HEALTH news in brief

Another reason to eat blueberries: they may fight gum disease

Extract from wild blueberry species shown to slow spread of periodontis and plaque. Scientists are working on device to deliver it orally, avoiding need for antibiotic pills

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 September, 2015, 6:00pm
UPDATED : Monday, 07 September, 2015, 6:00pm

Blueberries are well-known to be rich in cancer-fighting antioxidants, but scientists have discovered another benefit of the fruit: preventing dental plaque formation. In the study, which appears in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the scientists tested extracts from the wild lowbush blueberry, Vaccinium angustifolium Ait., against Fusobacterium nucleatum, one of the main species of bacteria associated with periodontitis (inflammation of tissue around the teeth). Rich in polyphenols, which work against food-borne pathogens, the extracts successfully inhibited the growth of the bacteria as well as their ability to form plaque. It also blocked a molecular pathway involved in inflammation, a key part of gum disease. The researchers say they're developing an oral device that could slowly release the extract after deep cleaning, to treat periodontitis and reduce the need for antibiotics.

Fizzy drinks linked to cardiac arrests

The more carbonated drinks you consume, the higher your risk of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, suggests a study by Fukuoka University in Japan. The study used data of nearly 800,000 patients who had out-of-hospital cardiac arrests, as well as each patient's beverage expenditure between 2005 and 2011. Of the 55 per cent of cases that had cardiac origin, expenditure on carbonated beverages were "significantly associated". The acid in carbonated beverages might play an important role in this association, the researchers say. However, for the 45 per cent of cases of non-cardiac origin (such as cerebrovascular, respiratory and exogenous diseases), no significant link was found. Expenditure on other drinks, including green tea, black tea, coffee, cocoa, fruit or vegetable juice, fermented milk beverages, milk and mineral water were not significantly linked with the cases of cardiac origin.

Hunger hormone leptin influences runner's high

The euphoric feeling that gives runners a motivation boost in the middle of a run - what's known as a "runner's high" - is in part modulated by the satiety hormone leptin, according to a new study in Cell Metabolism. In lab tests, mice with reduced leptin signalling in the brain logged nearly twice as many miles on a running wheel compared with normal mice. "Based on these findings we think that a fall in leptin levels increases motivation for physical activity as a means to enhance exploration and the pursuit of food," says senior study author Stephanie Fulton of the University of Montreal. "Our study also suggests that people with lower fat-adjusted leptin levels, such as high-performance marathon runners, could potentially be more susceptible to the rewarding effects of running and thus possibly more inclined to exercise."