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Health scan

health-and-fitness Updated: Jul 07, 2012 23:53 IST

Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

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

Slapped kids prone to depression
Slapping children raises their chances of psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety, bipolar, anorexia or bulimia later on in life, experts said. Adults who are hit or smacked as children are more likely to develop mental health problems, including mood and anxiety disorders and problems with alcohol and drug abuse, reports a study in US journal Pediatrics.

It focuses on 'harsh physical punishment,' defined as pushing, grabbing, shoving, slapping or hitting as a form of punishment from elders, while excluding sexual abuse and physical abuse that left bruises, marks or caused injury.

Previous research has repeatedly shown that children who were physically abused suffer from more mental disturbances as adults, and are more likely to engage in aggressive behaviour than kids who were not hit.

Popular diabetes drug boosts the brain
The widely used diabetes drug metformin comes with a rather unexpected and alluring side effect: it encourages the growth of new neurons in the brain. The study, published in the journal Cell Stem Cell, finds that those neural effects of the drug also make mice smarter.

While it remains to be seen whether the very popular diabetes drug might already be serving as a brain booster for those who are now taking it, there are already some early hints that it may have cognitive benefits for people with Alzheimer's disease. Scientists will now test whether metformin might help repair the brains of those who have suffered brain injury due to trauma or radiation therapies for cancer.

Seaweed toothpaste prevents cavities
Microbes found on seaweed could provide an unexpected weapon in the fight against tooth decay, scientists have said. They found that an enzyme isolated from the marine bacterium Bacillus licheniformis can 'cut through' plaque on teeth and clean hard-to-reach areas.

While toothpastes are effective, there are still hard-to-reach areas between teeth where the bacteria in plaque can erode enamel, causing cavities.

Traditional toothpastes work by scrubbing off the plaque containing the bacteria - but that's not always effective - which is why people who religiously clean their teeth can still develop cavities.

Big breasts indicate cancer risk
Women with a larger bra size are at greater risk of breast cancer, said scientists after a genetic study of 16,000 women showed that DNA mutations associated with large breast size were also linked to the disease. Researchers say some of these are involved in regulating the female sex hormone oestrogen, which can trigger the growth of both breasts and tumours.

While research has linked breast density - the amount of non-fat tissue - to an increased risk of cancer, there has been little evidence of a link with breast size before.

The link in the study by journal BMC Medical Geneteics was seen regardless of the women's age, pregnancy and breastfeeding history and genetic ancestry.

High-dose vitamin D prevents fractures
Vitamin D not only helps build your bones by increasing calcium absorption, but also prevents fractures when taken in high doses, reports a study in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

Having 800 international units (IU) daily dose of vitamin D may help reduce the risk of hip and other bone fractures, said researchers from Europe and the US.

Two in three fractures occur in people age 65 and older, and, by 2050, the worldwide incidence of hip fractures is expected to more than double in women and increase three-fold in men. Healthy adults aged 19-50 require 400 to 1,000 IU daily. Those over 50 or younger adults at high risk should receive 800 to 2,000 IU daily.