Blood Pressure: What You Need to Do

Blood pressure: What you need to do. Have we been getting blood pressure measurements wrong? A recent study suggests that the answer may be yes. Today, I want to remind you of the benefits of having “good” blood pressure. We will then pivot to how medications to reduce blood pressure may even help those with a “high normal” blood pressure.

High blood pressure (hypertension) is common and is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. In this context, for adults, the 2021 United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends:

Everyone 18 years or older should have an evaluation for high blood pressure, with confirmation by out-of-office blood pressures.

Are you over 40 years of age or have risk factors for hypertension? Annual evaluation is appropriate for you. An every three to five-year check is reasonable if you have no risk factors and previously normal blood pressure.

The change you need to make for your blood pressure. Photo by Ian Dooley on Unsplash

Don’t target the number. Target the risk

A study published in May 2021 in The Lancet shows that medication may benefit people with pressures still in the normal range or “high normal” range and no apparent signs of cardiovascular disease.

Researchers combined data from 48 randomized clinical trials of blood pressure drugs involving just under 345,000 subjects.

Over a 4-year follow-up period, the results are striking: Reducing blood pressure by five millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) dropped the overall risk of cardiovascular disease by one-tenth.

This improvement translates into a lower probability of problems such as heart failure, clogged heart arteries, and stroke. This improvement in outcomes occurred regardless of how high the blood pressure was or if the subjects had a history of heart problems or stroke.

Medicines for all?

Not so fast. The study authors acknowledge that with medications come potential side effects. To me, individuals with a relatively high risk for heart attacks or stroke may wish to have a chat with their doctor about medication (if their blood pressure is in the high-normal range) with diet and exercise.

For some, medication is essential. But for many of us, lifestyle optimization can go a long way to improving our blood pressure and overall health and well-being.

Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash

The change you need to make for your blood pressure. Please go here to read more (and don’t forget to sign up to follow me at the newer blog site):

https://newcancerinfo.com/

Thank you!

Abdominal Fat and Menopausal Heart Disease Risk

Abdominal fat and menopausal heart disease risk. That is our topic of the day. For many women, it is increasingly challenging during and after menopause to maintain optimal weight. But even if you successfully pull it off, it is vital to avoid an accelerated accumulation of belly fat. This build-up is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

Today we briefly explore a University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health-led analysis published earlier this year in the journal Menopause. First, let’s look at menopause and weight gain. What causes the increase? Are there associated health perils?

Abdominal fat and menopausal heart disease risk. Photo by Drew Graham on Unsplash

Let’s begin with a definition: Menopause officially begins when a woman hasn’t had a menstrual cycle for twelve months.

With age, many women find maintaining their weight to become more challenging. Many gain weight around the menopause transition.

It is not uncommon to begin to gain weight during perimenopause, which can begin a decade before menopause.

Sometimes individuals point to weight gain as the inevitable product of menopause. The North American Menopause Society challenges this view, retorting that “there is no scientific evidence that menopause or hormone therapy is responsible for midlife weight gain.”

Again, The North American Menopause Society:

“Aging and lifestyle appear to be the main culprits behind weight gain in women around menopause. With aging comes slower metabolism, and lean body mass diminishes with age (body fat accumulates throughout adulthood).

Here is The Mayo Clinic’s (USA) view: “Menopausal hormonal changes may make you more likely to gain weight around your belly than around your hips and thighs. However, hormone changes alone do not necessarily result in menopausal weight gain. Rather, the weight gain is usually related to aging, as well as lifestyle and genetic factors.”

Abdominal fat linked to arterial disease

Now comes a University of Pittsburgh (USA) analysis showing that women who have an accelerated accumulation of belly fat during menopause are at greater risk of heart disease, even if their weight stays steady.

The researchers looked at a quarter-century of data from hundreds of women. Every 20 percent increase in abdominal fat appeared associated with a two percent increase in the thickness of the carotid artery lining. Traditional cardiac disease risk factors (such as body mass index and overall weight) did not affect this change in the artery.

On average, abdominal fat began to accelerate steeply within a couple of years before the subjects’ last period. After that, a more gradual increase occurred during the menopause transition.

Abdominal fat and menopausal heart disease risk – Please go here to learn more:

https://newcancerinfo.com/

Don’t forget to sign up to follow me there (and get free links to my Medium.com articles!). Thank you.

Anxiety: Use Fractals to Find Peace. Mental health prescription confirmed by Stanford researchers. That’s the headline I recently discovered. Gretchen Dailey and colleagues of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment offer this observation:

Nature walking yields measurable mental benefits and may reduce the risk of depression.

While I don’t doubt the report, I wonder why nature is such a good prescription. Today I want to explore how computer analysis is helping us to understand how clouds, coastlines, trees, and Jackson Pollock’s wild paintings create fractal patterns that bring us a sense of calm.

Anxiety: Use Fractals to Find Peace.

I don’t know about you, but if I am feeling a little down, a walk amongst trees helps me to feel better. Stanford University (USA) researchers report that people who walked for 90 minutes in a natural area (compared with subjects who walked in a high-traffic urban setting) demonstrated lower activity in a brain region associated with depression.

Photo by Emily Karakis on Unsplash

Here’s what the researchers did: Upon arrival, participants completed a self-report form measuring rumination. The subjects then had a neuroimaging scan with a magnetic resonance imaging scanner, using a technique called arterial spin labeling (ASL).

The investigators randomly assigned each subject to a 90-minute walk in either a natural or urban environment.

The nature group walked near the Stanford University campus in an area made of grassland with scattered oak trees and shrubs.

The urban walkers ambulated on the busiest street in nearby Palo Alto. El Camino Real is composed of three to four lanes in each direction, and traffic is steady. I can confirm this, with this proud father having attended his son’s graduation just weeks ago.

Following their walks, each study participant returned to the laboratory and repeated a self-report of rumination levels. They then had a second MRI/ASL scan. I find it amusing that the researchers needed to verify that the participants actually did the assigned work by having the subjects take ten photographs along their trek. Okay, it also confirmed that each person took the correct route.

After the strolls, the nature walkers had a lower self-reported level of rumination. The subjects’ brains differed significantly according to whether they had walked in the urban or more natural environments. Neural activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex — a brain area active during rumination — decreased for subjects who walked in nature compared with those who walked in a more urban environment. Lead author Gregory Bratman observes:

“This finding is exciting because it demonstrates the impact of nature experience on an aspect of emotion regulation — something that may help explain how nature makes us feel better.”

Anxiety: Use Fractals to Find Peace. Photo by Possessed Photography on Unsplash

Fractals

Let’s get a bit more granular. Computer analyses are helping to explain how fractal complexity (in clouds, coastlines, or trees) can help explain how we are comforted by nature.

Before we get to how the degree of fractal complexity can influence our mood, here is a brief primer on fractal geometry.

Anxiety: The Surprising Way You Can Use Fractals to Find Peace. Please go here to learn more:

https://medium.com/beingwell/anxiety-the-surprising-way-you-can-use-fractal-geometry-to-find-peace-db28b48f83cf?sk=b9c5126ac89d31835519fcff56660c6c

Related posts:

Anxiety: Use Fractals to Find Peace. Mental health prescription confirmed by Stanford researchers. That’s the headline I recently discovered. Gretchen Dailey and colleagues of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment offer this observation:

Nature walking yields measurable mental benefits and may reduce the risk of depression.

While I don’t doubt the report, I wonder why nature is such a good prescription. Today I want to explore how computer analysis is helping us to understand how clouds, coastlines, trees, and Jackson Pollock’s wild paintings create fractal patterns that bring us a sense of calm.

Anxiety: Use Fractals to Find Peace.

I don’t know about you, but if I am feeling a little down, a walk amongst trees helps me to feel better. Stanford University (USA) researchers report that people who walked for 90 minutes in a natural area (compared with subjects who walked in a high-traffic urban setting) demonstrated lower activity in a brain region associated with depression.

Photo by Emily Karakis on Unsplash

Here’s what the researchers did: Upon arrival, participants completed a self-report form measuring rumination. The subjects then had a neuroimaging scan with a magnetic resonance imaging scanner, using a technique called arterial spin labeling (ASL).

The investigators randomly assigned each subject to a 90-minute walk in either a natural or urban environment.

The nature group walked near the Stanford University campus in an area made of grassland with scattered oak trees and shrubs.

The urban walkers ambulated on the busiest street in nearby Palo Alto. El Camino Real is composed of three to four lanes in each direction, and traffic is steady. I can confirm this, with this proud father having attended his son’s graduation just weeks ago.

Following their walks, each study participant returned to the laboratory and repeated a self-report of rumination levels. They then had a second MRI/ASL scan. I find it amusing that the researchers needed to verify that the participants actually did the assigned work by having the subjects take ten photographs along their trek. Okay, it also confirmed that each person took the correct route.

After the strolls, the nature walkers had a lower self-reported level of rumination. The subjects’ brains differed significantly according to whether they had walked in the urban or more natural environments. Neural activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex — a brain area active during rumination — decreased for subjects who walked in nature compared with those who walked in a more urban environment. Lead author Gregory Bratman observes:

“This finding is exciting because it demonstrates the impact of nature experience on an aspect of emotion regulation — something that may help explain how nature makes us feel better.”

Anxiety: Use Fractals to Find Peace. Photo by Possessed Photography on Unsplash

Fractals

Let’s get a bit more granular. Computer analyses are helping to explain how fractal complexity (in clouds, coastlines, or trees) can help explain how we are comforted by nature.

Before we get to how the degree of fractal complexity can influence our mood, here is a brief primer on fractal geometry.

Anxiety: The Surprising Way You Can Use Fractals to Find Peace. Please go here to learn more:

https://medium.com/beingwell/anxiety-the-surprising-way-you-can-use-fractal-geometry-to-find-peace-db28b48f83cf?sk=b9c5126ac89d31835519fcff56660c6c

Three Surprising Benefits of Walking

THREE SURPRISING BENEFITS OF WALKING. How about taking a stroll? But don’t be fooled: This simple approach to physical activity is good for you in so many ways. Today I want to explore with you three of my favorite benefits of walking. I hope that by the end of this piece, I have convinced you of the magic of ambulation.

Walking can allow you to meet daily recommended physical activity recommendations, no matter your age or fitness level.

“Not all those who wander are lost.” — J.R.R Tolkien

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

1. Heart disease

We begin with heart disease. Take a walk at a reasonable pace, and you will raise your heart rate, lower your blood pressure, and make your heart stronger.

I want to try to quantify the cardiovascular benefits of walking. Researchers from The University of New South Wales (Australia) provide data.

This meta-analysis sought to understand the dose-response relationship between walking and CHD risk reduction for both men and women in the general population. Here’s the takeaway message for you:

Walking for a minimum of thirty minutes every day, five days a week can reduce your risk for coronary heart disease by about one-fifth.

Your risk may drop even more if you increase the duration or distance you walk per day. The study authors conclude we should prescribe walking as an evidence-based and effective exercise approach for heart disease prevention in the general population.

2. Ease joint pain

Want to ease joining pain? You may want to try walking, as it can enhance lubrication while strengthening the muscles the support your joints. Moreover, several studies indicate that walking reduces pain related to arthritis and that walking for five to six miles weekly can prevent arthritis from forming.

Three surprising benefits of walking: Please go here to learn more (and don’t forget to follow me at the new site):

https://newcancerinfo.com/

Detecting Cancer: Dogs, Electronic Noses, and More

OVARIAN AND PANCREAS CANCERS are challenging to diagnose early. In this context, I am delighted to bring you good news: An electronic, odor-based nose appears to be able to find cancer by sniffing vapors emanating from blood samples.

Today, we look at a small preliminary study published at the virtual American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting. Let’s take a quick look at this non-invasive approach to finding hard-to-detect cancer early.

First, a brief review of the challenge. In the United States, the lifetime risk of developing ovarian cancer is 1.2 percent. This number corresponds to a rate of 11 new cases in 10,000 women per year and a death rate approaching 7 per 100,000 women per year. The 5-year relative survival for ovarian cancer overall is 49 percent.

Pancreas cancer is not uncommon, striking 13 men and women per 100,000 each year. The death rate is about 11 per 100,000, corresponding to a lifetime risk of 1.7 percent in the United States. The 5-year relative survival for pancreas cancer is a dreadful 11 percent.

Photo by Majestic Lukas on Unsplash

The difficulty of catching these cancers is apparent.

