Pesticides Increase Thyroid Disease

Exposure to certain types of pesticides could up the risk of thyroid disease in women, according to a new study of thousands of women married to licensed pesticide applicators.

Problems with the thyroid gland are more common among women than men, Dr. Whitney S. Goldner of the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha and colleagues note in their report. The thyroid is located at the base of the throat and plays an important role in regulating the body's energy use.

There is growing evidence for a link between exposure to pesticides and thyroid problems, the authors note. They studied more than 16,500 women living in Iowa and North Carolina who were married to men seeking certification to use restricted pesticides in those states during the 1990s.

Overall, 12.5 percent of the women reported having thyroid disease; 7 percent had underactive thyroid glands (hypothyroidism) and 2 percent had overactive thyroids (hyperthyroidism).


'Diabetic effect' in dolphins offers new hope for type 2 diabetes cure

Dolphins are the only animals apart from humans to develop a natural form of type 2 diabetes, according to new research. The discovery offers important insights into a disease that is linked to one in 20 deaths.

American scientists have discovered that bottlenosed dolphins show a form of insulin resistance very similar to that seen in human diabetes. Unlike patients with the condition, the marine mammals can turn this state on and off when appropriate, so it is not normally harmful.

The findings indicate that dolphins could provide a valuable animal model for investigating type 2 diabetes, which promises to advance research into new therapies. If researchers can learn how the animals switch off their insulin resistance before it becomes damaging, it could be possible to develop a cure.

Stephanie Venn-Watson, a veterinary epidemiologist at the US National Marine Mammal Foundation, who led the research, said that it could have profound implications for a disease that affects an estimated 2.75 million adults in Britain.


Vitamin D Slashes Heart Disease, Diabetes

Vitamin D has long been known to build strong bones, but a British study has found that middle-aged and elderly people with high levels of vitamin D reduce their risk of developing heart disease or diabetes by 43 percent.

Researchers at Warwick Medical School reviewed 28 studies that examined vitamin

D and cardiometabolic disorders, which include cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. The 99,795 participants included men and women from a variety of ethnic groups.

Those participants with the highest levels of vitamin D lowered their risk of developing cardiovascular disease by 33 percent, their risk of Type 2 diabetes by 55 percent, and their chances of metabolic syndrome by 51 percent when compared to those with low levels of the vitamin.


Breast Cancer Fears Grow Around Household Cleaners

That fresh clean smell that American's love may be boosting cases of breast cancer in the U.S.-- and possibly even causing breast cancer in young children, let alone their moms.

Doctors and environmental scientists are growing more concerned that chemicals found in many household cleaning supplies, such as floor cleaners and glass cleaners, are behind the ongoing increase in breast cancer cases in the U.S. According to the New York Times, the chances that a 50 year-old white woman will develop breast cancer has increased from 1% in 1975 to 12% today. Anecdotal evidence from some of the latest epidemiological data suggests that younger women (and a growing number of men) are contracting the cancer.

Environmental Factors Outweigh Genetics, Health

Some of this increase likely results from better detection. But many of these problems appear to stem from a person's surroundings rather than their genetics or health. For example, researchers have found that Asian women living in the U.S. have much higher rates of breast cancer than Asian women living in Asia. This implies that the problem is something environmental.

"It is highly likely that environmental toxins in air, food, dust, soil and drinking water have contributed to increasing rates of cancer in Americans of all ages, including our children," reported Dr. Philip Landrigan, Director of the Center for Children's Health and the Environment at New York's Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in testimony before Congress. "The known and suspected causes of childhood cancer include benzene, other solvents, radiation, arsenic, parental smoking, certain pesticides and certain chemicals in the environment that have the potential to disrupt the function of the endocrine system."

Household Items May Be at Fault

Other chemicals that scientists suspect of playing a role in the rise of these illnesses include simple bleach, flame retardants (many of which have been banned in Europe) and components of plastics used in packaging for food, canned goods, and, until recently, children's bottles and sippy cups. The American public may already be sensing the danger as sales of green cleaning products are skyrocketing. Industry, too, is changing its tune. Both Clorox and cleaning products company S.C. Johnson have begun to reveal ingredients lists for their products, although its still hard to ascertain the true impact of the chemicals they list due to the multiple forms these chemicals could take.

