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Reducing salt intake by just 1g per day can reduce heart disease risk

17/08/2022

Reducing salt intake by just 1g per day can significantly lower a person's risk of heart disease, a new study has found. According to the Chinese study, published in BMJ Nutrition, Prevention, & Health, almost 9 million cardiovascular events could be prevented each year by 2030 if people cut their salt intake by just 1g per day. Despite the World Health Organization recommending people to eat a maximum of 5g of salt per day, the researchers noted that China has one of the highest daily salt intakes in the world with an average consumption of 11 grams per day – more than twice the WHO recommended amount. Furthermore, around 40 per cent of all deaths in China are associated with or because of cardiovascular disease. Specifically, the researchers found that reducing salt by 1g per day could lower the average systolic blood pressure by 1.2 mm/Hg, potentially preventing 9 million cardiovascular disease events and stroke cases by 2030 – of which 4 million would be fatal. “While this study focused on the salt intake in China, the benefits of salt reduction in an American diet are well established,” Dr. Jeffrey Tyler, a cardiologist with Providence St. Joseph Hospital in California, told Healthline. “People who are middle or older age, diabetic, with kidney disease… benefit, even more, when reducing salt intake.” *Image by Bruno /Germany from Pixabay

Dogs can detect passengers with COVID-19 at airports - study

18/05/2022

They are known to be able to sniff out illegal drugs and even cancer, but now a new study suggests sniffer dogs can also detect COVID-19 among airline passengers. Perhaps even more remarkable is the study, conducted by researchers in Finland, also found that once trained, dogs are as acuurate at sniffing out COVID-19 as a PCR nose and throat swab test. "Our preliminary observations suggest that dogs primed with one virus type can in a few hours be retrained to detect its variants," added Anu Kantele, a professor of infectious diseases at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Helsinki, Finland, and colleagues. For the study, the researchers took four dogs previously trained to detect illegal drugs, dangerous goods and cancers, and trained them to recognise SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19. To do so, the study team used swab samples from 114 people who had tested positive for the virus on a PCR swab test, including 28 with no symptoms, and from 306 negative tests. Remarkably, the dogs were able to successfully detect 92% of infected people and 91% of uninfected people. The dogs' noses were then put to the test in a live environment at Helsinki-Vantaa International Airport in Finland between September 2020 and April 2021. The dogs correctly identified 296 (99%) of 300 passengers with negative PCR results. Read the full release at BMJ Global Health. *Image: Sniffer dogs at Melbourne Airport doing a demonstration, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Significant proportion of older adults develop new health conditions after COVID-19

16/02/2022

Initially, when the COVID-19 outbreak first happened, many thought the SARS-CoV-2 virus caused mainly respiratory problems. And while that assumption still holds true, new research shows that the disease can actually impact multiple organs in a person's body.   The new study, the results of which appear in the BMJ, sought to discover whether adults develop other health conditions after a SARS-CoV-2 infection.   For the research, a team led by Dr. Ken Cohen, executive director of translational research at Optum Labs, studied the health insurance records of 133,366 adults aged 65+ in the United States who had received a COVID-19 diagnosis before April 1, 2020.   The researchers compared the records to individuals who did not have COVID-19 in 2019 or 2020 and individuals who had a lower respiratory tract infection but not COVID-19.   The team then identified new conditions occurring 3 weeks or more after each participant’s COVID-19 diagnosis.   Of those individuals who had a SARS-CoV-2 infection in 2020, 32% sought medical attention for a new or persistent condition. This was 11% higher than the comparison group from 2020.   Among the new or persistent conditions were respiratory failure, fatigue, high blood pressure, memory issues, kidney injury, mental health-related diagnoses, hypercoagulability and cardiac rhythm disorders.   Dr. Alicia Arbaje, director of Transitional Care Research at Johns Hopkins Medicine and a clinician at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore, said: “I think this work is significant. First, because it focuses on older adults, and this is the population that’s most likely to demonstrate long-term effects from this infection, and so I think it’s important and timely given the phase of the pandemic that we’re in.”   [Related reading: Long Covid may hinder women's response, recovery from exercise]   *Image by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay

Cutting salt intake is 'immensely beneficial'

25/02/2020

We recently wrote about how avoiding five specific bad habits can significantly extend your life. Now, a new meta-analysis published in The BMJ adds further weight to the argument for eating less salt and being healthier. According to the meta-analysis of 133 clinically randomised trials, lowering salt intake reduces blood pressure – even in individuals who are not yet at risk of hypertension-related conditions. This is important because heart disease is the number one global killer and high blood pressure is the leading cause of heart disease. Furthermore, hypertension is also the leading cause of stroke, heart failure and kidney disease, highlighting how potentially beneficial a low slat diet could be for many people. Interestingly, the research found that the greater the reduction in salt intake, the greater the benefit to blood pressure. At present, U.S. government guidelines advise Americans to not consume more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of salt per day as part of a healthy eating pattern. However, the vast majority of U.S. adults are eating more sodium than they should -- average of more than 3,400 mg each day. One of the biggest problems is the amount of salt that is contained in manufactured foods, which is usually added to enhance flavour, texture and colour, as well as improve longevity. So even if you don’t reach for the salt shaker at every mealtime, you could still be consuming too much. It’s good to get into the habit of checking the foods you buy to see how much they all contain. After all, just a small reduction could significantly improve your health and reduce your risk of early mortality. Speaking about the findings of the research, lead author Feng He, a researcher at Queen Mary University of London, said: “The totality of evidence in the JACC review and this latest BMJ research shows that reducing our salt intake will be immensely beneficial.”

You could live up to 14 years longer by avoiding these 5 bad habits

20/02/2020

A new study has revealed five bad health habits which, if avoided, could help you live significantly longer. While the habits themselves are nothing we haven’t heard before, the findings of the study are important as they highlight just how much of an impact the five factors can have on lifespan. So if you want to live years longer, avoid these five behaviours: smoking, not exercising, being overweight, drinking too much alcohol and eating an unhealthy diet. Specifically, the study found that women aged 50 who avoided all five risk factors lived 14 years longer than women who did not. Among men, the difference in lifespan was 12 years. Publishing the study findings in the BMJ, senior author Dr. Frank Hu, who chairs the department of nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said: “We found that following a healthy lifestyle can substantially extend the years a person lives disease-free.” Importantly, the results held true even after adjusting the data for age, ethnicity, family medical history and other potentially influential factors – emphasising that everyone stands to benefit from avoiding these five unhealthy habits. Finally, the research also revealed that the five habits had a positive impact for people diagnosed with a disease during the study period. For example, individuals who developed cancer lived an additional 23 years if they adopted four of the five healthy practices. In contrast, among those who didn't change, half only survived an additional 11 years. The same patterns were witnessed for both heart disease and diabetes.

More health benefits of Mediterranean diet discovered

18/02/2020

The Mediterranean diet, which features plenty of vegetables, fruits, herbs, nuts, beans and whole grains, has long been lauded for its heart health benefits. But now a new study shows that it could also improve brain function in elderly people, even when only eaten for a year. According to the research published in the BMJ, following a Mediterranean diet for just 12 months can inhibit production of inflammatory chemicals in elderly individuals that can lead to loss of cognitive function, as well as prevent the development of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and atherosclerosis. For the study, 612 elderly people from France, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and the United Kingdom has their gut microbiome analysed. Then, 323 of them were put on a special diet, based on Mediterranean principles, for one year, while the rest were asked to eat as they normally would. After 12 months, all of the study participants had their gut microbiome re-analysed. Those who had followed the Mediterranean diet saw beneficial changes to the microbiome in their digestive system. The rate at which bacterial diversity was lost slowed and the production of potentially harmful inflammatory markers was reduced. Furthermore, there was also a growth of beneficial bacteria linked to improved memory and brain function. So-called “keystone” species, critical for a stable “gut ecosystem”, were also boosted, helping to slow signs of frailty, such as walking speed and hand grip strength. “Our findings support the feasibility of changing the habitual diet to modulate the gut microbiota which in turn has the potential to promote healthier aging,” the study authors said.