Ovarian cancer

We catch about 16 percent of ovarian cancers in a localized state. Another 21 percent have spread to nearby lymph nodes, and an astounding 57 percent have spread (metastasis) to distant sites at diagnosis. For the remainder, we don’t have staging information.

Look at the US 5-year relative survival rates for those with local, regional, and distant ovarian cancer: Localized cancer 93 percent; regional cancer is associated with a 5-year relative survival of 75 percent; those with distant spread of ovarian cancer at diagnosis have a 30 percent 5-year relative survival.

Detecting cancer early – Please go here to learn more, and consider following me at the newer blog site:

https://newcancerinfo.com/

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Do THIS to Improve Your Metabolism

Do THIS to improve your metabolism. Today I want to briefly chat with you about how you can improve your metabolism with this simple exercise. That’s our subject today. Mitochondria are the powerhouses of your cells. You may remember from school biology courses that mitochondria are tiny organelles responsible for burning off the energy we consume. But you may not be aware that a single one-hour session of walking can give them a nice boost.

We begin with a very brief review of cell biology. Mitochondria float freely in our cells, with some cells having thousands and others having none. If a cell has insufficient energy to survive, it can create more mitochondria.

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Improve your mitochondria with this simple exercise (walking!). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitochondrion

Mitochondria eat nutrients, break them down, and create molecules chock full of energy for the cell. This process is cellular respiration. Mitochondria are the working class organelles that fuel our cells.

If a cell doesn’t have enough energy to survive, it can create more mitochondria. On occasion, a mitochondrion can grow larger or combine with other mitochondria, depending on the needs of the cell.

Let’s turn to a new study from Oregon State University (USA) exploring the relationship between exercise habits and mitochondrial function. Researchers focused on sedentary individuals.

Improve your metabolism with this simple exercise. Learn more here (and don’t forget to sign up to follow me there):

https://newcancerinfo.com/

Related posts:

Reduce Your Cancer Risk Through Lifestyle

Reduce your cancer risk through lifestyle. I think you and I can agree that cancer is scary and sometimes somewhat random. But I want to empower you to reduce your risk. The American Cancer Society offers that about 45 percent of cancer deaths are associated with modifiable risk factors.

A risk factor is anything that increases your chances of getting a disease, such as cancer. Of course, having a risk factor does not mean that you are sure to get the disease. On the other hand, not having a known risk factor for a disease does not make you immune from it. Still, while we cannot change some risk factors for cancer, there are some risk factors that you can control.

Let’s get the five most significant modifiable risk factors out of the way before we turn to three that might surprise you:

  • Cigarette smoking accounts for 19 percent of all cancer cases and nearly 29 percent of cancer deaths.
  • Excessive body weight is linked to 8 percent of cancer cases and 6.5 percent of cancer deaths.
  • Drinking alcohol is associated with 6 percent of cancer cases and 4 percent of deaths.
  • Ultraviolet radiation exposure is linked to nearly 5 percent of cancers and 1.5 percent of deaths.
  • Physical inactivity plays a role in 3 percent of cancer cases and 2 percent of cancer deaths.

Grouping together excess body weight, alcohol intake, physical inactivity, and poor diet, we find this quartet responsible for approximately 18 percent of cancer cases and 16 percent of cancer deaths. Let’s take a look at some less obvious risk factors.

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Reduce your cancer risk through lifestyle. Photo by Daoudi Aissa on Unsplash

1. Vitamin D. Did you know that low levels of this sunshine vitamin are associated with cancer? The vitamin D link with cancer is most consistent for colorectal cancer. Those with blood levels of vitamin D above 30 ng/ ml (what many experts consider to be the minimum acceptable level) have approximately half the risk of developing colon or rectal cancer, as do those with levels below 15 ng/ml.

There is also suggestive evidence of a modest positive association with breast cancer. After lung cancer, these are the two most common fatal cancers in women in the United States.

Reduce your cancer risk through lifestyle. Please go here to learn more (and don’t forget to follow me at the newer blog site):

https://newcancerinfo.com/

Thank you!

A Bizarre Story About Radiation in Taiwanese Apartments

Radiation exposure and the health of Taiwanese. Radiation hormesis. That is your new term of the day. We’ll get back to that at the end, but first, I want to tell you about the curious case of radioactive apartments in Taiwan. It is a story of how workers used rebar contaminated with radiation to build apartment buildings. It is also the tale of the unexpected health outcomes of the residents within.

It’s 1983. It seems unbelievable, but workers recycle a radioactive Cobalt-60 source into rebar (short for reinforcing bar). With this hot material, workers build over 2,000 apartment units and shops, mainly in Taipei.

Approximately 10,000 people had exposure to long-term low-level irradiation as a result. In 1992, an electrical utility worker brought a Geiger counter to his apartment to learn more about the device. You can imagine his shock when he saw the levels of radioactivity. You can imagine my shock (and horror) when I learned that some of the building owners continued to rent apartments to tenants.

Before we get to what happened to the Taiwanese residents, let’s do a quick review of radiation and its potential perils. The US Environmental Protection Agency describes cobalt-60 as the most common radioactive isotope of the element cobalt, naturally occurring in various minerals.

The hard, grey-blue metal Cobalt-60 is a byproduct of nuclear reactors. When we expose metal structures (such as steel rods) to neutron radiation, we can create cobalt-60. Radiation oncologists use this radioactive source for cancer treatment. There are also commercial applications for this radioactive isotope. For example, it can sterilize medical devices and destroy pathogens in food.

Unfortunately, cobalt-60 can be deadly, given the potentially cancer-causing gamma rays it emits. The risk depends on the exposure level and exposure method (inhalation versus ingestion versus absorption through the skin). Cobalt-60 has a half-life of 5.3 years.

Radiation exposure and the health of Taiwanese.

Our medical thriller begins with steel bars taken into a nuclear power plant. Alarm bells blare. Tracking back through the manufacturer, investigators discover another building in Tienmu (a Taipei suburb) has measurable radioactivity. Could the radiation have been imported from the West, given Taiwan does not produce cobalt-60?

The Atomic Energy Commission checked every apartment building in Taiwan constructed within two years of steel production. Devices are installed at steel plants to monitor incoming scrap metal.

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Radiation exposure and the health of Taiwanese. Not what you may have thought. Photo by xandreaswork on Unsplash

About ten thousand individuals occupied a cumulative 180 buildings containing approximately 1,700 apartments, public and private schools, and small businesses. For up to 22 years, these folks unknowingly lived with the surrounding radiation.

Researchers of one study consider 1983 to be the first year of the incident. By 1992, they begin to uncover the radioactive state of the buildings. While investigators find fewer than 100 contaminated apartments in 1992, the number increases to 1,277 by 1998.

Radiation exposure and the health of Taiwanese. Please go here to learn more:https://medium.com/beingwell/a-weird-story-about-radiation-in-taiwanese-apartments-3e88f0823dd6?sk=5b4591beea8687b3d3e7c2bd811a9aea

Find related posts here:

Are Antibiotics Linked to Colon and Rectal Cancer?



Are antibiotics linked to colon and rectal cancer? According to a new study recently reported at the European Society for Medical Oncology World Congress on Gastrointestinal Cancer 2021, a history of taking antibiotics is associated with a higher risk of getting colon cancer. Given how frequently we as a society use antibiotics, how worried should we be?

Today I want to look at the troubling rise in the overuse of antibiotics. I will then pivot to the epidemiology of colorectal cancer before closing with new data suggesting a relationship between antibiotic use and colon cancer risk.

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Photo by CDC on Unsplash

As an oncologist, I must say that antibiotics can be incredibly valuable, even life-saving. However, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that one-third of antibiotic use is inappropriate. Most of the unnecessary use is for viral-caused respiratory conditions — think common colds, sore throats, bronchitis, sinus, and ear infections — that don’t respond to antibiotics.

The CDC reminds us that these 47 million excess prescriptions each year put patients at needless risk for allergic reactions or the sometimes deadly cause of diarrhea, Clostridium difficile. In addition, antibiotic overuse promotes antibiotic resistance.

Critical statistics for colon cancer

Skin cancer aside, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer among men and women in the United States. The American Cancer Society’s estimates for the number of colorectal cancer cases in the United States for 2021 are:

  • 104,270 new cases of colon cancer
  • 45,230 new cases of rectal cancer

These numbers translate to a lifetime risk of about 1 in 23 (4.3%) for men and 1 in 25 (4 percent) for women. Fortunately, the death rate has been declining in the United States for several decades.

We are finding more colorectal polyps through screening tests such as colonoscopy and others. By finding polyps, we can remove them before they become cancers. We are also finding cancer in earlier stages and have seen improvements in all facets of cancer management. All of this has translated into 1.5 million survivors of colorectal cancer in the USA.

There is one “however.” Despite this drop in the overall death rate from colorectal cancer, deaths among younger people under 55 years increased by one percent per year from 2008 to 2017. We don’t understand this rise in incidence and mortality among young individuals, but it isn’t reassuring.

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Photo by Diana Polekhina on Unsplash

We head to Scotland, where researchers gathered data from patients with early-onset and later onset colorectal cancer.

The scientists classified individuals under age 50 as having early-onset colorectal cancer. Above 50? Later onset colorectal cancer. Of 7,903 subjects with colorectal cancer, 445 had early-onset cancer.

The researchers also examined a control group of 30,418 individuals. The study authors looked at prescriptions of antibiotics in those with colorectal cancer and the matched control groups.

Are antibiotics linked to colorectal cancer? Please go here to learn more (but before you do, please sign up to follow me at the newer blog site).

https://newcancerinfo.com/

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Sleep In or Get Up and Exercise?

Sleep in or get up and exercise? Yesterday, I had a lovely 3-hour walk around the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge here in Washington. I spied blue herons and dozens of bald eagles. The confluence of the freshwater Nisqually River with the saltwater of Puget Sound creates environments that are a remarkable place for wildlife to thrive.

In the delta, you will find 300 species of fish and wildlife. A remarkable 20,000 birds populate the area. An estimated 275 migrating species use the marshes and grasslands for breeding, resting, or wintering.

a man standing on rocky mountain under cloudy sky
Photo by Angelo Duranti on Pexels.com

Go, and the visit will reward you with views of wood ducks, western sandpipers, regal Caspian terns, and you may even spy a great horned owl. A spectacular day, but this morning I awakened so tired. Should I sleep in, or should I exercise? What does the research suggest I do?

If you want to optimize health, don’t smoke, drink to excess, have a balanced diet, maintain a good weight, and be a part of a community. Today we focus on two other essential components of health, including adequate sleep and physical activity. More specifically, I want to explore with you this question: If we have to choose between getting an extra 60 minutes of sleep or rising to exercise, what should we do?

Sleep in or get up and exercise? Please go here to learn more by accessing your free friend link to Medium.com:

https://newcancerinfo.com/

Did you remember to sign up to follow me at this newer blog site? Oh, one more thing (related blogs):

Menopause and Women’s Health

Menopause and women’s health. Menopause changes the structure, connectivity, and energy consumption of a woman’s brain. Did you know that the menopause transition is associated with shrinkage of the brain’s gray matter (where we find nerve cells) and the white matter (where we find the fibers that connect nerve cells)? Moreover, sugar levels decline in areas associated with memory and perception.

So what’s the good news? The brains of women compensate, at least partially, for these declines: Women experience an increase in blood flow. They also make more ATP, a molecule that serves a the primary energy source for cells.

Today, we look at what researchers from Weill Cornell (New York City) and the University of Arizona (USA) discovered about the brain and menopause transition. First, let’s review some basics.

Menopause and memory declines

If you have been through menopause, have you ever had challenges recalling items on a grocery list? Struggled with the name of someone you encounter only occasionally? A 2013 study followed over 2,300 women for four years. Here are the findings:

When premenopausal, the women did well on repeated tests of processing speed, verbal memory, and working memory. As their estrogen dipped during perimenopause, they did not learn as well. After menopause (or with estrogen supplements before their last period), the scores rose.

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Menopause and women’s health: Hormone changes affect the brain. Photo by Briana Tozour on Unsplash

What is causing these cognitive changes? Could it be evolving levels of blood levels of hormones such as estrogen? A review of published studies including at least 100 women is illustrative. The researchers report no consistent associations between blood levels of estrogen and episodic memory or executive functions in naturally menopausal midlife women or women 65 years of age or older.

Unfortunately, the results are tempered by imprecise estimates of long-term estrogen exposure, a relatively narrow range of psychological testing, and the small number of studies included.

What about hormone replacement therapy and dementia risk?

