Results of new research
Today I would like to offer readers a variety of snippets of healthy information, something of which will appeal to you, I am sure.
• Let’s start with fast food. A study team in Spain has been analysing the diets and health of a group of around 9,000 people for six years. The most recent discovery is a strong link between consumption of fast food and the risk of depression.
During the six-year period, 493 people in the group eating fast food developed depression. The team looked at the diet of this group and found there was a link between those developing depression and their consumption of fast food, such as hamburgers, sausages, pizza, and pastries, such as muffins, doughnuts and croissants. This study, known as the Sun project, does not offer reasons why these foods are linked to depression, but it is clear that lack of nutrients are vital for physical and mental wellbeing.
• Bee propolis, a common treatment for sore throats and allergies such as hay fever, has shown that it can slow the growth of prostate cancer cells, according to research. A component of propolis (used in the bee hive to keep it toxin-free), known as ‘caffeic acid phenethyl ester’, has proved effective in the early stages of cancer by blocking the ability of cancerous cells to find sources of nutrition (Cancer Prev. Res., 2012).
• Statins are a common drug used by a wide number of the population. However, a natural antioxidant found in fruit and vegetables, such as broccoli, courgettes and spinach, can protect against heart disease just as well as a powerful statin drug when your ‘good’ cholesterol levels are low.
People with high levels of this antioxidant enzyme are six times less likely to have heart problems, say researchers from the University of Minnesota Medical School. This antioxidant is also found in most fruits, including peaches, oranges, lots of vegetables and Brazil nuts.
This appears to have the same protective effect as a statin drug which promotes ‘good’ HDL cholesterol, while lowering levels of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol. The researchers hope that the analysing of levels of this enzyme in blood tests will become a standard method for assessing heart attack risk (PLoS One, 2012).
• Many people are under the impression that sports and energy drinks are healthier than fizzy drinks. I have written about the effect energy drinks can have on those with heart problems. However, a recent paper published in General Dentistry magazine shows that these drinks are highly acidic and have the effect of bathing tooth enamel in acid.
The paper describes how scientists immersed samples of tooth enamel in 13 different sports drinks for 15 minutes four times a day for five days. After the five days, the damage was already evident.
The option is diluted fruit juices and coconut water, which are just as hydrating as most sports drinks, but less loaded with sugar, caffeine and other synthetic ingredients. Together with drinking water, these may provide a more ‘tooth-friendly’ option for sports enthusiasts.
• Soaps, toothpaste and other personal care products used at home could make children more allergic and prone to disorders such as asthma. Anti-bacterials and preservatives in these products affect children’s immune systems, thereby increasing their risk for environmental and food allergies.
Researchers have discovered that children with high levels of triclosan (an anti-bacterial agent used in personal care products) also had IgE antibodies in their blood, which are produced in response to an allergen.
A similar pattern can be seen in children with high levels of parabens and preservatives, commonly used in cosmetics. In a survey of 860 children aged six to 18, researchers from the Johns Hopkins Children’s’ Centre in Baltimore found that those with the highest levels of triclosan in their urine had nearly double the risk of having allergens compared with the children who had the lowest levels (J. Allergy Clin. Immunol., 2012).
• More health organisations, doctors and scientists are adding their voices to a worldwide call to safeguard children against emissions from wireless technology (wifi) in schools. The Council of Europe wants mobile phone use to be strictly regulated and for wired technology to be used whenever possible; while the European Environment Agency wants health authorities to reconsider the current safety exposure levels of radio frequencies from mobile phones.
The Russian, German and Israeli governments are also advocating the use of wired networks in schools in preference to wifi and other wireless technologies.
Despite these calls, however, the official line remains that the technology is safe and that children are not at risk. Nevertheless, the WHO has classified radio-frequency radiation as a possible human carcinogen (The International EMF Alliance).
• Finally, it has been discovered that meditation helps women recover better from breast cancer. The technique can ease depression, and lower blood pressure and heart rate after chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
This form of mindfulness meditation incorporates meditation, yoga and physical awareness and has been tested on a group of women following breast cancer therapy.