February 6, 2014

Health Roundup: Naps, sleep, elastograms, zinc for colds, melanoma risk, vitamin E and testosterone

Nature has not intended mankind to work from eight in the morning until midnight without that refreshment of blessed oblivion which, even if it only lasts 20 minutes, is sufficient to renew all the vital forces. - Winston Churchill

Finally, justification for taking a nap! Here is scientific proof that siestas are beneficial…

Sleeping for short periods in the day helps memory and cognitive function.  But napping for 30mins or an hour can leave you with a sleep hangover. This is because you wake yourself during periods of deep sleep.
Instead nap for 10-20mins for a quick refresh or sleep 90 mins for a full sleep cycle, with no grogginess when you wake

Poor sleep quality may accelerate cancer growth, study finds

Poor quality of sleep marked by frequent waking can speed cancer growth and increase the disease’s aggressiveness, according to new research.
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According to study director Dr. David Gozal, poor sleep can significantly alter the immune system. "It's not the tumor, it's the immune system," said Gozal, chairman of pediatrics at the University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital. "Fragmented sleep changes how the immune system deals with cancer in ways that make the disease more aggressive."

Pen-like device can detect cirrhosis of the liver

A new diagnostic device based on an instrument used to check the ripeness of cheese can detect cirrhosis of the liver.  It does this earlier and with greater reliability than current tests, potentially saving thousands of lives.
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Cirrhosis can stay hidden for five to 20 years before it shows any symptoms, such as weight loss, fatigue and jaundice.
The new test can spot the disease at a much earlier  stage  when the patient is deemed 'at risk' and before their liver has become badly scarred or hardened.

The non-invasive tool, known as a portable transient elastogram, consists of a pen-like wand and uses pulses of ultrasound to measure the liver's elasticity.
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When tested on 12,000 patients in Nottingham who were considered to be at risk of developing cirrhosis, the new machine picked up 85 to 90 per cent of cases (the traditional blood tests spotted only 30 per cent of cases), increasing the detection rates of cirrhosis by 200 per cent.

Want avoid the office cold? DITCH the Vitamin C: Washing hands and taking zinc is better at preventing infection

Natural remedies, like ginseng and vapor rubs, had unclear benefits.  Antibiotics also ineffective as only work on bacteria from viral infections. Evidence suggests both adults and children would benefit from taking zinc

Researchers found paracetamol [tylenol], ibuprofen and perhaps antihistamine-decongestant combinations are among best treatments for a cold.

Regular alcohol use - 4 drinks a day - can raise the risk of skin cancer by 55 per cent, claims study

Regular drinking could increase by up to half the risk of developing melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer .

Those who had less than one drink a day had a 10 per cent increased risk of melanoma compared with non-drinkers or those who only drink occasionally, experts found.  Moderate drinkers, who consumed two drinks a day, had an 18 per cent higher chance of melanoma. Heavy drinkers – consuming at least four drinks a day – were at 55 per cent extra risk, according to estimates by an international team of researchers.

The scientists say alcohol causes biological changes that makes skin more sensitive to light and may aggravate the impact of exposure to ultraviolet light….

Vitamin E and other common supplements fuel lung cancer in smokers, researchers fear.

They say that rather than preventing tumors, popular antioxidant pills may speed their growth and spread and hasten death. The experiments were done on mice, but the Swedish researchers believe they are relevant to people.

Testosterone therapy doubles heart risk in older men and nearly triples the risk of younger men with a history of the disease

Posted by Jill Fallon at February 6, 2014 2:29 PM | Permalink