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WARSAW, August 30, 2018 (News Wires) - New European research presented on Tuesday at the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2018 cautions against following a low carbohydrate diet, describing them as unsafe.

Carried out by researchers at the Medical University of Lodz, Poland, the new large-scale study set out to investigate the relationship between low carbohydrate diets, all-cause death, and deaths from coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease (including stroke), and cancer.

The researchers gathered data from a nationally representative sample of 24,825 participants with an average age of 47.6 years who had taken part in the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 1999 to 2010.

Over the course of the study they found that those who consumed the lowest amount of carbohydrates had a 32 per cent higher risk of death from all causes when compared to those who ate the most carbs.

In addition, risk of death from coronary heart disease was increased by 51 per cent, the risk of death from cerebrovascular disease by 50 per cent, and the risk of death from cancer by 35 per cent.

The results also remained significant even after the team had taken into account other potentially influencing factors.

The findings were also confirmed in a further analysis which looked at seven studies with a total of 447,506 participants. After an average follow-up of 15.6 years, those who followed a low-carb diet showed a 15 per cent increased risk of death, a 13 per cent higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease, and an 8 per cent higher risk of death from cancer than those who followed a high-carb diet.

Study author Professor Maciej Banach commented on the findings saying, “Low carbohydrate diets might be useful in the short term to lose weight, lower blood pressure, and improve blood glucose control, but our study suggests that in the long-term they are linked with an increased risk of death from any cause, and deaths due to cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, and cancer.”

“The reduced intake of fibre and fruits and increased intake of animal protein, cholesterol, and saturated fat with these diets may play a role. Differences in minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals might also be involved,” he added.

“The findings suggest that low carbohydrate diets are unsafe and should not be recommended.”

A diet low in carbohydrates and high in protein and fat has previously been suggested as an effective way of losing weight, however the long-term safety of these diets has been subject to controversy, with previous studies producing conflicting results as to their influence on the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and death.

MUNICH, August 28, 2018 (News Wires) - New research presented at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress 2018 has suggested that around six to eight hours sleep a night could be ideal for maintaining good health, with more or less shut-eye appearing to have a negative effect on well-being.

In the first of three studies presented at the event, researchers at the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Centre, Greece, carried out a meta-analysis to investigate the relationship between sleep duration and risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), looking at 11 studies with a total of 1,000,541 adults without CVD.

They found that compared to those who slept six to eight hours a night, short sleepers who slept less than six hours per night had an 11 per cent increased risk of developing or dying from coronary artery disease or stroke during an average follow-up of 9.3 years.

For long sleepers, defined as those who slept more than eight hours per night, this number rose to a 33 per cent increased risk.

“Our findings suggest that too much or too little sleep may be bad for the heart,” said study author Dr. Epameinondas Fountas. "More research is needed to clarify exactly why, but we do know that sleep influences biological processes like glucose metabolism, blood pressure, and inflammation - all of which have an impact on cardiovascular disease."

“Having the odd short night or lie-in is unlikely to be detrimental to health, but evidence is accumulating that prolonged nightly sleep deprivation or excessive sleeping should be avoided,” added Dr Fountas. “Getting the right amount of sleep is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.”

Research from the Spanish National Centre for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC) in Madrid, which was also presented at the congress, adds to the evidence that too little sleep may have a negative effect on health.

After recording the sleep of 3,974 healthy middle-aged adults over a seven-day period, the researchers found that those who sleep less than six hours a night or wake up several times in the night have an increased risk of asymptomatic atherosclerosis, which hardens and narrows the arteries, than those who sleep seven to eight hours a night or wake up less often.

Those who had short or disrupted sleep were also more likely to have metabolic syndrome, a collection of conditions including high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and obesity, which can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

Findings presented by the University of Gothenburg, Sweden also found that middle-aged men who slept less than five hours a night had twice the risk of a major cardiovascular event during the study's 21-year follow-up than men who sleep seven to eight hours.

In addition, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, smoking, low physical activity, and poor sleep quality were also more common in men who slept five or less per night compared to those who got seven to eight hours.

The ESC Congress 2018 started August 25 and ends tomorrow in Munich, Germany.

