Saturday, 16 May 2015


Health risks appear to be greatest for single mothers in later life. Single motherhood is associated with an increased risk of multiple health problems, including adverse cardiovascular episodes, poor mental health and increased mortality.

Women who have been single mothers for any period are more at risk of physical disability and poor health in later life in comparison with women who have raised children with a partner. This association is greatest among single mothers in the US, England, Denmark and Sweden. The existence of strong social support in certain countries may explain why the associations are not as strong in some geographic regions. In regions such as Southern Europe, the cultural emphasis placed on family solidarity means that single motherhood is not associated with any increased health risks.

The following women are at particular risk:
  • Those who become single mothers before the age of 20
  • Those who become single mothers through divorce
  • Those who are single mothers for 8 or more years
  • Those who raise two or more children.
These conclusion indicates selection and causation in "cycles of disadvantage." For example, the risk of single motherhood is increased by poverty, which may reflect previous health disadvantages. Being a lone mother may hamper women's abilities to gain education, accrue careers and accumulate income, also leading to poorer health.


Alcohol use in early pregnancy may lead to brain changes and changes in gene functioning in other body tissues of offspring. In other words, it may cause lifelong changes to gene regulation in embryonic stem cells - the earliest cells to emerge from a developing embryo.

Alcohol consumption during pregnancy has been linked to increased risk of a number of health conditions for offspring, including growth restriction, intellectual and learning disabilities, poor memory, poor coordination and speech and language delays. However, it is unclear exactly how alcohol exposure during pregnancy impacts fetal development to result in these conditions.

Alcohol-exposed offspring show symptons of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) - a condition that is currently difficult to diagnose. These include structural changes to the face and skull, and hyperactivity.

Culled from Medical News Today

Wednesday, 13 May 2015


Virtually all American adults have tooth decay, and more than a quarter have cavities that have not been treated. By the time they hit 65, 96 percent of Americans have tooth decay. It is not what they are doing wrong. It is maybe what they can do better. A lot has to do with access to dentists. People without health insurance coverage for dental care, or living in areas where dentists are not common, are more likely to have tooth decay, and far more likely to go without fillings. About 19 percent of people 65 and over have no teeth at all. This rises to 26 percent of people 75 and older.

Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in children in the U.S., five times as common as asthma. Caries, which comes from the Latin word for "rotten", is caused mostly by bacteria reacting with sugar in the mouth. They produce acid that leaches minerals from the teeth and weakens them. So it's an infectious disease — one that stays with people for life. Plus there is a genetic susceptibility to developing tooth decay. Fluoride helps slow this loss of minerals and greatly reduces rates of tooth decay.

Although most Americans have tooth decay, the situation is far improved from past generations. Toothbrushing, fluoridation and better dental care have all helped.


There has been a worrying rise in the number of working-age men and women having strokes. Experts say unhealthy lifestyles were partly to blame for the rise, though the growing population and changes to hospital practice also play a part. Strokes should no longer be considered as a disease of the old.
Strokes are caused by blood clots or bleeds to the brain and can lead to long-lasting disability.
The majority occur in people aged over 65, and though rates are decreasing in this group, growing numbers of younger people are at risk. Growing obesity levels, sedentary lives and unhealthy diets - which raise the risks of dangerous blood clots - all play a part.

Alastair Morely was 34 years old when he had a stoke on New Year's Day four years ago: "I had an excruciating headache, was being sick, couldn't walk or talk very well." It was was later found that Mr Morely had a heart condition which had triggered the stroke and after his rehabilitation the solicitor had a phased return to work. "It was tough but I was lucky that I was young and my brain remapped around the damaged area," Mr Morely added.

Pete Rumbold, from Bromsgrove in Worcestershire, was 49 when he had a stroke in November 2011: "It left me paralysed down the left side, unable to speak, swallow or see." He warned that there were no outward signs he was at risk: "I was very fit, in the gym six days a week and I eat healthily, but I had high blood pressure and didn't know about it. I hadn't been to the doctor for seven or eight years so my blood pressure wasn't checked for a long time."

Younger people should be aware of the warning signs such as dizziness, difficulties with speech and changes in the face.


Men who get plenty of aerobic exercise may delay the onset of age-related high cholesterol, potentially lowering their risk for heart disease. Men who can run longer and faster – signs that their bodies more easily deliver oxygen to muscles – also have lower cholesterol.

