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Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Researchers found that people with the highest blood levels of these essential fatty acids — found in fish such as salmon and tuna — were more likely to perform well on tests of mental functioning and to experience less age-related brain shrinkage.

“We feel fatty acid consumption exerts a beneficial effect on brain aging by promoting vascular health,” said study lead author Dr. Zaldy Tan, an associate professor in the Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research and the division of geriatrics at the University of California, Los Angeles. This might include reducing blood pressure and inflammation, he added.

Previous research linked dementia risk with the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in blood plasma, which reflects how much people had eaten in the past few days. But in the current work, researchers could estimate the amount of omega-3s that participants had consumed in the past several months by looking at how much had built up in their red blood cells.

“This represents their average intake of fatty acids, not just a snapshot,” Tan said.

The study, published in the Feb. 28 issue of the journal Neurology, did not prove that omega-3 fatty acids prevent

Bug Bites may Infect a Skin

 Zebras evolved from all black to striped in order to repel insects that distract them from feeding, a new study contends.

Researchers from Hungary and Sweden said that zebras’ black and white stripes are the least-attractive hide pattern to disease-carrying bloodsuckers known as tabanids or more commonly, horseflies.

The researchers found that horseflies are drawn to horizontally polarized light resembling reflections from water. They explained that this is how insects find areas of water where they can lay their eggs. Female horseflies also use the light reflected from animals’ hides, particularly black hides, to detect their victims, the study noted.

The study, published online in the March issue of the Journal of Experimental Biology, pointed out that as embryos, zebras start out with dark skin. They go on to develop their white stripes before birth. The researchers suggested this was an evolutionary adaptation to help them avoid bug bites.

The researchers tested their theory at a horse farm near Budapest that was infested with horse flies. They altered the width, angle and density of the stripes and changed the direction of polarization of the light

Onions Make Us Cry|Why ?

 For some people, slicing a raw onion is no big deal, but for others, it causes a stinging reaction that results in tears and mild discomfort.

What’s to blame for this teary reaction? Enzymes in the onion that release a pungent gas when you slice into it, and when the gas comes into contact with your eyes, it forms sulfuric acid, which is responsible for that telltale stinging sensation. “The more pungent the onion is, the more likely it will make you tear up,” says Irwin Goldman, PhD, department chair and professor of horticulture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

That means that yellow onions popular in cooking are the biggest culprits, and sweet, mild Vidalia onions are the least likely to trigger tears. Luckily, onions are the only type of vegetable that cause this crying reaction, because of their unique sulfur compounds.

So why do onions make you well up, but don’t seem to make your partner weepy at all? Dr. Goldman says it’s probably due to the individual chemistry of your eyes: Some people have little or no reaction to sulfuric acid, while others have

Coffee Linked to Lower Death Risk

Analysis of a large prospective study of more than 400,000 people found that men who drank four to five cups of coffee daily reduced their risk of death over a 13-year period by 12 percent, while women’s risk dropped by 16 percent, according to Neal Freedman, PhD, of the National Cancer Institute, and colleagues.

The inverse associations were seen for deaths due to heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, injuries and accidents, diabetes, and infections, but not for deaths due to cancer, the researchers found.

On the other hand, a suite of other behaviors that often go hand-in-hand with coffee drinking – smoking, lack of exercise, and poor diet – usually combine to mask the benefit, the researchers noted in the May 17 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

Freedman and colleagues cautioned that the study could not prove that coffee is good for you.

“It may be that there’s something that goes along with coffee-drinking that’s affecting our results that we couldn’t take into account in our analysis,” Freedman toldMedPage Today.

But, together with previous research, he said, the findings provide “some reassurance that coffee drinkers don’t have a higher

Pill Bottle Warnings Often Go Unnoticed

Those colorful warning labels on vials of medication don’t always capture a patient’s attention, especially if the patient is older, researchers found.

When groups of older and younger participants were tested on their ability to notice information on medication vials, just 54 percent of the older group fixed their gaze on the prescription warning labels, compared with 91.8 percent of the younger participants, according to Laura Bix, PhD, of Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich., and colleagues.

And that means that many older patients simply fail to remember their contents and act on them, Bix and colleagues argued online in PLoS ONE. The finding may help to explain why older patients — who often take several medications — are at greater risk for adverse drug events.

The researchers tested two age groups — 15 volunteers ages 20 to 29, and 17 volunteers ages 51 to 77 — for their ability to notice the information on the vials, using eye-tracking technology to see what parts they examined.

In addition, they were tested on how well they remembered what they had looked at, Bix and colleagues reported.

The vials had different-colored warning labels,

Basic Health Advice of Little Help

Primary care doctors should be selective in offering lifestyle-change behavioral programs aimed at preventing cardiovascular disease (CVD) to healthy patients who have unhealthy habits, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended.

