cough syrups are not recommended for children because they stop them coughing up mucus and getting rid of it. Also, because antibiotics only work to combat bacterial infections, they do nothing to relieve colds.

Diabetics significantly more likely to die from alcoholism and by suicide, study finds

18/10/2018

The physical health problems associated with diabetes are well understood and publicised. For example, diabetics have an increased risk of developing cancer, kidney disorders and cardiovascular disease. But what about the mental impact of living with diabetes? It’s not something that gets a lot of attention, but the findings of a new study could see it thrust under the spotlight. That’s because the study by researchers from Finland found a worrying connection between diabetes and the risk of someone dying by suicide or alcoholism. According to the study, diabetics are more than 10 times more likely to die as a result of alcoholism – predominantly cirrhosis of the liver – and 110% more likely to commit suicide than the general population. The highest risk was seen among diabetes patients who rely on regular insulin injections to avoid serious health complications. Professor Leo Niskanen, of the University of Helsinki, who led the study, said diabetes patients who have to monitor their glucose levels and administer insulin frequently suffer tremendous mental strain. “This strain combined with the anxiety of developing serious complications like heart or kidney disease may also take their toll on psychological well-being,” he said. Is it time we started talking about the mental health implications of living with diabetes? [Related reading: Type-2 diabetes could actually be detected up to 20 years in advance, researchers say]

Sit-stand desks boost work performance, study suggests

16/10/2018

Workers who utilise standing desks are less tired and more engaged, new research suggests. For the research, led by a team from Loughborough University and experts from Leicester, NHS workers were given new height-adjustable desks and set goals for the amount of time they spent standing up. At the start of the year-long study, a group of 146 mainly sedentary NHS staff were split into two groups. One group were given height-adjustable workstations, also known as sit-stand desks, while the other group continued to use their traditional sitting desks. After a year, the research team assessed the amount of time workers spent sitting and working. They found that sitting time was lowered in the group with sit-stand desks by 82.39 minutes per day at 12 months. The same group also reported that they were less tired and more engaged in their work. According to the research published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), the sit-stand group also reported improvements in musculoskeletal problems and a better quality of life. The sedentary lifestyles many office workers today lead are often cited as one of the primary reasons for the increasing number of obese individuals. Could something as simple as a sit-stand desk be the answer to combatting this epidemic and help us start leading healthier lives?

Mental Health Should Be At The Top Of Every Workplace Agenda

11/10/2018

Did you know that yesterday was World Mental Health Day? If not, why not? It’s celebrated every year, on October 10, yet lots of people still aren’t aware of it and that’s such a shame – especially when you consider that one in four people will be affected by a mental health issue at some point in their lives [source: WHO]. In fact, while it is obviously fantastic that there is a dedicated day for spreading awareness about mental health, shouldn’t conversations surrounding this extremely important issue be happening all year round? Unfortunately, mental health issues have always had a stigma associated. As a result, they are not frequently and openly discussed – especially in places of work. But the reality is that workplaces are definitely somewhere mental health should be being discussed. That’s because mental health issues not only impact the individual experiencing them, but also the people around them – their colleagues. The bottom line is workplaces that promote good wellbeing and provide support to individuals with mental health issues stand a greater chance of reducing absenteeism and increasing productivity. Plus, by being seen to be an employer that holds mental health in high regard, the company will also promote itself as one that people want to work for. So why wait until October 10 next year to start a conversation around mental health issues. Let’s put this important topic at the top of every agenda, especially in the workplace.

