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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: May 19, 2012 22:51 IST

Games can help kids read
Playful language games from the age of four can stimulate children’s early language development and make it easier for them to learn to read. Earlier, six years was thought to be the ideal age to start.

Young children who are actively stimulated in their development of so-called linguistic and phonological awareness end up better prepared for dealing with written language.

It helps them learn the sound structure of the language, which is important for the early stages of reading development and for understanding the connection between letters and sounds.

Excess dietary supplements raise cancer risk
Supplements such as beta-carotene, selenium and folic acid, quaffed at much higher levels than their recommended daily doses, are most likely to elevate the risk of developing a host of cancers, says a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

It’s not that these nutrients are toxic. They’re essential and we need them, but in a certain balance. Excess is harmful. So the conclusion is: Taking high doses of any nutrient is more likely to be a bad thing than a good thing.


Looks more important while lending money
Our decision to trust people with our money is based more on how they look than how they behave, says new research from the University of Warwick. People are more likely to invest money in someone whose face is generally perceived as trustworthy, even when they are given negative information about this person’s reputation.

The temptation to judge strangers by their faces is hard to resist. Trustworthiness is one of the most important traits for social and economic interactions.

“Trustees with good and bad histories benefited equally from trust-worthy looking facial features. It seems we are still willing to go with our own instincts about whether we think someone looks like we can trust them,” said researcher Dr Chris Olivola from the University of Warwick’s Business School.


Brushing right is rarer than you think
Merely using fluoride toothpaste for brushing is not enough; researchers believe correct way of wielding the toothbrush is imperative to maintain a good oral health.

A Swedish study of the brushing habits of 2,013 Swedes in various age groups ranging from 15 to 80 years showed only 10% of the population used toothbrush in the most effective way.

Gums and tongue also need cleaning as germs grow on them. Oral health can be improved by learning how to maximise the effect of fluoride toothpaste.


To avoid pain during injection, look away
Now there is a scientific basis to the common saying, ‘don’t look and it won’t hurt.’ The information you receive before an injection shapes your pain experience, say study in the journal Pain. The advice is to not look at the needle prick when receiving an injection. “Throughout our lives, we repeatedly experience that needles cause pain when pricking our skin, but situational expectations, like information given by the clinician prior to an injection, may also influence how viewing needle pricks affects pains,” said lead researcher Dr Daniel Senkowski from the University of Berlin.