Health bites

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 July, 2013, 11:00am

Smoking deterrent in plain sight

Plain packaging for cigarettes seems to help curb tobacco consumption, early findings from Australia suggest. Plain brown packaging with graphic health warnings taking up three-quarters of the front of the pack for all tobacco products was implemented Down Under last December, the only country in the world to do so. In a study in BMJ Open, researchers interviewed 536 cigarette smokers in Victoria state in November, when both plain and branded packs were available. Compared to those still using branded ones, plain-pack smokers were 66 per cent more likely to think their cigarettes were of poorer quality than in the previous year, and 70 per cent were more likely to find them less satisfying. They were also 81 per cent more likely to have thought about kicking the habit at least once a day during the previous week.

A hearty breakfast

Here's another reason why breakfast is the most important meal of the day. A new Harvard School of Public Health study finds that those who skip it have a higher risk of coronary heart disease. Researchers tracked nearly 27,000 male health professionals aged from 45 to 82 for 16 years, starting in 1992. During the study, 1,572 of the men had first-time cardiac events. Those who reported they skipped breakfast had a 27 per cent higher risk of heart attack or death from coronary heart disease than those who didn't. The study appears in the American Heart Association journal, Circulation.

Does obesity worsen asthma?

Genes linked to chronic inflammation in asthma may be more active in people who are obese, according to research from the University at Buffalo in New York. This increased gene expression - more than double in the morbidly obese - can cause certain white blood cells to produce far greater amounts of inflammatory factors that contribute to allergic inflammation and other abnormalities in the bronchial passages. "Our findings point the way to the management of asthma in the obese through simple weight reduction," says Dr Paresh Dandona, the university's chief of endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism.

Jeanette Wang