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Showing posts from March, 2015

PESTICIDES IN FRUIT AND VEGETABLES LINKED TO SEMEN QUALITY

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The first study to investigate the relationship between eating fruit and vegetables containing pesticide residues and the quality of men's semen has shown a link with lower sperm counts and percentages of normally-formed sperm. The study, which is published online today (Tuesday) inHuman Reproduction shows that men who ate the highest amount of fruit and vegetables with high levels of pesticide residue had a 49% lower sperm count and a 32% lower percentage of normally-formed sperm than men who consumed the least amount. An accompanying editorial says the findings have important implications for human health. However, the study of 155 men showed that, overall, the total amount of fruit and vegetables consumed was unrelated to changes in any measurements of semen quality in the group as a whole. Assistant Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston (USA), Jorge Chavarro, said: "These findings should not discourage the consumpt…

CROSSING FINGER CAN REDUCE FEELINGS OF PAIN

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How you feel pain is affected by where sources of pain are in relation to each other, and so crossing your fingers can change what you feel on a single finger, finds new UCL research. The research, published in Current Biology, used a variation on an established pain experiment, known as the "thermal grill illusion." In the thermal grill illusion, a pattern of warm-cold-warm temperatures applied to the index, middle and ring finger respectively causes a paradoxical, sometimes painful, sensation of burning heat on the middle finger -- even though this finger is actually presented with a cold stimulus. "The thermal grill is a useful component in our scientific understanding of pain," says Angela Marotta (UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience), co-lead author in the research, "It uses a precisely-controlled stimulus to activate the brain's pain systems. This can certainly feel painful, but doesn't actually involve any tissue damage." The thermal grill…

PREDICTING HEART DISEASE RISK FOR ANY ONE OVER 40

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For the first time, scientists have developed a new risk score that can predict the 10-year risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke in persons aged 40 years or older in any world country
The research is published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal, and was led by Dr Goodarz Danaei, Assistant Professor of Global Health at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, USA. Danaei and colleagues developed, validated, and evaluated the new score, called Globorisk, using data from eight cohort studies [1], including more than 50,000 participants. Unlike previous risk scores, Globorisk can be updated to fit local conditions and risk factor levels in different countries using routinely available information. Dr Danaei explains, "Globorisk is an important advance in the field of global cardiovascular disease prevention. Until now, most prediction scores were developed using a single cohort study and were never validated for accuracy in national popula…

HOW DOES WEIGHT STIGMA SMELL

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Could our reaction to an image of an overweight or obese person affect how we perceive odor? A trio of researchers, including two from UCLA, says yes. The researchers discovered that visual cues associated with overweight or obese people can influence one's sense of smell, and that the perceiver's body mass index matters, too. Participants with higher BMI tended to be more critical of heavier people, with higher-BMI participants giving scents a lower rating when scent samples were matched with an obese or overweight individual. The findings, published online in the International Journal of Obesity and scheduled to be presented today at the annual conference of the American Psychosomatic Society, suggest that the extent of negative bias toward overweight and obese people may be greater than previously believed. "You wouldn't think that not liking someone's weight could then be seen in a totally different sensory modality, which makes us think, 'How else is weight …

LISTENING CLASSICAL MUSIC REGULATES GENES THAT ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR BRAIN FUNCTIONS

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Although listening to music is common in all societies, the biological determinants of listening to music are largely unknown. According to a new study, listening to classical music enhanced the activity of genes involved in dopamine secretion and transport, synaptic neurotransmission, learning and memory, and down-regulated the genes mediating neurodegeneration. Several of the up-regulated genes were known to be responsible for song learning and singing in songbirds, suggesting a common evolutionary background of sound perception across species. Listening to music represents a complex cognitive function of the human brain, which is known to induce several neuronal and physiological changes. However, the molecular background underlying the effects of listening to music is largely unknown. A Finnish study group has investigated how listening to classical music affected the gene expression profiles of both musically experienced and inexperienced participants. All the participants listene…

SALT AFFECTS ORGANS , EVEN IN ABSENCE OF HYPERTENSION

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You may think you're one of the lucky ones who can eat all the salty snacks and convenience foods you want and still register low numbers on the blood pressure cuff. But, new research suggests you may not be so lucky after all A review paper co-authored by two faculty members in the University of Delaware College of Health Sciences and two physicians at Christiana Care Health System provides evidence that even in the absence of an increase in blood pressure, excess dietary sodium can adversely affect target organs, including the blood vessels, heart, kidneys and brain. Authors of the paper, "Dietary Sodium and Health: More Than Just Blood Pressure," include William Farquhar and David Edwards in UD's Department of Kinesiology and Applied Physiology; William Weintraub, chief of cardiology at Christiana Care; and Claudine Jurkovitz, a nephrologist epidemiologist and senior scientist in the Value Institute Center for Outcomes Research at Christiana Care. The paper was pu…

