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Health Scan

health-and-fitness Updated: Nov 03, 2012 22:45 IST

Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

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

Sugary drinks raise women’s stroke risk
Women who have sugary soft drinks almost every day are 83% more likely to have the more common type of stroke called ischemic stroke, shows a study. Although the findings don’t prove that sweet drinks are to blame for the higher stroke risk, other studies have shown links between high sugar intake and clogged arteries, which raise stroke and heart attack risk. Sugar-sweetened sodas and juices constitute sugary drinks, and not diet sodas or 100% fruit juices.

Some countries are discouraging the consumption of sweetened drinks by taxing it higher and banning super-sized soda bottles. Few schools don’t stock sugary drinks.

Everyday pills to treat dementia
Everyday medicines like antibiotics, acne pills and other routine treatments can help battle dementia as developing new drugs is too costly and slow. Many have multiple effects on the body, so some could be able to ease the effects of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

Few drugs that are known to work are the diabetes drug liraglutide that also acts on the brain. Also the antibiotic minocycline for acne, and acitretin which treats the skin condition psoriasis, and blood pressure drugs called calcium-channel blockers.

There are only four Alzheimer’s drugs in use which can help relieve symptoms but do nothing to stop damage to the brain. It can take up to 20 years to create a drug from scratch.

Interactive play improves brain activity in autistic kids
Laughing, giggling and making silly faces. Building a tower of blocks together and then crashing it down. Engaging young children with autism in a programme that involves fun, interactive play can affect their brain activity, making it resemble that of children without the disorder, a new study shows. The research is the first to demonstrate that early behavioural intervention may be associated with normal patterns of brain activity and improved social behaviour in young children with autism.

A single junk meal daily enough for heart risks
Eating even a single junk food meal is enough to raise the risk of a heart attack or stroke in later life, warns a new study led by an Indian-origin researcher Anil Nigam from the University of Montreal.

The key to staving off heart disease and other illnesses caused by clogged arteries is to switch to a Mediterranean-style diet, based on healthy foods like oily fish, fresh vegetables and olive oil.

A comparison of the effects of junk food and a typical Mediterranean meal on the ability of arteries to dilate showed the arteries of those on the Mediterranean diet dilated normally and maintain good blood flow.

Breastfeeding makes kids leaner
Children born to overweight mothers are at a higher risk of being fat themselves — but breastfeeding helps offset the effect. Being overweight and smoking during pregnancy both increase the chances of a child being obese, along with being heavy at birth and rapid weight gain as a baby. While complex influences like genetics and parent’s lifestyle affects a child’s weight, breastfeeding and the late introduction of solid foods reduces obesity risk by about 15%, say researchers from the UK’s Nottingham University.

Fear of math causes pain
Anxiety about maths activates regions of the brain linked with the experience of physical pain and visceral threat detection, report researchers from the University of Chicago.

The anticipation of math increases activity in brain part associated with the sensation of pain in people anxious about facing mathematical tasks. The higher the person’s maths anxiety, the more such neural activity increases, indicating that anticipating an unpleasant event causes pain. Previous research has shown other forms of psychological stress, such as social rejection or a traumatic break-up, can also cause physical pain.