Type-2 diabetes could actually be detected up to 20 years in advance, researchers say

09/10/2018

Some of the warning signs often associated with type-2 diabetes can be detected years before the disease is actually diagnosed, researchers say. A study found factors such as insulin resistance and elevated blood sugar levels were seen in people years prior to them developing pre-diabetes – a typical pre-cursor to the type-2 form of the disease. The authors of the Japanese study say their findings suggest that diabetes treatment should begin much earlier in life. For the study, conducted over an 11-year period, the researchers followed a group of 27,000 people who were not diabetic and aged between 30 and 50. The individuals were tracked until they either (a) got diagnosed with type-2 diabetes; (b) got diagnosed with pre-diabetes; or (c) the end of 2016 was reached. During the study, 1,067 new cases of type-2 diabetes were diagnosed. The interesting part is that these people showed warning signs, such as insulin resistance and higher fasting blood sugar levels, up to 10 years prior. Similar warning signs were also seen in those that went on to develop pre-diabetes. So, this suggests that type-2 diabetes could actually be detected up to 20 years before a diagnosis occurs. This is because people who develop type-2 diabetes usually get pre-diabetes first. Dr Hiroyuki Sagesaka, from Aizawa Hospital in Matsumoto, Japan, who led the research, said: “Because trials of prevention in people with pre-diabetes seem to be less successful over long-term follow-up, we may need to intervene much earlier than the pre-diabetes stage to prevent progression to full blown diabetes. “A much earlier intervention trail, either drug or lifestyle-related, is warranted.” [Related reading: Diabetes is actually five diseases, not two]

Major study finds eating processed meat raises risk of breast cancer

04/10/2018

A major study has found that eating processed meat, like bacon and sausages, may raise the risk of breast cancer in women. According to the review of studies involving more than one million women, eating higher levels of processed meat could result in a 9% greater risk of developing breast cancer. The research by a team from Harvard University’s T H Chan School of Public Health reviewed 15 related studies. It supports previous findings by the World Health Organisation (WHO) which suggest processed meats cause cancer. However, while the study has identified a potential link between processed meat and breast cancer, there is no clear evidence to show these types of foods are actually the cause. Furthermore, as outlined by the study authors in the International Journal of Cancer, their findings only relate to processed meat, not red meat. Bacon, sausages, salami, ham, hot dogs and corned beef are all examples of processed meat. And while it is not fully known why these foods are associated with a greater risk of cancer, it is thought that preservatives, like salt, may react with protein in the meat turning it carcinogenic. But rather than eliminating processed meat from your diet completely, the advice is simply to cut down. At present, current NHS guidelines recommend eating no more than 70g of red and processed meat a day. If you’re eating more than that on a regular basis, maybe it’s time to make some dietary changes.

Less screen time linked to better cognitive performance

02/10/2018

Tablets, mobile phones and other handheld devices are extremely popular among children (and their parents). The former get visual stimulation, while the latter get some peace and quiet. But how does screen use affect a child’s cognitive ability? Well, according to a new study by researchers at Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, less screen time results in better cognition. Specifically, children aged eight to 11 who used screens for fun for more than two hours every day performed more poorly in cognition tests than their counterparts who got less screen time. Moreover, the researchers found that less screen time, nine to 11 hours of sleep every night and at least one hour of physical activity led to even better results. Nevertheless, less than two hours screen time each day was the factor linked with the best performance results. Speaking about the findings of the study, Dr Jeremy Walsh, from the CHEO Research Institute, said: “Based on our findings, paediatricians, parents, educators, and policymakers should promote limiting recreational screen time and prioritising healthy sleep routines throughout childhood and adolescence.” The study, which looked at data from 4,500 children aged 8-11 from 20 locations across the U.S., is published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal.

Smokers told not to go cold turkey when wanting to quit

27/09/2018

A new report from Public Health England (PHE) shows that smokers who take advantage of local support services and stop smoking aids, like e-cigarettes, inhalers and nicotine patches, stand a much greater chance of successfully kicking the habit. Quitting smoking using willpower alone, often referred to as ‘going cold turkey,’ only works for a small number of people who try it, with just 4% remaining smoke-free after 12 months. Nevertheless, of the six in 10 smokers in England who want to quit, the majority try to do so using the cold turkey method. But by turning to a combination of local support services and nicotine replacement therapies, smokers could witness much better success, according to PHE. In fact, PHE says that 51% of smokers who utilised local support services successfully quit and this figure rose to 63% for those who incorporated an e-cigarette or similar into their efforts. To further boost the stop smoking drive in England, PHE has created the Stoptober campaign. In addition to increasing awareness about the most effective ways to quit smoking, the campaign also has its own free online personal quit plan. This plan provides personalised stop smoking advice based on a smoker’s answers to three quick questions. There’s even an official Stoptober app to help smokers stay on track and get stop smoking advice while on the go. The Stoptober campaign centres on three really good reasons to kick the smoking habit: feel healthier, save money and protect your family – can’t really argue with that!

