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.