HIGH LEVELS OF VITAMIN D IS SUSPECTED OF INCREASING MORTALITY RATES

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The level of vitamin D in our blood should neither be too high nor to low. Scientists from the University of Copenhagen are the first in the world to show that there is a connection between high levels of vitamin D and cardiovascular deaths. In terms of public health, a lack of vitamin D has long been a focal point. Several studies have shown that too low levels can prove detrimental to our health. However, new research from the University of Copenhagen reveals, for the first time, that also too high levels of vitamin D in our blood is connected to an increased risk of dying from a stroke or a coronary. The results have just been published in the Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism. "We have studied the level of vitamin D in 247,574 Danes, and so far, it constitutes the world's largest basis for this type of study. We have also analysed their mortality rate over a seven-year period after taking the initial blood sample, and in that time 16,645 patients had died. Furthermore,…

NEW CLASS OF DRUGS DRAMATICALLY INCREASES HEALTHY LIFESPAN

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A research team from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), Mayo Clinic and other institutions has identified a new class of drugs that in animal models dramatically slows the aging process -- alleviating symptoms of frailty, improving cardiac function and extending a healthy lifespan. The new research was published March 9 online ahead of print by the journal Aging Cell. The scientists coined the term "senolytics" for the new class of drugs. "We view this study as a big, first step toward developing treatments that can be given safely to patients to extend healthspan or to treat age-related diseases and disorders," said TSRI Professor Paul Robbins, PhD, who with Associate Professor Laura Niedernhofer, MD, PhD, led the research efforts for the paper at Scripps Florida. "When senolytic agents, like the combination we identified, are used clinically, the results could be transformative." "The prototypes of these senolytic agents have more than proven their…

HIDDEN HAZARDS FOUND IN GREEN PRODUCTS

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A University of Melbourne researcher has found that common consumer products, including those marketed as 'green', 'all-natural', 'non-toxic', and 'organic', emit a range of compounds that could harm human health and air quality. But most of these ingredients are not disclosed to the public. Dr. Anne Steinemann, Professor of Civil Engineering, and the Chair of Sustainable Cities, from the Department of Infrastructure Engineering, Melbourne School of Engineering, is a world expert on environmental pollutants, air quality, and health effects. Professor Steinemann investigated and compared volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted from 37 different products, such as air fresheners, cleaning products, laundry supplies, and personal care products, including those with certifications and claims of 'green' and 'organic'. Both fragranced and fragrance-free products were tested. The study, published in the journal Air Quality, Atmosphere & Healt…

ADULTS ONLY REALLY CATCH FLU ABOUT TWICE A DECADE

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Adults over the age of 30 only catch flu about twice a decade, a new study suggests. Flu-like illness can be caused by many pathogens, making it difficult to assess how often people are infected by influenza. Researchers analysed blood samples from volunteers in Southern China, looking at antibody levels against nine different influenza strains that circulated from 1968 to 2009. They found that while children get flu on average every other year, flu infections become less frequent as people progress through childhood and early adulthood. From the age of 30 onwards, flu infections tend to occur at a steady rate of about two per decade. Dr Adam Kucharski, who worked on the study at Imperial College London before moving to the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: "There's a lot of debate in the field as to how often people get flu, as opposed to flu-like illness caused by something else. These symptoms could sometimes be caused by common cold viruses, such as rhin…

EAT PEANUTS FOR A LONGER LIFE

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If you're looking for a simple way to lower your risk of dying from a heart attack, consider going nuts. Researchers at Vanderbilt University and the Shanghai Cancer Institute examined the association of peanut and nut consumption with mortality among low-income and racially diverse populations and found that intake of peanuts was associated with fewer deaths, especially from heart disease. The study was published March 2 in JAMA Internal Medicine. The first author of the paper is Hung Luu, Ph.D., a post-doctoral fellow in the Division of Epidemiology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Senior author is Xiao-Ou Shu, M.D., Ph.D., associate director for Global Health at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC) and professor of Medicine in the Department of Epidemiology. "Nuts are rich in nutrients, such as unsaturated fatty acids, fiber, vitamins, phenolic antioxidants, arginine and other phytochemicals. All of them are known to be beneficial to cardiovascular health, probabl…

HANDSHAKES MAY ENGAGE OUR SENSE OF SMELL

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Why do people shake hands? A new Weizmann Institute study suggests one of the reasons for this ancient custom may be to check out each other's odors. Even if we are not consciously aware of this, handshaking may provide people with a socially acceptable way of communicating via the sense of smell Not only do people often sniff their own hands, but they do so for a much longer time after shaking someone else's hand, the study has found. As reported today in the journal eLife, the number of seconds the subjects spent sniffing their own right hand more than doubled after an experimenter greeted them with a handshake. "Our findings suggest that people are not just passively exposed to socially-significant chemical signals, but actively seek them out," said Idan Frumin, the research student who conducted the study under the guidance of Prof. Noam Sobel of Weizmann's Neurobiology Department. "Rodents, dogs and other mammals commonly sniff themselves, and they sniff …