You may wonder whether estrogen can preserve overall cognitive function for those without dementia. The Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study looked at a subgroup of women who participated in the landmark Women’s Health Initiative study. The study had two arms for postmenopausal women: 1) estrogen plus progesterone versus a placebo, or 2) estrogen alone (for women who had had their uterus removed) versus a placebo.

The scientists then looked at the effects of hormone replacement therapy on dementia and mild cognitive impairment. The study included only women at least 65 years old. Here are the conclusions:

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) does not protect against dementia or cognitive decline but substantially increases the risk of dementia of any cause and cognitive decline.

But what about hormone replacement just before menopause or immediately after it? Can we generalize the results from older individuals? Unfortunately, this vital question remains unanswered. We have little data to guide us for younger postmenopausal women.

So, Dr. Hunter, you may ask, what is the good news to which you alluded? I began today’s piece by mentioning that the menopause transition is associated with shrinkage of the brain’s gray and white matter.

Estrogen appears to protect the female brain from aging and may reduce the buildup of plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Hormones fluctuate and decline during menopause and perimenopause — the approximately four to ten years leading up to a woman’s final period. During this time, my patients often report hot flashes, night sweats, challenges with sleep, brain fog, memory issues, and more.

Please go here to learn more about menopause and women’s health (don’t forget to follow me at the newer blog site):

https://newcancerinfo.com/

Related posts:

Thank you!

Psychedelics and Depression

Psychedelics and depression. The psychedelic compound psilocybin plus psychotherapy is an investigational approach for refractory depression. But how does psilocybin work its magic in the brain? In a new study, Yale researchers provide some answers.

Some individuals report that ingestion of psilocybin-containing “magic mushrooms” causes a profound and mystical experience. Indigenous peoples of the New World have used this drug in religious ceremonies.

Psychedelics and depression

First, why are we even talking about psilocybin? There are signals that it can help those with unipolar major depression. A study published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine is provocative.

Researchers examined 59 subjects receiving psychological support. They randomized the participants to receive:

  • psilocybin (two 25 milligram doses given three weeks apart) or
  • the antidepressant drug Escitalopram (brand name Lexapro)

At week 6, the psilocybin and antidepressant medicine groups appeared similar in fighting depression. Of course, we need more extensive studies with longer follow-up to understand the psychedelic effectiveness better.

Psychedelics: Mechanism of action

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Psilocybin acts on the brain’s prefrontal cortex. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psilocybin

Psilocybin is a natural compound found in some mushrooms. While you just read about the promise of this psychedelic for the management of depression, how it works its magic in the brain (and how long the beneficial effects last) remains uncertain.

Let’s look at how Yale researchers gained new insights. Please go here to learn more about psychedelics and depression:

https://newcancerinfo.com/

Related posts:

Vitamin E and Tocotrienols: What and Why

Vitamin E and tocotrienols. Vitamin E is necessary for the proper functioning of our bodies and our brain. I recently wrote about vitamin E, and an astute reader wondered whether a component of vitamin E might have efficacy. Tocotrienols are chemicals in the vitamin E family and are the focus of our conversation today. We begin with some basics before pivoting to the potential health benefits of tocotrienols.

What’s in vitamin E? This essential nutrient includes tocotrienols and tocopherols. While tocotrienols and tocopherols are similar in chemistry, the former has a structure with so-called double bonds.

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Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

You may find tocotrienols in crude palm oil, rice bran, oats, barley, annatto, and rye. On the other hand, Tocopherols are found mainly in vegetable oils (such as olive, sunflower, safflower oils, whole grains, and green leafy vegetables).

Only tocopherol can correct vitamin E deficiency. This finding suggests that tocopherol is the form of vitamin E that the body needs to function efficiently.

Given the antioxidant properties of tocopherol and tocotrienol, could they help with inflammation, serve as anti-cancer agents, help us age more gracefully, or have other health benefits? Today we focus on tocotrienols.

Brain health

Given some brain health conditions (such as dementia) are associated with free radical damage, might the antioxidant chemical tocotrienol provide benefits?

While Malaysian laboratory researchers have shown both tocotrienol and tocopherol protect against some free radical injury to brain cells, I could not find any high-level evidence to confirm brain health benefits in humans. Researchers in Nagoya (Japan) provide some laboratory evidence that there might be some anti-Parkinson’s disease activity. Again, laboratory only hints and no good evidence for us humans.

One review of human studies suggests higher blood levels of tocotrienols are associated with favorable cognitive function outcomes. We have no high-level evidence (such as from a randomized clinical trial) to say this with any certainty.

Cancer

Do tocotrienols drop cancer risk? The antioxidant properties of the chemicals are intriguing, but alas, there is no high-level evidence to suggest a cancer risk-reduction for humans. Still, laboratory studies have shown tocotrienols may promote breast cancer cell death via a process known as apoptosis or programmed cell suicide.

There is laboratory evidence that tocotrienols may suppress other cancer forms, including colonlungprostatepancreas, etc.

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Vitamin E and tocotrienols: Affect on heart health? Photo by Akshar Dave 🍉 on Unsplash

Heart health

Please go here to learn more about Vitamin E and tocotrienols:

https://newcancerinfo.com/

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Eating Nuts to Improve Your Heart Health

Eat nuts for heart health. Today we explore the nuts and bolts of heart health: How can you improve your health by consuming more nuts (at least for those of us without an allergy to them)?

Many folks think of nuts as junk food snacks. I disagree: Nuts can be an excellent choice if you are after protein, healthy fats, and other health-promoting nutrients. Did you know that people who regularly consume nuts have a lower probability (compared with those who seldom eat them) of suffering from a heart attack or dying from heart disease? Let’s look at the evidence.

The Adventist Study examined over 31,000 non-Hispanic white California Seventh-day Adventists. Researchers obtained extensive diet information at the study start and measures of traditional heart disease risk factors. The subjects who consumed nuts more than four times per week had about half the number of non-fatal and fatal coronary heart disease events than those who ate nuts less than once weekly.

Is one study not enough to convince you to consume nuts for heart health? I offer you the results of an analysis of three extensive prospective studies. Researchers looked at 76,364 women from the Nurses’ Health Study, 92,946 women from the Nurses’ Health Study II, and 41,526 men from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. None had cancer, heart disease, or stroke at baseline. The investigators assessed nut consumption using food frequency questionnaires at baseline and were updated every four years.

Those who had one serving (28 grams) of nuts five or more times per week had a one-fifth drop in coronary heart disease incidence, compared with subjects who ate nuts seldom or never.

Consuming peanuts of nuts at least twice weekly (or walnuts once weekly) yielded a 15 to 23 percent relative drop in risk over the subsequent four years. The study authors concluded that “higher intake of nuts and specific types of nuts (for example, tree nuts, walnuts, and peanuts) is associated with a lower risk of heart disease.”



photo of assorted nuts
Eat Nuts and Improve Your Heart Health. Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels.com

The nuts and bolts: How nuts miprove heart health

What is it about nuts that provide health benefits? Nuts have vitamins (vitamin E and folate), minerals (calcium, potassium, and magnesium), proteins, fiber, fatty acids, phytochemicals, and antioxidants.

The high-fat content of nuts may give you some pause. Still, nuts are excellent sources of both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Nuts are also low in unhealthy saturated fats. This combination enhances heart health, with the former fats lowering so-called bad LDL cholesterol.

LDL cholesterol can facilitate the build-up of arterial plaque in a process called atherosclerosis. This plaque can lead to coronary heart disease. Now that you know that nuts can reduce bad cholesterol, you should also know another benefit.

With their high antioxidant content, nuts can help us reduce inflammation in our bodies. The arginine within nuts can help us maintain healthy blood vessels and blood pressure. A review of 61 studies revealed that nuts lower total cholesterol, bad LDL cholesterol, ApoB, and triglycerides.

Please go to my newer blog site to learn more (and don’t forget to sign up to follow me there):

https://newcancerinfo.com/

Intermittent Fasting and Weight Loss: Yea or Nay?

Is intermittent fasting good for weight loss? I do intermittent fasting. But should I? Periodic fasting has become quite popular for its purported health benefits. But does my fasting habit help me with my weight, immune system function, exercise endurance, chronic disease risk, or longevity?

Today, let’s briefly explore whether intermittent fasting has health benefits (or maybe even lengthens life). Let me get this out of the way: We do not recommend IF if you have an eating disorder. It could also be a problem for those with underlying health conditions. Would you please check in with a valued healthcare professional before heading down the fasting pathway?

If a man has nothing to eat, fasting is the most intelligent thing he can do. Hermann Hesse

We begin by defining intermittent fasting. This approach to eating uses cycles that alternate between periods of fasting and eating. Intermittent fasting is not so much about what you eat; it is about when you eat. I think of it as an eating pattern rather than a diet.

Fasting has been practiced for millennia, with ancient folks sometimes not finding food to eat for extended periods. Some fast for religious reasons, with the practice seen in various faiths (including Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism).

Here are some selected examples of fasting events: Lent in Christianity; Yom Kippur, Tisha B’av, Fast of Esther, Tzom Gedalia, the Seventeenth of Tamuz, and the Tenth of Tevet in Judaism. Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, and sex during the entire daytime for one month, Ramadan, every year.

In medicine, we ask that patients fast before surgery (or any procedures involving general anesthesia). Without fasting, the risk of stomach contents coming up and entering the lung (a process known as pulmonary aspiration) rises. Aspiration can result in potentially life-threatening aspiration pneumonia.

Getting a cholesterol test (such as a lipid panel) or specific blood sugar measurements? You need to fast. But can you use fasting to improve your health?

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Photo by Siora Photography on Unsplash

Weight loss

We begin with weight loss. Does intermittent fasting help? There are various strategies, ranging from alternate day fasting to time-restricted fasting. The evidence for effectiveness is mixed.

For example, a 12-week trial of 32 average- and overweight subjects looked at alternate-day fasting (that is, one-quarter of the energy consumed on “fast” days, alternating with eat-what-you-lie “feast days). The fasting group had a 5.2-kilogram weight loss.

The researchers concluded that alternate-day fasting effectively reduces weight loss and cardio-protection in average-weight and overweight adults. Still, the study is small, and there are no solid conclusions.

Other studies have not been so positive. A one-year trial involving 100 participants with obesity also looked at alternate-day fasting. Participants consumed only 25 percent of their total energy on “fast” days and 125 percent on “feast” days.

At six and twelve months, the subjects had an average weight loss similar to a daily calorie restriction group. In summary, alternate-day fasting is similar to producing weight loss or weight maintenance compared with a typical calorie-restrictive diet. A complete fast every other day seems a bit extreme, so it would not be my preferred approach.

The warrior diet

This approach entails consuming small volumes of raw fruits and vegetables during the day and one massive meal at night; in other words, you mainly fast through the day before consuming food with a four-hour window in the evening. The Warrior Diet mimics the eating patterns of ancient warriors, who consumed little during the day and then feasted in the evening.

I am not a fan of the Warrior Diet. It seems extreme and may lead to dysfunctional eating patterns. Oh, and there is this observation by Ori Hofmekler, the guy who popularized the diet:

The Warrior Diet is based on [my]own beliefs and observations — not strictly on science.

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Good News! Cancer Mortality is Dropping Overall

Cancer mortality is decreasing. We so often hear negative stories about cancer. I am pleased to report that we see a decrease in overall cancer mortality in the United States. The good news extends to men and women, all races, and all ethnicities. The Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer has much good to report, even as our work is not nearly done.

The report includes data from 2001 to 2018. I want to look at the analysis with you briefly. First, the highlights:

  • Cancer deaths are declining in men, women, young adults, and adolescents.
  • The decreases in cancer occurred among men and women in all major racial and ethnic groups.
  • While death rates dropped, cancer incidence rates remained stable among men from 2013 to 2017 and increased slightly for women.
  • Melanoma death rates have dropped significantly among men and women.

Cancer mortality is declining

Recently, declines in mortality have accelerated for melanoma and lung cancer. The declines for female breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and prostate cancer have slowed or stopped.

I put the numbers for selected cancers among men in graphic form:

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For women, death rates dropped for 14 out of the 20 most common cancers. The mortality rates rose for uterus, liver, and bile duct (the kind within the liver) cancers.

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That’s your up-to-date information on the status of cancer mortality. Overall, cancer death rates and death rates for many cancer types are decreasing. The drops in overall and lung cancer death rates have recently accelerated. Overall incidence rates remained steady for males.

The bad news? We continue to see increases in cancer incidence rates among women, children, adolescents, and young adults. Notably, colorectal cancer incidence and death rates are rising among young people.