Exercise labels on food help reduce calorie intake

12/12/2019

Experts say that food label warnings about the amount of physical exercise needed to burn off the calories contained in the product work. According to the researchers from Loughborough University in the UK, who looked at 14 separate studies to reach their conclusions, a simple label advising the consumer that it would take four hours to walk off the calories contained in a pizza, or 22 minutes of running to burn off a chocolate bar are effective in making people think twice about purchasing certain foods. They say the labels help people indulge less and could encourage healthier eating habits to fight obesity. Right now, it is estimated that two-thirds of the UK adult population are overweight or obese. Publishing their findings in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, the researchers say this simple type of labelling could help cut about 200 calories from a person's daily average intake. The reason it works is because people don’t really appreciate calories when they see them as just numbers. But by elaborating and highlighting how much exercise is needed to burn off a particular food product, the consumer is able to make a much more informed decision. Lead researcher Prof Amanda Daley said: “We know that the public routinely underestimate the number of calories that are in foods. So if you buy a chocolate muffin and it contains 500 calories, for example, then that's about 50 minutes of running.”

Does eating breakfast help or hinder weight loss?

12/02/2019

People all over the world routinely sit down to eat breakfast every day. And while menus and traditions vary depending on where you are, many people are in agreement that breakfast is “the most important meal of the day.” That’s because it provides the body with the energy and nutrients needed to start the day. But what bearing does eating breakfast each day have when you are trying to lose weight? Well, according to a new study – the findings of which were published in the BMJ - the answer is not a lot at all. In fact, not only did the study find no evidence that eating breakfast aids weight loss, it also found that skipping breakfast doesn’t have a negative effect and isn’t linked to people feeling hungrier. For the study, the team from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, analyzed 13 randomized controlled trials. They found that daily calorie intake was higher in individuals who ate breakfast than in those who didn’t. The authors concluded: “Although eating breakfast regularly could have other important effects, caution is needed when recommending breakfast for weight loss in adults, as it may have the opposite effect.” In other words, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Eating or skipping breakfast has different effects depending on the person’s unique metabolism.

Inappropriate prescribing of antibiotics commonplace in US - study

17/01/2019

Inappropriate prescribing of antibiotics is commonplace in the United States, a new study has found. According to the analysis of prescription data for 19.2 million people by researchers from Northwestern University in Chicago, IL; the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor; and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, MA, 23.2% of all antibiotic prescriptions written in 2016 were inappropriate. The findings of the research published in the British Medical Journal reveal that colds, coughs, and chest infections – all of which are usually caused by viruses - were the top conditions that antibiotics were inappropriately prescribed. Antibiotics are only effective when used to fight illnesses caused by bacteria, not viruses. The problem with taking antibiotics inappropriately is that it can lead to antibiotic resistance. This is where bacteria are able to survive drugs that once killed them. Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approx. 2 million people in the US every year acquire antibiotic resistant infections. As a result, more than 23,000 die. Speaking about the findings of the research, lead author Kao-Ping Chua, M.D., Ph.D., said “Antibiotic overuse is still rampant and affects an enormous number of patients. “Despite decades of quality improvement and educational initiatives, providers are still writing antibiotic prescriptions for illnesses that would get better on their own.”

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.

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?

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.”

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.”

