Negative Potential Health Impacts of Energy Drinks

An underrated health risk, particularly for youth, as the study shows. The link doesn’t mention the combination of energy drinks with alcohol, but that is also a concerning trend, as mixing the two has been shown to raise the risks of adverse health outcomes.

Over half of Canadian youth and young adults who have consumed energy drinks have experienced negative health effects as a result, according to a study from the University of Waterloo.

In a nationwide survey of Canadian youth, over half of those who had ever consumed an energy drink had reported experiencing an adverse health event, including rapid heartbeat, nausea, and in rare cases, seizures.

Currently, Canadian legislation is meant to prohibit energy drinks from being marketed to children and energy drinks are not recommend to be used by people participating in sporting activities.

“Most risk assessments to date have used coffee as a reference for estimating the health effects of energy drinks; however, it is clear these products pose a greater health risk,” said David Hammond a Professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Waterloo. “The health effects from energy could be due to the different ingredients than coffee, or the ways in which they consumed, including with alcohol or during physical activity; regardless, the findings suggest a need to increase surveillance of health effects from these products.”

In conducting the study, the researchers surveyed 2,055 young Canadians aged 12 to 24. Of those that had reported consuming energy drinks at some point in their lives, 55.4 per cent reported experiencing an adverse health event.

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“The number of health effects observed in our study suggests that more should be done to restrict consumption among children and youth,” said Hammond. “At the moment, there are no restrictions on children purchasing energy drinks, and they are marketed at the point-of-sale in grocery stores, as well as advertising that targets children.”

Additional studies on energy drinks. Also, while I appreciate and support esports over violent sports that cause widespread brain damage, such as American football, it should be said that a lot of professional gamers are having a negative influence with their energy drink consumption. As someone who could have gone pro in multiple games, I’ve personally long considered the theoretical short term performance gains of energy drinks to be outweighed by the longer term health consequences.

Avoid Holding Your Nose and Closing Your Mouth When You Sneeze, Doctors Warn

Apparently forcefully holding in a sneeze can be a risky decision. Fitting findings for flu season, although it could be added that sneezing into the elbow crevice is generally the best practice at lessening potentially infectious particles.

Pinching your nose while clamping your mouth shut to contain a forceful sneeze isn’t a good idea, warn doctors in the journal BMJ Case Reports.

One young man managed to rupture the back of his throat during this manoeuvre, leaving him barely able to speak or swallow, and in considerable pain.

Spontaneous rupture of the back of the throat is rare, and usually caused by trauma, or sometimes by vomiting, retching or heavy coughing, so the 34 year old’s symptoms initially surprised the emergency care doctors.

The young man explained that he had developed a popping sensation in his neck which immediately swelled up after he tried to contain a forceful sneeze by pinching his nose and keeping his mouth clamped shut at the same time.

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“Halting sneezing via blocking [the] nostrils and mouth is a dangerous manoeuvre, and should be avoided,” caution the authors.

“It may lead to numerous complications, such as pseudomediastinum [air trapped in the chest between both lungs], perforation of the tympanic membrane [perforated eardrum], and even rupture of a cerebral aneurysm [ballooning blood vessel in the brain],” they explain.

New “High-Tech” Dental Treatments May be Able to Repair Teeth

This is encouraging new research, although not enough of the details have been finalized yet. The advanced treatments will hopefully be low cost so that reducing human plight can take precedence over increasing corporate profits.

From fluoride toothpaste to dental sealants, science has brought all sorts of tools for fighting tooth decay — and yet 91% of Americans between 20 and 64 years of age are affected by dental caries.

But provocative new research suggests that cell-stimulating medications can “trick” teeth into repairing themselves. If these “small molecule” drugs work as well as scientists think they will, we may be on the cusp of a new era in which dental tissue and even entire teeth can be regrown.

And this is only one of several new approaches that hold promise for tooth regeneration.

STEM CELLS TO THE RESCUE

Right now, when dentists spot caries, they drill out the decayed material and fill the hole with a cement-like substance called amalgam. But amalgam can fail or even fall out. That can bring more discomfort and a trip back to the dentist.

