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Marijuana edibles can affect heart health in elderly: research

Monitoring Desk

TORONTO: With marijuana legalization sweeping the US, an increasing number of people believe that “weed” is the safest recreational drug, and carries health benefits that outweigh its risks. However, according to a new study, each marijuana formulation may affect and sometimes even compromise the cardiovascular system in older adults.

“Marijuana can be a useful tool for many patients, especially for pain and nausea relief. At the same time, like all other medications, it does carry risks and side effects,” said Alexandra Saunders from the Dalhousie University in Canada. The study, published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology, examined the case of a patient who developed crushing chest pain and myocardial ischemia after consuming most of a marijuana lollipop.

The “inappropriate dosing and oral consumption of marijuana resulted in distress that caused a cardiac event and subsequent reduced cardiac function,” Saunders said.

The report describes a 70-year-old man with stable coronary artery disease, taking the appropriate cardiac medications, who ate most of a lollipop that was infused with 90 mg of THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) to relieve pain and aid sleep. The lollipop caused him to have a potentially serious heart attack. 

According to the report, he consumed a much larger dose than the 7 mg that is typically ingested by smoking a single joint or taking the 2.5 mg starting dose of a synthetic THC.  The patient’s ingestion of an unusually large amount of THC caused the unexpected strain on his body from anxiety and fearful hallucinations and likely triggered the cardiac event, the researchers said.

A number of prior case reports, as well as epidemiological studies, have described the association between cannabis use and acute cardiovascular adverse events, including myocardial infarction, stroke, arrhythmias and sudden death. While previous research on marijuana-induced myocardial ischemia has mostly focused on younger patients, healthcare providers need to understand and manage cannabis use and its complications in older patients, particularly in those with cardiovascular disease, the researchers noted.

Courtesy: (timesnownews.com)

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Steps taken to control leshmanisis disease: Health Minister

F.P. Report

PESHAWAR: Health Minister Dr. Hisham Inamullah Khan said on Monday that government was ensuring medical aid to all patients of  leishmaniasis in the province including merged districts while government has also received 9500 vials of vaccine from MSF  to treat the patients.

During his briefing here at Health Secretariat Peshawar, the provincial minister Dr. Hisham said that government was making efforts for prevention of the ailment in the province including merged districts. He said the disease is spread by the bite of certain type of sand fly leaving the patients with skin lesions and scar on the body of the victim. However, he said nothing to be worried about this type of disease as it doesn’t cause of death and patients can soon be recovered with proper treatment.

On the occasion Secretary Health Dr. Farooq Jameel, DG health services Dr. Arshad Khan, advisor on health reforms Dr. Jawad Wasif, Public health Director Dr. Shaheen Afridi, Director Directorate of tribal districts, Dr. Kaleem ullah were present.

Health minister further said that a total of 22439 cases of leishmaniasis reported, out of which mostly cases 19072 reported in the tribal districts. Dr. Hisham said that special centers were established at sentinel sites where patients were being treated under the guidelines of WHO in affected districts like Karak and Mardan. Similarly health department launched awareness campaign and LHWs were given the task to aware the people during door to door visit. He said through precautionary measures we can save ourselves from the disease. Beside this, local authorities were also conducing fogging and providing bed nets in affected areas.

Health minister was of the view that all patients were provided free treatment and medicines while concerned officials are directed to buy medicines from the local market if needed. He said for reporting and early response to the leishmenia cases, leishmeniasis cell has been setup. The cell consist of focal persons Dr. Rehman Afridi, Malaria program head, Salahuddin Acting program coordinator global head and Dr. Fazal Deputy Director implementation DGHS.

Dr. Hisham said that all district health officers of the province were directed to ensure Dermatologists and nurses 24 hours in all DHQs to treat the patients. Responding to a question, health minister told that anti-leishmania injections and medicines were not registered with drug regulatory authority of Pakistan, thus it caused of delayed in supply of medicines. These injections cannot be stored for a specific period, thus these have to be supplied whenever needed. He said there is always fear of misuse of these medicines.