The benefits of physical fitness in improving cholesterol levels are greatest in young to middle-age adults and tend to decrease gradually with older age. These findings reinforce the importance of young to middle-age men incorporating regular aerobic exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle.

There is very strong evidence that being active is beneficial throughout life not only for cardiovascular disease but for a very large number of chronic diseases and for osteoporosis and fractures. To achieve the fitness levels necessary to ward off age-related high cholesterol, men should get 150 minutes a week of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity. These activities might include walking, running, swimming or cycling. It does not matter how old men are when they exercise; they can benefit at any stage. Of course, the younger they start exercise, the later the onset of high cholesterol, especially before 60 years old when cholesterol tends to increase with aging.


Hunger is the physiological need for calories, water, and salt, and it's driven by a mix of factors, including your diet, appetite hormones, and emotional factors, such as stress. Figuring out why you can't stop shoveling it down is important, because excess hunger can tip you off to a physical or mental health issue—and giving in to that need to feed can send your BMI into dangerously unhealthy territory. These 11 things will help explain why your belly's been growling.

1)  You're dehydrated

Mild dehydration is often masked as feelings of hunger, when really your body just needs fluids. The confusion happens in the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that regulates both appetite and thirst. When dehydration sets in, wires get crossed in the hypothalamus, leading you to grab a bag of chips when you really need a bottle of water. Prevent it by staying on top of your fluid intake, starting with a glass of water first thing in the morning. If you feel hungry, and you haven't drank much that day, try drinking a glass of water and waiting 15 to 20 minutes to see if your hunger subsides.

2)  You're a restless sleeper

    Too little sleep can lead to surging levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite, as well as decreased levels of leptin, a hormone that causes feelings of fullness. Lack of shuteye on a regular basis makes you ravenous for another reason. After poor sleep, you're more likely to have serious fatigue and brain fog. Your system, desperate for a shot of energy, triggers cravings for sugar carbs, even if you're not actually hungry. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night, and you'll get your energy level and hunger hormones back on track.

    3)  You load up on starchy carbs

    Ever notice how one doughnut or cookie leaves you unable to resist eating another...until the whole box is just crumbs? That's your brain on starchy carbs. Simple carbs, the kind found in sugary, white flour foods like pastries, crackers, and cookies, spike your blood sugar levels quickly, then leave them plunging soon after. That blood sugar plunge causes intense hunger for more sugary carbs, and the cycle continues. Get your carb fix with the complex, filling kind that contains lots of fiber. Almonds, apples, chia seeds, and pistachios are healthy options that ward off hunger pangs.

    4) You're a stress case

    When you're tense, your system ramps up production of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. Elevated levels of these hormones trick your system into thinking it's under attack and needs energy, so your appetite starts raging. Stress also reduces levels of the brain chemical serotonin, and that can make you feel hungry when you aren't. Yoga class or a soothing playlist helps to wade off the effects of stress.

    5)  You drink too much alcohol

    Alcohol stimulates a feeling of hunger even if your stomach is full. People were more likely to consume foods higher in calories after drinking alcohol. And because booze dehydrates you, it can trick you into thinking you need food when your body is really calling for water. Offset the effect by eating before you drink, and make sure to alternate your cocktails with water so you stay hydrated.

    6)  You need to eat more protein

    It sounds counterintuitive, but piling your plate with more food—lean protein and healthy fat, specifically—keeps hunger pangs at bay. Not only does protein stay in your stomach and promote feelings of fullness, it's been shown to have an appetite-suppressing effect. Best sources: Greek yogurt, eggs, lean meat, and whole grains.

    7)  You aren't eating enough fat

    Just like protein, unsaturated fat is also linked to feelings of satiety. When you're satisfied after a meal, you are more likely to listen to your hunger cues and not eat again until you are truly hungry. Add this heart-healthy, brain-boosting kind of fat to your meals in the form of oils, nuts and seeds, and avocados.

    8)  You skip meals

    When you skip a meal and your stomach is empty for too long, it produces an uptick in the hunger hormone ghrelin, which ramps your appetite. Ghrelin also prompts the GI tract to expect food to come. Your ghrelin levels are in overdrive, and so is your lust for food. When you finally give in, you're prone to a binge. As a general rule, try not to let more than 4 to 5 hours go by between meals. And even if you hate breakfast, eat something in the a.m. within an hour of waking, like yogurt, peanut butter and apple slices, or a soymilk smoothie.

