Sleep 1Irregular sleeping patterns have been “unequivocally” shown to lead to cancer in tests on mice, a study suggests.

The report, in Current Biology, lends weight to concerns about the damaging impact of shift work on health.

The researchers said women with a family risk of breast cancer should never work shifts, but cautioned that further tests in people were needed.

The data also indicated the animals were 20% heavier despite eating the same amount of food.

Studies in people have often suggested a higher risk of diseases such as breast cancer in shift workers and flight attendants.

sleep 2One argument is disrupting the body’s internal rhythm – or body clock – increases the risk of disease.

However, the link is uncertain because the type of person who works shifts may also be more likely to develop cancer due to factors such as social class, activity levels or the amount of vitamin D they get.

Mice prone to developing breast cancer had their body clock delayed by 12 hours every week for a year.

Normally they had tumors after 50 weeks – but with regular disruption to their sleeping patterns, the tumors appeared eight weeks earlier.

The report said: “This is the first study that unequivocally shows a link between chronic light-dark inversions and breast cancer development.”

Interpreting the consequences for humans is fraught with difficulty, but the researchers guesstimated the equivalent sleep 3effect could be an extra 10kg (1st 8lb) of body weight or for at-risk women getting cancer about five years earlier.

“If you had a situation where a family is at risk for breast cancer, I would certainly advise those people not to work as a flight attendant or to do shift work,” one of the researchers, Gijsbetus van der Horst, from the Erasmus University Medical Centre, in the Netherlands, said.

Dr Michael Hastings, from the UK’s Medical Research Council, told the BBC: “I consider this study to give the definitive experimental proof, in mouse models, that circadian [body clock] disruption can accelerate the development of breast cancer.sleep 4

“The general public health message coming out of my area of work is shift work, particularly rotational shift work is a stress and therefore it has consequences.

“There are things people should be looking out for – pay more attention to your body weight, pay more attention to inspecting breasts, and employers should offer more in-work health checks.

“If we’re going to do it, then let’s keep an eye on people and inform them.”

Source: BBC

street food 2Contaminated food and water is the leading source of illness and diarrhea that occurs during travel. Fortunately, there are some choices you can make to reduce your chance of becoming ill. Here are some suggestions:

Ask the concierge at your hotel or on your cruise ship for recommendations for well-established, reliable dining locations. International hotels and better restaurants that normally cater to travelers in big cities are generally a safer option when dining out. Yet, careful, informed choices remains important everywhere

When selecting foods, know that foods and beverages served steaming hot are considered safe. Street vendors should be avoided. Order all meat and seafood well done. Beware of anything cold, especially meat, even if it has been cooked. The following chart provides a short list of food products considered safe as well as foods to avoid.

Foods Considered Safe

  • Hot coffee, tea, and soup (if served steaming)street food
  • Any food served steaming
  • Undiluted fresh grapefruit or orange juice
  • Bottled/canned noncarbonated water
  • Bottled/canned carbonated beverages: soft drinks, beer, or mineral water
  • Packaged butter
  • Packaged processed cheese
  • Dry bread

Foods to Avoid

  • Tap water and ice
  • Fresh salads and leafy green vegetables
  • Desserts, especially those containing custard, cream, or whipped creamstreet food 3
  • Fresh cheese
  • Cold meats and foods, including previously boiled seafood
  • Reheated foods
  • Spicy sauces in open containers on tables
  • Milk and other dairy products from questionable sources
  • Any food product from a street vendor that you have not seen boiling for at least 5 minutes
  • Fruit that has been peeled by someone else

Bottled or canned beverages are usually considered safe, especially if carbonated. Beverages that are boiled, such as tea, coffee, hot chocolate, are also considered safe. Before opening a bottled or canned beverage, be sure to wipe the container opening and drinking edge with a clean tissue. It is wise to use clean straws for drinking cold beverages. Experienced travelers often bring their own supply.

Source: Cleveland Clinic

heat stroke 3Symptoms of heat stroke may be eased by applying cold packs to the cheeks, hands and feet, a study suggests, potentially offering a new way to help lower body temperatures in overheated athletes.

