The Telangana Science Journal

Health and Nutrition

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(Dedicated to one of the most backward regions in India, "Telangana," My Fatherland )

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Issue 134

5110 Kali Era, Sarvadhari Year, Magha month
2066 Vikramarka Era, Sarvadhari Year,  Magha month
1930 Salivahana Era
Sarvadhari Year, Magha month
 2009 AD, February





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Diet and Exercise

Total Calories Matter, not the Kind of Diet
Vitamin B for Eye Sight
Calcium Protects against Cancer
Alcohol is Killer, even in Moderation
Britain to go Meat Free in Hospitals
Exercise Etiquette


American Women, Vitamin D and Skin Cancer
Obese Mother’s Raise Birth Defects
Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL)
It’s in Your Genes

Diet and Exercise
Total Calories Matter, not the Kind of Diet
Low-fat, low-carb or high-protein? The kind of diet doesn't matter, scientists say. All that really counts is cutting calories and sticking with it, according to a federal study that followed people for two years, which appears in New England Journal of Medicine. However, participants had trouble staying with a single approach that long and the weight loss was modest for most.  As the world grapples with rising obesity, millions have turned to popular diets like Atkins, Zone and Ornish that tout the benefits of one nutrient over another.  But, reality is a basic rule - calories in, calories out.  Limiting the calories you consume and burning off more calories with exercise is key.  And, of course, well-balanced diet with fruits and vegetables is ideal.

Vitamin B for Eye Sight
Taking B vitamins can prevent a common type of vision loss due to macular degeneration in older women, according to the first rigorous study of its kind. It's a slight redemption for vitamin supplements, which have suffered recent blows from research finding them powerless at preventing disease.  A combination of B vitamins — B-6, folic acid and B-12 -- reduced their risk of macular degeneration by more than one-third after seven years compared to women taking dummy pills.  Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in people 65 and older, with nearly 2 million Americans in the advanced stage of the condition. It causes a layer of the eye to deteriorate, blurring the center of the field of vision and making it difficult to recognize faces, read and drive. There's no cure, but treatment, including laser therapy in some cases, can slow it down.  Preventing it has been more elusive.
The largest study ever of multivitamin use in older women found the pills did nothing to prevent common cancers or heart disease, in Archives of Internal Medicine. The eight-year study in 161,808 postmenopausal women echoes recent disappointing vitamin studies in men.
Millions of Americans spend billions of dollars on vitamins to boost their health. Research has focused on cancer and heart disease in particular because of evidence that diets full of vitamin-rich foods may protect against those illnesses. But that evidence doesn't necessarily mean pills are a good substitute.

Calcium protects against Cancer
A study in nearly half a million older men and women bolsters evidence that diets rich in calcium may help protect against some cancers, published in Archives of Internal Medicine. The benefits were mostly associated with foods high in calcium, rather than calcium tablets.

Alcohol is Killer, even in Moderation
A study of nearly 1.3 million British women offers yet more evidence that moderate alcohol consumption increases the risk of a handful of cancers. British researchers surveyed middle-aged women at breast cancer screening clinics about their drinking habits, and tracked their health for seven years.  A quarter of the women reported no alcohol use. Nearly all the rest reported fewer than three drinks a day; the average was one drink a day. Researchers compared the lightest drinkers -- two or fewer drinks a week -- with people who drank more.  Each extra drink per day increased the risk of breast, rectal and liver cancer, University of Oxford researchers reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Each extra daily drink added 11 breast cancers and four of the other types, the study found. The type of alcohol -- wine, beer or liquor -- didn't matter.  That supports earlier research.

Britain to go Meat Free in Hospitals
Meat-free menus are to be promoted in hospitals as part of a strategy to cut global warming emissions across the National Health Service.  The plan to offer patients menus that would have no meat option is part of a strategy to be published tomorrow that will cover proposals ranging from more phone-in GP surgeries to closing outpatient departments and instead asking surgeons to visit people at their local doctor's surgery.  Some suggestions are likely to be controversial with patients' groups, especially attempts to curb meat eating and car use. Plans to reuse more equipment could raise concern about infection with superbugs such as MRSA. Dr David Pencheon, director of the NHS sustainable development unit, said the amount of NHS emissions meant it had to act to make cuts, and the changes would save money, which could be spent on better services for patients.

Among the most talked-about is likely to be the suggestion that hospitals could cut carbon emissions from food and drink by offering fewer meat and dairy products. Last year, the United Nations climate chief, Rajendra Pachauri, provoked a global debate when he said having a meat-free day every week was the biggest single contribution people could make to curbing climate change in their personal lives, because of the chemicals sprayed on feed crops and the methane emitted by cattle and sheep. Last month, the German federal environment agency went further, advising people to eat meat only on special occasions. Pencheon said the move would cut the relatively high carbon emissions from rearing animals and poultry, and improve health. Last year the NHS served 129m main meals, costing £312m, according to Department of Health figures. "We should not expect to see meat on every menu," said Pencheon. "We'd like higher levels of fresh food, and probably higher levels of fresh fruit and veg, and more investment in a local economy."

