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Hindustan Times
New Delhi, April 21, 2013
A snapshot of the current thinking in medicine, fitness and lifestyle trends that impact your life.

Vitamin D reduces risk of uterine fibroids
Vitamin D is not just good for healthy bones, but is also effective in preventing uterine fibroids. Women who have sufficient amounts of vitamin D -made by the skin naturally by spending more than 30 minutes out in the sun each day - are 32% less likely to develop fibroids than women with insufficient vitamin D. Apart from the sun, vitamin D is found in foods such as fish, egg yolk etc and also food supplements.

Fibroids, also known as uterine leiomyomata, are noncancerous tumours of the uterus. Fibroids often result in pain and bleeding in premenopausal women, and are the leading cause of hysterectomy, removal of uterus.

Aerobics protects brain from alcohol damage
Aerobic exercise known to slow cognitive decline may also prevent or repair damage to the brain caused by alcohol. According to a recent study, aerobics may protect white matter in the brain from alcohol-related damage.

Heavy long-term alcohol consumption leads to neural damage similar to the decline in neurocognitive functioning observed as people age. As exercise is protective against some of the neural and cognitive effects of ageing, it also reverses or prevents the damage to the brain caused by chronic alcohol consumption. The relationship between alcohol and white matter depends upon how much people exercise - for individuals with low levels of aerobics, heavy drinking is linked to poorer white matter health, but for those with greater exercise involvement, the relationship between alcohol and white matter health is not as strong.

Air pollution raises risk of heart disease
Long-term exposure to fine particle matter (PM) air pollution derived from traffic pollution causes arteries to block and raises the risk of heart attack and stroke, German researchers announced at the EuroPRevent 2013 Congress in Rome this week.

In 2012, another study from Denmark also linked traffic noise with the risk of heart attack, with every 10 decibel increase in noise exposure increasing risk by 12%.

Fine PM and traffic noise act through similar biologic pathways - causing an imbalance in the nervous system, which feeds into the mechanisms regulating blood pressure, blood lipids, glucose level and clotting.

Pregnant women can drink, but very little
Light drinking during pregnancy does not harm child behavioural or mental development, reports a UK survey of 10,534 seven-year-olds, in which mothers had either abstained from alcohol or drank lightly while pregnant. Little difference was found between the two groups. But if women want to avoid all possible risks, they should not drink alcohol at all during pregnancy.

Light drinking is defined as having up to two units (a glass of beer or a 30 ml of spirits) a week, but binge drinking or getting drunk should be avoided, says the study.

"We know heavy drinking during pregnancy has a very deleterious effect, but it is very unlikely that drinking small amounts will have an impact. The environment children grow up in is massively more important," says Prof Yvonne Kelly, co-author of the study in an International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

Beetroot juice lowers blood pressure, says study
Drinking a cup of beetroot juice lowers blood pressure. Drinking 250 ml (one glass) cuts high blood pressure readings by 10 mmHg, bringing some into the normal range, reports the journal Hypertension. Though the effect was most marked after three to six hours, it was detectable a day later. Scientists say the nitrate in beetroot widens blood vessels to aid flow. Nitrate is found naturally in soil, where it is taken in by vegetables through the roots to help them grow. Many people with angina are prescribed a nitrate drug to ease their symptoms. On unexpected consequence of drinking beetroot juice is that it can turn your urine pink.