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Shingles may up stroke risk in young adults

 A new study has suggested that younger adults who've had shingles may face higher stroke risk years later.

 Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash. It is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. After people recover from chickenpox, the virus stays dormant in the nerve roots. In some people, the virus reactivates years later as shingles.

People age 18 to 40 who had shingles were more likely to have a stroke, heart attack or transient ischemic attack, also called a TIA or warning for a stroke, years later than people who had not had shingles.

People over 40 who had shingles were more likely to have a heart attack or TIA, but not a stroke, than those who had not had shingles.

The study involved 106,600 people who had shingles and 213,200 people of similar ages who did not have shingles. Using a United Kingdom database, researchers reviewed the participants' records for an average of six years after the shingles diagnosis and for as long as 24 years for some participants.

People under 40 years old were 74 percent more likely to have a stroke if they had had shingles, after adjusting for stroke risk factors such as obesity, smoking and high cholesterol.

Brain training works only for practiced task

A researcher has found that training your brain for a particular task does improves its performance, but that advantage doesn't necessarily carry over to a new challenge. The training provided in the study, by Elliot T. Berkman from University of Oregon, caused a proactive shift in inhibitory control. However, it is not clear if the improvement attained extends to other kinds of executive function such as working memory, because the team’s sole focus was on inhibitory control.

“With training, the brain activity became linked to specific cues that predicted when inhibitory control might be needed. This result is important because it explains how brain training improves performance on a given task- and also why the performance boost doesn't generalize beyond that task,” he said.

Sixty participants (27 male, 33 females and ranging from 18 to 30 years old) took part in a three-phase study. Change in their brain activity was monitored with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

 Half of the subjects were in the experimental group that was trained with a task that models inhibitory control- one kind of self-control- as a race between a “go” process and a “stop” process. A faster stop process indicates more efficient inhibitory control.

Neural activity was monitored using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which captures changes in blood oxygen levels, during a stop-signal task.

Vitamin D may not offer protection against cancer

Researchers have cast doubt on vitamin D’s ability to offer us protection against diseases like cancer, diabetes and dementia.

According to French researchers, low vitamin D levels don’t cause ill health.

Recent evidence has come to light that shows that it may play a part in preventing non-bone-related diseases like Parkinson’s, dementia, cancers and inflammatory diseases.

Prof Philippe Autier, from the International Prevention Research Institute in Lyon, carried out a survey of information from 290 prospective observational studies and 172 randomised trials that looked at the effects of vitamin D levels on health outcomes, excluding bone health, up to December 2012.

A large number of the observational studies have suggested that there were benefits from high vitamin D - and that it could cut cardiovascular disease risk by up to 58 per cent, diabetes by up to 38 per cent and colorectal cancer by up to 33 per cent.

However, the results of the clinical trials - where vitamin D supplements were given to the participants - found no reduction in risk, even among people who started out with low vitamin D levels, the BBC reported. A further analysis of recent randomised trials found that there was no positive effect of vitamin D supplements on diseases occurring.

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