After harvesting the cacao beans, they are dried for several days and then roasted.  The beans are shelled and nibs are ground and separated into cocoa butter and cocoa powder. The powder is low in fat and is used for baking or to make hot chocolate. The cocoa butter is the heart of chocolate.

Cocoa butter is dark and tends to be bitter. To make chocolate sweeter, manufacturers add sugar (calories).  And to make milk chocolate, candy makers add milk solids, which include saturated fats.  Thus, processed chocolate looks lighter and tastes sweeter, but also contains less healthy ingredients and added harmful ones.

New research suggests that chocolate may indeed have a role in promoting vascular health. But the devil is in the details. Dark chocolate appears beneficial, but milk chocolate, white chocolate and other varieties are not. Most trials have used 100 grams of dark chocolate, about one and a half chocolate bars of typical size. If you ate that much every day, you'd pack in more than 500 extra calories and gain a pound a week. And if that's not bad enough, remember that chocolate can trigger migraines, heartburn or kidney stones in susceptible people.

Exercise Etiquette
(The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) -- Be clean, respectful, and for crying out loud, cover up.
It doesn't matter how long you've been away from the gym, or if you have never been there at all. If you are going to start working out in public -- and freshening up afterward -- you need to know what to expect, and what others will be expecting from you.
Yes, there will be nakedness in the locker room, and it's entirely possible someone will want to chat you up while in the buff.

But that awkwardness aside, there are also some basic rules experts suggest -- a few laws to live by to make your workout and the workout of everyone around you more comfortable:
- Be tidy. A sweaty workout is a good thing, but leaving a pool of perspiration for someone to sit in isn't. Spray bottles of disinfectant or sanitary towelettes should be standard in any fitness center, and if they aren't, it's time to go elsewhere. Clean up after yourself, and be quick about it.
- Be polite. Don't stare at people, even if they look amazing or you are contemplating copying an exercise they are doing. Respect everyone's space -- in other words, watch where you are swinging your arms -- and be mindful of the signup sheet if there are lines cuing up for the treadmills, elliptical striders and other machines.
- Modesty is the best policy. No one is asking you to dress so quickly that you accidentally catch your foot on the inner ring of your underpants, lose your balance and topple over. Public nudity is a fact of life in a locker room or open shower. But few people will want to have a deep conversation with you standing there in your birthday suit. Also, if you must sit down on a bench while in the buff, put a towel down first.
Finally, in the men's locker room, there is the phenomenon of naked shaving in which the only thing that needs to be exposed is the face, yet there's so much more exposed.

To this, we say: "No one wants you to be leaning up against the sink with your stuff out," says Mike Sweeney, a personal trainer and owner of Sweeney's Gym, 5311 S. Howell Ave. "That's why we provide towels, and I'm not shy if someone is doing that to let them know they need to stop." - Grunting is fine, screaming is not. You're going to the gym, not the library, so some noise -- such as the whirring of machines and clanging of weights -- will fill the air. And people go to the gym to exert themselves, so you'll hear sounds of effort. However, there is a difference between a straining and shouting.

"You don't need to scream your lungs out to get your last rep out," Sweeney says. "I'm not saying you shouldn't make any noise when you work out -- to some degree it is appropriate. It is part of the intensity. In all fairness, you can't take that away from anyone."
- Sweating is good, stinking is not. It might be tempting to workout unwashed -- after all, you'll be showering afterward. But no one wants to run on a treadmill next to someone funky. Keep in mind that many fitness centers keep cardio machines -- the contraptions that make you sweat -- pretty close to one another.

If you smell bad, you will make the people around you miserable.
- Be safe. Keep your locker locked all the time, even if you step away for five minutes to shower. The sad reality is that valuables can vanish in minutes in the middle of a bustling locker room, even when friends promise to keep an eye on your belongings.
- Be smart. Before you start using any weights or workout machines, get a personal walkthrough from a fitness professional. Otherwise, you're risking hurting yourself and breaking the equipment.
- Be realistic. "You need to crawl before you walk," Sweeney says. "Results are not going to happen right away."


American Women, Vitamin D and Skin Cancer
A medical study has found Arab-American women who wear traditional attire, such as head scarves, are prone to low levels of vitamin D in their system because of less exposure to sunlight.  A vitamin D deficiency could lead to an increased risk of cancer, diabetes and Crohn's disease, the study says. The vitamin also is needed to help the body absorb calcium for stronger bones.   While several other studies have shown Americans wearing bikinis and sun bathing are prone to skin cancer.  Vitamin D can be supplemented by food.

