Archive for February, 2009

Tips to Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease Revealed in Three Recent Studies

February 17, 2009

Tips to Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease Revealed in Three Recent Studies

Alzheimer’s disease is a much feared condition, especially in view of the soaring numbers worldwide. What can we do to prevent the contraction of this debilitating ailment? Of course, an overall health-promoting lifestyle and dietary protocol would go a long way. How about simple steps to incorporate into our daily lives? Three recent studies put forth some suggestions.

Drink Apple Juice

Researchers from the University of Massachusetts have recently discovered that drinking apple juice may help delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. They found that mice which consumed the human equivalent of 2 glasses of the juice each day for 30 days produced less beta-amyloid, a small protein fragment. This substance is supposedly responsible for forming the “senile plaques” which are often detected in the brains of persons hit by Alzheimer’s disease.

This study, which was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, followed previous laboratory studies, which had found that consuming apple juice helped enhance the performance of mice in maze trials, preventing the drop in performance that would otherwise take place as the mice grew old.

“These findings provide further evidence linking nutritional and genetic risk factors for age-related neurodegeneration and suggest that regular consumption of apple juice can not only help to keep one’s mind functioning at its best, but may also be able to delay key aspects of Alzheimer’s disease and augment therapeutic approaches,” said Thomas B Shea, PhD, from the university’s Center for Cellular Neurobiology, Neurodegeneration Research, who was also the leader of the study.

On top of helping to ward off Alzheimer’s disease, apple juice is a wonderfully refreshing and detoxifying beverage. Of course, fresh organic apple juice is the best.

Stay off Cigarettes and Alcohol

A study presented at the American Academy of Neurology 60th Anniversary Annual Meeting held in Chicago in 2008 had found that heavy smokers and heavy drinkers get Alzheimer’s disease several years earlier than those who did not have such habits. The study team had looked at data on 938 persons aged above 59 who had a diagnosis or possible diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, including their drinking and smoking history.

Heavy smokers, defined as those who smoked at least one pack of cigarettes each day, developed the condition 2.3 years earlier than their non-smoking counterparts. On the other hand, heavy drinkers, defined as those who drank more than two drinks each day, got the disease 4.8 years earlier than the non-drinkers.

“These results are significant because it’s possible that if we can reduce or eliminate heavy smoking and drinking, we could substantially delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease for people and reduce the number of people who have Alzheimer’s at any point in time,” said Ranjan Duara, MD, from the Wien Center for Alzheimer’s Disease at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, the leader of the study. Duara was also Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology.

“It has been projected that a delay in the onset of the disease by five years would lead to a nearly 50-percent reduction in the total number of Alzheimer’s cases. In this study, we found that the combination of heavy drinking and heavy smoking reduced the age of onset of Alzheimer’s disease by six to seven years, making these two factors among the most important preventable risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease,” he added.

Staying off cigarettes and alcohol not only helps to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, it is also an important part of any health-promoting lifestyle. Quite simply, the level of health one can reach is highly limited if one ingests and inhales toxic substances on a daily basis.

Keep the Mind Active

Going further back, a study published online in 2007 in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, found that an elderly person who was cognitively active was 2.6 times less likely to get dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, as compared to his cognitively inactive counterparts. This reduced risk was after factors such as past cognitive activity, current social activity and socioeconomic status had been accounted for.

The study had looked at over 700 elderly persons in Chicago. Their average age was 80, and they went through annual cognitive testing for up to 5 years.

“Alzheimer’s disease is among the most feared consequences of old age. The enormous public health problems posed by the disease are expected to increase during the coming decades as the proportion of old people in the United States increases. This underscores the urgent need for strategies to prevent the disease or delay its onset,” said Robert S Wilson, PhD, from the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, the leader of the study.

The brain, like our physical muscles, also needs exercise. Activities which involve it, such as a game of chess, solving puzzles, reading a book or the newspapers, as well as watching a play, not only help keep Alzheimer’s disease away, but also keep us mentally active and stimulated. Importantly, they add color, meaning and fulfillment to our lives, too.



