Wednesday December 19, 2018

Health and Wellness: A mediterranean diet can reduce risk of heart disease

Astonishingly, a Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of death even if you already have a history of cardiovascular disease. Read to know more

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Mediterranean food. Image Source: Wikimedia commons
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  • Cholesterol-lowering statins have long been thought of as the most effective way to treat heart disease
  • Experts say that even for those taking statins, adopting a Mediterranean diet could add further health benefits
  • A Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of death even if you already have a history of cardiovascular disease

For some patients with heart disease, a Mediterranean diet could better treat their condition than cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins, according to a recent study.

A Mediterranean diet favors fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish and olive oil over red meat, dairy products and processed foods.

Speaking at a global heart disease conference in Rome, an Italian expert said the study sought to answer a specific question.

“So far research has focused on the general population, which is mainly composed of healthy people,” said Professor Giovanni de Gaetano, head of the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention at the IRCCS Neuromed Institute in Italy. “What happens to people who have already suffered from cardiovascular disease? Is the Mediterranean diet optimal for them too?”

For the study, the researchers looked at 1,200 Italians with a history of heart disease over a period of seven years. What they found is those who adhered more closely to a Mediterranean diet were less likely to be among the 208 people who died during the course of the study.

After adjusting to age, sex, socioeconomic status, level of physical activity, the researchers found that people who ate a mostly Mediterranean diet had a 37 percent less chance of dying during the study period.

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Cholesterol-lowering statins have long been thought of as the most effective way to treat heart disease, which kills nearly 615,000 Americans annually. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 28 percent of Americans over 40 were taking some kind of statin when surveyed in 2011 and 2012.

Statins are popular worldwide and several studies have shown they can lower cholesterol levels, reducing the likelihood of major heart problems.

Experts say that even for those taking statins, adopting a Mediterranean diet could add further health benefits.

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“It is good to know that even if you already have a history of cardiovascular disease, adhering to a Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of death, said Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director of the British Heart Foundation in an interview with the Telegraph newspaper.

“This study suggests that even if you are already receiving medical care, if you add a Mediterranean diet, it will have further benefit. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, even if you have had a heart attack or stroke is really important and continues to benefit you.” (VOA)

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The Risk of FGM Hangs Above British Schoolgirls During Holiday Break

Ending FGM requires multiple entry points (and) enabling families and communities to be proactive in ending the practice of FGM is ultimately the most effective channel

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Female Genital Mutilation, FGM, judge
A badge reads "The power of labor against FGM" is seen on a volunteer during a conference on International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Cairo, Egypt, Feb. 6, 2018. (VOA)

As many families prepare to holiday abroad during the festive season, British charities on Monday warned that girls taken overseas could be at risk of female genital mutilation(FGM)

Known as FGM, female genital mutilation is a ritual that usually involves the partial or total removal of the external genitalia, including the clitoris. Some girls bleed to death or die from infections.

Cutting affects an estimated 200 million girls worldwide and is a rite of passage in many societies, often with the aim of promoting chastity, with the highest prevalence in Africa and parts of the Middle East.

An estimated 137,000 women and girls in England and Wales have undergone FGM. Many cases go unnoticed because they had happened at a young age and abroad, campaigners say. Campaigners say teachers should look out for warning signs, such as when a child is taken abroad for a long time to a country where there is a high prevalence of female genital mutilation.

FGM
– A doctor checks her phone as she poses for a photograph in Mumbai, India, June 8, 2016. The 50-year-old woman defends what is widely considered female genital mutilation within her small, prosperous Dawoodi Bohra community in India. VOA

“The best way of preventing the practice is by working with girls and their families … and training professionals like teachers and social workers to spot girls at risk of FGM,” said Leethen Bartholomew, head of Britain’s National FGM Center.

Some warning signs that a girl might have been cut include difficulty walking or sitting down, spending a long time in the toilet or becoming withdrawn, said the Center, run by children’s charity Barnardo’s and the Local Government Association.

FGM has been a criminal offense in Britain since 1985. Legislation in 2003 made it illegal for British citizens to carry out or procure female genital mutilation abroad, even in countries where it is legal.

In 2015, it became mandatory for health professionals, social workers and teachers in Britain to report known cases of FGM to police.

FGM
FILE – A T-shirt warns against female genital mutilation. Its wearer attends an event, discouraging harmful practices such as FGM, at a girls high school in Imbirikani, Kenya, April 21, 2016. VOA

The practice mostly affects immigrant communities from various countries including Somalia, Sierra Leone, Eritrea, Sudan, Nigeria and Egypt.

British-based charity Forward, which supports FGM survivors from African communities, said though teachers have a crucial role to play, they should not stigmatize certain communities.

“While teachers need to be alert at all times about safeguarding children in their care, we also need to ensure that some communities are not unduly targeted and stigmatized,” said Naana Otoo-Oyortey, executive director of FORWARD.

Also Read: Female Genital Mutilation Unconstitutional: Michigan Judge

“Ending FGM requires multiple entry points (and) enabling families and communities to be proactive in ending the practice of female genital mutilation is ultimately the most effective channel,” she said in emailed comments to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Britain in November pledged $63 million to combat female genital mutilation in Africa. (VOA)