“The cheeks, palms, and soles of the feet are special areas,” with blood vessels that don’t contract when cold packs are applied, helping to remove heat from the skin surface and cool body temperatures, said study co-author Dr. Grant Lipman, a researcher in emergency medicine at Stanford University in California.

 Heat-related illness is common, and can often be prevented by proper hydration and limited exertion outside during the hottest parts of the day. But left untreated, heat stroke can develop and be fatal. The condition kills thousands of heat stroke 4people every year, most during the hottest months, and is a leading cause of death among young athletes, the authors write in Wilderness & Environmental Medicine.

Warning signs for heat exhaustion, a precursor to heat stroke, can include heavy sweating, clammy skin, weakness, nausea or vomiting, and fainting, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Heat stroke develops when the body temperature exceeds 39.44 degrees Celsius (103 degrees Fahrenheit), requiring rapid cooling with cold packs or an icy bath and then hospitalization.

Lipman and colleagues tested a new method for applying cold packs to overheated athletes to see if their alternative might be more effective than the traditional placement of cold packs on the skin over large blood vessels in the neck, groin and armpits.

They dressed ten healthy men in insulated military clothes designed to trap body heat, then asked the men to walk on a treadmill for 30 to 40 minutes in a room heated to about 40 C (104 F).

heat stroke 2Each man did the treadmill test three times, with at least one day between trials to allow for rest and recovery. First, they finished with no treatment to help lower their body temperature. Then they got cold packs the traditional way, applied at the neck, groin and armpits. Last, they received cold packs using the new method, placed on the cheeks, hands and feet.

The average body temperature after the treadmill test was 39.2 C (102.6 F).

Without any treatment, the men cooled by an average of 0.3 degrees Celsius after five minutes and by a total of 0.42 degrees (to 101.8 F) after 10 minutes.

Ice packs on the usual spots cooled the men by an average of 0.4 degrees after five minutes and 0.57 degrees after 10 minutes (to 101.5 F). With ice packs on the hands, feet and cheeks, the decline in body temperature was steeper: 0.6 degrees after five minutes and 0.9 degrees after 10 minutes (to 100.9 F).

Source: Reuters

Every year on July 28th, World Hepatitis Day aims to increase the awareness and understanding of viral hepatitis as aHEP c major global health threat. All types of viral hepatitis can cause inflammation of the liver; however, hepatitis B and C infection can result in a lifelong, chronic infection.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that nearly 400 million people have chronic viral hepatitis worldwide and most of them do not know they are infected. More than 1 million people die each year from causes related to viral hepatitis, commonly cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Hepatitis A:

  • Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus that can cause mild to severe illness but does not lead to chronic infection.
  • Globally, there are an estimated 1.4 million cases of hepatitis A every year.HEP 1
  • The hepatitis A virus is spread by ingestion of contaminated food and water, or through direct contact with an infectious person.

Hepatitis B:

  • Hepatitis B is a serious liver disease caused by the hepatitis B virus that can cause both acute and chronic disease.
  • Globally, there are an estimated 240 million people living with chronic Hepatitis B.
  • The hepatitis B virus is spread through contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person.
  • There is a safe and effective vaccine available to prevent Hepatitis B.
  • The best way to prevent getting infected with Hepatitis B is to get vaccinated.  In the United States, the Hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for all babies at birth and adults at risk of infection.  HEP 2

Hepatitis C:

  • Hepatitis C is a serious liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus that can cause both acute and chronic disease.
  • Globally, there are an estimated 130–150 million people living with chronic Hepatitis C.
  • The hepatitis C virus is a bloodborne virus.
  • There is currently no vaccine for hepatitis C.

Source: CDC

The benefits of staying active as we age are striking. In addition to keeping the body strong, regular exercise can sportsreduce the risk of heart disease, blood pressure, stroke, and some cancers, experts say. It can even improve cognitive function.

But if keeping the body moving is so good for us, why do so many adults who played sports when they were young stop doing so? The reasons, according to a new study, include a lack of time, interest, or access, in addition to health issues. The study also found a clear gender and income gap.

