Health bites

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 April, 2012, 12:00am


The good oil on health

Researchers from Mexico, the world's largest producer of avocados, have found that avocado oil can fight harmful free radicals tied to ageing and diseases such as cancer, hypertension and diabetes. The team from Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolas de Hidalgo found avocado oil allowed yeast cells to survive exposure to high concentrations of iron, which produces a huge amount of free radicals, 'even to higher levels to those found in some diseases', says researcher Christian Cortes-Rojo. Environmental factors such as pollution can turn the oxygen molecules found in mitochondria, the power plants of cells, into free radicals. More studies are needed to confirm whether this could occur in humans too, says Cortes-Rojo.

Cadmium linked to breast cancer

Prolonged exposure to a heavy metal commonly found in cosmetics, food, water and air particles has been shown to cause breast cancer to advance more aggressively. Cadmium exposure - even at a low level - can act as an endocrine disruptor and mimic oestrogen, causing abnormal growth of mammary gland cells that result in breast cancer, according to a new study by Dominican University of California researchers. The heavy metal is produced mainly as a by-product of mining, smelting and refining sulphidic ores of zinc, lead and copper. Rocks mined to produce phosphate fertilisers also contain varying amounts of cadmium. It enters the body through consuming contaminated food and water or inhaling cigarette smoke. The study was presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in San Diego, California.

Make a family meal of it

A family that eats together is likely to have healthier children, according to a new study by Rutgers University in New Jersey. Among the many benefits to children of frequent family meals is the increased intake of fruits, vegetables, fibre, calcium-rich foods, and vitamins. Children also eat fewer things thought to be harmful to health when a family eats together. These findings were revealed after researchers evaluated the results from 68 previously published scientific reports that looked at the link between family mealtime and children's health. Although only a weak link between family meals and obesity risk was found, children in families with frequent family meals tended to have lower body mass index than those who had fewer.