Racial disparities persist. While cancer mortality rates decreased among all ethnicities and races between 2014 and 2018, African-Americans had the highest death rate at 183 per 100,000. Native Americans/Alaskan Natives followed at 163 per 100,000, whites at 160 per 100,000, Hispanics at 111 per 100,000, and Asian/Pacific Islanders at 98 per 100,000.

Thank you for joining me today. Let’s push incidence and mortality down through lifestyle, where possible.

Please go to my newer blog site to learn more about how cancer mortality is decreasing (please consider following me at the newer blog site):

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How Mindfulness Changes Your Brain – Using fMRI to Peer Inside

How mindfulness changes your brain. Meditation may reduce your perceived stress levels and appears to change brain regions associated with emotion regulation. This is the conclusion of research based on modern brain imaging. Today we look at how magnetic resonance (MRI) and positive emission tomography (PET) imaging are unveiling how meditation works its magic.

A new MRI study demonstrates that practicing meditation impacts perceived stress levels and alters brain regions associated with regulating emotion. In this recent small study, an international team recently used functional MRI to reveal Transcendental Meditation (TM) effects on the brain.

Publishing in Brain and Cognition, the scientists report using functional MRI (along with questionnaires about anxiety and stress) to see brain changes following three months of meditation. A couple of decades ago, we learned that MRI could be used to show the structure of bodily organs and brain activity.

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These fMRI images show parts of the brain lighting up on seeing houses and other parts on seeing faces. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Functional_magnetic_resonance_imaging

When brain activity increases, the MRI signal increases by a small amount. While the signal change is on the order of only one percent, it is the basis of most functional MRI studies.

In the recent study looking at Transcendental Meditation, the mindfulness practice led to lower self-reported stress levels, with this improvement associated with connectivity changes in several brain regions.

TM involves practitioners repeating a particular sound — a mantra — that has no literal meaning. The goal is to reach “consciousness without content.” For the research study, investigators divided 34 healthy participants into two groups. The first group meditated daily for two sessions of 20 minutes each. The second group served as a control, doing no meditation.

Before the start of the study, all subjects did a psychometric questionnaire to assess their stress and anxiety levels. They also had a functional MRI study to document baseline brain activity. Each participant repeated the same tests three months into the study and after study completion.

How mindfulness changes your brain – Please go here to learn more (and don’t forget to follow me at the newer blog site):

https://newcancerinfo.com/

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The Blood Type That May Raise Heart Attack Risk

The blood type that may raise your heart attack risk. Heart disease is the number one cause of death worldwide. Today, I want to explore the connection between blood type and the risk of a heart attack. Did you know that your blood type may actually increase your chances of suffering from a cardiovascular event?

Researchers from the University of Groningen (the Netherlands) analyzed over 400,000 people to better understand how blood type factors into heart attack risk. The results? Those with blood types A or B had a combined eight percent higher risk of heart attack than those with blood type O.

blood samples
Blood type has a slight influence on heart attack risk. Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

A 2017 European Society of Cardiology study featuring more than 1.36 million people suggested a similar relationship, finding that having a non-O blood group is associated with a higher risk of a heart attack.

The study authors discovered that having a non-O blood group is associated with a 9 percent increased risk of coronary events and a 9 percent increased risk of cardiovascular events, especially heart attack. The analysis of fatal coronary events did not significantly distinguish between people with O and non-O blood groups.

Please go to my newer blog site to learn more (and don’t forget to sign up to follow me there – thanks!).

https://newcancerinfo.com/

Multivitamins to Reduce Chronic Disease: Yes or No?

Multivitamins to reduce chronic disease. Multivitamins are the most commonly used supplements in the world. Do you take one? If yes, why? Today we explore whether your multivitamin improves your health, compensates for poor eating habits, or reduces your chronic disease risk.

Multivitamins are supplements that have many different vitamins and minerals, sometimes with other ingredients. Because there is no standard definition of what constitutes a multivitamin, there is significant variability in the ingredients of supplements on the market.

The recommended amounts of nutrients vary by age and gender. The Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) provide guidance. More than one-third of Americans take multivitamins, and one in four young children consume them. Adolescents are the least likely to consume these supplements.

There are many reasons you may take multivitamins. Let’s take a quick look at the evidence for their role in promoting health and reducing our risk of disease.

Macular degeneration (a leading cause of blindness)

If you have a particular health problem, specific multivitamins may be helpful. For example, one study showed that high doses of several vitamins and minerals slowed vision loss among those with a leading cause of blindness, age-related macular degeneration (the so-called dry form).

The AREDS (Age-Related Eye Disease Study) study, conducted by the US National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health, showed benefits if you take a supplement formula with vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, zinc, and copper. According to this research, supplements lower the risk for vision loss decreases for some people with intermediate to advanced dry AMD.

Now, we have an updated AREDS2 formula that adds lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega-3 fatty acids. The new preparation took out beta-carotene. There appears to be a higher risk of lung cancer in smokers who take beta-carotene.

closeup photo of brown and black dog face
Multivitamins – What you need to know: Multivitamins may lead to a slight lowering of the risk of cataracts.
Photo by Lum3n on Pexels.com

Cataracts

A randomized trial examining many health parameters and various vitamin supplements demonstrated a slight drop in the risk of cataracts associated with taking a multivitamin.

At an average of 11.2 years of treatment and follow-up for 14,641 American males, researchers found 872 cataracts in the multivitamin group and 945 in the placebo group. This difference represents a slight improvement in absolute risk reduction (a relative risk reduction of nine percent). To me, it seems challenging to recommend the use of vitamin supplementation for the prevention of cataracts.

Please go my newer blog site to explore more of my post: Multivitamins – What you need to know:

https://newcancerinfo.com/

Thanks for coming. Would you consider following me at the newer blog site? Thanks. And finally, some related posts:

Analyze Your Fitness the Shohei Ohtani Way

Improve your fitness the Shohei Ohtani way using data analytics. After suffering through the worst season of his professional career last year, the baseball player Shohei Ohtani and his agent created a plan to jumpstart Ohtani’s career. I want to explore the adjustments they made, as Ohtani has become a modern-day Babe Ruth.

Nicknamed Shotime, he is a Japanese professional baseball star. He is unique because he is a pitcher, a designated hitter, and an outfielder in a sport where pitchers typically only throw the ball.

Ohtani is the first Major League Baseball player since Babe Ruth to compete seriously as both a pitcher and a position player. Before coming to the USA, he played in Japan for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters.

The 27-year-old is extraordinarily talented. Shohei threw the fastest pitch by a Japanese pitcher in Nippon Professional Baseball’s history, throwing a pitch at 165 kilometers per hour (102.5 mph). After moving to the United States, Ohtani won the 2018 American League Rookie of the Year Award.

aerial photography of people playing baseball
Improve your fitness the Shohei Ohtani way using data analytics. Photo by Timo Volz on Pexels.com

All systems go: A data-driven approach

All seemed great until the star had the worst season of his career last year. The talent and his agent, Nez Balelo, created a plan to overall the baseball player’s offseason regimen. To improve, Ohtani used an off-season regimen informed by data.

Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic explains that the intervention started with nutrition. The baseball regularly had his blood drawn to identify the dietary elements that produced the best results, including optimal recovery.

Improve your fitness the Shohei Ohtani way using data analytics. Please go to my newer blog site to learn more (and don’t forget to sign up to follow me!):

https://newcancerinfo.com/

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Into the Future: A Novel Approach to Managing High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure. Can we breathe our way to lower blood pressure? Give me five minutes, and there is a reasonable chance I can lower your blood pressure. Today, we’ll explore how working out for only five minutes each day can lower your blood pressure and improve some aspects of your blood vessel health as well.

Many approaches can improve your cardiovascular health. Exercise reduces the risk of early mortality for most individuals, including younger and older individuals and men and women. Physical activity can lower your cancer risk, too.

Do you ever have days when you don’t have enough time to get in some exercise? Even as someone who prioritizes physical activity, on occasion, I would love to have a health-promoting means of lowering my blood pressure and improving my vascular (blood vessel) health.

Enter “strength training for your breathing muscles.” A new study provides the most robust evidence yet that this extremely time-efficient maneuver may play a central role in helping us fight off cardiovascular disease — the leading killer in the United States.

Before we turn to the study details, let’s briefly look at high‐resistance inspiratory muscle strength training (IMST). IMST is a technique to help critically ill lung disease patients strengthen their diaphragm and other breathing muscles. To do IMST, you inhale vigorously through a hand-held device that offers resistance. This technique is similar to sucking hard through a straw that sucks back against you.

When introduced in the 1980s, patients did a 30-minute daily regimen at low resistance. More recently, researchers at the University of Arizona (USA) have been trying a less time-consuming approach — 30 inhalations daily at high resistance, for six days weekly.

Now comes the question more relevant to you and me: Can the rapid protocol allow us to reap cognitive, cardiovascular, and sports performance benefits? According to new research from Colorado University at Boulder (USA), the answer appears to be yes.

people hand faceless time
Two out of three Americans have high blood pressure. Can we breathe our way to lower blood pressure?
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

In the United States, about two in three of us over age 50 have blood pressure above standard. We measure blood pressure in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Here are two numbers involved in the measurement:

  • Systolic blood pressure. The top number is the pressure in your blood vessels when your heartbeats.
  • Diastolic blood pressure. The bottom number is the pressure in your blood vessels between heartbeats (that is, when your heart is resting).

High blood pressure raises our risk of stroke and heart attack. One means of fight back is exercise. Alas, less than 40 percent of us don’t get enough.

Back to our new and exciting study. Researchers recruited 36 otherwise healthy adults with elevated blood pressure (defined in this study as systolic blood pressure 120 millimeters of mercury or more). Participants did either High-Resistance IMST for six weeks versus a placebo protocol. The latter used much lower levels of resistance.

Can we breathe our way to lower blood pressure? Please go here (don’t forget to follow me at this newer blog site!) to learn the results of the research study:

http://newcancerinfo.com/

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Microbiome and Weight Loss: The Role of the Gut and Bacteria

Microbiome and weight loss. Diet is important in shaping our gut microbiome. Today we look at microbiome basics before pivoting to new research showing how calorie restriction can cause weight loss associated with disruption of the microbial population of our intestines.

You may be surprised to learn that we are composed mainly of microbes. More specifically, you and I have over 100 trillion microorganisms, outnumbering our human cells ten to one. Most of the microbes inhabit our gut, especially the large intestine.

This bustling microenvironment has bacteria, protozoa, fungi, and viruses. The microbiome may weigh upwards of five pounds, according to the Centers for Ecogenetics and Environmental Health.

While that last observation may be disturbing to you, we need our microbiome to regulate our immune system, digest food, protect against other bacteria that cause disease, and produce specific vitamins. The last include the B vitamins (B12, thiamine, and riboflavin) and Vitamin K, needed for blood clotting.

Microbiome organisms are beneficial colonizers of our bodies. When something in the microbiome ecosystem goes awry, we are more likely to see autoimmune diseases such as diabetesrheumatoid arthritismultiple sclerosisfibromyalgia, and muscular dystrophy. Might we someday use psychobiotics, given an increasing recognition of the influence of our gut microbiome on how we feel, think, and act?

Knowing that our diet can affect our microbiome, let’s look at extreme calorie restriction (for example, 800 calories consumed daily) and its effects on our gut. A University of California, San Francisco (USA) group of scientists conducted a randomized study looking at a very low-calorie diet.

The research team collected and sequenced fecal samples from 80 subjects — all postmenopausal women — pre-and post- 16 weeks of a very low-fat diet. The investigators then analyzed the data and transplanted the samples into mice raised in sterile environments. The researchers allowed these mice to continue consuming the same amount of food.

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Individual, drumstick-shaped C. difficile bacilli seen through scanning electron microscopyhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clostridioides_difficile_infection

The rodents with a transplant of the calorie-restricted microbiome dropped their weight and fat more than did mice that received pre-diet microbiota: The researchers created weight loss simply by colonizing these mice with a different microbe population.

The microbial agent of change? Higher levels of Clostridioides difficile (C. diff) bacteria. While we would expect more inflammation (and diarrhea, for example) from infection with this bacteria, the transplanted mice had only mild inflammation.

Our diets interact with the gut microbiome. The UCSF researchers showed that calorie restriction diets change the microbiome to help with weight loss. The bacterium C. Diff may be an essential component to the weight loss observed.

