Wednesday: Health Points
- Why are kids fat? This Reuters report has an answer for you—look around! Julie Steenhuysen explains:
"The environment that they live in matters," said Lisa Powell of the University of Illinois at Chicago, who studied restaurant and food store options in the neighborhoods and food-related television advertising aimed at teens.
She said when people cannot get to supermarkets but instead must rely on the convenience stores that proliferate in many poor neighborhoods, families end up eating less healthy food.
Lower-income neighborhoods also tend to have a higher proportion of fast-food restaurants, and black urban neighborhoods have the highest percentage of fast-food restaurants.
- Here’s a thought. Could the flu-shot be overrated? Carol M. Ostrom of The Seattle Times investigates:
The benefits of flu shots for elderly people have been greatly exaggerated, according to researchers at Seattle's Group Health Center for Health Studies and George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
Even so, the elderly should continue to get vaccinated against influenza because "even a partly effective vaccine would be better than no vaccine at all," researchers wrote in the report, published Monday in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.
Many countries, including the U.S., urge those 65 and over — who account for about 90 percent of flu-related deaths — to get flu shots to ward off flu complications.
That public policy has been based on flimsy — even nonexistent — evidence, these researchers conclude.
I’ve heard arguments about creationism and intelligent design before, but the Creationists really shouldn’t have this guy arguing for them (unless he’s secretly trying to take down Creationism from within–if so, nice work!).
- Madeleine Marr of The Detroit Free Press takes a different look a coffee—could it be good? You decide:
The perks: Here's one big silver lining: According to a study published in a recent issue of the medical journal Neurology, a daily caffeine dose may help keep memory loss at bay in women 65 and older. The older you are, the bigger the benefits.
Anti-cancer drug? Another recent study by Rutgers University reported that the combination of exercise and caffeine in mice increased apoptosis (self-destruction) in precancerous cells that were damaged by the sun's ultraviolet rays.
- Here’s something NOT to look forward to. Reuters reports by 2017 cancer deaths could hit 17 million. Read on:
Cancer deaths will more than double to 17 million people each year in 2030 with poor countries shouldering the heaviest burden from the disease, the head of the United Nation's cancer agency said on Monday.
An ageing population will bump up cancer rates worldwide in the coming years, especially in developing countries where the number of people who smoke and drink is on the rise, said Peter Boyle, director of the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
We all know we're supposed to wash our fruits and vegetables before we cook or eat them, but how do you know how much washing is enough? And should you use soap or is water plenty? The editors over at Cook's Illustrated recently took on this question, washing apples and pears with four different methods. They discovered that using a scrub brush with water was fairly effective, removing 85% of bacteria, but that using a solution of one part vinegar to three parts water was the best. That method removed 98% of the bacteria.
- Enhanced water? Sounds like a waste of time. Julie’s Health Club examines the nation’s newest liquid fad. Check it out:
We asked several registered dietitians, who agreed that the health claims for enhanced waters are "iffy" and that food is a far better source of nutrients. Consumers, meanwhile, should watch out for added sweeteners and calories.
"None of the ingredients are harmful," said Kris Clark, director of sports nutrition and assistant professor of nutrition at Penn State University. "The question consumers should ask themselves include: Are the ingredients useful to me? Do I need these ingredients? Or do I just need water?”
- We hear about “superbugs” a lot. We know they’re bad, but, could they be good? Rick Weiss of The Washington Post reports:
A high school student gains superpowers after being bitten by a radioactive spider.
An electron beam meant to clean up a bioterrorism site transforms a mild-mannered microbe into a life form able to withstand radiation doses hundreds of times stronger than would kill a person.
Altered by the absence of gravity, an everyday bacterium aboard a spacecraft mutates into a highly lethal bug that poses a surprise threat to astronauts.
Okay, Spider-Man is still fiction. But a pair of independent studies has brought the other two scenarios to life.
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