Health News update

Wednesday 31st July 2013

10 ways to avoid diabetes complications

    

Diabetes care is a lifelong responsibility. Consider these 10 strategies to prevent diabetes complications.

CONTROLLING YOUR DIABETES

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Diabetes is a serious disease. Following your diabetes treatment plan takes round-the-clock commitment. But your efforts are worthwhile. Careful diabetes care can reduce your risk of serious — even life-threatening — complications.

Here are 10 ways to take an active role in diabetes care and enjoy a healthier future.

1. Make a commitment to managing your diabetes.

Members of your diabetes care team — doctor, diabetes nurse educator and dietitian, for example — will help you learn the basics of diabetes care and offer support and encouragement along the way. But it’s up to you to manage your condition. After all, no one has a greater stake in your health than you.

Learn all you can about diabetes. Make healthy eating and physical activity part of your daily routine. Maintain a healthy weight.

Monitor your blood sugar level, and follow your doctor’s instructions for keeping your blood sugar level within your target range. Don’t be afraid to ask your diabetes treatment team for help when you need it.

2. Don’t smoke.

If you smoke or use other types of tobacco, ask your doctor to help you quit. Smoking increases your risk of various diabetes complications, including heart attack, stroke, nerve damage and kidney disease. In fact, smokers who have diabetes are three times more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than are nonsmokers who have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. Talk to your doctor about ways to stop smoking or to stop using other types of tobacco.

  3. Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control.

Like diabetes, high blood pressure can damage your blood vessels. High cholesterol is a concern, too, since the damage is often worse and more rapid when you have diabetes. When these conditions team up, they can lead to a heart attack, stroke or other life-threatening conditions.

Eating healthy foods and exercising regularly can go a long way toward controlling high blood pressure and cholesterol. Sometimes medication is needed, too.

4. Schedule yearly physicals and regular eye exams.

Your regular diabetes checkups aren’t meant to replace yearly physicals or routine eye exams. During the physical, your doctor will look for any diabetes-related complications — including signs of kidney damage, nerve damage and heart disease — as well as screen for other medical problems. Your eye care specialist will check for signs of retinal damage, cataracts and glaucoma.

  5. Keep your vaccines up to date.

High blood sugar can weaken your immune system, which makes routine vaccines more important than ever. Ask your doctor about:

  • Flu vaccine. A yearly flu vaccine can help you stay healthy during flu season as well as prevent serious complications from the flu.
  • Pneumonia vaccine. Sometimes the pneumonia vaccine requires only one shot. If you have diabetes complications or you’re age 65 or older, you may need a five-year booster shot.
  • Hepatitis B vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently recommends hepatitis B vaccination if you haven’t previously been vaccinated against hepatitis B and you’re an adult aged 19 to 59 with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The most recent CDC guidelines advise vaccination as soon as possible after diagnosis with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. If you’re age 60 or older and have diabetes and haven’t previously received the vaccine, talk to your doctor about the whether it’s right for you.
  • Other vaccines. Stay up to date with your tetanus shot and its 10-year boosters. Depending on the circumstances, your doctor may recommend other vaccines as well.

6. Take care of your teeth.

Diabetes may leave you prone to gum infections. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss your teeth once a day, and schedule dental exams at least twice a year. Consult your dentist right away if your gums bleed or look red or swollen.

  7. Pay attention to your feet.

High blood sugar can damage the nerves in your feet and reduce blood flow to your feet. Left untreated, cuts and blisters can lead to serious infections. To prevent foot problems:

  • Wash your feet daily in lukewarm water.
  • Dry your feet gently, especially between the toes.
  • Moisturize your feet and ankles with lotion.
  • Check your feet every day for blisters, cuts, sores, redness or swelling.
  • Consult your doctor if you have a sore or other foot problem that doesn’t start to heal within a few days.

8. Consider taking a daily aspirin.

Aspirin reduces your blood’s ability to clot. Taking a daily aspirin can reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke — major concerns when you have diabetes. Ask your doctor whether daily aspirin therapy is appropriate for you, including which strength of aspirin would be best.

   9. If you drink alcohol, do so MODERATELY and responsibly.

Alcohol can cause low blood sugar, depending on how much you drink and whether you eat at the same time. If you choose to drink, do so only in moderation and always with a meal. Remember to include the calories from any alcohol you drink in your daily calorie count.

10. Take stress somewhat seriously.

If you’re stressed, it’s easy to neglect your usual diabetes care routine. The hormones your body may produce in response to prolonged stress may prevent insulin from working properly, which only makes matters worse. To take control, set limits. Prioritize your tasks. Learn relaxation techniques. Get plenty of sleep.

  Above all, stay positive. Diabetes care is within your control. If you’re willing to do your part, diabetes won’t stand in the way of an active, healthy life.

Thursday 19th April 2012

I have diabetes but I have to have a life too

         

The spotlight always tends to focus on type 2 diabetes but type 1 like above examples on the right is more serious and it most commonly occurs in children and young adults,

You’ve had a healthy, contented baby and begun a new life chapter. But then heartbreak — your toddler becomes ill, and doctors diagnose a life-threatening condition — type 1 Diabetes.

This is what Maura Larney, from Drogheda, had to deal with when son Ultan, now a 16-year-old, was just two.

“He’d been a healthy little lad up until that stage. He got a bad head cold, didn’t shake it off and then got very sick very quickly. We thought this was type 1 diabetes because a couple of his uncles have it and we rushed him to the A&E.

“I went into overdrive thinking about what I needed to know. I had to learn about giving the injections, testing the blood glucose levels, looking at the food in the house.

“It was only later that I grieved. It really was a loss; we lost something the day he was diagnosed,” Maura recalls.

Type 2 diabetes has been a hot topic in recent years, due to the fact that it’s linked to diet and lifestyle; type 1 is very different. It is caused by the destruction of the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas by the body’s autoimmune system and most commonly occurs in children and young adults.

Because the pancreas cannot make the insulin that it needs to regulate blood glucose levels, the type 1 diabetic must take insulin injections every day for the rest of their lives.

According to Diabetes Action, a 2011 census found 191,000 people have diabetes in Ireland, a five per cent increase since 2006. Of those, between 14,000 and 16,000 have type 1.

“Diabetes affects one in three families in Ireland,” explains Anna Clark of the Diabetes Federation of Ireland. Federation chairman, Professor Hilary Hoey, explains the importance of family involvement.

“It has been shown that children do much better if parents are very involved in management, coming to the clinic, and doing blood sugar testing and insulin.”

Type 1 diabetes is often misunderstood. The condition can’t be cured and is not caused by diet.

“Typically a child with type 1 diabetes will present with high blood sugars and would have a history of being unwell for a number of weeks, with excessive thirst due to the high blood sugar,” says Dr Judith Meehan, a Trinity College Dublin lecturer who is based at the department of Paediatrics in Tallaght Hospital, where she works on the paediatric endocrinology team. “The child would pass urine much more regularly and is very often lethargic and may have lost weight.

“Type 1 diabetics are completely dependent on insulin injections and monitoring is critical. We’d see children and adolescents every three months, where we’d look at their blood sugar diaries to check for any highs or lows we need to deal with.

“When they’re in their teens we monitor blood pressure and cholesterol.”

The participation of the child’s school in the management of diabetes is important. Elaine Newell, development officer with the Diabetes Federation of Ireland, says they frequently get calls from principals who have a child with diabetes in their school. Each primary school has been sent a resource pack with a DVD, which is also available for download at diabetes.ie.

As a child approaches adolescence, the parent-child dynamic changes and other issues can arise.

“If the parent is too involved in management it can have a negative effect,” explains Professor Hoey.

Several years ago, Maura recognised the need to step back and let son Ultan take responsibility for managing his diabetes. Now he monitors his glucose levels himself, but keeps in contact with his mum.

“I check my sugar five or six times a day,” Ultan says.

“When I go anywhere I pack a rucksack with my insulin as well as snacks. I play Gaelic and football and I know that before each match I need to have Lucozade.”

Children and adolescents with diabetes can lead active lives.

“Many who attend our clinic swim, play tennis and do rugby. Their level of physical activity isn’t hampered by the diabetes,” Dr Meehan points out.

The teen years mean there may come a time, for the adolescent diabetic, when he or she may be tempted to experiment with alcohol.

“If they are going to take alcohol we need to educate them early about the risks,” Dr Meehan stresses.

“They cannot drink to excess. They need to be aware that hypoglyceamia (low blood sugar) can occur and understand that they must eat and make sure that people with them know they have diabetes.”

All diabetics should wear an ID band or necklace, says Dr Meehan.

“Wearing an ID band or necklace can potentially be life-saving,” she says. Ultan recently started wearing the band in case something were to happen and he wasn’t with people who knew what to do.

While type 1 diabetes most commonly occurs in children and young adults, this is not always the case. Thirty-six-year-old singer Cara Dillon became a type 1 diabetic after the premature birth of her twin boys, who are now four.

“They were born at 26 weeks and there were complications. Nobody is sure what triggered the diabetes but when I was diagnosed I was in shock and got depressed. I was convinced I’d end up in a wheelchair and blind or that I’d be found collapsed in the street and die.

“Then I realised it doesn’t have to be like that because at the end of the day I’m in control. I didn’t feel sorry for myself for very long.”

Last year, Cara give birth to her third child, a healthy girl.

“I knew of the risks for babies born to diabetic mothers. I was extremely nervous.

“It was difficult to keep my sugars stable because of the change in hormone levels but I’m happy to say it’s possible for a diabetic mum to stay well and give birth to a healthy baby.”

Her GP and the diabetic nurses in her hometown of Somerset in England monitored her throughout the pregnancy. She continues to be cared for by her GP and has her sight checked every nine months.

“I check my sugar every two hours. The condition has made me healthier because I’m more careful about what I eat. I vowed for the children I’d never get to the point where I was lying unconscious because of low blood sugar.”

Cara carries a card in her wallet identifying her as a diabetic.

Neither Cara nor Ultan have allowed their diabetes to limit their lifestyles. “If you have the diabetes under control, it won’t prevent you from doing anything,” says Cara.

Still, as a mother, she worries about her little ones. “I look at my boys on days when they seem to be excessively thirsty and start worrying. I trust in God that they’ll not get diabetes, but if they do we’ll just have to deal with it.”

A new study gives more evidence of diabetes link with Parkinson’s disease

Brain imaging showing the stages of Parkinson's disease. REUTERS/NIH   

People with diabetes may have a heightened risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, especially at a relatively young age, a new study finds.

Published in the journal Diabetes Care, the study adds to recent research linking diabetes to Parkinson’s disease.

But neither this report nor the earlier ones prove that diabetes, itself, raises a person’s risk of Parkinson’s — a disorder in which movement-regulating brain cells gradually become disabled or die.

Instead, researchers suspect that it’s more likely diabetes and Parkinson’s share some common underlying causes.

The new study looked at health insurance claims from more than one million Taiwanese adults — including a little over 600,000 with diabetes.

Researchers found that over nine years, people with diabetes were more likely to be diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. They were diagnosed at a rate of 3.6 cases per 10,000 people each year, versus 2.1 per 10,000 among people without diabetes.

When the researchers factored in age, sex and certain other health conditions, they found that diabetes was still linked to an increased risk of Parkinson’s — especially at a relatively young age.

Among women in their 40s and 50s, those with diabetes had twice the risk of Parkinson’s that diabetes-free women did.

The same was true among men in their 20s and 30s, though that was based on only a handful of Parkinson’s cases: there were four cases among young men with diabetes, and two among those without diabetes.

Exactly what it all means is unclear, according to Drs. Yu Sun and Chung-Yi Li, who led the study.

But on average, people develop Parkinson’s diagnosis around age 60, the researchers noted in an email to Reuters Health.

“Our findings tend to suggest a relationship between diabetes and early-onset Parkinson’s disease,” said Sun and Li, who are based at En Chu Kong Hospital and National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan.

That’s in line with a study of Danish adults published last year, the researchers noted. (See Reuters Health story of April 15, 2011).

Still, it’s impossible to say for sure that diabetes, itself, is to blame.

One reason is that the current study had limited information, according to Sun and Li.

“Because our study was based on claims data,” they said, “it lacks information on some of the known risk factors for Parkinson’s disease, such as pesticide exposure.”

Researchers have speculated on the potential reasons for the diabetes-Parkinson’s link, and they suspect there might be certain biological mechanisms that contribute to both conditions.

One possibility is chronic, low-level inflammation throughout the body, which is suspected of contributing to a number of chronic diseases by damaging cells. There might also be a common genetic susceptibility to both diabetes and Parkinson’s.

But even if people with diabetes have a relatively elevated risk of Parkinson’s, it’s still a low risk, Sun and Li pointed out.

In this study, there were fewer than four cases per 10,000 diabetic adults each year.

A recent U.S. study found a similar pattern: Of 21,600 older adults with diabetes, 0.8 percent were diagnosed with Parkinson’s over 15 years. That compared with 0.5 percent of people who were diabetes-free at the study’s start.

The researchers on that study said that people with diabetes should simply continue to do the things already recommended for their overall health — like eating a well-balanced diet and getting regular exercise.

Sun and Li agreed with that advice. “There is no need for patients with diabetes to worry too much about the development of Parkinson’s disease,” they said.

More studies are needed, the researchers said, to understand why diabetes is related to a higher Parkinson’s risk — and what, if anything, can be done about it.

Diabetes arises when the body can no longer properly use the blood-sugar-regulating hormone insulin. Parkinson’s occurs when movement-regulating cells in the brain die off or become disabled, leading to symptoms like tremors, rigidity in the joints, slowed movement and balance problems.

Researchers say it’s possible that something about diabetes — like a problem regulating insulin — might somehow contribute to Parkinson’s. But that remains unproven.

Monday 6th February 2012

Inactive Women are more prone to the development of type 2 diabetes ‘A new study report tells us?’

      

Women who stay seated for long periods of time every day are more prone to developing type 2 diabetes, but a similar link isn’t found in men, a new study has found.

Researchers from the University of Leicester Departments of Health Sciences and Cardiovascular Sciences revealed that women who are sedentary for most of the day were at a greater risk from exhibiting the early metabolic defects that act as a precursor to developing type 2 diabetes than people who tend to sit less.

The team assessed over 500 men and women of the age of 40 or more about the amount of time spent sitting over the course of a week, helped out by tests on the level of specific chemicals in their bloodstream that are linked to diabetes and metabolic dysfunction.

It was found that the women who spent the longest time sitting had higher levels of insulin, as well as higher amounts of C-reactive protein and chemicals released by fatty tissue in the abdomen, leptin, and interleukin6, and which indicate problematic inflammation.

The study revealed that the link between sitting time and diabetes risk was much stronger in women than men, but could not pinpoint why there was a gender difference, although it was suggested that women might snack more often than men during sedentary behaviour, or because men tend to take part in more robust activity when they do get up and about.

“This study provides important new evidence that higher levels of sitting time have a deleterious impact on insulin resistance and chronic low-grade inflammation in women but not men and that this effect is seen regardless of how much exercise is undertaken. This suggests that women who meet the national recommendations of 30 minutes of exercise a day may still be compromising their health if they are seated for the rest of the day,” Thomas Yates, the study leader, said.

“It therefore suggests that enabling women to spend less time sitting may be an important factor in preventing chronic disease.

“If these results are replicated, they have implications for lifestyle recommendations, public health policy, and health behaviour change interventions, as they suggest that enabling women to spend less time sitting is an important factor in preventing chronic disease,” he added.

