31 Jan

Medical News Today: Coffee and calories: How do your add-ins add up?

Numerous studies have documented the potential health benefits of coffee consumption, making that morning cup of joe even more satisfying. New research, however, finds that many of us may be offsetting some of these health benefits by adding calorie-laden substances to our hot drinks.
[Adding a spoonful of sugar to a coffee]
Researchers find that most coffee drinkers put sugar, cream, and other additives in their coffee.

The analysis of almost 20,000 adults in the United States indicates that around two thirds of coffee drinkers and one third of tea drinkers add sugar, cream, flavored syrups, and other high-calorie substances to their beverages.

Study co-author Prof. Ruopeng An, of the College of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and colleagues calculated just how much these additives are increasing U.S. individuals’ daily calorie intake.

The researchers report their findings in the journal Public Health.

According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, it is estimated that men aged between 18 and 55 who are moderately active should consume approximately 2,600-2,800 calories daily, while moderately active women of the same age should consume around 2,000-2,200 calories per day.

When a person has a lack of energy balance – that is, more calories are consumed than burned – this can lead to overweight and obesity.

In relation to coffee and tea, the Dietary Guidelines state that the beverages can be consumed as part of a healthful diet, but that additional calories from additives should be accounted for.

Add-ins common among coffee drinkers

For their study, Prof. An and team set out to determine the nutritional implications of additives in tea and coffee, given that they are two of the most commonly consumed beverages in the U.S.

“Unlike other popular beverages, including alcohol and other sweetened beverages that are typically consumed in isolation, many people prefer drinking coffee and tea with add-ins like sugar and cream,” the authors note.

“These add-in items are often dense in energy and fat but low in nutritional value,” they add.

To reach their findings, the researchers analyzed data from the 2001-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The data included 13,185 adults who reported consuming coffee and 6,215 adults who reported consuming tea in the 24 hours before being surveyed.

The results indicate that 51.4 percent of U.S. adults consume coffee on any given day, while 25.8 percent of adults in the country drink tea on any given day.

Among coffee drinkers, the data revealed that 67.5 percent consume coffee with add-ins, while 33.4 percent of tea drinkers consume their beverage with add-ins.

For coffee drinkers, sugar, cream, sugar and cream substitutes, half-and-half, and whole or reduced-fat milk were the most common add-ins. Sugar, sugar substitutes, honey, and whole or reduced-fat milk were the most popular add-ins for tea drinkers.

Coffee add-ins account for an extra 69 calories daily

The researchers then looked at how many extra calories these add-ins account for each day.

Compared with adults who drank black coffee, the team found that those who put sweeteners, cream, and other additives in their coffee consumed an average of 69 extra calories daily. Around 60 percent of these calories came from sugar, Prof. An notes, while the majority of the remaining calories came from fat.

Among tea drinkers, individuals who put additives in their beverage consumed an average of 43 extra calories daily, compared with those who did not put add-ins in their tea. Almost 85 percent of the calories from add-ins came from sugar, the team reports.

While the researchers admit that the number of extra calories from additives in tea and coffee is small, if consumed every day, they can easily add up and contribute to weight gain.

“Our findings indicate that a lot of coffee and tea drinkers regularly use caloric add-ins to improve the flavor of their beverages, but possibly without fully realizing or taking into consideration its caloric and nutritional implications.”

Prof. Ruopeng An

Learn about a study that may have pinpointed why coffee drinkers live longer.

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31 Jan

Medical News Today: Could physical activity protect children from depression?

The ability of exercise to protect against depression in adults and young people is well studied. However, whether it has such an effect in children is unknown. Now, a new study from Norway suggests that children who undertake moderate to vigorous activity – the type that leaves them breathless and sweaty – are less likely to develop symptoms of depression.
young girls in swimming pool
The study found that children who were more physically active at 6 and 8 years old were less likely to have symptoms of depression 2 years later.

The researchers – from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and NTNU Social Research, both in Trondheim, Norway – report their findings in the journal Pediatrics.

It may be surprising to learn that children can have depression as well as adults. Estimates suggest that, at any given time, around 5 percent of children and adolescents have depression.

Children with learning, conduct, anxiety, or attentional disorders have a higher risk of depression, as do children under stress or who experience loss, or whose family has a history of depression.

Symptoms of depression in children are not necessarily the same as those observed in adults.

Symptoms can include (but are not limited to):

  • Frequent tearfulness
  • Increased anger or hostility
  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Loss of appetite or change in eating habits
  • Problems with relationships
  • Poor communication
  • Social isolation.

The new study is part of a project called Tidlig Trygg i Trondheim that is following the development and mental health of children born in Trondheim.

