A weekly round-up of news affecting your health
By National Medical Writer Clifford Fram
Children who fail to develop an effective oxytocin system could be prone to drug and alcohol abuse later in life, an Australian researcher says.
Although children are born with oxytocin, the so-called love hormone, their own production system takes three years to fully develop.
But genetics and adverse events could hamper development, which could cause a lack of resilience to addictive behaviour, says Dr Femke Buisman-Pijlman of the University of Adelaide’s School of Medical Sciences.
Examples of adversity include a difficult birth, disturbed bonding, abuse or severe infection.
“Understanding what occurs with the system during the first few years of life could help us to unravel this aspect of addictive behaviour.”
This knowledge could be used for treatment and prevention, she says.
Screen time helps overweight children lose weight.
But only if it’s in the form of active games that involve running on the spot, jumping or sporting games such as tennis.
University of Queensland researchers proved the concept in a 16-week study of 75 overweight or obese children on a community weight-loss program.
One group was put on a standard intervention program and the other had active video gaming added.
The video group increased their moderate-to-vigorous activity by an average of 7.4 minutes a day.
Both groups improved their body mass index, but the gaming group had double the benefit, according to the study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.
Parents should regularly discuss online safety with their children to help prevent cyberbullying, says KidsMatter psychologist Dr Lyn O’Grady.
A big concern is that cyberbullying is often done in secret, she says in a statement marking a day of action against bullying and violence.
Parents are best placed to educate their children about cyberbullying, which causes distress and can lead to loneliness, anxiety and depression, she says.
But they should resist the temptation to be overprotective and take away access.
“This approach won’t really equip kids in the long term.
“It’s important they feel they can tell someone if they feel uncomfortable or are worried, rather than staying quiet for fear their devices will be removed.”
Archaeologists have found a complete 3200-year-old skeleton with cancer and say the discovery could help show how the disease has evolved.
The remains of the wealthy man, who was aged about 30 when he died, were found in a tomb close to the River Nile in Sudan by UK student Michaela Binder.
The bones showed signs of cancer that had spread from its original site.
Analysis proved it is the oldest convincing example of metastatic cancer ever found, say the authors of a paper published in the journal PLOS One.
Scientists will examine whether pills containing the nutrients in dark chocolate can help prevent heart attacks and strokes.
The study, involving 18,000 men and women across the US, will be the first large test of cocoa flavonol, which in previous smaller studies improved blood pressure, cholesterol, the body’s use of insulin, artery health and other heart-related factors.
The pills are packed so heavily with the nutrients that participants would have to eat countless chocolate bars to consume the amount being tested in the study.
WEIGHT AND SEE
Researchers are looking for more than 1000 overweight Australian men to test whether testosterone shots help protect them from full-blown diabetes.
The men must be aged 50 to 74 and can live in NSW, Victoria, South Australia or Western Australia.
All those who sign up will be given free access to the Weight Watchers online program.
Men will be expected to participate for 24 months and will receive either testosterone or placebo injections.
“By giving testosterone supplements to men in that critical pre-diabetes stage, and by putting them on a dedicated weight-loss program, we hope to see sustained reductions in weight and a reduced chance of type 2 diabetes,” says lead investigator Associate Professor Ann Conway of the University of Sydney.
Men can phone 1300 865 436 for more information.