Vitamin D Fuels Muscle Power in Teen Girls

February 16, 2009

Vitamin D Fuels Muscle Power in Teen Girls

Although vitamin D is naturally produced in the body through exposure to direct sunlight, vitamin D deficiency is now common in the U.S. The result can be a host of health ills, including severe conditions such as bone thinning osteoporosis and bone deforming rickets. Although a lack of vitamin D has long been known to weaken both the muscular and the skeletal systems of the human body, little has been known about how vitamin D contributes to muscle power and force — until now. For the first time, scientists have found that vitamin D is important for muscle power, force, velocity and jump height.

A new study, just published in the February edition of The Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM) , looked at 99 adolescent girls between the ages of 12 and 14 years. Dr. Kate Ward, Ph.D., of the University of Manchester in the U.K., and colleagues took blood samples to measure the blood serum levels of vitamin D in the youngsters. They found many had low levels, even though they had no obvious symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency. Then the researchers used a measurement technique called jumping mechanography to measure the power and force of muscle activity when the girls went through a series of jumping activities. The result showed the teens who were not deficient in vitamin D performed far better in these tests.

“Vitamin D affects the various ways muscles work and we’ve seen from this study that there may be no visible symptoms of vitamin D deficiency,” said Dr. Ward in a statement to the media. “Further studies are needed to address this problem and determine the necessary levels of vitamin D for a healthy muscle system.”

A review of vitamin D research by scientists at the Institute of Child Health and Human Development published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine concluded that while obvious vitamin D deficiency (the kind that produces clear symptom such as rickets) is rare among children in the US, a lack of the vitamin in youngsters is most likely widespread. The study noted 78% of breastfed infants in winter who did not receive vitamin D supplementation were the most severely deficient of all.

According to the National Institutes for Health (NIH), sun exposure is the best way to get adequate amounts of vitamin D. Specifically, the NIH says it takes at least 5 to 30 minutes of sun exposure between 10 AM and 3 PM at least twice a week to the face, arms, legs, or back without sunscreen for sufficient vitamin D synthesis. With limited sun exposure, the NIH web site states individuals need to include good sources of vitamin D in their diet or take a supplement. Fortified foods provide most of the vitamin D in the American diet. Other sources include salmon, tuna, and mackerel. Small amounts of vitamin D are found in beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks and some mushrooms.


Mobile Phone Causes Brain Risk

February 15, 2009

Mobile Phone Causes Brain Risk
These days there are lots of studies that have proved that extensive use of mobile phones can effect on person’s internal metabolism. Radiations emit from the gadget cause ill effects on brain. Although researchers are still to get a full-proved evidence of a potential threat to man’s physiological system but there is no doubt that the frequent use of this revolutionary gadget causes harm to human body as well on the environment.

Scientific research has found that emission from mobile phones could place users at risk of brain conditions including Alzheimer’s disease. In most of the developed countries safety standards of mobile phones are based on the assumption that the only biological effect of microwave radiation is heating, also known as thermal effect. However, researchers have proved that non-thermal effects do exist and occur at a significantly lower radiation level than what causes heating. It implies that present safety standards need to be changed so that they allow considerably lower levels of radiation intensity.

There are also some appalling facts are coming out because of mobile radiation. Researchers in Sweden have found that just two minutes exposure to energy waves from a handset can disable a defense mechanism in the body designed to prevent harmful proteins and toxins in the blood from entering the brain. The risk of entering of the protein into the brain can elevate brain and nerve diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis developing. The study conducted by scientists at the University of Lund, near Malmo, exposed rats to microwave pulses similar to the emissions from a mobile phone to calculate the effect on the body’s blood-brain barrier. Exposed animals, were much more likely to have albumin leaking from blood vessels in inappropriate locations. There some dark dots appeared in the exposed brain. Control animals, on the other hand showed either no albumin leakage or occasional isolated spots. Further, a closer look at the cells within the brain revealed that exposed animals had scattered and grouped dark neurons.

