2 comments Monday, April 14, 2008

Babies and toddlers who sleep for less than 12 hours a day and watch too much television are twice as likely to be overweight by the time they are three, according to a new study.

Researchers at the Harvard Medical School's Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention found that sleeping less than 12 hours a day and watching more than two hours of television had a 16 percent chance of becoming overweight by age 3.

"Mounting research suggests that decreased sleep time may be more hazardous to our health than we imagined," says Elsie Taveras, MD, assistant professor in Harvard Medical School's Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention and lead author on the study.

"We are now learning that those hazardous effects are true even for young infants," she added.

The study team identified 915 mother-infant pairs from Project Viva, a long-term study of the effects of diet and other lifestyle factors on maternal and child health over time.

nfant weight and measurements were taken at several in-person visits up to three years of age. Mothers reported how many hours their child slept per day on average at 6 months, 1 year, and 2 years postpartum. Parents were also asked to report the average number of hours their children watched television on weekdays and weekends.

The combination of low levels of sleep and high levels of television viewing appeared to be synergistic and was associated with markedly higher BMI scores and increased odds of becoming overweight.

"Although previous studies have shown a similar link between sleep restriction and overweight in older children, adolescents, and adults, this the first study to examine the connection in very young children," says Matthew Gillman, MD, SM, Harvard Medical School associate professor and director of the Obesity Prevention Program in the Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention. Gillman is also the study's senior author.

According to the researchers, these study results support efforts to reduce television viewing and to promote adequate sleep in efforts to prevent and reduce unhealthy childhood weight-gain.

Children who are overweight are often at higher risk for obesity and related conditions, such as hyperlipidemia, hypertension, asthma, and type II diabetes, later in life.

"Getting enough sleep is becoming more and more difficult with TV, Internet, and video games in the rooms where children sleep," says Dr. Taveras.

"Our findings suggest that parents may wish to employ proven sleep hygiene techniques, such as removing TV from children's bedrooms, to improve sleep quality and perhaps sleep duration," she added.

0 comments Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Middle-aged men who ate seven or more eggs a week had a higher risk of earlier death, US researchers reported on Wednesday.

Men with diabetes who ate any eggs at all raised their risk of death during a 20-year period studied, according to the study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The study adds to an ever-growing body of evidence, much of it contradictory, about how safe eggs are to eat. It did not examine what about the eggs might affect the risk of death.

Men without diabetes could eat up to six eggs a week with no extra risk of death, Dr. Luc Djousse and Dr. J. Michael Gaziano of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School found.

"Whereas egg consumption of up to six eggs a week was not associated with the risk of all-cause mortality, consumption of (seven or more) eggs a week was associated with a 23 percent greater risk of death," they wrote.

"However, among male physicians with diabetes, any egg consumption is associated with a greater risk of all-cause mortality, and there was suggestive evidence for a greater risk of MI (heart attack) and stroke."

They urged more study in the general population.

Eggs are rich in cholesterol, which in high amounts can clog arteries and raise the risk of heart attack and stroke.

One expert on nutrition and heart disease said the study suggests middle-aged men, at least, should watch how many eggs they eat.

"More egg on our faces? It's really hard to say at this point, but it still seems, if you're a middle-aged male physician and enjoy eggs more than once a day, that having some of the egg left on your face may be better than having it go down your gullet," said Dr. Robert Eckel of the University of Colorado and a former president of the American Heart Association.

"But, remember: eggs are like all other foods - they are neither 'good' nor 'bad,' and they can be part of an overall heart-healthy diet," Eckel wrote in a commentary.

The Harvard team studied 21,327 men taking part in the much larger Physicians' Health Study, which has been watching doctors since 1981 who have agreed to report regularly on their health and lifestyle habits.

Over 20 years, 1,550 of the men had heart attacks, 1,342 had strokes, and more than 5,000 died.

"Egg consumption was not associated with (heart attack) or stroke," the researchers wrote.

But the men who ate seven eggs a week or more were 23 percent more likely to have died during the 20-year period.

Diabetic men who ate any eggs at all were twice as likely to die in the 20 years.

Men who ate the most eggs also were older, fatter, ate more vegetables but less breakfast cereal, and were more likely to drink alcohol, smoke and less likely to exercise - all factors that can affect the risk of heart attack and death.

2 comments Sunday, April 6, 2008

A top Australian neurosurgeon of Indian origin says cell phones use is a greater threat to human health than smoking, which kills 5.4 million people each year.

Dr Vini Khurana, a neurosurgeon at the Canberra Hospital, told UK's Independent newspaper that there is growing evidence that using handsets for 10 years or more can double the risk of brain cancer. This, however, does not mean that smoking is better for health than using cellphones.

Dr Khurana says the cellphone threat is greater because far more people use cellphones than smoke worldwide, some of them starting use at the age of 3 years. Over 3 billion people use cellphones, which is three times higher than the one billion people who use tobacco.

In India, 250 million people use cellphones, second only after US's 256 million users. The threat came from cell phone radiation having the potential to heat the side of the head or thermo-electrically interact with the brain, while Bluetooth devices and unshielded headsets could convert the user's head into potentially self-harming antenna, said Dr Khurana.

He said there have been increased reports of brain tumours associated with heavy and prolonged mobile phone use, particularly on the same side as the person's "preferred" ear for making calls. Since cell phones were often a necessity, he says, people should use them as little as possible and called on the phone industry to make them safer.

The World Health Organisation says that cellphones are safe but admits there are "gaps in knowledge" that need further research about health impact in the longterm. Three large international reviews have investigated and found no conclusive link between use of cell phones and brain cancer, tumours of the brain or leukaemia, and other cancers.