The study has been published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Pancreatic cancer Trials: New drug MRKoo3 with Chemo combination shows promising results 

Pancreatic cancer cell      Trial Drug MRK003 Seems Good for Handling Pancreatic Cancer
Doctors want to improve the prognosis of this aggressive cancer

Scientists say they may have found a new weapon against pancreatic cancer after promising early trial results of an experimental drug combination.

Giving the chemotherapy agent gemcitabine with an experimental drug called MRK003 sets off a chain of events that ultimately kills cancer cells, studies in mice show.

Patients are now testing the treatment to see if it will work for them. The Cancer Research UK-funded trials are being carried out in Cambridge.

Father-of-two Richard Griffiths, 41, from Coventry, has been on the trial since being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in May 2011.

“After six cycles of treatment, a scan showed the tumours had reduced and so I have continued with the treatment,” he said.

“The trial gives you hope – I really feel I can do this with the science behind me.”

Aggressive cancer

Cancer Research UK says it is prioritising research into pancreatic cancer because the survival rate still remains dismally low.

About 8,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year, and the disease is the fifth most common cause of cancer death in the UK.

Survival rates are very low in relation to other cancers, and the length of time between diagnosis and death is typically short, usually less than six months.

The most recent data for England show that about 16% of patients survive the disease beyond 12 months after diagnosis – prompting the need for new treatments.

Professor Duncan Jodrell, who is leading the trials at the University of Cambridge, said: “We’re delighted that the results of this important research are now being evaluated in a clinical trial, to test whether this might be a new treatment approach for patients with pancreatic cancer, although it will be some time before we’re able to say how successful this will be in patients.”

In total, about 60 patients with advanced pancreatic cancer will be recruited for the first Phase I/II clinical trial.

Mother’s with Diabetes “are four times more likely to have a baby with a health defect risk”

File photo 

New research shows that if a pregnant woman has diabetes, she is four times more at risk of having a child with birth defects.

The information came to light in a study undertaken by Newcastle University, which was published in the journal Diabetologia.

The researchers analysed data gleaned from 401,149 pregnancies in England between 1996 and 2008.

They saw that women with diabetes were more at risk of giving birth to babies with congenital heart disease and spina bifida.

The results showed that the rate of non-chromosomal major congenital anomaly in women with diabetes was 71.6 per 1000 pregnancies.

The unadjusted risk was higher for women from deprived areas or women who did not take folate (folic acid).

The type and duration of diabetes, ethnicity, age, BMI, preconception care, smoking and foetal sex were not associated with congenital anomaly risk.

The report showed that “pregnancies complicated by pre-existing diabetes are at high risk of adverse outcome, including stillbirth, perinatal mortality, congenital anomaly, Caesarean section and macrosomoia”.

The risk of congenital anomaly in women with diabetes is strongly associated with glycaemic control. However, similar rates of congenital anomaly have been reported in women with type 1 and 2 diabetes

Pregnancies in women with gestational diabetes were not included in the study.

Overall, one in 13 singleton deliveries (7.7 per cent) was affected, and the rate of non-chromosomal anomaly was almost four times higher than in women without pre-existing diabetes.

Among the researchers’ conclusions was that: “Awareness of the need for preparation for pregnancy should be incorporated into the routine care of young women with diabetes”.

Dr Ruth Bell, the lead researcher on the study, told the BBC that many of the anomalies happen in the first four to six weeks and that sugar levels in the lead-up to conception were an important risk factor.

Tuesday 24th January 2012

Magic mushrooms could be used  To treat depression 

Brain scans of people under the influence of psilocybin – the active ingredient in magic mushrooms – show that brain activity is suppressed by the drug.

      
Professor David Nutt, from the Department of Medicineat Imperial College London.

And, says the Imperial College London team, it enhances personal memories, meaning it could one day be used alongside psychotherapy to treat depression.

“Psychedelics are thought of as ‘mind-expanding’ drugs, so it has commonly been assumed that they work by increasing brain activity, but surprisingly, we found that psilocybin actually caused activity to decrease in areas that have the densest connections with other areas,

” says Professor David Nutt, from the Department of Medicineat Imperial College London.
“These hubs constrain our experience of the world and keep it orderly. We now know that deactivating these regions leads to a state in which the world is experienced as strange.”
Volunteers, on a placebo or psilocybin, were prompted to think about memories associated with strong positive emotions while inside the scanner. They were also asked to rate changes in their emotional wellbeing two weeks later.
They rated their recollections as being more vivid after taking psilocybin, and with psilocybin there was increased activity in areas of the brain that process vision and other sensory information.
The more vivid their memories, the better they were feeling after two weeks.
The volunteers reported all the usual effects of mushrooms, including geometric patterns, unusual bodily sensations and altered sense of space and time. And the intensity of these effects correlated with a drop in oxygenation and blood flow in two parts of the brain – the posterior cingulate cortex, believed to have a role in consciousness and self-identity, and the medial prefrontal cortex, which is hyperactive in depression.
“Psilocybin was used extensively in psychotherapy in the 1950s, but the biological rationale for its use has not been properly investigated until now. Our findings support the idea that psilocybin facilitates access to personal memories and emotions,” says Imperial’s Dr Robin Carhart-Harris.
“Previous studies have suggested that psilocybin can improve people’s sense of emotional wellbeing and even reduce depression in people with anxiety.”
Saturday 14th January 2012

Need your vein’s sucked for the old leeching treatment?

 

Wexford-based physiotherapist Ulf Stahlberg in his clinic with his wife, Tatjana,

Although less popular nowadays, this ancient remedy is still being used to treat ailments ranging from arthritis to cardiovascular disease, writes MICHELLE McDONAGH  of the Irish TimesHAVING BLOODSUCKING parasites attached to your face or body and leaving them there until they drink their fill might not sound like the most appealing of treatments, but it could make you feel better and look younger!Hirudotherapy is a method of treatment that uses medicinal leeches, one of the oldest remedies for blood- and congestion-related conditions. Used in medicine for centuries to treat all kinds of ailments from headache to gout, it was thought that leeches drained “impure” blood from the body through blood-letting, thereby curing illness and disease.While the practice of leeching is much rarer today, hirudotherapy is still popular in the US, Germany, Russia, Austria and Poland, where it is used to treat conditions such as arthritis, rheumatoid disease, cardiovascular disease and is also used as a form of natural botox. Hollywood actor Demi Moore (49) has admitted in the past to being a fan of the treatment.The European medicinal leech, Hirudo medicinalis, is more often used today as a tool for healing skin grafts or restoring blood circulation after the reattachment of body parts in reconstructive surgery.The leech used in hirudotherapy today is not the common invertebrate found in Irish rivers and lakes, but is specially bred in European leech farms. In 2004, the Food and Drug Administration in the US approved the bloodsuckers as a medical device.Ulf Stahlberg, a physiotherapist from Hamburg, Germany, has been treating patients in his Body in Balance clinic in Wexford with hirudotherapy since he moved to Ireland with his wife, Tatjana, in 2007.He explains that the unique saliva of the leech contains a number of important substances including a powerful natural anticoagulant which removes toxic build-up. It also has a thinning effect on heavy blood, he says, as well as acting as a local anaesthetic and restoring and improving circulation and metabolism.The therapeutic effect of leeching is not from the blood taken in the meal, but from the continued and steady bleeding from the wound left after the leech has detached.“I had worked with medicinal leeches in an emergency hospital in Germany where the use of leeches is quite common, particularly to speed up healing of skin transplants after an accident or burn injury. In my clinic in Wexford, I use the leeches mainly for arthritis and rheumatoid diseases.

“They are also very effective in reducing high blood pressure and I have found them very good for treating eczema and piles,” says Stahlberg.

Since he mentioned during a radio interview that hirudotherapy was very popular in Russia for getting rid of crows’ feet, wrinkles and spider veins, Stahlberg has been getting lots of calls from Irish women interested in learning more about this “natural botox”.

“When I set the leeches on, you feel a slight bite like a nettle sting and then they start sucking. It’s interesting to watch because you can see the leech getting bigger and bigger as it sucks the blood. I can’t pull the leech off until it is sated because when it finishes sucking, it delivers an anti-inflammatory substance into the patient’s skin.

“It wants to keep the patient healthy for its next meal, little does he know that is going to be its last meal.”

Since 2005, under European regulations, medicinal leeches must be killed after one use.

Prior to this, they were sent back to the breeders where they lived out the rest of their days in a “pension pond”.

Stahlberg imports his leeches from a special breeding farm in Germany and he must use them within seven to 10 days. He charges €40 per session plus €7.50 per leech and the number of leeches required varies per treatment. The length of the treatment depends on the patient, Stahlberg explains, but it usually lasts for 60-90 minutes.

Daniel Moszczynski provides leech therapy at the Wellness Centre in Westport, Co Mayo. Moszczynski says that unlike many drug therapies, leech therapy is very safe and while treating the body for a particular illness or complaint, the therapy purifies the blood, healing the whole body.

The Polish therapist says that while leech therapy has become more popular in his home country, Irish people are not so keen on the bloodsucking treatment. He has only five or six appointments each week, but says he is in the business to help people and not to make money.

“I am trying to let people know more about leech therapy, most people have never heard of it.

“There are some problems I can cure 100 per cent with this therapy while there are others that it does not work so well on. I find it works best for migraine, problems with veins, eczema and depression.”

“I can’t pull the leech off until it is sated because when it finishes sucking, it delivers an anti-inflammatory substance into the patient’s skin. It wants to keep the patient healthy for its next meal, little does he know that is going to be its last

LEECH THERAPY: HOW IT WORKS

Hirudo medicinalis or the medicinal leech has three jaws with approximately 100 sharp teeth on each outer rim. The leech feeds by first attaching its sucker onto the skin. The mouth, located in the middle of the sucker, opens to expose the teeth, which cut into the patient’s skin. The saliva of the leech contains substances that anaesthetise the wound area (rendering the bite virtually painless) and dilate blood vessels to increase blood flow to the site of the bite. 

Leech saliva also contains an enzyme that promotes a quick dissipation of substances in the leech saliva away from the bite site. One of these substances is hirudin, a naturally occurring polypeptide that inhibits the actions of thrombin, one of the enzymes that facilitates blood clotting. This powerful anticoagulant is primarily responsible for the extensive bleeding that results from a leech bite, though other factors are also involved.

Large adult leeches can consume up to 10 times their body weight in a single meal, with 5-15ml being the average volume taken. These leeches can live for up to a year between feeding.

Anti-depressant link from Mum to kids’ BP (Blood Pressure)

   

Women who take anti-depressants while pregnant are more likely to have children with a serious high blood pressure condition, a new study has found.

Pulmonary hypertension refers to high blood pressure in the lungs. It is a rare condition that results in shortness of breath and breathing problems. It is strongly linked to heart failure.Swedish researchers looked at more than 1.6 million births which took place in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland between 1996 and 2007. The babies were assessed when they were 33 weeks old.Around 27,000 of the mothers involved took anti-depressants during pregnancy, while almost 55,000 said they had previously had mental health issues, but were not currently taking anti-depressants.The study found that while the risk of persistant pulmonary hypertension among the children was overall very low, this risk increased if anti-depressants were taken during pregnancy, particularly during late pregnancy when the risk doubled.While acknowledging the risk is low, the researchers said that doctors should still be cautious when treating pregnant women with anti-depressants.
Wednesday 11th January 2012

Lung cancer is now the biggest cause of cancer death in Ireland

       95% of lung cancer cases result from smoking          Dr Finbarr O’Connell Consultant Respiratory Physician at St James’s Hospital above out in his canoe on the Liffey.

Lung cancer has overtaken breast cancer as the biggest cause of cancer death in women in Ireland for the first time.  95% of lung cancer cases result from smoking

 Lung cancer has overtaken breast cancer as the biggest cause of cancer death in women in Ireland for the first time, according to the Irish Cancer Society.

The society’s Lung Cancer Awareness campaign, “Look After Your Lungs”, was launched today to encourage people to know how best to prevent lung cancer and to recognise its signs and symptoms.

Recent data shows lung cancer is now the biggest cancer killer in Ireland for both men and women with 1,708 people dying in 2010. 1,006 of those were men and 702 were women.

Breast cancer deaths for the same period amounted to 634.

New cases of lung cancer in women increased by 17.6% in 2010, whereas breast cancer cases are increasing at a much lower rate.

Smoking is the key cause of lung cancer and the number of cases is expected to grow each year as the impact of an increasing numbers of female smokers over the past 20 years is seen.

Dr Finbarr O’Connell Consultant Respiratory Physician at St James’s Hospital, said 95% of lung cancer cases result from smoking.

“If you are in your 20s or 30s and you are able to give up, you can reduce your lung cancer risk to the same as a non-smoker,” he said.

Early detection is also deemed to be a key factor in improving survival rates.

Rapid Access Clinics for lung cancer have been set up in all eight designated cancer centres and, according to 2011 data, 2,380 people were seen in them in the first six months of last year.

Of those patients, 89% saw a specialist within two weeks of referral.

The Irish Cancer Society’s National Cancer Helpline is Freefone 1800-200700.

 Friday 6th January 2012

Brain function’s can start declining ‘as early as age 45’

Individuals were tested for memory, vocabulary and aural and visual comprehension skills

The brain’s ability to function can start to deteriorate as early as 45, suggests a study in the British Medical Journal.

University College London researchers found a 3.6% decline in mental reasoning in women and men aged 45-49.

They assessed the memory, vocabulary and comprehension skills of 7,000 men and women aged 45 to 70 over 10 years.

The Alzheimer’s Society said research was needed into how changes in the brain could help dementia diagnoses.

Previous research had suggested that cognitive decline does not begin much before the age of 60.

But the results of this study show that it could in fact begin in middle age.

This is important, the researchers say, because dementia treatments are more likely to work at the time when individuals start to experience mental impairment.

The UCL researchers tested the cognitive functions of 5,198 men and 2,192 women aged 45 to 70, who were all UK civil servants, from 1997 to 2007.

Individuals were tested for memory, vocabulary and aural and visual comprehension skills.

“Start Quote

Although we don’t yet have a sure-fire way to prevent dementia, we do know that simple lifestyle changes can all reduce the risk of dementia”

Dr Simon RidleyAlzheimer’s Research UK

Differences in education level were taken into account.

Mid-life crisis

The results of the tests show that cognitive scores declined in all categories except vocabulary – and there was a faster decline in older people.

The study found a 9.6% decline in mental reasoning in men aged 65-70 and a 7.4% decline for women of the same age.

For men and women aged 45-49, there was a 3.6% decline.

Professor Archana Singh-Manoux from the Centre for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health in France, who led the research team at University College London, said the evidence from the study showed that dementia involved cognitive decline over two to three decades.

“We now need to look at who experiences cognitive decline more than the average and how we stop the decline. Some level of prevention is definitely possible.

“Rates of dementia are going to soar and health behaviours like smoking and physical activity are linked to levels of cognitive function.

“It’s important to identify the risk factors early. If the disease has started in an individual’s 50s but we only start looking at risk in their 60s, then how do you start separating cause and effect?”

Start Quote

If the disease has started in an individual’s 50s but we only start looking at risk in their 60s, then how do you start separating cause and effect?”

Dr Anne Corbett, research manager at the Alzheimer’s Society, said the study added to the debate on when cognitive decline began, but it left some questions unanswered.

“The study does not tell us whether any of these people went on to develop dementia, nor how feasible it would be for GPs to detect these early changes.

“More research is now needed to help us fully understand how measurable changes in the brain can help us improve diagnosis of dementia.”