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Two million epilepsy patients in Pakistan await govt attention: Dr Fowzia

F.P. Report

KARACHI: More than 2 million epilepsy patients in Pakistan await government attention as lack of facilities and very costly medicines are still a big hurdle to reduce epilepsy burden from our crumbling healthcare sector, said noted neurophysician of the country and president of Epilepsy Foundation of Pakistan Dr Fowzia Siddiqui on the eve of world epilepsy day here Sunday.

She said the world epilepsy day is observed on 11th February to raise awareness about this neurological disease and tell the people how to get treated this disease, besides telling the government which facilities are needed for the epilepsy patients.

Dr Fowzia Siddiqui said the ratio of epilepsy in the world is between 0.5 to 1 percent, but in Pakistan the ratio of this disease is one percent, which is considered very high. However, with proper treatment this disease could be controlled. As per an estimate more than 2 million epilepsy patients are present in Pakistan. Dr Fowzia said the epilepsy is a neurological disease and like other diseases its proper treatment is necessary, because it is a treatable ailment. She said with medication this disease is controlled up to 70 percent. This disease in 95percent cases is not hereditary. These are many types of epilepsy whose correct diagnosis is necessary for effective treatment. Dr Fowzia said during a fit of epilepsy it not beneficial to force the patient to smell a shoe, or slapping him or her on face, or sprinkling water over them and putting a finger in their mouth. The patient in this condition should be laid on one side and it should be tried that no injury is received by him or her. If the fit of epilepsy lasts for more than 3 minutes the patients should be immediately shifted to hospital. If any family has an epilepsy patient they should get complete information about the first aid from their doctors so that emergency situations could be avoided.

Dr Fowzia said that more prevalence of epilepsy in Pakistan is because here more infections are present. TB, typhoid, meningitis fever are some of the major causes of this disease. Head injury, brain infection, sugar and blood pressure and misbalance of electrolytes are the other causes.

Use of alcohol may lead to this disease. This disease may be observed in young age or after 50 years.  In children this disease is causes be infection or lack of oxygen. After 50 years of age the main causes of epilepsy are high blood pressure, sugar and brain tumors.

In a sever fit of epilepsy hand and feet of patient go stiff, foam comes out from mouth and sometime urine is passed out. In some cases the affected children go silent which is also called their daydreaming.

Sometimes light trembling in their hands or feet is noticed. They feel a strange pain in abdomen. However, in many cases their mothers do not give much attention to these symptoms, but these symptoms could be dangerous for children. She said a few years back a 19-year pregnant female patient was brought to her who used to fall unconscious due to fits. She said inexperienced doctors declared that these fits were because of epilepsy, and hence her in-laws considered her as a haunted person and they also compelled for opting abortion. Later, they forced her husband to divorce send her back to her parents. She said this girl in fact was not an epilepsy patient, because during pungency such fits are also observed in some cases. She said this girl was very much distressed and later she was counseled and now she attends our programs. She said in another case the in-laws of a boy filed a Khula case of their daughter due to epilepsy.

Dr Fowzia said in Pakistan there is lack of education and no proper treatment facilities available in small towns and villages. Moreover, due to poverty many people avoid costly treatment and instead go to spiritual healers. This is why many epilepsy patients unnecessary suffer a lot. She said steps are necessary to ensure proper treatment of epilepsy in government hospitals.

She demanded opening special wards for epilepsy patients in government hospitals. She also demanded government subsidy for epilepsy hospital so that poor and low income patients could also get the treatment facilities.

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Eating breakfast may not help in losing weight

MELBOURNE (Reuters): The idea that skipping breakfast contributes to weight gain doesn’t mean that eating breakfast can help with weight loss, a research review suggests.

Researchers examined data from 13 studies in which some participants ate breakfast and others skipped it. The people who ate breakfast consumed more calories and weighed more than individuals who skipped this morning meal, a research review suggests.

The results may surprise legions of dieters: breakfast eaters consumed an average of 260 calories more a day and weighed an average of 0.44 kilogram (about 1 pound) more than breakfast avoiders.