This could all change. The research shows the drugs can coax stem cells within the dental pulp — the soft material deep within teeth that’s filled with nerves and blood vessels — into regrowing enough bony tissue (dentin) to fill the cavity.

Researchers are especially excited about Tideglusib, a low-cost experimental drug with an established safety record. They think it could be fast-tracked through clinical trials for use to stop tooth decay (Tideglusib is currently being tested for use against Alzheimer’s disease).

“The dentin produced by stimulating stem cells with Tideglusib integrates itself completely within the tooth so there’s no risk of the filling coming out, which is a big problem with the current methods, which haven’t changed much in the past 100 years,” says Dr. Paul Sharpe, professor of stem biology at Kings College London and leader of the research. “There’s a big need for biology to impact upon dentistry and drag it out of the 19th century.”

So far Tideglusib has been studied only in rats, but Sharpe expects to start human trials within the next year. He hopes that it can eventually replace amalgam, which contains mercury. “Mercury works and it lasts for a long time, but having that in your mouth is a concern,” Sharpe says.

MAYBE LASERS

Meanwhile, scientists at the University at Buffalo in New York are exploring an even more radical way to regrow teeth. A team led by Dr. Praveen Arany, assistant professor of oral biology at the university, is testing the use of low-power laser light to stimulate tooth regeneration.

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Arany has found that shining laser light directly on the remaining pulp can stimulate stem cells in the pulp to produce new dentin. This would still need to be capped, but is likely to be far more resilient.

“By regenerating the tooth so the pulp is coated in natural dentin again, it doesn’t have the same risk of material failure,” Arany says. “Our bodies have the ability to heal our tissues through their own stem cells, so figuring out how to kick-start this process is a dramatically different and more effective way of doing dentistry.”

Unfinished Coverage of the Obesity Epidemic

The statistics on the epidemic of too many people being obese and overweight are disturbing. There are reports finding that — within a decade — the number of people who will be overweight or obese will be about a third of Earth’s total human population. That makes it a significant issue of public health costs, but it’s unsurprising that the corporate mass media hasn’t given this (or a number of other problems) much coverage. The latest idiocy appearing out of today’s Oval Office is too often granted precedence instead.

As is the case frequently enough, the United States provides an extreme example of this world trend of rising obesity rates. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the American obesity epidemic is at a record high, with almost 40 percent of adults being considered obese. Over two thirds of Americans were also found to be overweight or obese, and of those, about a fifth of American adolescents fit in the obese range.

The costs associated with the American obesity problem have been estimated at $190 billion annually, or an amount that’s about 1 percent of GDP and nearly twice the annual budget of the Department of Education. This amount may of course rise even higher if obesity rates continue expanding.

While the costs are difficult to quantify, as it’s difficult to truly attach monetary costs to the overall well-being of livelihoods, there’s ample evidence to conclude that a lot of people being too overweight is a serious problem. It’s therefore time to more actively discuss solutions.

For starters, all products containing sugar could be required to have a daily recommended limit of 50 grams of sugar labeled on the package. That’s about the amount of sugar the World Health Organization recommends people limit themselves to daily. The sugar industry has of course tried to prevent these sorts of labels, as they represent a threat to their profits — even as the lack of them continues to take its toll on public health.

Beyond sugar being “empty calories,” there is bitter proof that an excess consumption of sugar has inherently negative effects. An overabundance of sugar consumption accelerates the decay of teeth, often causes undesirable weight gain, raises risks for a lot of diseases, and presents problems from potential cognitive damage to a higher chance of developing various consequential health conditions. A study recently released even discovered a correlation between sugar intake and worsened outcomes from cancer. The study’s lead researcher said that “Our research reveals how the hyperactive sugar consumption of cancerous cells leads to a vicious cycle of continued stimulation of cancer development and growth.”