Dr Simon Ridley, head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said he wanted to see similar studies carried out in a wider population sample.

He added: “Previous research suggests that our health in mid-life affects our risk of dementia as we age, and these findings give us all an extra reason to stick to our New Year’s resolutions.

“Although we don’t yet have a sure-fire way to prevent dementia, we do know that simple lifestyle changes – such as eating a healthy diet, not smoking, and keeping blood pressure and cholesterol in check – can all reduce the risk of dementia.”

Professor Lindsey Davies, president of the Faculty of Public Health, said that people should not wait until their bodies and minds broke down before taking action.

“We need only look at the problems that childhood obesity rates will cause if they are not addressed to see how important it is that we take ‘cradle to grave’ approach to public health.”

Friday 30th December 2011

Overweight & Obese Elderly people are more likely to suffer a severe fall  (A study tells us)

       

OBESE elderly people may be more likely than their thinner peers to suffer a potentially disabling fall — though the most severely overweight may be somewhat protected from injury,                        From an American journal

Falls are often seen as a problem for thin, frail older people, since their bones are especially prone to fractures, but obesity carries its own risks, said researchers in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

“People who are obese may have a harder time with balance,” said researcher Christine Himes, of Syracuse University in New York.

And when obese people lose their footing, they may be less able to react and stop a fall, she added. Looking at 10,755 people aged 65 and over, Himes found that obese people were 12pc to 50pc more likely to suffer a fall.

injuries: Those odds rose with the level of obesity. The 50pc higher risk was seen among people with a body mass index of 40 or higher. Between 1998 and 2006, the group reported 9,621 falls, resulting in more than 3,100 injuries serious enough to need medical attention.

Of people who suffered a fall, 23pc were obese, compared with 20pc among the elderly who did not fall. But when it came to the risk of being injured by a fall, the most severely obese were one-third less likely to be injured than normal-weight elders.           …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Wednesday 14th December 2011

Cancer rates are lower in Galway than the rest of the country

Major study shows that most types are less prevalent here 
  

Incidents of cancer are relatively lower in Galway than other parts of the country, according to a major study of cancer prevalence.

The All-Ireland Cancer Atlas, published last Friday, analyses the geographical variation of 18 different cancers between 1995 and 2007, and the findings show that there is generally not a higher risk of developing cancer in Galway compared with other counties.

The author of the report, Harry Comber, Director of National Cancer Registry, told the Connacht Sentinel that nothing stands out as ‘out of the ordinary’ in relation to Galway.

He said: “In general, incidents of cancer are relatively lower” than elsewhere.

Mr Comber said that for the cancers that are caused by smoking or where smoking is a contributory factor, they tend to be more prevalent in Dublin and the East rather than Galway and the West because the prevalence of smoking is greater in the East compared with West.

Mr Comber did point out that parts of Galway, in particular west of the county, and Mayo had relatively higher incidence of cancer of the uterus among women.

The reasons for regional variations are varied – skin cancer tends to be more prevalent in the ‘sunny South East’ than it is in the North and North West.

The atlas identified that the highest risk for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was highest for men in the northeast, Kerry and Galway.

Mr Comber said there was often no explanation as to why there is a relatively higher risk of cancer in one geographic area compared to another.

 
Thursday 8th December 2011
 
A Daily Aspirin taken can significantly cut cancer riskAspirin significantly cuts cancer risk   
Aspirin significantly cuts cancer risk 
A daily dose of aspirin can sharply reduce the risk of death from a wide range of cancers, a new study has suggestedPrevious work by the same team of scientists revealed that the century-old remedy for aches and pains, long a staple of family pharmacies, can help defend against colon cancer.The new study has for the first time revealed that aspirin also helps protecting against prostate, lung, brain, and throat cancers, among others.”These findings provide the first proof in man that aspirin reduces deaths due to several common cancers,” the Herald Sun quoted Peter Rothwell, a professor at the University of Oxfordand lead author of the study as saying.Professor Rothwell and colleagues looked into eight previous clinical trials comprising over 25,500 patients. In each, some subjects took aspirin and others look-alike placebos.During the trials, which lasted for four to eight years, doses of aspirin as low as 75 milligrams, cut cancer deaths overall by 21 per cent.Risk was particularly diminished after five years of treatment with the drug, by 30 to 40 per cent depending on the type of cancer.The 20-year risk dropped on an average by a fifth: 10 per cent for prostate cancer, 30 per cent for lung cancer, 40 per cent for colon cancer, and 60 per cent for oesophageal cancer.For cancer of the lung and throat, the protective effect was restricted to adenocarcinomas, the type typically observed in non-smokers.”Perhaps the most important finding for the longer term is the proof of principle that cancers can be prevented by simple compounds like aspirin, and that ‘chemo-prevention’ is therefore a realistic goal,” Professor Rothwell said.Another researcher of Cancer Research UK, Ed Yong, asserted that even small doses of aspirin can reduce cancer risk if taken for five years.”These promising results build on a large body of evidence suggesting that aspirin could reduce the risk of developing or dying from many different types of cancer,” Dr Yong said.”This tells us that even small doses reduce the risk of dying from cancer provided it is taken for at least five years.””We encourage anyone interested in taking aspirin on a regular basis to talk to their doctor first,” Dr Yong added.The study has been published in the British medical journal The Lancet.
Sunday 4th December 2011

High Blood Sugar Levels In Older Women Linked To Colorectal Cancer 

     

Elevated blood sugar levels are associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer, according to a study led by researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University.The findings, observed in nearly 5,000 postmenopausal women, appear in the November 29 online edition of the British Journal of Cancer.According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the third leading cause of cancer death in both men and women in the U.S.Statistics compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 2007 (the most recent year for which figures are available) show that 142,672 Americans were diagnosed with colorectal cancer, including 69,917 women; the 53,219 deaths from colorectal cancer that year were divided almost equally between men and women.The Einstein study involved women who were enrolled in the National Institutes of Health’s landmark Women’s Health Initiative study. For these women, fasting blood sugar and insulin levels had been measured at baseline (i.e., the start of the study) and then several more times over the next 12 years.By the end of the 12-year period, 81 of the women had developed colorectal cancer. The researchers found that elevated baseline glucose levels were associated with increased colorectal cancer risk and that women in the highest third of baseline glucose levels were nearly twice as likely to have developed colorectal cancer as women in the lowest third of blood glucose levels. Results were similar when the scientists looked at repeated glucose measurements over time. No association was found between insulin levels and risk for colorectal cancer.Obesity usually accompanied by elevated blood levels of insulin and glucose is a known risk factor for colorectal cancer. Researchers have long suspected that obesity’s influence on colorectal cancer risk stems from the elevated insulin levels it causes. But the Einstein study suggests that obesity’s impact on this cancer may be due to elevated glucose levels, or to some factor correlated with elevated glucose levels.”The next challenge is to find the mechanism by which chronically elevated blood glucose levels may lead to colorectal cancer,” said Geoffrey Kabat, Ph.D., a senior epidemiologist at Einstein and lead author of the paper. “It’s possible that elevated glucose leads to, or is correlated with, increased blood levels of growth factors and inflammatory factors that spur the growth of intestinal polyps, some of which later develop into cancer.”The paper is titled “A Longitudinal Study of Serum Insulin and Glucose Levels in Relation to Colorectal Cancer Risk among Postmenopausal Women.” Other Einstein authors are Mimi Kim, Sc.D., and Howard Strickler M.D., both professors in the department of epidemiology and population health, and senior author Thomas E. Rohan, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair of epidemiology and population health.
 
Friday 25th November 2011                                                                                  

A Link is found between low water intake and Diabetes

                        

People who drink less than half a litre of water each day might be a good group for targeted diabetes prevention interventions, a large study suggests.

The French study of more than 3,500 people without diabetes found those who drank less than a litre of water each day were at an increased risk of dangerously high glycaemic levels.

The study authors said the results did not prove the association was causal, but suggested they might indicate a group that should be targeted for preventative measures.

Only including patients who had normal glycaemic levels at the start of the study, and then examining them every three years for almost a decade, they found about 550 people were hyperglycaemic during the study and 200 developed diabetes.

Those who reported consuming less than half a litre of water each day were at a 56 per cent increased risk of becoming hyperglycaemic compared to those who consumed between one-half and one litre of water. A similar trend was found among those who developed diabetes during the study, but the small numbers meant the results were not significantly different.

The associations remained after controlling for multiple metabolic risk factors and for consumption of sugary drinks and alcohol.

“This indicates that identification of individuals with a [water intake of less than half a litre] may be widely relevant to target preventative interventions regarding the metabolic risk,” the study authors wrote in the journal Diabetes care.    ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..       Friday 18th November 2011

Minister Shortall says Free GP visits for everybody by 2015?  

 
Roisin Shortall.
FREE family doctors’ visits for all from 2015 is part of a new Government plan, according to minister Roisin Shortall.

The Government will provide free GP care from next March for those with a range of long-term illnesses and the scheme will be extended to the whole population by 2015.

Phase one will cost an estimated €15m and the total cost of the scheme is expected to be in the region of €300m.

The aim is to ease pressure on the more costly acute hospital services by treating people before their health issues become more serious.

Primary Care Minister Ms Shortall made the announcement at the country’s first primary care conference in Mitchelstown, Co Cork.

She said she was “confident” of meeting the March deadline that would see an end to GP fees for about 56,000 people.

Asked where the funding would come from, Ms Shortall insisted she was “very confident” the money would be allocated in the Budget.

Phase two in 2013 would extend free GP care to those in the High Tech drugs scheme — a further 50,000 people.

The following year subsidised GP care would be extended to the rest of the population with free care for all by 2015.

The total cost of €300m is based on the current prices charged in private GP fees — paid by two in three people.

Ms Shortall said the number of primary care teams needs to be increased to reach the target of them meeting 90-95pc of health needs in the community.

To do this would require an increase in the number of GPs and practice nurses.

At the moment there are fewer than 400 primary care teams despite an original target of 600 by 2011. She hopes to introduce a fast-track training programme for family doctors.

The plan was to allocate €250m for the development of primary care centres over the next five years.      …………………………………………………………………………………………………                                                                           Friday November 11 2011

 Intensive Diabetes Treatment Cuts Kidney Damage in Half in new Study
             By Michelle Fay Cortez of Bloomberg  
   Patients with Type 1 diabetes who aggressively use insulin to keep their blood sugar in check slash their risk of subsequent kidney failure by half, according to a U.S.-funded study that spanned two decades.
Researchers tracked kidney function in 1,375 patients with the most severe form of the disease who enrolled in the Diabetes Control and Complication Trial starting in 1983. While the study was halted a decade later because patients getting aggressive treatment had fewer complications from the disease, the researchers continued to monitor them to determine the long-term effects. The study previously found fewer cardiovascular complications in patients getting strict diabetes control.
“Tight control early in the course of the disease has long lasting benefits on all major diabetes complications,” Ian de Boer, the lead researcher and an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle, said in a telephone interview. “The benefits were from early intensive therapy and they only manifested more than a decade after the treatment began.”
 
Patients who injected insulin at least three times a day to get their blood sugar to the same level seen in people without diabetes had half the risk of poor filtration and end-stage kidney disease a decade later, according to the study released today by the New England Journal of Medicine. The results show for the first time that treatment can avert the loss of kidney function that leads to organ failure, a process that was previously considered inexorable, de Boer said.

Diabetes Types

About 25.8 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, when the body doesn’t properly use insulin to convert blood sugar to energy, according to the American Diabetes Association. Less than 10 percent have Type 1, the most serious form where the body’s immune system attacks pancreatic cells that produce insulin. Most diabetics have Type 2, an illness linked to aging, obesity and resistance to insulin.
 
It’s not clear if the findings of the new study apply to patients with Type 2 diabetes. Those patients typically are older and have other medical conditions, potentially limiting the amount of time they have to benefit from closely regulating their blood sugar, de Boer said.
 
An earlier study of intensive treatment in patients with Type 2 diabetes was halted because the approach appeared to increase death rates. It may be that damage was already done that couldn’t be reversed, de Boer said.
 
“Early, when people are relatively complication-free and have a long time to derive the benefits of therapy, is when intensive glucose control is likely to be most effective,” he said.
 
In the study, 24 patients getting intensive therapy developed impaired kidney function, compared with 46 diabetics getting regular care. Eight developed end-stage kidney disease, down from 16 of those who used insulin to prevent symptoms.
 
The study, funded by the U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, was presented at the American Society of Nephrology’s annual meeting in Philadelphia.     …………………………………………………………………………………………………
 

  SAD: (Seasonal affective disorder)  Suffering from the winter blues?                                 A bright word in the ear could be the answer

   

AS the days shorten, many people’s thoughts turn to how they can avoid the dreaded winter blues.

A break in the bright sunshine of Barbados or the Canaries might appeal, although such tonics are expensive and soon wear off.

Those motivated enough will force themselves to rise early for a dawn run or a walk with the dog. But will they keep up that routine, through snow and sleet, all winter long?

However, now scientists have come up with a new way of tackling seasonal affective disorder (SAD), that they say cures it in just eight minutes a day.

The technique involves beaming light directly into the brain through the ears.

It is based on the discovery that the brain itself is just as sensitive to daylight as the eyes, with ‘photoreceptive’ parts using it to help set our biological clocks.

At least 18 brain regions contain light-sensitive opsin proteins, which are also found in eyes, discovered scientists at Oulu University in Finland, a country with high rates of SAD.

They have been working with a company called Valkee to come up with an iPod-like device for delivering a daily dose of artificial sunshine through a pair of tiny torches hidden in earbud headphones.

A clinical trial in 89 volunteers with SAD found 74 to 79 per cent were totally cured of depressive symptoms, when they used the device for between eight and 12 minutes a day. The results are being presented this week at the International Forum for Mood and Anxiety Disorders inBudapest.

One female participant, 43, said: “I used to eat a lot of chocolate during winter time and when stressed, but not anymore. My food cravings have ended.”

Explaining the science, Timo Ahopelto, chief executive of Valkee, said: “We have found three different proteins in the brain that are all sensitive to light.

“You could say your brain is even more sensitive to light than your eyes, because the concentrations of these photo-receptors are higher in the brain than the eyes.”

SAD is caused by the brain not receiving enough daylight, which is essential to trigger production of serotonin, a hormone important for regulating mood.

Up to one in four Britons suffer from SAD to some degree. Most are relatively mildy affected, with symptoms limited to lethargy and low spirits. But about seven per cent of the population is thought to have full-blown SAD, according to support groups, leaving them depressed, anxious, and unable to sleep properly.

Modern living has compounded the problem, with many hemmed in by office jobs that in winter finish after dark, leaving little time for exposure to natural daylight.

Companies have been producing ‘light boxes’ for years, which emit blueish light that mimics daylight.

But Mr Ahopelto said: “With the traditional ‘eye route’, you need to administer light therapy very carefully, and sit next to the light box for an hour a day.”

Many people found this impractical, he said, and studies showed they were only 40 to 60 per cent effective.

By contrast, he said the Valkee device delivered “a better response in a shorter amount of time”.

“When you beam the light directly at the brain, it actually works better,” he said.

Most benefited from having their session about an hour after waking up, he said, leading to boosted levels of the ‘day hormone’ serotonin, and reduced levels of the ‘night hormone’ melatonin, involved with sleep.

“One of the biggest advantages of this is ease of use: commuters can pretend they are listening to music,” he said.

At £185 a time, though, the device does not come cheap.