The new disclosure policies are clearly due in part to impending green labeling initiatives by retailing giant Wal-Mart (WMT) and to aggressive rating and disclosure policies by GoodGuide, an online product rating site that focuses on environmental and health impacts of household cleaners, cosmetics and health products. Cleaning products company Clorox (CLX) rolled out a green line of cleaners and the entire segment of green cleaning is growing at triple-digit rates, according to product research firm MinTel.

But many of the substances that health care experts are worried about tend to persist in the environment for many years. So even as Americans switch to a greener cleaning regime, the trends in health problems that may be resulting from these more toxic substances may not slow or reverse for decades. In other words, even if Americans can learn to ditch the happy smells, they are hardly ouf of the woods on breast cancer or other potentially deadly ailments.

Battling Cancer? You Have Options, Says Suzanne Somers

Suzanne Somers was handed a death sentence last year. Her oncologist gave her the gut-wrenching news that she had cancer, and it had metastasized throughout her body. "I have never seen so much cancer," she remembers him saying.

During six days in the hospital, six different doctors confirmed the grim diagnosis and said her cancer was inoperable, incurable, and hopeless.

On day six, however, the doctors realized they had made a terrible mistake. Somers, who had already fought a successful battle with cancer ten years before, was actually cancer-free.


Kill Cancer With Cabernet and Chocolate

Cabernet and chocolate are potent medicine for killing cancer, according to research.

Red grapes and dark chocolate join blueberries, garlic, soy, and teas as ingredients that starve cancer while feeding bodies, Angiogenesis Foundation head William Li said at a prestigious Technology, Entertainment, Design Conference.

"We are rating foods based on their cancer-fighting qualities," Li said. "What we eat is really our chemotherapy three times a day."


Dark Chocolate Chases Wrinkles

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Chocolate can help protect the skin from wrinkle-causing UV damage, but it's not the type typically found in heart-shaped boxes. It's a special dark chocolate that is high in flavanols, which means it's loaded with naturally occurring, beneficial antioxidant plant compounds.

Chocolate has been used medicinally for more than 3,000 years, variously used as a treatment for angina, dysentery, fevers, constipation, and a host of other illnesses. Modern medicine started taking chocolate seriously in 1997, when a Harvard professor discovered that high-flavanol cocoa relaxes the blood vessels, thereby acting as a protectant against heart disease and hypertension. more>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Can Soft Drinks Cause Pancreatic Cancer?

Drinking two or more soft drinks a week increases the risk of developing pancreatic cancer by two-fold compared to people who do not drink soft drinks, says a report in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

People who drink soft drinks on a regular basis tend to have poor behavior patterns overall, but the effects of soft drinks on pancreatic cancer may be unique, Mark Pereira, Ph.D., senior author of the study and associate professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota, said in a statement MORE>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Study Analysis Fails to Link Saturated Fat, Heart Disease

The saturated fat found mainly in meat and dairy products has a bad reputation, but a new analysis of published studies finds no clear link between people's intake of saturated fat and their risk of developing heart disease.

Research has shown that saturated fat can raise blood levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol, and elevated LDL is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Because of this, experts generally advise people to limit their intake of fatty meat, butter, and full-fat dairy.

The American Heart Association (AHA) suggests that adults get no more than 7 percent of their daily calories from the fat; for someone who eats 2,000 calories a day, that translates into fewer than 16 grams of saturated fat per day.


More Than Half of Americans Use Internet for Health Information

More than half of Americans looked up health information on the Internet last year, U.S. government researchers reported on Tuesday.

But only 5 percent used email to communicate with their doctors, the survey by the National Center for Health Statistics found.

Researchers at the center used a survey of 7,192 adults aged 18 to 64 questioned between January and June 2009. MORE>>>>>>>>>

10 Easy Ways to Keep Your Brain Sharp

Saving your memory as you age doesn't just involve your brain; healthy choices in all areas of your life will keep your brain and your body in tip-top form. Follow these 10 easy tips to keep your brain sharp now and later. MORE>>>>>>>>>>

Fish oil supplements 'beat psychotic mental illness'

Taking a daily fish oil capsule can stave off mental illness in those at highest risk, trial findings suggest.

A three-month course of the supplement appeared to be as effective as drugs, cutting the rate of psychotic illness like schizophrenia by a quarter.

