HappehCom

Mar 122015
 

Doctors have the first conclusive proof that changes to lifestyle among the over-60s can slow mental decline – raising the prospects of dementia prevention programmes that cut your risk of the disease.

Findings from a two-year study of more than 1,200 60 to 77-year-olds in Finland, published in The Lancet medical journal, reveal that a group who received thorough advice about diet, regular exercise sessions, brain training and health check-ups performed better in cognitive tests than a group who received only the standard medical advice.

The results are significant, as it is believed to be the first randomised and controlled trial to conclusively demonstrate that keeping the body healthy in later life also benefits the brain.

The participants will now be followed up over seven years to see if those who received the intensive healthcare intervention are less likely to develop dementia.

Overall scores in mental tests after two years were 25 per cent better in the group who received the intensive health programme. In particular areas they were even more striking.

Scores for executive functioning – the brain’s ability to organise thought processes – were 83 per cent higher in the intervention group, while mental processing speeds were 150 per cent higher. All participants in the trial were judged to have a high risk of dementia at the start.

The effect on memory scores was not as pronounced, but Professor Miia Kivipelto, from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, who led the study, said the findings were encouraging.

“Much previous research has shown that there are links between cognitive decline in older people and factors such as diet, heart health, and fitness,” she said. “However, our study is the first large randomised controlled trial to show an intensive programme aimed at addressing these risk factors might be able to prevent cognitive decline in elderly people who are at risk of dementia.”

Despite the huge medical and social toll of dementia, research into new drug treatments has been largely unsuccessful – making prevention even more important.

In the UK, there are already 850,000 people living with dementia, and the condition costs £26bn per year, with the burden falling on over-stretched social care services, the NHS and families.

Dr Doug Brown, director of research and development at the Alzheimer’s Society, said the message from the Finnish study was “very positive”.

“Giving people a helping hand with looking after their health in later life has a significant impact on several brain functions… this highlights the value of widespread initiatives to improve public health,” he said.

The mechanisms by which poor physical health can affect the brain and lead to Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are complex, and in most cases not yet fully understood. In the case of vascular dementia, the second most common form, it is known that poor blood supply to the brain causes brain cells to become unhealthy and die – explaining the link to cardiovascular health in some cases.

Mar 112015
 

A dog is able to sniff out thyroid cancer from urine samples and has had an accuracy rate of around 88 per cent.

Frankie, a scent-trained German Shepherd mix, is the first dog taught to have been taught to differentiate benign thyroid disease from thyroid cancer by smelling a person’s urine.

Happeh_Theory_For_The_Scholar-Frankie_The_Dog_Can_Sniff_Out_Thyroid_Cancer

He is trained to lie down when he can detect cancer and turn away if he cannot pick out smells caused by defective cells. Neither the dog handler or study coordinator knew which sample was which.

Frankie gave the correct diagnosis for each sample in 30 out of 34 cases. There were two false positives and two false negatives, in which the latter would have wrongly been given the all-clear.

The 34 patients in the trial were undergoing conventional treatment for their illnesses. Nineteen of them were diagnosed as having thyroid disease and 15 were found to have cancer.

Frankie smelling a sample of urine in a research laboratory Canine detection can prevent unnecessary thyroid surgeries as the current diagnostic methods for the cancer are often unreliable, said Dr Donald Bodenner, senior researcher and chief of endocrine oncology at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

“The capability of dogs to smell minute amounts is unbelievable,” Dr Bodenner told the BBC.

“The medical community over the next few years is going to have a great appreciation [for them]. We would like to know what Frankie is smelling, nobody knows.”

Dr Bodenner plans to expand the program by collaborating with Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine to train the veterinary school’s bomb-sniffing dogs to become trained thyroid cancer detectors.

Feb 172015
 

It’s the jolting headline that will make your taste buds jump for joy. Foods high in cholesterol may not be bad for your heart after all. After years of warning consumers to cut down on cholesterol, found in eggs, shellfish, butter and beef, the nutrition community has come full circle.

A new draft of a report from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee contains a monumental shift in warnings first issued nearly four decades ago, suggesting that cholesterol no longer needs to be viewed as a “nutrient of concern.”

The announcement is viewed as vindication for Nina Teicholz, author of the 2014 best-selling book “The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat, and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet.” Teicholz broke with conventional wisdom and angered many in the medical community by writing that through years of research, she concluded that not only was cholesterol wrongly linked to heart disease, but foods high in saturated fats, such as butter, eggs and beef, were also falsely labeled as heart unhealthy. The former vegetarian now practices what she preaches and has changed the way she and her family eat. Breakfast consists of eggs and bacon; cheese is a staple, as is lard. Gone are foods high in carbs and sugar. Teicholz invited Yahoo News into her kitchen just days before the stunning announcement from the nutrition advisory panel and predicted that more findings like these would be coming soon.