Two things: 1) Please consider signing up to follow me on the newer blog! and 2) Here’s your free friend link to the rest of this Medium.com article on the microbiome and weight loss. Thank you for joining me today.

https://newcancerinfo.com/

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Why I Don’t Take Vitamin E

Why I don’t take vitamin E. Despite a lack of evidence to support supplementation with vitamin E, the public continues to buy it. The Council for Responsible Nutrition reports that nearly 80 percent of Americans take at least one dietary supplement. The most popular ones are vitamin D, magnesium, and fish oil.

Today we look at the efficacy of vitamin E. While the piece is lengthy, for me, it reinforced some of the perils of supplementation with vitamins. Many have an interest in vitamin E because of its distinct antioxidant properties. While there are eight forms of the vitamin in nature, humans only need alpha-tocopherol, and it’s this form that is available in supplements.

Tocopherol is from the Greek “toc” (child) and “phero” (to bring forth). They coined the word to describe its role as an essential dietary substance in normal fetal and childhood development.

The National Institutes of Health offers that vitamin E supplements do not offer health benefits. The NIH explains that clinical trials have not shown the routine use of vitamin E to prevent cardiovascular disease or reduce its morbidity or mortality.

Still, the subjects in these experiments often been middle-aged and elderly individuals with known heart disease or at higher risk for the disease. Let’s look in more detail at the pros and cons of taking vitamin E supplements.

Prostate cancer

A large randomized trial, known as the SELECT trial, looked at whether seven to twelve years of daily supplementation of 400 IU of vitamin E (with or without selenium) could reduce prostate cancer incidence. Unfortunately, researchers need to discontinue the clinical trial early, as the supplements (alone or together) did not prevent prostate cancer.

An additional 1.5 years of follow-up (with no supplementation) for the SELECT trial led to the finding that the men who took vitamin E supplements had a nearly 1.2-fold increase in prostate cancer risk.

If 1,000 men had annual physician visits, one would expect 65 to be diagnosed with prostate cancer over seven years. If these men took 400 IUs of vitamin E daily for 5.5 years, we would expect 76 of them to have a prostate cancer diagnosis over the same period. Vitamin E is associated with eleven additional prostate cancers over seven years.

Researchers are monitoring the participants’ health for an additional five years.

Other cancers

Supplemental vitamin E for ten years or more appears to be associated with a lower risk of death from bladder cancer. In the same epidemiologic study of nearly one million adults, vitamin C gave no protection. In summary, we lack high-level evidence to recommend the routine use of vitamin E to prevent cancer. Daily vitamin E (400 IU) may increase prostate cancer risk.

Please go to my newer site to get a free link to the entire Medium.com article:

https://newcancerinfo.com/

Does Stress Make Hair Gray?

Today we turn to stress and gray hair. MARIE ANTOINETTE SYNDROME is a condition in which scalp hair suddenly turns white. This queen of France in the late 1700s hair allegedly turned white the night before her trip to the guillotine during the French Revolution in 1791. She was 38 years old.

Insider secret: The legend is false. Once the hair has grown out of the follicle, it doesn’t change color. What I want to share with you today is some research out of New York’s Columbia University. Researchers provide some answers regarding the connection between psychological stress and the graying of hair. Here is a lead researcher giving us some critical context for their study:

“Just as the rings in a tree trunk hold information about past decades in the life of a tree, our hair contains information about our biological history. When hairs are still under the skin as follicles, they are subject to the influence of stress hormones and other things happening in our mind[s] and body. Once hairs grow out of the scalp, they harden and permanently crystallize these exposures into a stable form.” — Martin Picard.

The researchers hoped to use hair to understand the aging process better. For example, by better understanding how “old” gray hairs can return to a “young” pigmented state, we may get important clues about the malleability of human aging overall and the influence of stress.

Splitting hairs

Do you think that psychological stress causes hair to become grayer? The researchers analyzed individual hairs from fourteen volunteers. Then, they compared the results with the stress diary of each subject.

The study authors documented the degree of hair pigmentation by splitting hairs. Using a novel approach, they captured highly detailed images of tiny slices of human hairs. These 1/20th millimeters wide slices allowed the quantification of pigment loss or graying. In addition, they used a high-resolution scanner for the visualization of subtle color variations.

We begin with this remarkable study observation: Some gray hairs naturally regained their original color. Scientists had not historically quantified such changes. Then, reviewing the diaries, the scientists noted remarkable associations between stress and hair graying. For some, stress relief led to a reversal of the graying.

Why does stress cause gray hair? To better understand the association, the scientists measured thousands of hair proteins, observing how protein levels changed over the length of each hair. Mathematical modeling points to stress-induced changes in the cell’s energy powerhouses (mitochondria) may explain how stress causes hair to turn gray.

Unfortunately, hair re-pigmentation is only possible for some. The models suggest that hair needs to reach a threshold before turning gray. Those of us in middle age are near that threshold, and stress can push us over the line to cause the gray.

selective focus photography of cat on gray sand
Someday we may be able to reverse gray hair. Photo by Paweł L. on Pexels.com

This research study opens the door to a better understanding of the influence of life exposures on human biology. While I may not reverse my ever-growing number of gray hairs, I still practice meditation (and, less commonly, Vinyasa flow yoga) to drop my stress levels for a bunch of other health reasons.

Thank you for joining me today to learn about stress and gray hair. I feel genuinely privileged to have you as a reader. Please consider signing up to follow me!

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One more thing: Please jump over to my newer blog site (and don’t forget to follow me there!). Thanks.

Should You Take a Multivitamin to Prevent Chronic Disease?



Should you take a multivitamin to prevent chronic disease? Multivitamins are the most commonly used commonly used supplements in the world. Do you take one? If yes, why? Today we explore whether your multivitamin improves your health, compensates for poor eating habits, or reduces your chronic disease risk.

Multivitamins are supplements that have many different vitamins and minerals, sometimes with other ingredients. Because there is no standard definition of what constitutes a multivitamin, there is significant variability in the ingredients of supplements on the market.

The recommended amounts of nutrients vary by age and gender. The Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) provide guidance. More than one-third of Americans take multivitamins, and one in four young children consume them. Adolescents are the least likely to consume these supplements.

There are many reasons you may take multivitamins. Let’s take a quick look at the evidence for their role in promoting health and reducing our risk of disease.

anonymous woman with rainbow light on face
Specific multivitamins may help those at high risk for advanced macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness.
Photo by Wings Of Freedom on Pexels.com

Macular degeneration (a leading cause of blindness)

If you have a particular health problem, specific multivitamins may be helpful. For example, one study showed that high doses of several vitamins and minerals slowed vision loss among those with a leading cause of blindness, age-related macular degeneration (the so-called dry form).

Should you take a multivitamin to prevent chronic disease? – Please go here to get a free link to the Medium.com blog post: https://newcancerinfo.com/

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Milk Chocolate and Health

Today we look at new findings regarding the health benefits of milk chocolate.

Chocolate dates back to the ancient Mayans and even earlier to the ancient Olmecs of southern Mexico. While the chocolate we consume today tends to be sweet, contemporary chocolate has little resemblance to its historical counterpart. Until fairly recently, people revered a more bitter version of the treat.

I do not think of the average milk chocolate bar as healthy. On the other hand, dark chocolate has a reputation as a heart-healthy treat that is chock full of antioxidants. My impression of milk chocolate as virtually useless from a health perspective may need some modification, given a recent research study from scientists at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

When I hear of milk chocolate, I think of it as a sugar-laden, weight gain-causing dessert. I am a bit of a dark chocolate snob. It may be time for a reassessment of my views, given a new study of postmenopausal women. To better understand the effects of eating milk chocolate at different times of day, researchers from Brigham worked with colleagues at the University of Murcia (Spain).

photo of chocolate smoothie with raspberry on top
Milk chocolate in your diet may advance health. Photo by Eva Elijas on Pexels.com

For the study, researchers randomized 19 postmenopausal women to consume 100 grams of chocolate in the morning (within an hour of awakening) or at night. The investigators then compared health outcomes, including weight gain, to no chocolate intake. The trial lasted two weeks.

Here are the key findings regarding the health benefits of milk chocolate:

https://newcancerinfo.com/

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Run or Walk: Which is Best for Health?

Run or walk. You know the drill: Aim for at least 150 to 300 minutes weekly of moderate activity or 75 to 150 minutes of moderately intense activity. These are the current US Department of Health and Human Services Physical Activity Guidelines. Let me begin by stating my firmly held belief that any movement can be valuable in promoting health. With that said, let the competition begin.

Let’s start with heart health. It seems evident that running makes our hearts work harder than does walking. However, if you have the time to walk for a long while, things get a bit more complicated.

Runners appear to have a nearly five percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease when compared with inactive individuals. That’s the conclusion of a 2013 report examining nearly 50,000 people in the National Walkers’ Health Study and National Runners’ Health Study II.

group of women running on green grass field
Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Here’s where things get more interesting: Walkers who burned the same number of calories as did the runners had a risk level nine percent lower than those in the inactive group.

The researchers concluded that when it comes to health benefits such as heart disease risk reduction, equivalent energy expenditures by moderate (walking) and vigorous (running) exercise produce similar risk reductions. These improvements apply to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes mellitus, and possibly heart disease.

In summary, while running is more efficient for energy expenditure for cardiovascular risk reduction, it’s a tie.

Running is more efficient in terms of burning calories. For example, a 15-minute jog burns roughly the same number of calories as does a 30-minute walk.

Let’s look more closely at the calorie-burning of each form of physical activity. If you weigh 160 pounds, for example, taking a brisk walk at about 3.5 miles per hour (mph) pace will burn about 156 calories over thirty minutes. Run at a 6-mph pace for the same amount of time, and you burn approximately 356 calories.

You’ll need to spend more time walking (than you do running) to get the same health upsides simply because it takes longer to walk than to run the same distance. For instance, a 15-minute jog burns about the same number of calories as a brisk half-hour walk.

You need to burn approximately 3,500 calories to lose one pound. If your goal is to lose weight, running may be a better choice than walking.

Please go to my newer blog site to see my Medium piece, Run or Walk (don’t forget to sign up to follow me!):

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Use Music to Up Your Exercise Game

Use music to up your exercise game: Listening to music while running may be an essential way to improve your game. This is the conclusion of the first study to look at the effect of listening to music playlists on endurance running performance when mentally tired.

Here’s what researchers at the University of Edinburgh did: They performed two tests. The first test examined the effects of music on interval running capacity in nine physically active participants. The subjects alternated between high-intensity running and lower-intensity jogging. The second test involved nine trained runners who completed a 5-kilometer time trial.

The research team helped the participants choose motivational songs (using a pre-test questionnaire that asked the subjects to rate style, rhythm, tempo, melody, sound, and the beat of the music). Both group members performed a 30-minute computer-based cognitive test that put them in a state of mental fatigue. The participants then performed high-intensity exercises with or without self-selected music.

The exercising subjects had assessments at several points during physical activity, focusing on heart rate and rating of perceived exertion (RPE).

Get more out of exercise by using music – Please go here to learn more:

https://newcancerinfo.com/

Related articles:

people in concert
Use music to enhance your exercise performance. Photo by Sebastian Ervi on Pexels.com

Music and Exercise


Use Music to Up Your Exercise Game

Exercise and music: Listening to music while running may be an essential way to improve your game. This is the conclusion of the first study to look at the effect of listening to music playlists on endurance running performance when mentally tired.

Here’s what researchers at the University of Edinburgh did: They performed two tests. The first test examined the effects of music on interval running capacity in nine physically active participants. The subjects alternated between high-intensity running and lower-intensity jogging. The second test involved nine trained runners who completed a 5-kilometer time trial. Let’s look at the study in more detail.


Both groups of subjects performed a 30-minute computer-based cognitive test that put the subjects in a state of mental fatigue. The research team helped the participants choose motivational songs (using a pre-test questionnaire that asked the subjects to rate style, rhythm, tempo, melody, sound, and the beat of the music). They then performed high-intensity exercises with or without self-selected music.

The exercising subjects had assessments at several points during physical activity, focusing on heart rate and rating of perceived exertion (RPE). RPE: The Three Letters You Need to Know for Optimizing Your Workout
RATE OF PERCEIVED EXERTION (RPE) can be a valuable tool to track your effort for physical activity. Today we explore…medium.com

The results are clear: Interval running capacity among the mentally fatigued exercisers who used music appeared higher (compared with those who did not use music). The music users also had exercise capacity compared to when the subjects had not been mentally fatigued. The 5K runners also had time-trial performances that improved slightly with music.

The researchers postulate that the positive effects of music may be secondary to an altered perception of effort when we listen to tunes. Personally, when I have mental fatigue, it affects activities such as exercise. I love that music serves as an effective way to reduce this influence.

