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26 September, 2007

Health Tips-8: "Is the 'Five Second Rule' safe?"

Almost everyone has dropped some food on the floor and still wanted to eat it. If someone saw your drop it, he or she might have yelled, "5-second rule!" This so-called rule says food is OK to eat it you pick it up in 5 seconds or less.

Believe it or not, scientists have tested the rule. We are sorry to report it is not necessarily true. Bacteria can attach itself to your food even if you pick it up super-fast. But will your dropped food contain enough bacteria to make you sick? It is possible and that is why you should not eat food that has hit the floor.

Here is what you need to know about the 5-second rule: A clean floor is not necessarily clean.

A floor that looks dirty is usually worse, but even dry floors that look clean can contain bacteria. Why? Some germs can survive on the floor for a long time. And unless you have a powerful microscope, you can't check to see how many germs are there. So chances are, some bacteria are probably living on your kitchen floor and the cafeteria floor at school.

Fast may not be fast enough. Bacteria can attach to your food as soon as it hits the floor. That means food left on the floor for an instant can get contaminated, if conditions are right. And foods with wet surfaces, like apple slice, can pick up bacteria easily.

When in doubt, toss it out. Some bacteria are not harmful. But others can give you awful stuff, like diarrhoea. You can't see the bacteria and even if you could, it does not take much to make you sick. So what are you to do with that delicious piece of whatever that just slipped from your grip? The safest choice is to throw it out. Or give it to your brother. Just kidding! (MCT)

Courtesy: Deccan Chronicle, Chennai of Sep.24, 2007

Health Tips-7: "New Ways to Fight Ageing"

Washington, Sep.21, 2007: Researchers said they had found more ways to activate the body's own anti-ageing defences - perhaps with a pill that could fight multiple diseases at once.

Their study, published in the journal, Cell, helps explain why animals fed very low calorie diets live longer, but it also offers new ways to try to replicate the effects of these diets using a pill instead of hunger, the researchers said.

"What we are talking about is potentially having one pill that prevents and even cures many diseases at once," said David Sinclair, a pathologist at Harvard Medical School, who helped lead the research.

The key is a family of enzymes called sirtuins. They are controlled by genes called SIRT1, SIRT2 and so on. They found the enzymes controlled by these genes help preserve the mitochondria - little organs inside of cells that provide their energy.

"These two genes, SIRT3 and SIRT4, they make proteins that go into mitochondria... These are little energy packs inside our cells that are very important for staying healthy and youthful and, as we age, we lose them and they get less efficient," Sinclair said in a videotaped statement.

"They are also very important for keeping the cells healthy and alive when they undergo stress and DNA damage, as we undergo every day during the aging process."

Sinclair and colleagues have found in other studies that even if the rest of a cell is destroyed - the nucleus and other parts - it can still function if the mitochondria are alive. His team found that fasting raises levels of another protein called NAD. This, in turn, activates SIRT3 and SIRT4 directly, in the mitochondria. Such a molecule could be used for many age-related diseases ," he added. "Diseases like heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis - even things like cataracts," he said.

Courtesy: Reuters/The New Indian Express, Chennai, Sep.22, 2007

25 September, 2007

Health News-2: "Ban on Smoking"

Beijing started posting 'No Smoking' signs inside cabs in the city ahead of a smoking ban from October 1, amid efforts to create a 'no-smoking' Olympics in 2008.
Newscape, The Hindu, Sep.24, 2007

Health Warnings-3: 'Supplements of Calcium can raise Heart Attack Risk' - DPA

Older women in New Zealand have been advised to stop taking calcium supplements, acknowledged to protect their bones, after a study found it could raise the risk of heart attack.

A trial run by Auckland University's bone research group found the supplements caused a 40% increase in heart attacks, the Sunday Star-Times reported.

Ian Reid, the professor who directed the study, said women over 70 who had been on the trial were recommended to stop taking extra calcium, especially if they had a history of heart or kidney disease, pending further investigations. About 1,500 women took part in the trial, which was funded by New Zealand's Health Research Council.

Reid told the appear that three other international studies on calcium supplements had since been reviewed, and all showed varying degrees of elevated risk of heart attacks, ranging from 10 to 20%.

"When you put four studies together, you need to take it more seriously," he said.

"This is potentially very important because there are so many people around the world who take calcium supplements." Reid said the study found calcium supplements dramatically reduced older women's risk of bone fractures and bone density loss.

"But heart disease kills you, whereas bone disease can, but it is not quite so lethal."

Courtesy: DPA/Deccan Chronicle, Chennai, Sep.24, 2007