The researchers believe it is the omega-3 in fish oil - already hailed for promoting healthy hearts - that has beneficial effects in the brain.

A "natural" remedy would be welcomed, Archives of General Psychiatry says.

"The finding that treatment with a natural substance may prevent, or at least delay, the onset of psychotic disorder gives hope that there may be alternatives to antipsychotic drugs," the study authors said.

If young people can be treated successfully with fish oils, this is hugely preferable to treating them with antipsychotics
Alison Cobb

Antipsychotic drugs are potent and can have serious side effects, which puts some people off taking them.

Fish oil supplements, on the other hand, are generally well tolerated and easy to take, say the scientists.

The international team from Austria, Australia and Switzerland tested the treatment in 81 people deemed to be at particularly high risk of developing psychosis.

Natural choice

Their high risk was down to a strong family history of schizophrenia, or similar disorders, or them already showing mild symptoms of these conditions themselves.

For the test, half of the individuals took fish oil supplements (1.2 grams of omega-3 fatty acids) for 12 weeks, while the other half took only a dummy pill. Neither group knew which treatment they were receiving.

Dr Paul Amminger and his team followed the groups for a year to see how many, if any, went on to develop illness.

Two in the fish oil group developed a psychotic disorder compared to 11 in the placebo group.

Based on the results, the investigators estimate that one high-risk adult could be protected from developing psychosis for every four treated over a year.

They believe the omega-3 fatty acids found in the supplements may alter brain signalling in the brain with beneficial effects.

Alison Cobb, of the mental health charity Mind, said: "If young people can be treated successfully with fish oils, this is hugely preferable to treating them with antipsychotics, which come with a range of problems from weight gain to sexual dysfunction, whereas omega-3s are actually beneficial to their general state of health.

"These are promising results and more research is needed to show if omega-3s could be an alternative to antipsychotics in the long term."

Millions of people 'waste their time by jogging'

Researchers have discovered that the health benefits of aerobic exercise are determined by our genes - and can vary substantially between individuals.

Around 20 per cent of the population do not get any significant aerobic fitness benefit from regular exercise, according to an international study led by scientists at the University of London.

For these people, regular jogging and gym work will do little to ward off conditions like heart disease and diabetes which aerobic exercise is generally thought to resist.

Researchers say they would be better off abandoning their exercise regime and focusing on other ways of staying healthy - such as improving their diet or taking medication.

James Timmons of the Royal Veterinary College at the University of London, who led the study, said that the discovery would pave the way for more personalised treatments, with patients able to take DNA tests to find out the most effective way of keeping their own hearts healthy.

It could also be used to root out would-be recruits to the Armed Forces who will never be able to reach the required fitness standards.

Dr Timmons said the research broke new ground by using the human genome - the genetic map of the body which was decoded by scientists 10 years ago - to suggest improvements to healthcare.

"This would be one of the first examples of personalised, genomic-based medicine," he said.

As part of the research, published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, more than 500 participants in Europe and the US were asked to undergo various aerobic training programmes in line with government advice to do 30 minutes of exercise five times a week.

By the end of the 20, 12 and six week programmes the majority of people had shown a measurable improvement in how much oxygen their body consumes during exercise, a key indicator of aerobic fitness.

But 20 per cent saw their maximum oxygen increase by less than five per cent - a negligible improvement. Around 30 per cent showed no increase in insulin sensitivity, meaning that the exercise did not reduce their risk of diabetes.

A pioneering analysis of muscle tissue samples taken from the participants revealed a set of about 30 genes that predicted the increase in oxygen intake. Of these, 11 were shown to have a particular impact on how much a person could benefit from aerobic exercise.

Dr Timmons said: “We know that low maximal oxygen consumption is a strong risk factor for premature illness and death so the tendency is for public health experts to automatically prescribe aerobic exercise to increase oxygen capacity.

"Our hope is that before too long, they will be able to target that prescription just to those who may stand a greater chance of benefiting, and prescribe more effective preventive or therapeutic measures to the others.”

Research published by the British Heart Foundation this week found that one third of adults do their recommended 30 minutes of physical activity a day.

At their peak seven years ago 8.7 million Britons paid to attend gyms, although memberships have fallen since the start of the recession.

The research was conducted in association with the Human Genomics Laboratory in Louisiana and the Centre for Healthy Ageing at the University of Copenhagen.