PARIS, July 4, 2018 (News Wires) — Eating nuts “significantly” boosted the number and health of sperm in young men in a scientific trial, researchers said today.

The findings “support a beneficial role for chronic nut consumption in sperm quality,” they said, but stressed the study participants were all healthy, apparently fertile men.

The potential benefits of nuts for men struggling with fertility have yet to be probed.

For the study, researchers recruited 119 men aged 18-35, who they divided into two groups.

One group ate 60 grammes of almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts daily on top of their usual “western-style” diet, while the second group got no nuts.

After 14 weeks, the nut group “had significant improvements in their sperm count, vitality, motility (movement) and morphology (shape)” — all associated with male fertility, said a statement. 

“Moreover, the subjects in the nut group also showed a significant reduction in their levels of sperm DNA fragmentation, a parameter closely associated with male infertility.”

The results were consistent with sperm improvement observed in other studies that looked at diets rich in omega-3, antioxidants such as vitamin C and E, selenium and zinc, and folate.

Nuts are rich in many of these nutrients.

The study results were presented at a meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Barcelona.

Does this mean that men hoping to conceive a child should add nuts to their diet?

“We can’t yet say that,” said study co-author Albert Salas-Huetos of the Rovira i Virgili University in Spain.

“But evidence is accumulating in the literature that healthy lifestyle changes such as following a healthy dietary pattern might help conception — and of course, nuts are a key component of a Mediterranean healthy diet.”

On eggs and science

By the Gazette Editorial Board

LAST week, a news story that went viral had it that a team of Beijing University researchers concluded, after studying the cases of as many as 500,000 people between 2004 and 2008, that egg consumption at a certain rate may reduce cardiovascular risks. The media fanfare played high the deduction that finding fully contradicts the established and decades-long medical knowledge that egg consumption is a major cardiovascular risk factor since it elevates cholesterol levels. On the face of it, the story as splashed in some global media outlets may suggest that medical knowledge could at least partially be inconclusive. That, however, is too simplistic an understanding to build on the study.


The fact is that human knowledge is characteristically both cumulative and testable; and as such, its components should be perceived of as reflecting the status of the mass of data and explanations as it exists at the time of calling any part of knowledge for use or for re-appraisal. Elementary reasoning demands that knowledge, as so is best exemplified by medicine, be understood as a continuum of hypotheses and theories in the sense that a theory-based medical procedure today would in due course evolve into a hypothetical onset for further or future scientific research and investigation. In other words, it is a sequence of ideas and conceptions. The issue of the relation between egg cholesterol and cardiovascular diseases is a case in point. The media fanfare apart, an insight into the seeming contradiction requires a plausible understanding of how the link between medicine and scientific research evolved as well as of the dynamics of this link.


Four centuries ago, science and natural philosophy parted. The great intellectual divorce emancipated science from the authority and domination of natural philosophy, in effect making it possible for science to tread freely onto lands which had until then remained invisible. A great, watershed consequence of that parting has been the departmentalisation of science as an inevitable outcome of the large, sustained and characteristically unstoppable accumulation of scientific knowledge. So, it was only after that separation that allusions began to be extensively made to physicists, chemists, mathematicians, astronomers, geologists and so on.


In the process, medicine evolved into an independent discipline; but never has it ever let loose its ties with science and scientific research. Fortunately, today’s medicine looks virtually like a hub of almost all other disciplines, no matter how pure or empirical they are. In turn and in due course, medicine has had to splinter under the impact of the expansion of medical knowledge as so is proven by our reference in common conversations to the cardiologist, the internists, the surgeon, the ophthalmologist and so on.


In an historical perspective, the strong, organic and built-in link between medicine and science has had a marvellous influence on our inherent tendency to keep improving the quality of life. Until the 17th Century, physical illnesses had predominantly been studied and treated only on the basis of pressing symptoms and manifestations but a ‘scientific’ definition of disease and causes was almost untraceable. Today, it has become almost common knowledge to define what hypertension is and which measurements should be rated normal. Quantitative knowledge is now available for common access with very many other diseases, including in the foremost blood glucose levels, kidney and liver functions – an explicit proof of the value of the link between medicine and scientific research. And it is exactly this link that bestows worthiness on investigative research to unveil the actual interaction between eggs and cardiovascular diseases.

