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Health scan

health and fitness Updated: Jun 26, 2011 00:16 IST

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Highlight Story

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

Go low cal to avoid type 2 diabetes
People with obesity-related type 2 diabetes can be cured, at least temporarily, by switching to an extreme, low-calorie, diet for eight weeks.

The discovery, reported by scientists at the Newcastle University, overturns the common assumption that type 2 diabetes was a lifelong illness that got worse eventually.

Researchers said an extremely low-calorie diet, consisting of diet drinks and non-starchy vegetables, prompts the body to remove the fat that clogs the pancreas and prevents it from making insulin.

In India, 50.8 million people have diabetes, the large majority having type 2, which is initially controlled with drugs and eventually insulin injections.

Passive smoking could lead to nicotine addiction
Second-hand smoke triggers nicotine cravings and makes it harder for smokers to quit. New research, funded by the US National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), found that second-hand smoke has a direct and measurable impact on the brain similar to that of actually smoking.

Research shows that just one hour of exposure to second-hand smoke in an enclosed area allows nicotine to reach the brain and bind to receptors that are normally targeted by direct exposure to tobacco smoke.

Stressed? That explains the binge
It's official. Stress drives people to comfort eating. Binging on sugary or fatty foods has long been connected to stress or anxiety, but no clear link was established. Now, a US team reports that the stress hormone ghrelin increases during prolonged periods of stress and fuels cravings for fatty food.

Experiments on mice showed that an increased level of ghrelin brought on by stress increased the animals' appetite. This insight is expected to help provide new targets for the development of drugs to curb stress-induced binging on high-calorie foods, reports the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Now, being free is being happy
Personal independence and freedom are more important to people's well-being than wealth. Money leads to autonomy, but it does not add to well-being or happiness, report researchers at the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, after analysing the findings of three studies that included more than 4,20,000 people from 63 countries.

Apart from mood - "How are you feeling at the moment?" - people surveyed were quizzed on anxiety, insomnia, social problems, severe depression and unexplained headaches and stomach aches.

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