But those tempted to simply shine a Maglight in either ear will find their Heath Robinson method of limited effect, argued Mr Ahopelto, as the light they emit is too yellow.

………………………………………………………………………………………………… Monday November 07 2011                                                                                

What is a hiatal hernia?

 Picture of Hiatal HerniaA hiatal hernia is an anatomical abnormality in which part of the stomach protrudes through the diaphragm and up into the chest. Although hiatal hernias are present in approximately 15% of the population, they are associated with symptoms in only a minority of those afflicted.

Normally, the esophagus or food tube passes down through the chest, crosses the diaphragm, and enters the abdomen through a hole in the diaphragm called the esophageal hiatus. Just below the diaphragm, the esophagus joins the stomach. In individuals with hiatal hernias, the opening of the esophageal hiatus (hiatal opening) is larger than normal, and a portion of the upper stomach slips up or passes (herniates) through the hiatus and into the chest. Although hiatal hernias are occasionally seen in infants where they probably have been present from birth, most hiatal hernias in adults are believed to have developed over many years.

What causes a hiatal hernia?

It is thought that hiatal hernias are caused by a larger-than-normal esophageal hiatus, the opening in the diaphragm through which the esophagus passes from the chest into the abdomen; as a result of the large opening, part of the stomach “slips” into the chest. Other potentially contributing factors include:

(1)  A permanent shortening of the esophagus (perhaps caused by inflammation and scarring from the reflux or regurgitation of stomach acid) which pulls the stomach up.

(2) An abnormally loose attachment of the esophagus to the diaphragm which allows the esophagus and stomach to slip upwards.    ……………………………………………………………………………..

 The Crisis of letting our kids become Obese in front of our own eyes is Obscene                                                                            

The number of obese children and teens is increasing dramatically, a trend that many health officials are now calling a public health crisis. As times are financially tougher, the sales of convenience food increases. Unfortunately, these foods have more preservatives and sugar and are relatively empty calories with little nutritional value.

Fast foods have become our lunch and sometimes dinner. Check out the sugar content which can be disguised as palm oil, sucrose, fructose, saccharine and aspartame. A lot of low-fat foods contain large amounts of sugar, especially soft drinks and yoghurts.

There should be a health warning on many of these products — parents who think they are being health conscious might be adding 10-20 spoonfuls of sugar a day to their child’s diet, leading to obesity and behavioural problems.

Children will emulate their parents and studies show that more than one third of adults are overweight. Children today are fatter than their parents were at their age and as they get older, they are likely to grow to the monstrous sizes that many Americans now attain.

Obese Children Often Become Obese Adults Size is not the only factor. Being overweight can mean higher blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels, particularly in children genetically prone to these conditions. Overweight children can suffer social and psychological stresses because they appear “different” from their peers.

The greatest risk, however comes if children remain overweight into adulthood, which studies show is a strong possibility. Obese children who become obese adults are at greater risk — at a younger age — of developing heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, gallbladder disease, arthritis and certain cancers.

intervene early “If you can intervene with overweight children before they are fully grown, you can often help them to grow into their weight and prevent them from becoming overweight adults,” explains Dr Paul Mathias, lecturer in human nutrition and consultant nutritionist at Sona Nutrition. “Some overweight children don’t need to lose weight as much as they need to gain weight at a slower rate,” he adds.

During infancy and early adolescence, fat normally increases faster than muscle. Overeating and under-activity during these times make children particularly vulnerable to excessive weight gain.

Some research supports the fat-cell theory of obesity which suggests that fat cells formed in childhood stay with you throughout life. Developing abnormally high numbers of fat cells may also increase your appetite, which makes it harder to lose weight.

What causes obesity? Weight gain among children is likely to be due to a combination of factors including poor dietary habits, genetic make-up, family lifestyle and socio-economic status. Overweight children are not necessarily over-eaters. Unfortunately, much of the food they enjoy contains high amounts of calories. An extra 200 calories a day (the amount in one can of fizzy drink!) can cause a child to gain almost one-half pound a week.

The average teen drinks gallons of soft drinks annually. School-age children have increased their consumption of these beverages by more than tenfold in the past two decades.

Inactivity Weight control involves balancing food intake with the energy burned in everyday activities. Low levels of physical activity may play a greater role in childhood obesity than eating lots of high-calorie food.

Why are children today less active? Many blame increased television viewing. Watching TV doesn’t require much energy and often is accompanied by snacking on high-calorie foods. Irish statistics show, on average, children watch 17 hours of television a week and that’s not counting the time spent playing video and computer games.

One study found the odds of being overweight were nearly five times greater for youths watching more than five hours of television per day compared with those who watched from zero to two hours per day.

According to one report, nearly half of young people aged 12 to 21 are not vigorously active. The number of schools that offer physical education classes are fewer than in the 1960s and 1970s and many children today find team sports too competitive or costly to join.

in the genes The risk of becoming obese is greatest among children who have two obese parents. Researchers studied 540 adopted Danish children, who are now adults.

They found no relationship between weight of the adoptive parents and adopted children, but there was a strong link between the weight of the adopted children and their biological parents, even though 90pc of the children had been adopted before the age of one.

The researchers concluded that genetic factors are important in determining obesity in adults and when a genetic tendency is combined with habits that promote weight gain, it’s more likely that a child will be overweight. So if obesity is common in a family, it is important to pay extra attention to diet and exercise.

It’s a family affair Weight control is not easy at any age, but it can be nearly impossible for overweight children and teenagers if loved ones make fun of them.

The whole family needs to promote healthy living in a way that is fun and inviting to the child. Parents need to practise what they preach, setting good dietary and exercise

Examples.

Sometimes, a doctor and a dietician can assess the severity of the weight problem and suggest a specific diet for your child, taking into account their nutrient needs for normal growth.

With careful, loving attention, your child can develop healthy patterns of eating and activity.         …………………………………………………………………………………………………    Monday 24th October 2011  

Mobile phone brain cancer link is rejected

By Nick TriggleHealth correspondent, BBC News                                 man uses phone

Mobile phone safety has been much debated over the past two decades

Further research has been published suggesting there is no link between mobile phones and brain cancer.

The risk mobiles present has been much debated over the past 20 years as use of the phones has soared.

The latest study led by the Institute of Cancer Epidemiology in Denmark looked at more than 350,000 people with mobile phones over an 18-year period.

Researchers concluded users were at no greater risk than anyone else of developing brain cancer.

The findings, published on the British Medical Journal website, come after a series of studies have come to similar conclusions.

‘Reassuring’But there has also been some research casting doubt on mobile phone safety, prompting the World Health Organization to warn that they could still be carcinogenic.

In doing so, the WHO put mobile phones in the same category as coffee, meaning a link could not be ruled out but could not be proved either.

The Department of Health continue to advise that anyone under the age of 16 should use mobile phones only for essential purposes and keep all calls short.

Quote

These results are the strongest evidence yet that using a mobile phone does not seem to increase the risk of cancers of the brain or central nervous system in adults”

The Danish study, which built on previous research that has already been published by carrying out a longer follow-up, found there was no significant difference in rates of brain or central nervous system cancers among those who had mobiles and those that did not.

Of the 358,403 mobile phone owners looked at, 356 gliomas (a type of brain cancer) and 846 cancers of the central nervous system were seen – both in line with incidence rates among those who did not own a mobile.

Even among those who had had mobiles the longest – 13 years or more – the risk was no higher, the researchers concluded.

But they still said mobile phone use warranted continued follow up to ensure cancers were not developing over the longer term, and to see what the effect was in children.

Hazel Nunn, head of evidence and health information at Cancer Research UK, said: “These results are the strongest evidence yet that using a mobile phone does not seem to increase the risk of cancers of the brain or central nervous system in adults.”

Prof Anders Ahlbom, from Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, praised the way the study was conducted, adding the findings were “reassuring”.

Prof David Spiegelhalter, an expert specialising in the understanding of risk who is based at the University of Cambridge, said: “The mobile phone records only go up to 1995 and so the comparison is mainly between early and late adopters, but the lack of any effect on brain tumours is still very important evidence.”

And Prof Malcolm Sperrin, director of medical physics at Royal Berkshire Hospital, said: “The findings clearly reveal that there is no additional overall risk of developing a cancer in the brain although there does seem to be some minor, and not statistically significant, variations in the type of cancer.”

But the researchers themselves do accept there were some limitations to the study, including the exclusion of “corporate subscriptions”, thereby excluding people who used their phones for business purposes, who could be among the heaviest users.    …………………………………………………………………………………………………  Wednesday 14th September 2011

“Men appear to be at a higher risk for diabetes”

            

According to a new study, men who put on excess weight are putting themselves at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The research found that men do not need to put on as much weight as women in order to develop type 2 diabetes. The research was carried out by a team from the University of Glasgow, who said this may explain why in many parts of the world, diabetes rates are higher among males.

“Previous research has indicated that middle-aged men are at a higher risk of developing diabetes than women and one possible explanation is that men have to gain less weight than women to develop the condition.

“In other words, men appear to be at higher risk for diabetes,” explained lead researcher, Prof Naveed Sattar, of the University of Glasgow.

The study looked at almost 52,000 men and over 43,000 whom all had diabetes, and measurements, such as height and weight, were recorded. Factors such as smoking and age were also taken into account.

The study found that men were more likely to develop the disease if their BMI (body mass index) was 31.8 while for women it was 33.6. “The results from this research confirm our hypothesis that men have to gain less weight to develop diabetes,” Prof Sattar explained.

The researchers believe this may be down to how fat is distributed around the body. According to Irish Health, men tend to carry more visceral or intra-abdominal fat, which is located deep under the muscle tissue in the abdomen and is considered a more dangerous type of fat. Women on the other hand tend to carry more ‘safe’ subcutaneous fat.       …………………………………………………………………………………………………

A Apple a day ‘keeps strokes away’

Could an apple a day almost halve the risk of stroke? 

Could an apple a day almost halve the risk of stroke?  It is a well known saying that ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’.

But now nutritionists say there is some truth in the assertion – and believe that eating just one apple or pear daily could half the risk of having a stroke.

Both are examples of white-fleshed fruit, which is important because that means they contain large amounts of a plant compound called quercetin.

This biochemical has been shown to reduce inflammation, which is relevant because inflammation is linked to hardening of the arteries: cardiovascular disease.

Researchers at Wageningen University in the Netherlands who studied 20,000 adults, found those who ate more white-fleshed fruit and vegetables were less likely to suffer a stroke over 10 years.

They calculated that stroke risk decreased by nine per cent for every 25g (just under one ounce) of apple or pear eaten each day.

Given that an average-sized apple or pear weighs between 100g and 125g, that means one a day would reduce stroke risk by between 36 and 45 per cent.

Linda Oude Griep, lead author of the study, published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association, said: “To prevent stroke, it may be useful to consume considerable amounts of white fruits and vegetables.

“For example, eating one apple a day is an easy way to increase white fruits and vegetable intake.

“However, other fruits and vegetable color groups may protect against other chronic diseases. Therefore, it remains of importance to consume a lot of fruits and vegetables.”

If quercetin is the active compound when it comes to stroke then there are also many others that contain lots of it, not all with white flesh. Raspberries, tomatoes, red grapes and broccoli are good sources, as are onions.

Additionally, the result could be “due to a generally healthier lifestyle of individuals consuming a diet rich in fruits and vegetables,” said Dr Heike Wersching from Institute of Epidemiology and Social Medicine at Münster University in Germany.

Stroke is the third largest cause of death in England and Wales, according to The Stroke Association, accounting for 53,000 deaths annually. Every year in Britain about 150,000 people have a stroke.

Dr Sharlin Ahmed, from The Stroke Association, said the main message from the report was that eating fruit and vegetables was good at reducing stroke risk – whatever the colour of it.

He said: ““We all know that eating plenty of fresh fruit and veg is good for our health. It’s interesting to see that fruit and vegetables with white flesh, such as apples and pears, could reduce a person’s stroke risk more so than others.

“However, this should not deter people from eating other colours of fruit and veg as they all have health benefits and remain an important part of a stable diet.

“A lot more research is needed before the colour of our groceries alone is used to determine what health benefits they may have.

“Everyone can reduce their risk of stroke by eating a healthy balanced diet that is low in saturated fat and salt, exercising regularly and ensuring that your blood pressure is checked and kept under control.”
………………………………………………….. ……………………………………………

B-vitamins may slow onset of Alzheimer’s condition, study finds    

         

Vitamins B6B12 and folic acid are three of eight essential B-vitamins

Large doses of B-vitamins could slow the cognitive decline in older people that is the precursor to dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study.

Speaking at the British Science Festival in Bradford on Tuesday, Celeste de Jager, a neuropsychologist at Oxford University, said that taking vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid in medicinal quantities reduced the overall shrinkage of a person’s brain by 30% over the course of the two-year study.

Her work, published recently in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, was carried out on 270 men and women over 70 who had mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a condition that affects one in six elderly people and which can interfere with memory, language and other mental functions. About half of the people with MCI go on to develop Alzheimer’s within five years of the initial diagnosis.

Taking B vitamins and folic acid is known to control the levels of an amino acid called homocysteine in the blood. High levels of this chemical can damage blood vessels and are associated with increased risk of dementia.

“High homocysteine is a known risk factor for cognitive decline in the elderly and Alzheimer’s disease and also for other kinds of dementia like vascular dementia,” said de Jager. “It can be damaging to the endothelial lining of the blood cells. It also binds to receptors in the brain that are on the neurons and it seems to contribute the atrophy that’s associated with Alzheimer’s.”

The elderly are more susceptible to this effect of high homocysteine, she added, because levels rise with older age, possibly due to poorer absorption of B vitamins in diet as people age.

To keep homocysteine levels down, she said, people should eat more meat, fish and green vegetables, and reduce consumption of alcohol, which is known to deplete the body of vitamin B12.

In the study, the volunteers were split into two groups, with one group given placebo pills and the second group given a cocktail of vitamins made from 0.5 milligrams of B12, 0.8mg of folic acid and 20mg of vitamin B6 – all several times more than the standard amount recommended by doctors for a healthy diet. The participants’ brains were scanned at the start of the experiment and at two years, and they went through a regular battery of cognitive tests.

Across the whole group, de Jager found that the people taking vitamins had a 30% reduced decline in brain tissue over two years compared with placebo. In people with the highest homocysteine levels in the blood at the start of the experiment, however, the vitamins provided most benefit, reducing brain shrinkage by 50% in these cases.

Rebecca Wood, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, which co-funded the study, said the results were encouraging for the use of B vitamins but larger trials would be needed to work out how protective they might be against mental decline for elderly people. “People should speak to their doctor before embarking on any vitamin plan. Follow-up clinical trials must have a particular emphasis on establishing whether B vitamins could head off conversion from MCI to Alzheimer’s.”

De Jager is already planning to extend her study to more than 1,000 people. “It will be over two years and the cognitive and clinical outcomes will be the main outcomes this time rather than brain atrophy.”

In this next experiment, de Jager will look for the effects of B vitamins on the severity of the cognitive decline in a participant, based on a clinical dementia rating scale. “Most people with MCI have a score of 0.5 on [the scale] and 1 is the first stage of Alzheimer’s disease. If we can keep people at the 0.5 or back to zero, that’s what we’re aiming at. We’re looking for a clinically meaningful change.”

Meanwhile, she warned that older people should not start consuming lots of vitamin B as a result of her work so far. “Self-dosing needs to be done with some caution because there’s some risk of re-activating cancerous cells with folic acid. Also the balance of vitamins needs to be maintained. My approach would be to check that my diet had enough B12 and the other vitamins first.”     …………………………………………………………………………………………………

Treating Anxiety early in kids cuts the risk of mental illness by 60%

            

Treating children early for anxiety would reduce their risk of developing severe mental problems in later life by 60 per cent, a new study has suggested.

