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Sat, 01 Oct 2016
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Health & Wellness


Want the Good Life? Your Neighbors Need It, Too

© Stelios Lazakis

Outside a cathedral in Moldova, wedding guests walk by a panhandler. According to Richard Wilkinson's research, inequality within a society erodes mental, physical, and community health.
New research shows that, among developed countries, the healthiest and happiest aren't those with the highest incomes but those with the most equality. Epidemiologist Richard Wilkinson discusses why.

We live in a world of deep inequality, and the gap between the rich and the poor is widening. We in the rich world generally agree that this is a problem we ought to help fix - but that the real beneficiaries will be the billions of people living in poverty. After all, inequality has little impact on the lives of those who find themselves on top of the pile. Right?

Not exactly, says British epidemiologist Richard Wilkinson.

For decades, Wilkinson has studied why some societies are healthier than others. He found that what the healthiest societies have in common is not that they have more - more income, more education, or more wealth - but that what they have is more equitably shared.

In fact, it turns out that not only disease, but a whole host of social problems ranging from mental illness to drug use are worse in unequal societies. In his latest book, The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better, co-written with Kate Pickett, Wilkinson details the pernicious effects that inequality has on societies: eroding trust, increasing anxiety and illness, encouraging excessive consumption.


Babies Are Born to Dance

© Dreamstime
Babies move in time to music even before they learn to speak, new research shows.
Babies love a beat, according to a new study that found dancing comes naturally to infants.

The research showed babies respond to the rhythm and tempo of music, and find it more engaging than speech.

The findings, based on a study of 120 infants between 5 months and 2 years old, suggest that humans may be born with a predisposition to move rhythmically in response to music.

"Our research suggests that it is the beat rather than other features of the music, such as the melody, that produces the response in infants," said researcher Marcel Zentner, a psychologist at the University of York in England. "We also found that the better the children were able to synchronize their movements with the music, the more they smiled."


Omega-3 Boosts Brain Function in Boys

The omega-3 fat DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) may alter the function of the brain associated with working memory, according to results of a new study with healthy boys.

Scientists showed, for the first time using neuro-imaging, that supplementation with DHA alters the functional activity in cortical attention networks in humans.

The study follows hot on the heels of backing from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for DHA-related brain and eye health claims for infants. EFSA's Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) said DHA levels of 100 mg of per day were appropriate for 7-24 month-old infants, along with 200 mg per day for pregnant and lactating women.

Additionally, supplements of omega-3 fats, vitamins and minerals for prisoners may reduce the number of violent and aggressive episodes, according to another recent study.

Nutritional supplements containing vitamins, minerals, omega-3 and omega-6 fats were associated with a 34 percent reduction in violent incidents, according to findings of a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trial with over 200 young adult offenders.

Meanwhile, there was a 14 percent increase in the number of reported violent incidents in participants in a placebo group.


American Journal of Clinical Nutrition February 3, 2010 [Epub ahead of print]

Aggressive Behavior March 2010; 36(2):117-26


Depressed parents' negative effects on kids are combatable

Awareness of the toll has prompted more research into how to lessen it.

Gary McMane, 50, of Fontana, is convinced that his own depression has taken a toll on the three children he adores. "They're all good kids, and good in school, but I know it's had a terrible effect on them."

His 22-year-old daughter hangs on to her high school boyfriend as a security blanket, he says, and his 17-year-old son seems seriously depressed. Further, he adds, the 13-year-old boy is overly sensitive, feeling compelled to "rescue" anyone who is hurt. Granted, such perceptions are filtered through McMane's own feelings of guilt and responsibility - and his kids might not agree - but he's right to worry.

Although their father's depression may not be the cause of all these qualities, evidence is mounting that growing up with a depressed parent increases a child's risk for mental health problems, cognitive difficulties and troubled social relationships. The research on how a depressed parent affects kids has slowly accumulated for about 20 years, "but it's really taken off in the last few years," says Vanderbilt University psychologist Bruce Compas.