Vitamin D helps fight infections, another study says. Those with the lowest levels of vitamin D were more likely to have recently had a respiratory infection.  The results appear in the February 23 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reminds Americans that protecting their skin from the sun's damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays can help reduce the risk of getting skin cancer. This year, more than 1 million new skin cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed. The most serious form of the disease, melanoma, will claim an estimated 7,700 lives. CDC recommends five easy options for protection:
Seek shade - especially during midday when UV rays are strongest and do most damage;
Cover up - with clothing to protect exposed skin;
Get a hat - with a wide brim to shade the face, head, ears, and neck;
Grab shades - that wrap around and block as close to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays as possible; and Rub on sunscreen - with SPF 15 or higher and both UVA and UVB protection.

A deadly type of skin cancer may be even deadlier for black and Hispanic people. A study published in the Archives of Dermatology found that blacks and Hispanics are much more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma at a late stage of the disease than lighter-skinned people are. While melanoma is highly treatable in early stages, it can spread quickly and become lethal. In the study, researchers looked at nearly 1,700 melanoma cases diagnosed from 1997 to 2002. The researchers found that black people were three times more likely than whites to be diagnosed with melanoma after it had reached a late stage, while Hispanics were twice as likely to be diagnosed at a late stage.

Sunscreens generally do a good job filtering out the ultraviolet rays (UVB rays) that cause sunburn. But with sunburn protection, many people get a false sense of security that keeps them under the harsh sun much longer. That adds to the risk of eventual skin cancer, both deadly melanoma and the more common and less-threatening basal and squamous cell cancers. And most sunscreens don't defend nearly as well against the UVA rays that penetrate deep into the skin and are more likely to cause skin cancer and wrinkles. That's true even for some products labeled broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection.

Despite public education campaigns about avoiding sun exposure and tanning salons, skin cancer incidence is climbing. There will be about 62,000 melanoma cases and 7,900 deaths this year, the American Cancer Society estimates. There are more than 1 million annual cases of squamous and basal skin cancers, and about 2,800 deaths. Best protection is limiting time in the sun, particularly from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and cover up, including wearing a hat and sunglasses, but not bare it all!

Obese Mother’s Raise Birth Defects 
The health risks of being obese are certainly well known by now — diabetes, heart disease, stroke and hypertension, to name a few. But the dangers are even greater for pregnant women and particularly for their developing babies. A new analysis, published Feb. 11 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, documents a wider than expected range of birth defects that are more likely to plague babies born to obese women.  Compared with women who maintained the recommended body mass index (BMI) of between 18.5 and 26, women who were obese — defined as having a BMI of 29 or greater — before pregnancy were more than twice as likely to have an infant with spina bifida, nearly twice as likely to have a baby with other neural-tube defects, and more vulnerable to giving birth to babies with heart problems, cleft palate or cleft lip, abnormal rectum or anus development, and hydrocephaly, a condition in which excess spinal fluid builds up in the brain.

Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL)
If LDL is cardiovascular dynamite, inflammation is the fuse. Here's why: LDL carries cholesterol into the bloodstream, where it collects in artery walls. Inflammatory cells sometimes attack these deposits, causing them to burst. When that happens, blood clots and other debris float downstream into the arteries that nourish the heart. A blockage in a critical vessel may cut off the heart's blood supply.
Two new studies indicate that the threshold of what doctors consider so-called "normal" levels of LDL may be too high, leaving thousands of people vulnerable to heart attacks and strokes.  Taken together, doctors say, the studies suggest that accepted notions of normal LDL are wrong -- and that current treatment guidelines miss at least half of those who should be getting a statin.

It’s in Your Genes
If life looks joyful in spite of recession, job insecurity and expanding waistline, then you should consider thanking your "brightside" gene. A gene that affects if we are cheery or gloomy has been tracked down by British researchers.  Every individual inherits two versions of the gene, either two short ones, two long ones, or one of each. People who had two longs versions were most likely to focus on the positives, according to the study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.


Notice: This material contains only general descriptions and is not a solicitation to sell any insurance product or security, nor is it intended as any financial, tax, medical or health care advice. For information about specific needs or situations, contact your financial, tax agent or physician.
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Source: The primary sources cited above,  New York Times (NYT), Washington Post (WP), Mercury News,, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, Intellihealthnews, Deccan Chronicle (DC), the Hindu, Hindustan Times, Times of India, AP, Reuters, AFP,, etc.

Copyright ©1998-2009
Vepachedu Educational Foundation, Inc
Copyright Vepachedu Educational Foundation Inc., 2009.  All rights reserved.  All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for special medical conditions or any specific health issues or starting a new fitness regimen. Please read disclaimer.

Om! Asatoma Sadgamaya, Tamasoma Jyotirgamaya, Mrityorma Amritamgamaya, Om Shantih, Shantih, Shantih!
(Om! Lead the world from wrong path to the right path, from ignorance to knowledge, from mortality to immortality and peace!)
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