Spending half the day on your feet reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer, study says

Office workers should abandon their chairs for half their working day to reduce their risk of heart attacks, cancer, or diabetes, according to new guidance recommending people spend at least two hours – and preferably four – a day on their feet.

Bosses should provide desks which people can stand at, and allow workers to have regular breaks to walk around, according to the new study, commissioned by Public Health England (PHE) and the Active Working Community Interest Company.

And companies should warn their employees that: “prolonged sitting, aggregated from work and in leisure time, may significantly and independently increase the risk of cardiometabolic diseases and premature mortality,” says the expert guidance which is published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Office workers should spend at least two hours a day “standing and light activity (light walking) during working hours, eventually progressing to a total accumulation of 4 h,” recommends the first ever British guidance designed to curb the health risks of too much time sitting down.

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Adopting high fibre diet could dramatically cut risk of bowel cancer

Corn biscuits for breakfast; veggie dogs for lunch; okra, tomato and black-eyed peas for tea. It’s probably not a diet to tempt most Americans into shedding a few pounds.

But swapping westernised eating habits for the high-fibre diet of millions of people living in rural southern Africa could dramatically cut the risk of bowel cancer in the West, according to an innovative ‘diet swap’ study.

In research which saw 20 Americans switching diets with 20 South Africans living in rural Kwazulu, scientists saw dramatic effects on bowel cancer risk indicators after just two weeks.

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Paralysed man walks again after cell transplant

A paralysed man has been able to walk again after a pioneering therapy that involved transplanting cells from his nasal cavity into his spinal cord.

Darek Fidyka, who was paralysed from the chest down in a knife attack in 2010, can now walk using a frame.

The treatment, a world first, was carried out by surgeons in Poland in collaboration with scientists in London.

Details of the research are published in the journal Cell Transplantation.

BBC One’s Panorama programme had unique access to the project and spent a year charting the patient’s rehabilitation.

Darek Fidyka, 40, from Poland, was paralysed after being stabbed repeatedly in the back in the 2010 attack.

He said walking again – with the support of a frame – was “an incredible feeling”, adding: “When you can’t feel almost half your body, you are helpless, but when it starts coming back it’s like you were born again.”

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Bringing the Dead back to Life

A radical procedure that involves replacing a patient’s blood with cold salt water could retrieve people from the brink of death, says David Robson.

Rhee isn’t exaggerating. With Samuel Tisherman, at the University of Maryland, College Park, he has shown that it’s possible to keep bodies in ‘suspended animation’ for hours at a time. The procedure, so far tested on animals, is about as radical as any medical procedure comes: it involves draining the body of its blood and cooling it more than 20C below normal body temperature.

Once the injury is fixed, blood is pumped once again through the veins, and the body is slowly warmed back up. “As the blood is pumped in, the body turns pink right away,” says Rhee. At a certain temperature, the heart flickers into life of its own accord. “It’s quite curious, at 30C the heart will beat once, as if out of nowhere, then again – then as it gets even warmer it picks up all by itself.” Astonishingly, the animals in their experiments show very few ill-effects once they’ve woken up. “They’d be groggy for a little bit but back to normal the day after,” says Tisherman. Continue reading

Equation can “predict momentary happiness”

It has long been known that happiness depends on many different life circumstances.

Now scientists have developed a mathematical equation that can predict momentary delight.

They found that participants were happiest when they performed better than expected during a risk-reward task.

Brain scans also revealed that happiness scores correlated with areas known to be important for well-being.

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Stress and Heart Attack link explained

Scientists said Sunday they may have unravelled how chronic stress leads to heart attack and stroke: triggering overproduction of disease-fighting white blood cells which can be harmful in excess.

Surplus cells clump together on the inner walls of arteries, restricting blood flow and encouraging the formation of clots that block circulation or break off and travel to another part of the body.

White blood cells “are important to fight infection and healing, but if you have too many of them, or they are in the wrong place, they can be harmful,” said study co-author Matthias Nahrendorf of the Harvard Medical School in Boston.

Doctors have long known that chronic stress leads to cardiovascular disease, but have not understood the mechanism. Continue reading

‘Bonding hormone’ oxytocin has anti-aging qualities

The hormone known for creating soothing sensations during pleasant social and physical interactions might one day be used to maintain and repair aging muscles, according to a study conducted at the University of California at Berkeley.

Researchers say oxytocin, which is released during breastfeeding, sex, and even a warm hug, could become a viable treatment for age-related muscle wasting or sarcopenia.

Associated with social and romantic attachements, oxytocin increases libido and is thought to create social, familial and romantic bonds.

“This is the hormone that makes your heart melt when you see kittens, puppies and human babies,” said principal investigator Irina Conboy, associate professor of bioengineering and a member of the Berkeley Stem Cell Center and of the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3). “There is an ongoing joke among my research team that we’re all happy, friendly and trusting because oxytocin permeates the lab.” Continue reading

The Generous Marriage

An article by Tara Parker-Pope

From tribesmen to billionaire philanthropists, the social value of generosity is already well known. But new research suggests it also matters much more intimately than we imagined, even down to our most personal relationships.

Researchers from the University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project recently studied the role of generosity in the marriages of 2,870 men and women. Generosity was defined as “the virtue of giving good things to one’s spouse freely and abundantly” — like simply making them coffee in the morning — and researchers quizzed men and women on how often they behaved generously toward their partners. How often did they express affection? How willing were they to forgive?