“Although the correlation among healthful diet, physical activity, and the incidence of CVD is strong, existing evidence indicates that the health benefit of initiating behavioral counseling in the primary care setting to promote a healthful diet and physical activity is small,” according to Virginia Moyer, MD, MPH, and other USPSTF members writing online in Annals of Internal Medicine.

“Clinicians may choose to selectively counsel patients rather than incorporate counseling into the care of all adults in the general population,” they concluded.

The recommendations applied to what the task force called “medium- or high-intensity behavioral counseling interventions in the primary care setting,” not to simple, brief advice to exercise more and cut back on ice cream.

Medium-intensity programs were those that involved from 31 minutes to 6 hours of direct patient contact. Interventions with more than 6 hours of contact were considered high-intensity.

Although such intensive counseling is unlikely to cause direct harm to patients, spending such time with patients who end

Sitting Too Long Raises Death Risk

According to a new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, sitting for long periods increases your risk of all-cause early death. (Now would definitely be the time to stand up.)

In the study, researchers followed 222,497 Australian adults for several years. Over the course of the study, participants who sat for more than 11 hours a day had the highest risk for all-cause mortality, followed by those who sat between 8 and 11 hours daily. Those who sat for less than four hours a day had the lowest risk of all-cause mortality.

The revelation that sitting can kill isn’t necessarily new. In the past several years, study after study has confirmed that living a sedentary life — going from your bed to your desk to the couch and back to bed every day — can damage our health in a variety of ways. In fact, it has been shown to increase risk for heart disease, obesity, diabetes, dementia, and some cancers.

Another recent study actually found that sitting is so detrimental, its effects are almost impossible to exercise away. The study followed 27 Finnish men and women over two days. On the

6 foods that can damage your metabolism

Soda

One of the main reasons soda gets a bad rap is because it’s sweetened with a little something known as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). HFCS, a sweetener found in many of America’s highly processed foods and soft drinks, is as damaging as it is cheap. It has been argued that Fructose consumed in the same quantities as other sugar has more damaging effects on the metabolism (making it an even more sinister commodity).  A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutritionfurther explained the link between HFCS and obesity. HFCS may lead to obesity because of its negative effects on the metabolism. In fact, consuming high fructose corn syrup can cause something called “metabolic syndrome,” which is basically a group of risk factors for diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Therefore, drinking a glass of soda can directly hurt your metabolism.

Margarine

Fortunately most sources of trans fat are off the market, but they can still be found in stick margarine and baked goods. The trans fats in the margarine can wreak havoc on your metabolism because they can lead to insulin resistance (which is when the body can’t use insulin effectively). Insulin

Federal Judge Strikes

A federal judge ruled Monday that the new U.S. health-care reform law is unconstitutional, saying the federal government has no authority to require citizens to buy health insurance.

That provision is a cornerstone of the new legislation, signed into law in March by President Barack Obama.

The judge’s decision was not unexpected, and both supports and opponents of the legislation anticipate the validity of the new health law ultimately will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The ruling was handed down by U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson, a Republican appointed by President George W. Bush who had seemed sympathetic to the state of Virginia’s case when oral arguments were heard in October, the Associated Press reported.

Last week, White House officials said a negative ruling would not affect the implementation of the law because its major provisions don’t take effect until 2014, the AP reported.

Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli, a Republican, had filed a lawsuit in defense of a new Virginia law barring the federal government from requiring state residents to buy health insurance. He argued that it is unconstitutional for the federal law to force citizens to buy

Head Injuries Carry Long Term

The risk of death after head injury remained significantly increased for as long as 13 years, irrespective of the severity of the injury, results of a case-control study showed.

Overall, patients with a history of head injury had more than a twofold greater risk of death than did two control groups of individuals without head injury.

Among young adults, the risk disparity ballooned to more than a fivefold difference, Scottish investigators reported online in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.

“More than 40% of young people and adults admitted to hospital in Glasgow after a head injury were dead 13 years later,” Dr. Thomas M. McMillan, of the University of Glasgow, and coauthors wrote in the discussion of their findings. “This stark finding is not explained by age, gender, or deprivation characteristics.”

“As might be expected following an injury, the highest rate of death occurred in the first year after head injury,” they continued. “However, risk of death remained high for at least a further 12 years when, for example, death was 2.8 times more likely after head injury than for community controls.”

Previous studies of mortality after head injury have

Could You Have a Fractured Bone?

Any crack or break in a bone is considered to be a fractured bone. Although auto accidents are a common cause of fractured bones, most fractures actually occur inside the home.