The scientists have found that in rats even a short span of time of exposure to radiation at the same level as mobile phones caused the opening of the blood-brain barrier. Scientists are unsure about the harmful effect of the radiation but it seems that molecules such as proteins and toxins can pass out of the blood while the mobile phone is switched on and cross into the brain. The researchers pose doubts on the safeguards drawn up by the WHO (world Health Organization).

However, mobile manufacturers toss away the matter, as there is no firm evidence of the effect till date. They stress their opinion by saying that they are restricted in the strength of microwaves to a minimum level so that it doesn’t exceed levels that would excessively heat user’s heads. They insist that radiation amounts are within safety guidelines and dismissed the notion that these microwaves could “cook”� the brain. They argue that a simple physical or mental trauma can cause much heat that the weak microwaves that the devices emit.

It seems that world is divided into two halves. One continuously propels the thoughts of harmful effects of Mobile phone and other endlessly defending their arguments by dismissing the researchers and doctors. Whatever, the fact is, we can’t deny the importance of mobile phones in our life and undoubtedly it becomes an inevitable part of our life.


Dangers of Microwaved Water

February 9, 2009

Dangers of Microwaved Water
About five days ago, my 26-year old son decided to have a cup of instant coffee. He took a cup of water and put it in the microwave to heat (something that he had done numerous times before).

I am not sure how long he set the timer for, but he told me he wanted to bring the water to a boil. When the timer shut the oven off, he removed the cup. As he looked into the cup he noted that the water was not boiling, but instantly the water “blew up” into his face. The cup remained intact until he threw it out of his hand, but the water flew out due to the build-up of energy. His whole face is now blistered with first and second degree burns to his face which may leave scarring. He also may have lost partial sight in his left eye.

While at the hospital, the doctor who was attending him stated that this is a fairly common occurrence and water (alone) should never be heated in a microwave oven. If water is heated in this manner, something (such as a wooden stir stick or tea bag) should be placed in the cup to diffuse the energy. It’s a much safer choice to boil the water in a teakettle.
On further research into the story we determined that scientists agree that this can happen, though they offer a somewhat complicated explanation. Richard Barton writes in New Scientist magazine:

“A portion of the water in the cup is becoming superheated–the liquid temperature is actually slightly above the boiling point, where it would normally form a gas. In this case, the boiling is hindered by a lack of nucleation sites needed to form the bubbles.

“When water is heated on a conventional stove, the porous surface of the kettle and the convection caused by the hotter liquid rising from the bottom enable the water to convert to steam. It boils. But a stationary cup of water in a microwave oven can heat past the boiling point without actually boiling. If that happens, placing an object (like a teabag) in the water or jarring the cup could cause the sudden–and explosive–conversion of part of the water to steam.

“I imagine,” adds Barton, “that by keeping the cup still and microwaving for a long time, one could blow the entire contents of the cup into the interior of the microwave as soon as you introduced any nucleation sites. It is this sometimes explosive rate of steam production that means you should take great care when using a microwave oven.”

The US Food and Drug Administration advises consumers to avoid superheated water. When heating water in the microwave you should:

Follow precautions and recommendations of the microwave regarding heating times.

* Do not use excessive amounts of time when heating water in microwaves.
* Determine the best time setting to heat the water, just to the desired temperature and use that time setting regularly.

Read more here

Cellphone health risks uncertain

February 8, 2009

Cellphone health risks uncertain

Brussels – Cellphone use is unlikely to cause cancer, although the effects of long-term use and on children are still unknown, according to an EU study released on Tuesday.

The review of scientific findings since a last EU study in March 2007 found that there was a lack of information on the full impact of so-called radio frequency fields, emitted by many hand-held wireless devices.

In light of the body of scientific evidence, exposure to such fields “is unlikely to lead to an increase in cancer in humans”, the European Commission’s independent scientific health risk committee concluded.

