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Healthscan

health-and-fitness Updated: Oct 31, 2010 00:16 IST

Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Smoking doubles Alzheimer's
Middle-aged smokers who smoke 40 cigarettes a day more than double their risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and a common form of dementia. Those who smoked more than two packs of 20 cigarettes a day had a 157 % higher chance of Alzheimer's disease than non-smokers, found a US study of 21,000 men and women for 23 years. Smokers also had a 172 % higher risk of vascular dementia, reports the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

Alzheimer's and dementia are linked to poor blood supply to the brain. Smoking compromises the vascular system by affecting blood pressure and elevates blood-clotting factors.

Live clean to stop cancer

Eating a healthy diet, not smoking, cutting down on alcohol and exercising more can prevent one in four of the 1.2 million cases of colon cancer diagnosed each year.

Researchers from Denmark found that following recommendations on physical activity, waist circumference, smoking, alcohol intake and diet could reduce the risk of developing bowel cancer by as much as 23%.

Sleep easy after five months
Sleep-deprived new moms and dads can rest easy after a couple of months. Over 50 per cent babies sleep through the night after about two or three months, reports a new study. From five months on, most parents can expect uninterrupted and substantial period of sleep.

Never too young for muscle
Regular workouts using free weights and exercise machines boosts muscle strength in children and teenagers, in some cases by 40%. Exercise also lowers body fat, strengthens bones and boosts performance in other sports, shows a review of 42 studies in the journal Pediatrics.

It found that strength training does not hurt children as previously believed, with the risk of injury being the same or less than that for other sports. Strength training can be done using free weights, exercise machines, elastic bands or the body's own resistance. Isotonic contractions — bicep curls, squats and bench presses, for example — were found to be the most effective.