The most common fractured bone in children is an arm bone, because kids hold out their arms when they fall. For people over age 65 who fall, the most common fractures are hip, spine, arm, and leg fractures.

Fractured bone symptoms depend on what bone is fractured and the type of break you experience, from a stress fracture in the shin or a compression fracture in the spine. The shin bone is the most commonly broken long bone in the body, but fractured leg symptoms from the shin bone can range from mild swelling to a bone actually sticking out through the skin.

Avoid These Hip-Fracture Risk Factors

Symptoms that may occur with most fractured bones include:

  • A misshapen or deformed bone or joint
  • Bruising and swelling around the fracture
  • Severe pain that is worse with movement
  • Broken skin with visible bone showing
  • Loss of sensation or a tingling
  • Limited or complete loss of movement

Types of Bone Fractures

A bone fracture can range

Global Warming May Pose Health Risks

Medical and public health groups are banding together to explain how global warming has taken a toll on human health and will continue to cause food-borne illnesses, respiratory problems, and deaths unless policy changes are enacted.

In a conference call with reporters, the heads of the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Public Health Association (APHA) joined with a pediatrician and a scientist to lay out what they say is a major public health issue: climate change caused by global warming.

The “evidence has only grown stronger” that climate change is responsible for an increasing number of health ills, including asthma, diarrheal disease, and even deaths from extreme weather such as heat waves, said Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the APHA.

For one, rising temperatures can mean more smog, which makes children with asthma sicker, explained pediatrician Dr. Perry Sheffield, assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics and the Department of Preventive Medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in New York.

There is also evidence that pollen season is also getting longer, she said, which could lead to an increase in the number of people with asthma.

Climate

Why We Get Hangovers?

Pounding headache, dry mouth, queasy stomach: You feel like you’re dying. But if you had a few too many drinks last night, you probably just have a hangover.

Beyond the fatigue and massive headache, physical symptoms of a hangover include increased sensitivity to light and sound, muscle aches, eye redness, and thirst, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. You may also find yourself feeling sweaty, dizzy, and extra- irritable.

Such side effects usually set in several hours after you’ve stopped drinking, as your blood alcohol level (BAC) falls, and they peak when your BAC reaches zero. Some researchers explain the correlation as a “kind of mini withdrawal,” Robert Swift, PhD, professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University and director of research at the Providence Veterans Administration Medical Center, told Newsweek. Hangover symptoms, which can last the entire following day, are similar to those that alcoholics experience when they stop drinking.

Blame Your Hangover On the Congeners

Congeners are chemical byproducts of the alcohol fermentation process, found more prominently in darker liquor such as red wine, bourbon, brandy, whiskey, and dark-colored beers. Think of them as your worst hangover

Why Asparagus Make Pee Smell Funny?

For all of its health benefits (it has plenty of fiber and protein, and it acts as a diuretic to help beat bloating),asparagus can have one major downfall: It can make your pee smell funky.

So what’s to blame for the cooked-cabbage aroma? “Your body breaks down asparagus during digestion into sulfur-containing chemicals that give your urine a distinctive odor,” explains Roshini Raj, MD, assistant professor of medicine at New York University Langone Medical Center and author of What the Yuck?!.

Not everyone is affected, though: Dr. Raj says that only about half of people complain about, er, report the funny smell.

Scientists have developed two theories to explain why asparagus-tainted urine only affects some people. One posits that only some people metabolize asparagus’ sulfuric compounds in a way that produces the aroma. The other holds that while everyone makes the smell, only some people can actually detect the odor.

In a study published in the journal Chemical Sense, researchers from the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia sought to determine which explanation was the more likely. They collected urine samples from 38 participants before and after they ate asparagus, then asked whether

Health Reform Law Gaining

To be sure, Americans remain sharply divided over the legislation, with slightly more than one-third (36 percent) of adults saying they want the law repealed and 21 percent saying they want it to remain as is. Another 25 percent would like to see only certain elements of the law modified, the poll found.

“The public is still divided, mainly on partisan lines, as to whether to implement or repeal all, parts, or none of the health care reform bill,” said Harris Poll Chairman Humphrey Taylor.

The poll, conducted earlier this month, found that support for the legislation clearly breaks down along party lines. Almost two-thirds of Republicans (63 percent) said they wanted the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act repealed, compared to 9 percent of Democrats.

But while poll respondents were split about the law as a whole, many strongly supported key elements of the bill, “with the notable exception of the individual mandate [the requirement that all adults purchase health insurance] which remains deeply unpopular,” Taylor said.

That support for certain components of the law seems to be increasing slowly with time. For instance, 71 percent of those polled now back the

Scientists identify mechanisms

A study led by UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers has uncovered key molecular pathways behind the disruption of the gut’s delicate balance of bacteria during episodes of inflammatory disease.