Arrow Down

HIV Infections Increasing Among Homosexuals Due to Repressive Laws

New HIV infections are increasing among homosexuals, drug users and prostitutes who don't seek help because of laws that criminalize these practices, the head of the U.N. AIDS agency said Monday.

Michel Sidibe, the head of UNAIDS, said "it is unacceptable" that 85 countries still have laws criminalizing same sex relations among adults, including seven that impose the death penalty for homosexual practices.

He called a proposed Ugandan law that would impose the death penalty for some gays "very unfortunate" and expressed hope it will never be approved.

At a time when UNAIDS is scaling up its program and seeking universal access to HIV treatment, Sidibe said he was "very scared" because bad laws are being introduced by countries making it impossible for these at risk groups to have access to services.

Arrow Up

Doctors Demand Outright Ban on Trans-fats in the Food Supply

© Todd Warnock/Getty Images
Trans fats are found in many cakes, biscuits, pies and chips.
The Faculty of Public Health (FPH) in the U.K. is urging British lawmakers to ban trans-fats from the British food supply because the artificial fats are causing heart attacks, strokes, and other serious diseases. Comprised of 3,300 doctors and health specialists, FPH hopes to follow in the footsteps of places like Denmark, Austria, and Switzerland which have all banned trans-fats from their food supplies.

Trans-fats are derived from vegetable oils that have been chemically modified. They bear no nutritional value but are used by food manufacturers to bulk up foods and extend their shelf life. Typically labeled as hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated, these artificial fats are commonly found in processed baked goods and desserts, pastries, and fast foods as well as in margarine and shortening.


Is There Toxic Waste In Your Body?

Your body may be a toxic waste dump.


You should be ...

We are exposed to 6 million pounds of mercury and the 2.5 billion pounds other toxic chemicals each year.

Eighty thousand toxic chemicals have been released into our environment since the dawn of the industrial revolution, and very few have been tested for their long-term impact on human health. And let me tell you, the results aren't pretty for those that have been tested ...

How can we not be affected by this massive amount of poison?

According to the nonprofit organization Environmental Working Group, the average newborn baby has 287 known toxins in his or her umbilical cord blood.

If a newborn is exposed to that many toxins, imagine how many you have been exposed to in your life...


Chinese Fluoride In Massachusetts Water Raises Concern

Team 5 Investigates After Amesbury Pulls Sodium Fluoride From Water Supply

Amesbury, Massachusetts. -- Fluoride is added to the water most of us drink because the government believes it's a safe and inexpensive way to prevent tooth decay.

However, Team 5 Investigates found the Amesbury Water Department pulled fluoride from its system amid concerns about its supply from China.

Department of Public Works Director Rob Desmarais said after he mixes the white powder with water, 40 percent of it will not dissolve.


Irradiate, Steam, or Fumigate Spices for Safety says FDA

© unknown
The Food and Drug Administration is reexamining the safety of a culinary staple found in every restaurant, food manufacturing plant and home kitchen pantry: spices.

In the middle of a nationwide outbreak of salmonella illness linked to black and red pepper -- and after 16 U.S. recalls since 2001 of tainted spices -- federal regulators met last week with the spice industry to figure out ways to make the supply safer.

Jeff Farrar, the FDA's associate commissioner for food safety, said the government wants the spice industry to do more to prevent contamination. That would include using one of three methods to rid spices of bacteria: irradiation, steam heating or fumigation with ethylene oxide, a pesticide.


Why are 48,000 Hospital-Stays per Year in the US Ending in Death?

In the United States, two common conditions caused by hospital-acquired infections killed 48,000 people and ramped up health care costs by $8.1 billion in 2006 alone, according to a recent study.

This is the largest nationally representative study of the toll taken by sepsis and pneumonia, two conditions often caused by deadly microbes, including the antibiotic-resistant bacteria MRSA.

Such infections can lead to longer hospital stays, serious complications and even death.

Researchers analyzed 69 million discharge records from hospitals in 40 states and identified two conditions caused by health care-associated infections: sepsis, a potentially lethal systemic response to infection and pneumonia, an infection of the lungs and respiratory tract.