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Air Pollution and Autism Linked?

by Bob Curley on December 19, 2014

https://www.flickr.com/photos/macbeck/4146730230/in/photolist-7jr5qN-5oJEgd-e8WN3W-dHBx2E-mFYhq3-aouhPc-mFWmhM-mFWEur-mFYhVw-mZHJCX-mZHKha-mZKunY-aowVqL-aowVqj-aowVqw-aouhPr-aouhPi-2o7HJH-aowVq9-aouhPp-eXwzbB-eabD11-mZHKSR-mFYfqb-mFWkgD-mZHKzz-mZKv5Q-s34y7-5yStRw-5yN7Ap-78MuwH-5yN7qe-5yNc1P-bViwxs-bTwp2k-eQ4ua9-HSj7k-5hjsHE-L7qLj-L7qws-L7qLo-anHjgB-8ky2Vu-L7qwq-6ouiK-dWdwtB-nSYnVt-nSTTbG-dTtzzo-HSfDLThe causes of autism remain largely unknown, but a new study says that women exposed to high levels of air pollution are more likely to have autistic children, NBC News reported Dec. 18.

Harvard researchers who looked at data on 116,000 pregnant women found that the more exposure they had to air pollution, the higher their risk of delivering children who would later be diagnosed with autism-spectrum disorders. “We found an association that was specific to pregnancy and especially to the third trimester, identifying a window, which might shed a light on processes that are happening that can lead to autism,” said lead researcher Marc Weisskopf.

The third trimester of pregnancy is a time where brain development could be affected, researchers noted.

“Not all mothers exposed to air pollution will have kids with autism,” said Michael Rosanoff, director for public health research for the advocacy group Autism Speaks. “We know autism is complex. We know there is underlying biology in combination with environmental exposure that may have caused their kids’ autism. (But) air pollution appears to increase the risk two-fold.”

The research was published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

(Photo © Becky Wetherington/CC by 2.0)

When Should You Resume Sex After a Minor Heart Attack?

by Bob Curley on December 19, 2014

https://www.flickr.com/photos/53199633@N02/8521298151/in/photolist-doXUbg-r1Fzh-kzAy9-6VGHJe-aUMTi8-9nBJVt-8JgZPN-55q6hx-5XT4f4-4Kd59k-5XL4tu-6hiwHn-8WVHTh-dYZT4D-6t1Xy4-6zEcSH-d6AB19-82Dshb-82Dsvh-7bydkg-73A2A6-6nF7of-6rn9sN-5GXyrN-5dy4Ye-6u9Kqi-6xLVCQ-6uaBBt-6xGVNe-7Xw9Lu-azTBfD-8qeqPL-4FT3pX-6xLXUs-6uaFiP-6xGUYX-565NAy-6ud4bL-8CbDfc-7zMZZU-5Xo4cA-4FERD6-6xM3xN-6xM6hj-6xM2EC-6xGQdc-6xGSr8-6xM7dE-7dJQFz-nDiJGeIf you’re under age 55 and have had a heart attack without any further complications, you should be able to resume sexual activity within a week, medical guidelines say.

However, Reuters reported Dec. 18, that’s often not the advice given by doctors — when they give any advice at all regarding post heart-attack friskiness. Researcher Stacy Tessler Lindau, director of the Program in Integrative Sexual Medicine at the University of Chicago Medical Center, and colleagues found that just 12 percent of female heart-attack patients and 19 percent of men said their doctors offered post-treatment advice about resuming sex.

When doctors did offer advice, only about one in three advised resuming sex without restrictions, while the others advised limiting sex, being more passive, or for patients to keep their heart rate down. “It could be that the physicians who are motivated to raise the issue are especially cautions throughout and thinking of all potential risk to their patient after a heart attack,” Tessler Lindau said.

The findings were reported in the journal Circulation.

(Photo © lil’_wiz/CC by 2.0)

Television talk-show hosts aren’t the most reliable source of medical information — even those with a “Dr.” before their name.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/nayrb7/2939796221/in/photolist-5tMdZK-4jmEkx-dgvtoD-it6G4-5kXXDr-fkr4Fc-5m3epY-myKGqA-fABpPG-xZ8mP-9vd3uy-dhRwjc-7s3dE1-iT3XK6-82TQtw-eXNdev-8QU6M7-hWeF6d-jCZKF7-bmT9F1-iMuAPd-f5e6Vm-oBVhov-kC1ALt-9kWVvG-cFFw5G-9KeWQS-nyWnc5-mWJkoz-djCvJ4-i8tW1X-kHsRXu-djAWn5-e77MqE-dtc6Tj-eKjQBc-cNdpsy-7dr1vd-8SFcfo-4CZknn-5A2G9j-dBSADK-dVuZqn-9dTwns-f8HVTH-eRCzw6-jy5hRW-dB6Di8-dhby3F-mBQtXwThe Washington Post reported Dec. 19 that a review of the information presented by Dr. Mehmet Oz on his popular daytime TV show found that more than half of his advice was either unsubstantiated by research or flat-out wrong. Researchers looked at 40 episodes of “The Dr. Oz Show” and 479 medical recommendations made by the host and guests. Another show, “The Doctors,” was also studied.

