Archive | Consumption

Moderate Drinking May Be Key to Long Life

AUSTIN, Texas, Aug. 31 (UPI) — Moderate drinking — one to two drinks a day — may help middle-age and older people live longer, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin say.

The study, published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, suggests the health benefits of drinking among older adults are intrinsically linked to moderation.

“Older persons drinking alcohol should remember that consuming more than two drinks a day exceeds recommended alcohol consumption guidelines in the United States and is associated with increased falls, a higher risk of alcohol use problems and potential adverse interactions with medications,” Charles Holahan says in a statement.

Holahan and colleagues collected information on alcohol consumption and former drinking status, as well as health, social and other factors, for 1,142 men and 682 women ages 55-65 who were former or current drinkers for 20 years.

Abstainers tend to include former problem drinkers as well as those with other health problems.

The researchers found those who drank moderately were more likely to live longer across a 20-year follow-up than those who drank heavily or who didn’t drink at all.

“The findings showed increases in mortality risk of 42 percent for heavy drinkers and 49 percent for abstainers in comparison to moderate drinkers,” the study authors say in a statement.

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Groups Want Whale Meat Health Ban

UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 30 (UPI) — Anti-whaling groups say they want the World Health Organization to act on possible health hazards of eating whale meat.

A coalition of groups wants WHO to issue guidelines about the safety of whale meat, claiming it is contaminated with mercury and should not be consumed, the BBC reports.

But whaling nations say health guidelines already in place are sufficient and oppose the proposals.

Currently, WHO has no guidelines concerning the consumption of whale meat, although its Web site lists mercury as a chemical of major public health concern.

One country that consumes a lot of whale meat, the Faroe Islands in the northeast Atlantic Ocean — a self-governing nation within the Kingdom of Denmark — says its people have already been advised to eat no more than one or two meals a month.

“It’s quite wrong to use the term ‘health hazard,’” Kate Sanderson, director of the Faroe Islands’ department of oceans and environment, said.

“It’s true that pilot whales have very high levels of mercury … and in 1998, the relevant health authorities at the Faroes issued a safety recommendation advising people on how much it was safe to eat. And people have taken that advice on board.”

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Black Rice: More Antioxidants Than Berries

BATON ROUGE, La., Aug. 27 (UPI) — A spoonful of black rice bran contains more health promoting anthocyanin antioxidants than a spoonful of blueberries, U.S. researchers say.

Zhimin Xu of the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center in Baton Rouge, La., black rice is one variety of the “Forbidden Rice” in ancient China that was kept by nobles for themselves.

Black rice bran is rich in anthocyanin antioxidants, substances that show promise for fighting heart disease, cancer and other diseases and it may be used by food manufacturers to boost the nutrition of breakfast cereals, beverages, cakes, cookies and other foods, Xu suggests.

“Black rice bran would be a unique and economical material to increase consumption of health promoting antioxidants,” Xu says in a statement.

Xu and colleagues analyzed samples of black rice bran from rice grown in the southern United States and found it possesses higher level of anthocyanins antioxidants, which are water-soluble antioxidants.

Black rice bran may be even healthier than brown rice bran, Xu suggests.

Black rice has deep black color and turns deep purple after cooking. It has a high mineral content and like other rice supplies several amino acids.

The findings were presented at the 240th national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston.

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How Cranberry Juice Prevents Infection

BOSTON, Aug. 25 (UPI) — A U.S. researcher explains how cranberry compounds may help prevent urinary tract infections.

Terri Anne Camesano of Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts says cranberry juice is effective because it contains compounds that prevent bacteria such as E. coli from sticking together and increase the chances the bacteria will be flushed out of the urinary tract.

Bacteria like E. coli survive and multiply, she explains, by forming biofilms — thin, slimy layers — that create an environment where the bacteria thrive.

However, she says, cranberry juice compound prevents E. coli from sticking to other bacteria and even to the surface of a plastic Petri dish.

Camesano and colleagues grew E. coli in urine collected from healthy volunteers before and after consumption of cranberry juice cocktail and then tested the E. coli for their ability to stick together and form biofilms.

The results suggest the beneficial substances in cranberry juice could prevent bacterial adhesion within 8 hours after consumption.

“A number of controlled clinical trials — these are carefully designed and conducted scientific studies done in humans — have concluded that cranberry juice really is effective for preventing urinary tract infections,” Camesano says in a statement. “That has important implications, considering the size of the problem and the health care costs involved.”

The study findings were presented in Boston at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society.

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To Lose Weight Drink Water Before Meals

BOSTON, Aug. 24 (UPI) — Drinking two 8-ounce glasses of water before meals helps those losing weight to lose even more, U.S. researchers say.

Brenda Davy of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Va., says it has long been suggested that water can help promote weight loss, but there has been little scientific information confirming the notion.

The study involved 48 adults ages 55-75 years, divided into one group that drank two glasses of water prior to meals and one that did not. All of the subjects ate a low-calorie diet during the study.

After the 12-week study, water drinkers lost about 15.5 pounds, while the non-water drinkers lost about 11 pounds.

“We are presenting results of the first randomized-controlled intervention trial demonstrating that increased water consumption is an effective weight loss strategy,” Davy says in a statement. “In this study, we found that over the course of 12 weeks, dieters who drank water before meals, three times per day, lost about 5 pounds more than dieters who did not increase their water intake.”