The responses went right to the core of their unions. Men and women with the highest scores on the generosity scale were far more likely to report that they were “very happy” in their marriages. The benefits of generosity were particularly pronounced among couples with children. Among the parents who posted above-average scores for marital generosity, about 50 percent reported being “very happy” together. Among those with lower generosity scores, only about 14 percent claimed to be “very happy,” according to the latest “State of Our Unions” report from the National Marriage Project.

While sexual intimacy, commitment and communication are important, the focus on generosity adds a new dimension to our understanding of marital success. Though this conclusion may seem fairly self-evident, it’s not always easy to be generous to a romantic partner. The noted marriage researcher John Gottman has found that successful couples say or do at least five positive things for each negative interaction with their partner — not an easy feat.

“In marriage we are expected to do our fair share when it comes to housework, child care and being faithful, but generosity is going above and beyond the ordinary expectations with small acts of service and making an extra effort to be affectionate,” explains the University of Virginia’s W. Bradford Wilcox, who led the research. “Living that spirit of generosity in a marriage does foster a virtuous cycle that leads to both spouses on average being happier in the marriage.”

Social scientists are now wondering if this virtuous cycle extends to children too. In a study of 3-year-old twins, Israeli researchers have identified a genetic predisposition toward generosity that may be further influenced by a parent’s behavior. Preliminary findings suggest that children with more-engaged parents are more likely to be generous toward others, which may bode well for their future relationships — and their parents’ too.

“We see meaningful differences in parents’ behaviors,” said Ariel Knafo, the principal investigator and a psychologist at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. “In the long run we’d like to be able to see whether it’s children’s generosity that also makes parents more kind or the other way around. Probably it’s both.”

Eating Whole Fresh fruits lowers risk of diabetes, drinking juice raises it

Eating more whole fresh fruit, especially blueberries, grapes, apples and pears, is linked to a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, but drinking more fruit juice has the opposite effect, says a study.

British, US and Singaporean researchers pored over data from three big health investigations that took place in the United States, spanning a quarter of a century in all.

More than 187,000 nurses and other professional caregivers were enrolled.

Their health was monitored over the following years, and they regularly answered questionnaires on their eating habits, weight, smoking, physical activity and other pointers to lifestyle.

Around 6.5 percent of the volunteers developed diabetes during the studies.

People who ate at least two servings each week of certain whole fruits, especially blueberries, grapes and apples, reduced their risk of Type 2 diabetes by as much as 23 percent compared to those who ate less than one serving per month.

“Our findings provide novel evidence suggesting certain fruits may be especially beneficial for lower diabetes risk,” said Qi Sun, an assistant professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.

On the other hand, those who consumed one or more servings of fruit juice each day saw their risk of the disease increase by as much as 21 percent.

Swapping three servings of juice per week for whole fruits resulted in a seven-percent reduction in risk, although there was no such difference with strawberries and cantaloupe melon.

The paper, published on Friday by the British Medical Journal (BMJ), says further work is needed to explore this “significant” difference.

It speculates that, even if the nutritional values of whole fruit and fruit juice are similar, the difference lies with the fact that one food is a semi-solid and the other a liquid.

“Fluids pass through the stomach to the intestine more rapidly than solids even if nutritional content is similar,” says the paper.

“For example, fruit juices lead to more rapid and larger changes in serum [blood] levels of glucose and insulin than whole fruits.”

The study also points to evidence that some kinds of fruit have a beneficial effect for health.

Berries and grapes, for instance, have compounds called anthocyanins which have been found to lower the risk of heart attacks.

But, say the authors, how or even whether this also applies to diabetes risks is for now unclear.

The investigation looked at data from the Nurses’ Health Study, which ran from 1984-2008; the Nurses’ Health Study II (1991-2009); and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (1986-2008).

Ten kinds of fruit were used in the questionnaire: grapes or raisins; peach, plums or apricots; prunes; bananas; cantaloupe melon; apples or pears; oranges; grapefruit; strawberries; and blueberries.

The fruit juices identified in the questionnaire were apple, orange, grapefruit and “other.” – AFP/Relaxnews, September 2, 2013.

Eating fatty fish can reduce risk of arthritis

A NEW study finds that eating a weekly portion of salmon or other fatty fish, such as trout or mackerel, could reduce your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis by more than half.

In a study published Monday in the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases, the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm found that the omega-3 fatty acids in fish can cut the risk of chronic inflammatory disease by 52 percent.

Prior research from 2009 suggests that consuming fish oils could help reduce inflammation that leads to a variety of diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis. In this study, researchers highlighted the benefit to long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (Pufa) content in fish.

If you prefer lean fish, such as cod or canned tuna, the same benefit could be found in eating four servings a week, the researchers found. Long-term, weekly consumption of any type of fish was associated with a 29 percent lower risk of the disease.

However you’ll need to sustain a regular diet of fish for at least 10 years to enjoy the health prevention against the condition, they added.

To reach their findings, head researcher Alicja Wolk and her team analyzed the diets of 32,232 Swedish born between 1914 and 1948. Subjects completed questionnaires about their food intake and lifestyle in 1987 and 1997. Women who consumed at least 0.21g of omega-3 Pufas daily had the 52 percent reduced risk, the study found. – AFP Relaxnews