Listening to self-selected motivational music may help active folks improve their endurance running performance when mentally tired. I look forward to hearing more about how music works in various settings. Thank you for joining me today for this brief look at how you can use music to improve your exercise game.

dog running at the beach
Photo by Zak Bentley on Pexels.com

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Improve Your Sleep with Strategic Exposure to Light

Improve your sleep. Good sleep is essential to optimizing your mental and physical health. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society reminds us that adults ages 18 to 60 should regularly sleep seven or more hours. I decided to write this piece after not sleeping well last night. (It is nearly 90 degrees F in Seattle.)

I promise to keep this article short and to the point. We will begin with a quick nod to the scope of the problem of insufficient sleep. Then, we’ll briefly look at some of the adverse health outcomes associated with short sleep duration, and close with some simple steps to better sleep.

Inadequate sleep is a public health menace, with upwards of 30 percent of adults in the United States report sleeping for no more than six hours daily. Unfortunately, the prevalence of short sleep duration appears to be increasing over time.

Got out of whack sleep? You may have a higher probability of several health problems. These concerning health problems include metabolic problems, weight gain, cardiovascular illness, and possibly cancer.

Did you know that abnormal circadian rhythms can affect your mood and mental health? For example, you may be aware of seasonal affective disorder, a depression form that typically affects those who live in areas where winter months have very short days. Yes, I live in Seattle!

woman laying down on bed near window
Improve your sleep by avoiding light exposure at night. Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Light up your life (except at night) to improve your sleep

Circadian rhythms

Flip the switch in the morning if you can. Get some exposure to sunlight. Light is the most critical external influence on sleep. You already know this: It is so much easier to sleep when it is dark.

Light has dramatic effects on sleep, influencing circadian rhythm, melatonin production, and sleep cycles. Circadian rhythm is our 24-hour internal clock. It helps to coordinate many bodily processes, including sleep. Our circadian pacemaker in the brain regulates our daily rhythm. And here is where light comes onto the scene.

As light enters the eye, a particular set of cells in the retina send a message to the brain. The brain interprets these signals to know the time of day. It then influences organs and systems throughout the body, based on the time of day. For example, expose yourself to light early in the morning, and the brain pushes your sleep schedule earlier.

On the other hand, light exposure in the evening drives the sleep cycle to a later bedtime. As a Pacific Northwest guy, I know well that winter months with concise days influence my circadian rhythm, contributing to the winter blues. Some people experience seasonal affective disorder. Even artificial light can alter your circadian rhythm.

Please fo here to learn more about using light to improve your sleep:

https://newcancerinfo.com/

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How You Can Slow Aging the Amazon Tribal Way

Slow Aging the Amazon tribal way. The Tsimane are indigenous people from the Bolivian Amazon. A recent study suggests that we may experience less atrophy of our brains if we adopted some of their habits. Today we will explore how the Tsimane people have a decrease in brain volume with aging that is 70 percent less than is seen in older Americans.

Living in Seattle, I feel blessed to have easy access to some of the best medical care in the world. The Tsimanes that inhabit lowland Bolivia are not so fortunate. Or are they? Although hunting and fishing contribute significantly to many of the settlements’ food supply, they are primarily a subsistence agriculture culture.

What is subsistence agriculture? This process involves farmers growing food crops to meet their families’ needs on tiny farms. No excess. The Tsimane are extremely physically active. Vegetables, fish, and lean meat are central to their diet.

Slow aging the amazon tribal way

Before we get to the brains of the Tsimanes, I want to share with you some information about their hearts. To better understand the link between the pre-industrial lifestyle and the low prevalence of coronary artery disease, researchers examined Tsimane.

Publishing in The Lancet in 2017, researchers looked at self-identified Tsimane individuals ages 40 years or older. Using non-contrast CT scans, the study authors assessed coronary artery disease (atherosclerosis) by looking at calcium in these blood vessels of the heart. They then compared these subjects with nearly 7,000 participants in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis or MESA.

The results are staggering: For the Tsimane, only three percent had CT scan results pointing to significant coronary artery disease. For tribal members over age 75, only eight percent had imaging scores pointing to coronary artery disease, a five-times lower number than for the control group. High blood pressure, obesity, elevated blood sugar, and cigarette smoking occurred only rarely.

Please go here to learn more about how to slow aging the Amazon tribal way:

https://newcancerinfo.com/

white and black menu board
Brain Imaging. Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

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Power Yourself to Better Health with Resistance Training

Strength Training to Improve Health. Can muscle-strengthening activity decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and early death? We often hear about aerobic activity, but today we turn to the health benefits of resistance exercise such as weightlifting. A recent review of prospective studies provides insights. First, though, a brief look at the benefits of aerobic exercise.

We so often hear how exercise can impact multiple body systems and health outcomes. For example, physical activity can reduce our chances of suffering from several chronic conditions, including heart attack, stroke, diabetes, chronic lung disease, chronic kidney disease, and some cancers.

Exercise in midlife and may not only reduce your risk of early mortality but drop your chances of several chronic conditions in your final five years of life. Let me say that one more time: Higher midlife fitness levels are strongly associated with healthy aging, marked by a low burden of chronic diseases.

While we lack randomized trials of exercise to prevent cardiovascular disease or death in a healthy population, we have observational studies that point to the ability of regular exercise to lower the risk of all-cause and disease-specific mortality for most individuals.

The benefits of physical activity accrue to both older and younger individuals. Recreational and non-recreational physical activity is associated with reduced risk. Moreover, the benefits accrue to those in low, middle, and high-income settings.



Please go here to learn more about how you can use strength training to improve your health:https://medium.com/beingwell/exercise-strategically-how-you-can-use-resistance-to-be-healthier-93fb700dfa19?sk=b0e2cf9edfa4920a98cdde15e54c8945



person wearing white apple watch while holding green dumbbell
Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

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Could magnets and bacteria be a way to manage cancer in the future?

Could magnets and bacteria help manage cancer in the future?

Medical News Today recently looked at some futuristic approaches to cancer management, and I want to explore one of these innovations with you. If I asked you your thoughts on cancer management in the future, I’d bet that you didn’t think about using magnetically responsive bacteria.

Prof. Simone Schürle-Finke, Ph.D., from ETH Zurich in Switzerland, has some interesting ideas about using specialized bacteria to deliver therapeutic agents for cancer. Her thoughts are in the context of long-held knowledge about the ability of particular bacteria to colonize tumors and promote shrinkage of the disease. More about her research in a bit, as I want first to provide some background.



Tweak to Treat: Reprogramming Bacteria

I am a radiation oncologist. I treat patients with cancer. One of the problems we face in cancer management is that drugs (for example, chemotherapy) can affect normal cells adversely. In addition, chemotherapy does not always penetrate solid tumor tissues. Cancer cells can also develop resistance to the chemicals. Therefore, we need novel therapies to supplement or replace conventional approaches used to manage cancer.

So what do researchers do? First, they reach back two centuries into history, recognizing that some patients have cancer regression associated with bacterial infections.

We currently have only one bacteria-based treatment for cancer approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Have you ever had a vaccine against tuberculosis (TB)? There is a reasonable chance that you had the Bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG) vaccine.

We use a weakened form of Mycobacterium Bovis (BCG) for patients with high-risk bladder cancer that has not invaded the organ’s muscle. Is it a perfect approach? No, but it prevents a return of cancer for the majority of patients.



Cancer, magnetism, and bacteria

With recent advances in microbiology and bioengineering, there is growing interest in developing bacteria-based cancer treatments. Let’s turn to a mind-spinning approach from Prof. Simone Schürle-Finke, Ph.D., of ETH Zurich in Switzerland: She and her team use magnetotactic bacteria that naturally orient themselves to the Earth’s magnetic field.

Please go here to learn more about cancer, magnetism, and bacteria:

https://medium.com/beingwell/into-the-future-cancer-magnetism-and-bacteria-c35c2e7b55?sk=3afffc49ab53fa933df627c71e198998

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Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE): Optimizing Your Exercise Routine

The Rate of Perceived Exertion scale reflects your exercise intensity and ranges from zero to ten. The numbers below relate to how challenging you find a particular activity. Do you feel as though you are simply sitting in a chair? RPE score 0. Do an exercise stress test or a remarkably challenging exercise, and you may hit a 10. Here’s the scale:

0 — Nothing at all
0.5 — Just noticeable
1 — Very light
2 — Light
3 — Moderate
4 — Somewhat heavy
5 — Heavy
6
7 — Very heavy
8
9
10 — Very, very heavy

Key point: Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE)is a subjective measure of how hard a person feels like they’re working during physical activity.

Rate of Perceived Exertion is individualized: RPE reflects how hard something feels physically and mentally for you during that specific workout on that specific day. You may perceive the same effort as more challenging or easier on a different day for many reasons — your fatigue level, illness, and weather. Even mental fatigue can make a workout feel harder.

We have had RPE-centered training for decades. World-class powerlifter and coach Mike Tuchscherer, the founder of Reactive Training Systems, popularized this approach to training.

Why should you consider using the Rate of Perceived Exertion? RPE provides a check on more objective measurements such as heart rate. You may already use target heart rate zones for a given effort.

But have you ever hit your heart rate (or pace or power) goals and felt your perceived exertion seems off? On some days, my tempo workout feels like I am running all-out. On others, it seems easy as I glide along. RPE provides an additional measure of our intensity.

Let’s begin with the warm-up. For me, this means an RPE of 3 or 4. When I am doing a very high-intensity workout such as Tabata training, I use lighter weights. A good proportion of my intensity comes from my cardio effort. I aim for an RPE of approximately eight on most days for high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts.

Please go here to read: Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) – How you can use this subjective measure to optimize your workouts and fitness.

https://newcancerinfo.com/

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Music and Sleep: How Earworms May Get in the Way of Your Zzz’s

Musical earworms and sleep. I listen to music throughout the day and sometimes do so close to bedtime to relax. A recent study surprised me, suggesting that music listening may interfere with my sleep. More specifically, if I get earworms (involuntary musical imagery), I may negatively affect my sleep patterns.

We begin with a nod to the Germans, as the word earworm is a calque from Ohrwurm. Yes, I had to look the word up: Calque is a word or phrase borrowed from another language by literal word-for-word translation.

Have you had a tune that you could not get out of your brain? As many as 98 percent of us have experienced this phenomenon, colloquially known as an earworm.

Dr. Kelly Jakubowski, a music psychologist at Durham University in the United Kingdom, has identified three main reasons earworms occur. Pace, the melody shape, and a few unique intervals that make a song stand out are essential.

The songs that appear most likely to get stuck in your head include those with melodic shapes commonly found in western music. Jakubowski offers the contour pattern in “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” as an example. Sing it and notice how the first phrase rises in pitch and the second falls.

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twinkle,_Twinkle,_Little_Star#/media/File:Twinkle_Twinkle_Little_Star.png

Add in an unusual interval structure (such as repeated notes that you would expect to hear in an average pop song or some unexpected leaps), and you have another ingredient for an earworm. Glenn Miller’s “In The Mood” is illustrative of unusual intervals.

Musical Earworms: Examples

Dr. Jakubowski and her team provide a list of the most frequently mentioned earworm songs in the United Kingdom:

  1. “Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga
  2. “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” by Kylie Minogue
  3. “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey
  4. “Somebody That I Used To Know” by Gotye
  5. “Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon 5
  6. “California Gurls” by Katy Perry
  7. “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen
  8. “Alejandro” by Lady Gaga
  9. “Poker Face” by Lady Gaga

Do any of these songs stick in your head? I listen to classical music, and I cannot shake Bach’s Unaccompanied Cello Suite, №1.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 1*XzNqgHKr_vVdAxZDDQTSRg.jpeg
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cello_Suites_(Bach)

Now that we know all about earworms (and I would love to hear about yours) let’s turn to some new research. You may enjoy listening to music throughout the day and may use music to help yourself calm down in anticipation of sleep. But can this practice interfere with restful sleep?

Please go here to learn more about musical earworms and sleep:https://medium.com/beingwell/could-musical-earworms-be-disrupting-your-sleep-a8ff01aa81c5?sk=35306ba717e0cb460910183730f1686a

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Sleep! How to Nap for Health

Sleep! How to nap for health. Not getting enough sleep? You are not alone. Almost 30 percent of adults in the USA get fewer than six hours per night, with rates even worse among younger adults and those with low socioeconomic status.

I don’t want to talk with you today about the health problems of not getting adequate sleep. Instead, let’s turn to three pillars of napping.

Pillar #1. Keep your nap short. Power nap.

