Some amazing health findings

A look at some amazing research findings from recent years, like how urinating in a pool can be bad for your health or how pupils can reveal your risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Pee and the pool
Although highly unsanitary, peeing in pools is a common practice, particularly among children. But there is potentially serious health risk involved. Urine is considered a sterile and harmless human waste product, but when mixed with chlorine, some potentially dangerous chemicals can form. In fact, a 2016 study identified more than 100 disinfection by-products or DBPs, with mutagenic potential in swimming pools and hot tubs.

Nitrogenous organic compounds such as urea, ammonia, amino acids, and creatinine are commonly found in urine. When mixed the chlorine normally found in swimming pools, these compounds can form DBPs, such as trihalomethanes, haloacetic acids, haloamines, and halonitro-methanes. These compounds have been linked to eye and respiratory irritation as well as occupational asthma. Other DBP compounds, such as trihalomethanes have been linked to bladder cancer.

Fortunately, the amount of these potentially dangerous chemicals is small, and research is still out on whether there are any significant health effects from swimming in a pee-infested pool. Still, worth to keep in mind next time you go to the pool.

Eyes reveal the risk of dementia
A 2019 study found that early Alzheimer’s disease (AD) risk could be detected through a simple eye test, evaluating pupillary responses during cognitive tasks. The study, published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging, found that among 1119 participants, there was a positive correlation between greater pupil dilation and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, measured as polygenic risk scores. The study proposed that the observed findings are due to the accumulation of tau proteins in the locus coeruleus (LC), a part of the brainstem responsible for pupillary responses.

“Results support pupillary response—and by inference, LC dysfunction—as a genetically mediated biomarker of early mild cognitive impairment/AD risk. In combination with other biomarkers, task-evoked pupillary responses may provide additional information for early screening of genetically at-risk individuals even before cognitive declines,” the authors wrote.

Tyrosine supplementation can improve cognitive abilities
According to a 2014 study, supplementation of amino acid Tyrosine, found in foods like eggs or nuts, can help improve certain cognitive features, such as alertness. The study, published in the journal Neuropsychologia, found that tyrosine supplementation had significant effects on certain cognitive functions. One hour after consuming tyrosine, participants of this study were more efficient at inhibiting unwanted action tendencies. The study is the first clinical demonstration that tyrosine supplementation can improve a person’s ability to stop so-called overt responses, such as cognitive processing, thinking, or reflecting. According to the authors of this study:

“Taken altogether, our results support the materialist approach that “you are what you eat” —the idea that the food one eats has a bearing on one state of mind. The food we intake may thus act as a cognitive enhancer that modulates the way we think, perceive and react to the physical world. In particular, the supplementation of tyrosine, or tyrosine-containing diets, may promote cognitive enhancement in inexpensive, efficient, and healthy ways.”

A bottle of red might protect you from a heart attack
A 2021 study found that people with cardiovascular disease (CVD), who consumed 105 grams of alcohol per week (about half glass of red wine per day or one bottle per week) had a decreased risk of having a heart attack, stroke, angina or even death, compared to people who do not drink.

The findings were based on the analysis of data from 48,423 adults with CVD, utilising data obtained from the UK Biobank, the Health Survey for England, the Scottish Health Survey and from 12 previous studies. Researchers tracked the health of these individuals over a period of 20 years, using health, hospital admission and death registry records and patient-reported average alcohol consumption.

Despite the findings, the authors are cautious about the implications, and do not recommend increasing alcohol consumption. “Our findings suggest that people with CVD may not need to stop drinking in order to prevent additional heart attacks, strokes or angina, but that they may wish to consider lowering their weekly alcohol intake. As alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk of developing other illnesses, those with CVD who do not drink should not be encouraged to take up drinking,” said Dr Chengyi Ding, corresponding author of the study in a press release.