What the sci­en­tists are say­ing…

The Week - - News | Health & Science -

Hid­den dan­gers of fruit juice Drink­ing fruit juice at break­fast may sound healthy, but chil­dren who do so reg­u­larly have a greater chance of be­com­ing over­weight, new re­search sug­gests. Sci­en­tists in Aus­tria ex­am­ined the break­fast habits of 652 chil­dren aged about 13, and then used data on their height and weight to work out which foods had the great­est in­flu­ence on weight. Most ap­peared to make lit­tle dif­fer­ence, but chil­dren who drank juice more than three times a week were found to be 50% like­lier to be over­weight or obese than those who didn’t. Pre­sent­ing the find­ings to the Euro­pean Con­gress on Obe­sity in Vi­enna, Maria Luger, of the Med­i­cal Univer­sity of Vi­enna, said that fruit juice’s sur­pris­ingly high sugar con­tent means that it can be as calorific as fizzy drinks. “Drink wa­ter or unsweet­ened tea, and if you drink fruit juice, add wa­ter,” she ad­vised. The study also found that chil­dren who reg­u­larly skip break­fast tend to weigh a bit more than those who eat it ev­ery day – prob­a­bly, the re­searchers spec­u­lated, be­cause they be­come hun­grier later on and so con­sume more un­healthy snacks.

Can sea­weed curb cow meth­ane? The en­vi­ron­men­tally harm­ful con­se­quences of cows belch­ing out meth­ane could be sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced if sea­weed was in­tro­duced to their di­ets, sci­en­tists have claimed. Cows are able to sur­vive on a diet of grass be­cause of mi­crobes in their gut that process and fer­ment high-fi­bre foods. The process pro­duces large quan­ti­ties of meth­ane – which cows emit by belch­ing nearcon­tin­u­ously. In 2015, re­searchers in Aus­tralia found that a com­pound in cer­tain types of sea­weed ap­pears to in­hibit an enzyme that pro­duces the meth­ane; in lab con­di­tions, they were able to slash meth­ane emis­sions by 99%. Now sci­en­tists at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia have taken the next log­i­cal step of adding small amounts of al­gae to cat­tle feed. The re­search is still in its pre­lim­i­nary stages, but team leader Pro­fes­sor Er­mias Ke­breab de­scribed the re­sults as “amaz­ing”, with cows eat­ing the al­gae-en­riched feed show­ing “sub­stan­tial emis­sion re­duc­tions”.

Lyme dis­ease vac­cine A vac­cine that pro­vides pro­tec­tion against all ma­jor types of Lyme dis­ease has had promis­ing re­sults in clin­i­cal tri­als, says The Sun­day Tele­graph. The bac­te­rial in­fec­tion is a grow­ing prob­lem in the north­ern hemi­sphere, partly, it’s thought, be­cause global warm­ing has caused the ticks re­spon­si­ble for spread­ing it to move be­yond their tra­di­tional habi­tats. Lyme dis­ease isn’t al­ways se­ri­ous, but in some cases it pro­duces de­bil­i­tat­ing long-term symp­toms – in­clud­ing joint pain, mem­ory loss and ex­haus­tion. The vac­cine, de­vel­oped by French drug com­pany Val­neva, works by stim­u­lat­ing an­ti­bod­ies that at­tack the Lyme bac­te­ria in the tick’s gut as it feeds on the hu­man host – pre­vent­ing the bac­te­ria from en­ter­ing the hu­man blood­stream. In its first round of hu­man tri­als, the vac­cine was be­tween 71.4% and 96.4% ef­fec­tive – a rate that Val­neva hopes to im­prove. David Lawrence, the com­pany’s chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer, said it could be avail­able to the pub­lic within five years.

Obe­sity linked to 12 can­cers Obe­sity plays a role in as many as 12 types of can­cer, ac­cord­ing to a ma­jor anal­y­sis of the causes of the dis­ease. The re­port by the World Can­cer Re­search Fund (WCRF) found that while smok­ing re­mains the big­gest cause of can­cer, it may soon be over­taken by obe­sity in many coun­tries, in­clud­ing the UK. In an ear­lier ver­sion of the re­port, re­leased a decade ago, the WCRF iden­ti­fied seven can­cers linked to obe­sity. Now, it says, the ev­i­dence points to 12: liver, ovaries, prostate (ad­vanced), stom­ach, mouth and throat, bowel, breast (post-menopause), gall blad­der, kid­ney, oe­soph­a­gus, pan­creas and womb. The re­port says that up to four in ten can­cer cases are pre­ventable, and urges non­smok­ers to adopt a ten-point health plan, which in­cludes cut­ting down on ba­con and pro­cessed meats, be­ing phys­i­cally ac­tive and re­duc­ing al­co­hol in­take.

Health stat: al­co­hol-free beer Sales of al­co­hol-free beer have surged 64% in a year – the re­sult, say an­a­lysts, of im­proved recipes and greater aware­ness of the health risks of al­co­hol. The trend is es­pe­cially marked among over-45s.

Fruit juice can be as calorific as fizzy drinks

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