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Ancient Human Teeth Show That Stress Early in Development Can Shorten Life Span

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© Valerie Andrushko
Teeth from a site near Cuzco, Peru, show grooves of enamel damage.
Ancient human teeth are telling secrets that may relate to modern-day health: Some stressful events that occurred early in development are linked to shorter life spans.

"Prehistoric remains are providing strong, physical evidence that people who acquired tooth enamel defects while in the womb or early childhood tended to die earlier, even if they survived to adulthood," says Emory University anthropologist George Armelagos.

Armelagos led a systematic review of defects in teeth enamel and early mortality recently published in Evolutionary Anthropology.The paper is the first summary of prehistoric evidence for the Barker hypothesis -- the idea that many adult diseases originate during fetal development and early childhood.

"Teeth are like a snapshot into the past," Armelagos says. "Since the chronology of enamel development is well known, it's possible to determine the age at which a physiological disruption occurred. The evidence is there, and it's indisputable."

Health

Moms' Depression in Pregnancy Tied to Antisocial Behavior in Teens

Children from urban areas whose mothers suffer from depression during pregnancy are more likely than others to show antisocial behavior, including violent behavior, later in life. Furthermore, women who are aggressive and disruptive in their own teen years are more likely to become depressed in pregnancy, so that the moms' history predicts their own children's antisocial behavior.

That's the conclusion of a new longitudinal study conducted by researchers at Cardiff University, King's College London, and the University of Bristol. The research appears in the January/February 2010 issue of the journal Child Development.

The study considered the role of mothers' depression during pregnancy by looking at 120 British youth from inner-city areas. "Much attention has been given to the effects of postnatal depression on young infants," notes Dale F. Hay, professor of psychology at Cardiff University in Wales, who worked on the study, "but depression during pregnancy may also affect the unborn child." The youths' mothers were interviewed while they were pregnant, after they gave birth, and when their children were 4, 11, and 16 years old.

Family

Early Abuse Tied to More Depression in Children

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© Iparenting
Witnessing Child Abuse
Although children can be depressed for many reasons, new evidence suggests that there are physiological differences among depressed children based on their experiences of abuse before age 5. Early abuse may be especially damaging due to the very young age at which it occurs.

Those are the findings of a new study of low-income children that was conducted by researchers at the University of Minnesota and the University of Rochester, Mt. Hope Family Center. The study appears in the January/February 2010 issue of the journal Child Development.

Children who experience maltreatment, including physical, sexual, and emotional abuse or neglect, grow up with a lot of stress. Cortisol, termed the "stress hormone," helps the body regulate stress. But when stress is chronic and overloads the system, cortisol can soar to very high levels or plummet to lows, which in turn can harm development and health.

The researchers studied more than 500 low-income children ages 7 to 13, about half of whom had been abused and/or neglected, to find out whether abuse early in life and feelings of depression affected their levels of cortisol. High levels of depression were more frequent among children who were abused in the first five years of their lives than among maltreated children who weren't abused early in life or children who weren't maltreated at all.

Arrow Up

Alternative Medicine Sales Soar in the U.K.

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Analysts say the market has grown by 18 per cent in two years and is worth £213million a year.

And they predict sales will increase by 33 per cent to £282million over the next four years as more patients reject prescription drugs in favor of natural remedies.

Even relatively unknown treatments such as ayurveda - the Indian holistic system of diet, yoga, massage and herbs - are picking up in popularity.

Evil Rays

Airport Body Scanning Raises Radiation Exposure, Committee Says

Air passengers should be made aware of the health risks of airport body screenings and governments must explain any decision to expose the public to higher levels of cancer-causing radiation, an inter-agency report said.

Pregnant women and children should not be subject to scanning, even though the radiation dose from body scanners is "extremely small," said the Inter-Agency Committee on Radiation Safety report, which is restricted to the agencies concerned and not meant for public circulation. The group includes the European Commission, International Atomic Energy Agency, Nuclear Energy Agency and the World Health Organization.

