Are you are feeling physically and emotionally drained out? Try taking a whiff of your romantic partner’s shirt — for it can help lower stress levels, suggests a study. The findings showed that women feel calmer when they sniff their male partner’s scent. “Many people wear their partner’s shirt or sleep on their partner’s side of the bed when their partner is away, but may not realise why they engage in this behaviour,” said lead author Marlise Hofer, graduate student at the University of British Columbia, in Canada. “Our findings suggest that a partner’s scent alone, even without their physical presence, can be a powerful tool to help reduce stress,” Hofer added. Conversely, being exposed to a stranger’s scent had the opposite effect and raised levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, possibly because of evolutionary factors. “From a young age, humans fear strangers, especially strange males, so it is possible that a strange male scent triggers the ‘fight or flight’ response that leads to elevated cortisol. This could happen without us being fully aware of it,” she said. The study could have practical implications to help people cope with stressful situations when they’re away from loved ones, the researchers said. For the study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the team recruited 96 heterosexual couples. Men were given a clean T-shirt to wear for 24 hours, and were told to refrain from using deodorant, that could affect their scent. The women were then randomly assigned to smell a T-shirt that was either unworn, or had been worn by their partner or a stranger. Women who smelled their partner’s shirt felt less stressed, those who both smelled their partner’s shirt and also correctly identified the scent had lower levels of cortisol, while women who smelled a stranger’s scent showed higher cortisol levels.
Lumbar spinal stenosis develops with age, but nicotine’s constriction of blood flow and promotion of inflammation contribute to process. Smoking increases the risk of lower back pain that needs to be fixed by spinal surgery, a Swedish study suggests. Researchers focused on a common cause of lower back pain known as lumbar spinal stenosis, which occurs when the spinal canal narrows, putting pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. The condition often develops as people age, but nicotine’s constriction of blood flow and promotion of inflammation are believed to contribute to the process, the study authors write. The researchers examined data on 331,941 construction workers who were part of a nationwide occupational health registry in Sweden. Workers were followed for an average of more than three decades, starting when they were typically in their 30s, and 1,623 of them eventually had surgery for lumbar spinal stenosis. Compared to people who never smoked, heavy smokers who went through at least 15 cigarettes a day were 46 per cent more likely to have this spinal surgery, the study found. For moderate smokers who had up to 14 cigarettes a day, the increased risk was 31 per cent, while ex-smokers had 13 per cent higher odds of surgery. “Smoking appears to be a risk factor for developing lower spine space narrowing that can lead to surgical treatment,” said senior study author Dr. Arkan Sayed-Noor, a researcher at Umea University. “Quitting smoking can reduce the risk,” Sayed-Noor said by email. While some previous research has linked smoking to worse outcomes from spinal surgery, the current study offers fresh evidence that it can also increase the odds that back pain will require surgery, Sayed-Noor added. Overall, 44 per cent of the study participants were non-smokers. Another 16 per cent were former smokers, while 26 per cent were moderate smokers and 14 per cent were heavy smokers. The connection between smoking and spinal surgery persisted even after researchers accounted for other factors that can increase the odds of lower back pain such as aging and obesity. Smoking damages the spine in several ways, researchers note in The Spine Journal. Nicotine can damage spinal tissue, weaken bones and make back pain worse. Heavy smoking is also often accompanied by a sedentary lifestyle that may lead to muscle weakness and increase strain on the lower back. One limitation of the study is that researchers lacked data on exercise habits, the authors note. Most of the construction workers in the study were men, and the results might be different for women. Still, the findings add to evidence linking cigarettes to disc damage and back pain, said Dr. Jean Wong, a researcher at the University of Toronto who wasn’t involved in the study. “There are multiple short and long-term health reasons for smokers to quit, and by quitting smoking, smokers can reduce their risk of back pain due to disc degeneration and spinal stenosis - which can be a debilitating problem in smokers,” Wong said by email. “Although it may take multiple attempts, quitting smoking is the best thing a smoker can do to minimize the risk of spinal stenosis and other health problems.”