People who abstain from alcohol in middle age may have higher risk of dementia

09/08/2018

Alcohol and the amount people drink is the frequent focus of medical studies. However, studying alcohol consumption often results in mixed findings. For example, while drinking too much alcohol can result in liver disease and high blood pressure, other studies have shown that a glass of beer or wine a day can help people live longer. [Related reading: Drinking alcohol while breastfeeding: new study shows possible child cognitive development impact] Now a new study suggests people who abstain from alcohol in middle age may have a heightened risk of dementia later in life. The long-term study, which tracked the health of more than 9,000 civil servants in London, found that middle-aged people who drank over the recommended alcohol limit each week and those who abstained completely were more likely to develop dementia. Specifically, abstinence in midlife was associated with a 45% greater risk of developing dementia compare to people who drank between one and 14 units of alcohol per week. But before you reach for a glass of wine, it should be noted that early life alcohol consumption was not taken into account for the study. People who are teetotal in midlife may have a history of heavy alcohol consumption in their younger years. Indeed, Dr Sara Imarisio, the head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “As this study only looked at people’s drinking in midlife, we don’t know about their drinking habits earlier in adulthood, and it is possible that this may contribute to their later life dementia risk.” The results of the study were recently published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

An egg a day to keep the doctor away?

24/05/2018

Most people are familiar with the phrase, ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’, but what about an egg a day? New research suggests that a daily egg may reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Despite sometimes getting a bad press for their high cholesterol content, eggs, it seems, could help us steer clear of cardiovascular conditions, according to research published in the journal Heart. For their study, researchers from the School of Public Health at Peking University Health Science Centre in Beijing, China analysed survey data relating to more than 500,000 individuals. Of those individuals, 461,213 were free from cancer, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes at baseline. Egg consumption among the study participants was noted and the individuals were followed up with after a median period of 8.9 years. The researchers' found that individuals who usually ate about one egg per day had a 26% lower risk of experiencing hemorrhagic stroke; a 28% lower risk of death due to this type of event; and an 18% lower risk of CVD-related mortality. Current NHS guidelines in the UK relating to egg consumption state: "although eggs contain some cholesterol, the amount of saturated fat we eat has more of an effect on the amount of cholesterol in our blood than the cholesterol we get from eating eggs". So, in other words, it’s not eggs that are necessarily the problem when it comes to cholesterol, but rather how you cook them. Indeed, eggs are a great source of healthful nutrients, such as protein, vitamins, phospholipids, and carotenoids.

Just one cigarette a day increases heart disease and stroke risk, study finds

30/01/2018

Just one cigarette a day can increase a person’s risk of heart disease and stroke, a study has found, dispelling the myth that cutting back, not quitting altogether, can eliminate health issues. The study found that just one cigarette a day can increase a person’s chances of heart disease by about 50% and chances of a stroke by 30% than people who have never smoked. The bottom line is that there is no safe level of smoking when it comes to heart disease and stroke. Cardiovascular disease, not cancer, remains the greatest mortality risk for smokers, accounting for approximately 48% of smoking-related premature deaths. And while the number of people who smoke in the UK has been falling, the percentage of people smoking one to five cigarettes a day has been steadily rising, researchers said. However, cutting down on cigarettes is always a good start and people who do so are more likely to quit in the long-run. Prof Allan Hackshaw from the UCL Cancer Institute at University College London, who led the study, said: "There's been a trend in quite a few countries for heavy smokers to cut down, thinking that's perfectly fine, which is the case for things like cancer. "But for these two common disorders, which they're probably more likely to get than cancer, it's not the case. They've got to stop completely." For the study, the researchers at UCL analysed data from 141 separate smoking-related studies and published their findings in the BMJ.

Stifling a sneeze can lead to a ruptured throat, as one man in the UK recently found out