Researchers looked at data obtained from following hundreds of children over the course of 4 years in order to search for links between physical activity and symptoms of depression.

‘A way to prevent or treat depression already in childhood’

The data covered almost 800 children aged 6 at the start of the study. From follow-up examinations, the team also obtained data on 700 of the children when they were aged 8 and 10.

Measures of physical activity came from accelerometers that the children were asked to wear around their waists for 24 hours a day for 7 consecutive days, and only remove them when bathing or showering.

Measures of the children’s mental health were assessed from structured interviews conducted with parents.

The team found that children who were physically active at age 6 and 8 years were less likely to have symptoms of depression 2 years later.

“At both age 6 and 8 years, higher MVPA [moderate to vigorous physical activity] predicted fewer symptoms of major depressive disorders 2 years later,” note the authors.

“This is important to know, because it may suggest that physical activity can be used to prevent and treat depression already in childhood,” says study author Silje Steinsbekk, associate professor in the department of psychology at NTNU.

“We also studied whether children who have symptoms of depression are less physically active over time, but didn’t find that to be the case,” she adds.

Moderate to vigorous physical activity ‘benefits’

Moderate to vigorous physical activity is defined as activity that is intense enough to make the person sweat and get out of breath.

Although the researchers did not examine the mechanisms through which moderate to vigorous physical activity might lower risk of depression, they cite a number of reasons that have been proposed in other investigations, including:

  • Being physically active may serve as a distraction and reduce opportunities to ruminate about negative experiences
  • In the form of sports, physical activity offers opportunities for enhancing self-esteem
  • Physically active children may be more socially integrated than inactive children who do not engage in sports and peer events.

There is also evidence to suggest that “roughhousing” or “horseplay” can contribute to children’s emotional and social development.

The authors note that while their study only found a small effect of physical activity on lower risk of depression, it was similar in size to “those obtained by psychosocial intervention programs in children and adolescents.”

Given that nearly all children can be targeted by efforts to increase their amount of moderate to vigorous physical activity, “the gains at the population level might be substantial,” they note.

Researchers also suggest that there is now a need for randomized studies to test these findings and show whether increasing physical activity protects against depression.

Such studies are more robust than observational studies that follow a group, because they compare the effect of increasing physical activity in one group against the effect of not increasing it in another matched group – rather like testing the effects of a drug in a clinical trial.

“Being active, getting sweaty and roughhousing offer more than just physical health benefits. They also protect against depression.”

First author Tonje Zahl, NTNU

Learn how aerobic exercise can improve cognition in old age.

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31 Jan

Medical News Today: Emu Oil: Uses, Benefits, and Side Effects

Emu oil has become popular recently due to health claims surrounding its uses and benefits.

Before using emu oil, it is important to understand what it is used for and what possible health benefits it has. It is also important to learn about the possible risks and side effects of using the oil.

What is emu oil?

The emu is the second largest living bird by height and is native to Australia.

An emu is a flightless bird, scientifically named Dromaius novaehallandiae. The bird is native to Australia, but is now found in many countries because of a rising popularity of nutritious emu meat and medicinal emu oil.

Emu oil itself is a bright yellow liquid, made up of mostly fat, which is collected from the deposits below the skin of the bird. Once the fats are collected, they are passed through various filters and processes until pure oil is produced. It is a widely available commercial product with some unique benefits.

There are also different types of emu oil, based on different levels of filtration and processing. Most emu oils will go through full processing in order to reduce bacteria and contaminants. Some emu oils are refined more than others in order to create higher contents of fatty acids.

Organizations such as the American Emu Association have certification programs that aim to ensure that the emu oil people buy is pure, and that the emus enjoyed the best possible lives. Completely pure emu oil will always be fully refined and is the type of emu oil studied for its beneficial effects.

Uses and health benefits

The use of emu oil originates from the Australian Aborigine culture. According to their oral history, emu oil has been used for over 40,000 years. The oil has been used to relieve minor aches and pains, help wounds heal quicker, and protect skin from the elements.

The Aborigines first introduced emu oil into European culture as a natural sunscreen and moisturizer. European settlers soon adopted the use of emu oil and many other natural remedies that the Aborigines provided. Since then, people have discovered many more benefits to emu oil.


Emu oil has been used for over 40,000 years by Australian Aboriginal people.

The most popular benefit of emu oil is its use as an anti-inflammatory. In a review posted to the journal Nutrition, researchers noted that the potent anti-inflammatory effect of emu oil may be beneficial in treating conditions like ear inflammation, inflammatory bowel syndrome, and even prevent bone loss induced by chemotherapy.

Emu oil is also popular with massage therapists, who use it to help treat people with arthritis.