It is estimated that 38.2 per cent – 165 million people – of people in Europe suffers from a mental disorder and that anxiety is the commonest.

The incidence of depression has doubled since the 1970s and the average age at onset has fallen from the mid-twenties to the late teens as adolescents lost their sense of security in a changing world, according to Professor Hans Ulrich Witten, lead author of study of the state of Europe’s mental health.

“We screen for dental caries [decay] – why not for anxiety, … because the potential treatments are so effective?” the Independent quoted him as saying.

Anxiety disorders could also be a warning sign of neurodegenerative illnesses, such as Parkinson’s disease, Professor Witten said.

Professor David Nutt, head of the department of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College, London, said: “If you can get in early you may be able to change the course of the illness so people don’t progress on to disability.”

The study has been published in the journal European Psychopharmacology. (ANI)  …………………………………………………………………………………………………

 Alcohol dulls brain into making mistakes

                  

Click this link to read more  University of Missouri, Columbia,                                                                                                                                 Why do people with above average intelligence act irrationally, especially when they are drunk?

A new study says that alcohol dulls the brain signal warning people about mistakes, reducing their self control.

“When people make mistakes, activity in a part of the brain responsible for monitoring behaviour increases… sending an alarm signal to other parts of the brain indicating that something went wrong,” said Bruce Bartholow.

Bartholow, associate professor of psychology at the University of Missouri, Columbia, and his team measured brain activity of 67 participants, aged 21-35 years, as they completed a task designed to trip them into making errors.

………………………………………………………………………………………………..  Friday 26rh August 2011

Wasting time with weights?                The best way to burn belly fat is through aerobic exercise
Want abs of steal? A new study has showed that aerobic exercise is more beneficial for belly fat loss than weigh lifting      

Breaking a sweat with weights in an effort for the perfect six pack might be a waste of time.  As a new study has found that the best way to burn belly fat is through aerobic exercise.

When researchers monitored people who did aerobics for eight months, compared to those who did just weight lifting, the former group lost almost 20 times as much fat around their stomachs.

The aerobics group lost around 2.5 square inches of belly fat, and a group that combined both aerobic and weight lifting lost only 1.5 square inches.

HIGH PROTEIN DAIRY DIETS HELP TRIM BELLY FAT

A high protein, low carbohydrate diet has long been hailed as a successful weight-loss method, but a new study has found that protein-rich dairy foods can help aid this further.

Researchers found that those consuming higher-protein, high-dairy diets experienced more abdominal fat loss and the greatest amount of whole-body fat.

The study monitored three groups of obese and overweight pre-menopausal women – each group undertaking either a low, medium or high amount of dairy foods along with high or low amounts of protein and carbohydrates.

The women then took part in aerobic exercise five times a week and circuit weightlifting two days a week over a four month period.

Researchers found that the women on higher-protein, high dairy group lost the greatest amount of whole-body fat and belly fat.

The lead author of the study, Andrea Josse, from the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster University, said: ‘100 per cent of the weight loss in the higher-protein, high-dairy group was fat.

‘And the participants gained muscle mass, which is a major change in body composition.

‘The preservation or even gain of muscle is very important for maintaining metabolic rate and preventing weight regain, which can be a major problem for many seeking to lose weight.’

The study will be published in the Journal of Nutrition in September.

Researcher Cris Slentz at Duke University in North Carolina, USA, who undertook the study, said: ‘Resistance training is great for improving strength  and increasing lead body mass.

‘But aerobic exercise is better for losing belly fat because it burns more 

The study also concluded that those who combined weight lifting and aerobics didn’t see any further health benefits than those who only did aerobic, in terms of insulin resistance and liver fat, Live Science reported.

The researchers therefore found that aerobic exercise alone is more beneficial for obese and overweight individuals.

Researchers defined ‘belly fat’ as visceral fat, which is found deep in the stomach that surrounds the internal organs, as opposed to subcutaneous fat that is found underneath the skin.

Visceral fat poses more of a threat to health, as it lies closer to the organs and is associated with diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.

The study at Duke University, which will be published in the American Journal of Physiology Endocrinology and Metabolism, looked at 196 overweight, sedentary adults between the ages of 18 and 70, who were divided into the three exercise groups.

Mr Slentz added: ‘When it comes to increased health risks, where fat is deposited in the body is more important than how much fat you have.

‘What really counts is how much exercise you do, how many miles you walk and how many calories you burn.

‘If you choose to walk at a lower aerobic intensity, it will simply take longer to burn the same amount of unhealthy fat.’      …………………………………………………………………………………………………

Neanderthal sex boosted immunity in the modern human being

        

Sexual relations between ancient humans and their evolutionary cousins are critical for our modern immune systems, researchers reportin Science journal.

Mating with Neanderthals and another ancient group called Denisovans introduced genes that help us cope with viruses to this day, they conclude.

Previous research had indicated that prehistoric interbreeding led to up to 4% of the modern human genome.

The new work identifies stretches of DNA derived from our distant relatives.

In the human immune system, the HLA (human leucocyte antigen) family of genes plays an important role in defending against foreign invaders such as viruses.

The authors say that the origins of some HLA class 1 genes are proof that our ancient relatives interbred with Neanderthals and Denisovans for a period.

Continue reading the main story

Getting these genes by mating would have given an advantage to populations that acquired them”

At least one variety of HLA gene occurs frequently in present day populations from West Asia, but is rare in Africans.

The researchers say that is because after ancient humans left Africa some 65,000 years ago, they started breeding with their more primitive relations in Europe, while those who stayed in Africa did not.

“The HLA genes that the Neanderthals and Denisovans had, had been adapted to life in Europe and Asia for several hundred thousand years, whereas the recent migrants from Africa wouldn’t have had these genes,” said study leader Peter Parham from Stanford University School of Medicine in California.

“So getting these genes by mating would have given an advantage to populations that acquired them.”

When the team looked at a variant of HLA called HLA-B*73 found in modern humans, they found evidence that it came from cross-breeding with Denisovans.

Scanty remains   While Neanderthal remains have been found in many sites across Europe and Asia, Denisovans are known from only a finger and a tooth unearthed at a single site in Russia, though genetic evidence suggests they ranged further afield.

Infographic

“Our analysis is all done from one individual, and what’s remarkable is how informative that has been and how our data looking at these selected genes is very consistent and complimentary with the whole genome-wide analysis that was previously published,” said Professor Parham.

A similar scenario was found with HLA gene types in the Neanderthal genome.

“We are finding frequencies in Asia and Europe that are far greater than the whole genome estimates of archaic DNA in modern humans, which is 1-6%,” said Professor Parham.

The scientists estimate that Europeans owe more than half their variants of one class of HLA gene to interbreeding with Neanderthals and Denisovans.

Asians owe up to 80%, and Papua New Guineans up to 95%.   ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~   Thursday 25th August 2011

Kidney transplants to hit a new record

   

The number of kidney transplants taking place in Ireland looks set to reach a new record this year, Beaumont Hospital has said.

According to the hospital, which houses the national renal transplantation team, 111 kidney transplants have already taken place this year. This is already close to the figure of 121, which was the number of kidney transplants that was carried out for the whole of 2010.

The hospital said that this ‘increased level of activity suggests that the full year out-turn for 2011 could well exceed the previous record of 172 kidney transplants in 2009′.

“The living related donor (LRD) programme is gaining momentum. Two more renal transplant surgeons have recently been trained in laproscopic (keyhole) techniques and up to 70 potential donors are likely to be evaluated under the LRD programme this year. It is likely Beaumont will complete in the order of 30 living donor transplants this year, which would be a significant increase on last year’s figure of 23,” explained the hospital’s clinical director of nephrology, urology and transplantation, Prof Peter Conlon.

He noted that there is also a ‘growing understanding by the public of the enormous benefits of donation’. Furthermore, an increasing number of acute hospitals are also participating more by helping to identify and support potential donors and their families.

In response to this, the national renal transplantation team has developed two new guides, in the form of videos and booklets, aimed at informing the public more about kidney transplants.

The first, Kidney Transplantation – A Guide for Patients, explains what is involved with a transplant, including the risks and benefits.

The second, Thinking About Donating a Kidney? is aimed at potential living donors. It provides information on all of the procedures involved and also explains the benefits and risks   ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~  Saturday 20th August 2011                                                                            

Six quick tips for a Healthy body      

     

We all want a beach bod before the summer is up. So here are six-6-pack tips to turn that party keg into a lean muscle machine.

Wake up with water
According to the Germans, and let’s not contradict them, drinking at least 500ml of cold water as soon as you wake up will boost your metabolism by around 25 per cent for 90 minutes after consumption. Another study also proved that muscle cells grow faster when they’re hydrated. Drink at least three litres over the course of a day and you’ll be on your way to 6-pack heaven. It’s not all that easy, but this one’s simple.
Eat small regular meals
Small balanced meals help to regulate blood sugar levels, which in turn will minimise unnecessary insulin release. Everyone has abs – to showcase them in their best light, it’s just a matter of getting rid of the layer of fat in front of them. Make sure to pack a lunch and don’t be afraid to have a snack at your desk. Provided it’s an apple or a (small) piece of cheese, of course. Eating out for lunch can destroy your hard work so if you do, make sure it will aid you rather than hinder you.
Sit-ups alone won’t help
Sadly, sit-ups alone won’t help you get that washboard six-pack you want. Try changing it up and make things more balanced. Do 30 reps of sit-ups and then change to sit-up curls. This is where you touch your right elbow off your left knee as you come up and vice-versa. Then try leg rises, where you elevate your legs and finally planks. Planks are easy to start with but a few minutes will separate the men from the boys. Get into the press-up position and hold it for as long as you can, without going overboard.
Don’t go overboard
Too much is never enough for some people. But when it comes to exercise, too much can often bring about disastrous consequences. You often hear of sports stars doing hundreds or thousands of sit-ups a day, but you won’t get there overnight and if you try to do too much it could have a negative impact, by impacting on your motivation and confidence. As with the plank, make sure you work on your core before trying something that looks simple but could only end up causing you some damage. So start small. Build those building blocks.
Good posture, better abs
Those varied sit-ups are the best way to strengthen your core. However, bad posture while you’re doing them can end up causing more damage than good. Keep your shoulders back and your elbows outstretched to reap the full benefits of sit-ups. Alternatively, you can work on your balance and strengthen your posture by using an oversized exercise ball. Or a Swiss ball as it’s known to the purists.
Prioritise in the gym
Some people tend to leave their abdominal workout until the end of a cardio workout. But by this time you’re weak and tired and you wont get the same benefits and satisfaction as you should. So try doing your abdominal routine before you start hard cardio. Make sure to warm up before you do anything too difficult, but by making this small change you could gain plenty in the long run.   ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~  Tuesday 16th August 201

VHI warns of 30,000 undetected diabetes cases        

http://www.diabetes.ie/Website/content/default.aspx DFOI Website

Donie says:                                                                                                                                                I have type 1 Diabetes for the last 41 years and I am very aware of the causes that can lead to more of our population in Ireland getting Diabetes, like Obesity,  genetic predisposition to diabetes and our non disciplined regime of diet. So I am not surprised by the VHI findings.  

VHI Healthcare has said there are potentially 30,000 cases of undetected diabetes and 146,000 cases of undetected pre-diabetes in Ireland.

The details are part of the screening programme published today.

Since 2009, VHI Healthcare has operated a screening research project for type 2 diabetes, which is the non-insulin dependent form of the disease.

19,000 people have been screened so far and, according to the results released today, over 2,400 people had either diabetes or pre-diabetes.

Dr Bernadette Carr, VHI’s medical director, said it pointed to a diabetes epidemic in the years ahead.

Extrapolating the figures to the Irish population of 45 to 75 year olds, the company says that there are potentially 30,000 cases of undetected diabetes and 146,000 cases of undetected pre-diabetes in Ireland.

It plans to re-screen 1,300 people who were identified previously as being at high-risk of developing diabetes, to see if their risk has reduced.

VHI plans to conduct a further 5,000 screenings this year.

What is the difference between Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes?
Characteristics of
the condition:
Type 1 Diabetes Type 2 Diabetes

Risk Factors: 
Very Different

Having another auto-immune condition. Having a parent or sibling with type 1 diabetes combined with environmental factors and a common infection which may trigger onset.

Poor diet.  Being overweight.  Being sedentary.  Genetics.  Being over the age of 45.  Belonging to high-risk ethnic group.  If you had gestational diabetes or a baby weighing over 9 pounds.  Certain medications.

Symptoms: 
Some overlapping

Fast onset of extremely high blood sugar levels which cause weight loss, hunger, fatigue, thirst and frequent urination.

High blood sugar, thirst, waking in the middle of the night to urinate, fatigue, high blood pressure, urinary tract infection, neuropathy. But may also have no symptoms or just mild thirst or repeated infections.

Nature of Illness:
Very Different

Autoimmune condition, your cells kill off your insulin-producing (beta) cells.  Body no longer makes insulin.

Insulin-inefficiency.  Body makes insulin, but it isn’t used properly by the body or is not enough to meet body demand.

Onset: 
Very Different

Quick onset:  Generally within a few weeks or months.

Slow onset:  May be several years after blood sugars begin to rise.   On average, 12 years pass between onset and diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.

Treatment: 
Same to varying
degree

Intense daily self-management of insulin to balance food intake or exercise. Must take multiple injections of insulin or infusion through insulin pump.

Daily self-management of food intake, exercise and medication. Over time roughly 40% may need to use insulin injections.

Age when you get it:
Typically different

Typically early childhood or teenage years, but can occur at any age.

Typically adults, but can occur at any age.

Numbers of Ireland:
Very different

c. 14,000 – 16,000 persons.

c. 160,000 – 180,000 persons.

Complications:
Same but to varying
degrees

Short term complications give risk to acute emergencies such as hypoglycemia and ketoacidosis. Long term exposure to low blood sugar levels can cause hypoglycemic unawareness. Long term exposure to high blood sugar levels can cause blood vessel damage. Blood vessel damage can cause blindness, retinopathy, heart disease, kidney disease, and foot problems including amputation and earlier mortality.

Many people at diagnosis of diabetes may have already had up to 12 years exposure to long term high blood glucose levels and have complications at diagnosis i.e. damage to large and small blood vessels throughout the body which causes blindness, retinopathy, heart disease, kidney disease, amputation, gastroparesis, earlier mortality.

Is it preventable?
Very Different

No.

Yes, up to 58% with healthy diet and keeping weight in control.

Is it reversible?
Very Different

No.

No, but type 2 diabetes is more easily managed, for many by loosing excessive weight and with healthy diet

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

15-minute daily exercise is ‘bare minimum for good health

http://www.vertex42.com/Files/Exercise-Log_3days.pdf  Click link for PDF log sheet.  Just 15 minutes of exercise a day can boost life expectancy by three years and cut death risk by 14%, research from Taiwan suggests.

Experts in The Lancet say this is the least amount of activity an adult can do to gain any health benefit.

This is about half the quantity currently recommended in the UK.

Meanwhile, work in the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests a couch potato lifestyle with six hours of TV a day cuts lifespan by five years.

The UK government recently updated its exercise advice to have a more flexible approach, recommending adults get 150 minutes of activity a week.

This could be a couple of 10-minute bouts of activity every day or 30-minute exercise sessions, five times a week, for example.

