Weekly Health Roundup May 1

International health news

According to new studies published by the American Heart Association, diet sodas might do more than just physical harm; they could also be linked to dementia and stroke risks. However, more research needs to be done on these artificially sweetened drinks, as researchers were not able to detect an actual cause-and-effect relationship between them and dementia.

A new cheap and widely available drug called tranexamic acid could save the lives of  thousands of women who have hemorrhages after childbirth. This drug has been proven to reduce bleeding after childbirth, one of the main causes of death for women worldwide. The drug is currently available over the counter in the UK for women suffering from heavy periods and in certain Asian countries where it is used as a skin whitener.

Researchers are speculating that heart diseases could be associated with air pollution. Particles of pollution have the potential to enter our bodies without being filtered by our lungs, which could then be accumulated in our blood vessels. After these findings, scientists believe it is even more important to try to reduce emissions and exposure to these airborne particles.

Country updates

The large number of obesity cases in Mexico, Chile and Ecuador have caused economic crises in these countries. According to a new UN report, two third of their populations are overweight or obese due to overnutrition and sedentary lifestyles, which is costing the governments tens of billions of dollars. This report shows that a preference for highly processed food has caused an increased intake of salt, sugar and fat.

The plain cigarette packaging policy shortly being introduced in the UK could drive 300,000 people to quit smoking. The research organisation Cochrane is hoping it will have the same effect as it did in Australia, where 100,000 citizens stopped smoking in 2012 when the policy was first established. Any colored or designed packages will be banned starting 20th May, ensuring advertising for tobacco stops.

A mystery illness has claimed at least nine lives in Liberia. Although health authorities have ruled out Ebola, they are still investigating the cause of these deaths. In addition to the nine victims, authorities have also held eight citizens in isolation who are suffering abdominal pain, vomiting and headaches, the same symptoms as the deadly disease.

Health advice

According to recent studies, doing moderate exercise a few times per week can boost your brain health if you are over 50. The studies have shown that people who have been exercising regularly have seen an improvement in thinking and memory skills. T’ai Chi has also been a recommended form of exercise for over-50s who cannot do other types of cardiovascular exercises.