Enhancing skin moisture and absorption

The skin easily absorbs emu oil. This can help lock in skin moisture, making the skin less prone to cracking or drying out. Emu oil is often suggested for the dry skin associated with cancer radiation.

It appears that emu oil can pass this absorbable trait on to other compounds when they are mixed together. This property may explain why emu oil is regularly mixed into moisturizers containing other helpful compounds.

Stimulating the skin

The research also signals that applying emu oil to the skin may help increase the number of healthy skin cells. Emu oil stimulates the skin to reduce the appearance of skin wrinkles, and rejuvenate aging or sun-damaged skin.

Emu oil has also been recommended for use in the treatment of skin conditions like alopecia, rosacea, hypopigmentation, shingles, and dermatitis.

Healing wounds

Because of its painkilling effect, antioxidant levels, and ability to reach deep into the skin, emu oil is great to apply on small wounds, cuts, bruises, or burns. It can help ease the pain of minor wounds, and the antioxidants may help protect the skin from additional damage.

Bug repellant

Applying emu oil to the skin before heading outdoors can actually help repel insects. This is partly due to substances called terpenes found in the oil. Many insects are disoriented or repelled by terpenes, and putting the oil on exposed skin is a great way to keep bugs at bay.

Reducing cholesterol

When taken orally, emu oil may actually reduce cholesterol in the body. Researchers found that when compared to olive oil, subjects who were fed emu oil had significantly reduced cholesterol levels. More trials are needed to substantiate these claims, but the results are promising.

Treating ulcers

According to some research posted to Pharmacy Today, emu oil may also help treat ulcers.

In people who had ulcers, applications of various levels of emu oil had a protective effect. In some cases, the oil even reduced the size of the ulcers.

Breast sensitivity

breast feeding
For breastfeeding mothers who experience pain, emu oil may be used to reduce breast sensitivity.

According to a peer review posted to Nutrition, emu oil may also reduce the breast sensitivity common in breastfeeding mothers.

When newborns latch onto the breast, some women may experience pain caused by an improper latch. This can result in soreness, engorgement, cracked and dry skin, and pain. These symptoms may be severe enough to cause some new mothers to stop breastfeeding.

Researchers found that when breastfeeding mothers used an emu-based cream for a 24-hour period beginning soon after delivery, the breast areola and nipple skin was more hydrated.

Before feeding her baby, a woman should wipe her nipple and breast with a warm cloth to remove any residual oil. This is because emu oil has not been proven safe for infants and children to ingest.

How does emu oil work?

While many topical creams claim to be effective for dry skin, arthritis, and inflammation, most creams and lotions are made up of large particles that cannot penetrate the skin. However, emu oil is made up of smaller particles, which allows it to carry many healthful compounds to deep layers of the skin.

Emu oil contains high amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), antioxidants, and compounds, including:

  • Essential fatty acids: Emu oil is high in omega-3, omega 6, and omega-9 fatty acids. These help reduce inflammation, ease muscular pain, and arthritic joint pain. They may also help relieve signs of wrinkles, scars, and blemishes by nourishing the skin cells.
  • Vitamin A: An antioxidant and essential nutrient, vitamin A is an excellent skin tonic.
  • Additional compounds like carotenoids, flavones, polyphenols, tocopherol, and phospholipids.

Side effects, risks, and considerations

Emu oil is a natural product and there are few documented side effects. Some people may experience skin irritation when applying emu oil directly to the skin as a topical ointment. To prevent this, a person should apply a small amount of emu oil to a small patch of skin, such as the back of one hand. If an allergic reaction occurs, they should stop using the oil.

It may also be important to consider the source of the emu oil. Emus thrive when they have plenty of room to roam and are able to eat a rich diet. Low-quality living conditions may result in inferior quality oil. It is best to buy oil from a reputable source, especially as the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not regulate its production.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should talk to their doctor before taking emu oil by mouth. It is important to consult a doctor about the possible uses of emu oil and if it will affect a pregnancy.

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31 Jan

Medical News Today: People with HIV more likely to develop diabetes, study finds

HIV affects more than 1 million people in the United States, and diabetes strikes tens of millions of people in the country. New research connects these two conditions, as individuals who are HIV-positive may be more prone to developing diabetes.
[hiv test tube with positive marked on it]
New research suggests that people infected with HIV may be more prone to developing diabetes.

Although the number of people being diagnosed with HIV has fallen dramatically in the past decade, HIV still affects more than 1.2 million U.S. individuals, and 1 in 8 of those who have the virus are not aware of their infection.

Diabetes is also a serious health concern in the country. The condition affects more than 29 million people in the U.S., and another 86 million have prediabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

New research links the two conditions, suggesting that adults with HIV are predisposed to developing diabetes. The list of currently known risk factors for diabetes includes obesity and a lack of physical activity, being 45 years old or above, having a family history of the disease, or having gestational diabetes.

