Health & Wellness


New Fight to Stop Mass Fluoridation

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Girl drinking water.
Government drive to add the chemical to water supplies hinges on Hampshire test case.

Opponents of the mass fluoridation of water will next week try to stop a government drive to add the chemical to supplies used by millions of people in England and Wales.

The verdict on a small scheme covering 200,000 people in Southampton and southwest Hampshire will help shape public attitudes to far bigger proposals countrywide, and the South Central Strategic Health Authority's decision could potentially make ministers rethink plans to implement fluoridation. Authorities in northwest England are among those next in line to bring forward proposals.

Comment: Fluoride is toxic and danger to one's health. See the following:

Exposure to fluoride induces early puberty

Further dumbing down of the masses: Australia seeks comment on fluoride in bottled water

Fluoride in Drinking Water may Negatively Affect Health of Fetuses and Infants

Small Amounts Fluoride Destroy The Will To Resist


Author Pratchett Blames His Alzheimer's on Mercury Fillings

Terry Pratchett has reopened the controversy about the safety of mercury-based tooth fillings by blaming them for his Alzheimer's disease.

The author of the Discworld series describes the fillings - which millions of Britons have - as "toxic waste".

"Having something like mercury in your mouth seemed to me to be a really bad idea and I got rid of the stuff," said Pratchett.


Researchers shed new light on connection between brain and loneliness

Work is part of emerging field examining brain mechanisms.

Social isolation affects how people behave as well as how their brains operate, a study at the University of Chicago shows.

The research, presented Sunday at a symposium, "Social Emotion and the Brain," at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, is the first to use fMRI scans to study the connections between perceived social isolation (or loneliness) and activity in the brain. Combining fMRI scans with data relevant to social behavior is part of an emerging field examining brain mechanisms - an approach to psychology being pioneered at the University of Chicago.

Researchers found that the ventral striatum - a region of the brain associated with rewards - is much more activated in non-lonely people than in the lonely when they view pictures of people in pleasant settings. In contrast, the temporoparietal junction - a region associated with taking the perspective of another person - is much less activated among lonely than in the non-lonely when viewing pictures of people in unpleasant settings.


Study Takes Step Toward Erasing Bad Memories

© Reuters
An image of the human brain taken through scanning technology.
A widely available blood pressure pill could one day help people erase bad memories, perhaps treating some anxiety disorders and phobias, according to a Dutch study published on Sunday.

The generic beta-blocker propranolol significantly weakened people's fearful memories of spiders among a group of healthy volunteers who took it, said Merel Kindt, a psychologist at the University of Amsterdam, who led the study.

"We could show that the fear response went away, which suggests the memory was weakened," Kindt said in a telephone interview.


Ways to Minimize Tinnitus - Troublesome Noises in the Ears

Ringing, whining, whistling, hissing or whooshing. Any of those sounds in one or both ears when there is no external noise present could be a sign of tinnitus.

The February issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource provides an overview of this common condition. It's estimated that 10 percent to 15 percent of adults have prolonged tinnitus that often requires medical evaluation. This form of the problem can interfere with sleep, concentration and daily activities.

Tinnitus - pronounced as either TIN-i-tus or ti-NIGHT-us, often is caused by age-related hearing loss. Exposure to loud noises also can damage hearing and lead to tinnitus. Tinnitus can be caused by something as simple as a buildup of wax blocking the ear canal.


Researcher: Trees Make for Better Lives

A U.S. scientist says people living on tree-lined streets are happier, healthier and less likely to be victims of crime.

Frances Kuo of the University of Illinois reviewed studies on the effect of trees, The Daily Telegraph said. She reported her findings to the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Chicago.

"Nature calms people and it also helps them psychologically rejuvenate," she said. "They are better able to handle challenges which come their way."


Words give brain handle on feelings: U.S. researcher

© Reuters/Claro Cortes IV CC/TW
A Chinese girl explores a huge model of the brain displayed at the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum August 27, 2003.
Brain scientists are starting to understand something poets, songwriters and diarists have long known: putting feelings into words helps ease the mind.

"It is a pretty well-established finding that this occurs, but we don't know why," Matthew Lieberman of the University of California, Los Angeles, said on Saturday at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago.

"When you put feelings into words, you are turning on the same regions in the brain that are involved in emotional self-control," Lieberman said.

"It regulates distress," said Lieberman, who studies the brain using technology known as functional magnetic resonance imaging or fMRI, which highlights brain regions as they become active.


UK: Four in ten unaware that cancer is linked to poor diet

Four out of ten people are unaware that eating a poor diet increases their risk of cancer, a survey reveals.

The poll of almost 2,000 people found that 41 per cent were unaware of the link between what they ate and the disease.


Subliminal Messages Really Do Affect Your Decisions

If you ever felt paranoid about subliminal messages, you might be right to worry. Images we see but don't consciously register have been shown to inform people's decision-making.

Joel Voss of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and colleagues showed volunteers 12 kaleidoscope images for 2 seconds each while they also performed an unrelated number task to distract them from consciously committing the images to memory.

A minute later, volunteers were asked to look at pairs of similar-looking images and choose the one they had seen before. They were also asked whether they were sure, had "a feeling" they were right, or were just guessing.


A World Without Chocolate?

Without conservation efforts, cocoa could one day be in short supply.

© Getty Images
It's hard to imagine Valentine's Day without chocolate, but some scientists say that it's possible that chocolate could one day become extinct.
It's hard to imagine Valentine's Day without chocolate, but some scientists say that it's possible that chocolate could one day be in short supply.

What would the world be like without this decadent, delectable and divine dessert?

Historians say the Aztecs discovered chocolate more than 3,100 years ago and it was revered to the point of worship. Cocoa beans were linked to the feathered serpent god of agriculture and creation called Quetzalcoatl. If you believe the myth, Quetzalcoatl descended from the heavens on the beam of a morning star, carrying a cocoa tree stolen from paradise.

Comment: See the benefits of chocolate:

Chocolate, Wine And Tea Improve Brain Performance

Dark Chocolate: Half A Bar Per Week To Keep At Bay The Risk Of Heart Attack

Chocolate: A Health Food After All

Study: Chocolate lowers blood pressure