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Health scan

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

india Updated: Sep 03, 2011 23:47 IST

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

Eating fast makes you overweight

Middle-aged women who scarf down their meals tend to be heavier than those who savour each bite. Speed-eating causes women to pack on extra pounds as it usually leads to overeating, showed a study of 1,600 women aged 40 to 50 years. The study found that women who ate the slowest had the lowest BMI, which is a measurement of a person's weight relative to their height. For each step up the speed scale, the BMI rose by 2.8%, which translates to nearly 3 kg for an average woman.


Meditate to heal thyself

It's time to give some thought, however fleeting, to you health. Imaging studies show that meditation causes structural brain changes in their amygdala, a brain area involved in fear and the response to threat and stress, after just 11 hours of training. Researchers suggest that fitting in "mini-meditations" through the day – such as taking a few minutes at your desk to focus on your breathing – can bring you these benefits, reports NewScientist magazine.

Meditation boosts the immune response in vaccine recipients and people with cancer, protects against depression, soothes skin conditions and even slows the progression of HIV, show studies. It also lowers stress by influencing its response pathways and slows ageing by pushing up the levels of an enzyme that protects telomeres, the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes, which shorten every time a cell divides as it ages.

Vitamin D lowers colon cancer risk

Both higher vitamin D intake and higher blood levels of the vitamin's active form are linked to lower risk of colon and rectal cancers, shows a large analysis of 18 studies that included more than 10,000 people.

The analysis found that colon cancer risk was lower by 33% in people with the highest blood levels of vitamin D compared to those with the lowest levels. Those with the highest intake of vitamin D through supplements and food had 12% lower risk than those with the lowest intake, reported the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Breastfeeding boosts brainpower in babies

Kids who are breastfed as babies have higher scores on tests of vocabulary and reasoning at age five than those

who aren't, reports a UK study. Breastfeeding brought the biggest benefits to premature babies, who have more catching up to do in their brain development, reports a study in The Journal of Pediatrics.

For the study, 12,000 babies born between 2000 and 2002 were tested for vocabulary, reasoning and spatial skills at the age of five. Those breastfed for four to six months were ahead on vocabulary and picture-related reasoning tests.

Sex hormones drive career

Teacher, nurse or engineer? Sex hormones influence people's interests, which affect the occupations they choose, say psychologists. When compared to their normal siblings, women with ongenital adrenal hyperplasia -- a genetic condition caused by higher exposure to male hormone androgen in the womb -- chose science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). It exhibit gender differences with men preferring occupations like engineer or surgeon, and women focusing on careers such as teacher or communicator.