New research, however – published in the journal BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care – suggests that the list may have to be amended to include HIV infection. As the authors of the new study point out, previous research has in fact associated HIV with diabetes, but the link has been widely contested in the medical community.

Studying diabetes prevalence among adults with HIV

Therefore, researchers – led by Dr. Alfonso Hernandez-Romieu from the Department of Epidemiology at Emory University in Atlanta, GA – set out to calculate the prevalence of diabetes among people living with HIV and compare it with that of the general U.S. population.

To do this, they used data from the Medical Monitoring Project (MMP) – which contained nationally representative clinical and behavioral information on 8,610 adults with HIV – and from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which comprised 5,604 adults from the general population.

Dr. Hernandez-Romieu and team used regression models to compare the prevalence of diabetes in the two groups, as well as to examine the risk factors commonly associated with diabetes among adults with HIV.

Individuals in the HIV group were predominantly male (over 73 percent) and black non-Hispanic (over 41 percent). They were at least 45 years old, had attended higher education, and they lived above the federal poverty line. Around a quarter of them had a body mass index (BMI) of 30 kilograms per square meter or higher. According to the CDC, this means that 1 in 4 of the HIV participants were clinically obese.

Additionally, around 1 in 5 adults in the HIV group also had a hepatitis C infection.

In the general population group, almost half of the participants were male, and over 11 percent were non-Hispanic black. Over half of them were 45 years old and above, and almost 60 percent had higher education. Less than 2 percent were infected with hepatitis C.

Diabetes prevalence almost 4 percent higher among adults with HIV

Diabetes was found in 10.3 percent of those diagnosed with HIV and receiving medical care, compared with 8.3 percent in the general population.

In the HIV-positive group, older age, obesity, and CD4 T lymphocytes count – which is an indicator of immune health – all associated with a higher diabetes risk.

However, when researchers adjusted for all of these variables – together with sex, ethnicity, education, poverty, and hepatitis C infection – the diabetes risk was still significantly higher among the adults with HIV than in the general population.

Specifically, 1 in 10 adults with HIV had diabetes, half of whom had type 2 diabetes. Overall, after adjusting for all the variables, the diabetes prevalence was 3.8 percent higher among HIV-infected individuals than in the general population.

The authors caution that their study is purely observational, so they cannot draw any conclusions regarding cause and effect.

They also add that given the high efficacy of modern HIV treatment, individuals that are HIV-positive live well into old age, when they become vulnerable to serious illnesses – including diabetes. Dr. Alfonso C. Hernandez-Romieu and colleagues conclude:

“Although obesity is a risk factor for prevalent [diabetes] among HIV infected adults, when compared with the general U.S. adult population, [these] adults may have higher [diabetes] prevalence at younger ages, and in the absence of obesity […] Additional research would help to determine whether [diabetes] screening guidelines should be modified to include HIV infection as a risk factor for [the condition], and to identify optimal management strategies in this population.”

Learn how HIV vaccines step closer with new insights into broadly neutralizing antibodies.

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31 Jan

Medical News Today: Adjuvant Therapy: What You Need to Know

When someone is diagnosed with cancer, a doctor will present them with a treatment plan explaining their next steps.

Sometimes, their doctor will recommend additional treatment after they have completed their primary treatment, most often surgery or radiation. This is called adjuvant therapy. It is given to reduce the risk of their cancer returning. Neo-adjuvant therapy is treatment given before the primary treatment to help it kill or remove the cancer more effectively.

The types of adjuvant therapy vary based on the types of cancer they are used for, as well as the patients themselves. Cancer specialists offer an overview of what people need to know about adjuvant therapy.

Types of adjuvant therapy

Chemotherapy drug
Chemotherapy is often administered through a person’s vein. Treatment occurs in cycles so that the body has a chance to heal between doses.

There are multiple types of adjuvant therapy used today. Mayo Clinic outline the cancer treatments that are most commonly used:

  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to kill cancer cells by treating all cells. It is traditionally given through the patient’s vein, but there are also some chemotherapy pills on the market.
  • Hormone therapy: Hormone therapy stops the production of certain hormones in an effort to stop their effect on cancer. Not all cancers are hormone-sensitive, so doctors will first analyze each case to see if it can benefit from this type of adjuvant therapy.
  • Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy kills cancer cells using a high-powered energy beam, similar to an X-ray. It helps to target the original cancer site as well as the area around it. Radiation therapy can be given internally or externally.
  • Targeted therapy: Targeted therapy works similarly to chemotherapy to kill cancer cells. The main and most important difference is that it only focuses on the cancer cells instead of treating the entire body.
  • Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy is an emerging cancer treatment that shows promising results. Using the body’s own immune system, immunotherapy works to kill cancer cells using the body’s natural defense system.