Obesity set to overtake smoking as number one preventable cause of cancer in UK women, charity warns

25/09/2018

By 2043, obesity will surpass smoking to be the biggest preventable cause of cancer in UK women. That’s one of the shocking new predictions to come out of a report by Cancer Research UK. At present, around 7% of cancers in women are linked to being overweight and obese, while 12% are said to be caused by smoking. But as the number of individuals who smoke continues to fall and obesity rates continue to rise, the UK cancer charity believes that gap will completely disappear over the next 25 years (assuming current trends continue). In fact, by 2035, the percentage of cancers caused by smoking and by carrying excess weight will almost be equal (25,000 cancer cases each year related to smoking vs. 23,000 related to being overweight). However, after just another eight years (by 2043), being overweight and obese is likely to be linked to even more cases of cancer in women than smoking. Interestingly, the cancer charity says that obesity will not overtake smoking as the leading cause of cancer in men until some time later. The reason for this, though, is simply because more men than women smoke. While obesity is more prevalent among men too, it is thought to be a greater catalyst in women for developing cancer. Professor Linda Bauld, Cancer Research UK's prevention expert, said the UK government must act now to stem the tide of obesity-related cancers. “That's why we are raising awareness of the link between cancer and obesity and calling for measures to protect children, like a ban on junk food adverts before 9pm and for restrictions on price promotions of 'less healthy' products,” she said. Smoking-related cancers include: acute myeloid leukaemia lung bladder bowel cervical pancreatic stomach Obesity-related cancers include: bowel gall bladder kidney liver breast ovarian thyroid

Most yoghurts contain more sugar than cola, study finds

20/09/2018

We recently wrote about how foods packed with good bacteria provide no benefits. Now, new research is dragging yoghurts under the spotlight because of the amount of sugar many contain. In fact, according to the research led by Leeds University in the UK, some yoghurts contain more sugar per 100g than cola. Publishing their findings in the journal BMJ Open, the team of researchers said that even organic yoghurts often contain way too much sugar. The only yoghurts, they said, that can be considered low in sugar are natural and Greek-style. For the research, the team analysed 900 different yoghurts on sale in supermarkets in the UK. Perhaps unsurprisingly, yoghurt deserts were found to contain the most sugar (an average of 16.4g per 100g). More surprising, though, are the findings relating to organic yoghurts. That’s because many people see them as a healthy option, not knowing they contain so much sugar. The UK government are trying to reduce the amount of sugar consumed by the public and yoghurts are one of the areas they want to see addressed. This new research underlines why. To be classed as ‘low sugar’ a product needs to contain no more than 5g of sugar per 100g. Just 9% of the yoghurts studied were found to be below this threshold. Dr Bernadette Moore, lead researcher of the study, said: “I think people, including parents, will be surprised to know just how much sugar there is in yoghurt. “My advice would be to buy natural yoghurt and mix in your own fruit.”

WHO report reveals world’s fittest country

18/09/2018

What’s the fittest country in the world? Would you have any idea if you were asked? Even hazard a guess? Hint: It’s a country in Africa. According to a recent World Health Organisation (WHO) report, Uganda is the world’s most physically active country. Published in the medical journal The Lancet, the study findings are from a compilation of surveys completed in 168 countries. Just 5.5% of Ugandans do not do enough physical activity. People living in Lesotho, Mozambique, Tanzania and Togo are also getting plenty of exercise, too. In comparison, people living in Kuwait (the least active nation) have far more sedentary lifestyles, with 67% of the population not active enough. The report highlights a distinct divide between the levels of physical activity in poorer countries vs. wealthier countries. People in poorer nations are more likely to walk to work and/or have jobs that see them being physically active throughout the day. Recommended exercise guidelines for 19- to 64-year-olds Here’s what the UK’s NHS recommends: At least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (such as cycling or brisk walking) or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (such as running or a game of tennis) every week Strength exercises that work all the major muscles at least two days per week Long periods of sitting should be broken up with light activity Are you getting enough physical activity? Could a small lifestyle change enable you to? [Related reading: Open-plan offices could improve health, reduce stress]

