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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: Oct 01, 2011 23:15 IST

Hindustan Times

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

Coffee boosts mood

Women who regularly drink coffee have a 20% lower risk of depression than nondrinkers. Other sources of caffeine did not offer the same protection against depression, possibly because of their lower levels of caffeine, say researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health.

High levels of caffeine, however, increase anxiety and insomnia, potentially reversing mood-lifting effects.

The Harvard study looked only at women drinking as much as four to six cups a day, and not women drinking greater amounts. But earlier research on caffeine and suicide risk found that risk of suicide decreased progressively up to six or seven cups a day, then increased after eight or
more cups a day.

Mom's to blame

Childhood obesity begins in the womb, a new study has concluded using state-of-the-art technology to monitor fat levels in unborn babies in the UK.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of unborn babies showed that a mother's overweight or obesity during pregnancy caused potentially harmful changes to a baby's fat levels while still in the womb. It led to some babies having similar build up of fat around their abdomen similar to overweight adults.

Common painkillers can raise heart attack risk

Taking daily doses of over-the-counter painkillers raises the risk of heart attacks and stroke by up to 40%. Regular use of diclofenac, a common non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), has a two-fifth higher chance of heart attack and stroke. NSAIDs lower temperature, relieve pain and reduce swelling, and are prescribed to treat arthritis, back pain, gout, headaches and flu.

Vioxx, the arthritis drug withdrawn in 2004 since it led to heart attacks, had only a slightly higher risk factor.

Easily embarrased people more trustworthy

If tripping in public or mistaking an overweight woman for a mother-to-be leaves you red-faced, don't feel bad. A new study from the University of California, Berkeley, suggests that people who are easily embarrassed are more trustworthy, likely to be monogamous and generous.

In short, embarrassment can be useful for people seeking cooperative and reliable team members.

Potato, the best bet for your potassium need

Potatoes are the largest and most affordable source of potassium compared to other vegetables or fruit. Just one helping (150 gm) of potatoes contains 110 calories, 620 gm of potassium and provides almost half your daily need of vitamin C (45%), without providing any fat, sodium or cholesterol.

Potassium protects against heart disease, diabetes, obesity and kidney disease. It keeps muscles strong, bowels regular and eliminate irritability, and stress. It also lowers hypertension by protecting against the blood pressure-boosting properties of sodium.