Pollution levels linked to significant risk for stroke Air pollution has been linked to a dangerous narrowing of neck arteries that occurs prior to strokes, according to researchers at New York Univerity's Langone Medical Centre. The scientists analysed medical test records for more than 300,000 people living in New York, New Jersey or Connecticut. Dwellings, identified by zip codes, were ranked by average PM2.5 (fine particulate matter) levels. It was found that subjects living in the most polluted 25 per cent of zip codes were about 24 per cent more likely than those in the bottom quarter to have shown signs of narrowing in their carotid arteries. "Our study was a population study, so it can't establish cause and effect, but it certainly suggests the hypothesis that lowering pollution levels would reduce the incidence of carotid artery stenosis and stroke," says lead author and cardiologist Dr Jonathan Newman. Obese women 40 per cent more likely to get cancer One in four obese women will develop a weight-related cancer in their lifetime, and that's about a 40 per cent greater risk than women of a healthy weight, new figures released by Cancer Research UK show. The increased risk is for at least seven types of cancer: bowel, post-menopausal breast, gall bladder, womb, kidney, pancreatic and oesophageal cancer. Dr Julie Sharp, head of health information at Cancer Research UK, says: "Losing weight isn't easy, but you don't have to join a gym and run miles every day or give up your favourite food forever. Just making small changes that you can maintain in the long term can have a real impact. To get started try getting off the bus a stop earlier and cutting down on fatty and sugary foods." Beware the cooking show If you're watching your waistline and looking for recipes, it's best to get them from a source other than the TV. According to a new Cornell University Food and Brand Lab study, women who obtained recipes from cooking shows and often cooked from scratch weighed an average of five kilograms more than those who watched food TV but didn't often cook and those who looked for new recipes in print, online or from in-person sources. The study, published in Appetite , surveyed 501 women aged 20 to 35 on their cooking habits. "One reason for this phenomenon may be that often the recipes portrayed on TV are not the healthiest and allow you to feel like it's OK to prepare and indulge in either less nutritious food or bigger portions," says Brian Wansink, professor and director of the lab. Many cooking shows, the researchers add, normalise overconsumption. Discover your 'authentic self' Life coach Pia Prana Muggerud will be organising a retreat from April 10 to 12 at the Shaolin Wushu Culture Centre in Tai O for women who would like to "ignite a passion to live with an open and honest heart". Says Muggerud: "For all sorts of reasons we find ourselves shut down or closed off and in a state of hurt and protection. This can show up as heartache, blame, isolation, unhealthy relationships, anger, resignation or addiction. We long for something else and we often don't know where to start looking. This workshop is about discovering ways to be more authentic and honest, connecting with yourself and others in ways that create trust and joy." The retreat costs HK$4,900 per person, inclusive of workshop attendance, shared accommodation and meals. Visit co-pia.com for more details and registration.