However, it also said that it was uncertain whether there is a cancer risk due to long-term exposure of over 10 years because cellphone use had not been widespread enough for such a long period to draw conclusions.

“Further studies are required to identify whether considerably longer-term… human exposure to such phones might pose some cancer risk,” the study said.

New data on possible links between cellphone use and cancer risks are expected to become available in 2009 with the publication of the long-awaited international Interphone study.

While the report found no effects from radio frequency fields on human and animal development, it said that “information on possible effects caused by RF fields in children is limited.”

However, the study confirmed earlier findings that extremely low frequency fields, emitted for example by high voltages transmission lines, are possibly cancer causing and might increase childhood leukaemia.

“New epidemiological studies indicate a possible increase in Alzheimer’s disease arising from exposure to ELF fields,” it said.

“Further epidemiological and laboratory investigations of this observation are needed.”



What the cellphone industry won’t tell you

February 3, 2009

What the cellphone industry won’t tell you
In mid-January, the National Safety Council called for a nationwide ban on the use of cellphones while driving, citing overwhelming evidence of the risk of injuries and death from driver distraction.

California has banned texting behind the wheel and, along with several other states, prohibits the use of hand-held phones while allowing drivers to talk with hands-free devices. But research has shown talking is risky even when both hands are free, because the mind is somewhere else.

About 4 in 5 cellphone owners make calls while driving, and nearly 1 in 5 sends text messages, according to a survey by Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. The habit is so deeply ingrained that the likelihood of all-out bans seems practically nil.

Individuals still can make the sensible decision to hang up and drive, but they won’t get any encouragement from the wireless industry.

“A sensible, a responsible and a brief phone call, we think, can be made, and sometimes needs to be made, in order for life’s everyday challenges to be met,” said a senior official of the main industry trade group, known as CTIA – The Wireless Association.

No business is comfortable telling its customers what to do – particularly when the advice weighs against its bottom line. It’s not surprising then that wireless providers have taken the familiar road of denying scientific research and plain common sense.

Studies have shown that cellphone conversations can blind drivers to visual cues, slowing reaction time and situational awareness. Researchers at the University of Utah tested drivers and found that they performed no better, and by some measures worse, while talking on a cellphone than they did when they had a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent and were legally drunk.

Such information is not available on the CTIA Website. It features the “why pick on us?” defense that drivers engage in all manner of distracting behaviors, from eating to applying makeup – as if one bad habit justifies a worse one. It says “statistics indicate wireless use does not equate to dangerous driving,” offering as proof that during a recent period, accidents dropped while the number of drivers and cellphone users was increasing. Because many factors influence crash rates – such as drunken-driving enforcement and safer highway designs – it’s a specious claim that proves nothing.

In fact, reliable statistics on cellphone-related casualties don’t exist. That’s because police agencies keep records differently and because motorists who crash while on the phone rarely admit it. The number of fatalities appears to be large, however. In 2003, researchers at the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis published an estimate of 2,600 deaths a year in cellphone-related crashes. About the same time, experts at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration produced a more conservative estimate of 955 US deaths in 2002 – a toll they said was sure to grow with rising on-road cellphone use.

Fearing the wrath of the wireless industry and its allies in Congress, federal officials suppressed the NHTSA estimate, which was first reported by the Los Angeles Times in March.

Whatever the actual number, there have been more than enough deaths and bereaved families, and drivers who suddenly became criminals through a seemingly routine act.

Of course, consumers don’t have to rely on industry propaganda. They have access to other information and should be wise enough to trust independent authorities over self-interested business concerns.

But faced with changing bad habits, we’re prone to rationalization and selective hearing.

That’s why what the cellphone industry says does matter. The appeal of chatting behind the wheel was a big factor in its phenomenal growth. Today, however, most everyone has a cellphone, and companies increasingly depend on unlimited calling plans rather than minutes sold to bored commuters. Now that we’re all in their pockets, it’s hard to see what they would lose by urging us, unequivocally, to hang up and drive. Their message should be that if the call is that important, it’s worth pulling over.