Which types of cancer is adjuvant therapy used for?

Adjuvant therapy is most beneficial for advanced stages or aggressive cancers. Dr. Patrick Kupelian explained to Medical News Today that these cancers might either have structures around them, such as tumors, or are associated with a high risk of having cancer cells elsewhere in the body.

Dr. Kupelian is Vice President of Clinical Affairs in the Oncology Systems business at Varian Medical Systems. He outlines a list of cancers that are commonly treated with adjuvant therapy:

Who is adjuvant therapy for?

Doctor writes notes whilst patient clasps hands together
Adjuvant therapy may not be for everyone as a certain level of health may be required.

Adjuvant therapy is not for everyone. Any cancer treatment is extremely taxing, and not every patient will be physically able to handle additional treatment. For this reason, it is important that people discuss their options with a doctor.

Cancer experts say that the ideal candidate for adjuvant therapy will benefit from the extra treatment, enough so that it outweighs the drawbacks of potential side effects and the inconvenience of ongoing treatment.

“One example [of a good candidate] would be a young breast cancer patient [who has had] cancer spread to a large number of lymph nodes in the axilla, or armpit,” says Dr. Kupelian.

“Surgery is performed to remove the tumor within the breast and the lymph nodes in the axilla. This patient is still at high risk of having the cancer return both within the remaining breast/lymph nodes and spread to organs such as the brain, lung, or bones.

After the surgery, the patient is given adjuvant radiation therapy to the breast and lymph nodes (to decrease the chance of the cancer coming back in the breast and lymph nodes), in addition to adjuvant chemotherapy (to decrease the chance of the cancer coming back in the organs such as the brain, lung, or bones).”

Dr. Kupelian

Additionally, it is important that people are healthy enough to handle adjuvant therapy, adds Dr. Hanna Luu, a breast cancer specialist and CEO of OncoGambit, a web-based service that creates personalized cancer treatment plans.

“An ideal patient for adjuvant treatment consideration is a patient with moderate to high risk of cancer recurrence, without any other serious illnesses, such as heart or liver disease, and with a good performance status,” Dr. Luu told MNT. “We determine the patient’s performance status using the grading system called ECOG Performance Status.”

Dr. Luu outlines the different grades given to patients based on their current health and capabilities:

Grade 0: Fully active, able to carry on all activity

Grade 1: Restricted in physically strenuous activity but ambulatory and able to carry out light housework, office work

Grade 2: Ambulatory and capable of all self-care but unable to carry out any work activities

Grade 3: Capable of only limited self-care, confined to bed or chair more than 50 percent of waking hours

Grade 4: Completely disabled, cannot carry on any self-care, totally confined to bed or chair

Side effects with adjuvant therapy depend on what kind of treatment people are given. They may even be intensified depending on their current state of health and other treatment they have already been given.

Understanding the treatment will allow people to prepare for it. Chemotherapy, for example, can take months to complete and will leave patients unable to care for themselves at the time.

Certain preparations should be made so that people have additional support at home and during their treatments. They may even need to miss school or work.

Melissa Thompson, a recent breast cancer survivor and representative on the Patient and Family Advisory Committee at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, went through chemotherapy following a double mastectomy only weeks after giving birth to her first child. She offered advice to MNT on how to prepare for adjuvant therapy for other patients.

“Chemotherapy is just one chapter of a much larger story. At the time, it feels like it is never ending. As the effects of chemotherapy are cumulative, every day that passes feels more difficult physically and psychologically. For those about to have cancer treatment or those in it, know that eventually there is a light at the end of the tunnel and with that will come life and optimism.”

Melissa Thompson

People should talk to their cancer team regularly about how they are feeling during and after their primary treatment. This helps the team to make sure to grade the cancer accurately.

It is important for people to ask about potential side effects and what general preparations need to be made for the disruption in their life. If adjuvant therapy is too much for someone, their doctor should know before taking further steps in their treatment plan.

Are there any alternatives?

There is no true alternative to adjuvant therapy. It is based on the risk of cancer returning in each case. Doctors may recommend less intense adjuvant therapy treatments versus others, but it is a decision that must be made based on each personal situation.

Fruit and veg
Although there is no alternative to adjuvant therapy, living a healthful lifestyle may be recommended.

There are, however, some things that people can do to increase their chances of survival. A healthy lifestyle based on good nutrition and regular activity may help people with cancer to live longer.

“Currently there are no alternatives to adjuvant therapy, but complementary therapies may be recommended for patients,” explained Dr. Luu. “Although the data is limited, diet consisting of 80 percent fruits and vegetables and moderate exercise that includes 300 minutes of activity per week has been shown to improve survival in cancer patients, including those with advanced stages.”

