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leh times 02 to 07 April 2014

Chemicals in plastics linked to elevated blood pressure Washington: Certain types of plastic additives known as phthalates could pose risk to children`s heart health, a new study has suggested. Once perceived as harmless, phthalates have come under increasing scrutiny. A growing collection of evidence suggests dietary exposure to phthalates (which can leech from packaging and mix with food)

may cause significant metabolic and hormonal abnormalities, especially during early development. Drawing on data from a nationally representative survey of nearly 3,000 children and teens, researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Washington and Penn State University School of Medicine, have documented for the first time a connection between dietary exposure to DEHP (di-2-ethyhexylphthalate), a common class of phthalate widely used in industrial food production, and elevated systolic blood pressure, a measure of pressure in the arteries when the heart contracts. “Phthalates can inhibit the function of cardiac cells and cause oxidative stress that compromises the health of arteries. But no one has explored the relationship between phthalate exposure and heart health in children” said lead author Leonardo Trasande, MD, MPP, associate professor of pediatrics, environmental medicine and population health at NYU Langone Medical Center. “We wanted to examine the link between phthalates and childhood blood pressure in particular given the increase in elevated

Global obesity epidemic linked to addiction to unhealthy food

Washington: Research shows that highcorn syrup can cause behavioural reactions in rats similar to those produced by drugs of abuse such as cocaine. These results, presented by addiction expert Francesco Leri, Associate Professor of Neuroscience and Applied Cognitive Science at the University of Guelph, suggest food addiction could explain, at least partly, the current global obesity epidemic. The “ Food Addiction” hypothesis suggests one could be addicted to food just as one is addicted to drugs of abuse. To test this hypothesis, Dr. Leri studied the response of rats to foods containing unnaturally high concentrations of sugar, fats and taste enhancers, such as high-fructose corn syrup and foods like oreo cookies. Increased availability of such highlypalatable foods could partly explain the high incidence of obesity around the world, but simple availability does not explain why some people are obese and others are not, given the same amount

of available food. Dr. Leri and others, suggest one important factor could be individual differences in vulnerability to addiction. Surveys of consumption of cocaine show that though many individuals try these drugs, only a small percentage of them become addicted. Dr. Leri wanted to know if the same could be true of “addictive foods”. “We have evidence in laboratory animals of a shared vulnerability to develop preferences for sweet foods and for cocaine” Leri said. Dr. Leri investigated the behavioural, chemical and neurobiological changes induced by consumption of “ addictive foods” in the bodies and brains of rats. Dr. Leri`s findings could lead to novel pharmacological interventions for obese individuals that could help them selectively reduce intake of unhealthy foods. This knowledge could also help increase the public`s understanding of the effects of unhealthy food choices.

More time in gym class lowers obesity risk in kids Washington: Increasing the amount of timethatelementaryschoolchildrenspent in gym class reduces the probability of obesity, a new study from Cornell University has found.The study represents some of the first evidence of a causal effect of physical education (PE) on youth obesity.The research offers support for the recommendations of organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control, Institute of Medicine, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, all of which have advocated increasing the amount of time that elementary school children spend in gym class, said lead researcher and Cornell professor of policy analysis and management, John Cawley, who conducted the study with Chad Meyerhoefer of Lehigh University (Cornell Ph.D. 2002) and David Frisvold of Emory University.Treating variation in the amount of time that states

mandate schoolchildren spend in PE as naturalexperiments,theresearchersfound that an additional 60 minutes per week of PE time (enough to bring states without an explicit requirement up to the amount of PE recommended by the CDC) reduces the probability that a fifth-grader is obese by 4.8 percentage points. The researchers also detected a gender difference: additional PE time reduces weight for boys but has a negligible effect for girls.One explanation for this difference, said Cawley, is that PE and other types of physical activity are complements for boys (increased PE leads boys to be more active in structured physical activities like organized sports), but substitutes for girls (increased PE leads girls to spend more time watching television).The finding will be published in the Journal of Health Economics.

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blood pressure in children and the increasing evidence implicating exposure to environmental exposures in early development of disease,” he added.

Researchers from NYU School of Medicine, the University of Washington and Penn State University School of Medicine examined six years of data from a nationally

representative survey of the U.S. population administered by the National Centers for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Phthalates were measured in urine samples using standard analysis techniques. Controlling for a number of potential confounders, including race, socioeconomic status, body mass index, caloric intake and activity levels, the researchers found that every three-fold increase in the level of breakdown products of DEHP in urine correlated with a roughly one-millimeter mercury increase in a child`s blood pressure. “That increment may seem very modest at an individual level, but on a population level such shifts in blood pressure can increase the number of children with elevated blood pressure substantially,” said Dr. Trasande. “Our study underscores the need for policy initiatives that limit exposure to disruptive environmental chemicals, in combination with dietary and behavioral interventions geared toward protecting cardiovascular health,” he concluded. The study was published in th Journal of Pediatrics.