“There is a belief in the community that breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” said senior study author Flavia Cicuttini of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

“This is not the case,” Cicuttini said by email. “A calorie is a calorie, whatever time you eat it, and people shouldn’t eat if they are not hungry.”

While some previous research suggests that eating breakfast is associated with increased odds of maintaining a healthy weight, many of these studies were not controlled experiments designed to prove whether breakfast directly causes weight loss or prevents weight gain, researchers note in The BMJ.

People who ate breakfast consumed more calories and weighed more than individuals who skipped this morning meal

Much of this research also left open the possibility that people who eat breakfast have a healthier weight because they’re different from those who skip the morning meal, with perhaps healthier overall eating habits or more consistent exercise routines, the study authors note.

There was no meaningful difference in the association between breakfast consumption and weight or calorie intake based on how much individual participants weighed, the analysis found. Results were similar for people at a healthy weight and for individuals who were overweight.

Dieters are sometimes told skipping breakfast will make them hungrier and increase their propensity to overeat later in the day. But the analysis didn’t find a difference in hunger levels based on whether or not participants ate a morning meal.

One limitation of the analysis is that the smaller studies were all too brief to see whether or how eating breakfast might affect long-term weight control or calorie consumption, the study authors note.

“When people skipped breakfast, they ate more later in the day, but not enough to compensate for the extra calories they had not consumed earlier,” Spector said by email. “The studies so far suggest, but don’t prove, that breakfast skipping can help some people lose weight.”

The types of foods people eat may matter at least as much, if not more, than the total calories they consume or exactly when they have their first meal of the day, added Spector, a self-professed habitual breakfast eater.

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Measles outbreak kills 25 in Philippines in January

MANILA (AFP): A growing measles outbreak in the Philippines killed at least 25 people last month, officials said Thursday, putting some of the blame on mistrust stoked by a scare over an anti-dengue fever vaccine.

Most of the dead are children and the toll is expected to rise as more cases are confirmed of the highly contagious disease, which has made a worldwide resurgence in recent years.

Figures from the Philippines’ national health authorities show cases jumped from 791 in 2017 to 5,120 last year. There were 1,813 confirmed cases in January alone.

The most recent numbers available show measles killed 30 in the first eight months of last year, and five in all of 2017.

Authorities said vaccination rates in the Philippines have been declining for years, but also pointed to the recent controversy over the safety of the Dengvaxia dengue vaccine.

“The measles vaccination coverage has been in decline in the last five years,” health undersecretary Eric Domingo told a press conference Thursday.

“In the recent years, it was the issue of Dengvaxia vaccine that contributed,” he added, as the government pushed parents to get children vaccinated.

The scare started in late 2017, shortly after the Philippines gave Dengvaxia to some 837,000 students as part of a public immunisation campaign.

The vaccine’s maker, Sanofi, set off a panic when it said a new analysis showed Dengvaxia could lead to more severe symptoms for people who had not previously been infected with dengue.

Sanofi has unequivocally said its product is safe, but Manila still halted the campaign and left hundreds of thousands of terrified parents wondering if their children were at risk.

The World Health Organisation in November 2018 warned that measles cases globally had jumped more than 30 percent in 2017 compared to the previous year, in part because of children not being vaccinated.

San Lazaro hospital in the Philippine capital reported more than 50 deaths from measles and over 1,500 patients in January alone, which is subject to health department confirmation.

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Polio case surfaces in Bannu

Jamal Qamar

BANNU: Another polio case was surfaced in Mira Khel area here Friday after verification by National Institute of Health (NIH) in Islamabad. According to district Health officials, two-year Rehan suffered from fever on January 16 and his parents took him to hospital where doctors recommended his stool test from NIH Islamabad for confirmation of polio virus.

The NIH in its report confirmed presences of polio virus in the victim child who was immediately shifted to Peshawar for further treatment. This was the second polio case reported this year while in 2018, some ten cases were reported. The Health Officials said that parents of two-year Rehan refused to allow polio vaccination.

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Depression links with digestive bacteria: study

BRUSSELS (AFP): It seems that people who lack certain gut bacteria may be more likely to experience depression.