France Surgery and Sancheng Digital sign partnership

17/09/2018

Sancheng Digital, Europe to China marketing company and France Surgery, France's leading medical tourism company signed a partnership deal this week. The signing took place at TBSeeds - Toulouse Business School's start-up incubator.   (Sancheng Digital and France Surgery have strong links to Toulouse Business School, the founders of both companies having studied at the institution.)  Chinese outbound medical tourism is growing year on year as Chinese consumers seek to access medical treatment unavailable to them in their home country. Hanya Cao co-founder Sancheng Digital: "Sancheng Digital are excited to be working hand in hand with France Surgery to enable them to strengthen their position in the Chinese market." Carine HILAIRE co-founder France Surgery: "Sancheng Digital's expertise in China focused marketing made them a perfect business partner for France Surgery in our quest to build strong relationships with Chinese clients." Annexe: “Chinese outbound tourism figures continue to grow. Estimates show 500,000 outbound Chinese medical travellers spend at least $10 billion a year, lucrative for medical tourism destinations in Southeast Asia, Europe and the USA.” https://www.imtj.com/news/130m-chinese-holiday-abroad-outbound-medical-tourists-estimated-05m/ Sancheng Digital和France Surgery签署战略合作协议      2018年9月11日,Sancheng Digital 和 France Surgery 在法国图卢兹商学院创业孵化中心签署了一项重要合作协议。Sancheng Digital立足法国南部,致力于中欧贸易合作和国际市场营销服务。在协议签署后, France Surgury 将在其助力下进一步打开中国境外医疗旅游市场。     据报道,随着中国经济稳步增长,中国出境医疗旅游市场也成为各国看好的新蓝海。医疗体检和疗养旅游深受中国中产阶级青睐,除此之外,在癌症等恶性疾病治疗领域,欧美等国往往拥有更充足的医疗资源和更先进的研发治疗手段,因此也吸引着越来越多的中国患者前往海外接受治疗。      France Surgery的创始人凯莉.希拉里 (Carine HILAIRE) 说: "目前我们已经为许多来自欧美,中东,北非地区的病患提供了系列帮助,中国将会是我们的下一站,很高兴我们能和Sancheng Digital成为战略合作伙伴,相信在他们的支持下,我们能更好的了解中国病人的需求,推广法国的医疗旅游品牌,帮助更多中国病患在法国接受相关治疗,重获健康。"

Trop de potassium dans le sang : quelles conséquences ?

