Music boosts mental and physical health
The first large-scale review of more than 400 research papers on the subject revealed that music–both playing it and listening to it–provides a myriad of benefits to both mental and physical health. According to the findings, published in the journal Trends in Cognitive Science, music has a significant impact on four different areas of health: immunity, mood management, stress and social bonding.
First, several studies indicated that music can improve the body’s immune system function in different ways. For example, music increases the activity of an antibody associated with the mucous system – one of the more important functions within the body’s overall immune system. Music also apparently increases the number of ‘killer cells’ in the body, or the cells that attack invading infections.
Music also has a significant impact on stress, anxiety and depression. One study found that listening to music actually reduced anxiety in patients about to undergo surgery better than prescription anxiety medications. A 2011 report revealed that music could reduce anxiety in cancer patients and lowers the overall level of cortisol – a stress hormone – in the body. Finally, music therapy, when combined with other therapies, was successful in treating depression.
After singing the praises of music’s effects on health, the report also offered suggestions for further research. For example, questions remain on the effects of playing music as opposed to listening to it, and what role the chemical oxytocin – often called ‘the love drug’ – plays in musical experiences.
NEXT: Gene ‘typos’ identify cancer risk
Sourced from: Medical News Today, Music Benefits Both Mental And Physical Health
Published On: Mar 29th 2013
Restaurant kids meals fall way short in nutrition
Many chain restaurants say they’ve have taken steps to improve the nutritional quality of meals marketed to children. But a report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) found that only about three percent of meals offered to kids in many chain restaurants actually meet recommended nutritional standards.
The reports analyzed 3,500 meals from 41 popular chain restaurants across the country and compared their nutrition content to standards set by the CSPI, an advocacy group. Of all those different meals, 50 percent of them had more than 600 calories, 78 percent included soft drinks and 73 percent offered fries as a side option.
The CSPI’s nutritional standards for children’s meals are slightly more stringent than the ones set by the National Restaurant Association. For example, the CSPI’s guidelines do not allow more than 430 calories and 770 mgs. of sodium in measl marketed to children. They also require at least a half-serving of fruit or vegetables, and one item made from at least 51 percent whole grains.
Of the restaurants analyzed, 19 of them did not have a single menu offering for children that met the CSPI’s nutritional guidelines. But even with the more lenient National Restaurant Association guidelines, 10 restaurants still had no healthy meals to offer to children.
Overall, the CSPI recommends that restaurants provide kids’ meals with standard fruit and vegetable side options and more whole grains, and that they also remove sugary drinks and fries from the meals.
NEXT: The health benefits of tea (Infographic)
Sourced from: Live Science, 97% of Restaurant Kids’ Meals Are Unhealthy, Consumer Group Says
Published On: Mar 29th 2013
Gene ‘typos’ identify cancer risk
A large study by researchers at the University of Cambridge and The Institute of Cancer Research in London has identified more than 80 genome variations that could increase a person’s risk of developing ovarian, prostate and breast cancer.
The body of research, dubbed the Collaborative Oncological Gene-Environment Study (COGS), focused on a specific kind of genetic variation called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP). Most people inherit at least a few of these SNP variations, which researchers call a genetic ‘typo.’ But how they affect each person depends on where in the DNA strand the SNPs are found and how frequently they occur.
The study examined and compared the DNA of more than 100,000 cancer patients and an additional 100,000 patients from the general population. They found that every DNA alteration slightly increased the person’s risk for cancer, but people with several SNP variations had nearly a 30 percent increased risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent increased risk of prostate cancer. The SNP variations that carried the most risk were located near the areas of the genome that control gene behavior.
The research identified 49 SNPs associated with breast cancer, 23 SNPs associated with prostate cancer and 11 associated with ovarian cancer.
As illuminating as the findings are, they are not conclusive enough to necessarily predict a person’s risk of cancer based on their gene variations alone. However, the research authors remain optimistic, noting that “the identification of genetic variants that are associated with cancer risks will give us important insights into the basic biology of cancer that may lead to the development of new therapies or better ways to target existing therapies.”
NEXT: Restaurant kids meals fall short in nutrition
Sourced from: Medical News Today, Scientists Identify Genetic Causes For Prostate, Breast And Ovarian Cancer In Breakthrough Research
Published On: Mar 29th 2013