“Meditation, yoga, and acupuncture can alleviate some of the side effects associated with the treatment, therefore healthcare providers frequently encourage patients to participate in these activities.”

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31 Jan

Could the 'Mediterranean' Diet Help Prevent ADHD?

News Picture: Could the 'Mediterranean' Diet Help Prevent ADHD?By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

Latest Healthy Kids News

MONDAY, Jan. 30, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Kids who follow a Mediterranean diet — high in fruits, vegetables and “good” fats — may be less likely to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a small study suggests.

Research on 120 children in Spain found that those with “low adherence” to the traditional Mediterranean diet were seven times more likely to have ADHD.

In general, kids with ADHD ate fewer fruits, vegetables and fatty fish — and more junk food and fast food, according to the study findings.

However, the findings point only to a correlation and not a cause-and-effect link between the Mediterranean diet and ADHD, said experts who were not involved in the study.

No one knows whether the diet can actually ward off the attention and behavior problems associated with ADHD.

“One possibility is that kids with ADHD make less-healthy food choices,” said Richard Gallagher.

Still, the findings do seem to mesh with some past research, said Gallagher, an associate professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at NYU Langone Child Study Center in New York City.

Studies have hinted that omega-3 fatty acids can help lessen ADHD symptoms. And the Mediterranean diet tends to be high in those fats, which are largely derived from oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and tuna.

And regardless of whether the diet affects ADHD, it’s still a generally healthy one that parents can encourage, Gallagher said.

“This is the type of diet that’s recommended for everyone, for their overall health,” he pointed out.

The traditional Mediterranean diet is typically rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, and healthy fats from foods like olive oil and nuts. It also favors fish and poultry over red meat.

In the United States, roughly 11 percent of kids ages 4 to 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Many parents want to know whether diet changes can help ease ADHD symptoms, Gallagher said.

But research on the topic has not produced many solid answers.

In the 1970s, Gallagher noted, the so-called Feingold diet came into vogue. It advised parents to rid their child’s diet of artificial dyes and preservatives, plus some fruits and vegetables.

Since then, though, research has failed to show that approach is effective, Gallagher said.

There has also been evidence linking deficiency in certain nutrients, like iron and zinc, to ADHD.

But again, Gallagher said, actual proof is lacking.

For the new study, researchers at the University of Barcelona in Spain wanted to see whether an overall diet pattern — and not just an individual nutrient — was related to ADHD risk.

With funding from the Spanish government, they recruited 120 children and teenagers ages 6 to 16. Half had recently been diagnosed with ADHD.

The kids received a score based on how well their typical meals matched the traditional Mediterranean diet.

Of those with ADHD, 30 percent were deemed to have “good” adherence, compared with 63 percent of their classmates without the disorder.

The researchers also looked at parents’ education levels, whether kids were breast-fed and whether they exercised regularly or were overweight.

In the end, children with “medium” to “low” adherence to the Mediterranean diet were about three to seven times more likely to have ADHD.

Dr. Eric Hollander is director of the Autism and Obsessive Compulsive Spectrum Program at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City.

Like Gallagher, he said the study findings leave the “chicken-and-egg question” open.

“Kids’ impulsivity can manifest in their eating habits,” Hollander said.

If the Mediterranean diet does have benefits, he added, it’s not clear whether it’s because of the eating plan as a whole or because of specific components, like omega-3 fats.

But Hollander said one thing does seem pretty clear: Avoiding sugar-laden processed foods and eating healthful whole foods are wise moves.

“One thing we try to do in managing ADHD is to encourage positive habits, across the board,” Hollander said.

That, he noted, includes getting kids into routines, like tackling their homework as soon as they get home, or having structured activities every day.

A separate study looked at a different environmental factor in ADHD: mothers’ smoking during pregnancy. Some past research has found that kids exposed to cigarette smoke in the womb have a higher risk of ADHD.

But the new Norwegian study, of more than 100,000 children, found no evidence of that. Instead, the researchers said, the link seen in past studies is probably explained by different factors, including genetics and other environmental exposures.

They added, of course, that there are still plenty of reasons for women to quit smoking before pregnancy.

Both studies were published online Jan. 30 in the journal Pediatrics.

Copyright © 2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

SOURCES: Richard Gallagher, Ph.D., associate professor, child and adolescent psychiatry, NYU Langone Child Study Center, New York City; Eric Hollander, M.D., director, Autism and Obsessive Compulsive Spectrum Program, Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, New York City; February 2017, Pediatrics, online

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31 Jan

For Ice Skating, Sharpen Up on Safety

News Picture: For Ice Skating, Sharpen Up on Safety

Latest Exercise & Fitness News

SUNDAY, Jan. 29, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Ice skating is a great source of exercise for the whole family, but injuries could take the fun out of this winter activity.