13/09/2018

AVIS D’EXPERT - Une concentration en potassium dans le sang supérieure à la normale peut notamment être le signe d’une maladie rénale. Les médecins prescrivent souvent des dosages des principaux électrolytes (éléments chimiques porteurs de charge électrique) du plasma (sodium, potassium, chlore,bicarbonate) chez les malades hypertendus ou atteints de maladies cardiaques ou rénales. Le plasma est le liquide qui transporte les différentes cellules du sang. Connaître les concentrations dans le plasma de ces substances est essentiel parce qu'elles jouent un rôle majeur dans les transferts d'eau entre les différents compartiments hydriques, la régulation du pH (index de l'acidité) du plasma et la transmission de l'influx nerveux. Quelles sont les causes possibles d’un excès de potassium? Comment celui-ci se traite-t-il? Le Pr Raymond Ardaillou, néphrologue et secrétaire perpétuel de l’Académie de médecine fait le point. Potassium: quelle concentration normale? La concentration en potassium dans le plasma sanguin est normalement comprise entre 3,6 et 5 mmol/l (130 à 200 mg/l). La répartition du potassium dans l'organisme est très inégalitaire puisque sa concentration dans les cellules varie de 90 à 150 mmol/l. L'alimentation apporte environ chez un adulte 60 à 120 mmol de potassium par jour. Les aliments les plus riches en potassium sont les fruits, les légumes et le chocolat. Le potassium ingéré est en quasi-totalité absorbé dans le tube digestif et se retrouve dans les urines en quantité équivalente à celle absorbée dans l'intestin. Le rôle physiologique principal du potassium, porteur d'une charge positive, est de générer le potentiel de membrane qui est la différence de charge électrique de part et d'autre de la membrane cellulaire, l'intérieur de la cellule étant électronégatif par rapport à l'extérieur. La sévérité de l'hyperkaliémie (augmentation de la concentration de potassium dans le plasma) provient de la perturbation qu'elle provoque, du potentiel de membrane dans les cellules cardiaques et des troubles du rythme qui s'ensuivent. Les causes possibles d’un excès de potassium L'hyperkaliémie provient soit d'un défaut d'excrétion rénale du potassium, soit d'un passage accru du potassium cellulaire dans le compartiment extra-cellulaire. Les hyperkaliémies d'origine rénale surviennent en cas d'insuffisance rénale ou, sur reins sains, si la sécrétion d'aldostérone, une hormone qui contrôle le transport du sodium et du potassium dans la partie distale du néphron (unité structurale et fonctionnelle du rein qui possède environ 1.000.000 de néphrons), est insuffisante.    

Over 18 million new cancer cases this year: WHO

13/09/2018

One in five men and one in six women will develop cancer in their lifetime. That’s one of the stark predictions revealed in a new report from the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is based in Lyon, France. This year alone, there will be 18.1 million new cases of cancer and 9.6 million people will die with the disease worldwide. This represents a significant increase from 14.1 million cases and 8.2 million deaths in 2012. The report also predicts that by the end of the century, cancer will be the number one killer globally and the single biggest barrier to people living long lives. Looking closely at data from 185 countries, the researchers focussed on 36 different types of cancer. Lung cancer, colorectal (bowel) cancer and female breast cancer are thought to be responsible for a third of all cancer cases worldwide. Researchers have attributed the rise to the world’s growing and ageing population. That’s because more people equals more cancer, and as people get older their cancer risks grow. Moreover, as countries become wealthier, more of the people living in them develop lifestyle-related cancers. Speaking about the report, Dr. Christopher Wild, director of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, said: “These new figures highlight that much remains to be done to address the alarming rise in the cancer burden globally and that prevention has a key role to play.” “Efficient prevention and early detection policies must be implemented urgently to complement treatments in order to control this devastating disease across the world.”

Foods packed with good bacteria provide no benefits, study finds

11/09/2018

So-called ‘good bacteria’ that are contained in many popular probiotic drinks are “quite useless,” according to a group of scientists in Israel. Until now, probiotics have been seen as healthy and good for the gut, but the findings of the team from the Weizmann Institute of Science show otherwise. Their study is among the most detailed analyses to date of what happens when we consume probiotics. For their research, the team created a cocktail containing 11 common good bacteria and gave it to 25 healthy volunteers. Samples were then taken from each of the volunteer’s stomachs, as well as their small and large intestines. The scientists were looking to see where the bacteria successfully colonised and whether any changes in the activity of the gut were evident. Publishing their findings in the journal Cell, the scientists said that in half of cases the good bacteria literally went in one end and out the other, without providing any benefits whatsoever. In the rest, they hung around for a bit before being overwhelmed by the bacteria that commonly frequents our bodies. Speaking about the research, Dr Eran Elinav said people should not expect off-the-shelf products to provide them with definitive health benefits. He suggested that the future of probiotics lies in creating bacteria cocktails that are tailored to the specific needs of individuals. “And in that sense just buying probiotics at the supermarket without any tailoring, without any adjustment to the host, at least in part of the population, is quite useless,” he said.