Keep your nap relatively brief. Go too long (say over thirty minutes), and you risk sleep inertia. We all know that heavy feeling right after awakening. In more technical terms, it is a physiological state of impaired cognitive and sensory-motor performance that is present immediately after awakening. We are a bit tired, disoriented, and experience a decline in motor dexterity.

Sleep five minutes, and we don’t have enough time to move deeply enough into sleep to yield a real benefit. Go 30 minutes or longer, and you enter slow-wave sleep and get sleep inertia. The sweet spot, according to the National Sleep Foundation, is ten to 20 minutes.

Specific adverse health effects (including diabetesheart disease, and depression) are associated with mid-day naps lasting more than an hour in duration for older adults. Long naps may indicate that night sleep is of poor quality.

Please go here to learn more about why you should nap:

http://newcancerinfo.com/

After you click into today’s blog, please consider signing up to follow me (at the bottom of the page). You’ll continue to get free access to my articles published on Medium.com. Normally, membership costs $5 per month (worth it), but you get free reads through my Friends link.

Longevity: Lifestyle or Genes?

Longevity: Lifestyle or genes? That’s our topic today. Did you know that the Greenland shark can live to be 400 years old? Or that some mayfly species survive for only 5 minutes? Today we turn to the role genetics play in determining life expectancy. Our question today: What are the relative contributions of lifestyle and genetics in determining our life expectancy?

World’s oldest human?

We begin our exploration of longevity in 1997. Jeanne Calment of France finds her way to fame by simply being: She manages to avoid death for 122 years, five months, and fourteen days. Or did she?

Nikolay Zak of the Moscow Center for Continuous Mathematical Education offers that Calment died at age 59 in 1934. Zak explains that her daughter Yvonne assumes her identity after the fact to avoid inheritance taxes. If the story (based on circumstantial evidence) is true, the daughter did demonstrate considerable longevity, living to age 99.

Is our longevity encoded in our genes, or does our lifestyle determine it? While the answer is undoubtedly both, how much of longevity is secondary to your inherited DNA? The good folks at MD Linx recently asked 11 experts in aging, biology, and genetics to offer their insights. I will share some highlights with you.

First, the researchers interpreted the question in two ways: 1) Is human life length (compared to other species) primarily determined by genetics? 2) Is the longevity of some individual humans (compared to other humans) determined by genetics?

Professor David Gems, an expert in aging from University College London, offers that the upper limits of human longevity are primarily determined by genetics, with near certainty. He adds that the maximum lifespan of humans is about double that of our closest relatives among the higher primates, chimpanzees, and gorillas.

Longevity tends to run in families. Professor Dame Janet Thornton, an expert in anti-aging and cell biology and previous director of the European Bioinformatics Institute, believes that “genetics accounts for less than 30% of the effect — even as we recognize that some families have many very old people.”

Please go here to learn ore about longevity, genes, and lifestyle:

http://newcancerinfo.com/

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Mindfulness Meditation Drops Inflammation

Mindfulness meditation drops inflammation. I have enjoyed writing about meditation and mindfulness over the last several years. We have had increasing evidence pointing to the ability of mindfulness practices to reduce perceived stress, help with depression, improve sleep, and more. Today we examine another positive outcome from mindfulness: You can reduce your inflammation. We’ll end with a brief and practical guide to meditation.

randomized clinical trial from Carnegie Mellon University (USA) discovered that mindfulness practices appear to impact brain circuitry that yields inflammatory health benefits and may lower a biomarker of inflammation known as interleukin-6 (IL-6). More specifically, the researchers provided the first evidence that mindfulness meditation training indirectly changes a brain region linked with executive control at rest. These brain changes led to improvements in IL-6 levels.

Let’s look at interleukin-6 in a bit more detail. Discovered in 1986, IL-6 is involved both in immune responses as well as in inflammation. It also is involved in making blood (hematopoiesis), bone metabolism, and the development of an embryo. Importantly for our discussion today, IL-6 plays a role in chronic inflammation (and is linked to chronic inflammatory disease, autoimmune conditions, and cancer).

You may have heard of IL-6 more recently, given its part in producing so-called cytokine storms associated with COVID-19. Cytokine storm is when an infection triggers your immune system to flood your bloodstream with inflammatory proteins called cytokines. They can kill tissue and damage your organs.

Beyond Mindfulness

Could aerobic exercise also be effective in reducing blood markers of inflammation? The answer appears to be yes. Researchers randomized stressed job-seeking adults to either a 3-day intensive residential mindfulness meditation or relaxation program.

Before and following the intervention, subjects completed a 5-minute resting-state scan. They also gave blood samples before the program and at four months follow-up. Here are the study results:

Mindfulness meditation reduced interleukin-6 levels, a marker of inflammatory disease risk.

Just meditate! Please go here to learn more, including some tips for beginners:

http://newcancerinfo.com/

Chronotypes, Depression, and Seasonal Affective Disorder

Today we explore the relationship between chronotypes and depression. We will then pivot to Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Researchers recently provided arguably the most robust evidence that chronotype — our propensity to sleep at a particular time — influences the risk of depression. I want to explore one of the first research investigations with you to quantify the amount of change required to influence mental health.

Have you transitioned your sleep cycle? Has the Covid-19 pandemic led you to go to sleep later and to wake up later than usual? This trend to a later schedule may have some negative health consequences, including a higher risk of depression.

Today we look at the relationship between chronotypes and depression risk. While we are on the subject of depression, we’ll end with an in-depth look at management tools for those of us who suffer from seasonal affective disorder.

First, some background: Historical observational studies have suggested night owls have an up to double the risk of suffering from depression as early risers. This finding appears true, regardless of the sleep duration. Because mood disorders influence sleep patterns, we have a challenge understanding the relationship between sleep and depression.

Now we have a study recently published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry that hints at the role our chronotype (morning lark versus night owl, for example) may influence our mental health. Scientists from the University of Colorado (Boulder), Broad Institute of MIT, and Harvard looked at 840,000 individuals.

Here is what the scientists did. Do you know the consumer DNA testing product 23andMe? The investigators used its database as well as the biomedical database UK Biobank. To get to causality, they used a method known as Mendelian randomization, an approach that can help decipher cause and effect.

The team gathered genetic data (without identifiers) on genetic variants related to sleep for 850,000 subjects. Of these, about ten percent had worn sleep trackers for seven days. A quarter-million filled out sleep preference questionnaires.

Approximately one in three identified themselves as morning larks, with just under ten percent night owls and the remainder in-between the two. The researchers then looked at a different sample that included genetic information and de-identified medical and prescription records, along with surveys about diagnoses of major depression.

They then asked: Do those with genetic variants that predispose them to be early risers have a lower probability of having major depression? The answer seemed to be yes.

Let’s get a bit more granular: Each one-hour earlier sleep midpoint (halfway between bedtime and wake time) appeared associated with a 23 percent lower chance of a major depressive disorder.

The authors frame it this way: If an individual who typically goes to bed at 1 in the morning goes to bed at midnight instead (and sleeps the same duration), they may cut their risk of depression by a relative 23 percent. If they go to bed at 11 p.m., they could cut it by about 40 percent.

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Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

Daytime light can favorably influence mood.

Why? Some speculate that having greater light exposure during the day (which we morning larks tend to get) may trigger hormonal changes that favorably influence mood. Others note that having a biological clock out of synch with others may itself be a downer. We live in a world primarily designed for morning folks.

But can going to bed earlier help you dodge depression? We need a randomized clinical trial to answer that question. The current study does suggest that there may be a causal relationship between sleep timing and depression. But there is one type of depression for which we have a better sense of causality: Seasonal affective disorder and daytime light exposure.

Let’s look at seasonal affective disorder more closely. Please go here to learn more about seasonal affective disorder (SAD), chronotypes, and more (and please consider signing up to follow me at this newer blog site):

http://newcancerinfo.com/

Thanks!

What? A Surgeon Removed His Own Appendix

A surgeon removed his own appendix. Our remarkable story comes from Antarctica. It is the tale of Russian surgeon Leonid Rogozov. During an expedition to the bottom of the earth, he experiences general fatigue, weakness, and nausea. As the sole doctor on the team, he diagnoses acute appendicitis. But now what?

Appendicitis is inflammation of the appendix, a finger-shaped pouch that sticks out from your large intestine (colon) in the lower right abdomen. Acute appendicitis is the most common abdominal surgical emergency globally, with a lifetime risk of about nine percent in males and seven percent in females. While it can occur at any age, it is most likely to affect people between the ages of ten and 30.

What causes appendicitis? It can happen if the appendix gets blocked, for example, by a foreign body, cancer, or even poop. Infection can be a cause. How would you know if you are experiencing the condition? Classic symptoms include pain in the lower right side of your belly or near your navel. Pain is often the first sign.

Other classic symptoms include nausea and vomiting after the abdominal discomfort begins. You may have a swollen belly, loss of appetite, or a fever. Some cannot pass gas. Severe cramps, constipation or diarrhea with gas, painful urination, or challenges peeing are possible. If you have any concerning symptoms, contact a doctor immediately.

So what do you think Leonid does? Appendicitis is often an emergency. Consensus guidelines suggest removing the appendix (an appendectomy) is the standard for most cases. If your doctor suspects appendicitis, the appendix is typically quickly removed, although some research shows that treating acute appendicitis with antibiotics may help you avoid surgery.

April 1961. Back to our expedition to the Antarctic. The polar winter approaches, and Leonid soon develops pain down the right side of his abdomen. What to do? Appendicitis can cause serious complications, including a ruptured appendix (with the spread of infection throughout the abdomen). Some form a pocket of pus in the abdomen.

You know the drill: Go here to learn more about how a surgeon removed his own appendix:

http://newcancerinfo.com/

Is Tai Chi Linked to Less Belly Fat?

Tai chi, abdominal fat, and weight loss. Tai chi is an effective means of reducing abdominal fat, according to a new study. The research looked at middle-aged and older adults with central obesity, a condition associated with metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is a set of problems that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. The syndrome can involve:

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. The syndrome can involve increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels, and excess body fat around the waist.

While any single condition does not mean you have metabolic syndrome, you have a higher risk of suffering from severe disease. Unfortunately, metabolic syndrome is common: One in three Americans suffer from it.

Is there anything you can do about metabolic syndrome? Here are some strategies from the American Heart Association:

  • Eat well. Consider a rich diet in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fish, skinless poultry, nuts, low- or fat-free dairy, lean meats, and vegetable protein. Limit your processed foods, saturated and trans fats, red meat, sodium, and added sugars.
  • Move. It would be best to strive to get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. Many begin with walking. If needed, split your physical activity into several short sessions throughout the day.
  • Optimize your weight. Look at your recommended calorie intake, the number of calories you’re taking in, and the calories that you are burning off with activity. Try to balance healthy eating with a healthy level of exercise to reach your goals.
  • Don’t smoke.

Oh, now we can add this: Tai chi.

Please go here to learn more about tai chi, abdominal fat, and weight loss:

http://newcancerinfo.com/

Vitamin D for Cancer Risk Reduction: Yea or Nay?

DISAPPOINTMENT IS USUALLY associated with studies examining the use of supplemental vitamins or minerals to decrease the risk of getting cancer. Do vitamin C or vitamin E provide a risk reduction? Nope. A systemic examination of 38 studies showed no value in cancer risk reduction. But what about the new star on the block, vitamin D? Let’s take a look.

Vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency is widespread and may contribute to falls, bone fractures, or bone loss in older adults. Nevertheless, it is not standard to routinely check blood levels of vitamin D for most individuals.

If you have a low blood level of vitamin D, you may be at a higher risk for several cancer types. For example, there appears to be a link between vitamin D deficiency and breast cancer. A 2017 review found that most studies demonstrate an inverse relationship between vitamin D levels and breast cancer risk: Vitamin D deficiency is associated with a higher risk of breast cancer.

Please go here to learn more:

http://newcancerinfo.com/

(Don’t forget to sign up to follow me at the newer blog site! Thank you.)

The Magic of Parrotfish

The Magic of parrotfish. Yes, you heard that right. This health and wellness writer is going to tell a brief story about the magic of parrotfish. Named for their distinctive dentition (different than other fish), the parrotfish is a seagoing magician. Did you know that it can create a force field? Or that without parrotfish, we would have no beaches?

If you have ever seen a parrotfish, you know that they have lots of teeth that are tightly packed. The fish have a beak not dissimilar to that of a parrot. Parrotfish use this beak to scrape algae from coral and other rocky substrates. With that, we come to the first magic trick of parrotfish.

