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The dangers of ballerina body

Natalie Portman is the favourite to win this year’s Best Actress Oscar for her role in the movie ‘Black Swan’. But an Indian-origin expert has raised concerns surrounding the dramatic weight loss she underwent for the role.

“Ballerinas are often plagued by perfectionism, social anxiety and pressures to be graceful and agile,” said Aparna Sharma, who specialises in treating eating disorders at Loyola University Health System. “This culture can push dancers to their physical limit and increase the risk for body image issues and eating disorders.”

Aparna reports that many dance companies and schools require their students to participate in mandatory weigh-ins, which exacerbate the problem. The form-fitting wardrobe and presence of mirrors in dance studios also add to the pressure to be thin.
Extreme weight-loss common in dancers can deprive the body of nutrients necessary to function. Severe calorie restriction can cause: fatigue; mood swings; cognitive impairment; phobias; obsessions and compulsions; decreased blood pressure; dizziness; decreased heart rate; poor immune functioning; seizures; renal failure; bowel obstruction; stress fractures; decreased muscle mass; increased body hair; decreased brain size; osteoporosis and infertility.

Children living on farms less prone to asthma

Children living on farms are significantly less likely to develop asthma than others. The study conducted by Dr Markus Ege and Prof Erika von Mutius of Children’s Surgical Clinic in the Dr von Hauner Children’s Hospital, shows that exposure to a greater variety of microorganisms on the farm makes children less susceptible to asthma.

Asthma results from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. To confirm the difference of the risk in children living on farms and cities, the LMU researchers selected a group of Bavarian schoolchildren for detailed study. In the context of two large-scale, pan-European, epidemiological projects and compared children living on farms with others from the same rural districts who had little direct contact with farms.

Farm children must cope with a much greater range of microorganisms than are children who live in other types of environment.

Damaged hearts could one day repair themselves

Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Centre have discovered that the mammalian newborn heart can heal itself completely.

Researchers, working with mice, found that a portion of the heart removed during the first week after birth grew back wholly and correctly — as if nothing had happened.

“We found that the heart of newborn mammals can fix itself; it just forgets how as it gets older. The challenge now is to find a way to remind the adult heart how to fix itself again,” said Dr Hesham Sadek, assistant professor of internal medicine and senior author of the study.

Previous research has demonstrated that the lower organisms, like some fish
and amphibians, that can regrow fins and tails, can also regrow portions of their
hearts after injury.

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