“Recommendations made on medical talk shows often lack adequate information on specific benefits or the magnitude of the effects of these benefits,” according to researchers led by Christina Korownyk of the University of Alberta. “The public should be skeptical about recommendations made on medical talk shows.”

Another concern: these shows rarely disclose potential conflicts of interest by hosts or guests.

The host of “The Dr. Oz Show” has himself admitted that his advice is not fully vetted by research.  “I recognize that oftentimes they don’t have the scientific muster to present as fact,” Oz said during an appearance before the U.S. Senate. “But, nevertheless, I give my audience the advice I give my family all the time. I give my family these products, specifically the ones you mentioned. I’m comfortable with that part.”

The findings were published in the British Medical Journal.

(Photo © nayrb7/CC by 2.0)

It’s Probably Impossible to Really Eat Like a Caveman

by Bob Curley on December 19, 2014

Caveman_1Whatever the benefits of the so-called Paleo Diet are, it probably bears little resemblance to what our ancient ancestors ate, researchers say.

Phys.org reported Dec. 16 that a diet focused on meats, vegetables and nuts and eschewing refined grains and processed foods sounds fit for a caveman, but evidence suggests that Paleolithic man was really an opportunist who ate whatever was available. And because early man lives in a variety of environments, his diet likely varied widely.

“There’s very little evidence that any early hominids had very specialized diets or there were specific food categories that seemed particularly important, with only a few possible exceptions,” said Ken Sayers, a postdoctoral researcher at the Language Research Center of Georgia State. “Some earlier [research] had suggested that the diets of bears and pigs—which have an omnivorous, eclectic feeding strategy that varies greatly based on local conditions—share much in common with those of our early ancestors. The data tend to support this view.”

Researchers also noted that the food we eat today differs greatly from what was available to our forebears. “The strawberries that we’re eating in the market have been selected for certain properties, such as being large and sweet,” Sayers said. “The foods that we’re eating today, even in the case of fruits and vegetables, have been selected for desirable properties and would differ from what our ancestors were eating.”

That doesn’t make it a bad idea to avoid processed foods, as many paleo eaters do, but the premise that the diet of early man was any more balanced or healthy than that of modern man may be flawed. “Throughout the vast majority of our evolutionary history, balancing the diet was not a big issue,” Sayers said. “They were simply acquiring enough calories to survive and reproduce. Everyone would agree that ancestral diets didn’t include Twinkies, but I’m sure our ancestors would have eaten them if they grew on trees.”

(Photo © Wikipedia)

Gently, Moistly is the Best Way to Blow Your Nose

by Bob Curley on December 19, 2014

sneezeallergytaylornflickrBlowing your nose is an annoying ritual for many during allergy and cold season, but as with many things there’s a right and wrong way to do it.

The Wall Street Journal reported Dec. 18 that blowing your nose can create up to 10 times more pressure in your sinuses than sneezing or coughing. Do it wrong, and you can make yourself feel worse, not better, but spreading germs into your nasal passageways.

The most important tip: don’t blow too hard. If you feel pressure in your sinuses that wasn’t there before you blew your nose, that’s too hard. Same if you get a crackling sensation in your ears.

Moistening the nasal passages with saline spray can allow you to blow you nose gently yet still productively in terms of expelling mucus. That’s especially important in the morning, when nasal passages tend to be dried out from sleep.

(Photo © taylor n/CC by 2.0)

Steer Clear of Powdered Caffeine, FDA Says

by Bob Curley on December 18, 2014

Caffeine in a cup of coffee or tea can give you a little energy boost and may even be healthy for you. Powdered caffeine, on the other hand, can kill you.

The Wall Street Journal reported Dec. 17 that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) strongly warned against using powdered caffeine, a teaspoon of which is the equivalent of the amount of stimulant found in 25 cups of coffee.

Users run the risk of rapid heartbeat, seizures, and death, and several fatal overdose cases have been reported. Powdered caffeine is available for purchase online; some users believe it will provide an energy boost without the sugar contained in energy drinks and soda.

Drunk Driving Risk Higher Among Energy Drink Mixers

College students who mix alcohol and energy drinks are more likely to drink and drive than those who drink alcohol alone, LiveScience reported Dec. 17. Researchers led by Conrad L. Woolsey of the University of Western States in Portland, Ore., found that 57 percent of alcohol/energy drink users admitted driving drunk, compared to 44 percent of […]

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Lose Weight to Protect Against Prostate Cancer

Obesity is a risk factor for prostate cancer and the disease may be more aggressive in people who are overweight, according to researchers who reviewed more than 100 past studies on the disease. Fox News reported Dec. 17 that researcher Edward Giovannucci of the Harvard School of Public Health said the review “uncovered a clear […]

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Life Expectancy Rose Since 1990

Fewer deaths from cancer and heart disease contributed to a six-year rise in global life expectancy between 1990 and 2013, Reuters reported Dec. 18. Another factor: better survival rates from illnesses like diarrhea, tuberculosis and malaria in the developing world. Global life expectancy for both sexes increased from 65·3 years in 1990 to 71·5 years […]

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Are These Eating Habits Derailing Your Diet?

Having problems shedding pounds? Health magazine reported Dec. 18 on some bad eating habits that might be holding back your progress — including getting too much of a good thing: Drinking alcohol too often — a big source of hidden calories. Eating “diet” foods stuffed with additives and sodium but leave you unfilled and unsatisfied. […]

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