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High salt intake is associated with a doubled risk of heart failure, according to a 12-year study in more than 4,000 people.
High salt intake is associated with a doubled risk of heart failure, according to a 12-year study in more than 4,000 people presented  at ESC (European Society of Cardiology) Congress.
"High salt (sodium chloride) intake is one of the major causes of high blood pressure and an independent risk factor for coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke," said Prof Pekka Jousilahti, research professor at the National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland. "In addition to CHD and stroke, heart failure is one of the major cardiovascular diseases in Europe and globally but the role of high salt intake in its development is unknown."
This study assessed the relationship of salt intake and the development of heart failure. Estimation of individual salt intake is methodologically demanding and therefore suitable population-based cohorts are rare. This study used 24 hour sodium extraction, which is considered the gold standard for salt intake estimation at individual level.
This was a prospective follow-up study of 4 630 randomly selected men and women aged 25 to 64 years at baseline who participated in the North Karelia Salt Study and the National FINRISK Study between 1979 and 2002 in Finland. Baseline data collection included a self-administered questionnaire on health behaviour, measurements of weight, height and blood pressure, a venous blood sample for laboratory analysis, and collection of a 24 hour urine sample.
At the study site, nurses measured urine volume and took a 100 ml sample for laboratory analysis. One gram of salt intake was calculated as equal to 17.1 mmol sodium excretion, Science Daily reported.
The study cohort was followed up for 12 years through computerised register linkage to National Health Records. Cases of incident heart failure were identified from the Causes of Death Register, the Hospital Discharge Register and drug reimbursement records. The association of salt intake in quintiles (<6.8g, 6.8-8.8g, 8.8-10.9g, 10.96-13.7g and >13.7g/day) and the risk of an incident new heart failure event was estimated.
During the follow-up, 121 men and women developed new heart failure. In an age, sex, study year and area adjusted model, hazard ratios in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th salt intake quintiles, compared to the 1st one, were: 0.83, 1.40, 1.70 and 2.10. After further adjustment for systolic blood pressure, serum total cholesterol level and body mass index the hazard ratios were: 1.13, 1.45, 1.56 and 1.75, respectively.
Prof Jousilahti said: "The heart does not like salt. High salt intake markedly increases the risk of heart failure. This salt-related increase in heart failure risk was independent of blood pressure."
"People who consumed more than 13.7 grams of salt daily had a two times higher risk of heart failure compared to those consuming less than 6.8 grams," he continued. "The optimal daily salt intake is probably even lower than 6.8 grams. The World Health Organization recommends a maximum of 5 grams per day and the physiological need is 2 to 3 grams per day."
Prof Jousilahti concluded: "Studies in larger, pooled population cohorts are needed to make more detailed estimations of the increased heart failure risk associated with consuming salt."
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Experts published a research that suggests the human propensity for contagious yawning is triggered automatically by primitive reflexes in the primary motor cortex - an area of the brain responsible for motor function.

Feeling tired? Even if we aren't tired, why do we yawn if someone else does? Experts at the University of Nottingham have an explanation.
Their study, “A neural basis for contagious yawning”, has been published in the academic journal Current Biology. It is another stage in their research into the underlying biology of neuropsychiatric disorders and their search for new methods of treatment.
Their latest findings show that our ability to resist yawning when someone else near us yawns is limited. And our urge to yawn is increased if we are instructed to resist yawning. But, no matter how hard we try to stifle a yawn, it might change how we yawn but it won't alter our propensity to yawn. Importantly, they have discovered that the urge to yawn -our propensity for contagious yawning- is individual to each one of us.
Stephen Jackson, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, in the School of Psychology, led the multidisciplinary study.
Contagious yawning is triggered involuntarily when we observe another person yawn -it is a common form of echophenomena- the automatic imitation of another's words (echolalia) or actions (echopraxia). And it's not just humans who have a propensity for contagious yawning -chimpanzees and dogs do it too.
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Georgina Jackson, Professor of Cognitive Neuropsychology in the Institute of Mental Health, said, "This research has shown that the 'urge' is increased by trying to stop yourself. Using electrical stimulation we were able to increase excitability and in doing so increase the propensity for contagious yawning. In Tourettes if we could reduce the excitability we might reduce the ticks and that's what we are working on."

Do Food Container Chemicals Make Us Fat?

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A new study from the University of Iowa shows that a pair of common chemicals that manufacturers use to make plastic food containers, water bottles, and other consumer products does not contribute to obesity to the extent of the chemical it's replacing.

The chemicals --bisphenol F and bisphenol S (known as BPF and BPS)-- are being used increasingly by food packaging manufacturers as substitutes for bisphenol A (BPA), which studies have found disrupts endocrine systems and causes numerous health problems.

BPA is used in many kinds of packaging for snacks and drinks, canned foods, and water bottles. The chemical is absorbed into the body mainly through the food or water it contacts in the container.

But concern was raised several years ago when numerous studies found BPA increases the risk of various health issues, in particular obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. A consumer backlash erupted after the studies received media attention so manufacturers started reducing the use of BPA in some consumer products or even eliminating it in so-called "BPA-free" products by replacing it with such alternatives as BPF and BPS.

However, little is known on the potential impact of BPF and BPS exposure in humans. The new University of Iowa study is the first to determine the health impacts of BPF and BPS exposure on obesity in humans. The researchers confirm that BPA is associated with increased obesity in humans. But the study found no links between obesity and either BPF or BPS at the current exposure levels.

However, the researchers warn that fewer products currently use BPF and BPS -- BPA still has more than half the global market share for the chemicals, and the average concentration of BPF and BPS is about one-fourth that of BPA in the US population.

Future studies will be needed to confirm the results, as BPF and BPS are likely to replace BPA in more consumer products.

The study, materials of which were provided by University of Iowa, has been published in the Science Daily.

Steaming Fish More Healthy than Boiling

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Researchers found that steaming freshwater fish for more than two minutes reduces the presence of cylindrospermopsin, a poisonous substance, by up to 26%.

A group of researchers from the Area of Toxicology in the Department of Nutrition and Bromatology, Toxicology and Legal Medicine at the University of Seville has published the globally pioneering study.

The study shows that if the fish is boiled, the reduction is smaller, 18%, with the corresponding increase in risk for the consumer. Another important conclusion from their research was that these biotoxins, which are harmful for the body, pass into the water that has been used for cooking.

This study, which has been published in Food Control, focuses on a species of freshwater fish, tilapia. And specifically, the cyanotoxin analysed was cylindrospermopsin.

"Cyanotoxins are produced by a group of bacteria called cyanobacteria, which are mainly found in freshwater. They are emerging toxins, which currently need to be tested to evaluate the risks that their presence in water and food might cause for humans and for the environment," the study's main researchers said.

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Restaurant foods and commercially processed foods sold in stores accounted for about 70 percent of dietary sodium intake in a study in three US regions, according to new research in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation.

Sodium is an important contributor to high blood pressure, one of the leading causes of heart attack and stroke. The American Heart Association recommends a maximum of 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium a day, which is equivalent to 1 teaspoon of salt. For nearly 70 percent of US adults, the maximum sodium intake recommendation is even lower -- 1500 mg/day -- based on their age, race or ethnicity, or existing high blood pressure. Sodium can be difficult to avoid, especially when people eat a lot of processed food from grocery stores or restaurants. In fact, the average American adult consumes more than 3,400 mg of sodium per day. To address this serious health threat, in 2010 the Institute of Medicine recommended gradually decreasing sodium levels in commercially processed foods, The Science Daily reported.

Between December 2013 and December 2014, researchers recruited 450 study participants in Palo Alto, California; Birmingham, Alabama; and Minneapolis, Minnesota; divided evenly among each location. Half of participants were female, and equal percentages, overall, were Hispanic, African American, Asian and white. They ranged in age from 18 to 74 years old.

Participants visited the clinic once at the beginning of the study and then kept records of daily food intake for four days, which they reported to researchers in four telephone interviews along with providing samples of salt replicating the amount they had added to food at home.

Across age groups, the level of dietary sodium was similar, with an average 3,501 mg consumed per day -- over 50 percent more than the recommended 2,300 mg.

Researchers found:

    Sodium added to food outside the home was the leading source (70.9 percent) and sodium found naturally in food was the next highest (14.2 percent);

    Sodium from salt added in home food preparation (5.6 percent) and added to food at the table (4.9 percent) were next highest.

    Sodium in home tap water, dietary supplements and antacids contributed minimally (less than 0.5 percent).

"Telling patients to lay off the salt shaker isn't enough," said Lisa J. Harnack, Dr.PH., study lead author and professor at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. "Rather, commercially processed and restaurant foods should be the primary focus when educating patients on strategies for lowering sodium in the diet. Food manufacturers and restaurants should be encouraged to lower the sodium content in their food products to support Americans in consuming a diet consistent with sodium intake recommendations."

"If you're aiming to limit your sodium intake to the recommended level of less than 2,300 milligrams per day, you'll need to choose foods wisely when grocery shopping and dining out," Harnack said. "For packaged foods, the nutrition fact panel may be useful in identifying lower sodium products, and for menu items diners can request sodium content information. Also, if you frequently add salt to food at the table or in home food preparation, consider using less."

The study was limited in that it did not represent the overall US population because participants were selected based on location and also may have changed their sodium consumption during the study because they knew that it was under watch.

According to the American Heart Association, restaurant and prepackaged food companies must be a part of the solution to reduce sodium and give Americans the healthy options they need and deserve. The American Heart Association encourages packaged food companies and restaurants to reduce the sodium in their products to help make meaningful impact on the health of all Americans. The association has developed a sodium reduction campaign to help.