A latest study has found a link between our micro biota and mental health, according to an article published in Nature – an international journal of science.

A new Belgian research reveals a link between specific types of gut bacteria and depression. The findings, published in the journal Nature Microbiology, also provide evidence showing that a wide range of gut bacteria can produce neuroactive compounds.

Within this group, 173 people either had been diagnosed with depression or had done poorly on the quality of life survey.  The micro biomes of these people were compared to those of the other participants. Two kinds of microbes – Coprococcus and Dialister – were missing from the micro biomes of the ‘depressed’ but not from the others.

The team then looked at data from a study done in the Netherlands in which the micro biomes of 1,064 Dutch people were assessed. They found the same two microbes missing from those participants diagnosed with depression. While it is not completely known how the two microbes influence depression, Coprococcus seems to have a biochemical pathway resulting in the formation of a dopamine metabolite 3,4-dihydroxyacetic acid.

“This is the first time this kind of work has been done on such a large scale in humans. Most previous work has been done in animal models,” study co-author Jeroen Raes, a systems biologist at The Flanders Institute of Biotechnology, tells Forbes. Because most previous studies on a possible connection between gut microbial metabolism and mental health had been done in animals, the relationship has been controversial.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that lacking these bacteria causes depression. It could be that people who have depression eat differently, for instance, which could change their gut flora. “To determine causality, we would need to procure these bugs and give them to mice with a version of depression,” says Raes.

The challenge now is to find out whether, and how, these microbe-derived molecules can interact with the human central nervous system, and whether that alters a person’s behaviour or risk of disease.

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Smoking Marijuana linked to better sperm counts: Study

Monitoring Desk

Men who smoke marijuana may have higher sperm counts than those who have never used the drug, a surprising new study finds.

The findings are “not consistent” with previous research, which has suggested that marijuana has a harmful effect on men’s testicular function, the researchers said.

However, the study, published in the Feb. 6 issue of the journal Human Reproduction, doesn’t mean men should start smoking pot to up their sperm counts.

The findings are far from conclusive, and more research is needed to understand whether smoking marijuana could indeed, at certain levels, have a positive effect on sperm production.

But the study does highlight how little researchers know about the effects of marijuana on reproductive health, study senior author Dr. Jorge Chavarro, an associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, said in a statement. “We know a lot less than we think we know.” [25 Odd Facts About Marijuana]

Marijuana and sperm

Previous studies had suggested that smoking marijuana may lower a man’s sperm count, especially among heavy users. For example, in 2015, researchers from Denmark found that men who smoked marijuana more than once per week had sperm counts that were nearly 30 percent lower than those who didn’t smoke marijuana, or those who used the drug less frequently.

However, the effects of more moderate marijuana use on sperm counts among men is less clear.

In the new study, the researchers analyzed information from 662 men who, along with their partners, were evaluated for infertility from 2000 to 2017 at the Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Center. The men answered survey questions about how often they smoked marijuana or used other drugs, and they also provided sperm and blood samples.

Overall, a little over half of the men (55 percent) reported ever smoking marijuana in their lifetimes, and 11 percent said that they currently smoked marijuana.

The researchers found that men who reported ever having smoked marijuana had an average sperm concentration of 63 million sperm per milliliter of semen, compared with 45 million sperm per milliliter of semen among those who had never used marijuana. The findings held even after the researchers took into account some factors that could have affected sperm concentration, such as age, cigarette smoking and alcohol use.

What’s more, only 5 percent of the marijuana smokers had lower-than-normal sperm concentrations — that is, lower than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen. Among men who never smoked marijuana, 12 percent had lower-than-normal sperm concentrations.

Among men who had ever smoked marijuana, those who used it more often had higher testosterone levels than those who used it less often.

Interestingly, each additional year that had passed since a man last used marijuana was tied to a slight increase in sperm count.

“Our findings were contrary to what we hypothesized at the start of the study,” study lead author Feiby Nassan, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said in the statement.

