Monthly Archives: February 2013
Forget apples. Instead, it’s a glass of red wine a day that may keep the doctor away. Studies show red wine may protect the heart and help control cholesterol levels, among other benefits. And these protective qualities have been mostly attributed to two components in red wine: the alcohol and the grape’s antioxidants.
French Paradox — Why It Matters
The French may be on to something: Despite a diet heavy in saturated fats (think: rich cheeses and buttery croissants), French rates of obesity and heart disease are relatively low, causing researches to ponder the connection between the French fondness for red wine and the French Paradox.
Moderate alcohol consumption — that’s one drink per day for women, two for men — is shown to reduce risk of heart disease, stroke, and may even reduce the likelihood of developing diabetes. In some studies, moderate drinkers were associated with the lowest mortality rates. Alcoholic beverages, including wine, are credited with increasing “good” HDL cholesterol levels (HDL cholesterol basically acts like the body’s maintenance crew; scavenging and removing LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol).
But cholesterol levels are only half of the equation. Red wine’s antioxidants (resveratrol, to be exact) may also provide protection against problems with blood flow to the brain, possibly preventing stroke (though the research is currently based on rats, so results may vary for humans).
The grape itself is responsible for two of red wine’s star antioxidants: resveratrol in the skin and proanthocyanidin in the seed. So why are these little guys so important? Antioxidants help protect the body’s cells against free radical damage, a type of oxidative stress, which can be a precursor to diseases like heart disease, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s.
Wine can also increase life span by inducing longevity genes. One study even suggested moderate amounts of red wine and purple grape juice be included in the five to seven daily servings of fruits and vegetables recommended by the American Heart Association. But remain wary: the bulk of these pro-wine studies were done on mice or rats and not verified on humans (yet). Plus, the mice weren’t lucky enough to drink actual wine — just fed high doses of pure resvertrol far larger than a human could get from drinking any reasonable amount of wine.
To Drink, or Not to Drink? — The Answer/Debate
Not a fan of red? While it lacks the reservatol present in red wine, white wine, might be just as protective of the heart and — even the lungs — as long as it’s rich in other antioxidants like tyrosol and hydroxytyrosol. But, alas, all wines are not created equal. Dark red wines made from grapes with thick skin have the most resveratrol. Other antioxidant winners include Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinor Noir, and Chardonnay.
Don’t drink (or simply can’t stand) either? Consider purple grape juice or a resveratrol supplement to reap similar benefits. One thing to keep in mind: one serving of wine is only five ounces. Drinking the whole bottle doesn’t double (or quadruple) the benefits, and drinking too much can lead to cancers and other diseases. Like any indulgence, moderation is key: the USDA recommends no more than five ounces for women and ten ounces for men per day. With these limitations in mind, go grab that glass. Salut!
Originally posted May 27, 2011. Updated February 2013.
*Note: The original version of this story appeared on May 27, 2011. In January 2012, a researcher of red wine whose findings were used in the original article was accused of fraudulent research on the subject. All research by this scientist originally cited in this article has since been removed and replaced.
Do you think red wine should be part of a healthy lifestyle? Share your opinion in the comments section below!
Alzheimer’s research shifts direction, creating potential new therapeutic avenues for people at risk.
Alzheimer’s disease is a thief. It robs people of their memories, their ability to reason, and their clarity of thought. Anyone who has known someone with Alzheimer’s knows how heartbreaking it can be to watch a spouse, friend, sibling, or parent slip into the fog of dementia. Because this disease has a genetic component, many people also fear that they themselves might slip into the same fog one day.
As of now there has been no treatment that can halt or even significantly slow the progress of Alzheimer’s. The four drugs currently approved to treat Alzheimer’s—donepezil (Aricept), rivastigmine (Exelon), galantamine (Razadyne), and memantine (Namenda)—can improve thinking, memory, and behavior. Yet they can’t get at the underlying disease process that leads to the steep cognitive decline.
The outlook for people at risk for Alzheimer’s may soon become brighter, though, as the direction of research changes. “For the past 20 or even 30 years we’ve been focused on treating the end stage of Alzheimer’s, and we must shift our paradigm to start thinking about prevention,” says Dr. Reisa Sperling, director of the Center for Alzheimer’s Research and Treatment at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Plaques and tangles
In Alzheimer’s, beta-amyloid plaques and tau tangles damage nerve cells (neurons), interfering with normal thought and memory.
Dr. Sperling and other researchers are currently homing in on a few specific targets for Alzheimer’s prevention.
- Beta-amyloid plaques. Most of the Alzheimer’s studies in progress focus on reducing beta-amyloid, an abnormal collection of proteins that forms hard accumulations called plaques in the brains of people with this disease. Early efforts to eliminate beta-amyloid included vaccines to stimulate the body’s immune system to attack the abnormal proteins. However, this approach sometimes also overstimulated the immune system. In 2002, the first large-scale Alzheimer’s vaccine trial had to be shut down when a small percentage of participants developed a dangerous brain inflammation called meningoencephalitis.
A newer approach uses lab-grown antibodies called monoclonal antibodies, which target the amyloid without overstimulating the immune system. Monoclonal antibodies currently under investigation for Alzheimer’s include bapineuzumab, solanezumab, and crenezumab. It isn’t clear yet whether reducing amyloid will change the course of the disease in humans, although it has in animals.
In September 2012, Dr. Sperling and her team announced results from a study on bapineuzumab. Although the drug didn’t stop mental decline in people with Alzheimer’s, there were indications that it might reduce amyloid levels and limit nerve cell damage, especially if given early in the course of the disease. Evidence so far on solanezumab suggests that it could improve measures of thinking and memory, but only in people with mild Alzheimer’s, Dr. Sperling says.
“Unfortunately, these studies probably aren’t going to result in a drug coming to the market yet. But these results were encouraging enough for that line of research to go forward in clinical trials,” she adds.
Because amyloid deposits appear in the brain a full decade before symptoms appear, the push right now is to treat people as soon as they have evidence of plaques. To that end, Dr. Sperling is launching a three-year study that will use PET scans to examine the brains of about 1,000 people, ages 70 to 85. Those who have signs of amyloid will be treated with a monoclonal antibody—although which specific drug will be used hasn’t yet been decided.
- Tau tangles. The other target in Alzheimer’s drug development is the tangles of proteins in the brain composed of a protein called tau. Like plaques of beta-amyloid, these tangles can destroy neurons and cause dementia. Researchers are currently investigating various therapies to prevent tangles from forming.
- Inflammation. Inflammatory processes in the body are implicated in a number of conditions, including heart disease. These same processes might be at work in Alzheimer’s, leading to nerve damage in the brain. There is evidence, for example, that people who regularly take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s. Studies are looking at whether other therapies aimed at reducing inflammation might interrupt the Alzheimer’s disease process.
- Blood vessel health. A network of blood vessels supplies the brain with the oxygen-rich blood it needs to function. Diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, high cholesterol, and diabetes damage these blood vessels and can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s. Researchers are studying whether treating these conditions might lower dementia risk.
What you can do today
Until researchers identify effective ways to prevent Alzheimer’s, take charge of your memory and cognitive function by staying mentally and physically active. There is good evidence that exercising regularly—incorporating both aerobic activity and strength training—can help protect nerve cells.
Social activity is important too, but staying engaged can be more challenging as you get older. “We’ve known for a long time that when people retire they become less active and more withdrawn, and that’s counterproductive,” Dr. Sperling says.
Instead of sitting home and watching TV, get out in the fresh air for a brisk walk or visit a museum with friends. The combination of exercise and social interaction could do wonders for your mental capacity.
Although a cure for Alzheimer’s won’t happen overnight, Dr. Sperling is cautiously optimistic. “I still am hopeful, because I believe that if we’re right about the amyloid hypothesis and we can find a way to intervene earlier, we really will make a dent,” she says. “I suspect that’s at least five years away, but I don’t think it’s decades anymore.”
From Harvard University Medical school – Healthbeat.
There was on article on research into endometrial cancer being carried out by Professor Obermair and his team in Sat 10th Feb Courier Mail. The research is to see whether it is possible to treat some forms of endometrial cancer without invasive surgery. Below is a feel-good story about how a small amount of money can lead to big strides in treating female cancer.
What can we achieve with $118,000 in medical research?
Posted by on 7 February 2013 | 0 Comments
Last Sunday, we held the 2013 Battle Against Ovarian Cancer. The event was a phenomenal success. With over 70 teams participating and more than 1000 people through the gates, it exceeded all expectations. The Cherish Foundation raised over $118,000 in online donations. These online donations are still open and receiving funds, so this figure will likely finish even higher.
So, what can be achieved in gynaecological cancer research with $118,000? Let me tell you a true story from QCGC Research. It is the story of Australia’s largest clinical trial.
In 2002, the late Dr McCartney (the inventor of the Vaginal Tube that revolutionised laparoscopic hysterectomy) and I realised that surgery for uterine cancer was too invasive, caused too many surgical complications and should be more humane. A plan to establish minimally invasive (keyhole) surgery for uterine cancer was developed and that plan was submitted to funding. No single granting body was willing to fund this trial. They called the trial “too ambitious” and said that“ such a big trial had never been done in Australia.”.
Our centre contacted two companies who were willing to fund the start-up of this trial. These companies, Covidien and Johnson & Johnson, gave a total of $60,000 yearly for 3 years and with this we employed our first part-time research nurse, started the trial and collected data. That data was then used to successfully apply for a series of larger grants.
In the end, the initial amount of $60,000 donated by the two corporate led to the complete funding of a $3.5 million clinical trial, called the LACE trial (Laparoscopic Approach to Carcinoma of the Endometrium). The outcomes of LACE led to world-wide recognition that:
- Recovery from minimally invasive surgery is much faster and better than surgery through an open abdominal incision
- Hospital stay is far shorter after minimally invasive surgery;
- Surgical complications are 30% less common with minimally invasive surgery and blood loss during surgery is also less;
- Minimally invasive surgery is more cost-effective. If all open abdominal hysterectomies were replaced by minimally invasive surgery, the funders of healthcare (i.e. Queensland Health, health insurers) would save $20 million every year in Queensland alone.
As a result, minimally invasive surgery became industry best-practice for the treatment of uterine cancer in Australia, and indeed world-wide and is now standard operating procedure.
All of this research was accomplished with a start-up of $60,000.
Today, despite a sharp increase in rates of gynaecological cancer, we are battling with decreasing research funds from governments. The federal government’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) increases its research spending by 15% every year, however:
- It decreased funding for ovarian cancer research by 60% in the last 2 years.
- In the last funding round, not a single study was funded for uterine cancer research.
It seems that gynaecological cancer research has been forgotten and we need to take funding for gynaecological cancer research into our own hands. The Battle Against Ovarian Cancer last Sunday gave gynaecological cancer research a strong voice and it also was a great example of what we can achieve if we battle along together.
I’ve given an example of the great things that can be achieved with a relatively small amount of funding. Now let me outline what we want to achieve with the funds raised from the Battle.
Today, the best treatment available for gynaecological cancer still isn’t good enough. Survival following an ovarian cancer diagnosis is still poor. Collateral damage from treatments can be horrendous. We have come a long way, but there is still a way to go. QCGC Research has kinder, gentler treatments awaiting clinical trial right now.
Over the coming months, we, the Cherish Foundation, will invest the funds raised in these clinical trials and we will keep talking about particular research project/s that are made possible thanks to the funds that were generously donated or raised.
Finally, I thank all all our supporters once again for their contribution in making the Battle Against Ovarian cancer a huge success.
Diane-35 is a popular contraceptive pill used in Australia, mainly for women concerned about acne. It has a number of generic versions of the same thing, so it may go under a different name. Diane-35 (also known as Brenda-35, Juliet-35, Estelle-35 and Laila-35 in Australia) is mostly prescribed to treat acne and hirstutism (a PCOS symptom) but also has a contraceptive effect. In Australia, the TGA are asking that consumers contact their doctor immediately if they develop symptoms of blood clots such as persistent leg pain or tenderness, swelling or redness of the leg, severe chest pain, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. Anyone concerned about this, check with your doctor or email me for help. If it contains a substance called cyproterone, then it has potential for serious consequences. The other issue is that here again, we have a major pharmaceutical company in an apparent cover-up of a product they market to doctors and the general public. If it was not for investigative journalists and a free media, this would never have been uncovered. I wonder how many other drugs on the market here have had similar cover-ups of risk? Of course, this is further proof of the advisability of using natural hormones over synthetic versions,in spite of what many in the medical profession say.
France confirms Diane-35 drug deaths Secret report reveals 125 women suffered possibly life-threatening side-effects linked to Diane-35 or its generics Share402 inShare.14 Email Kim Willsher in Paris guardian.co.uk, Sunday 27 January 2013 16.20 GMT France has confirmed four deaths linked to the Diane-35 pill, an acne treatment often prescribed as a contraceptive. Photograph: Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images France faces another damaging health scandal after its medical authorities confirmed four deaths in the past 25 years were linked to an acne drug prescribed by doctors as a contraceptive. Amid growing concern about third- and fourth-generation birth-control pills, a secret report by France’s drug safety authority revealed 125 women had suffered “undesirable” and possibly life-threatening side-effects linked to Diane-35 or its generics. Le Figaro newspaper, which obtained a copy of the confidential internal document, said 37 of the women had not fully recovered after taking the pills made by Bayer, the German pharmaceutical company. An estimated 4-5m boxes of Diane-35 are sold in France every year. The average age of the women affected is 25. Dozens of lawsuits against third- and fourth-generation contraceptive pills – known in Britain as combined pills – have been launched in France by women who have suffered side-effects including blood clots and strokes. The French government has advised doctors to limit the prescription of some contraceptive pills, and will stop reimbursing patients the cost of those drugs from April. Critics describe the move as folly, and accuse the government of blowing the problem out of proportion. In a statement on Sunday, the Agence Nationale de Sécurité du Médicament said Diane-35 had been authorised for sale in France since 1987, but only as a treatment for acne. It said it had looked into the side-effects of the drug and its generics and would publish its findings this week. It is also investigating doctors’ prescription habits. This month, as concern about the pills grew, Professor Dominique Maraninchi said: “Diane-35 is an acne treatment that also blocks ovulation. We have several inquiries going on that show that this non-authorised use is significant.” French medical authorities made headlines recently over Mediator, a diabetes drug widely prescribed by doctors as an appetite suppressant, which is believed to have killed at least 500 people. The head of the French pharmaceutical firm Servier, maker of Mediator, is under formal investigation for manslaughter, and the head of France’s public health agency has resigned. The row has highlighted the links between drug regulators and lobbying drug companies in France, which has one of the world’s highest levels of consumption of prescription drugs. Investigators are also looking into a second scandal over French-made faulty PIP silicone breast implants. In 2003, Dr Eric Wooltorton, associate editor of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, warned about the risks of Diane-35, which is authorised for sale in 135 countries and sold in 116. He wrote the oral contraceptive with “anti-androgen properties” had been “heavily marketed” to young women and had seen its Canadian sales jump by 45% between 2000 and 2001. “However, many physicians may be unaware of concerns about the drug’s safety profile and the fact that it is not approved for use solely as an oral contraceptive.” He added that the UK Committee on the Safety of Medicines had issued a warning on the drugs risk of deep vein thrombosis in 2001. “Diane-35 should be reserved for temporary use in women with serious acne and should not be used solely as an oral contraceptive. All women who use combination oral contraceptives are at risk of venous thromboembolism and should be informed of this rare but potentially serious adverse effect, particularly if they are taking Diane-35,” Dr Wooltorton added. France confirms Diane-35 drug deaths Secret report reveals 125 women suffered possibly life-threatening side-effects linked to Diane-35 or its generics Share402 inShare.14 Email Kim Willsher in Paris guardian.co.uk, Sunday 27 January 2013 16.20 GMT France has confirmed four deaths linked to the Diane-35 pill, an acne treatment often prescribed as a contraceptive. Photograph: Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images France faces another damaging health scandal after its medical authorities confirmed four deaths in the past 25 years were linked to an acne drug prescribed by doctors as a contraceptive. Amid growing concern about third- and fourth-generation birth-control pills, a secret report by France’s drug safety authority revealed 125 women had suffered “undesirable” and possibly life-threatening side-effects linked to Diane-35 or its generics. Le Figaro newspaper, which obtained a copy of the confidential internal document, said 37 of the women had not fully recovered after taking the pills made by Bayer, the German pharmaceutical company. An estimated 4-5m boxes of Diane-35 are sold in France every year. The average age of the women affected is 25. Dozens of lawsuits against third- and fourth-generation contraceptive pills – known in Britain as combined pills – have been launched in France by women who have suffered side-effects including blood clots and strokes. The French government has advised doctors to limit the prescription of some contraceptive pills, and will stop reimbursing patients the cost of those drugs from April. Critics describe the move as folly, and accuse the government of blowing the problem out of proportion. In a statement on Sunday, the Agence Nationale de Sécurité du Médicament said Diane-35 had been authorised for sale in France since 1987, but only as a treatment for acne. It said it had looked into the side-effects of the drug and its generics and would publish its findings this week. It is also investigating doctors’ prescription habits. This month, as concern about the pills grew, Professor Dominique Maraninchi said: “Diane-35 is an acne treatment that also blocks ovulation. We have several inquiries going on that show that this non-authorised use is significant.” French medical authorities made headlines recently over Mediator, a diabetes drug widely prescribed by doctors as an appetite suppressant, which is believed to have killed at least 500 people. The head of the French pharmaceutical firm Servier, maker of Mediator, is under formal investigation for manslaughter, and the head of France’s public health agency has resigned. The row has highlighted the links between drug regulators and lobbying drug companies in France, which has one of the world’s highest levels of consumption of prescription drugs. Investigators are also looking into a second scandal over French-made faulty PIP silicone breast implants. In 2003, Dr Eric Wooltorton, associate editor of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, warned about the risks of Diane-35, which is authorised for sale in 135 countries and sold in 116. He wrote the oral contraceptive with “anti-androgen properties” had been “heavily marketed” to young women and had seen its Canadian sales jump by 45% between 2000 and 2001. “However, many physicians may be unaware of concerns about the drug’s safety profile and the fact that it is not approved for use solely as an oral contraceptive.” He added that the UK Committee on the Safety of Medicines had issued a warning on the drugs risk of deep vein thrombosis in 2001. “Diane-35 should be reserved for temporary use in women with serious acne and should not be used solely as an oral contraceptive. All women who use combination oral contraceptives are at risk of venous thromboembolism and should be informed of this rare but potentially serious adverse effect, particularly if they are taking Diane-35,” Dr Wooltorton added.
Phone Calls, Even Voice Recordings, Can Get People to Go to the Gym
(See Correction & Amplification below .)
Unable to push herself to exercise, Ruthanne Lowe joined a research study aimed at motivating the sedentary with a surprisingly simple technique—an occasional telephone reminder.
“It really did work,” says Ms. Lowe, a 66-year-old housewife in San Jose, Calif. Three years after the study ended, she says, “I’m doing more exercise than I ever did in my life.”
The study, conducted by Stanford University, belongs to a growing body of research showing that small amounts of social support, ranging from friends who encourage each other by email to occasional meetings with a fitness counselor, can produce large and lasting gains against one of America’s biggest health problems—physical inactivity. Only 48% of Americans say they meet the federal recommendation for exercising half an hour most days of the week, and the actual percentage is believed to be much lower. Exercise researchers estimate that nearly all sedentary people at one time or another have resolved and failed to maintain exercise programs.
In the Stanford study, 218 people were divided into three groups. After an introductory session, during which Ms. Lowe established a goal of walking half an hour most days of the week, a Stanford health educator called her and other members of her group every three weeks, on average, for a year to ask about their compliance and to cheer them on. A second group of participants received calls not from humans but from a computer programmed to make similar inquiries.
The caller, whether human or computer, asked the participants to recite the amount of exercise they performed during the past week. Participants were then congratulated on any exercise performed, and asked how the level might be increased in the week ahead. When lapses occurred, as they invariably did because of illness, travel or unforeseeable events, the goal was to impress upon participants the importance of resuming the workout as soon as possible. All questions were designed to encourage rather than to scold.
After 12 months, participants receiving calls from a live person were exercising, as a mean, about 178 minutes a week, above government recommendations for 150 minutes a week. That represented a 78% jump from about 100 minutes a week at the start of the study. Exercise levels for the group receiving computerized calls doubled to 157 minutes a week. A control group of participants, who received no phone calls, exercised 118 minutes a week, up 28% from the study’s start. “When you knew you were going to have to report back on what you had done, it motivated you,” says Ms. Lowe.
The researchers checked in with participants after 18 months and found that their exercise patterns had changed little from the 12-month level. But the study didn’t monitor participants’ beyond that.
Some studies by other researchers have suggested that after eight weeks of regular exercising many people can settle into a long-term habit of working out.
Abby King, a Stanford professor of medicine and health research and policy who conducted this study, published in 2007 in the journal Health Psychology, and other similar studies, says people trying to change unhealthy behaviors generally need something more than willpower. “Whether it’s smoking or alcohol use or physical inactivity, social support helps prevent against relapse,” says Dr. King. But the support doesn’t have to be constant. “A light touch can have a lasting effect,” she says.
Jeff Enlow for The Wall Street JournalRuthanne Lowe has been exercising regularly since completing a workout-encouragement program in 2007.
Even many of the nation’s most committed exercisers have trouble doing it on their own. At 73, for instance, Marty Mennan is an elite age-group swimmer who strokes across the pool several miles a week, a habit dating back to his years as a competitive college swimmer. But his regimen depends on him belonging to a master’s swim group that provides social support. “From age 55 to 65, I really didn’t exercise at all, because my master’s group had disbanded,” says Mr. Mennan, a retired school teacher in Columbus, Ind., who now drives 40 miles to Indianapolis several times a week to swim with a group.
Mr. Mennan belongs to the 35% to 40% of Americans who prefer to work out in groups. Like alcoholics who can stay sober only with the help of 12-step meetings, these athletes owe their high levels of fitness to running, cycling or swimming clubs.
But surveys show that about 60% of Americans prefer working out alone, especially people who have reached middle age and older who may socialize less frequently in groups. Many lone runners say they come up with solutions to personal and professional problems while exercising. And they often resent the constraints of working out according to somebody else’s schedule. “I’m very gregarious and extroverted, yet I don’t want my exercise schedule hooked into somebody else’s,” says Rita Horiguchi, a 64-year-old self-described former couch potato who with the help of Stanford University learned to work out on her own.
The research coming out of Stanford and other universities essentially calls for such people to join a group or program while continuing to exercise on their own. A study due to be published soon in the International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, found that two group-counseling sessions, conducted over a three-month period, produced after three months a quadrupling of exercise levels and an even greater jump at nine months, long after the intervention had ended. By contrast, the exercise level of a control group rose during the study period but at nine months had returned to near-baseline levels. The study involved 119 participants with an average age in the mid 50s.
“This study demonstrated that group dynamics strategies can be [effective] when participants are away from the group or even once the group ceases to exist,” writes lead author Paul A. Estabrooks, a professor of exercise science at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
Dr. King, of Stanford, says that in setting up her studies she advertises for people who are physically inactive. By contrast, she says, ads for health clubs and personal trainers tend to feature photographs of young and buff clients, a marketing tactic that can make the sedentary feel marginalized. “The sedentary are a silent majority who are bombarded by images of active people,” says Dr. King. She says her advertisements for “couch potatoes” alleviate participant concerns about feeling inadequate.
Dr. King’s studies have found that telephone interventions of nearly every kind increase the exercise levels of previously sedentary people. One limitation is that the studies by definition attract people who are eager to change. Even so, participants who receive phone calls as infrequently as once a month have consistently boosted their exercise levels above control groups receiving no such calls, she says.
Despite the popular notion that Americans divide cleanly into the active and the sedentary, most people spend time in both camps. For weeks at a time, Dr. King says she sometimes joins the ranks of the sedentary. By nature a solitary exerciser, she says that when the going gets tough, “I join a small class.”
Some gyms have begun to incorporate the lessons of exercise-adherence research. The YMCA in Chicago recently conducted a study in which in it called members to monitor their success at reaching workout goals. If a member falls short one week, the caller would ask why, then gently prod the member to think of a way that a missed session of exercise could have been made up. “The idea is not to give them the answers, but to encourage them to solve their own exercise problems,” says Mary Ganzel, a YMCA exercise expert who led the study.
In a growing number of states, health officials are sponsoring exercise programs that enable residents to join teams while working out on their own. An annual program called Walk Kansas, for instance, divides tens of thousands of participants into teams of six, with each team expected to walk the width of Kansas, about 430 miles, in eight weeks. Team members walk on their own but report their weekly mileage to each other. An academic study of the Kansas program, which just concluded its ninth year, has found that participants continue exercising far above their original levels long past the end of the contest.
“You don’t want to let your team members down,” says Angel Patterson-Tetuan, a registered nurse who recently completed Walk Kansas for her second consecutive year. She credits the program with helping her lose 40 pounds and develop a year-round exercise regime.
“I used to be able to tell you what was on television every night,” says Mrs. Patterson-Tetuan, a 42-year-old mother of three. “Now I have no idea. I’m up and moving, and so are my children.”
The concern that using deodorants and antiperspirants might increase the risk of breast cancer has been around for around for at least 15 years, probably longer. The theory suggests that either parabens, a preservative previously used in some deodorants that acts as a weak form of oestrogen, or aluminium…
The concern that using deodorants and antiperspirants might increase the risk of breast cancer has been around for around for at least 15 years, probably longer.
The theory suggests that either parabens, a preservative previously used in some deodorants that acts as a weak form of oestrogen, or aluminium salts used in many antiperspirants, enter the body and contribute to or cause breast cancer.
The other argument supporting this theory centred on the higher proportion of breast cancer lesions being located in the upper outer quadrant of the breast. This is where deodorants and antiperspirants would come into most contact with breast tissue.
Others have observed there is simply more breast tissue in that part of the breast. So if lesions are evenly spread, we would expect to find more disease in that part of the breast.
Another issue is measurement precision. As reported in the study that advanced the theory, between the years 1980 and 1996, there was a lack of compliance with recording cancer lesion location by breast quadrant. Only 17.5% of cases recorded cancer location by quadrant, making meaningful analysis difficult.
On the question of the presence of parabens in breast tissue or breast lesions, detectable measures in tissue does not in itself prove causation of disease. Breast cancers, like most solid tumours, develop their own access to the body’s blood as a means to grow. As a result, it’s likely that any substance that’s in the blood stream will be detectable in small amounts in the tumour tissue. But it doesn’t mean the detected substance caused the cancer.
Nonetheless, as a result of the stories circulating about the potential harms of parabens, most manufacturers of deodorants have ceased using these preservatives. Not because of a proven harm, but because of a suspicion (“market perception”) of possible harm, which ultimately affects sales.
What does the evidence say?
Studies aimed at determining if a connection between underarm products and breast cancer really exists have not been able to find a causal link. One study in 2002 looked at about 800 women with breast cancer and a similar number of matched controls. They asked about the use of antiperspirants and deodorants, and underarm shaving habits. They could not find any difference between those with and those without breast cancer for any of these behaviours.
Another small case control study, in 2006 found that 82% of the controls (women without breast cancer) and 52% of cases (women with breast cancer) used antiperspirants, indicating that using the under arm product might protect against breast cancer. While the study is too small to justifiably make such a claim, it certainly does not support the “antiperspirants cause cancer” story.
Reputable groups like the American National Cancer Institute, Cancer Research UK, the American Cancer Society and most other major authorities suggest the link between deodorant or antiperspirant use and breast cancer is unconfirmed, or simply a myth.
What about radiotherapy?
Another contributing factor that perpetuates this myth is that patients undergoing radiotherapy are commonly advised to stop using antiperspirants during therapy, on the theory that the aluminium salts may influence the therapy. However a 2009 Australian study indicated that less than half of patients complied with this advice, with many forgetting (43%) or ignoring (10%) it.
Interestingly, this study also found, “Of the 233 women who routinely wore a deodorant but abstained during radiotherapy, 19% expressed a lot of concern about body odour and 45% were slightly concerned”. This suggests that many people see a clear benefit in using these products.
Even more recently, a Canadian study found no evidence of antiperspirant use having any adverse effect on radiotherapy treatment for breast cancer.
It’s impossible to ignore that the majority of research on the possible link between underarm cosmetics and breast cancer comes from one research group. And it seems despite the absence of evidence to support the link, their search to prove the theory is unlikely to stop.
Who knows, they may ultimately be proven correct. But based on the evidence from most of the other groups researching this question – it seems likely to remain nothing more than a myth
- Original article
Do fast foods cause asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis and eczema? Global findings from the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) Phase Three
- the ISAAC Phase III Study Group*
1Department of Paediatrics: Child and Youth Health, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
2Respiratory Medicine and Allergy Units, ‘Virgen de la Arrixaca’ University Children’s Hospital, University of Murcia, El Palmar, Murcia, Spain
3Centre for Evidence Based Dermatology, Queen’s Medical Centre, University Hospital, Nottingham, UK
4Institut für Epidemiologie und Sozialmedizin, Westfälische Wilhelms Universität, Münster, Germany
5Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Royal Children’s Hospital, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
6Institute of Epidemiology and Medical Biometry, Ulm University, Ulm, Germany
- Correspondence to Philippa Ellwood, Department of Paediatrics: Child and Youth Health, The University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland Mail Centre, Victoria Street West, Auckland 1142, New Zealand; email@example.com
Background Certain foods may increase or decrease the risk of developing asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis and eczema. We explored the impact of the intake of types of food on these diseases in Phase Three of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood.
Methods Written questionnaires on the symptom prevalence of asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis and eczema and types and frequency of food intake over the past 12 months were completed by 13–14-year-old adolescents and by the parents/guardians of 6–7-year-old children. Prevalence ORs were estimated using logistic regression, adjusting for confounders, and using a random (mixed) effects model.
Results For adolescents and children, a potential protective effect on severe asthma was associated with consumption of fruit ≥3 times per week (OR 0.89, 95% CI 0.82 to 0.97; OR 0.86, 95% CI 0.76 to 0.97, respectively). An increased risk of severe asthma in adolescents and children was associated with the consumption of fast food ≥3 times per week (OR 1.39, 95% CI 1.30 to 1.49; OR 1.27, 95% CI 1.13 to 1.42, respectively), as well as an increased risk of severe rhinoconjunctivitis and severe eczema. Similar patterns for both ages were observed for regional analyses, and were consistent with gender and affluence categories and with current symptoms of all three conditions.
Conclusions If the association between fast foods and the symptom prevalence of asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis and eczema is causal, then the findings have major public health significance owing to the rising consumption of fast foods globally.
As children, we live closer to our instincts. Yes, there’s the humorous and rather unfortunate side to this – like the time you ate an entire bag of Twizzlers and threw up all over your great-aunt’s carpet. In addition to the plethora of bad decisions (as if adults don’t make those too), however, there’s the extravagant daring and that amazing, irrepressible exuberance.
As adults, we might know better than to gorge on dye #40, but we’re tripped up by other things. We become distanced, detached from our instincts. The responsibilities, the schedule, the expectations surrounding our culture’s take on maturity can cast us out of the land of exuberance. It’s like we get gradually diverted to a boring Interstate stretch after traveling the scenic route. The road is efficient, utilitarian and might have nicer rest stops, but it often feels like a major letdown. What does it take to find our way back to the panoramas? What are the things we never should’ve stopped doing in the first place? I hope you add your own to the list. Let me throw out a few I’ve been thinking of today.
Climb – anything.
In addition to the workout, there’s something about the vantage point of height. Sitting in a tree, for example, you see the world and your problems differently for a short time. Once you’re on solid ground again, reality settles back in, but you’re different for having lived that time in a novel perspective. Find a favorite tree, a place you can sit on your roof, or build yourself a treehouse. Yes, it’s for you. Why not?
Jump in puddles (or snow mounds).
We adults get too fussy about weather. Our idea of inclement weather increasingly expands until we talk ourselves out of enjoying the vast majority of days. Invest in some real rain gear like you had when you were young (or just write off the need to stay dry altogether). Get out there and relish the bad weather like the amusement park it used to seem like. The novelty only wore off when we lost our imagination to make it so.
Play in the sand, dirt, mud, creek, lake, etc.
In other words, make a disgusting mess of yourself. Indulge/immerse for the all-important microbes, the sensory feast, and the subversive act of it. (It’s the ultimate snub to society’s confines.) Why do we take such pride, for example, in driving around a mud encrusted SUV? The real adventure is getting yourself caked in muck.
Eat food right off the plant/out of the dirt.
Speaking of soil… If children today even demonstrate so much as a musing to pick an apple off a tree, five parents rush over panicked yelling “Let me wash that for you!” Those of you who grew up in the 70s or earlier were probably running the neighborhood and your parents had no idea what you were up to. Left to their own devices, you probably ate any number of produce items pulled directly from the bushes, trees, and dirt (as well as worms, bugs, and other dare worthy items). You were meant to eat your fair share of dirt then. Take the chance to enjoy the same Primal goodies now.
Tell the truth.
Yeah, kids will give away the farm in any conversation while the parents bury their heads in mortification. It’s in kids’ natures to put it all out there, of course. They don’t mean any harm. As we get older, we become more tactful, we tell ourselves, more discreet and sensible, but I think there’s something we tend to give up in the process. Maybe we bury our own feelings too much. Maybe we don’t speak out against what our conscience tells us because we’re afraid of offending others, not fitting in, rocking the boat. While I don’t think anyone should give up on basic respect and reasonable limits, there’s a certain freedom in letting our emotions and true selves rise closer to the surface as they did when we were kids.
Let go of grudges.
As Crista noted in the comment section of last week’s 10 Habits of Highly Successful Hunter-Gatherers, kids are the perfect example when it comes to fix it and forget it. Forgive and move on. There’s just not enough time for bitterness when you know Mom is going to call you for dinner in two more hours. Why give up the chance for fun and risk missing out on anything good?
Remember pedaling as furiously as you could just to see how fast your inner superhero could go? How about jumping again and again to get higher and higher, to reach this branch and then that one. Childhood was like a never ending quest to see how brave we were. Why did we ever let go of that instinct or at least confine it into the tiny space of a career function or other “acceptable” trial? We’re clearly missing out. So go ahead. Throw a tennis ball at the wall of your house and see how many hundred times you can catch it. Run as fast as you can just for the sheer amusement of it. See how many Big Wheels you can jump over. Trust me, it’s just as important as what you had planned for the day.
Remember staring at the trees or just out the window for long stretches as a kid? We thought big thoughts or maybe just examined the pattern of scratches on the sill. We’d do well to give ourselves the same mental leisure once in a while. Not only is it relaxing, it can morph into its own flow state when we can be at our most creative.
The daughter of a friend of ours is the perfect example. At six years old, she’s still in that “living fabulous” phase (which every parent hopes will never end). She sings at frequent and random parts of the day. She runs and leaps and dances at whim whether she’s in a grocery store, on the beach, at school, or at home. How do we lose that? Remember the days before self-consciousness set in? When did we stop doing what feels good in the moment? Even if you can’t bring yourself to dance at your work station (although I’ve known plenty of fun people who do), let loose at home and consider trying some Parkour, Zumba, or other way to get you moving differently for your workouts. It’s a start.
Go to bed early.
Sure, we all whined and belly ached about it, but in ten minutes we were out like lights. Play hard, sleep hard. The early turn-in did more than give our parents some peace and quiet. There’s truth to the adage, an hour before midnight is worth two after. It has to do with our circadian rhythms and the pattern of deeper sleep. We stay up late to carve out more personal time or to get more done, but we’d be better off hitting the sack early and dialing back the alarm clock by an hour or two. No one loves getting up early, but we’d be better rested throughout the day as a result. We’d also enjoy a lot less stressful and more productive beginning to the day.
Laugh early and often throughout the day.
Spend a day around young kids, and you’ll lose count of how many times they yuck it up in a day. They’ll laugh for minutes on end at the simplest, even most inane things. And I’m not talking one of the polite chuckles we adults often grant each other in conversation. The old “Chicken butt” joke alone elicits round upon round of riotous belly laughs. Sure, we might need more incentive than the average four-year-old, but why don’t we prioritize laughter more? There are the laughter yoga groups, yes, but how many hilarious books, stand-up, and movies are out there? Who are the friends and acquaintances with the personalities and stories to keep you laughing for hours? Your cardiovascular system needs these folks. It flourishes with the entertainment.
How many of us stayed up late with flash lights under the covers to read our favorite books? (Okay, so we didn’t always get to sleep right away.) It was easy to get swept up then in imagining other worlds. Maybe it was because we’d likely seen so little of the world at that point. Picking up a good book today can be a therapeutic escape from the day or a reminder to get out and make more of life.
Somehow kickball never got old as a kid. Neither did Frisbee or ping pong or just about any other game. The movement, the challenge, the competition, the humor, the adrenaline of it all kept our enthusiasm running at full speed for hours. As an adult these days, a whole game can seem like such a commitment. We guard our time “responsibly” but too often go and blow it on the Internet (present blog excluded) or other media. Sometimes we even seem to sit uncomfortably with it, unwilling to commit to a real activity because we’re waiting for the other shoe to drop and another chore to appear. Free time should be quality time. Take a leap of faith and commit to a board game. Even better, find out how much more fun tug-of-war is in the snow. Play some hockey on the ice at the corner park, or do relays in the backyard with the kids.
We were at a cabin a few months ago with a larger group. One friend is an art teacher and kept the kids absolutely enthralled by building small houses with all the wood, rocks, flowers, and leaves they could find. The result – and his enthusiastic example – were impressive. Unless we’re in a creative profession, we tend to give that side of ourselves short shrift as adults. Exercising our creativity can help us hone our identities as we get older and celebrate new stages of our lives. Other times it just feels good.
Skip meals (when there’s something more exciting to be enjoyed).
Remember how crushed you were when it was time to come in for lunch/dinner/errands/school/etc. when you and your friends were just getting to the best part of your play? You were on the very edge of a full-blown revelation, the cusp of some great and grandiose scheme that was sure to propel you all toward some amazing success. You know the benefits of intermittent fasting, but it doesn’t have to be the formal, preplanned routine we often make it. If you keep life busy and spontaneous enough, you just might find plenty of opportunity to fit in fasting without ever thinking about it.
Stay outside until the last possible minute.
Why do we impose such early curfews on ourselves? Didn’t we all swear up and down that when we grew up we’d stay out as long as wanted (foot stomp added for emotional emphasis)? Imagine what would be possible if we opened up several more hours to relish the outdoors? Sure, we might miss the benefits of the sun, but the evening and night offers their own rhythms we can enjoy. They inspire different moods, different activities, different adventures. Why limit our outdoor lives?
Next one – your turn. What are the things you think we should’ve never stopped doing? Thanks for reading today, everybody. Share the stuff you refuse to outgrow, and have a great weekend.
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|January 31, 2013|
5 tips for decoding food labels
When it comes to eating healthfully, fresh fruits and vegetables are pretty much a slam dunk. Including packaged foods in a healthful diet is trickier. But it isn’t impossible if you learn how to use the Nutrition Facts on the package to judge the quality of the food inside. The vitamin or mineral content is less important as a basis for buying a product unless everything else adds up to a healthy choice.
Here are 5 ways to make food labels work for you:
|1.||Size matters. Serving size is always the first item on the label. All other information is based on that serving size. The servings per container tell you know how many portions are in the whole box, package, or can. Beware: many packages contain more than one serving. Look at your orange juice for example. If the label says 125 calories per 8 ounce serving and your breakfast includes a 16 ounce glass of OJ, then you’ve taken in 250 calories from the juice alone. (About as many calories as you’d find in many chocolate bars.)
|2.||Look for fat: the good, the bad, and the really bad. Check the saturated fat and trans fat content of the food. For a general healthful diet, keep saturated fat and cholesterol low and avoid trans fats altogether. Look for foods that have 0 grams (g) of trans fat and are lowest in saturated fat and cholesterol. Try to stay away from foods that have the words “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” in the ingredients list. Foods made with healthy unsaturated oils (olive, canola, safflower, etc.) are better bets.
|3.||Is it worth its salt? Compare the sodium content to the calories per serving. To keep your salt intake in check, consider products in which the sodium content is less than or equal to the calories per serving. For a food with 250 calories per serving, ideally the sodium content should be no more than 250 mg. If you need to seriously restrict your salt intake consider the low-sodium, low-salt, or unsalted versions.
|4.||Figure out the fiber. Aim for foods that have 5 g of fiber per serving, or at least one gram of fiber for every 10 grams of carbohydrate
|5.||Stay away from added sugars: Sugar, no matter what it’s called, contains almost no nutrients other than pure carbohydrate. A heavy sugar intake fills you up with empty calories, keeps you from eating healthy foods, and stresses your body’s ability to maintain a healthy blood sugar level. Steer clear of foods that have sugar, honey, molasses, corn syrup, corn sugar, fructose, or high-fructose corn syrup among the first three ingredients. Other names for sugar include agave nectar, brown sugar, cane sugar, corn sweetener, dextrose, maltose, fruit juice concentrate, and glucose.|