Feb 152015
 

Scientists_R_Stoopid-FatButtsMakeSmarterBabies

Curvy moms with fat on their bottoms and thighs can now attest to the fact there’s at least one good reason for this. A new study just released uncovers the reason why women have fat they don’t want in these so-called “problem areas.”

While it’s well-known that women are naturally more curvy than men for reasons related to bearing children, more in-depth research explains the rationale of butts and thighs being so problematic for women — even when they diet!

The study was conducted at the University of Pittsburgh and conclusive evidence showed researchers that stubborn fat residing in the butt and thighs contain highly valuable components essential in the development of child’s nervous system. Professor Will Lassek is a public health epidemiologist at the university and talked with the Sunday Times about the study. He cites the fat in a woman’s butt and thighs are crucial to an infant’s brain make-up, especially when breastfeeding.

‘The fat in these areas is a depot for building a baby’s brain.

“You need lots of fat to make a nervous system and the fats in these areas are also enriched in DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) which is a particularly important component in the human brain.

“It looks as if women have evolved to accumulate these fats and hold on to them – until a baby arrives.”

Fat cells are also “mobilized” during pregnancy so the fetus can absorb the nutrients from them. This is thought to be a contributing factor as to why so much weight comes off while breastfeeding. Professor Lassek says this definitely accounts for fat loss while nursing.

“That’s why lactating women may lose a pound of fat a month.”

In a report by News.co.au, a new book, titled Curvology: The Origins and Power of Female Body Shape, says there was evidence that “women with larger thighs had higher levels of brain-building breastmilk lipids.” The book is written by David Bainbridge, a reproductive biologist at Cambridge University.

“There is even evidence that they and their children are more intelligent as a result,” Bainbridge says.

Women have only a third of the muscle that men have, which is why it’s far easier for men to lose weight. Fat mostly targets the belly area. Fat storage on women is centered on their bottoms and thighs and is near-impossible to get rid of when trying to lose weight.

The Inquisitr has an article directly related to this research. It was published in 2013, and has to do with research suggesting women with big butts are more intelligent themselves over the average or slimmer women. Research also concludes that they’re more healthy.

This latest research will probably spur some debate over whether women with fatter bottoms and thighs produce more intelligent children.

Feb 152015
 

Scientists_R_Stoopid-TemperatureContagion

Watching another person shiver can cause our own temperature to drop, scientists have found.

Volunteers who watched videos of actors plunging their hands into ice-cold water experienced a simultaneous drop in the temperature of their own hands.

Neuroscientist Neil Harrison, from the University of Sussex, said watching others experiencing extreme conditions triggers feelings of empathy.

“We believe that this mimicry of people’s bodily response helps us understand how they are feeling,’ he said.

“Mimicking another person is believed to help us create an internal model of their physiological state which we can use to better understand their motivations and how they are feeling.

“Humans are profoundly social creatures and much of humans’ success results from our ability to work together in complex communities – this would be hard to do if we were not able to rapidly empathise with each other and predict one another’s thoughts, feelings and motivations.’

It’s believed that ‘mirror neurons’ in the brain are behind the phenomenon.

“Mirror neurons found in very specific parts of the brain are known to fire when we perform an action or observe a similar action in others – it has been proposed that more general mirror properties may also exist across many other brain areas,’ said Dr Harrison.

Dr Harrison first wondered about the impact of the temperature of others after watching the Atanarjuat: The fast runner about the Inuit peoples of the Canadian arctic.

“It has an amazing scene where the lead actor gets chased naked across the frozen arctic – its impossible to watch without feeling cold yourself,” said Dr Harrison.

For the study, which was published in the journal PLOS One, the researchers asked 36 participants to watch eight videos that depicted actors with one of their hands in visibly warm or cold water.

Each video began with the actor sitting in front of a transparent container partially filled with water.

For the four warm videos, the first 40 seconds showed the actor gradually adding hot water from a steaming kettle into the container, checking the temperature of the water every few seconds. The actor is then shown with their hand immersed in the water for a further two minutes and 20 seconds.

For the cold videos, the actor does the same, but fills the container with a bag of ice instead.

Four control videos with the actors’ hand in front of a tank of room temperature water were also shown.

None of the actors’ faces could be seen and the temperature of the room was kept at a constant 21 degrees C.

The researchers monitored the participants’ hand temperature throughout and found that when they watched the actors put their hands in the iced water, their temperatures dropped by a small, but statistically significant, amount: 0.2 degrees C (0.4F) in their left hands, and 0.05 degrees C (0.1F) in their right.

There was no significant change in temperature when the participants watched the control videos and the warm water videos.

Dr Harrison said: “Though we didn’t see a significant change in participants’ own hand temperature when they viewed the warm videos, we think that this is probably because the warm videos were less potent – the only cues that the water was warm was steam at the beginning of the videos and the pink colour of the actor’s hand (whereas blocks of ice were clearly visible throughout the duration of the cold video).

“There is also some evidence to suggest that people may be more sensitive to others appearing cold than hot. Why this may be the case is currently unclear.”