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February 6, 2009, 6:26 AM CT

Energy drinks: The coffee of a new generation?

Energy drinks: The coffee of a new generation?
It's not uncommon for students to consume energy drinks to increase their concentration as they study throughout the night. "Energy drinks are the coffee of a new generation," says Stphanie Ct, nutritionist with Extenso, a Universit de Montral health and nutrition think-tank. "These drinks are made up of sugar and caffeine and can have a negative impact on health".

As per a 2008 report by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 1.5 billion cans of Red Bull were sold in the United States in 2004. Consumption in Canada is said to be comparable and it is a growing trend for 18-to 24-year-olds. This market segment is broadening as younger children are beginning to consume these drinks before doing physical activity.

But these drinks aren't recommended to either athletes or children under the age of 12. "Energy drinks don't hydrate the body efficiently," says Ct. "Because they have too much sugar. And caffeine doesn't necessarily improve physical performance. In high quantities it can increase the risks of fatigue and dehydration".

Several studies have demonstrated that strong doses of caffeine can increase hypertension, cause heart palpitations, provoke irritability and anxiety as well as cause headaches and insomnia. Health Canada does not recommend consuming more than two cans per day.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


February 6, 2009, 6:24 AM CT

Young teens really are shortsighted

Young teens really are shortsighted
As per popular stereotype, young teenagers are shortsighted, leaving them prone to poor judgment and risky decision-making when it comes to issues like taking drugs and having sex. Now a newly released study confirms that teens 16 and younger do think about the future less than adults, but explains that the reasons may have less to do with impulsivity and more to do with a desire to do something exciting.

The study, by researchers at Temple University, the University of California, Los Angeles, Georgetown University, the University of California, Irvine, and the University of Colorado, is reported in the January/February 2009 issue of the journal Child Development

The scientists looked at more than 900 individuals ranging in age from 10 to 30 and from an ethnically and socio-economically diverse group to determine how people of different ages think about the future consequences of their decisions. They used a new questionnaire and an experimental task called delay discounting, which measures the extent to which people prefer immediate but smaller rewards over delayed but larger ones.

Compared with adults, the scientists found, teenagers consider the future less and prefer immediate rewards over delayed ones (for example, $700 today versus $1,000 a year from now). But it may not be impulsivity that guides their lack of forethought. Instead, the study observed that teens are shortsighted more due to immaturity in the brain systems that govern sensation seeking than to immaturity in the brain systems responsible for self-control.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


February 6, 2009, 6:16 AM CT

Selling of personalized medicine prematurely?

Selling of personalized medicine prematurely?
We appears to be a long way off from using genetics to reliably gauge our risks for specific diseases, say scientists at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health as per a research findings published on Feb. 5 in the online journal PLoS Genetics. Yet, a number of companies currently offer personalized genetic testing for diseases like cancer, heart disease and diabetes, and tout the ability of DNA testing to predict future health risks.

"The rapid discovery of new genetic risk factors is giving us vitally important insights into human health, but a strong association between these factors and disease risk may not reliably predict which health issues a specific individual will face in the future," said Daniel E. Weeks, Ph.D., senior author and professor of human genetics and biostatistics at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. "Our study indicates that even though we can paint a picture of our genetic makeup with current tests, this may not be enough to help us understand our individual risk for disease".

The study focused on single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs variations in short DNA sequences that have been associated with the presence of particular diseases, and that exist in the millions in the human genome. Many companies currently offer individualized estimates for disease risks based on genome-wide SNP genotyping. These tests typically scan 500,000 to 1 million SNPs, searching for only a handful linked to a specific disease.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


February 6, 2009, 6:11 AM CT

Vaccination programs showing its effectiveness

Vaccination programs showing its effectiveness
"Conventional wisdom and conventional theory tells us that when infection can potentially be spread to almost everyone in a community, such as for measles, a disease outbreak can never be contained using voluntary vaccination," says Chris Bauch and Ana Persic, scientists from the University of Guelph. "However, our work shows conventional wisdom appears to be wrong for diseases that are spread primarily through close contact, such as smallpox." Their findings are reported in the open-access journal PLoS Computational Biology on February 6th.