Experts say this advice still stands, but that a minimum of 15 minutes a day is a good place to start for those who currently do little or no exercise.

You can get good gains with relatively small amounts of physical activity. More is always better, but less is a good place to start”

Prof Stuart Biddle, an expert in exercise psychology at Loughborough University

The Lancet study, based on a review of more than 400,000 people in Taiwan, showed 15 minutes per day or 90 minutes per week of moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, can add three years to your life.

And people who start to do more exercise tend to get a taste for it and up their daily quota, the researchers from the National Health Research Institutes, Taiwan, and China Medical University Hospital found.

More exercise led to further life gains. Every additional 15 minutes of daily exercise further reduced all-cause death rates by 4%.  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Saturday 13th August 2011      

Red meats increases type 2 diabetes risk

        

Type 2 Diabetes  People who eat a lot of red meat, especially processed meat, may be at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, a new study has found.

US researchers carried out a detailed analysis of a number of long-term studies that involved over 440,000 people. Among these, more than 28,000 developed type 2 diabetes.

They found that those who ate a 100g serving of unprocessed red meat every day had a 19% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. However, those who ate a 50g serving of processed meat every day, such as two rashers or one hot dog, saw their risk jump by 51%.

“Clearly, the results from this study have huge public health implications given the rising type 2 diabetes epidemic and increasing consumption of red meats worldwide. The good news is that such troubling risk factors can be offset by swapping red meat for a healthier protein,” commented lead researcher, Prof Frank Hu, of the Harvard School of Public Health.

In fact, the study showed that if people replaced one serving of red meat per day with a serving of nuts, their risk of developing type 2 diabetes fell by 21%, while replacing a meat serving with a serving of whole grains lowered the risk by 23%.

The researchers called on people to significantly reduce their intake of processed red meats, such as rashers, sausages and ham, and replace at least some unprocessed meat servings with healthier options, such as whole grains, nuts and fish.

Details of these findings are published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

Multiple sclerosis genes are identified in largest-ever study of the disease

Computer-generated image of the DNA double helix

Computer-generated image of the DNA double helix. The study compared DNA from 9,772 people with MS with that from 17,376 healthy people. 

Most of the newly discovered multiple sclerosis (MS) gene variants are involved in the body’s immune system

Scientists have discovered 29 new gene variants that are implicated inmultiple sclerosis, following the largest ever study of the genetics of the disease.

The genes are involved in controlling parts of the body’s immune system, confirming research strategies and pointing to possible treatments for people who develop MS. The discoveries more than double the list of parts of the human genome that researchers believe contribute to the disease.

MS is one of the most common diseases of the nervous system, affecting more than 2.5 million people around the world. It is caused by damage to the protective insulation around nerve fibres, called the myelin sheath, preventing the nerves from working properly. This can affect everyday activities including sight, walking, thinking and control of organs.

In the latest study, led by Alastair Compston from the University of Cambridge, scientists looked at 600,000 locations in the DNA from 9,772 people with MS and compared it with those of 17,376 unrelated healthy people.

It is the largest-ever study into the disease, involving 250 researchers in the International Multiple Sclerosis Genetics Consortium and the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium. The results were published on Wednesday in Nature.

The first gene to be linked to MS, called HLA, was found in the early 1970s. Since then, several more genes have been implicated. In the Nature paper, researchers confirmed the involvement of 23 previously suspected gene variants and found 29 new variants. A further five variants were identified as strong candidates for future studies of the disease.

“The genes implicated by these 57 regions tell a very coherent story,” said Compston. “There is a narrative that goes across these which is extremely informative – the story is immunological – 80% of the genes within the regions implicated are intimately involved in the workings of the immune response. This puts immunology right at the front end of the disease, unambiguously.”

Many of the genes identified by Compston’s team are involved in the function of T-cells, a type of immune cell that is responsible for destroying foreign invaders. Of the new gene variants found for MS, around a third have already been linked to a range of autoimmune conditions, where the T-cells malfunction and start attacking the body’s own cells, such as Crohn’s disease and Type 1 diabetes.

The findings also confirm some of the research scientists had already been pursuing. Four of the gene variants for MS are directly associated with drugs that are either already licensed or in clinical trials.  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~  Wednesday 10th August 2011

Dieting forces brain to eat itself, scientists claim   Dieting forces brain to eat itself                                                          A cross-section of our human brain 

Dieters struggle to lose weight because a lack of nutrition forces their brain cells to eat themselves, making the feeling of hunger even stronger, scientists claim.

Like other parts of the body, brain cells begin to eat themselves as a last-ditch source of energy to ward off starvation, a study found.

The body responds by producing fatty acids, which turn up the hunger signal in the brain and increase our impulse to eat.

Researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University in New York said the findings could lead to new scientifically proven weight loss treatments.

Tests on mice found that stopping the brain cells from eating themselves – a process known as autophagy – prevented levels of hunger from rising in response to starvation.

The chemical change in their brains caused the mice to become lighter and slimmer after a period of fasting, the researchers reported in the journal Cell Metabolism.    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 Why do some caregivers cope better than some others?

I was quite sure my last blog would create a wide and strong range of opinions, and indeed it did. A few of you were somewhat critical that I attempted to make “lemonade out of lemons.” In many ways you’re right, as that is the approach I choose.

I’ve been deeply involved with caregivers for over a decade. Most have devastating and heart-wrenching stories related to a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease. For each of them, the progressive nature of the disease takes its toll — no one with Alzheimer’s disease gets better.

The challenges and difficulties caregivers are met with can be similar. However, what differs vastly among caregivers is their acceptance of the situation, the ways in which they respond and ultimately cope. I believe you can choose acceptance, choose how to respond to a situation and choose how you cope. And it’s these choices that can bring more ease to life even in the worst of circumstances.

Let me tell you a bit about Mary. I have known Mary for several years. She and her husband Roger have been involved in our early stage programs and Mary has been coming to a support group for over 2 years. Here’s a comment Mary made in our support group not long ago (paraphrased):

“When is there going to be a program or a place where trained professionals would meet with my husband Roger to get him to understand why he can’t drive? I think there needs to be a place where I can take him where they would get through to him, so I don’t have these battles every day. I explain to Roger all day long why he can’t drive. I tell him he needs to talk with our daughter about his driving. I show him the results from his cognitive evaluation, and he still thinks he should drive. He doesn’t want to listen!”

Clearly, Mary feels cheated that no one will come to her rescue and get her husband to understand. I can see and feel the frustration and anger that spill out of Mary. Getting through to Mary and the reality that there’s no getting through to her husband with Alzheimer’s disease continues to be arduous work.

Mary is not alone. Almost all caregivers deal with issues of acceptance. It’s part of the burden of Alzheimer’s disease that it changes the brain and consequently the behaviors of the person you love. It’s often these changed behaviors that are hardest to accept. Naturally, you want to fight it. You want the person to be as he or she once was.

In the face of the challenging behaviors brought on by Alzheimer’s disease, how does one cope? Why is it that some caregivers seem to cope better than others? How can one find ease in such a devastating situation? These are real and honest questions that none of us can easily answer.

However, I’ve found that when care-givers begin to understand the truth in the following statements, they’ve taken a pivotal step toward being better able to cope:

  • People with dementia experience loss and loss of control. Feeling out of control naturally leads to behaviors of agitation, irritability, anger and depression. The more often caregivers tell the person what he or she can’t do, the more the behaviors tend to escalate.
  • Dementia symptoms include a decline in the ability to communicate effectively through words, so behaviors such as irritability and aggression fill the void. In other words, there’s a message behind the behavior.
  • People with dementia are not lying, lazy, aloof or disengaged. Rather they can’t remember or process information because of the changes in their brain.
  • Lack of insight into one’s limitations is a common symptom of Alzheimer’s disease. People with Alzheimer’s disease often can’t admit something is wrong with them. This is due to how the disease affects their brain.
  • The physical changes in the brain cause new behaviors that people with Alzheimer’s disease aren’t able to control. They aren’t choosing to be behave this way.

It’s common for caregivers to blame or be upset with the person with dementia for not doing what they want or ask. Yet, the truth is you can’t force someone with Alzheimer’s disease to remember or learn, nor can you expect that logic will change their behavior.

When and if you believe these statements to be true, you begin to relieve yourself of some excess pain. And for most caregivers, a little more ease is a welcome gift.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Monday 1st August 2011-

Today FM DJ Tony Fenton tells of prostate cancer battle and warns other Men-

Entertainment News

Popular DJ Tony Fenton has admitted that his absence from Today FM was arranged in order for him to travel to Germany to receive cancer treatment.

Many of the staff at Today FM believed that their weekday afternoon presenter was on holiday, but the veteran DJ was undergoing surgery abroad to treat prostatre cancer.

In March he received the all-clear for a malignant melanoma on his leg that he’d discovered in Novemeber 2010. But in May of this year he underwent tests that showed he had prostate cancer.
“In May, the doctor said there was a low level in the standard blood tests for prostate cancer, but that I should maybe leave it a few months and come back again,” he has told the Sunday Independent, speaking of his ordeal for the first time.
“But I wanted more tests done as soon as possible. The tests proved I had cancer. I was flabbergasted.
“I was told I had several options, one of which involved going to Germany to have the prostate completely removed.
“I was told of a Professor Stolzenborg in Leipzig, who had a 95 per cent success rate. I then met a former GAA footballer who had gone to him for the same operation and he is now perfect.
“I decided to take six weeks off work and went over to Germany four weeks ago. I spent just 10 days in hospital and then came home.”
50-year-old Fenton says he’s in no pain, feeling well and is keen to get back to work.
The removal of a man’s prostate can cause incontinence and impotence, but the procedure undertaken in Germany by the DJ has avoided these problems.
“The secret is that the professor leaves as many nerve endings in place as possible. My GAA friend told me that he was making love to his wife four weeks after his operation,” Fenton says.
He is urging men in Ireland to be proactive about dealing with the issue of prostate cancer. The illness affects one in 12 Irishmen over the course of their lifetime, but in many cases need not be fatal.   ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 topad Courtesy of irishhealth.com  GRASS POLLEN FORECAST   Friday, 29 July 2011               The irishhealth.com pollen and airborne allergen forecasts use data licensed to us by the UK National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit’s network.

These forecasts can assist people who suffer from asthma and allergic rhinitis to plan their activities. The forecasting service provides an index of the risk of being affected by airborne allergic pollens. 

General Outlook: Saturday and Sunday: The weather over the weekend looks like it will be changeable, with bands of rain moving in from the Atlantic which will supress pollen counts. However, there are also expected to be some spells of warm sunshine when there will be a risk of pollen counts increasing to moderate.

Pollen grains from grasses are the most important aeroallergen in Ireland. Grass pollen affects up to about 95% of hay fever sufferers. Grass pollen counts are decreasing as the end of the grass pollen season approaches. However, there is a continued risk of moderate grass pollen counts until late July or early August, particularly more northerly areas where grasses tend to flower later.

Weed pollen is also an important aeroallergen affecting about 20% of hay fever sufferers. There are likely to be low to moderate weed pollen counts when conditions are suitable. Artemisia species (e.g. mugwort) and Chenopodium (goosefoot) flower during late summer,  But there will also be pollen from Urticaceae (Nettle family) and Plantago (Plantain) in the air during good weather. The pollen seasons of allergenic trees have now ended.    ******************************************************************

Diabetes: Started in ancient Egypt, now a modern pandemic                                           

An article from NutraIngredients.com                                                 It has been called a pandemic and a silent killer: Diabetes is a growing specter for public health agencies across the world. In the first part of our special series on diabetes, NutraIngredients examines the underlying condition and gets a grip on how big the issue is.

The History 

Diabetes is not a new disease, being first documented in 1550BC in Egypt. Back then diabetes, or what the historians believe was diabetes, was described as a rare disease. According to an exhibition on diabetes and endocrinology by the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (Scotland), an Egyptian manuscript mentions “the passing of too much urine”, which historians take as the first reference to diabetes.

We had to wait a further 1600 years for a complete clinical description and name for the condition, when the Greek physician Aretaeus used the word diabetes (from the Greek meaning ‘siphon’) and noted “the excessive amount of urin e which passed through the kidneys”.

The condition may have been rare 3,500 years ago, but it is not anymore. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), diabetes affects over 220 million people globally and the consequences of high blood sugar kill 3.4 million every year. If such statistics weren’t scary enough, the WHO is predicting deaths to double between 2005 and 2030.

The total costs associated with the condition in the US alone are thought to be as much as $174 billion, with $116 billion being direct costs from medication, according to 2005-2007 American Diabetes Association figures.

Three Types

The condition exists in various types, most notably type-1, type-2, and gestational. All types are characterized by excessive levels of glucose in the blood because the pancreas does not produce enough or any insulin, a hormone that facilitates the uptake of glucose by the cells. It may also be that the insulin does not function adequately, a condition known as insulin resistance.

Type-1 diabetes occurs when people are not able to produce any insulin after the cells in the pancreas have been damaged, thought to be an autoimmune response. The disease is most common among people of European descent, with around two million Europeans and North Americans affected.

The development of high blood sugar levels during pregnancy, called gestational diabetes, is known to boost a woman’s risk of subsequently developing type-2 diabetes, as well as putting the offspring at increased risk of childhood obesity and diabetes as they get older.

Type-2 diabetes – which reportedly accounts for at least 90 percent of cases – traditionally occurs in people over 40, a statistic that is changing:

A recent article in The Lancet by scientists from Australia, Denmark, and Canada noted that: “Until 1990, type-2 diabetes was seldom seen in young people and in pregnant women, but this is no longer the case.

“In some countries type 2 diabetes is still rare in children and adolescents, for instance in Germany, where prevalence is 2.3 per 100 000 in people aged 0-20 years. The incidence of type-2 diabetes in young people has, however, become greater than that of type-1 diabetes in some ethnic groups, as seen in the USA (12.1 vs 7.4 per 100 000 in Asians and Pacific Islanders aged under 20 years, and 19.0 vs 15.7 per 100 000 in African Americans aged 0-19 years).

 “In young people type-2 diabetes associated with obesity frequently remains undiagnosed and is difficult to manage”. (July 2011, Vol. 378, Pages 169-181)

How to stop it?

Diet and exercise are seen as key to the prevention of developing type-2 diabetes. The WHO states simply: “Healthy diet, regular physical activity, maintaining a normal body weight and avoiding tobacco use can prevent or delay the onset of type-2 diabetes”.

Studies have indicated that specific nutrients may offer benefits for people at risk of diabetes, or already living with the condition. To date, the most widely reported nutrients include chromium, magnesium, calcium, potassium, vitamin B3, and antioxidants such as vitamin C, E and selenium.

Oxidative stress has been reported to be a key driver in the onset of insulin resistance, while diabetes itself is associated with increased levels of oxidative stress, and this can promote the development of diabetes-related complications (Journal of Biochemical and Molecular Toxicology, 2003, Vol. 17, pp. 24-38).

The Glycemic Index (GI) is also highlighted as a means of controlling blood sugar levels, since slow release carbohydrates – those with a low GI – may help balance blood sugar levels.

Commenting on supplements versus foods, the American Diabetes Association states: “There isn’t research that clearly points to supplementation, so always think first about getting your nutrients from foods”.

Gut feeling

There has also been a proposed microbial element to diabetes. Preliminary data from Denmark indicated that bacterial populations in the gut of diabetics differ from non-diabetics.

The study, reportedly the first to look at intestinal microbiota in humans with and without type-2 diabetes, was published in the open-access peer-reviewed journal PLoS ONE.