BERLIN, May 8, 2018 (AFP) — Domestic and international tourism account for eight per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, four times more than previously estimated, according to a study published on Monday.

The multi-trillion dollar industry’s carbon footprint is expanding rapidly, driven in large part by demand for energy-intensive air travel, researchers reported in the journal Nature Climate Change.

“Tourism is set to grow faster than many other economic sectors,” with revenue projected to swell by four per cent annually through 2025, noted lead-author Arunima Malik, a researcher at The University of Sydney’s business school.

Holding the sector’s carbon pollution in check will likely require carbon taxes or CO2 trading schemes for aviation, the researchers concluded.

As in past decades, the United States is the single largest emitter of tourism-related carbon emissions, with other wealthy nations — Germany, Canada and Britain — also in the top ten.

But burgeoning middle classes have moved emerging economies up the ranking, with China in second place and India, Mexico and Brazil 4th, 5th and 6th, respectively.

International travel involving long-haul flights is among the fastest growing sectors, and could threaten efforts to reign in planet-warming carbon pollution.

The total number of air passengers is expected to almost double by 2036 to 7.8 billion per year, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The aviation industry accounts for two per cent of all human-generated C02 emissions, and would rank 12th if it were a country.  

“We see very fast tourism demand growth from China and India over the past few years, and also expect this trend will continue in the next decade or so,” Ya-Sen Sun, a professor at The University of Queensland Business School in Australia, and co-author of the study, told AFP.

“Besides the sheer population number, what’s worrying is that people with a rising income tend to travel further, more frequently, and with a higher reliance on aviation.”

VIENNA, April 12, 2018 (AFP) — Throughout most of World War II, Allied bombers tried repeatedly to sink the Tirpitz, Germany’s biggest battleship and a bete noir of Britain’s wartime leader Winston Churchill, who took to calling it “the beast”.

On Wednesday, tree experts at the annual meeting of the European Geosciences Union showed why they failed to do so until late 1944

“The story was in the tree rings,” said Claudia Hartl, a researcher at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany.

The unlikely evidence of WWII battles was uncovered during the summer of 2016, when Hartl led students on a routine survey of forests around Kafjord, one of dozens of fjords along the northern coast of Norway.

“We got back to the lab and measured the tree rings, and saw that they were very narrow — in some cases nearly absent — for 1945,” she told AFP.

The forests, in other words, had been hit by an environmental cataclysm.

“Of course we wondered, why is that?”

The first suspect was insect infestation, which can come suddenly and have severe impacts, especially in high-latitude boreal forests.

Driven north of their historic range by climate change, mountain pine beetles, for example, have recently devastated large swathes of forests in Canada, sometimes in a single year.

But there were no known insect in northern Scandinavia that could have delivered that kind of environmental shock in the middle of the 20th century.

“It wasn’t until we spoke to a local scientist based in Tromso that we made the connection to the Tirpitz,” said Scott St George, a geographer at The University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment who took part in the research. 

The Tirpitz and its crew of 2500, it turned out, had retreated into northern Norway’s watery labyrinth to escape detection. In the pre-satellite era, even a 250-metre behemoth wasn’t that easy to spot. 

But Allied aerial scouts finally found it, and the attacks began.

The Germans, however, had a counter-plan: Producing vast quantities of artificial fog, enough to hide the ship and surrounding area from aerial view.

And that’s where the tree rings come in.

 “The smoke drifted into the forests surrounding the fjord and damaged nearby pine and birch trees, leaving behind a distinctive and unusual ‘fingerprint’,” St George told AFP.

The study of tree rings — called dendrochronology, literally, “timeline of trees” — is used by climate scientists to trace changes in temperature, rainfall or river flows reaching back hundreds, even thousands, of years.

The concentric circles found in temperate zone tree trunks can also date the age of buildings, shipwrecks, musical instruments, painting frames or anything else made from temperate-zone wood.

Because trees in the tropics grow continually, they generally do not produce rings, which show growth spurts during spring and summer.


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