A recently held wedding in Madurai was just like any other wedding ceremony, except for the fact the bride and the groom travelled 6000 kms just to get hitched there! Chiharu Obata and Yuto Ninaga travelled to Madurai, all the way from their homeland of Japan to have their dream wedding in the traditional Tamil way. 27-year-old Chiharu studied linguistics in college and is a software engineer by profession. She arrived in Tamil Nadu in 2014 to research the similarities between Tamil and Japanese culture and along the way, developed a deep love for the state and its traditions. She married her fiancé, Yuto, in a small ceremony in Japan in 2017. When her friend, V Vinodhini, who is also her Tamil teacher, and her husband Venkatesh, suggested that the couple have a second wedding ceremony in Madurai, the duo did not hesitate and decided to go ahead with the idea. Vinodhini and Venkatesh completed all the arrangements for the couple, and they were married in a Hindu ceremony in Madurai on 31st December 2017. The ceremony was strictly by the book—from traditional yellow invitations printed in Tamil, to the families of both the bride and groom dressed in traditional attire. The couple also completed rituals like Sapthapathi (seven circumambulations) and Kanyaadaanam (giving away of the bride by her father). Speaking in fluent Tamil, Chiharu said, “Tamilila enakku ellame pidikum (I love everything in Tamil).” Where Yuto added “This is a very important experience for me. I’m very glad we did this.”
For every wide-eyed movie-goer who is glued to a seat, munching on popcorn, there are those who do not like the food being served in movie halls. While some cannot eat it due to medical reasons, there are many who do not want to pay the often triple-digit popcorn price. This is what probably what Mumbai resident Jainendra Baxi had in mind, when he, through his lawyer Mr Aditya Pratap, filed a PIL challenging the prohibition on carrying outside food in movie theatres and multiplexes. The PIL claimed there was no legal or statutory provision prohibiting one from carrying personal food articles or beverages into movie theatres. In response, the Bombay High Court has directed the Maharashtra Government to reply to Baxi’s PIL, within three weeks, and the logic behind prohibiting outside food in movie-halls, and whether it is lawful or not. “They cannot frisk people and take away all the food items,” said a division bench comprising of Justice RM Borde and Justice Rajesh Ketkar. “There you are not entering a sensitive area like an airport to pose a security threat,” the judges said, questioning the need to frisk patrons entering cinema halls. The bench pointed out that movie-goers should be frisked for dangerous items like guns and knives, and not have their personal food items snatched from them. Baxi’s lawyer, Advocate Pratap, pertinently pointed out that Maharashtra Cinemas (Regulation) Rules prohibit hawking and selling food inside theatres and auditoriums, yet halls openly flout this rule. In fact, they now have buttons on their seats, allowing people to summon waiters and place orders. The restrictions on bringing outside food to theatres mainly affect senior citizens and those who cannot eat, for medical reasons, “the junk food sold at the food stalls inside theatres,” the petition read. Advocate Pratap suggested that licences issued by the state to such theatres must have a mandatory clause directing them not to ban any outside food or water.
Fitness freaks who want to shed those extra kilos on their bellies, we have some happy news for you. According to the Independent, you can let go the sad bowl of cereal as experts have recommended that by consuming extra proteins in breakfast can help you lose weight. As per a research done by CSIRO, revolving your morning meal around whole foods such as lean meats, eggs and legumes could keep you fuller for long and increase fat loss when combined with regular exercise. Professor Manny Noakes, co-author of the reports, said, "If you find it difficult to control what you eat, a redistribution of protein toward breakfast may be the answer." The team has advised eating between 25 and 30 grams of protein in order to see the benefits. The study found that the average Australian increases their protein intake throughout the day, with fairly small amounts consumed at breakfast. They revealed that women typically eat just 11 grams of protein in the morning, compared to men who consume 15 grams. Adopting a higher protein and moderate carbohydrate breakfast routine could be the key in losing weight in a healthy and sustainable way, the researchers concluded. The report also found that low quality processed foods currently make up a third of the average Australian adult's protein intake, instead of whole protein sources such as dairy, legumes and fish, which the authors explained were favourable for sustaining fat loss.