Adhering to several essential safety tips can help prevent ice skating injuries, according to the U.S.-based National Safety Council.

The first step is to ensure a proper fit. Ice skates should be comfortable and offer adequate ankle support to prevent falls, the group cautions.

The safety council provides other tips to avoid skating injuries:

  • Have ice skate blades professionally sharpened at the beginning of each season.
  • Avoid sketchy or possibly thin ice. Skate only on specially prepared rinks that are known to have strong ice.
  • Before skating, always check the ice for cracks, holes or debris.
  • Learn the basics. Before venturing out, make sure you know how to stop and fall safely.
  • Dress warmly and be sure to rest if you’re cold or tired.
  • Never skate alone.

— Mary Elizabeth Dallas

Copyright © 2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

SOURCE: National Safety Council

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31 Jan

Ways to Stay Active in Winter

News Picture: Ways to Stay Active in Winter

Latest Exercise & Fitness News

SATURDAY, Jan. 28, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Adults should get at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day — even in the depths of winter, a leading group of dietary and nutrition professionals advises.

And children should get at least an hour of daily exercise, whatever the weather, the experts at the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics added.

If the ground is covered in ice or snow, however, outdoor activities like jogging or biking can be difficult, or even dangerous.

But cold weather isn’t an excuse for inactivity, the academy said in a news release. There are several ways families can stay active throughout the year.

The group recommends the following workouts that can been done indoors:

  • If it’s too cold outside, try walking in the local mall.
  • Avoid the elevator and escalators, and opt for the stairs instead.
  • Walk the hallways of your office building during your lunch hour or a coffee break.
  • Start spring cleaning a bit early. Vacuuming, cleaning closets and washing windows can help you stay active indoors.
  • Rather than curling up on the sofa and watching a movie, follow an exercise video or DVD.

Outdoor winter fun can also burn calories. Bundle up, head outside and enjoy the following physical activities:

  • Have a snowball fight.
  • Go ice skating.
  • Sled downhill and climb back up a few times.
  • Make snow angels in the yard.

— Mary Elizabeth Dallas

Copyright © 2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

SOURCE: American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, news release

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Source: MediciNet

31 Jan

Medical News Today: High blood pressure: More than 100 new genetic risk regions uncovered

High blood pressure is a key risk factor for heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. In a new study, researchers reveal the discovery of more than 100 genes associated with high blood pressure, bringing us closer to personalized treatment strategies for the condition.
[A man having his blood pressure measured]
Researchers have pinpointed 107 new genetic regions linked to high blood pressure.

Co-lead study author Prof. Mark Caulfield, of Queen Mary University London in the United Kingdom, and colleagues report their findings in the journal Nature Genetics.

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, occurs when the force of blood flowing through the arteries is too high.

There are two numbers used to measure blood pressure: systolic and diastolic. Systolic blood pressure measures blood vessel pressure when the heart beats, while diastolic blood pressure measures the pressure between heartbeats.

Blood pressure is considered high if a person has a systolic measurement of 120 milligrams of mercury (mm Hg) or higher, and a diastolic measurement of 90 mm Hg or higher. This would be written as 120/90 mm Hg.

High blood pressure is a known risk factor for heart attack, stroke, heart disease, and heart failure. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 1 in 3 U.S. adults have high blood pressure, and only around half of these have the condition under control.

A poor lifestyle – such as an unhealthful diet and lack of exercise – is considered a primary cause of high blood pressure. In recent years, however, researchers have found that genetics also play a significant role in the condition.

New genetic regions could be drug targets for high blood pressure

Last year, a study from Prof. Caulfield and colleagues – which genotyped almost 350,000 people – discovered around 30 new genetic regions linked to the development of high blood pressure.

The new study builds on those findings, uncovering 107 genetic regions associated with high blood pressure.

Researchers arrived at their current findings by testing approximately 9.8 million genetic variants of more than 422,000 adults who were a part of UK Biobank – a cohort that gathered detailed health information of 500,000 U.K. adults aged 40-69 years between 2006 and 2010.

By cross-referencing the genetic data with information on participants’ blood pressure, Prof. Caulfield and team discovered 107 genetic regions linked to high blood pressure. These included 32 regions that had not previously been reported, as well as at least 53 regions that had been reported but never validated.

The team notes that these genetic regions – many of which were highly expressed in cardiovascular tissue and blood vessels – could be targeted with new blood pressure-lowering medications.

“Finding 107 new genetic regions linked to blood pressure almost doubles the amount of genes we can evaluate to target for drug treatment.