The important point about sugar being raised, it’s also worth noting that the direct cause of weight gain is typically the continual intake of more calories than is burned off. A pound of fat is about 3500 calories, so the excess consumption of those is obviously contributing to more pounds. What a lot of people do not realize though is that a pound of muscle burns a higher amount of calories than a pound of fat does, even at rest. Aerobic exercise (such as running) is regularly seen as a way of losing weight, but anaerobic exercise (such as doing pushups) is primarily what will create the muscles that could prevent a lot of weight gain to begin with.

Obesity Can Cause Scarring of Fat Tissue That Makes Weight Loss More Difficult

This research is insight into the common adage that weight is easier to gain than it is to lose. Further examination into the Lysyl oxidase molecule that’s associated with the scarring is found at the link and in the actual study.

The fat of obese people becomes distressed, scarred and inflamed, which can make weight loss more difficult, research at the University of Exeter has found.

An analysis of the health of adipose (fat) tissue in overweight people found that their fat can cease to cope as it increases in size and becomes suffocated by its own expansion.

Dr Katarina Kos, Senior Lecturer at the University of Exeter’s Medical School, examined samples of fat and tissue from patients, including those with weight problems who have undergone bariatric surgery.

Fat in obese people can suffocate and struggle for oxygen supply, due in part to the increase in the fat cells’ size. As cells get bigger they become distressed and struggle for oxygen which triggers inflammation in the fat tissue. The inflammation spills over from fat tissue into the blood stream and is eventually measurable in the circulation by a blood test.

Stressed and unhealthy fat tissue is also less able to accommodate more unused dietary energy. With fat tissue not being able to do its most vital job, which is storing excess calories, the excess energy can be increasingly diverted from fat tissue to vital organs, including the liver, muscle and heart. This can lead to obesity-related health complications such as fatty liver disease and cardiovascular disease.

Dr Kos found that fat tissue which is fibrous is also stiffer and more rigid. Previous studies of people who have had weight loss surgery showed that increased levels of scarring can make it harder to lose weight.

“Scarring of fat tissue may make weight loss more difficult,” Dr Kos said. “But this does not mean that scarring makes weight loss impossible. Adding some regular activity to a somewhat reduced energy intake for a longer period makes weight loss possible and helps the fat tissue not to become further overworked. We know that doing this improves our blood sugar and is key in the management of diabetes.”

Dr Kos, who leads the adipose tissue biology group at the University of Exeter, said where obese people carry their fat can have an impact on their health.

Scarring of fat tissue can change a person’s body shape. They can develop an ‘apple’ body shape with a large tummy and more fat within the deeper layers of the tummy and around the organs. However, they can retain thin arms and legs, as there is little fat just below the skin. Although such people can appear relatively slim, fat can be deposited in their abdomen and in their internal organs, including their liver, pancreas, muscle and the heart. Fat can also be stored around and in the arteries causing arteriosclerosis, a stiffening of arteries predisposing people to high blood pressure, heart disease and strokes. Scarring of fat tissue has also been linked to diabetes.

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Dr Kos added: “Further research is needed to determine how to avoid our fat tissue becoming unhealthy and how protect it from inflammation and scarring. There is evidence that once fat tissue becomes scarred, despite weight loss, it may not recover fully. We need to look after our fat tissue which can cease to cope if it is overworked when being forced to absorb more and more calories. As a clinician, I would advise exercise or at least a ‘walk’ after a meal which can make a great difference to our metabolic health.”

Research: Unhealthy Food Seems to Make the Immune System More Hyperactive in the Long Term

The increased immune system hyperactivity is quite plausibly linked with diseases such as diabetes and arteriosclerosis. Unhealthy food may have a low price at face value, but its cost overall — measured throughout society — is high due to the various ailments and diseases it causes. That’s another reason that society should be reorganized to prevent problems instead of (for the most part) being organized only to treat them.

The immune system reacts similarly to a high fat and high calorie diet as to a bacterial infection. This is shown by a recent study led by the University of Bonn. Particularly disturbing: Unhealthy food seems to make the body’s defenses more aggressive in the long term. Even long after switching to a healthy diet, inflammation towards innate immune stimulation is more pronounced. These long-term changes may be involved in the development of arteriosclerosis and diabetes, diseases linked to Western diet consumption. The results will be published in the journal Cell.

