Today’s Headlines: Menstrual Cramps, Feeling Full and Sleep

Smoking increases pain of cramps. Menstrual cramps are bad enough without smoking coming along to make them worse. But new research has found that women who smoke are more likely to have severe menstrual cramps than their non-smoking counterparts. The researchers found the likelihood increased with the number of cigarettes smoked. “The researchers also found that the earlier women started to smoke, the higher their risk of chronically painful periods. Specifically, the risk was 59 percent higher for women who started to smoke before age 13, and 50 percent higher for those who took up cigarettes at age 14 or 15. The results may provide an incentive for young women to abstain from smoking.” Why this might happen is unclear, but it may have to do with how blood vessels are affected by smoking. “We know that smoking causes narrowing of the blood vessels and decreased blood supply. When this happens with the uterus, it can cause pain.” (Reuters)

New chemical designed to make you feel full faster. Part of the challenge in going on a diet is the sudden drop in food volume. That can make you feel hungry and unsatisfied, even if you just ate. Some researchers think they have the solution. “The team harnessed the power of a propionate, which naturally makes us feel full when it is produced by breaking down fiber in the gut. Researchers said their chemical would have to be eaten regularly to have an effect. In initial tests, 20 volunteers were either given inulin on its own or the new ingredient, known as IPE, and then allowed to eat as much as they liked from a buffet. Those who had been given IPE ate about 14% less food. In the next part of the study, 49 overweight volunteers were either given IPE or inulin in powder form and asked to add a spoonful to their food every day. After 24 weeks, six of the 24 volunteers given inulin had gained more than 3% of their body weight while only one of the 25 given IPE had done so.” The researchers point out that the compound is pretty foul tasting, but they’re working on ways to make it more appealing by combining it in certain foods or with specific ingredients. (BBC)

Sleep troubles may increase risk of Alzheimer’s.  Sleep troubles have been associated with a variety of health problems including high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. A new study has found that low brain oxygen during sleep, seen in diseases like emphysema and sleep apnea, increases signs of brain damage. “The study analyzed 167 Japanese-American men with an average age of 84 until their death, which was about six years later. The men were divided into four groups based on percentage of time spent with lower-than-normal blood oxygen levels during sleep, with the highest group spending 72 to 99% of the night with low levels, according to a news release. The lowest group only spent 13% of their time with low oxygen levels. The researchers found the men in the highest group were nearly four times more likely to have brain damage that the lowest group. The researchers also concluded that people who spent less time in deep sleep were more likely to have a loss of brain cells compared to people who spent more time in deep sleep, also called slow wave sleep.” Fortunately, sleep apnea is a treatable cause of sleep disruption and emphysema can improve once smoking is stopped. If you’re a snorer, it might be time to get checked out by a sleep doc. (Fox)