Prior studies have suggested that voluntary programs cannot be 100% effective due to the self-interested behavior of individuals. However, most mathematical models used in these studies assume that populations mix homogenously in effect, that an individual is just as likely to be infected by a complete stranger as by a close friend or family member. But that is not how infections spread with diseases like smallpox or SARS, which are predominantly to close social contacts.

In this newly released study, Bauch and Perisic analyze "free-rider" effects under voluntary vaccination for vaccine-preventable diseases where disease transmission occurs in a social network. Individuals choose whether to vaccinate based on the risk of infection from their neighbors and any risks linked to the vaccine itself. Neighbors of an infected person will vaccinate as soon as their neighbor's symptoms appear, so when neighborhood size is small, voluntary vaccination results in rapid containment of an outbreak. As neighborhood size increases, a threshold is reached beyond which the infection can break through due to the decisions of neighbours who choose not to vaccinate.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


February 6, 2009, 6:09 AM CT

Alcohol advertising may lead to underage drinking

Alcohol advertising may lead to underage drinking
Alcohol advertising and marketing may lead to underage drinking. A large systematic review of more than 13,000 people, reported in the open access journal BMC Public Health, suggests that exposure to ads and product placements, even those supposedly not directed at young people, leads to increased alcohol consumption.

Lesley Smith and David Foxcroft from Oxford Brookes University collated information from seven rigorously selected studies, featuring information on 13,255 participants. This systematic review, funded by the Alcohol and Education Research Council (AERC), is the first to study the effects of advertising, product placement in films, games, sporting events and music videos, depictions of drinking in various media, and exposure to product stands in shops. As per Smith, "Our work provides strong empirical evidence to inform the policy debate on the impact of alcohol advertising on young people, and policy groups may wish to revise or strengthen their policy recommendations in the light of this stronger evidence".

The authors observed that exposure to TV alcohol advertisements was linked to an increased tendency to drink, as were magazine advertisements and concession stands at sporting events or concerts. Hours spent watching films, playing games and watching music videos also correlated with young peoples' tendency to consume alcoholic beverages. Smith said, "All seven studies demonstrated significant effects across a range of different exposure variables and outcome measures. One showed that for each additional hour of TV viewing per day the average risk of starting to drink increased by 9% during the following 18 months. Another observed that for each additional hour of exposure to alcohol use depicted in popular movies there was a 15% increase in likelihood of having tried alcohol 13 to 26 months later".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


February 6, 2009, 6:00 AM CT

Those inactive and overweight preschool children

Those inactive and overweight preschool children
The rate of childhood obesity has risen significantly in the United States, with a number of children becoming overweight at younger ages. At the same time, the number of preschoolers in center-based programs is also on the rise. Now a newly released study finds that, contrary to conventional wisdom, preschoolers don't move around a lot, even when they're playing outside.

The study, by an interdisciplinary team of scientists at the University of South Carolina (USC), Michigan State University, and East Carolina University and led by Professor Russell R. Pate (at USC), is reported in the January/February 2009 issue of the journal Child Development

Using information from the Children's Activity and Movement in Preschools Study (CHAMPS), a project funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the scientists looked at 3-, 4-, and 5-year olds enrolled in 24 community-based preschool programs.

They observed that the preschoolers were inactive for much of their preschool day, with 89 percent of physical activity characterized as sedentary. Even when they played outside, a time when children are expected to move around, 56 percent of their activities were sedentary.

Furthermore, teachers very rarely encouraged the children to be physically active. But when balls and other items were made available, particularly outside, and when they had open spaces in which to play, the children were more likely to be active.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


February 6, 2009, 5:55 AM CT

Sleep apnea may be cured if you put effort to lose weight

Sleep apnea may be cured if you put effort to lose weight
For sufferers of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a newly released study shows that losing weight is perhaps the single most effective way to reduce OSA symptoms and associated disorders, as per a newly released study in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, one of the American Thoracic Society's three peer-evaluated journals.

Weight loss may not be a new miracle pill or a fancy high-tech therapy, but it is an exciting treatment for sufferers of OSA both because of its short- and long-term effectiveness and for its relatively modest price tag. Surgery doesn't last, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines are only as effective as the patient's adherence, and most other devices have had disappointing outcomes, in addition to being expensive, unwieldy and having poor patient compliance. Furthermore, OSA is generally only treated when it has progressed to a moderate to severe state.

