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Kids exposed to 9/11 ‘dust’ showing signs of heart disease risk




New York, Sep 7: Sixteen years after the collapse of the World Trade Center towers sent a “cloud” of toxic debris across Lower Manhattan, children living nearby who breathed in the ash and fumes are showing early signs of risk for heart disease, a study says.

“Since 9/11, we have focused a lot of attention on the psychological and mental fallout from witnessing the tragedy, but only now are the potential physical consequences of being within the disaster zone itself becoming clear,” said study lead investigator Leonardo Trasande, Associate Professor at New York University (NYU) School of Medicine.

The researchers analysed blood tests of 308 children, nearly half of whom may have come in direct contact with the dust on 9/11.

Children with higher blood levels of the chemicals known to be in the dust had elevated levels of artery-hardening fats in their blood, showed the findings published online in the journal Environment International.

Long-term danger may stem from exposure to certain perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFASs — chemicals released into the air as electronics and furniture burned in the disaster, Trasande said.

These include perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), widely used to make plastics more flexible until its health effects, including lower-than-normal birthweights and brain damage, led US manufacturers to stop using it in 2014.

Children exposed to 9/11 ‘dust’ had significantly higher PFOA blood levels than the children who were not living or studying in the city on the day of the attack.

Among the latest study’s results was that roughly every threefold increase in blood PFOA levels was tied to an average nine per cent to 15 per cent increase in blood fats.

Raised fat levels in the blood, especially Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, are known risk factors for heart disease and can if left unchecked lead to blood vessel blockages and heart attack.

Fortunately, these very early signs of cardiovascular risk can generally be addressed by diet, weight control, and exercise, Trasande said.



Hunger may increase your stress level




Toronto, Sep 26: Sudden drop in glucose when you are hungry can have a negative impact on your mood, suggests new research.

The researchers wanted to investigate whether chronic, long-term hypoglycemia — low blood sugar — is a risk factor for developing depression-like behaviours.

“We found evidence that a change in glucose level can have a lasting effect on mood,” said Professor Francesco Leri from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.

Published in the journal Psychopharmacology, the study examined the impact of a sudden glucose drop on emotional behaviour by inducing hypoglycemia in rats.

The rats were injected with a glucose metabolism blocker causing them to experience hypoglycemia.

They were then placed in a specific chamber. On a separate occasion, they were injected water and placed in a different chamber.

When given the choice of which chamber to enter, they actively avoided the chamber where they experienced hypoglycemia.

“This type of avoidance behaviour is an expression of stress and anxiety,” said Leri.

“The animals are avoiding that chamber because they had a stressful experience there. They don’t want to experience it again,” she added.

The researchers tested blood levels of the rats after they experienced hypoglycemia and found more corticosterone — an indicator of physiological stress.

The rats also appeared more sluggish when given the glucose metabolism blocker.

The findings showed that the animals experienced stress and depressed mood when they were hypoglycemic, Leri stated.

“When people think about negative mood states and stress, they think about the psychological factors, not necessarily the metabolic factors. But we found poor eating behaviour can have an impact,” lead researcher Thomas Horman from the University of Guelph said.


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Beating malnutrition; health awareness seeps into interiors of Bengal



Beating malnutrition

Shruti Roy, a chubby seven-month-old baby of Loharsole village in this West Bengal district bordering Jharkhand, is a far cry from all-too-familiar pictures of malnourished children. And as awareness grows among the shy and conservative pregnant women and lactating mothers of this region, more and more infants now resemble Shruti.

Awareness is being spread thanks to initiatives of the state government that appears determined to bring down West Bengal’s rate of underweight children, currently at 31.6 per cent as per the National Family Health Survey (2015-16).

Shruti’s mother, Ashtami Roy, who valued her daughter’s health over tradition, told a group of visiting journalists: “I gave sattu and bananas to my daughter when she was six months old.”

The Bede community residing in Loharsole village were snake charmers by profession. They are tribal people residing in mud huts in the extreme interiors. The total population of the village is 532.

Talking about the gradual change and their initiatives, Amitabha Patra, District Programme Officer, Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), said: “We provide supplementary nutrition for pregnant and lactating women and for the children up to six years. In order to counter calorie- and protein-related malnourishment, we provide nutritional support.”

“We have been able to make them understand the importance of exclusive breastfeeding of new-borns till six months and the importance of the mother’s first milk,” he said.

Colostrum (the milk produced by the mother just after delivery) provides protective antibodies and essential nutrients, acting as a first “natural” immunisation for newborns, strengthening their immune system and reducing the chances of death in the neonatal period.

“When my baby was born I gave her the first milk immediately for I had learnt that it will keep her healthy. It is better than injection (vaccines),” said Mamoni Bedia, who gave birth recently.

Patra said under the ICDS scheme, he and his team are imparting pre-school education, as well as health and nutrition education, for three- to six-year-old children through community-based Anganwadi Centres (AWCs).

Immunisation, health check-ups and referral services (for severely undernourished children) are provided in convergence with the state government’s Department of Health and Family Welfare.

Here in Purulia, the ICDS provides these services to the remotest community with its vast network of 4,831 operational AWCs in 22 ICDS projects across the district.

With Unicef’s support, these ICDS projects now provide improved growth monitoring, and better feeding practices for infants and children, among others.

(Binita Das was in Purulia on a media visit organised by the Purulia District Administration and Unicef, West Bengal. She can be contacted at [email protected])

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Eating high-carb diet can help lose weight



high carb diet carbohydrate
Here’s how a high carb diet may help lose weight. (Photo Credit- Shutterstock)

New York, Sep 25: Struggling hard to shed those extra kilos? If so, foods high in carbohydrates — found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes — may help you reduce body weight and fat as well as improve insulin function, suggests a study challenging previous beliefs.

It is because these complex carbohydrates are naturally rich in fibre — a nutrient found in plant foods that adds bulk to the diet without adding extra calories.

The study, led by US-non-profit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, showed that a plant-based, high-carbohydrate diet can help with weight regulation and body composition and reduce the risk for Type-2 diabetes.

“Fad diets often lead people to fear carbohydrates. But the research continues to show that healthy carbohydrates — from fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains — are the healthiest fuel for our bodies,” said lead author Hana Kahleova, Director at the organisation.

In the study, published in the journal Nutrients, the team included nearly 100 participants for a 16-week randomised clinical trial and placed participants in either a plant-based, high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet group or asked them to maintain their current diet.

The plant-based diet group avoided all animal products and added oils and limited fat intake of 20-30 grams per day. There were no limits on calories or carbohydrate intake.

The control group maintained their current diets, which included meat and dairy products. Neither group altered their exercise routines.

The results demonstrated that total carbohydrate intake did not change in the control group, but increased significantly in the plant-based diet group, both as absolute intake and as a percentage of total calories.

At the end of the trial, body mass index, body weight, fat mass, visceral fat volume, and insulin resistance decreased significantly in the plant-based diet group. There were no significant changes in the control group, the researchers noted.


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