Statin use linked to increased risk of developing diabetes Washington: Scientists have warned that treatment with high potency statins (especially atorvastatin and simvastatin) may increase the risk of developing diabetes.But some statins can reduce the risk of diabetes. Statins are among the most widely prescribed medications for the prevention of cardiovascular events. Although tolerated well, an association with new-onset diabetes has recently been suggested.One trial suggested a 27 percent increased risk of diabetes with rosuvastatin whereas another suggested patients taking pravastatin benefitted from a 30 percent lower risk.As there is limited data on this subject, researchers from Canada carried out a population-based study on 1.5 million residents in Ontario, Canada to examine the association between individual statin use and new-onset diabetes.All patients were aged 66 and over and started statin therapy between 1997 and 2010. The median age was 73 years. Follow up ended either at the end of 2010 or a maximum of five years following the initiation of statins, whichever came first. The primary outcome was incident diabetes.Data were taken from the Ontario Drug Benefit database, the Canadian Institute for Health Information Discharge Abstract Database and the Ontario Diabetes Database. Statins included in the study were: fluvastatin, lovastatin, pravastatin, simvastatin, atorvastatin and rosuvastatin. All studies used pravastatin-

treated patients as the comparison group as this has been shown to have favourable effects on newly diagnosed diabetes in animal models and clinical trials. ,250 patients were identified with no history of diabetes and who were newly treated with a statin. 54 percent were women. Atorvastatin accounted for more than half of all new statin prescriptions followed by rosuvastatin, simvastatin, pravastatin, lovastatin and fluvastatin.The overall risk of developing diabetes was low but this risk was increased among some patients taking statins. Between 162 and 407 patients would have tobetreatedwiththevariousstatins for one extra patient to develop diabetes. Patients treated with atorvastatin were found to have a 22 percent increased risk of new-onset diabetes,rosuvastatinan18percent increased risk and simvastatin a 10 percent increased risk, relative to pravastatin.In contrast, patients treated with fluvastatin were at a 5 percent decreased risk and lovastatin a 1 percent decreased risk. The event rate was highest for atorvastatin (30 outcomes per 1000 person-years) and rosuvastatin (34 per 1000 person-years). Simvastatin accounted for 26 outcomes per 1000 person-years with both fluvastatinandlovastatinat21outcomes per1000person-years.Theresearchers found consistent results in analyses examining the use of statins for primary prevention (when those without established disease are treated) and secondary prevention (when those with established

disease are treated). Their findings also suggest that older patients are at an increased risk regardless of dose for atorvastatin and simvastatin or whether therapy is used for primary or secondary prevention. The researchers say several factors may explain the increased risk of new-onset diabetes among patients receiving certain statins including impaired insulin secretion and inhibited insulin release.In conclusion, the researchers say clinicians should consider risk when contemplating statin therapy. They add

that“preferentialuseofpravastatin, and potentially fluvastatin may be warranted” and that pravastatin may even be beneficial to patients at high risk of diabetes.In an accompanyingeditorial,doctorsfrom the University of Turku in Finland said that the overall benefit of statins still clearly outweighs the potential risk of incident diabetes. They concluded that as statins have been shown to reduce cardiovascular events in patients, they “play an important role in treatment”.

Universal vaccine could end annual flu jabs Washington: In a breakthrough, scientists claim to have developed a new type of influenza vaccine that may provide long-term immunity against various flu strains with a single jab. A new approach for immunising against influenza elicited a more potent immune response and broader protection than the currently licensed seasonal influenza vaccines when tested in mice and ferrets. The vaccine concept, which was developed by scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), represents an important step forward in the quest to develop a universal influenza vaccine - one that would protect against most or all influenza strains without the need for an annual vaccination. The scientists designed an experimental vaccine featuring the protein ferritin, which can self-assemble into microscopic pieces called nanoparticles, as a key component. Ferritin was fused genetically with hemagglutinin (HA), the protein found on the surface of the influenza virus, resulting in a nanoparticle with eight protruding viral spikes.

Using this as the basis for the vaccine antigen, the researchers created an experimental vaccine using HA from a 1999 strain of H1N1 influenza virus and evaluated its ability to stimulate an immune response in mice. A single dose of the experimental vaccine both with and without the use of an adjuvant triggered an immune response in the mice comparable to two doses of the currently licensed seasonal influenza vaccine. The experimental vaccine was also active against a wider range of H1N1 influenza virus strains than the licensed vaccine.The researchers also

tested the experimental vaccine`s ability to protect ferrets from infection with a 2007 strain of H1N1 influenza virus - a strain it had not been specifically designed to prevent. One day after exposure to the virus, ferrets that had received the experimental vaccine had significantly lower influenza virus levels than those that were not immunised. According to the researchers, the novel vaccine concept works by stimulating antibodies that hitch themselves to the parts of the influenza virus that stay consistent across different strains.

Yogurt lovers have better diets: Study New York: People who eat yogurt may enjoy a better-balanced diet and get more key nutrients than those who never consume the cultured dairy product, according to a newstudy.Peoplewhosaidthey ate yogurt also reported consuming higher amounts of other healthy foods such as fruits,vegetables,nuts,fishand whole grains, than people who did not eat yogurt.Their diets obtained fewer calories from processedmeats,refinedgrains and beer than did the diets of non-yogurt eaters, according to the study, `Myhealthnewsdaily`reported."Yogurtisavery good source of many shortfall nutrients?calcium,potassium, and magnesium - that Americans don`t currently consume enoughof,"saidresearcherPaul Jacques of Tufts University. "Yogurt is a good way to meet your dietary requirements for nutrients that you may not be currently eating,

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