18/01/2018

Have you ever been in a public place or maybe even a business setting and needed to sneeze? While it can be embarrassing, you should never try and stifle the urge to sneeze because it could end up causing you serious harm. Medics in Leicester, UK, recently treated a man who had ruptured his throat after trying to stifle a sneeze by clamping his mouth and nose shut with his hand. While it’s a pretty rare occurrence, experts have warned people to always allow their sneezes to come out naturally, while remembering to catch them in a tissue to prevent the spread of germs. Following the incident, the man said he immediately experienced a popping sensation in his neck and then had trouble swallowing and speaking, as well as a lot of pain. Over the next seven days, the man had to be fed through a tube while the tissues in his neck healed. He’s now made a full recovery, but his case highlights how a seemingly simple action can have a big impact on your health. Doctors from the ear, nose, throat (ENT) department at Leicester Royal Infirmary, said: "Halting a sneeze via blocking nostrils and mouth is a dangerous manoeuvre and should be avoided." The British Medical Journal (BMJ) has even published a report on the incident, which outlines how halting a sneeze can even lead to “rupture of cerebral aneurysm”. So the next time you need to sneeze and want to halt it, don’t, as it could really harm your health.

Antibiotics: do you really need to take the complete course?

01/08/2017

An opinion piece that was recently published in the BMJ has triggered a debate about whether the guidelines for antibiotics should be updated. Advice from doctors has always been that people should continue taking a course of antibiotics until they are all gone, even if they started feeling better a few days in. But now, writing in the BMJ, a team of researchers from across England argues there is not enough evidence to support the idea that stopping a course of antibiotics early encourages antibiotic resistance. In fact, they say that using antibiotics for longer than necessary could increase the chances of antibiotic resistance occurring. Prof Martin Llewelyn, from the Brighton and Sussex Medical School, together with colleagues, says that more research is needed so that antibiotic prescriptions can be given that are tailored to the infection and the person. However, many experts have come out urging people not to change their attitudes towards antibiotics in light of one study. Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard, leader of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said that just because a person’s symptoms had improved it did not necessarily mean the infection had been completely eradicated. "It's important that patients have clear messages, and the mantra to always take the full course of antibiotics is well known - changing this will simply confuse people."

More obese people in the UK should undergo weight loss surgery, say surgeons

12/05/2016

Surgeons in the UK have said that the number of weight loss operations performed on the NHS each year needs to rise dramatically, so that people become healthier and the health service itself saves money. Writing recently in the British Medical Journal, the bariatric surgeons said that less than 1% of people who could benefit from weight loss surgery are getting treatment, and the numbers are actually dropping, despite rising rates of obesity and diabetes. [Related article: Mediterranean diet reduces heart attacks and strokes] The surgeons also highlighted that the UK is lagging behind its European counterparts when it comes to weight loss surgery, and that there are 2.6 million people in the country who stand to benefit from surgery. According to the surgeons, people who have stomach shrinking operations lose 25-35% of their body weight, on average, in just a year. In comparison, the average loss through diets and weight loss drugs is just 7% a year. It's thought that a quarter of adults in the UK are now classified as obese - the second highest rate in Europe behind Hungary - and this reality is putting a huge strain on NHS resources and funds. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has previously indicated that surgery should be considered for severely obese people who have unsuccessfully tried all other means to lose weight. Find out more about bariatric surgery with us in France here.

Fruit Juices and Healthy smoothies have 'unacceptably high' levels of sugar

31/03/2016

Many parents try to prevent their kids from consuming too many soft drinks and opt instead for 'healthy' smoothies and natural fruit juices. But new research published in the online journal BMJ Open, shows that many of these so-called healthy options can contain as much as 13mg/100ml of sugar, which is the equivalent of 2.5 tsps in a 3.5oz serving - roughly two-thirds of a child's recommended daily intake. In fact, the research paper goes so far as to describe the sugar levels found in some natural juices, smoothies and fruit drinks as "unacceptably high". The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends no more than 3-4 tsps of sugar per day for children and 5 tsps for teenagers. It's a similar story in the UK, where NHS guidelines state no more than 4 tsps for children (aged 4-6) and 5 tsps at age 7-1o. However, according to Yale Health, the average American consumes a whopping 22 tsps of added sugar every single day. For teenagers, this figure is even higher at 34 tsps. Is it any surprise, though, when you consider that a single can of soda contains around 10 tsps alone. The researchers from the Universities of Liverpool and London in the UK found that 40% of the 203 products they analysed contained more than 4 tsps of sugar; made up largely of "free" sugars - those added by the drink producer and not occurring naturally. However, when quizzed about his team's findings, Dr. Simon Capewell's advice was that people shouldn't reduce their fruit intake. "No. Fruit is very good for the health. Vegetables likewise. Indeed, we would recommend unlimited fruit and vegetables," he said. The team does recommend consuming fruit whole, though, and not just in juice form.

