We know that high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and smoking aren’t good for the heart. Well, it turns out loud noise is another risk factor your doctor may not want to keep quiet about.
That noisy little headline comes from researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital. They studied 499 people with an average age of 56.
At the beginning of the study period, all of them were free of cardiovascular disease. Over time, they tracked how many of the test subjects got heart attacks and strokes. The researchers used the home addresses of study participants to estimate the level of ambient noise where they resided.
Compared to people who lived with lower levels of noise, those with the highest levels of chronic noise exposure were three times more likely to have a heart attack, a stroke or other major cardiovascular event.
The study’s authors said typical sources of heavy chronic noise exposure include close proximity to a highway, a major airport or a busy traffic zone.
Commercial aircraft on takeoff produce noise levels above 120 decibels. A telephone ring produces about 80 decibels and a jackhammer about 100. Highway traffic noise ranges from 70 to 80 decibels at a distance of 15 metres from the highway.
The researchers found that people with the highest levels of noise exposure had higher levels of brain activity inside the amygdala.
The test subjects with higher activity inside the amygdala also had greater amounts of inflammation in their arteries inside the heart and the brain. Doctors know from other studies that inflammation of the arteries is necessary for the development of heart disease and strokes.
In the current study, the researchers found that high levels of activity inside the amygdala actually increased the level of inflammation inside the coronary arteries.
Air pollution, smoking and diabetes are other known factors that cause inflammation of the arteries.
In this study, when the researchers took those factors into account, noise still turned out to be a major contributor to inflammation and therefore to the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Rising rates of noise are happening everywhere. Anyone who lives in a city anywhere on the planet should be concerned about the health impact of exposure to excessive noise.
Until now, we’ve chalked up rising levels of noise from busy highways, traffic zones and airports to progress and prosperity. Now, we see that there’s a hidden danger to our health.
And it’s something your body won’t let you escape. You may be able to tune the noise out of your conscious mind, but your brain and your heart do not develop tolerance to noise. If anything, your arteries may become even more prone over time to damage caused by noise.
Rates of asthma are on the rise in children, and doctors have struggled to figure out why.
The researchers found that the chance that a child was diagnosed with asthma was significantly greater if the child was obese. They found that 23 to 27 per cent of new cases of asthma in the children were directly attributable to obesity.
They also found a link between being overweight and having asthma. However, the link between overweight and asthma was not as strong as was the link to asthma in kids with obesity.
The connection is not well understood, but there are some theories. One is that carrying extra weight around the chest might predispose children to asthma by narrowing the airways or restricting the chest to shallow breaths. Studies have shown that obesity reduces the volume of air that can be inspired into the lungs.
Another hypothesis is that adipose or fatty tissue releases chemicals called adipokines that increase inflammation inside the body. The “excess” inflammation caused by adipokines makes the airways more sensitive to environmental triggers like cat and dog dander that can set off asthma attacks.
Another theory is that obesity triggers a third condition such as acid reflux and obstructive sleep apnea that in turn trigger asthma. None of these have been proven.
Some researchers believe the connection between obesity and asthma is just a coincidence of two common conditions. Some believe asthma is the result of obesity rather than the cause.
Currently, there are few known prevention factors that can be used to reduce childhood asthma. Reducing obesity would be good for children. It would also reduce significantly the burden of asthma and obesity on the health-care system.
Wrap up against the cold
Colder, drier air during the winter months means the water in your skin evaporates faster. Scientists have estimated that your skin loses more than 25% of its ability to hold moisture in winter, making it feel drier and tighter. You can reduce this by shielding your skin with protective clothing such as gloves and scarves while outdoors.
Use a humidifier
Spending more time indoors with the heating on also dries out your skin. Running a humidifier in the most commonly used living areas in your home can help replenish moisture in the air that has been sucked out by the dry indoor heat. Setting a humidifier to around 60% is thought to be sufficient to help replenish the skin’s oily surface layers.
Avoid overly hot showers
Piping hot showers may be tempting, but the higher temperatures dry out skin by stripping away its surface oils: keeping the water lukewarm is actually much healthier. Try to limit showers to no more than 10 minutes and avoid using bath sponges or scrubbing brushes that can damage and irritate the skin. When towelling dry, pat the skin rather than rubbing vigorously.
Regular moisturising is the most effective way of tackling dry skin, but some products are better than others. Look for moisturising creams containing lactic acid or ammonium lactate as these ingredients help seal moisture within your skin. The best moment to apply moisturiser is within three to five minutes of showering, while your skin is still damp.
Swap your soap
One of the most common causes of dry skin is harsh soaps, particularly those that promise lots of exfoliation. Soap is an emulsifier, meaning it strips away the moisture within your skin. Definitely avoid deodorant or perfumed soaps or soaps that contain alcohol – instead, try soap-free cleansing products such as Cetaphil or Aquanil, which contain added moisturiser.
Avoid woollen clothing
Scratchy fibres such as wool can aggravate dry, sensitive skin, causing it to become itchy. If you are prone to dry skin, you may be better off sticking to softer, smoother fabrics that allow your skin to breathe, such as cotton.
We tend not to be as thirsty during the winter, compared with the hot summer months, but your body actually loses water through the skin all year round, especially when you spend most of the day in a warm indoor environment. This makes it easy to become dehydrated without realising, which can contribute to dry skin. Drink regularly even if you don’t feel thirsty, and avoid caffeinated drinks, which will dehydrate you even more.
Depression is a debilitating mental condition of overwhelming sadness and disinterest in activity. The victim may feel hopeless, tearfulness, lack of energy to engage in even the smallest tasks, worthlessness, anxiety, anger, restlessness, and have trouble focusing and may even have frequent thoughts of suicide.
Psychopharmacology is commonly used, but may produce unwanted side effects. It is often ineffective in not only solving one’s original depression or in preventing the next depression. And with extended long-term use, the side effects may have devastating health effects.
The nutritionist says … eat one plant protein and one serving of veggies at every meal.
The researcher says … sign up for a prevention program.
Most doctors will tell you to eat better and move more, but how exactly do you start putting the advice into practice? That’s why it’s crucial to find a group that helps inspire you to create healthy, lasting habits. Research shows that when you engage in a yearlong lifestyle change program that includes diet, exercise, and support, you’ll cut your risk of diabetes by over half, and by 70% if you’re over 60, you’ll also help prevent heart attacks and strokes.