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Medical News Notes – January 25, 2011

Posted Tuesday, Jan 25, 2011 by Allen B. Ury

Medical News NotesMore discoveries on obesity. How lack of self-control can doom a child’s future. A possible breakthrough in cancer research. These and other stories of interest from the world of health and medicine in this week’s Medical News Notes.

Obesity the Result of Central Heating?

The rising rates of obesity in the developed world have been linked to everything from high fructose corn syrup to sleep deprivation. Now, scientists at the University College London (UK) have another intriguing culprit: central heating. Writing in the January 24 issue of Obesity Reviews, the British researchers point to the link between “thermal comfort” and low metabolic rates. According to the scientists, when you’re all warm and toasty, the body has to work less to maintain a steady body temperature than when it’s chilled. Their recommendation: Spend more time outdoors in winter and, when outdoors, turn down the thermostat and let your body burn fat to keep your body at a steady 98.6 degrees F. It’s easier than going to the gym.

Focus on Health, Not Weight, Expert Suggests

And speaking of weight loss, people need to focus more on overall health and less on pounds, according to two researchers at the University of California, Davis. After reviewing more than 200 studies, the nutritionists concluded that eating wisely, exercising regularly, maintaining healthy blood pressure and getting plenty of sleep are far more important to longevity and well-being than shedding pounds. In fact, the scientists concluded that focusing on weight alone can result in an unhealthy obsession with food that can actually lead to weight gain and diminished health status.

Self-Control in Childhood Is Key a Successful Life

As early as age three, it’s possible to separate life’s winners and losers, according to a series of studies recently conducted by an international research team led by Duke University psychologists. The researchers found that children who exhibit problems with self-control and impulsiveness as toddlers more often go on to having problems with smoking, drugs, crime and single parenthood than do their more focused, disciplined counterparts. Fortunately, self-control is something that can be taught, and investing resources in training children to control their impulses and think in the long-term has a significantly better pay-off than later spending public funds on police, prisons and rehab clinics.

Divorce Can Be Very Hard on Boys

A new study shows that adult men whose parents divorced before they were 18 years old are two to three times as likely to contemplate suicide than males from long-term married couples. Surprisingly, the impact of divorce on girls is less pronounced, according to the University of Toronto study. Children of divorce, regardless of sex, also tend to have lower rates of marriage and higher divorce rates as adults.

New Discovery Could Halt Cancer Spread

Metastasis, the late-stage cancer phenomenon that allows runaway cells to spread beyond the original tumor to other parts of the body, has been linked to a single “rogue gene” by British scientists at the University of East Anglia. The scientists believe that within 10 years we could have drugs that effectively block the working of this gene, thus allowing cancer therapies to focus solely on single tumors, which could significantly increase their effectiveness.

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