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Health scan

A snapshot of the current thinking in medicine, fitness and lifestyle trends that impact your life

health and fitness Updated: Jun 30, 2012 22:57 IST

Smokers damage their kids’ genes
If your dad smoked when you were conceived, your genes are likely damaged, and your odds for cancers and other diseases throughout your life could be increased. Scientists from the University of Bradford show for the first time in humans that men who smoke before conception can damage the genetic information of their offspring. These inherited changes in DNA could possibly render an offspring in the womb susceptible to later disease such as cancer.

Since a fertile sperm cell takes about three months to fully develop, this study provides evidence that men — like women — need to quit smoking long before conception to avoid causing genetic problems. “This report shows that smoke is a germ-cell mutagen. If dad uses cigarettes, his kids will be affected even before they are born,” said Gerald Weissmann, editor-in-chief of the FASEB Journal, where the study was published.

Snoring doubles the risk of painful arthritis
Snoring heavily doubles the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, a new study shows. Patients diagnosed with sleep apnoea — chronic interrupted breathing during sleep — were twice as likely to suffer the joint-damaging disease.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disorder, where the body’s defences start to attack healthy tissues. Scientists said the explanation lies in the fact that chronic sleep apnoea can lead to inflammation in blood vessels throughout the body, which could be a catalyst for arthritis.

Being unpopular at school is hazardous to health
Being unpopular at school not only make your schooldays miserable, but also increases your chances of falling ill later in life. Those who are socially
isolated in their teens are more likely to suffer health problems when they hit their 40s, shows research from Sweden that tracked 900 16-year-old for 27 years.
Unpopularity and social isolation was linked to to obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, bad blood fats and lack of ‘good’ cholesterol, a cluster of problems is known as metabolic syndrome and greatly increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
The effect was particularly noticeable among the girls, with the most unpopular and introverted at 16 more than three times as likely to be in bad shape at 43.

Here’s why eating fish improves your memory
Eating fish high in DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid, improves memory by helping memory cells in the hippocampus communicate better with each other.
Researchers at the University of Alberta found that those on a high-DHA diet had 30% higher levels of DHA in the memory section of the brain. Increasing fish intake or taking dietary supplements can prevent declining DHA levels in the brain as we age, they said. Earlier this year, the team reported that DHA prevented the accumulation of a toxic molecule at the back of the eye that causes age-related vision loss.

Popcorn, the wonder snack high in antioxidants
Popcorn’s reputation as a snack that’s actually good for health popped up a few notches as scientists recently reported that it contains more antioxidant substances called polyphenols than fruits and vegetables. It is its hulls — the part that gets caught in the teeth — actually has the highest concentration of polyphenols and fiber. “Those hulls deserve more respect. They are nutritional gold nuggets. It’s the only snack that is 100% unprocessed whole grain,” said Joe Vinson, researcher with the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania. One serving of popcorn provides more than 70% of the daily intake of whole grain.