But the study can be interpreted in several ways. It may be that low or moderate levels of marijuana use have a beneficial effect on sperm production, but heavier use reverses this effect. Or, it could also be that men with higher testosterone levels are more likely to engage in “risky” behaviors such as drug use; and the researchers found the link between marijuana and sperm count “because men with higher testosterone, within normal levels, have higher sperm counts and are more likely to smoke cannabis,” Nassan said.

Jury still out

It’s known that moderate- to heavy-use of tobacco or alcohol is tied to lower sperm counts, but whether marijuana has the same effect is up for debate, said Dr. Sarah Vij, a urologist at the Cleveland Clinic who was not involved with the study.

Vij said she applauded the study authors for looking at this question, since it is a topic that needs more research.

But the new study doesn’t provide a conclusive answer. “Overall, the jury is still out on how marijuana impacts a man’s fertility potential,” Vij told Live Science.

Vij pointed out that both marijuana users and nonusers in the study had normal sperm counts, on average. So the study can’t draw any conclusions about whether marijuana use is tied to better fertility.

In addition, it takes about three months for men to undergo a full cycle of sperm production to produce mature sperm. This means that using marijuana years ago “really should not have any impact at all on [a man’s] current fertility state,” Vij said.

And yet, the study still found that men who said they used marijuana at least a year ago had higher sperm counts than men who used it more recently. Vij said she wondered if “there’s something that goes along with marijuana use” that’s tied to better sperm production.

The researchers also noted that their study was conducted among men who visited a fertility clinic, and so the results may not necessarily apply to the general population. In addition, men in the study self-reported their marijuana use, and it’s possible that some participants were not truthful about their marijuana use, due to the social stigma or illegal status of the drug in Massachusetts at the time the data was collected.

Courtesy: (livescience.com)

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Breakfast may not help keep pounds off

The idea that skipping breakfast contributes to weight gain doesn’t mean that eating breakfast can help with weight loss, a research review suggests.

Researchers examined data from 13 studies in which some participants ate breakfast and others skipped it. The people who ate breakfast consumed more calories and weighed more than individuals who skipped this morning meal, a research review suggests.

The results may surprise legions of dieters: breakfast eaters consumed an average of 260 calories more a day and weighed an average of 0.44 kilogram (about 1 pound) more than breakfast avoiders.

“There is a belief in the community that breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” said senior study author Flavia Cicuttini of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

“This is not the case,” Cicuttini said by email. “A calorie is a calorie, whatever time you eat it, and people shouldn’t eat if they are not hungry.”

While some previous research suggests that eating breakfast is associated with increased odds of maintaining a healthy weight, many of these studies were not controlled experiments designed to prove whether breakfast directly causes weight loss or prevents weight gain, researchers note in The BMJ.

Much of this research also left open the possibility that people who eat breakfast have a healthier weight because they’re different from those who skip the morning meal, with perhaps healthier overall eating habits or more consistent exercise routines, the study authors note.

In the current analysis, researchers examined data from clinical trials done mainly in the US and the UK over the past three decades that looked at the effect of eating breakfast on weight and calorie intake.

These smaller studies lasted from one day to four months.

There was no meaningful difference in the association between breakfast consumption and weight or calorie intake based on how much individual participants weighed, the analysis found. Results were similar for people at a healthy weight and for individuals who were overweight.

Some studies looked at whether breakfast influenced metabolism, or how many calories people burned. But researchers didn’t find meaningful differences based on whether or not participants had breakfast.

Dieters are sometimes told skipping breakfast will make them hungrier and increase their propensity to overeat later in the day. But the analysis didn’t find a difference in hunger levels based on whether or not participants ate a morning meal.

One limitation of the analysis is that the smaller studies were all too brief to see whether or how eating breakfast might affect long-term weight control or calorie consumption, the study authors note.

Still, the lower total calorie consumption associated with skipping breakfast suggests this approach may work for some dieters, said Tim Spector, a researcher at Kings College London who wrote an accompanying editorial.

“When people skipped breakfast, they ate more later in the day, but not enough to compensate for the extra calories they had not consumed earlier,” Spector said by email. “The studies so far suggest, but don’t prove, that breakfast skipping can help some people lose weight.”