A panel of experts gathered at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (HSPH) on Thursday to discuss the findings and explore ways to keep adults in the game.

The new poll, conducted by National Public Radio, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard Chan School, interviewed 2,506 adults over the age of 18. It found that the majority of those who had played sports when they were younger no longer did, with a significant drop-off coming after age 26. (The poll did find that about half of those surveyed said they exercised regularly, including by walking or weightlifting.)

The study revealed that while 40 percent of 18- to 21-year-olds, and 41 percent of 22- to 25-year-olds, play sports, only 26 percent of 26- to 49-year-olds do so, and just 20 percent of adults 50 and over.sports 2

Somewhat surprisingly, their own lack of participation did little to quell parents’ enthusiasm for their children’s engagement with sports. In the poll, 89 percent of parents with a middle or high school-aged child said their child benefitted greatly from playing sports, which improves mental and physical health, discipline, dedication, and social skills.

“The poll sums up the question: Is there some way to bridge a gap sports 3between the enthusiasm of the power of [sports] for health and other reasons for children, [and getting adults] to carry on after age 26?” said Robert Blendon, the Richard L. Menschel Professor at HSPH and a lead author on the report.

Blendon said about half of the adults surveyed indicated they no longer play sports because of a health problem, a lack of interest, or inconvenience. “So we’ve switched from all the advantages [for] kids,” said Blendon, “to all the disadvantages for me.”

Source: Harvard Gazette

Fish and chips are seen in a sea front cafe in Blackpool, northern England September 8, 2013. REUTERS/Phil Noble

Fish and chips are seen in a sea front cafe in Blackpool, northern England September 8, 2013. REUTERS/Phil Noble

Home cooking is still the best way to control the calories, fat, sugar and other nutrients that families consume, a new U.S. study suggests.

Researchers found that eating food from restaurants – whether from fast food places, or better establishments – led to increases in calories, fat and sodium compared to meals made at home.

Public health interventions targeting dining-out behavior in general, rather than just fast food, may be warranted to improve the way Americans’ eat, says the study’s author.fast food 3

Ruopeng An, a professor of kinesiology and community health at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, noted that people have previously equated fast food with junk food.

“But, people don’t know much about the food provided by full-service restaurants and if it is better or healthier fast  food 2compared to fast food or compared to food prepared and consumed at home,” An told Reuters Health.

For his study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, An used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which regularly gathers health and dietary information from a representative sample of the U.S. population.

More than 18,000 adults answered survey questions about what they’d eaten over a two-day period. About a third of participants reported eating fast food on one or both days, and one quarter reported eating full-service restaurant food on at least one day.

Compared to participants who ate food prepared at home, those who visited fast food restaurants consumed an average of 190 more calories per day, 11 grams more fat, 3.5 g more saturated fat, 10 mg extra cholesterol and 300 mg additional sodium.

Source: Reuters

Sunscreen 1There is huge confusion over the labels on sun creams, and manufacturers should all use the same rating system, says the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.

A survey of 2,000 UK adults found one in five was unaware that the SPF rating does not mean protection against all sun damage – only that from UVB rays.

Protection against UVA rays has its own separate rating system.

Ultraviolet A rays cause skin-ageing and wrinkles. Both UVB and UVA rays from the sun can cause skin cancer.Sunscreen 3

The protection provided by sun creams and lotions against UVB rays, which cause sunburn, is denoted by the SPF or factor on the bottle.

But there are also ultraviolet A rays (UVA) to consider too, which penetrate the skin more deeply, causing it to age – but only one in three checked the UVA star rating when buying sunscreen, the survey found.

When buying a sunscreen, you should look for the level of UVA protection (denoted by a UVA star rating or the letters Sunscreen 2UVA inside a circle) and UVB protection (denoted by the SPF).

The UVA star rating ranges from zero to five and indicates the percentage of UVA radiation absorbed by the sunscreen in comparison to UVB.

Prof Jayne Lawrence, chief scientist for the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said: “Clearly many consumers do not realize the SPF rating applies only to the amount of protection offered against UVB rays, not UVA rays – both of which can damage the skin and cause skin cancer.