Frailty increases the risk for falls, disability, and even death. Oral health is really important for over-all wellness, as a study has recently warned that tooth loss, gum disease, tooth decay and dry mouth is linked to increased risks of frailty in older adults, especially men. According to researchers, men with dental issues were more likely to be frail than men without those issues. The findings indicated that the participants were considered frail if they had at least three of these issues: exhaustion, weak grip strength, slow walking speed, weight loss, or low levels of physical activity. Frailty is the medical term for becoming more vulnerable to declining health or the inability to perform the activities of daily living. Someone who is frail can be weak, have less endurance and be less able to function well. Frailty increases the risk for falls, disability, and even death. The team examined the relationship between poor oral health and risks for becoming frail in 7,735 British men. Initially, they were first examined in 1978 to 1980 when they were 40 to 59 years old. Later, in 2010 to 2012, the team examined 1,722 surviving participants aged 71 to 92. They measured their height, weight, walking tests and grip strength. The exam included a dental exam. The participants answered questions about their dental health, including if they had dry mouth. The results indicated that 20 percent of participants had no teeth, 64 percent had fewer than 21 teeth, a 54 percent of participants had gum disease, 29 percent of participants had at least two symptoms of dry mouth and 34 percent of participants rated their oral health as "fair to poor'. The researchers also noted that complete tooth loss, dry mouth, and additional oral health concerns were especially linked to developing frailty. They research is published in the journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
A good night’s sleep is incredibly important for health as sleeping less than eight hours is linked to repetitive negative thoughts like those seen in anxiety or depression, warns a recent study. Meredith Coles and Jacob Nota from Binghamton University, State University of New York conducted the study. Coles explained that people have some tendencies to have thoughts get stuck in their heads and their elevated negative thinking makes it difficult for them to disengage with the negative stimuli. ‘While other people may be able to receive negative information and move on, the participants had trouble ignoring it,’ Coles noted. The team examined timing and duration of sleep in individuals with moderate to high levels of repetitive negative thoughts. The participants were exposed to different pictures intended to trigger an emotional response and the researchers tracked their attention through their eye movements. The findings indicated that regular sleep disruptions are associated with difficulty in shifting one’s attention away from negative information, which indicates that sleep is a part of what makes negative intrusive thoughts stick around and interfere with people’s lives. They explained that negative thoughts are believed to leave people vulnerable to different types of psychological disorders, such as anxiety or depression. The researchers are further exploring this discovery, evaluating how the timing and duration of sleep may also contribute to the development or maintenance of psychological disorders.
Forget expensive anti-ageing creams which claim to reverse the signs of ageing. A new study shows that simply undertaking facial exercises for 30-minutes-a-day can knock years off the appearance in as little as five months. Facial workouts, also known as ‘face yoga’, is a beauty trend which has emerged in the past few years, and promises to be a non-invasive alternative to botox or surgery. Although it may feel a little foolish to contort the features into a series of unbecoming poses, which include The Lion, The Joker and Fishy Lips, proponents insist it increases blood circulation to all three layers of the skin, allowing oxygen and nutrients to reach cells.
Facial exercises may improve facial appearance and reduce some visible signs of agingDr Murad Alam, Northwestern University
The techniques are also said to stimulate collagen and elastin production in the dermis - the middle layer of skin - making the face more supple, tighter and, most importantly, younger looking. Now a new study by Northwestern University suggests it actually works. When 27 middle-aged women embarked on a course of facial exercises for five months, an independent panel of raters concluded that they appeared on average three years younger. “Now there is some evidence that facial exercises may improve facial appearance and reduce some visible signs of aging,” said lead author Dr Murad Alam, vice chair and professor of dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “The exercises enlarge and strengthen the facial muscles, so the face becomes firmer and more toned and shaped like a younger face. “Assuming the findings are confirmed in a larger study, individuals now have a low-cost, non-toxic way for looking younger or to augment other cosmetic or anti-aging treatments they may be seeking.”