The types of foods people eat may matter at least as much, if not more, than the total calories they consume or exactly when they have their first meal of the day, added Spector, a self-professed habitual breakfast eater.

“Calories are not the key here,” said Spector, who founded a personalized nutrition company. “Everyone is unique and may benefit from different amounts of carbs or fat depending on their genes, microbes and metabolism.”

Courtesy: (Reuters)

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Fasting boosts metabolism and fights aging

Tim Newman 

The latest study to explore the impact of fasting on the human body concludes that it increases metabolic activity more than previously realized and may even impart anti-aging benefits.

A recent study takes a look at how fasting influences metabolism.

Studies have shown that intermittent fasting can help certain people lose weight.

Although researchers are still debating exactly how effective fasting can be for weight loss, new research hints at other benefits.

In rats, for instance, studies show that fasting can increase lifespan.

Although exciting, evidence of this in humans has yet to be seen.

The most recent study — which the authors have now published in the journal Scientific Reports — takes a fresh look at fasting in humans and provides new insight.

“Recent aging studies have shown that caloric restriction and fasting have a prolonging effect on lifespan in model animals,” says first study author Dr. Takayuki Teruya, “but the detailed mechanism has remained a mystery.”

In particular, scientists at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University in Japan examined its impact on metabolism.

By understanding the metabolic processes involved, the team hopes to find ways of harnessing the benefits of fasting without the need to go without food for prolonged periods.

To investigate, they fasted four volunteers for 58 hours. Using metabolomics, or the measurement of metabolites, the researchers analyzed whole blood samples at intervals during the fasting period.

What happens during fasting?

As the human body is starved of food, there are a number of distinct metabolic changes that occur.

Normally, when carbohydrates are readily available, the body will use them as fuel. But once they are gone, it looks elsewhere for energy. In a process called gluconeogenesis, the body derives glucose from noncarbohydrate sources, such as amino acids.

Scientists can find evidence of gluconeogenesis by assessing the levels of certain metabolites in the blood, including carnitines, and butyrate.

As expected, after fasting, the levels of these metabolites were present in the participants’ blood. However, the scientists also identified many more metabolic changes, some of which surprised them. For instance, they saw a marked increase in products of the citric acid cycle.

The citric acid cycle happens in mitochondria, and its function is to release stored energy. The hike seen in the metabolites associated with this process means that the mitochondria, the fabled powerhouses of the cell, are thrust into overdrive.

Another surprise finding was an increase in levels of purine and pyrimidine, which scientists had not yet linked to fasting.

These chemicals are a sign of increased protein synthesis and gene expression. This suggests that fasting causes cells to switch up the type and quantity of proteins that they need to function.

Higher levels of purine and pyrimidine are clues that the body might be increasing levels of certain antioxidants. Indeed, the researchers noted substantial increases in certain antioxidants, including ergothioneine and carnosine.

In an earlier study, the same team of researchers showed that, as we age, a number of metabolites decline. These metabolites include leucine, isoleucine, and ophthalmic acid.

In their latest study, they showed that fasting boosted these three metabolites. They explain that this might help explain how fasting extends lifespan in rats.

In all four subjects, the researchers identified 44 metabolites that increased during fasting, some of which increased 60-fold.

Of these 44, scientists had linked just 14 to fasting before. The authors conclude that “[c]ollectively, fasting appears to provoke a much more metabolically active state than previously realized.”

“These are very important metabolites for maintenance of muscle and antioxidant activity […]. This result suggests the possibility of a rejuvenating effect by fasting, which was not known until now.”

The scientists believe that a hike in antioxidants might be a survival response; during starvation, our bodies can experience high levels of oxidative stress. By producing antioxidants, it might help avoid some of the potential damage caused by free radicals.

Next, they want to replicate the results in a larger sample. They also want to identify possible ways of harnessing the beneficial effects of fasting and find out whether they can trigger the effects of caloric restriction without having to restrict caloric intake.

Although it will be some time before we can reap the benefits of fasting without the effort, the current findings provide further evidence of the health benefits of fasting.

Courtesy: (medicalnewstoday.com)