Being overweight or obese ‘a risk factor’ for ovarian cancer: According to a new study, women who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop ovarian cancer. “To reach their findings, the research team reviewed 25 studies involving 4 million women. Of these, 16,000 had ovarian cancer. The researchers found that for every 5 additional body mass index (BMI) units, there was a 6% increase in the risk of developing ovarian cancer.” Prior research has linked extra weight to other cancers, including breast, colorectal and uterine cancers. “Now, ovarian cancer can be added to the list, meaning women can make lifestyle changes to reduce their chances of developing the disease.” (Medical News Today)
Traffic pollution exposure may alter heart structure: Here’s something else to stew about while you’re in traffic: “Exposure to high levels of traffic pollution may alter the structure of a person’s heart.” A new study from the University of Washington reported that high amounts of car traffic pollution were associated with changes in the heart’s right ventricle, which could increase heart disease risk. In the study, researchers used MRI scans to look at the hearts of 3,896 people and also measured levels of nitrous dioxide outside the subjects’ homes. They found that people with higher nitrous oxide exposure tended to have larger right ventricles. “While the study does not confirm that traffic pollution caused these heart changes, the researchers believe their work adds to numerous earlier studies surrounding this association.” (Fox News)
Family hallucinates after eating LSD-tainted meat from Wal-Mart: A family of four in Florida, including a woman who was nine-months pregnant, fell ill after eating steak that had been contaminated with the hallucinogenic drug LSD. Both parents were hospitalized, and the two children, ages 6 and 7, said they experienced hallucinations. The Wal-Mart that the meat came from said it was unsure how the meat had come into contact with LSD and was “reviewing surveillance tapes to see if the contamination happened at the store.” All similar products have been pulled from Wal-Mart shelves, and both parents have been released from the hospital. (Los Angeles Times)
A new blood test may be 90% accurate at predicting whether someone will develop Alzheimer’s disease within the next three years.
Researchers at Georgetown University tested the blood of 525 people over the age of 70 over a period of five years. They then compared the results of 53 people who developed Alzheimer’s or cognitive impairment with 53 people who did not experience cognitive decline. They found different levels of 10 blood lipids, or fats, in each group. Tracking these 10 markers was predictive of who would develop cognitive decline, with 90% accuracy.
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The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued new draft guidelines that would halve the amount of added sugars Americans should eat in a day. The new recommendation is that sugar should ideally make up no more than 5% of total daily calories.
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Alzheimer’s toll may rank with cancer, heart disease: A new study suggests that Alzheimer’s disease may cause as many deaths as heart disease or cancer. Alzheimer’s currently falls sixth on the list of leading causes of death. However, the study suggests that Alzheimer’s deaths exceed prior estimates, which are based on death certificates. The study tracked dementia and deaths in more than 2,500 people over 65. “Of those, nearly a quarter developed Alzheimer’s, and the disease was the cause of death in about 400 people.” Extrapolated to the larger population, this means that Alzheimer’s could be responsible for more than half a million American deaths a year. “By comparison, heart disease was blamed for nearly 600,000 deaths in 2010 and cancer about 575,000 – but those numbers are going down, while deaths from Alzheimer’s are going up.” (CNN)
Take blood pressure in both arms: The next time you’re at the doctor’s office, you may want to have your blood pressure taken in both arms instead of just one. A new study suggests that a difference in readings between arms may be an independent risk factor for heart disease. Researchers followed 3,390 people over 40 who did not have cardiovascular disease for an average of over 13 years. Of those who had a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular problem during this period, over a quarter of people had a significantly elevated difference in systolic blood pressure readings. “The study, in the March issue of The American Journal of Medicine, found that a difference of 10 or more between the two readings increased the risk for a cardiac event by about 38 percent.” (The New York Times)
Two reports point to possible future AIDS ‘cure’: Two new studies are giving hope for new and easier ways to manage the incurable HIV/AIDS virus. “In one approach, doctors have treated two infected newborns with strong cocktails of drugs, driving their virus into near invisibility. In the second, they have ‘edited’ patients’ immune systems to resist the virus.” Though neither study amounts to a ‘cure’ quite yet, they both promise better future treatment options for people infected with the dangerous virus. “There is no vaccine and no cure for HIV, which infects 1.1 million Americans and 35 million people worldwide.” (NBC News)
Rare mutation kills off gene responsible for diabetes: “A new study based on genetic testing of 150,000 people has found a rare mutation that protects even fat people from getting Type 2 diabetes. The effect is so pronounced – the mutation reduces risk by two-thirds – that it provides a promising new target for developing a drug to mimic the mutation’s effect. The mutation destroys a gene used by pancreas cells where insulin is made. Those with the mutation seem to make slightly more insulin and have slightly lower blood glucose levels for their entire lives. Already Pfizer, which helped finance the study, and Amgen, which owns a company whose data played a key role in the research, are starting programs aimed at developing drugs that act like the mutation, the companies said.” (The New York Times)