“A deeper understanding of these pathways may help in developing new prevention and treatment strategies for conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and certain gastrointestinal infections and colorectal cancers,” said Dr. Sebastian Winter, Assistant Professor of Microbiology and a W.W. Caruth, Jr. Scholar in Biomedical Research at UT Southwestern, who led the study.

More than 1 million people in the U.S. suffer from IBD, a chronic, lifelong inflammatory disorder of the intestines that has no cure or means of prevention.

The findings, published online today in Cell Host & Microbe, explain a critical mechanism behind the changes in the gut during intestinal inflammation, an issue that had previously been unclear to scientists.

“We found that gut inflammation correlates with a change in the nutrients available to the bacteria,” said Elizabeth Hughes, a graduate student in the Winter Lab and co-first author of the study.

A healthy human gut is teeming with microbes, with bacterial cells outnumbering other cells in the

Malaria Mosquitoes like People With Malaria|Why ?

Malaria mosquitoes prefer to feed — and feed more — on blood from people infected with malaria. Researchers from Stockholm University, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and KTH Royal Institute of Technology have discovered why. The findings can lead to new ways to fight malaria without using poisonous chemicals. The results will be published in the next issue of the journal Science.

“The malaria parasite produces a molecule, HMBPP, which stimulates the human red blood cells to release more carbon dioxide and volatile compounds with an irresistible smell to malaria mosquitoes. The mosquito also eats more blood,” says Ingrid Faye at Stockholm University.Ingrid Faye and her colleagues from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and KTH Royal Institute of Technology discovered that most malaria mosquitoes, were attracted by HMBPP-blood, even at very low concentrations.

The mosquitoes are also attracted more quickly and drink more blood. Moreover, these mosquitoes acquire a more severe malaria infection, i.e. higher numbers of parasites are produced. This indicates that the extra nutrients from the larger meal of blood are used to produce more parasites, researchers believe. Neither humans nor mosquitoes use HMBPP themselves, but the parasite needs

How best to treat infections and tumors ?

In cases where drug resistance can lead to treatment failure, new research shows that therapies tailored to contain an infection or a tumor at tolerable levels can, in some cases, extend the effective life of the treatment and improve patient outcomes. In other cases, aggressive treatments aimed at eliminating as much of the infection or tumor as possible — the traditional approach — might be best. But how can we know which stands the better chance of working?

A new mathematical analysis by researchers at Penn State University and the University of Michigan, publishing February 9, 2017, in the Open-Access journal PLOS Biology, identifies the factors that determine which of the two approaches will perform best, providing physicians and patients with new information to help them make difficult treatment decisions.

“People die when their infections or tumors become drug resistant,” said Andrew Read, Evan Pugh Professor of Biology and Entomology and Eberly Professor of Biotechnology at Penn State and an author of the study. “We analyzed when it might be better to use drugs to contain rather than try to eliminate the infection or tumor. We find there are situations where containment would

Infection defense: Call for support by the killer cells

 A few days after a viral infection, countless killer cells swarm out to track down and kill infected body cells. In this way, they are highly effective at preventing pathogens from being able to spread further. An international research team has now explained an important mechanism behind building this army. The work under the aegis of the University of Bonn is published in the journalImmunity.

Killer cells — called cytotoxic T cells in the technical jargon — are somewhat like a well-trained police dog: as long as they don’t know that an infection is currently spreading somewhere in the body, they behave peacefully. They only become active and multiply when forensics rubs a “piece of property” of the pathogen under their nose. Only then do they head out to destroy the intruder.

The role of forensics is assumed by the dendritic cells. They patrol around the clock and keep a lookout for molecules that should not actually be inside the body. When they make a find, they present the foreign molecule on their surface. Then they wait for a killer cell, to which they can show their find.

However, there are a

Time of Surgery Doesn’t Influence

The timing of an operation doesn’t affect a patient’s subsequent risk of complications or death, a new study finds.

For example, there’s no difference in death rates between elective surgery performed in the afternoon versus the morning or on Monday instead of Friday, the researchers said. Their findings should help to ease concerns that fatigue may lead to a higher rate of safety problems when operations are performed later in the day or week, they said.

The study included an analysis of the outcomes of more than 32,000 elective surgeries performed between 2005 and 2010. The overall complication rate before discharge was 13 percent, and the overall risk of death within 30 days of surgery was 0.43 percent.

After the researchers adjusted for other factors, the risk of complications or death was not significantly different for patients who had surgery at different times of the day — between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. — or week.

The time of year also had no impact on the risk of complications or death. This included July and August, when most new residents start working in teaching hospitals.

The study appears in the December issue