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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: Jul 29, 2012 00:28 IST

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

Shift work raises heart risk

People working evening shifts, irregular shifts, night shifts and rotating shifts are at an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, say a new study by British Medical Journal. The best way to lower the risk associated with shift work is to keep the usual risk factors — such as blood pressure, cholesterol, weight and diabetes — under control, experts say.

“Since we are now in a 24/7 society, this problem is not likely to go away any time soon,” said lead researcher Dr Daniel Hackam from Ontario, Canada, who analysed 34 studies that included more than 2 million people. Hackam's team found that shift workers had a nearly 25% increased risk of having a cardiovascular problem, a 23% increased risk of a heart attack and a 5% increased risk of a stroke when compared to non-shift workers. People working night shifts had the highest risk of a coronary event (41%).

Use exhaust while cooking

Turning on the exhaust fan above your kitchen stove and cooking on the back burners reduces air pollution from gas stove tops and ovens, a new study says. Exhaust fans in hoods over cooktops and downdraft systems that suck air directly from the cooking surface also vary widely in price, loudness and power consumption. Routine use of even moderately effective venting range hoods can substantially reduce in-home exposures to cooking and burner-generated air pollutants, , they report in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Exhaust fans, however, varied in their effectiveness in reducing levels of indoor air pollution from cooking with gas, which can produce pollution levels higher than those in heavily polluted outdoor air

Ecstasy harms memory

Ecstacy, the party drug used even in recreational amounts over a relatively short period of less than a year, can impair memory. As the nature of the impairments may not be immediately obvious to the user, says the study in the scientific journal Addiction, it is highly likely that signs of damage by drug use may be missed until it is too late. Within the first year of use, the part of brain that oversees memory function and navigation shows signs of damage, they found. It is also the first signs of developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life.

Brain-training can help you stop snacking

Mind your food to stop eating! Brain-training can help you fight the urge to snack — the leading cause of obesity.

Popular brain-training exercises can dramatically improve your health, as eating and body-image issue are linked both to the brain part associated with motivation and reward and help rid people of gambling or alcohol addiction. Researchers are now developing computer programmes to counter the effects of high sensitivity to food cues by training the brain to respond less positively to them.

Cut salt to lower cancer risk

We all know that too much salt is bad for blood pressure and can lead to heart diseases. Now a new study confirms it can also causes stomach cancer — leading cancer in states like Jammu and Kashmir, where food dried and pickled in salt is a traditional staple.

The recommended daily limit for salt is 6 gm, about a level teaspoonful, but the World Cancer Research Fund says people eat 8.6 gm a day, because it’s added to a lot of readymade foods.

Some food labels list the sodium content instead of the amount of salt, which is a component of salt. To work out how much salt a food contains, multiply the sodium content by 2.5.

First Published: Jul 29, 2012 00:24 IST