A more accurate assessment about the health risks of the screening won't be possible until governments decide whether all passengers will be systematically scanned or randomly selected, the report said. Governments must justify the additional risk posed to passengers, and should consider "other techniques to achieve the same end without the use of ionizing radiation."

Magnify

Green Tea Extracts Halt Growth of Prostate Cancer Tumors

An extract made from one of the main antioxidants found in green tea may be able to slow the progression of prostate cancer, according to a study conducted by researchers from Louisiana state University and published in Cancer Prevention Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Researchers gave 26 prostate cancer patients between the ages of 41 and 68's four capsules of day of Polyphenon E, an extract of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) made by Polyphenon Pharma. EGCG is a powerful antioxidant to which many of the health benefits of green tea have been attributed. The dosage given to the participants in the study was equivalent to that acquired from drinking 12 cups of green tea per day.

After 12 weeks, the researchers found that levels of the prostate cancer markers Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and prostate specific antigen (PSA) had fallen by an average of 18.9 percent, 9.9 percent and 10.4 percent, respectively, indicating a slowed progression of the disease.

Magnify

Goji Berries: Enjoy an Antioxidant Packed Superfood

Goji berries, also known as Wolfberries, are one of the most nutritionally dense superfoods on the planet. They contain a vast array of unique carotenoids, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Among these it is also believed by many to be one of the best sources of antioxidants on the planet.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants help to protect our DNA from damage by free radicals and radiation. Without an ample supply of antioxidants our body becomes open to illness and accelerated aging. Free radicals are generated as a byproduct of normal metabolism and exposure to toxins and radiation. This eventually results in an early cell death which has been contributed to a variety of diseases and to the accelerated development of mutated cells that may lead to cancer. All of this is countered with the help of antioxidants.

Cow Skull

The U.S. Industrial Organic Milk Swindle

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On some bureaucrat's desk in President Obama's Office of Management and Budget (OMB), sits a document that has the power to either destroy the nation's 1,800 family-operated organic dairy farms or come to their rescue.

In the early 2000s, virtually all of the nation's organic dairy farmers - not to mention the millions of consumers willing to pay a premium for organic products - agreed that milk certified as organic by the United States Department of Agriculture had to come from cows that had access to pasture.

As government regulations go, it sounds pretty straightforward: room to roam, clean air to breathe, fresh grass to eat. And that was the general consensus on what the National Organic Standards required.

But beginning in the mid-2000s, at about the time when it became evident that the green "USDA Organic" label translated into bigger profits, huge Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) with herds of up to 10,000 cows located in western states got into the organic milk business.

Bulb

Traditional Chinese Medicine Enters the Mainstream

Vancouver library worker Todd Wong knows better than most that life occasionally delivers a rude surprise. In 1989, Wong came back from a trip to New York feeling rundown. At first, his doctor diagnosed a recurrent viral flu. Only after visiting an oncologist did Wong, then 29 years old, learn that he had a germ-cell tumour related to testicular cancer. It required emergency chemotherapy to deal with a growth in his chest the size of a large grapefruit.

"The first night I'm in the hospital, the doctor tells my parents, 'There is a 60-percent chance your son will survive because we only discovered this very, very late,' " Wong told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview. "I was 29 years old, really active, and the doctors never suspected anything."

Wong, a fifth-generation Chinese Canadian, was visited regularly by his mother, who wanted to give her son therapeutic touching to help him heal. She asked about doing energy work known as Reiki, because this is what she had practiced at home. "The doctor told her, 'If you want to do that, you can take your son out of the hospital,' " Wong recalled.

Red Flag

BPA May Increase Kids' Asthma Risk

The industrial, estrogenic chemical bisphenol A - BPA - has been in the news recently for its connection to a wide variety of adverse effects. An issue since BPA is in an enormous variety of consumer products, including products geared to infants and young children. Now, Science Daily reported that based on emerging studies out of the University of Texas medical branch at Galveston, BPA could be linked to increased pediatric asthma risks.

Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it was concerned about "the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and young children," quoted Science Daily. This month, recent research has linked a mother's exposure to BPA could be linked to an increased likelihood that her children will develop asthma, said Science Daily.