I love digging my toes into the sand of a beach. Bora Bora, Hawaii, Miami, and Barcelona. Do you have a favorite beach? That sand — did you know that you may be enjoying the poop of a parrotfish? The parrotfish eat coral, and when the coral comes out the other end, voila! We get smooth white grains of sand.

How do the fish pull off this extraordinary feat? The hardness of their teeth is approximately 530 tons of pressure per square inch. This pressure is equivalent to a stack of 88 African elephants compressed into one square inch. Unbelievable. These teeth are the hardest (and most resistant to breaking and abrasion) ever measured. One thousand teeth in about 15 rows, each cemented to the others and surrounded by bone to create a solid beak.

The Magic of Parrotfish, Part II

Magic trick #2. Some species of parrotfish secrete (from their mouths) a mucous cocoon, especially before going to sleep. As the mucous envelopes the fish, the cocoon hides the fish’s scent. Moreover, if a predator such as a moray eel disturbs this membrane, an early warning system is activated. Oh, one more piece to this magic: The skin has a separate mucous substance that may help in body repair, repel parasites, and serve as sunscreen.

Please go here to learn more about the magic of parrotfish:

https://newcancerinfo.com/

(Don’t forget to sign up to follow me at this newer blog. Thank you!)

Chewing Sounds Drive You Crazy? You May Have Misophonia

MISOPHONIA — HAVE YOU ever heard of it? Do certain sounds drive you crazy? If yes, I am not alone. For me, chewing sounds are problematic. Some of you may get irritated by hearing your partner breathing heavily. Maybe the sound of a yawn bothers you. You might have misophonia.

Those of us who have misophonia are affected emotionally by mundane sounds, often created by others. Do you feel like escaping when you hear certain noises? For many, the condition emerges around age twelve.

Researchers and clinicians continue to wonder why particular sounds trigger those with misophoniaparticular sounds trigger those with misophonia. There is a commonality to the sounds: The irritants tend to be pattern-based or repetitive and usually are created by living beings. Hearing a tapping pencil is another example.

Those of us with misophonia do not react this way to all sounds. A British research team examined the phenomenon among 20 adults with misophonia and 22 without the condition. The subjects rated the unpleasantness of a variety of sounds. Examples included common triggers such as eating or breathing, the sounds of babies crying or people screaming, and more neutral sounds (for example, rain).

Those with misophonia found the trigger sounds of eating and breathing highly disturbing. Those without misophonia did not. Both groups rated the unpleasantness of people screaming or babies crying at similar levels. In summary, misophonic folks reacted much more strongly to specific trigger sounds but seemed similar to the control group when it came to other types of sounds.

So why are we misophonics so triggered by particular sounds? Please go here to learn more (and please consider following me at this newer blog site):

https://newcancerinfo.com/

Exercise Influences Your Sense of Purpose

DO OUR EXERCISE HABITS influence our sense of purpose in life? What about the reverse — does our sense of purpose affect how much we exercise? Today, we look at a fascinating new study of the reciprocal effects of feeling your life has meaning and frequently being in motion.

You already know that physical inactivity is prevalent and is associated with poor health outcomes. Worldwide, approximately one in every four adults is physically inactive. Alas, this proportion is on the rise, according to a comprehensive survey published in The Lancet.

Physical activity and heart health

Let’s make this more clear: Sedentary behavior is associated with several health disorders. Several studies have shown a strong inverse association between regular physical activity and cardiovascular disease. For example, researchers analyzed the physical activity habits of over 10,000 Harvard alumni with an average age of 58.

This retrospective study showed that the men who engaged in moderately vigorous sports activity (such as brisk walking, recreational cycling, swimming, home repair, or yard word for 30 minutes per day on most days) had a nearly quarter drop in the risk of death compared to the less active men.

What about women? Females derive activity-associated cardiovascular risk-reduction too. A review of nearly 40,000 women (average age 54 years) in the Women’s Health Study provides evidence. Those who walked 1 to 59 minutes, 1 to 1.5 hours, and two or more hours weekly had relative risk reductions of 14, 51, and 52 percent, respectively. Ambulating at a walking pace did not reduce risk.

Physical activity and cancer risk

I would be remiss if I did not mention the cancer risk reductions associated with exercise. We may gain modest protection against lung, breast, gastrointestinal, prostate, kidney, uterus, and pancreas cancer.

Exercise lowers cancer risk, irrespective of body size. Physical activity can lower risk by optimizing weight. However, physical activity influences many weight-independent biologic phenomena influenced by physical activity. Physical activity can lower levels of estrogen and insulin, respectively.

When queried about a study showing physical activity can significantly lower one’s risk of getting cancer, research study author Alpa Patel, Ph.D., strategic director of the Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3) at the American Cancer Society, offered this:

We knew that a study this size would give us the statistical power to find new associations, but we didn’t expect risk reduction in so many cancers — some with more than a 20 percent lower risk. It was exciting to uncover an additional ten types of cancer, besides colon, breast, and endometrial cancers, that may benefit from physical activity.

Physical activity and early death

A Brisbane (Australia) study showed prolonged sitting time to be positively associated with all-cause mortality. Women who reported sitting for more than eight hours daily and did not meet physical activity guidelines had an elevated risk of dying within the next nine years.

As I initially note, across the globe, about one in four adults is physically inactive. The implications of this physical inactivity are staggering: One research investigation calculated the global risk for premature mortality. Physical inactivity caused nine percent of premature deaths in 2008.

Please go here to learn how exercise influences your sense of purpose:

https://newcancerinfo.com/

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Exercise Snacks: What?

Exercise snacks: Should you be having them? I do a lot of physical activity. Wanna talk about walking, jogging, resistance training, or HIIT? I am there. As I pass through my 50s, however, I am rethinking what exercise actually means. Today I want to look at so-called exercise snacking.

I hope you didn’t think we would explore how you can slip in bits of cookies or chips into your exercise program. Instead, we will look at how we can use bite-sized episodes of physical activity to optimize our health and well-being.

Here’s the context: Blue zone populations don’t specifically exercise. For example, individuals on the tiny island of Ikaria (Greece) appear almost always to dodge dementia and chronic diseases that strike too many Americans.

Could it be their diet? Or perhaps their culture and outlook on life? Some believe it is the strong red wine they commonly consume, while others point to clean air and good weather that draw them to an active outdoor lifestyle.

I am not going to explore all of those issues with you today. Let’s look at how the Greeks integrate exercise snacks to optimize health. Here is today’s takeaway:

The Ikarians who live longest tend to be poor people living in the island’s highlands. They do not engage in formal exercise, but get physical activity through gardening, walking to see neighbors, or doing yard work.

Can we engineer mindless movement into our lives? And if so, does it improve health (or do we need to move to Ikaria)?

In my medical training, I learned that to get meaningful improvement in cardiovascular health, one had to do at least an hour of physical activity daily. We now know this estimate to be wrong.

Please go here to learn more:

https://newcancerinfo.com/

Colon Cancer Screening: Beginning Earlier

Colon cancer screening: Recognizing an alarming increase in colorectal cancer cases among individuals under age 50. An expert panel now recommends that those at average risk for the disease start screening exams at 45 years old. This advice contrasts with the historical recommendation of beginning at age 50.

This relatively recent rise in colon cancer among young folks remains puzzling. The incidence of the disease has dropped among older adults. This improvement may be secondary to regular colon cancer screening and lower rates of cigarette smoking.

Fortunately, colon cancer remains uncommon, affecting less than one percent of younger adults. Still, nearly 18,000 individuals under age 50 years will receive a colon or rectal cancer diagnosis this year in the United States, according to Rebecca Siegel, MPH of the American Cancer Society.

The rise in the number of young people getting colon or rectal cancer is not limited to the USA. We see similar trends in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and some parts of Asia and Europe. For most geographies, the rise in cases began around 1995.

I have written about this topic before, but the recent diagnosis of a patient in his late 30s rattled me a bit. “Robert” noticed blood in his stools. As it only occurred intermittently, he delayed presenting to his doctor. He offers that given he did not have significant pain, he held off on seeking medical attention.

Please go here to learn more about colon cancer screening:

One Secret Key to Longevity

DO YOU WANT TO LIVE to be a centenarian? We recently got some insights about variables associated with living to one hundred years old. Researchers in New Zealand examined many factors, including depression, dementia, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, physical activity, and social relationships. They discovered one key to longevity that may surprise you.

Do you enjoy socializing? If the answer is no, you are more likely to live a shorter life than someone who socialized a lot. Today we look at an analysis of 292 centenarians. The researchers also looked at data on 103,000 New Zealanders with a median age of 82 years.

Let’s get the study’s biggest problem out of the way first. In this sense, the research is observational and does not provide high-level evidence about the factors leading to long life. With that caveat out of the way, I want to turn to the research findings.

First, the researchers analyzed the 292 centenarians. These older folks had an average age of just over 101 years. Compared with the elderly group members serving as controls, the centenarians tended to be female (75 percent versus 59 percent).

The centenarians appeared no more likely to free from common chronic diseases on any analyzed variables. Not surprisingly, the long-lived group had a lower rate of smoking. The centenarian group also had steady and high rates of social engagement.

This research investigation adds to our understanding of who attains exceptional longevity. The study authors confirmed some already known truths, including that centenarians are more likely to be female. In addition, they discovered this:

Please go to my newer blog site to learn more (and don’t forget to follow me there!):

http://newcancerinfo.com/

Improve Your Health With a Digital Detox

Today we explore how you can improve your health with a digital detox.

Social media is central to so many of our lives. Many spend hours each day on Facebook, Instagram, and other popular social media. Given the adverse effects of social media use on health, should you take a break from your devices? What is the evidence for doing a digital detox? Today we explore the evidence for taking a break from your device screens.

Social media has become part of people’s daily activities; many spend hours on Messenger, Instagram, Facebook, and other popular social media. Excessive social media consumption can lead to health problems, including anxiety and depression.

We begin with a systematic review that indicates that excessive social media consumption can lead to adverse psychological outcomes like anxiety and depression.

The analysis included 16 studies, with anxiety and depression being the most commonly measured outcomes. Three risk factors emerged as the most important. These variables included time spent, activity, and addiction to social media.

Digital detoxification: Can reducing your exposure to social media be worthwhile? One research study sought to determine whether taking a break from social media improved psychological measures.

Recognizing the association between excessive screen time and anxiety, mood disorders, distress, impulse control, substance abuse, and other ills, researchers looked at the effects of social media use and digital detoxes among a group of 68 college students.

Subjects answered a survey during the 2018 to 2019 academic year. Forty percent voluntarily did social media detoxification. The detox had benefits for the majority of the participants. Most saw improvements in academic performance, mood, sleep, and anxiety. By the study’s end, 46 percent responded that they would consider repeating a digital detoxification period in the future.

Does the study offer high-level evidence of the benefits of a social media detox? No. For example, the participants had a low response rate. Many students could have ignored the email request for participation in the research investigation. The researchers also did not standardize what constitutes social media detoxification.

I want to present another study that randomized 143 undergraduates to either social media use of no more than ten minutes daily versus continuing their usual social media use. The study spanned three weeks.

Please go to my newer blog site here (and don’t forget to sign up to follow me there!):

http://newcancerinfo.com/

Body Mass Index and Heart Disease Risk

Body Mass Index (BMI) and Heart Disease Risk

Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on height and weight. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute offers that BMI estimates body fat and a good gauge for diseases that can occur with more body fat. As BMI rises, so does the risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, gallstones, and other health problems.

Is BMI a perfect indicator for determining your risk for heart disease? No. For example, it may be an overestimate if you are an athlete or have a muscular build. On the other hand, BMI can underestimate body fat in older individuals and in others who have lost muscle.

A better approach is to assess health risk by combining three key elements, including 1) BMI, 2) waist circumference, and 3) risk factors for conditions associated with obesity. This brings us to a new statement from the American Heart Association published last month in the organization’s flagship journal, Circulation.

The most recent research informs the new scientific statement on the relationship between obesity and coronary heart disease, heart failure, and abnormal heart rhythms. We are getting a better understanding of obesity and its impact on cardiovascular health. There is an increasing focus on abdominal obesity (visceral adipose tissue is the technical term) as a cardiovascular disease risk marker.

In essence, visceral adipose tissue (VAT) is the ratio of waist circumference to height (taking body size into account). One may also use the waist-to-hip ratio, as it has been shown to predict cardiovascular death independent of body mass index.

Please go to my newer blog site to learn more (and don’t forget to sign up to follow me there):

http://newcancerinfo.com/