As the face ages the skin loses elasticity and the fat pads between the muscle and the skin become thinner. It is those pads of fat which give the face shape and a plump, youthful appearance. But as the skin becomes saggy, the fat pads slide down causing the face to ‘fall.’ “But if muscle underneath becomes bigger, the skin has more stuffing underneath it and the firmer muscle appears to make the shape of the face more full,” said senior study author Dr Emily Poon, an assistant research professor in dermatology at Feinberg. “Muscle growth is increasing the facial volume and counteracting the effects of age-related fat thinning and skin loosening.” The study also found that after the first nine weeks, the women were able to do the exercises on every other day to see the same impact. The programme comprised of 32 facial exercises, which were developed by Gary Sikorski of Happy Face Yoga, who was also a co-author on the study.
One known as The Cheek Lifter involved opening the mouth for form an ‘O’ before positioning the upper lip over teeth, smiling to lift cheek muscles up, then lightly raising and lowering the cheek muscles with the fingers. Another exercise called The Happy Cheeks Sculpting involved smiling without showing teeth, pursing the lips together then placing the fingers on the corners of the mouth and slide them up to the top of the cheeks and holding for 20 seconds. “Facial exercises that may be beneficial include those that entail puckering and squeezing the cheeks,” Prof Alam added “There are many muscles that collectively allow movement of the cheeks, and our study showed that building these up makes the upper and lower cheeks look fuller.” A panel who were asked to rate the change found that upper cheek and lower cheek fullness, in particular, was significantly enhanced as a result of the exercises. In addition, the raters estimated average patient age decreased over the course of the study from an average of 50.8 years to 48.1 years at 20 weeks. “That’s almost a three-year decrease in age appearance over a 20-week period,” added Prof Alam. The women involved in the study also reported being highly satisfied with the results.
Drinking alcohol produces a harmful chemical in the body which can lead to permanent genetic damage in the DNA of stem cells, increasing the risk of cancer developing, according to research published on Wednesday. Working with mice in a laboratory, British scientists used chromosome analysis and DNA sequencing to examine the genetic damage caused by acetaldehyde, a harmful chemical produced when the body processes alcohol. Their findings offered more detail about how alcohol increases the risk of developing 7 types of cancer, including common forms such as breast and bowel cancer. It also showed how the body seeks to defend against the damage alcohol can do. “Some cancers develop due to DNA damage in stem cells. While some damage occurs by chance, our findings suggest that drinking alcohol can increase the risk of this damage,” said Ketan Patel, a professor at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, who co-led the study. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies alcohol as a Group 1 carcinogen, citing “convincing evidence” it causes cancer in humans. A study published in 2011 found that alcohol is responsible for around 4 percent of all cancer in Britain - equating to around 12,800 cases a year. In Wednesday’s study, published in the journal Nature, Patel’s team gave diluted alcohol to mice and then analyzed the effect on the animals’ DNA. They found that acetaldehyde can break and damage DNA within blood stem cells, permanently altering the DNA sequences within these cells. This is important, Patel said, because when healthy stem cells become faulty, they can give rise to cancerous cells. The researchers also looked at how the body tries to protect itself against damage caused by alcohol. The first line of defense is a group of enzymes called aldehyde dehydrogenases or ALDHs, Patel explained. These break down the acetaldehyde into acetate, which cells can then use as a source of energy. In the study, when mice lacking a critical ALDH enzyme were given alcohol, their DNA suffered four times as damage compared with mice with a properly functioning version of the enzyme. Patel said cells also have a second line of defense in the form of a range of DNA repair systems which, most of the time, allow them to fix and reverse different types of DNA damage. But in some instances and in some people - particularly people from South East Asia - the repair systems fail to work, meaning their cells are unable to repair effectively. “It’s important to remember that alcohol clearance and DNA repair systems are not perfect, and alcohol can still cause cancer in different ways - even in people whose defense mechanisms are intact,” Patel said.
Pensioner Dieneke Ferguson beat incurable blood cancer after turning to curry spice turmeric when chemotherapy did not work. The 67-year-old, inset, took curcumin, one of the compounds in turmeric, every day for five years to try to fight her myeloma.Numerous other spices can also add a bit of a kick to health and wellbeing. Herbs and spices have been used for medicinal purposes for centuries, so what might be able to help you?