Women’s health harmed as medical studies miss gender differences: “Scientists continue to neglect gender in medical research, endangering women’s health by focusing on males in studies that shape the treatment of disease,” according to a new report. Animal and human studies tend to use male subjects and when female subjects are included, results are infrequently reported or analyzed by sex. “For example, more women than men die of cardiovascular disease, while only one-third of cardiovascular clinical trial subjects are female and less than one-third of clinical trials that include women report outcomes by sex, according to the report.” Researchers said this pattern is “putting women’s health at risk.” (Chicago Tribune)
Friends common source of abused prescription meds: “Most people who abuse addictive prescription painkillers get them for free from friends or relatives, while drug dealers are a relatively uncommon source for those at highest risk for deadly overdoses, a government study found.” The researchers, who analyzed four years of health surveys on nonmedical pain reliever use, found that “two-thirds of abusers said they used the drugs infrequently and well over half of these users said they got them free from friends or relatives.” Over one in four people who used the drugs daily got them using a prescription from their doctors, and only 15% of the most frequent abusers bought the drugs from dealers or strangers. On average, about one in 20 people over age 12 use prescription opioid painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin for nonmedical purposes. (The Washington Post)
A new study suggests that the DASH diet, which was originally designed to lower blood pressure, may be more effective than the commonly prescribed low-oxalate diet for preventing the formation of kidney stones.
Low-oxalate diets have been recommended for kidney stone prevention because most kidney stones form when oxalate, an organic acid, binds to calcium during urine production in the kidneys. Because oxalate can be found in many nutritious foods, such as kale, almonds, beets and spinach, eliminating oxalate-rich foods can be difficult and restrictive. Moreover, according to the National Kidney Foundation, “eating and drinking calcium and oxalate-rich foods together during a meal may be a better approach than limiting oxalate entirely,” because if oxalate and calcium bind together in the digestive system, they are less likely to result in kidney stones.
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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed a major overhaul for nutrition labels that appear on food packaging, highlighting calorie counts and changing serving sizes to more closely match what Americans actually consume.
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Experts concerned over FDA approval of potent new pain pill: “A coalition of experts is pushing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to revoke its approval of a new, highly addictive painkiller.” The drug, Zohydra, was approved by the FDA last fall and is a “hydrocodone-based drug that is part of the group of drugs known as opioid analgesics.” It is scheduled to be available to chronic pain patients as soon as March. However, “FED UP!, a coalition of more than 40 health care, consumer and addiction rehabilitation groups is expressing concern that the drug – which contains a high dose of hydrocodone and is easy to crush – may be too easy to abuse.” The FDA and the drug manufacturer, Zogenix, maintain that the “drug’s benefits outweigh the risks.” (Fox News)
Mental illness risk higher for children of older fathers, study finds: “Children born to middle-aged men are more likely than those born to younger fathers to develop any of a range of mental difficulties, including attention deficits, bipolar disorder, autism and schizophrenia, according to the most comprehensive study to date of paternal age and offspring mental health.” Children born to men aged 45 or older had twice the risk of developing psychosis, over three times the likelihood of being diagnosed as autistic, and approximately 13 times the chance of being diagnosed with attention deficit disorder compared to children of fathers aged 20 to 24. The report, published in JAMA Psychiatry, suggests that random mutations in sperm over time may contribute to this phenomenon. (The New York Times)
More Americans are getting Brazilian butt lifts: More Americans are getting buttock augmentations, commonly nicknamed Brazilian butt lifts, according to new data from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. “Last year, cosmetic surgeons across the country performed nearly 10,000 buttock augmentations, up from the approximately 8,500 done in 2012.” During a Brazilian butt lift, surgeons “liposuction fat from somewhere the patient’s got plenty of it — usually the tummy, thighs or hips — and inject it into the tush.” While breast augmentation procedures are still far more common, this amounted to a 16% hike in the number of butt lifts. (NBC News)
New national survey data shows that obesity rates in children aged two to five dropped 43% in the past decade, one of the first major improvements in an obesity epidemic that has cost millions of Americans their lives.
Early childhood obesity can lead to struggles with weight management, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and stroke later in life. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), children who are overweight or obese between the ages of three and five are five times more likely to be obese as adults.
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Since August 2012, at least five Californian children have developed a new alarming paralyzing illness. Though the cause of the illness, which has been described as polio-like, is unknown, health officials are currently investigating up to 25 suspected cases.
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