These exciting genetic regions could provide the basis for new innovative preventive therapies and lifestyle changes for this major cause of heart disease and stroke.”

Prof. Mark Caulfield

Genetic risk score could predict likelihood of stroke, heart disease

As well as paving the way for new treatments for high blood pressure, the new findings may also help to detect the patients that are at risk of hypertension-related complications.

By linking data from the study participants’ medical records with their genetic data, the researchers were able to create a genetic “risk score,” which they found could be used to determine which individuals were at high risk for stroke and heart disease.

The team found that the higher a patient’s genetic risk score, the more likely they were to develop high blood pressure by 50 years of age. Individuals with the highest risk score were found to have a blood pressure around 10 mm Hg higher than those with the lowest risk scores.

Furthermore, for every 10 mm Hg an individual’s blood pressure rose above normal, their risk of stroke or heart disease increased by at least 50 percent.

The researchers say that early-life use of a genetic risk score for hypertension could enable a more personalized approach to reducing the risk of stroke and heart disease.

“We cannot help our genetic makeup, but we can help our lifestyles and, in future, we may be able to alter our lifestyles while knowing whether we are at a genetic advantage or disadvantage,” explains co-lead study author Prof. Paul Elliott, of the School of Public Health at Imperial College London in the U.K.

“Doctors might eventually be able to determine a child’s genetic risk of diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and maybe even cancer, so that they can live well enough to try to counteract the genetic input,” he adds.

Learn how 1 hour of yoga per day could help to lower blood pressure.

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Source: medicalnewstoday

30 Jan

Medical News Today: Brain-stimulating activities reduce risk of cognitive impairment in seniors

Mild cognitive impairment is clinically defined as the intermediate stage between normal cognitive functioning and dementia. New research examines whether engaging in mentally stimulating activities can reduce the risk of mild cognitive impairment.
[seniors playing computer games]
Studies suggest that mentally stimulating activities, such as playing games, can decrease the risk of mild cognitive impairment in older adults.

According to several long-term studies, mild cognitive impairment (MCI) affects between 16 and 20 percent of people aged 65 and over.

MCI refers to a loss of cognitive function that is not severe enough to interfere with daily activities, but which is very likely to develop into dementia. Numerous studies suggest that between 20 and 40 percent of people who have MCI go on to develop dementia.

New research led by Dr. Yonas E. Geda, from the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, AZ, examined the link between brain-stimulating activities and cognitive functioning in healthy adults aged 70 and over. The researchers also assessed the influence of the apolipoprotein E (APOE) ε4 genotype.

The findings were published in the journal JAMA Neurology.

Studying the link between MCI and brain-stimulating activities

The team examined 1,929 cognitively healthy seniors who took part in the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging in Olmsted County, MN.

The participants were examined and deemed normal at the beginning of the study. They provided information about their participation in brain stimulating activities during the year preceding their enrolment in the study.

Researchers then clinically followed the participants for approximately 4 years to see how many of them developed MCI. They performed neurocognitive assessments of the seniors at baseline and evaluated them every 15 months. In their statistical analysis, Dr. Geda and team used Cox regression models and adjusted for sex, age, and education.

The team also took blood tests from the participants to determine APOE ε4 genotyping.

The APOE ε4 genotype is a variant in the APOE gene commonly associated with a high risk of late-onset dementia. Existing research has not yet uncovered the mechanism responsible for this association, but it has found links between the gene variant and the buildup of Alzheimer’s-related amyloid plaques.

Brain-stimulating activities lower the risk of MCI

By the end of the study period, 456 participants (over 23 percent) had developed new-onset MCI. Additionally, 512 participants (or 26.7 percent) were carriers of the APOE ε4 genotype.

The researchers found that brain-stimulating activities significantly decreased the risk of new-onset MCI.

Some of these activities included computer use, crafts, social activities, and playing games. The association between reading books and a decreased risk of MCI almost reached statistical significance.

According to the authors, the findings mean that engaging in brain-stimulating activities even in later life can lower the chances of developing MCI.

Researchers also noted the lowest risk of MCI in those participants who engaged in mentally stimulating activities, but who were not APOE ε4 carriers. Conversely, they found participants who did not engage in cognitively stimulating activities, and who were also carriers of APOE ε4, to have the highest risk of MCI.

The authors point out that their study did not investigate the cause-and-effect mechanism behind the associations, as the study was observational. Dr. Geda and team conclude:

“Performing certain mentally stimulating activities may also lower the risk of incident MCI among APOE ε4 carriers. Future research is needed to understand the mechanisms linking mentally stimulating activities and cognition in late life.”

Learn how aerobic exercise can improve cognition in old age.

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Source: medicalnewstoday