The findings were presented at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston.

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U.S. Energy 'appetite' Trimmed in 2009

LIVERMORE, Calif., Aug. 24 (UPI) — Americans are using less energy overall and availing themselves of more renewable energy sources, a report says.

Data released by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory showed the United States used significantly less coal and petroleum in 2009 than in 2008 while utilizing considerably more wind power.

And while there was a decline in natural gas consumption, solar, hydro and geothermal power use was up, the laboratory said.

“Energy use tends to follow the level of economic activity, and that level declined last year,” A.J. Simon, an LLNL energy systems analyst, said.

“At the same time, higher efficiency appliances and vehicles reduced energy use even further,” he said. “As a result, people and businesses are using less energy in general.”

Wind power increased dramatically in 2009, and since most of that energy is tied directly to electricity generation it helps decrease the use of coal for electricity production, he said.

“The increase in renewables is a really good story, especially in the wind arena,” Simon said. “It’s a result of very good incentives and technological advancements.”

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Scientist: Wind, Solar Energy is Future

BOSTON, Aug. 24 (UPI) — A Nobel Prize-winning U.S. scientist says the world could soon enter an era where renewable wind and solar power will be the globe’s main sources of energy.

Walter Kohn, who shared the 1998 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, told a meeting of the American Chemical Society that total oil and natural gas production, which today provides about 60 percent of global energy consumption, is expected to peak about 10 to 30 years from now, followed by a rapid decline, an ACS release said Tuesday.

But ongoing research and development of alternative energy could lead to a new era in human history in which two renewable sources — solar and wind — will become Earth’s dominant contributors of energy, Kohn said.

Global photovoltaic energy production increased by a factor of about 90 and wind energy by a factor of about 10 over the last 10 years, Kohn said, and he expects vigorous growth of these two effectively inexhaustible energies to continue.

Kohn, from the University of California, Santa Barbara, cited students on his campus who spent their own funds to convert an athletic building to total solar power.

“When it comes to providing leadership by young people in the area of energy conservation and energy efficiency and global warming — they are fantastic,” he said. “It is a major social commitment for our times.”

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Green Leafy Veggies May Reduce Diabetes

LEICESTER, England, Aug. 20 (UPI) — Green leafy vegetables may help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, researchers in Britain suggest.

Patrice Carter of the University of Leicester led a systematic review and meta-analysis that finds eating 1 1/2 servings of green leafy vegetables a day reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes by 14 percent.

The findings, published online in the British Medical Journal, also reveal eating more fruit and vegetables combined do not seem to significantly affect this risk.

The authors suggest a need for further investigation.

“Our results support the evidence that ‘foods’ rather than isolated components such as antioxidants are beneficial for health,” the study authors said in a statement. “Results from several supplement trials have produced disappointing results for prevention of disease.”

Carter and colleagues reviewed six studies involving 220,000 participants that focused on the links between fruit and vegetable consumption and type 2 diabetes.

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Early Teen Sex, Media Not Linked

PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 20 (UPI) — A Philadelphia psychologist is challenging previous research that linked exposure to sex in the media and the early onset of sexual activity among teens.

Laurence Steinberg of Temple University reanalyzed data from a 2006 study that said adolescents ages 12-14, exposed to a lot of sexualized movies, television, music and magazines, were more likely to have sex by age 16.

Steinberg says the original study did not fully factor in that adolescents who are already interested in sex will choose to consume more sexualized media — instead of media consumption being responsible for interest in sexual activity.

Steinberg says in his re-evaluation he used a more statistically conservative approach, which controlled for adolescents’ propensity to be exposed to sexualized media, by factoring in data such as school performance, religiousness, parental relationships and perceptions of friends’ attitudes about sex.

The study, published in the journal Developmental Psychology, finds that by controlling for these additional variables, the link between exposure to sexualized media and the earlier onset of sexual activity disappears.

Steinberg uses a child’s religiousness can be a third variable.

“If a child reports being very religious, he or she will be less likely to have sex at a younger age, but will also be less likely to consume sexualized media,” Steinberg says in a statement. “It may look like media exposure leads to sexual activity, but the relation between the two is artificial.”

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Women with Psoriasis Risk: Say No to Beer

BOSTON, Aug. 18 (UPI) — Women who have a high risk of psoriasis may consider avoiding higher intake of non-light beer, U.S. researchers suggest.

Dr. Abrar Qureshi of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston and colleagues looked at alcohol consumption and psoriasis data for 82,869 women ages 27-44 in 1991 — participants in the Nurses’ Health Study II. Through 2005, 1,150 cases of psoriasis developed, 1,069 of which were used for analysis.

The study, published in the Archives of Dermatology, finds the risk of the skin condition 72 percent greater among women averaging more than two drinks per week — vs. women who did not drink alcohol.

“Non-light beer was the only alcoholic beverage that increased the risk for psoriasis, suggesting that certain non-alcoholic components of beer, which are not found in wine or liquor, may play an important role in new-onset psoriasis,” Qureshi says in a statement.

The researchers suggest barley and other starches contain gluten — to which some individuals with psoriasis show a sensitivity. Lower amounts of grain are used to make light beer — possibly explaining why light beer was not associated with psoriasis.

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