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“Our mothers were right! Cleaning our hands before eating really works, especially after handling sand at the beach,” said Dr Richard Whitman, the lead author of the US Geological Survey (USGS) study. “Simply rinsing hands may help reduce risk, but a good scrubbing is the best way to avoid illness.”

For this study, scientists measured how many E coli bacteria could be transferred to people’s hands when they dug in sand.

They analysed sand from the shores of Lake Michigan in Chicago. Using past findings on illness rates, scientists found that if individuals were to ingest all of the sand and the associated biological community retained on their fingertip, 11 individuals in 1,000 would develop symptoms of gastrointestinal illness.
Ingestion of all material on the entire hand would result in 33 of 1,000 individuals developing gastrointestinal illness.

Fruits keep kidney stones away
A healthy diet helps prevent kidney stones, says a new study.
The study, appearing in an upcoming issue of the ‘Journal of the American Society Nephrology’ (JASN), claims that loading up on fruits, vegetables, nuts, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains, while limiting salt, red and processed meats, and sweetened beverages is an effective way to ward off kidney stones.
To reach the conclusion, Eric Taylor, Maine Medical Centre, and his colleagues at Brigham and Women’s Hospital conducted a large study.
The investigators collected information from individuals enrolled in three clinical studies.

Depression linked to sleep in teens
Sleep patterns can help predict which adolescents might be at higher risk of depression, says researcher Uma Rao from UT Southwestern Medical Centre.
Depressed adults experience rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep earlier in the sleep cycle than people who are not depressed.
Uma showed that adolescents with a familial risk for depression but without a depression diagnosis experienced shorter REM latency, meaning they reached the REM stage more quickly. Those adolescents were more likely to develop depression.
“Sleep is probably more helpful in determining who is at risk for developing depression than in being a diagnostic marker for depression since REM latency of those adolescents was shorter before they even developed the illness,” said Uma.
Adolescent depression is complex to prevent and to treat in part because baseline levels of sleep and other factors used to diagnosis depression are not clearly defined.

Change in women’s exercise levels
As women take on different roles in their life — with marriage, motherhood retirement or widowhood — the amount of exercise they do also changes, according to an Australian study.

It is known that decreases in physical activity are associated with marriage and childbirth in young women, and declining health in older women.

However, the study also found that women who retired or who became widows tended to increase their physical activity level.

Overall, more than 40,000 women participated in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health.

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