"Very low calorie diet (VLCD) combined with active lifestyle counseling resulting in marked weight reduction is a feasible and effective therapy for the majority of patients with mild OSA, and the achieved beneficial outcomes are maintained at 1-year follow-up," wrote Henri P.I. Tuomilehto, M.D., Ph.D., of the department of Otorhinolaryngology at the Kuopio University Hospital in Finland.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


February 5, 2009, 6:22 AM CT

Hormone Replacement therapy indicted again

Hormone Replacement therapy indicted again
Postmenopausal women who take combined estrogen plus progestin menopausal hormone treatment for at least five years double their annual risk of breast cancer, as per new analyses from a major study that clearly establishes a link between hormone use and breast cancer, Stanford scientists say. The multi-center study also observed that women on hormones can quickly reduce their risks of cancer simply by stopping the treatment.

The study is a follow-up to the landmark Women's Health Initiative report of 2002, which observed that postmenopausal women taking estrogen plus progestin were at far greater risk of developing breast cancer and other serious conditions than women on placebo.

After publication of the WHI data, use of hormone treatment plummeted in the United States - from 60 million prescriptions in 2001 to 20 million in 2005. Breast cancer rates also declined significantly within the year, suggesting a strong link between hormone use and cancer risk. But some researchers still questioned the connection, saying the dip in breast cancer rates could not have occurred so rapidly and may have been correlation to patterns of mammogram use.

The latest study, however, should put those questions to rest, said Marcia Stefanick, PhD, professor of medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine and a co-author of the study.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


February 5, 2009, 6:11 AM CT

Protecting against slip-related falls in elderly

Protecting against slip-related falls in elderly
BETHESDA, Md. (Feb 4, 2009) - Training people to avoid falls by repeatedly exposing them to unstable situations in the laboratory helped them to later maintain their balance on a slippery floor, as per new research from the Journal of Neurophysiology

The study furthered the understanding of how the brain develops fall prevention strategies that can be generalized to a variety of conditions. The research could eventually help people, including the elderly, for whom falling is an important health issue.

The study, "Generalization of gait adaptation for fall prevention: from moveable platform to slippery floor," is published online by The American Physiological Society. Tanvi Bhatt and Yi-Chung (Clive) Pai, of the University of Illinois at Chicago carried out the study.

Will training transfer?

The scientists used a moveable platform which could be operated to disrupt a person's balance. Prior studies had shown that people could quickly learn to maintain balance and avoid a fall with a short training period on the platform. In this study, the scientists wanted to see whether training on the platform could transfer to prevent a fall on a slippery floor.

Dr. Pai, who teaches in the department of physical treatment and whose work has been supported by National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging, said he aims to train people to maintain balance in the face of a situation that could cause a slip-related fall.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


February 4, 2009, 6:30 AM CT

Study finds Zen meditation alleviates pain

Study finds Zen meditation alleviates pain
Zen meditation a centuries-old practice that can provide mental, physical and emotional balance may reduce pain as per Universit de Montral researchers. A newly released study in the January edition of Psychosomatic Medicine reports that Zen meditators have lower pain sensitivity both in and out of a meditative state in comparison to non-meditators.

Joshua A. Grant, a doctoral student in the Department of Physiology, co-authored the paper with Pierre Rainville, a professor and researcher at the Universit de Montral and it's affiliated Institut universitaire de griatrie de Montral. The main goal of their study was to examine whether trained meditators perceived pain differently than non-meditators.

"While prior studies have shown that teaching chronic pain patients to meditate is beneficial, very few studies have looked at pain processing in healthy, highly trained meditators. This study was a first step in determining how or why meditation might influence pain perception." says Grant.



Meditate away the pain


For this study, the researchers recruited 13 Zen meditators with a minimum of 1,000 hours of practice to undergo a pain test and contrasted their reaction with 13 non-meditators. Subjects included 10 women and 16 men between the ages of 22 to 56.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
Adolescents who suffer physical injuries are vulnerable to emotional distress in the months following their hospitalization, yet almost 40 percent of hospitalized adolescents interviewed for a new study had no source for the follow-up medical care that could diagnose and treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress. These young trauma survivors are at risk for high levels of post-traumatic stress and depressive symptoms, as well as high levels of alcohol use, according to research by researchers at the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center.

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