“Our data suggest that the levels of glucose tolerance or severity of diabetes should be considered while linking microbiota with obesity and other metabolic diseases in humans,” wrote researchers from the University of Copenhagen.

“It is especially important for developing the strategies to modify the gut microbiota in order to control metabolic diseases, since obesity and diabetes might be associated with different bacterial populations,” they added.                   #                    #                       #                         #                         #                         #                       #

The dietary and nutritional approaches to benefit people at risk from diabetes, and people already living with the condition, will be considered tomorrow in part two of NutraIngredients’ special edition on diabetes.

Smoking costing economy €365m a year, says Minister   

SMOKING COSTS the Irish economy at least €l million a day in lost productivity, according to Minister of State for Health Róisín Shortall.

She has warned it will cost the health service more than €23 billion over the next decade if there is no progress in cutting the numbers who smoke, now 29 per cent of the population. “That would pay the entire cost of running our health services for almost two years,” she told the Dáil.

Ms Shortall was introducing legislation to allow graphic pictorial as well as text warnings on cigarette packets, illustrating the health consequences of smoking. The Minister, who has responsibility for primary care, said premature deaths from tobacco use here “are far greater than the combined death toll from car accidents, fires, heroin, cocaine, murder and suicide”.

She said smoking was the “greatest single cause of preventable illness and premature death in Ireland”, killing more than 5,700 people a year.

When implemented, the Public Health (Tobacco) (Amendment) Bill gives the Minister authority to introduce regulations making it obligatory for cigarette and tobacco packets to carry one of 14 images illustrating the health consequences of smoking.

Ms Shortall said: “The brand imagery of the tobacco package is the foundation upon which all other marketing is built”. It played an even greater role in countries like Ireland where “traditional forms of advertising, promotion and sponsorship are restricted”.

A World Health Organisation report showed that in Australia, when graphic health warnings were introduced, more than half of smokers believed “they had an increased risk of dying from a smoking-related illness, with 38 per cent feeling motivated to quit”. International research showed “smokers are more likely to remember a health consequence of smoking, when smoking, if they have seen a picture”.

More than 50 per cent of Canadian smokers said warnings “compelled them to smoke less around other people” and 31 per cent of ex-smokers in a further study said photographic and text warnings had motivated them to quit.

The Minister said it was “critical” health warnings on tobacco packages “counteract the promotion of these products”. With the pictures, smokers are “potentially exposed to the warnings 7,300 times a year”. She stressed full colour-picture based health warnings on tobacco products were far more effective than text only.

“Pictorial health warnings on tobacco products make them less attractive and target smokers by providing them with information on tobacco-related health risks.”

Research showed the chosen photos had different impacts depending on age group and sex. A picture of a wizened apple particularly affected women aged 18 to 35 who could see the skin damage caused, while impotency was found to particularly affect younger male smokers.

Ireland is in the top rank internationally for its comprehensive range of legislation, but despite this and the widespread knowledge of the harm caused, 29 per cent of the population smokes – “a prevalence rate that has remained stubbornly high”, Ms Shortall said.                                                                                                                                            ***************************************************************                                 Wednesday 13th July 2011

Men’s health  By Mayo Clinic staff  Mayo Clinic

Do you know the top men’s health threats?                                                          The list is surprisingly short — including heart disease, cancer and unintentional injury. Thankfully, most men’s health threats are largely preventable. Make healthy lifestyle choices, such as eating a healthy diet and including physical activity in your daily routine. It’s also important to manage risky behavior, such as drinking too much and engaging in casual sex. Of course, common-sense precautions — such as using safety ladders and wearing a seat belt — count, too.   

As you get older, your men’s health concerns are likely to change. Could a beer gut lead to health problems? Is male menopause a myth or a true men’s health issue? Could testosterone therapy help you feel young again? Get answers to these and other men’s health questions.

Belly fat in men: Why weight loss matters?

Belly fat is nothing to joke about. Find out what causes belly fat, the health risks it poses for men and what you can do to lose the extra pounds.

If you’re carrying a few extra pounds, you’re not alone. But this is one case where following the crowd isn’t a good idea. Carrying extra weight — especially belly fat — can be risky.

Michael Jensen, M.D., an endocrinology specialist at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., answers common questions about belly fat in men.

Why is belly fat a concern for men?

People who gain belly fat are at greater risk of serious health problems, even death, than are people who accumulate fat in other areas — and men are more likely than women to gain weight around the waist. Regardless of your overall weight, having a large amount of belly fat increases your risk of:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Some types of cancer
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Insulin resistance
  • High triglycerides
  • Low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good,” cholesterol
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Sleep apnea

How can you tell if you have too much belly fat?

Your waist size is a good indicator of whether you have too much belly fat. Although measurements that compare your hip and waist circumference (waist-to-hip ratio) or compare your height and weight (body mass index) are more precise, your waist size alone can give you a good estimate. For most men, the risk factors for heart disease and other diseases increase with a waist size greater than 40 inches (102 centimeters).

To measure your waist:

  • Place a tape measure around your bare abdomen just above your hipbone.
  • Pull the tape measure until it fits snugly around you but doesn’t push into your skin.
  • Make sure the tape measure is level all the way around.
  • Relax, exhale and measure your waist — no sucking in your belly!

Does age play a role in gaining belly fat?

As you age, you lose muscle — especially if you’re not physically active. Muscle loss can slow the rate at which your body burns calories. In turn, if you don’t limit your calories or increase your physical activity, you may gain weight.

Belly fat in men: Why weight loss matters, 

Is belly fat inherited?

Your genes can affect your chances of being overweight or obese, as well as where you carry extra fat on your body. For most men, however, the problem likely has more to do with lifestyle than inherited traits.

Can you really get a beer belly from drinking?

Drinking excess alcohol can cause you to gain belly fat — the “beer belly.” However, beer alone isn’t to blame. Drinking too much alcohol of any kind can increase belly fat, although some research suggests wine may be an exception. If you drink alcohol, do so only in moderation. The less you drink, the fewer calories you’ll consume and the less likely you’ll be to gain belly fat.

How do you get rid of belly fat?

Whether you’re trying to lose belly fat or trim fat from another part of your body, weight-loss basics remain the same:

  • Reduce calories. Slim down your portion sizes. Replace your usual fare with healthy foods that contain fewer calories. At restaurants, share with your buddies — or eat half your meal and take the rest home for another day.
  • Increase physical activity. For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, in addition to strength training. You may need to do more to lose weight and keep it off. If you can’t set aside time for longer workouts, try shorter spurts of activity throughout the day. Start with a walk after dinner or a game of catch with your kids.

After you shed excess pounds, maintain your weight loss with a healthy diet and regular physical activity.

Can you reduce belly fat with sit-ups?

Sit-ups help make your abdominal muscles stronger, but spot exercises alone won’t specifically reduce belly fat. The best way to shrink your waist size is to lower your total body fat through healthy eating and regular physical activity.

Remember, you can lose belly fat — it just takes patience and effort. In fact, shedding even a few extra pounds can help you feel better and lower your risk of health problems.

Please remember The Mayo Clinic is one of the best On-line  Access medical professional services. Connect to research and education. See clinical trials and publications.

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Tuesday 12th July 2011

Owners of a nursing home in Sligo say there is no risk of the home closing

 

The owners of a nursing home in Sligo say there is no risk of the facility closing.

 Mowlam Healthcare Ltd, which has a nursing home in Ballytivan in Sligo – are refuting claims that they are in any financial difficulty.

A spokesperson for the company says they made a profit of 1.6 million euro last year compared to over 850 thousand euro the year before.

Statements made today that the news that two former directors of the company- John Shee and Joe Hanrahan- are in financial difficulty, however they say they are no longer connected with Mowlam Healthcare.

They say they want to allay any fears of the residents in the Sligo facility and say the former director’s financial situation will not have an impact on the Sligo home.

The statement goes on to say Mowlam Health Care is happy to confirm that its Sligo nursing home is operating to the highest standards set out by Health Information and Quality Authority.  They say the Authority did raise some issues in 2009 which have been fully resolved and has recently awarded registration to the nursing home

 The Mowlam Healthcare Group, which has its headquarters in Limerick, operates 16 nursing homes in the State with a capacity of more than 900 beds.                                                                                                               *       *       *       *      *        *         *                                       Meanwhile in a report from the Irish Times Tuesday 5th July states that 

Profit doubles at Mowlam Nursing home’s care firm

PROFIT ALMOST doubled last year at the State’s largest provider of private nursing home care for elderly people.

Mowlam Healthcare says profit jumped to €1.6 million in 2010 compared to €850,752 in the previous year.

The Mowlam Healthcare Group, which has its headquarters in Limerick, operates 16 nursing homes in the State with a capacity of more than 900 beds.

Turnover at the group increased by 17 per cent to €30.2 million last year, according to the figures released yesterday.

The company created 123 jobs in 2010, ending the year with 803 people employed.

“We continue to see an increasing demand for quality nursing home care in custom-designed facilities,” company chairman Pat Shanahan said. It noted that 2010 had been “a positive year, with increased turnover, employee numbers and an increase in profit to €1.6 million”.

He said the company was pleased the Government had “reaffirmed its commitment to funding the nursing home support scheme, Fair Deal.

“This enables our elderly, often vulnerable citizens to access high quality, affordable healthcare with ease,” he added.

Mr Shanahan also noted the positive work done by the Health Information Quality Authority (Hiqa) in nursing home facilities. The agency raised issues regarding the group’s Sligo home.

“We continue to work closely with Hiqa to constantly improve the standards across the nursing home care sector, including the provision of social activities and therapies,” he said.

Mr Shanahan said the company’s profit allowed it to reinvest “in improving the standard of care and the quality of life for all residents in our nursing homes”.

The demand for nursing home care in Ireland continues to grow. This demand is forecasted to double over the next 20 years as a result of an ageing Irish population and the changing nature of the support systems that traditionally cared for elderly people, Mr Shanahan said.

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Thursday 7th. July 2011.

Binge drinking damages the DNA for good of the unborn child      

              

Scientists have identified the precise molecular mechanism leading to the breakdown of the body’s natural defences that protect DNA against damage from excessive alcohol in the bloodstream.

They believe the results demonstrate that binge drinking causes a build-up of toxins within the body, causing irreversible genetic damage, which may explain the phenomenon known as foetal-alcohol syndrome, when babies of mothers who drink during pregnancy are born with congenital learning problems.

The study was based on genetically modified mice, but the scientists involved said the findings are applicable to humans and represent a sea change in the understanding of how alcohol causes long-term physical damage to the body.

“We have long suspected that alcohol causes DNA damage but there has not until now been any direct evidence to support this. This is the first direct evidence that alcohol can cause DNA mutations,” Ketan Patel, who led the research at the Medical Research Council’s Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, told The Independent.

“This explains why alcohol is toxic to cells and we really needed that explanation. It almost certainly explains why cancer is linked with excessive alcohol consumption, because you cannot get cancer without altering key genes and with alcohol you are essentially drinking a mutagen [mutation-causing substance],” he said.                                                                                                                           The study has been published in the journal Nature.                

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Wednesday 29th. June 2011. 

Birth and death rates decline again         

The number of births registered in Ireland fell again last year, according to new figures from the Central Statistics Office. Overall, there were 73,724 births recorded in 2010, down 554 on the precious year.

While the number of births registered remains high by European standards, this marks the second consecutive annual decrease following the high of 75,065 in 2008.

Nonetheless, the number of births recorded in Ireland last year is 27.4 per cent higher than 2001 when 57, 882 births were registered.

Figures from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), which were also released this week, show Ireland has the highest birth rate in Europe at 17 per 1,000 of population.

According to the latest CSO statistics, the fertility rate in Ireland remained the same as last year at 2.07 but was down by 1.4 per cent compared to 2008.

In 2010, 42 per cent of births were to first time mothers and just over 34 per cent were to women who were unmarried. Overall, some 54 per cent of all births outside marriage were to cohabiting parents.

More than two-thirds of births were to mothers of Irish nationality. A further 2.4 per cent were to women from the United Kingdom and 1.5 per cent to mothers from the EU15. Over 10 per cent of births registered last year were to mothers from the Accession states while 8.3 per cent were to women from non-EU countries.

The number of deaths registered in Ireland fell by 1,776 last year to 27,133. This represents a decrease of 0.4 per 1,000 population.

There were 279 infant deaths recorded, giving an infant mortality rate of 3.8 deaths per 1,000 live births.

The rate of suicides declined by 7.8 per cent last year, according to the figures. Overall, 486 suicides were reported in 2010, compared to 527 in 2009. Males represented 79 per cent of all suicides reported last year.

There were 20,635 marriages registered in Ireland last year, 906 less than in 2009. The number of divorces granted by the Circuit Court and the High Court was 3,093, a decrease of 248 on the 2009 figure.

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 Drink and drugs ‘fuelling suicide’

Alcohol and drugs are fuelling homicide and suicide rates in Northern Ireland, an independent report said.

The problem is greatest among young people, with mental illness, substance abuse, drink, previous self-harm and deprivation contributing to most cases, the University of Manchester study added.

There were 332 suicides of young people over a nine-year period and last year, the number of suicides reached its highest figure ever.

Research author Professor Louis Appleby said: “In homicide and suicide generally, alcohol misuse was a more common feature in Northern Ireland than in the other UK countries and a broad public health approach, including better dual diagnosis of mental illness and alcohol or drug misuse, health education and alcohol pricing, should be seen as key steps towards reducing the risk of both homicide and suicide.

“In particular, there needs to be a focus on developing new services for young people with substance misuse problems.”

The National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness was commissioned by the Public Health Agency.

A total of 1,865 suicides occurred in the general population in Northern Ireland between 2000 and 2008, equivalent to 207 per year. This rate is higher than the UK average but lower than that in Scotland. There were 533 suicides in current mental health patients.

According to Health Minister Edwin Poots, there were 313 suicides in Northern Ireland last year. He said the upward trend in the number of deaths has occurred despite strenuous suicide efforts across the statutory, community and voluntary 

Sunday 26/06/2011.                                                                     

The number of people with diabetes in Ireland is growing rapidly. At present there are an estimated 250,000 people with the condition with approximately 100,000 of these undiagnosed.                                            

This amounts to about 6.5% of our population and rising fast?      

Diabetes are you worried? 

If You Are Worried:
Speak to your GP and tell him/her why you think you may have diabetes. A simple diabetes test will ease any worries you may have.
If you are diagnosed with diabetes, don’t worry. Your doctor will take steps to treat and control your condition. Early detection, effective treatment and good control will help you avoid the more serious health related problems of diabetes and allow you to maintain your quality of life.

The more risk factors or symptoms that you have the more likely you are to have diabetes or pre-diabetes.

Diabetes

Diabetes is the common term for several metabolic disorders in which the metabolism of various nutrients, such as sugar, is abnormal. Diabetes mellitus, the Latin term for one such disorder, means what passes through and tastes of honey. This name refers to the fact that diabetes mellitus causes the body to excrete large amounts of sugar in the urine. There are two main types of diabetes mellitus, insulin dependent and non-insulin dependent.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes (insulin dependent diabetes) is a chronic condition, which is treated with injections of insulin. Injections may be given only once a day. More typically, several injections a day are required. The condition develops when an autoimmune reaction causes the pancreas to stop producing insulin. Autoimmune reaction means that the body creates antibodies against its own cells. When the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, sugar and other nutrients can’t be used by cells. Symptoms of insulin dependent diabetes are usually: extreme thirst; frequent urination; sugar in the urine; an acetone-like smell around the body; fatigue; and substantial weight loss over a short period of time. Type 1 diabetes most often affects individuals under 40 years of age. Other terms for Type 1 diabetes include: insulin dependant diabetes; juvenile onset diabetes; and insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM).

