The Plain Truth

The Plain Truth
God's Hand Behind the News

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Scientists Figure Out How Alcohol Lowers Blood Sugar


Patrick Totty

Swedish scientists have found that alcohol lowers blood sugar by redirecting blood within the pancreas and sending massive amounts of it to the islets.

The finding by the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, is the first to show how alcohol is able to lower blood sugar levels. What happens is that by sending more of the pancreas's internal blood flow to the islets, alcohol spurs insulin production, which in turn lowers glucose levels.

The scientists injected rats with ethanol alcohol and noted that blood flow to the islets increased fourfold. The alcohol did not affect the amount of blood reaching the pancreas, only the distribution of blood within it.

The study also found that alcohol induced the changes in blood flow by affecting nitric oxide, a chemical compound that medical studies suggest is instrumental in glucose transport and the actions of insulin. Alcohol also affected the vagus nerve, which descends from the brain and into the abdomen and, among other things, signals organs there to secrete.

Source: Endocrinology, January 2008

Demand for health care help booming

Michigan's health care industry, the state's largest employer, desperately needs thousands of workers to fill jobs with critical shortages.

That may include you -- autoworkers, social workers, accountants, computer technicians and others laid off in one of the nation's worst recessions.

As jobs evaporate, the health care industry remains a field with job growth, benefits and, usually, stability.

"It's a very strong forecast for health care for a long time to come," said Andy Levin, deputy director of Michigan's Department of Labor and Economic Growth. ....more

Waist Size Predicts Stroke Risk

A large waist circumference, which is known to raise the risk of cardiovascular disease, may also raise the risk of stroke or mini-stroke, researchers from Germany report.

A large waistline seems to be a better indicator of a person's risk for suffering a stroke or mini-stroke, also known as "transient ischemic attack" or TIA, than a person's overall body weight, they report.

Dr. Tobias Back at Saxon Hospital Arnsdorf in Arnsdorf/Dresden and colleagues investigated the extent to which various markers of obesity were associated with the risk of stroke or mini-stroke in 379 adults with a history of stroke or TIA and 758 stroke-free controls of similar age and gender.

While being overweight in general (that is, having a high body mass index or BMI) increased the risk of stroke, this association became nonsignificant after the investigators accounted for "confounding" factors, like being physical inactive, smoking, having high blood pressure or diabetes.

However, being fat around the middle remained strongly associated with an increased risk of stroke or TIA.

For example, individuals with the highest so-called "waist-to-hip ratio" had a greater than 7-fold increased risk of stroke or TIA compared with those with the lowest waist-to-hip ratio.

Waist-to-hip ratio is calculated by dividing the circumference of the waist by the circumference of the hips. More belly fat results in higher ratios.

"If the waist-to-hip ratio values were greater than 0.97 for men and 0.84 for women, then individuals faced almost 8 times increased risk for stroke compared to individuals with a waist-to-hip ratio less than 0.92 in men or less than 0.78 in women," Back stated.

A large waistline also showed a strong association with stroke and TIA. If the waist circumference was greater than 40.2 inches for men or 34.6 inches for women, the risk of stroke increased more than 4-fold compared with individuals with a normal waist size, according to the researchers.

SOURCE: Stroke, December 2008.

Dogs More Effective Than Prozac

By: Sylvia Booth Hubbard

Want to cut down on doctor visits and be more active? Get a dog! University of British Columbia professor and author Stanley Coren says dogs work better at reducing stress than the antidepressant Prozac.

A recent study published in the journal “Psychosomatic Medicine” found that positive effects produced by dogs included several signs of reduced stress, including lowered blood pressure, slowed heart rate and more relaxed muscles. And those relaxing effects were attained much more rapidly than pills. Having a dog close by reduced stress in as little as five minutes, where prescription medications can take weeks before taking effect.

“The data is absolutely unambiguous,” Coren told Canada.com. “This actually works better than having a loved one next to you.”

Amazingly, research shows that dog owners visit their doctors less often and are more physically active than non-dog owners. And seniors who own dogs are four times less likely to be victims of depression.

“It’s quite an amazing statistic,” said Coren, author of several books on how humans interact with dogs including “How to Speak Dog: Mastering the Art of Dog-Human Communication.”

