Energy drinks may provide a bit too much of a boost to your heart, creating additional strain on the organ and causing it to contract more rapidly than usual, German researchers report.
Healthy people who drank energy drinks high in caffeine and taurine experienced significantly increased heart contraction rates an hour later, according to research presented Monday at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, in Chicago.
The study raises concerns that energy drinks might be bad for the heart, particularly for people who already have heart disease, said Dr. Kim Williams, vice president of the American College of Cardiology.
"We know there are drugs that can improve the function of the heart, but in the long term they have a detrimental effect on the heart," said Williams, a cardiology professor at Wayne State University School of Medicine, in Detroit.
For example, adrenaline can make the heart race, but such overexertion can wear the heart muscle down, he said. There's also the possibility that a person could develop an irregular heartbeat.
Children with a particular gene variant who are exposed to air pollution appear to be at a higher risk of developing autism, according to researchers from the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California (USC).
Drawing on results of previous studies that have shown associations between air pollution and autism, and between autism and the MET gene, the researchers say their new study reveals that the combination of these factors increases the risk of autism.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder that leads to problems with social interactions, communication and repetitive behavior.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that more children than ever before are being diagnosed with ASD, estimating that one in 88 children are affected.
There is currently no cure for ASD, and there are still many unanswered questions about what causes it, but the researchers say that "genetics are an important contributing factor."
Daniel B. Campbell, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and the study's senior author, explains: "The MET gene variant has been associated with autism in multiple studies, controls expression of MET protein in both the brain and the immune system and predicts altered brain structure and function. It will be important to replicate this finding and to determine the mechanisms by which these genetic and environmental factors interact to increase the risk for autism."
A genetic mutation associated with an increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other health problems is common in Africans and people of African descent worldwide, according to a new study.
The findings may help explain why Africans and people of African descent are more likely to develop heart disease and diabetes than many other racial groups, the Weill Cornell Medical College researchers said.
The mutation in the ApoE gene is linked to increased levels of triglycerides, which are fats in the blood associated with conditions such as obesity, diabetes, stroke and heart disease.
The researchers' analysis of worldwide data revealed that the "R145C" variant of the ApoE gene is found in 5 percent to 12 percent of Africans and people of African descent, especially those from sub-Saharan Africa. The variant is rare in people who are not African or of African descent.
"Based on our findings, we estimate that there could be 1.7 million African-Americans in the United States and 36 million sub-Saharan Africans worldwide with the variant," study senior author Dr. Ronald Crystal, chairman of genetic medicine at Weill Cornell, said in a college news release.
On average, African-Americans with the mutation had 52 percent higher triglyceride levels than those without the variant, according to the study, which was published online November 18 in the American Journal of Cardiology.
"The prevalence of the ApoE mutation may put large numbers of Africans and African descendants worldwide at risk for a triglyceride-linked disorder," Crystal said. "But we don't yet know the extent of that risk or its health consequences."
"Inheriting this genetic variant does not mean a person is going to get heart disease and other diseases," he said. "It increases their risk, and screening for fats in the blood -- both cholesterol and triglycerides -- as well as maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important."