Doctors told to use 'plain English', not Latin

06/09/2018

Have you ever received a letter from your doctor or physician and not been able to clearly understand its contents? If you have, we’ve got some positive news for you. That’s because the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges is urging doctors to do away with medical jargon in correspondence to patients and use easy to understand terms instead. For example, the academy says the term “twice daily” is much better than the often used Latin abbreviation “bd”, and says patients should ask their local hospital to follow the advice. Oftentimes, hospital doctors write letters directly to a patient’s GP and refer to the patient in the third person. However, this can lead to things being misinterpreted and even the patient being offended. The academy cites the example of a father who was praised for “manfully stepping in” when his wife could not take their daughter to an appointment because she (the wife) was too ill. Doctors are also being asked to try and soften potentially sensitive information and avoid stigmatising words. For example, “You have diabetes,” is better than “You are diabetic.” The initiative is being led by Dr Hugh Rayner, a kidney specialist, who has been writing to patients directly since 2005. He said: “The change may seem small but it has a big effect. “Writing to patients rather than about them changes the relationship between doctor and patient. “It involves them more in their care and leads to all sorts of benefits.”

Mental health apps could be contributing to overdiagnosis

04/09/2018

There’s a mobile application (app) for just about everything nowadays, including helping us deal with our wellbeing. These so-called mental health apps often provide help and comfort for the people who use them, but new research suggests they could be missing the mark by quite some way. According to researchers from The University of Sydney and The University of Adelaide, both in Australia, there could be some major problems with how mental health apps frame mental illness (diagnose it) and the advice they give for dealing with it. For the research, a qualitative content analysis of 61 mental health apps from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia was conducted. The main problem that was identified was a tendency to promote medicalization of normal mental health states, leading to overdiagnosis. Furthermore, the apps encouraged people to use them frequently and promoted “personal responsibility” for improvement of conditions. While any form of medical self-help, including apps, can be useful, they should only form part of an overall plan for coping with mental illness. The bottom line is that people should never rely solely on apps and seek help from a therapist if they are concerned about their mental health. Relying on technology, unfortunately, does have its limitations.

How computers are being used to fight cholera in Yemen

30/08/2018

Computers and technology have been revolutionising the healthcare industry for many years. Whether it’s something simple like managing patient records or super-advanced robot-assisted surgery, computers and technology are now engrained in all aspects of medical care. Now, exciting and much-needed progress is being made (using computers) to tackle the cholera epidemic in Yemen. The computer system predicts where outbreaks will occur, allowing aid workers to focus their efforts on prevention in advance. As a result, the number of new cases has plummeted. Last year, a staggering 50,000 new cholera cases were reported in Yemen in just one week. This year, that number has dropped considerably to 2,500. The system - the implementation of which was coordinated by the UK's Department for International Development - monitors rainfall and identifies areas where sewage systems are likely to be overwhelmed, leading to the infection spreading. The forecasts are used, sometimes up to four weeks in advance, to deploy Unicef resources on the ground to potential cholera hotspots, where they distribute hygiene kits, jerrycans and chlorine tablets. Speaking about the new computer system, Prof Charlotte Watts, chief scientific adviser at the UK Department for International Development, said: “What this technology enables us to do is really home in to where we're going to get new outbreaks, and respond really effectively.”