9 comments Monday, March 31, 2008

Internet addiction can make you mental

Is the internet your best friend? If so, beware.

Like any other addiction, addiction to the internet – manifested as excessive interest in online gaming, e-mailing, chatting and pornography – can be a “'clinical disorder” that requires psychiatric intervention.

Dr Jerald Block, of the Oregon Health and Science University, the United States, insists that too many hours spent on the internet can cause a compulsive-impulsive disorder.

Dr Block writes in an article published in the American Journal of Psychiatry: “The internet addicts exhaust emotions that they could experience in the real world on the computer through any number of mechanisms: emailing, gaming, and porn. Computer use occupies a tremendous amount of time in their life. Then if you try to cut the cord in a very abrupt fashion, they’ve lost essentially their best friend.”

Dr Jerald Block lists four noteworthy symptoms “that are sure to assure you or perhaps people around you that you are an internet addict.” They are:

  • When you are unable to keep track of time or are neglecting basics such as eating or sleeping.
  • Craving and display of withdrawal symptoms, including anger, tension or depression when a computer cannot be accessed.
  • A rising need for better computer equipment and software.
  • Negative effects such as arguments, lying, fatigue, social isolation and poor achievement.

Like any addiction, unfortunately, internet addiction is resistant to treatment and involves several risks and often has high relapse rates, writes Dr Block.

His study revealed that a number of children are quitting their school or are perhaps showing weak academic progress because of their internet addiction. Even adults have been found to leave their jobs to sit in front of their internet-enabled computer screens for long periods.

Though addiction to the internet is prevalent practically throughout the world, says Dr Jerald Block in his article, it is widespread and concentrated in China and Korea.

According to statistics, an average South Korean student in high school spends an astounding 23 hours a week gaming on the internet. What is worse, another 1.2 million people are at an impending risk of internet addiction and may seriously need counseling and similar measures to help cure them of this addiction, writes Dr Block.

In China 13.7% of teenagers – or, about 10 million – are reported to be addicted to the internet.

0 comments Saturday, March 29, 2008

Samsung Electronics is all set to unveil magic with its newly created LCD panel that can produce independent images on each side of a mobile LCD display. This is a first in the technology. The new creation is set to debut at the Consumer Electronics Show, which opens in Las Vegas on January 8.

What is so unique about this is that the new double-sided LCD can show two entirely different pictures or sets of visual data simultaneously on the front and back of the same screen. Other conventional double-sided LCDs can only show a reverse image of the same video data, said Samsung. With this, the double-sided LCD is seen as replacing two display panels with one, thereby reducing overall thickness of mobile products by at least 1mm.

According to the company, the double-sided mobile display is proof of its commitment to equip customers with advanced display technology that accelerates the trend toward slimmer mobile products. Samsung expects good demand as it readies for mass production of the LCD in the first half of 2007.

Samsung has explained that the new LCD panel makes use of its new double-gate, thin-film transistor architecture. Thethin-film transistor gates are electronic components that convert the necessary voltage at the pixel level, which controls the liquid crystal alignment needed to reproduce on-screen images. The double-sided display makes use of amorphous silicon gate technology.

With the new Samsung mobile display requiring just one backlight as compared to two by rival gadgets, the scene is totally tech advanced. While one side of the panel operates in a transmissive mode, the other works in a reflective mode.

1 comments Friday, March 28, 2008

Microsoft is all set to release its next PC operating system after Windows Vista, internally coded as "7", within the next three years.

The company is busy working out details of the new Windows version, 7, according to several sources cited by news reports. So far Microsoft has not provided any details about the new operating system by the company. The sources also said that Microsoft is planning to announce a "predictable release schedule" for Windows 7. Microsoft may disclose a more "iterative" process of information disclosure to business customers and partners.

Microsoft took almost five years to develop and ship the Windows Vista, the latest offering from Microsoft. Windows Vista was shipped to businesses in November 2006 and to consumers in January 2007.

Just like Windows Vista, Microsoft will ship Windows 7 in both consumer and business versions. Windows 7 will also be available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions. Microsoft also confirmed that the company is planning to complement Vista with a subscription version, but declined to provide neither the specifics nor the timeframe.

At the moment, the company is working on the Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista, which is expected before the end of 2007.

Microsoft usually gives codenames for its flagship operating systems before release. Windows Vista was earlier codenamed Longhorn when it was in the development phase. Windows 7 was earlier known by the code name Vienna. Microsoft is hoping that the development of Windows 7 will be over by 2010 and will announce a specific release date when it is sure that the quality bars are met.

0 comments Wednesday, March 26, 2008

According to a report by the US-based Nemertes Research, the internet could be jammed with excessive data by 2010.

According to Nemertes, the reason for this could be that bandwidth usage is outpacing infrastructure build outs. The result could be such that the phenomenon could take the form of web pages taking longer time to load and interruptions in videos that are downloaded or streamed. The report by Nemertes was partly funded by the Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA) which campaigns for universal broadband in the US, a report said.

The study has also warned that if nothing is done about this impending danger, the situation after 2010 would resemble that of the dying days of dial-up access.

Analysts have called for an investment of around US$100 billion in the global internet infrastructure so that a level of gridlock can be prevented. This gridlock would otherwise make it almost impossible to use rich media sites like YouTube, they pointed out.

The warning that has been sounded reverberates sharply and it is clear that the next Google, YouTube or Amazon might not even arise. The reason would not be that there would be lack of demand, but due to an inability to fulfill that demand. An estimated investment needed to prevent the clogging
of the Internet would come anywhere near $137 billion globally.

With such a situation staring in the eyes of the internet dependent world, it has become a necessity that steps to build out network capacity or potentially face internet gridlock that could wreak havoc on Internet services be initiated as soon as possible.