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Body talk




Junk food jolt
Bad habits could be seriously eating into your lifespan. Researchers have now found that smoking, drinking, inactivity and gorging on those chips and burgers could be shortening your life by 12 years. Couch potatoes are three times more likely to die of heart diseases and four times more likely to die from cancer. In a recent study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, Norwegian researchers interviewed 4, 886 adults in 1984 and 1985 on their lifestyle and eating habits. They were bracketed under various heads — eating fruits and vegetables less than three times a day;exercising less than two hours a week and drinking more than 14 units of alcohol per week for women. Participants were followed for a mean period of 20 years. Of them, 1, 080 died, 431 from cardiovascular disease, 318 from cancer, and 331 from other causes. Each negative behaviour combined to increase the risk of death, especially smoking. The lead author of the study, Elisabeth Kvaavik of the Department of Nutrition at the University of Oslo, said, "health behaviours work together to have a combined effect on risk of dying that is quite strong and significant. " Researchers added that all four poor behaviours increased the risk of dying between three and four times depending on cause of death, compared with having none of these poor behavioural patterns. "It is not necessary to do strenuous exercising, eat very many vegetables or to totally avoid alcohol to improve health. Modest improvements will help, " she said.

Alarming trend
This is one finding that could come as a warning for India. Children who lose a parent to suicide have been found to be more likely to die the same way. It also increases their risk of developing a range of major psychiatric disorders, according to a study led by Johns Hopkins Children's Center. The study which will appear in the May issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry says those who lost a parent to suicide as children or teens were three times more likely to commit suicide than children and teenagers with living parents. Children under the age of 13, whose parent died suddenly in an accident were twice as likely to die by suicide than those whose parents were alive. Children under 13 who lost a parent to illness, however, did not have an increased risk for suicide when compared to same-age children with living parents. In addition, those who lost parents to suicide were nearly twice as likely to be hospitalised for depression as those with living parents. The good news, the researchers say, is that there may be a critical window for intervention in the aftermath of a parent's suicide during which pediatricians could carefully monitor and refer children for psychiatric evaluation and, if needed, care. "Losing a parent to suicide at an early age emerges as a catalyst for suicide and psychiatric disorders, " says lead investigator Holly C. Wilcox, psychiatric epidemiologist. "However, it's likely that developmental, environmental and genetic factors all come together, most likely simultaneously, to increase risk. " Family support is critical. "Children are surprisingly resilient, " Wilcox says. "A loving, supporting environment and careful attention to any emerging psychiatric symptoms can offset even such major stressor as a parent's suicide. " India records about 1. 25 lakh suicidal deaths each year. The number of suicides between 1998 and 2008 increased by 19. 4 per cent from 1. 04 lakhs to 1. 25 lakhs.

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