The scientists placed mice for a month on a so-called “Western diet”: high in fat, high in sugar, and low in fiber. The animals consequently developed a strong inflammatory response throughout the body, almost like after infection with dangerous bacteria. “The unhealthy diet led to an unexpected increase in the number of certain immune cells in the blood of the mice, especially granulocytes and monocytes. This was an indication for an involvement of immune cell progenitors in the bone marrow,” Anette Christ, postdoctoral fellow in the Institute of Innate Immunity of the University of Bonn explains. To better understand these unexpected findings, bone marrow progenitors for major immune cell types were isolated from mice fed a Western diet or healthy control diet and a systematic analysis of their function and activation state was performed.

“Genomic studies did, in fact, show that the Western diet had activated a large number of genes in the progenitor cells. The genes affected included those responsible for proliferation and maturation,” explains Prof. Dr. Joachim Schultze from the Life & Medical Sciences Institute (LIMES) at the University of Bonn and the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE). Fast food thus causes the body to quickly recruit a huge and powerful army. When the researchers offered the rodents their typical cereal diet for another four weeks, the acute inflammation disappeared. What did not disappear was the genetic reprogramming of the immune cells and their precursors: Even after these four weeks, many of the genes that had been switched on during the fast food phase were still active.

Scientific Research Into Happiness

I am unsure how much I agree with the conclusions of this happiness research, but it is interesting to read nonetheless.

Over the past two decades, the positive psychology movement has brightened up psychological research with its science of happiness, human potential and flourishing.

It argues that psychologists should not only investigate mental illness but also what makes life worth living.

The founding father of positive psychology, Martin Seligman, describes happiness as experiencing frequent positive emotions, such as joy, excitement and contentment, combined with deeper feelings of meaning and purpose.

It implies a positive mindset in the present and an optimistic outlook for the future.

Importantly, happiness experts have argued that happiness is not a stable, unchangeable trait but something flexible that we can work on and ultimately strive towards.

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Recent research indicates that psychological flexibility is the key to greater happiness and well-being.

For example, being open to emotional experiences and the ability to tolerate periods of discomfort can allow us to move towards a richer, more meaningful existence.

Studies have demonstrated that the way we respond to the circumstances of our lives has more influence on our happiness than the events themselves.

Experiencing stress, sadness and anxiety in the short term doesn’t mean we can’t be happy in the long term.

Two paths to happiness

Philosophically speaking there are two paths to feeling happy, the hedonistic and the eudaimonic.

Hedonists take the view that in order to live a happy life we must maximise pleasure and avoid pain. This view is about satisfying human appetites and desires, but it is often short lived.

In contrast, the eudaimonic approach takes the long view. It argues that we should live authentically and for the greater good. We should pursue meaning and potential through kindness, justice, honesty and courage.

If we see happiness in the hedonistic sense, then we have to continue to seek out new pleasures and experiences in order to “top up” our happiness.

We will also try to minimise unpleasant and painful feelings in order to keep our mood high.

If we take the eudaimonic approach, however, we strive for meaning, using our strengths to contribute to something greater than ourselves. This may involve unpleasant experiences and emotions at times, but often leads to deeper levels of joy and contentment.

So leading a happy life is not about avoiding hard times; it is about being able to respond to adversity in a way that allows you to grow from the experience.

Growing from adversity

Research shows that experiencing adversity can actually be good for us, depending on how we respond to it. Tolerating distress can make us more resilient and lead us to take action in our lives, such as changing jobs or overcoming hardship.

In studies of people facing trauma, many describe their experience as a catalyst for profound change and transformation, leading to a phenomenon known as “post-traumatic growth”.

Often when people have faced difficulty, illness or loss, they describe their lives as happier and more meaningful as a result.

The ConversationUnlike feeling happy, which is a transient state, leading a happier life is about individual growth through finding meaning.

It is about accepting our humanity with all its ups and downs, enjoying the positive emotions, and harnessing painful feelings in order to reach our full potential.