Bury bad thoughts to boost mental health, Cambridge team suggests – dpa international

The researchers trained with 120 volunteers from 16 countries participants in inhibitory control – subduing thoughts that cause anxiety – before writing up the outcome for the journal Science Advances. “Following training – both immediately and after three months – participants reported that suppressed events were less vivid and less fearful,” they reported, even to the point that volunteers with post-traumatic stress saw improvements to their reported mental health. “We’re all familiar with the Freudian idea that if we suppress our feelings or thoughts, then these thoughts remain in our unconscious, influencing our behaviour and well-being perniciously,” said Michael Anderson, a Cambridge professor.

Stressful jobs match obesity as cause of male heart disease – dpa international

Men who do demanding work for scant reward are twice as likely to develop heart disease as counterparts whose jobs take less of a toll and are more satisfying, “The impact of job strain and effort-reward imbalance combined was similar to the magnitude of the impact of obesity on the risk of coronary heart disease,” according to a team of Canadian doctors, whose work on the subject was published by the American Heart Association. While results for women were “inconclusive,” men who endured “stressful working conditions” and who “felt that they put forth high effort but received low reward” faced twice the risk of heart disease as that faced by men “free of those psychosocial stressors.”

Lead pollution again pencilled in as threat to health – dpa international

Larsen and colleague Ernesto Sánchez-Triana warned that exposure “can seriously harm young children’s health, including damage to the brain, slowed development, and learning difficulties,” while adults are left more vulnerable to cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease and learning disabilities. According to the Royal Society of Chemistry, lead is used in batteries, pigments, ammunition, weights for lifting and radiation protection. Countries began to phase out lead from car fuel in the 1980’s, though the process took about two decades to be completed in western nations and twice as long elsewhere.

Anti-obesity drugs could see Big Pharma eat into Big Food, says Big Finance – dpa international

The increasing uptake of anti-obesity medication could have “long term impacts” on the food industry if people eat less and “shun” unhealthy fare, according to a recent report by Morgan Stanley. “The latest hunger-suppressing weight-loss drugs are transforming the way obesity is treated,” the investment bank said, with the industry attaining “blockbuster status” over the past year.  The food industry could be hit hard as use of the drugs expands. The sector has been hit by inflation over the past two years, benefitting in part from high prices in grocery stores but also seeing margins squeezed at the other end by soaring costs such as fuel, transport and labour. Anti-obesity medication could cut sales “particularly for unhealthier foods and high-fat, sweet and salty options,” said Morgan Stanley’s tobacco and packaged food analyst Pamela Kaufman. Left as it is, health care costs, time taken off work and reduced productivity could see obesity trimming $4 trillion, roughly the same as Germany’s gross domestic product, off global economic output by 2035.

Asia worst-hit as air pollution tops listing of threats to health – dpa international

Anyone who has lived or travelled in Asia will know that wearing face masks in public was a done thing before the Covid pandemic. In cities such as Jakarta, belching fumes from heavy traffic have long meant the wearing of coverings by motorcyclists weaving through cars and buses at rush hour. The continuing impact of air pollution in Asia makes it a bigger global health challenge than alcohol, cigarettes, dirty drinking water or traffic accidents, according to the University of Chicago. Data from the university’s Air Quality of Life Index showed air pollution to be “the world’s greatest external risk to human health,” with Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Mongolia were listed as the five worst-affected countries, where life expectancies have been reduced by up to 6 years.

More work needed to assess effects of ultra-processed food, consumer body says – dpa international

Said to be a cause of heart disease, diabetes and obesity, so-called “ultra-processed food” has come under scrutiny in recent weeks. Eating too much  of it leads to increased risk of heart attack, high blood pressure and stroke, according to research presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress, which was held in Copenhagen in late August. A British government report published in July warned against diets “high in (ultra-)processed foods” as they are “often energy dense, high in saturated fat, salt or free sugars, high in processed meat, and/or low in fruit and vegetables and fibre.” However more work needs to be done to quantify the impact of ultra-processed food, according to The European Food Information Council (Eufic), which said the Copenhagen papers were not peer-reviewed and that it was not clear what definition of ultra-processed food has been used. 

Something fishy about branding on some Omega 3-type supplements – dpa international

Staple catches, such as cod and tuna, have been deemed in some regions to be over-fished, while wider fish prices have been caught up in the post-2020 consumer and food inflation net. So it’s probably no surprise that around one in five over-60s in the US are estimated to be taking regular doses of these translucent pea-sized capsules. But it appears most brands make over-the-top claims for the supplements. Research published by the American Medical Association claims that “the majority of fish oil supplement labels make health claims […] that imply a health benefit across a variety of organ systems despite a lack of trial data showing efficacy.”

Taking drugs adds to risk of heart attack, going by French hospital data – dpa international

“Compared with other non-using heart patients, users were more likely to die or to require emergency intervention for events such as cardiac arrest or acute circulatory failure,” the medics warned. They found only half of all patients whose urine samples suggested they had taken drugs actually admitted to it. A third of the patients younger than 40 had taken drugs, the tests suggested, while 25% of all drug-using patients had dabbled in more than one substance.

Teenagers who smoke drag down their brainpower – dpa international

Teenagers who succumb to peer pressure and start smoking likely do so because they have less grey matter in the part of the brain that influences decision-making and abiding by rules. Worse again, those youngsters who develop a smoking habit tend by the end of their teenage years to have experienced a reduction in grey matter in the part of the brain that controls how pleasure is managed. That’s going by a study of adolescents and young adults in Britain, France, Germany and Ireland, which was carried out by the universities of Cambridge, Fudan and Warwick and the findings from which were published in the journal Nature Communications.

Americans increasingly split over spliffs, sparking health warnings – dpa international

An increasing number of people are seeing smoking a joint, including passive or second-hand inhaling, as less harmful than cigarettes.  That’s according to a new study published in the American Medical Association’s JAMA Network Open journal. “While rates of cigarette use are declining, more US adults are using cannabis,” reported the researchers, who were led by Beth Cohen, a doctor at the University of California, San Francisco. However, as Americans ditched the cigarettes, they “increasingly” have “perceived daily smoking and secondhand exposure to cannabis smoke as safer than tobacco smoke.”