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a term for several conditions with different causes and degrees of severity. In some people, the ability to produce insulin is reduced. In others, cell sensitivity to insulin is reduced in muscle and fat tissues. Many people manage this condition simply by eating a healthy diet. In overweight individuals, non-insulin dependent diabetes often improves as a result of weight loss alone. Other people must take oral medication that causes the pancreas to produce more insulin or increases cell sensitivity to insulin. Some individuals benefit from insulin treatment. Non-insulin dependent diabetes is much more common than insulin dependent diabetes. Other terms for Type 2 diabetes are, adult onset diabetes, and non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM).

How common is diabetes?

Exact statistics are hard to pin down, in particular with Type 2 diabetes where it is becoming more prevalent due to lifestyle and diet changes and the fact that people are now living longer. Many people with Type 2 diabetes go undiagnosed until they begin to suffer some of the complications associated with diabetes. The rapidly increasing number of diagnosed cases over the past few years has prompted some experts to label it an epidemic.

Diabetes epidemic now affects 350m People and fast food’s is to blame.

• Lancet study shows diabetes now a major health problem
• Number of people with disease has doubled since 1980

More than 350 million people in the world now have diabetes,            an international study has revealed. The analysis, published online by the Lancet on Saturday, adds several tens of millions to the previous estimate of the number of diabetics and indicates that the disease has become a major global health problem.

Diabetics have inadequate blood sugar control, a condition that can lead to heart disease and strokes, as well as damage to kidneys, nerves and the retina. About three million deaths a year are attributed to diabetes and associated conditions in which blood sugar levels are disrupted.

The dramatic and disturbing increase is blamed by scientists on the spread of a western-style diet to developing nations, which is causing rising levels of Obesity. Researchers also say that increased life expectancy is playing a major role.

Type 2 is the most common type of diabetes, accounting for about 85-95% of cases, and is often tied to obesity. It develops when the body fails to produce enough insulin to break down glucose, inflating blood sugar levels. Type 1 diabetes is a separate auto-immune disorder.

“Diabetes is one of the biggest causes of mortality worldwide, and our study has shown that it is becoming more common almost everywhere. It is set to become the single largest burden on world health care systems,” one of the study’s main authors, Professor Majid Ezzati, of Imperial College London, told the Observer. “Many nations are going to find it very difficult to cope with the consequences.”

This point was backed by Martin Tobias of the ministry of health in New Zealand in an accompanying editorial for the Lancet. As he states, there is “no worldwide surveillance network for diabetes, as there is for communicable diseases such as influenza”. Given the inexorable rise in case numbers that is now occurring, there was now “an urgent need” to establish proper monitoring of the disease, he added.

The study – funded by the World Health Organisation and the Gates Foundation – analysed blood from 2.7 million participants aged 25 and over from across the world over a three-year period. Doctors measured levels of glucose in their blood after they had fasted for 12 to 14 hours – blood sugar rises after a m

If their glucose level fell below 5.6 millimoles per litre, they were considered healthy. If their reading topped 7, they were diagnosed as having diabetes, while a result that ranged between 5.6 and 7 indicated that a person was in a pre-diabetic state. Crucially, the study found that the average global level of glucose measured this way had risen for men and women.

The team then used advanced statistical methods to estimate prevalence rates among the participants. It was estimated that the number of adults with diabetes was 347 million, more than double the 153 million estimated in 1980 and considerably higher even than a 2009 study that put the number at 285 million. “We are not saying the previous study was a bad one,” said Ezzati. “It is just that we have refined our methods a little more.”

In percentage terms, the prevalence of male adult diabetics worldwide rose from 8.3% to 9.8% in that period, with adult females increasing from 7.5% to 9.2%. As to the causes, the team attribute 70% to ageing and 30% to the increased prevalence of other factors, with obesity and body mass the most important.       “Diabetes is a condition that is linked to long-term disability and we need to monitor how it is spreading very carefully or face the consequences.”

***************************************************************  Friday 24th. June 2011

T.C.D. Researchers say blocking Stress can affect cancer spread.

Researchers in Trinity College Dublin have discovered that blocking a particular stress response can significantly reduce the metastasis of breast cancer.

The research, by Dr Ian Barron, a Health Research Board Postdoctoral Fellow in Pharmacology and Therapeutics at Trinity, looked at women diagnosed with breast cancer in Ireland between 2000 and 2007. Using data from the National Cancer Registry, and the HSE Primary Care Reimbursement Services, they found that those taking drugs that blocked a particular hormone-related stress pathway had a much lower risk of dying from their cancer.

The results have been published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology and Dr Barron carried out his research in the Pharmacoepidemiology Group at Trinity.

“For patients with cancer, higher levels of stress are associated with more frequent disease recurrence, faster disease progression and higher rates of death from cancer,” said Dr Barron. “Some lab-based studies have suggested how stress hormones, such as adrenaline and noradrenaline, could play a role in this process. Ours is the first study in humans to show that blocking this stress response significantly reduces the risk of cancer spreading or metastasising. Because the majority of all cancer deaths are due to the growth of tumour metastases, this research could have significant implications for clinical practice.”

The research found that when compared to control groups:

  • Women taking the stress-hormone blocking drugs in the year prior to their cancer diagnosis were less likely to be diagnosed with invasive or metastatic breast cancer than women who were not taking it; and
  • Women continuing to take the drug after their diagnosis were considerably less likely to die from the disease in the five years following diagnosis.
  • *****************************************************************************  Generic Shows Promise as Diabetes Type 1 Treatment

Researchers said a cheap generic drug currently used as a vaccine against tuberculosis showed promise in a small human study as a potential therapy for Type 1 diabetes, one of medicine’s most difficult-to-treat diseases.

The drug, called BCG, for bacillus-Calmette-Guerin, appeared to halt the process that causes the disease, in which the immune system mounts an attack on the pancreas, destroying its ability to produce insulin required to regulate blood sugar.

In addition, in four of the six treated patients, who had been living with the disease for an average of 15 years, the treatment enabled the pancreas to temporarily begin producing insulin again, researchers said.

“These were people with almost-dead pancreases,” said Denise Faustman, director of the immunobiology laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, who led the study. “The data suggest that the pancreas can kick back in even 15 years after you get the disease. That surprised us.”

Results of the new study are being unveiled in two presentations during the annual meeting of the American Diabetes Association, which began Friday in San Diego.

Dr. Faustman cautioned that the results don’t amount to a cure and they need to be confirmed in a larger study, which is expected to begin enrolling patients within a year. Further research is required to determine what dose and how often injections of the drug would be necessary to maintain the benefit of the treatment.

“But you can’t yet throw your insulin syringes away,” Dr. Faustman said.

**************************************************************  Tuesday 21st. June 2011.                                                                     

Check the main link to The famous Mayo Clinic website for details on different health conditions and diseases Here http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/symptom-checker/DS00671  and see the following Symptoms condition links:-   Adult Symptoms-

Child Symptoms-

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    Health Calculator:-        

Check your vital Stats.                                                                            CLICK  HERE   http://www.irishhealth.com/calc/index.html                             ***************************************************************  Monday 20th. June 2011

Drug hope for cystic fibrosis sufferers

Cystic fibrosis patients have welcomed news today of a major breakthrough in the treatment of the disease.

An international research team, led by scientists at Queen’s University, Belfast, revealed results of trials of a new drug which appears to have a major effect on treating the lung disease.

The drug, VX-770, provides a significant improvement in lung function, reduces disease flare-ups and improves the overall quality of life of patients.

Mutation

A licence for the new medication will be sought in the autumn.

The Belfast research team said the drug would benefit sufferers with the so-called ‘Celtic gene’, a genetic mutation particularly common in Ireland.

Delighted researchers said VX-770 is the first drug to target the basic defect caused by the gene mutation in patients.

The drug is expected to be available next year.  ***************************************************************  Sunday 19th. June.    

A Big rise in organ donations.  

www.irishhealth.com 

There has been a major increase in the number of organ donors and transplants so far this year.

There have already been more lung transplants in the first six months of this year than in all of 2010. According to the Irish Kidney Association, which collates the figures, so far this year there have been 41 deceased donors resulting in 77 kidney transplants, 30 liver transplants, three heart and five lung.

An additional 12 kidney transplants took place this year involving living donors.

There were only 58 deceased donors in all of last year, with 98 kidney transplants taking place in 2010 plus three heart transplants, 38 liver and four lung.

Meanwhile, a team of  33 Irish transplant recipients travelled to Gothenburg in Sweden this week to take part in the 18th World Transplant Games. The Irish team will be among 1,100 athletes from more than 50 countries participating in games, which start today and run until June 24.

Health Minister James Reilly said as well as being an important event for transplant patients, the games demonstrated the level of health and vitality that can be achieved after transplantation and highlighted the benefits of organ donation.

For more information on organ donation, see the Irish Kidney Association website at ika.ie or Locall 1890-543639.                         For organ donor cards, freetext DONOR to 50050.

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The sneezing and hay fever season is here………………………….. 

The outlook for hay-fever suffers is as follows from 14/06/2011,  General Outlook: Wednesday and Thursday: Conditions are expected to remain unsettled but there is still a risk of grass pollen counts increasing to moderate or high during spells of warm, dry and bright weather, especially in southern and central regions. Rain will cause pollen counts to decrease locally. The pollen seasons of allergenic trees have ended but there are still likely to be low background concentrations of tree pollen in the air when it remains dry and bright. Pollen grains from grasses are the most important aeroallergen in Ireland. Grass pollen affects up to about 95% of hay fever sufferers. The grass pollen season is reaching its peak, and there is an increased risk of high or very high grass pollen counts, particularly in southern and central regions. Rain and strong winds will cause pollen counts to decrease. Weed pollen is also an important aeroallergen affecting about 20% of hay fever sufferers. The nettle family (Urticaceae), plantain (Plantago), dock (Rumex), mugwort (Artemisia) and fat hen (Chenopodium) are the most important allergenic weeds. Low to moderate concentrations of Urticaceae, plantain and dock pollen are likely when conditions are suitable. Oilseed rape pollen can cause hay fever in a small number of sufferers but Volatile Organic Compounds given off by the plant can cause irritation of the upper respiratory tract and eyes in some people in close proximity to the crop.

The arrival of summer is not welcomed by everyone. The longer evenings, better weather and the flowering of plants in gardens and in the countryside may herald the onset of sunnier times for most people. But for those with hay fever, the blooming of nature means pollen and pain. Early summer is the ‘sneezing season’ dreaded by all sufferers of hay fever.

Hay fever, or seasonal allergic rhinitis as it is known medically, is an allergic reaction to pollen and spores, the microscopic grains that plants, trees, grasses or fungi use for fertilisation. In spring, plantlife comes into bloom and many forms of trees, grasses, fungi and flowers release pollen and spores in order to reproduce. While many plants rely on insects to transfer their pollen, others release their pollen onto the wind. It tends to be this wind-borne pollen that causes problems for people with allergies.

“Hay fever won’t kill, but it can cause a severe deterioration in many people’s well-being”, South Dublin GP, Paul Carson explains. As someone with a special interest in the treatment of allergies, Dr Carson recommends that people who suffer from hay fever should take pre-emptive action by visiting their GP and working out a treatment plan in advance of the high pollen season.

“The condition mostly affects the nose, blocking it up or making it itchy and runny”, he adds. “Sinuses can get blocked too, causing headaches. In severe pollen reactions, the whites of the eyes can swell up to a jelly-like substance and bulge from the eye socket, which is not only unsightly but extremely uncomfortable”.

Summer colds

According to Dr Carson, hay fever is still unknown to many people, at least in so far as they might understand it to be a possible cause of their symptoms. “As many as 20% of the population have some form of allergy”, he explained. “Half of these have serious conditions, such as asthma, eczema or severe food allergies. Many of the others put up with minor symptoms, or explain them away as summer colds. Many doctors even will not recognise hay fever when it is presented to them”.

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Exercise reduces ‘silent stroke’ risk

 by Deborah Condon – www.irishhealth.com]

Older people who exercise regularly may be less likely to develop small brain lesions, which are often the first sign of a stroke, the results of a new study indicate.

According to US researchers, these small brain lesions are often referred to as ‘silent strokes’.

“These ‘silent strokes’ are more significant than the name implies because they have been associated with an increased risk of falls and impaired mobility, memory problems and even dementia, as well as stroke,” explained lead researcher, Dr Joshua Willey, of Columbia University.

The study involved 1,238 people who had never had a stroke. Participants completed a questionnaire about how often and how intensely they exercised at the beginning of the study and then had MRI scans of their brains around six years later, when they were an average of 70 years old.

A total of 43% of the participants reported that they did no regular exercise, 36% engaged in regular light exercise, such as golf, walking or bowling, while 21% engaged in regular moderate to intense exercise, such as hiking, tennis, swimming, biking and jogging.

The brain scans showed that 16% of the participants had small brain lesions.

The study found that those who engaged in moderate to intense exercise were 40% less likely to have these lesions than people who did no regular exercise.

The results remained the same after the researchers took into account other vascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking.

The study also found that there was no difference between those who engaged in light exercise and those who did no exercise. In other words, the benefits were only seen in those who undertook moderate to intense level exercise.

“Of course, light exercise has many other beneficial effects and these results should not discourage people from doing light exercise,” Dr Willey emphasised.

He added that encouraging older people to take part in moderate to intense exercise ‘may be an important strategy for keeping their brains healthy’.

Details of these findings are published in the journal, Neurology.

…………………………………………………………………………….

The Sunny Season

As we approach what we hope will be the sunny season it is important for all those sun worshippers that they not go without the sun protection, Get the correct sun block for the exposure you are having.

Other problems that come with Suntan are:Sunburn

Sunburn — red, painful skin that feels hot to the touch — usually appears within a few hours after sun exposure and may take several days or longer to fade.

Intense sun exposure that results in sunburn increases your risk of certain complications and related skin diseases. These include dry, wrinkled skin, liver spots, actinic keratoses, and skin cancer, including melanoma.

You can prevent sunburn and the related skin conditions by protecting your skin whenever you’re outdoors, even on cloudy days. If you do get sunburn, several home remedies and treatments can relieve your pain and speed the healing of your skin.

Sun allergy

Sun allergy is a condition in which sunlight triggers a skin reaction. For most people, sun allergy symptoms include an itchy red rash in areas that have been exposed to sunlight. A severe sun allergy may cause hives, blisters or other symptoms. There are several types of sun allergy — including polymorphic light eruption (PMLE), actinic prurigo, chronic actinic dermatitis (CAD) and solar urticaria.

Polymorphous light eruption

A lesser known condition:

Polymorphous light eruption is an itchy rash caused by sun exposure in people who have developed a sensitivity to sunlight (photosensitivity). The rash usually appears as red, tiny bumps or slightly raised patches of skin.

Polymorphous light eruption occurs most often during spring and early summer when a person’s exposure to sunlight increases. Repeat episodes are less likely as the summer progresses, but polymorphous light eruption often recurs each year after the first incident.

Although polymorphous light eruption usually resolves on its own without treatment, medications may be needed to treat severe or persistent cases. Measures to protect the skin from sun exposure or light therapy may help prevent recurring episodes of polymorphous light eruption.

 Information Source:  Mayo Clinic Health Solutions
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