“People should not have to pick their way through complicated dual ratings information to understand how sunscreen works and the amount of protection it potentially provides.”

Source: BBC

food 2Food expiration dates are generally guidelines rather than hard-and-fast rules.

Obviously, a container of milk won’t sour at precisely 12:01 a.m. on the stamped date. But the dates on labels can be tricky.

The Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate expiration dates except on baby formula. Many dates are there for the benefit of the store, not the consumer.

Kristin Kirkpatrick, the manager of nutrition services at the Cleveland Food 1Clinic Wellness Institute, offers a quick guide to label language:

– A “sell by” date indicates how long a store should display a product on its shelves. Foods can still be tasty and are safe for several days longer if stored properly.

– A “use by” or “best if used by” date comes from the manufacturer and refers to taste and texture, not safety.

– An “expiration” date is the only packaging date related to food safety. If this date has passed, throw the food out.

Unfortunately, 30 percent to 40 percent of all harvested food in this country ends up wasted, much of it by consumers who waited too long to eat it, or worried it had gone bad, according to a report last month in PLOS One.

food 3Adding to the confusion: Foods spoil at different rates, depending on their type and growing conditions, as well as how they were harvested, transported and distributed, and how they have been stored after being purchased, said Robert B. Gravani, a professor of food science at Cornell University.

Looking closely at food isn’t a good way to check for spoilage, Dr. Gravani said, because bacteria are largely invisible.

Source: New York Times

sun 2With summer sun shining brightly across the United States (at least on most days), there is no better time to review the latest sobering findings on the damage that ultraviolet radiation can inflict on one’s skin and then take steps to prevent it.

A British research team reported in May in the journal Science that a quarter or more of cells in the skin of middle-aged people have suffered sun-induced DNA damage. Although the cells were outwardly normal, the mutations that occurred could be the first stages of cancer.

sun 3The researchers, led by Dr. Peter J. Campbell, a cancer geneticist at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in England, examined the eyelid skin of four middle-aged adults — three were Western European and one was of South Asian descent — and found that hundreds of ostensibly normal cells had mutations linked to cancer, a number “way higher than we’d expect,” Dr. Campbell said. Clusters of these mutant cells, called clones, appeared in every 0.1 square inch of skin, with thousands of DNA mutations in each cell.

Although it is not known if the same rate of mutations occurs in sun-exposed skin elsewhere on the body, or in people of differentsun 4 ethnic backgrounds, or even how many of the mutations would progress to cancer, it is not a finding to dismiss lightly.

Douglas E. Brash, a biophysicist at Yale University School of Medicine who has studied ultraviolet damage to cells for more than 40 years and wrote a commentary on the British study, described the new findings as “a canary in a coal mine” and a warning to take the effects of ultraviolet radiation, whether from sunlight or tanning beds, more seriously.

Source: New York Times

hyper 3A growing stack of medical research—including Gottesman’s recent study—suggests that high blood pressure raises risk for thinking problems, early brain aging, and even Alzheimer’s disease. These three steps may help reduce risk:

Know your number. “Have your blood pressure checked regularly,” Gottesman says. “People tend to ignore high blood pressure, particularly when they are younger, because it has no symptoms that you can feel or see. But it’s important to pay attention to it.”

Take care of higher-than-normal blood pressure right away. Talk with your doctor about what Hyperblood pressure is appropriate for you. If yours is higher than recommended, your doctor will advise you take lifestyle steps such as weight loss, regular exercise, and a lower-sodium diet that features plenty of fruits and vegetables to bring it down to a healthier level. Your doctor may also prescribe drugs that lower blood pressure.

If your doctor prescribes medications for your blood pressure, take as directed. Nearly half of all people with high blood pressure don’t have it hyper 2under control, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One big reason: skipping medication or not taking it as directed.

It’s long been known that keeping your blood pressure within a healthy range helps protect against heart attack and stroke. Now a recent study from Johns Hopkins University has uncovered a new risk worth sidestepping: People with high blood pressure at midlife had greater decline in key thinking skills late in life than those with normal blood pressure readings.

Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine

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