L’Institut Pasteur veut ressusciter le BCG avec des souches centenaires

29/08/2018

  Les chercheurs espèrent retrouver l’efficacité du vaccin originel contre la tuberculose. Avec beaucoup de minutie, le Dr Philip Supply enfile ses gants en latex bleu et sa surblouse. Concentré, il s’installe devant son isolateur, passe ses deux bras dans les manches en caoutchouc et enfile une nouvelle paire de gants. Après un petit temps de pause, le microbiologiste saisit délicatement l’un des trois tubes à essais disposés devant lui. Le stress se lit sur son visage. Il a entre ses mains les souches originelles du BCG. Celles qui ont permis le développement du vaccin contre la tuberculose il y a plus de cent ans. Celles qui devraient permettre aujourd’hui de créer un nouveau vaccin indispensable en raison de la perte d’efficacité du vaccin actuel. Ces tubes n’avaient jamais été ouverts depuis les années 1920. Un trésor. «Les souches vaccinales actuellement utilisées ne permettent pas d’enrayer l’épidémie mondiale de tuberculose» Dr Philip Supply, directeur de recherche  à l’Institut Pasteur de Lille «C’est une grande responsabilité», glisse le directeur de recherche CNRS Institut Pasteur de Lille, qui confie que la pression a quelque peu perturbé son sommeil ces dernières nuits. «Ces souches appartiennent au patrimoine historique de l’Institut. Elles sont très précieuses», poursuit-il. L’Institut Pasteur de Lille est, en effet, le berceau du vaccin contre la tuberculose. Maladie la plus mortelle, devant le sida et le paludisme Mais aujourd’hui, le vaccin le plus utilisé au monde n’est donc plus aussi efficace. Il s’est affaibli au fil du temps. «Les souches vaccinales actuellement utilisées ne protègent pas contre les formes les plus fréquentes de la tuberculose, qui sont malheureusement les formes contagieuses. Elles ne permettent donc pas d’enrayer l’épidémie mondiale de tuberculose», explique le Dr Supply. Encore aujourd’hui, 10 millions de personnes sont contaminées dans le monde tous les ans et 1,7 million en meurent. «La tuberculose est la maladie la plus mortelle devant le sida et le paludisme», relève le microbiologiste. Alors, à l’aide des souches originelles du BCG, l’Institut Pasteur aimerait mettre au point une nouvelle version du vaccin, plus proche de l’originel. «Au cours de leur culture, les nouvelles souches vaccinales ont accumulé un grand nombre de mutations génétiques qui expliqueraient l’atténuation du pouvoir protecteur du vaccin. Nous souhaitons identifier les modifications responsables et ainsi améliorer l’efficacité du vaccin», explique le chercheur. Sur plus de 500.000 personnes atteintes de tuberculose multirésistante dans le monde, près de 160.000 sont mortes, faute d’un traitement efficace

Doctors told to only ‘rarely’ prescribe antibiotics for coughs

27/08/2018

Coughs can be extremely unpleasant and leave many people in search of fast relief. But newly proposed guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and Public Health England (PHE) in the UK say honey and over-the-counter medicines should always be the first port of call. In fact, the new guidelines go as far as to say antibiotics should only be prescribed by doctors on rare occasions, as they actually do little to alleviate symptoms. Most of the time, within two to three weeks, a cough will clear up on its own. The new recommendations for doctors are designed to tackle the growing problem of antibiotic resistance, which is making some infections harder to treat and leading to the emergence of drug-resistant superbugs. Patients are being advised to have hot drinks with honey and ginger, as well as cough medicines containing pelargonium, guaifenesin or dextromethorphan and wait and see if their symptoms improve before going to see their doctor. The bottom line is most coughs are caused by viruses, so antibiotics actually have little to no effect whatsoever. Dr Susan Hopkins, a deputy director at PHE, said: “Antibiotic resistance is a huge problem, and we need to take action now to reduce antibiotic use... “These new guidelines will support GPs to reduce antibiotic prescriptions and we encourage patients to take their GP's advice about self-care.” [Related reading: New Superbug-killing antibiotics found in soil]

Open-plan offices could improve health, reduce stress

23/08/2018

The sedentary lifestyles many office-based workers lead are often cited as having a negative impact on their health, but a new study suggests the type of office someone works in could make a difference. That’s because the US study of 231 employees found that those who worked in open-plan offices were more active and less stressed than their peers in cubicles or private offices. In fact, open-plan office workers clocked up 20% more physical activity than those in cubicles and 32% more than those who had their own office.   But why? The researchers say it could be to do with open-plan office workers being more likely to get up and have a conversation with one of their colleagues if they can see them across the room, instead of using a telephone or email. The extra physical activity was thought to be a factor linked to the lower stress levels, suggesting that open-plan offices afford more than just physical health benefits. The University of Arizona study, published in Occupational & Environmental Medicine, is the first of its kind to actually monitor activity and stress levels using technology, instead of relying on individuals to fill out surveys. Esther Sternberg, a professor at University of Arizona College of Medicine and study author, said: “We all know we should be increasing our activity but no matter how we try to encourage people to engage in healthy behaviour, it doesn't work for long. “So changing office design to encourage healthy behaviour is a passive way of getting people to be more active.”