    9) You're bombarded by food porn

    With images of food saturating our lives 24-7, it's no wonder so many of us are constantly craving the real thing. Getting a whiff of food has a similar effect. Pleasant food aromas stimulate an involuntary physiological reaction: the mouth will salivate and the stomach will contract, mimicking hunger pangs. Of course, you can't totally eliminate the possibility of seeing or smelling food. But try limiting your exposure, say by skipping TV commercials and un-following food brands on Instagram.

    10)  You inhale your food

    A study published in 2013 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism finds that eating at a moderate pace prompts the release of hormones that tell your brain "no more." Try eating your food slowly, savoring each bite and enjoying the ritual of a good meal. Then wait at least 20 minutes before deciding if you really do need another helping. That's about how long it takes for that fullness signal to reach your brain, says Rumsey.

    11)  You're on certain meds

    The same drugs you might be taking regularly to treat a health condition can also drive you to raid the refrigerator. Antidepressants such as Zoloft and Paxil, as well as corticosteroids such as prednisone (prescribed to treat potentially dangerous flareups of the immune system due to allergies, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn's disease, and some cancers), are known to affect appetite. If you're on one of these prescription and feel hungry after a normal-sized meal, talk to your doctor to see if it's possible to switch to another drug.

    Friday, 24 October 2014

    ''WHY I WANT TO DIE AT 75''

    Death – along with sex – is one of our two great taboos. So it came as some surprise when Ezekiel Emanuel took to the stage in New York. Here, at 57 and in full health, he is already planning the date of his death – at 75. “My brother called me on my birthday and said, ’Is it 17 or 18 more years that I have to put up with you?’” According to Ezekiel, “I think by 75 you’ve lived through the full arc of life... You’ve worked hard as an adolescent, you’ve made a career and had a family. That seems like a great life to me, so why run the risk of dementia, drooling, and being a burden to your family?”

    The statement is all the more surprising, considering that Emanuel is an oncologist and the director of the Clinical Bioethics Department at the US National Institutes of Health. He surely knows more than most about the potential of modern medicine. Yet he says it is important that we all consider the nature of our deaths, as hard as that may be. Is there an ideal time to die, and should we choose to end our lives at that point?

    Emanuel has been talking about the question for much of his adult life. “My kids have been hearing it since they were in diapers,” he told the conference delegates. He wrote an article for The Atlantic magazine stating: “Doubtless, death is a loss. It deprives us of experiences and milestones, of time spent with our spouse and children. In short, it deprives us of all the things we value. But here is a simple truth that many of us seem to resist: living too long is also a loss. It renders many of us, if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived. It robs us of our creativity and ability to contribute to work, society, the world. It transforms how people experience us, relate to us, and, most important, remember us. We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic.”

    Jon Sopel and Ezekiel J Emanuel discuss life and death at the World-Changing Ideas Summit in New York

    Jon Sopel and Ezekiel J Emanuel discuss life and death at the World-Changing Ideas Summit in New York

    Provocative argument
    It’s important to note that Emanuel is not suggesting that people should take deliberate action to accelerate death; rather, once he reaches 75 he will simply refuse medical care – such as chemotherapy, a pacemaker or statins– that could prolong his life. “It’s about not being driven by the medical establishment to take every medicine. Even antibiotics will be off the cards,'' he says. Even so, his point of view seems hard to reconcile with the fact that Emanuel has long opposed legalised euthanasia for the terminally ill. But it’s important to note this is a personal choice; he certainly isn’t suggesting that it should impact policies for health care. Changing the law to allow assisted suicide creates many more legal and moral issues that are far more difficult to resolve and could be abused, he says.

    One issue that Emanuel readily acknowledges is that everyone will age differently. “Almost everyone’s initial response to my article was to list the 27 people they know who are over 75, and there are things you can do if you want to live a vigorous, engaged, intellectually vibrant life: excercise is important; continue to have a large social sphere, and keep working – because it forces you to have social interactions and do a routinised thing of having a plan, and getting things done. Yes, those things might boost you chances of being an outlier – but remember, we can’t all be outliers.”

    Ultimately, he admits the specific limit, of 75 years, is somewhat arbitrary – but his point is that it makes you start to consider where your life is heading; the ultimate memento mori. “I’m challenging people to think about their personal philosophy,” he says; he’s certainly not suggesting that others follow him. “I think one of the problems, if you don’t set a date, is that you don’t confront the big question, and you don’t perceive you decline,” he says. “I want to shift to focus to saying ‘you’ve got 75 years, what are you going to make of it?’”

    LIKE our Facebook page: