Fresh fruit reduces risk of heart attack, stroke

London, April 7 (IANS) A fruit a day can keep heart diseases at bay, a new study has found, adding that people who eat fresh fruit regularly are less prone to a heart attack or stroke than people who rarely eat fresh fruit.

Fruit is a rich source of potassium, dietary fibre, antioxidants and various other potentially active compounds, and contains little sodium or fat and relatively few calories.

The results of the international study indicated that a 100g portion of fruit per day reduced about one-third of death by heart related diseases in both men and women.

The findings, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, is the result of a seven-year study of half a million adults in China, where fresh fruit consumption is much lower than in countries like the Britain or US.

“The association between fruit consumption and cardiovascular risk seems to be stronger in China, where many still eat little fruit, than in high-income countries where daily consumption of fruit is more common,” said lead author Huaidong Du from University of Oxford in Britain.

Fruit consumption, mainly apples or oranges was also associated with many other factors, such as education, lower blood pressure, lower blood glucose, and non-smoking, the researchers noted.

“Widespread consumption of fresh fruit in China could prevent about half a million cardiovascular deaths a year, including 200,000 before age 70, and even larger numbers of non-fatal strokes and heart attacks,” said one of the researchers Zhengming Chen, professor at University of Oxford.

The team conducted a large, nationwide study of 500,000 adults from 10 urban and rural localities across China, tracking health through death records and electronic hospital records of illness.

The participants did not have a history of heart diseases or anti-hypertensive treatments when they first joined the study.

Sex education should focus on gender equality

London, April 7 (IANS) Sex education for youngsters should be much more than just about pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, says a new study, adding that there is an urgent need to explicitly focus on gender dynamics in sex education programming.

According to researchers, when it comes to oral sex, disparities persist, despite often talking about an ethic of equal give-and-take; performing oral sex on women as a “bigger deal” than oral sex on men.

“There has been a lot of research on vaginal intercourse but we know much less about young people’s expectations and experiences of other sexual practices,” said Ruth Lewis from University of the Pacific in the US.

“This was an exploratory study to start to give us an idea of how young people talk about oral sex,” Lewis added in the paper published in the Journal of Sex Research.

For the study, researchers interviewed 71 men and women of ages 16 to 18 and conducted follow-up interviews a year later, which focused on accounts of oral sex between men and women, rather than same-sex partners.

In particular, both men and women said giving oral sex was more distasteful for men than women, and receiving was “easier” for men than women.

Young men were much more likely than women to say they simply did not perform oral sex if they didn’t want to, while young women tended to describe strategies to make giving oral sex more palatable.

“It’s clear that we also need to be encouraging young people to think critically about how women’s and men’s bodies are talked about in society, the nuances of consent and coercion and how gender equity might be negotiated in practice,” Lewis explained.

Outdoor light may lower short-sightedness in kids

Sydney, April 7 (IANS) Increasing exposure to outdoor light can significantly reduce short-sightedness in children, a new study has found.

The findings revealed that it is not ‘near work’ on computer and other screens that causes myopia, but a lack of adequate outdoor light.

“Children exposed to the least outdoor light had faster eye growth and hence faster myopia progression,” said lead researcher Scott Read, optometrist and associate professor at Queensland University Of Technology in Australia.

Also, for those who already have myopia, increasing time outside is likely to reduce the progression of the vision problem.

Children should spend more than an hour and preferably at least two hours a day in the outdoor light to help prevent myopia from developing and progressing.

“Optometrists need to make their patients aware that less than 60 minutes’ exposure to light outdoors per day is a risk factor for myopia,” Read suggested.

“This new finding is of significant importance in our endeavour to mitigate the growing rate of myopia in children,” said Kate Gifford, president of Optometry Australia.

The team measured children’s eye growth via study participants wearing wristwatch light sensors to record light exposure and physical activity for a fortnight during warmer then colder months to give an overall measurement of their typical light exposure.

In February, it was announced that half the world’s population will be short-sighted by 2050 with many at risk of blindness.

Ten percent of the world’s population will be at risk of blindness by 2050 if steps are not taken to stop myopia turning into high myopia (requiring glasses with a prescription of minus five or stronger), according to Brien Holden Vision Institute in Sydney.

The findings were presented at the Australian Vision Convention in Queensland, Australia.

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