Low-carb diets could shorten life expectancy, study finds

21/08/2018

Diets that are low in carbohydrates, such as the Atkins Diet, have become increasingly popular among people wanting to lose weight. But while some swear that cutting carbs is the key to weight loss and a long, healthy life, a new study suggests it could actually shorten your life expectancy by up to four years. The 25-year study in the US found that moderate carbohydrate consumption and/or replacing meat with plant-based protein and fats is healthier than a low-carb diet. Based on questionnaires completed by some 15,400 people and published in The Lancet Public Health journal, the study found that individuals who got around half of their energy from carbohydrates had a slightly lower risk of death compared to people who had low and high card intakes. From the age of 50, people in the moderate carb group were expected to live, on average, for another 33 years, the researchers found. That’s four years more than the individuals in the extra low-carb group and 2.3 years more than the low-card group. Dr Sara Seidelmann, a cardiologist from Boston and leader of the study, said: “Low-carb diets that replace carbohydrates with protein or fat are gaining widespread popularity as a health and weight-loss strategy. “However, our data suggests that animal-based low carbohydrate diets, which are prevalent in North America and Europe, might be associated with shorter overall life span and should be discouraged. “Instead, if one chooses to follow a low carbohydrate diet, then exchanging carbohydrates for more plant-based fats and proteins might actually promote healthy ageing in the long term.” [Recommended reading: Serving food on smaller plates doesn't fool hungry people - study]

Cruciferous vegetables can help prevent bowel cancer

16/08/2018

It’s a widely accepted fact that cruciferous vegetables, like cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts, are good for the gut, but scientists say they have now discovered why. The work by the team from the Francis Crick Institute, a biomedical research centre in London, focussed on the way cruciferous vegetables alter the lining of the intestines. As they are digested, anti-cancer chemicals, including indole-3-carbinol, are produced. Indole-3-carbinol changes the behaviour of stem cells in the lower bowel and the study involving mice showed it protected them from cancer – even mice whose genes put them at a very high risk of developing the disease. Speaking about the findings of the study, one of the researchers, Dr Gitta Stockinger, said: “Even when the mice started developing tumours and we switched them to the appropriate diet, it halted tumour progression.” Prof Tim Key, from Cancer Research UK, said: “Further studies will help find out whether the molecules in these vegetables have the same effect in people, but in the meantime there are already plenty of good reasons to eat more vegetables.” Interestingly, Dr Stockinger added that cruciferous vegetables should not be overcooked to get the most benefit. According to the charity Bowel Cancer UK, bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK, affecting almost 42,000 people every year.

Too much exercise can negatively impact mental health - study

14/08/2018

A large-scale study has found that just 45 minutes of physical exercise three to five times a week can improve mental wellbeing. [Related reading: People who abstain from alcohol in middle age may have higher risk of dementia] According to the US study of 1.2 million people, people who exercised regularly had fewer “bad days” a month than their non-exercising counterparts. Furthermore, while activities such as cycling, aerobics and team sports had the greatest positive impact, all types of physical activity, including things like doing household chores and looking after kids, were found to improve mental health. Moreover, people who had previously been diagnosed with a mental health condition like depression were found to afford the greatest benefits. The optimal routine identified by the researchers was being physically active for 30 to 60 minutes every second day. More interesting is the researchers’ finding that too much exercise can have a negative impact. Dr Adam Chekroud, study author and assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale University, said: "Previously, people have believed that the more exercise you do, the better your mental health, but our study suggests that this is not the case. "Doing exercise more than 23 times a month, or exercising for longer than 90-minute sessions is associated with worse mental health." The findings of the study are published in The Lancet Psychiatry Journal.

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