Eating Spicy Food Regularly Could Extend Your Lifespan

02/09/2015

If you’re a lover of spicy food then we’ve got some good news for you. A new study suggests that your favourite spicy dishes may actually help lower your risk of death from certain conditions. Published in The BMJ, the observational study found that individuals who regularly consume spicy foods were at lower risk of death from cancer, ischemic heart disease and respiratory disease. The study focussed on 487,275 individuals in China aged between 30 and 79 who underwent regular health assessments. Between 2004 and 2008 the study participants were asked to complete a questionnaire about their general health and eating habits in regard to spicy foods, red meat, vegetables and alcohol. One of the researchers’ observations was that the individuals who consumed spicy foods three to seven days a week were 14% less likely to have died than those who didn’t. Furthermore, frequent consumption cut the risk of death from cancer, ischemic heart disease and respiratory disease, particularly among the female participants. Nita G. Forouhi, from the Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge in the UK, says that further research is definitely justified. "Should people eat spicy food? It is too early to say, but the debate and the research interest are certainly hotting up," she said. So the next time you’re tucking into a dish that’s making your mouth burn and causing sweat to run down your face, remember that it could be helping to extend your life.

Study Reveals Elderly Exercisers Live Five Years Longer

02/06/2015

A study of 5,700 men in Norway has revealed that doing just three hours of exercise per week has a dramatic effect on life expectancy, with regular exercisers living up to five years longer than their sedentary peers. The study’s authors, writing in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, have called for more campaigns to encourage regular exercise and fitness in older people. Conducted by Oslo University Hospital, the study found that both light and vigorous exercise had a positive impact on life expectancy. This tallies with official UK government advice, which recommends 150-minutes of moderate exercise per week for people aged over 65. While the study showed that doing less than an hour a week of light exercise had little impact, those undertaking the equivalent of six 30-minute sessions – regardless of intensity – were a whopping 40% less likely to have died during the study, which lasted 11 years. "Even when men were 73 years of age on average at start of follow-up, active persons had five years longer expected lifetime than the sedentary,” said the report. It even added that exercise was as "beneficial as smoking cessation" at reducing deaths. Julie Ward, from the British Heart Foundation, reiterated the study’s findings, saying: "Regular physical activity, whatever your age, is beneficial for your heart health and ultimately can help you live longer.”   Photo credit: Human Kinetics Sport, Health & Fitness Blog

Obese Teens at Increased Risk of Bowel Cancer

26/05/2015

A new study has suggested that obese or very overweight teenagers are at twice the risk of developing bowel cancer in later life than their slimmer peers. Bowel cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer in the UK and adult obesity has long been thought to increase the risk of contracting it. But now a team of researchers in the US have studied the records of some 240,000 men born in the early 1950s, who then went on to undergo a compulsory conscription assessment for the Swedish military in their late teens. The difference between being overweight and obese all depends on a person’s body mass index (BMI). Having a BMI of 30 or more sees someone labelled ‘obese’ but even over 25 is still considered ‘overweight’. All of the individuals were assessed in terms of their weight at the time of their conscription and while 81% were considered of ‘normal’ weight, 1.5% had a BMI of over 25 and 1% over 30. An analysis of their health 35 years later discovered that 885 had been positively diagnosed with bowel cancer. Scientists found that those in the uppermost weight bracket were 2.38 times more likely to develop the condition. While further research is needed, especially in women, the study by the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts was published in the journal Gut and its authors said: "Even with these limitations it is important to recognise the unique strengths of this study.”   Photo credit: CSIRO

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