Round-Up of Global News In Health and Complementary Medicine

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Woman Get Drunk More Easily – The Reason

Could this be the reason women get drunk quicker than men? A team of American researchers has found that women have lower levels of a key component used to make gastric alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH), the stomach enzyme that breaks down alcohol before it is absorbed into the bloodstream. This means that ADH, the first defence against alcohol poisoning, is particularly ineffective in women at breaking down high concentrations of alcohol in drinks stronger than beer. This could explain why women are more prone than men to the effects of alcohol and increase their chance of developing alcohol-related diseases such as liver cirrhosis and dementia.

The Independent

Boost Pleasure With Surprise In Your Life

Life’s little surprises really can be a health booster. Scientists in America have found that the pleasure centres of the brain are stimulated more strongly during unexpected treats than during anticipated ones. They used magnetic imaging to measure changes in brain activity in response to a sequence of pleasurable events – in this case, predictable or random squirts of fruit juice into the mouth. They found that the reward pathways in the brain responded most strongly to unpredictable pleasurable events. An area called the nucleus accumbens, which has been identified as the pleasure centre of the brain, recorded a strong reaction to surprising stimuli. The study could help to understand addictions.

The Daily Telegraph

Redheads – The Neanderthal Throwbacks?

Neanderthals are still among us it seems. Researchers at the John Radcliffe Institute of Molecular Medicine in Oxford say the so-called ‘ginger gene’, which gives people red hair, fair skin and freckles could be up to 100,000 years old, and is a legacy of the Neanderthals. They claim that their discovery shows the gene have originated in Neanderthal man who lived in Europe for 200,000 years before Homo Sapiens settlers, the ancestors of modern man, arrived from Africa about 40,000 years ago. The two species overlapped for a while and the Oxford research suggests that they must have successfully interbred for the gene to survive. It is estimated that at least 10 per cent of Scots have red hair and a further 40 per cent carry the gene responsible.

The Times,,2-115198,00.html

Confusion Over Fruit

Have the Government created a fruity dilemma for themselves? A Government scheme to give free fruit to primary school children is ‘scientifically inaccurate’ and misleading, according to a nutrition expert. Professor Tom Sanders, of King’s College London, says that the new campaign to give a piece of fruit to all four to six-year-olds by 2004 is undermined by ‘inaccurate statements and exaggerated health claims’. Professor Sanders says his own research indicates that too much fruit and veg can cause malnutrition. Health secretary Alan Milburn said the campaign would help to increase life expectancy, prevent cancer and tackle obesity. But Professor Sanders said: ‘A balanced diet and regular exercise is hugely important. Just focusing on good foods and bad foods is a trap.’ Sitting in front of the TV for long periods contributes far more to obesity than lack of fruit consumption, he added. He also criticised Government claims that 10 per cent of young children are obese, when statistics show the figure is closer to 4 per cent. ‘It seems to be a rather simplistic answer to a set of rather complex problems to think that nutrition and obesity can be tackled just by getting kids to eat fruit,’ Professor Sanders said.

The Independent

Healthier Heart With White Vino

There’s more to that bottle of vino than might at first seem because white wine could now be good for the heart thanks to a new technique developed by Israeli scientists. Up until now it had been thought that only red wine was effective in cutting down the amount of cholesterol in the bloodstream. This was because it contains anti-cholesterol compounds called flavonoids, which are derived from the skin of the grape. White wine did not have the same effect because it is made without the skin of the grape, to avoid altering the taste. Now however, scientists have found that putting muscat or chardonnay grape skins in contact with the alcohol for up to 18 hours produces a white wine with the same level of flavonoids as red wine, but without changing the taste. The key to the wine’s beneficial effects lies in chemicals called anti-oxidants found in the drink. These anti-oxidants help tackle the process of oxidation in the bloodstream that speeds up the clotting of cholesterol.

Daily Mail

Help The Failing Heart With A Little Alcohol

Good news for those with heart disease. Drinking alcohol could cut the risk of heart failure, according to a new study. Scientists at Emory University in Atlanta found that elderly people who drink the equivalent of between two and six glasses of wine a day are nearly half as likely to die of heart failure as those who are tee-total. Wine, beer and spirits were equally effective. ‘That suggests it is pure alcohol, and not the type of beverage, that is lowering the risk of heart failure,’ said Dr Jerome Abramson, who led the study. Another study found that moderate drinking reduces the chances of a second heart attack. However, a spokesman for the British Heart Foundation warned that excessive drinking can cause a number of serious health problems and that alcohol should not be seen as a replacement for exercise and a healthy diet in the prevention of heart disease.

The Times

Link Between Aggression In Kids & Childcare

Absence doesn’t always make the heart grow fonder. For children who spend large amounts of time away from their parents are more likely to demonstrate aggressive character traits when they reach nursery school, according to a new study. Professor Jay Belsky and his colleagues at Birkbeck University in London studied 1300 children over 10 years. Children who spent more than 30 hours a week in childcare were more likely to get into fights, be cruel to other children, talk ‘too much’ and be argumentative. Lower quality care tended to exacerbate the problems. The study also found that for every year a woman works before her children start school, the likelihood of them getting at least one A-level fell by between seven and nine per cent. A spokesman for the Daycare Trust said that childcare is good for both children and parents, adding: ‘We believe that the quality of the childcare and not the time spent is crucial for development.’

The Sunday Times

Boosting IQ

We’re all becoming brainboxes. Recent IQ test scores show that people are getting more intelligent. Average scores have risen by 27 points in the UK since 1942 with comparable gains across the rest of the world. This phenomenon has puzzled scientists and is known as the 'Flynn effect'. A new study claims that a more stimulating environment and genetic inheritance interact in a virtuous circle to make people more intelligent. The authors of the report believe the rise is partly caused by improved education, but more importantly a stimulating environment that prompts mental activity. More intelligent people are apparently likely to enjoy books, puzzles and challenging jobs. Fewer people are doing repetitive manual work and the average person's job is far more complex, and people in less skilled jobs are using computers. Increased leisure time could also mean people are honing their intelligence by reading, playing games or solving puzzles, and TV and the Internet bombard us with information. Increasingly complicated appliances such as phones and video-recorders can make you use your brain, while washing machines and dishwashers remove the drudgery that pre-occupied earlier generations. Smaller families may also have helped, with fewer children having more parental time to cater to their natural curiosity.

The Observer,4273,4173806,00.html


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