Don’t take health tips from celebs if you know what’s good for you

From Madonna’s quest to “neutralise radiation” to Tom Cruise’s dismissals of psychiatry, celebrities are seldom shy about expressing their views on health and science – even when they appear not to know what they are talking about.

A roll call of public figures such as Cruise and Delia Smith have offered bogus advice or “quackery” this year, according to scientists and doctors. The charity Sense About Science is concerned that celebrities mislead the public when they endorse theories, diets or health products while misrepresenting the science involved.

Some – such as Oprah Winfrey and Kate Moss – espouse “detox” regimes, while others, such as Sharon and Kelly Osbourne, believe (mistakenly) that the Pill can cause cancer.

Nor are politicians exempt from lending credence to health myths. The US President-elect is among several American public figures who continue to suggest that the MMR vaccination is a potential cause of autism, despite an overwhelming weight of scientific evidence to the contrary.


MORE

Sunday, December 21, 2008

God's got it right again! Circumcision Reduces HIV Risk in Heterosexual Men

A new U.S. study has found that being circumcised significantly reduced the risk of HIV infection in heterosexual African American men known to have been exposed to the virus. The findings complement those of recently reported clinical trials in Africa, where interventional use of adult male circumcision similarly reduced the risk of HIV infection in heterosexual men. The findings of the new study, along with similar results from other studies, suggest that circumcision may protect other heterosexual males in the U.S. The promising new findings are reported in the January 1 issue of The Journal of Infectious Diseases, now available online.

Lee Warner, PhD, MPH, and colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine studied the records of more than 26,000 African American men who had had HIV testing during visits to two Baltimore, Maryland, STD clinics from 1993 to 2000. The subjects selected for the study said that they did not inject drugs and had sex only with women. Their visits to the clinics were classified as involving known HIV exposure if there had been a recent notification of such exposure by a sex partner or by a clinic’s disease intervention specialists; clinic visits for other reasons were classified as involving unknown HIV exposure. By these criteria, the investigators found 394 visits with known exposure and 40,177 visits with unknown exposure.

In visits by men with known HIV exposure, being circumcised was associated with a 51 percent reduction in HIV prevalence (10.2 percent of circumcised men vs. 22.0 percent of uncircumcised men). In contrast, HIV prevalence did not significantly differ in circumcised compared to uncircumcised men with unknown HIV exposure (2.5 percent vs 3.3 percent).

The investigators noted that three other U.S.-based studies had previously suggested that circumcision may be associated with reduced HIV risk, but the findings were limited by small sample size or extremely low HIV prevalence and did not achieve statistical significance. Indeed, HIV prevalence in the United States is very low (about 0.4 percent), and the proportion of circumcised adult males is high (about 80 percent), which could make it hard for conventional observational studies (i.e., studies that are not clinical trials) to discern whether circumcision actually has a protective effect. By focusing on patients who had documented exposure to an HIV-infected female partner, the current study was able to reveal that there was indeed a protective effect. This approach, the investigators said, “represents a significant methodological advancement over most previous observational studies.”

In a separate editorial on the topic, Ronald H. Gray, MBBS, MSc, of Johns Hopkins University, pointed out that circumcision may be especially important for minority U.S. populations, including Hispanic as well as African American men—subgroups most at risk for HIV infection. He also noted that the American Academy of Pediatrics has thus far not recommended routine neonatal circumcision, and that Medicaid does not cover the procedure. “It is to be hoped,” he said, “that the paper by Warner et al., in conjunction with the weight of evidence from international studies, will persuade the Academy to recognize the public health importance of this surgery for prevention of HIV in minority U.S. populations.”

Fast Facts:

Recently reported clinical trials in Africa have shown that interventional use of adult male circumcision reduced the risk of HIV infection in heterosexual men.

The current U.S. study was able to show that circumcision significantly protected heterosexual African American men. It did so by focusing on subjects who had documented exposure to an HIV-infected female partner.


Realted Stories on YOUR HEALTH TODAY:

Disease and Sanitation rules found in the Bible:


Delicate decision: To circumcise or not?


Circumcision 'does not curb sex'




Health Scan: Surgery still sometimes needed to get rid of kidney stonesSome people know that if a person is diagnosed with kidney stones, he can be tr

Some people know that if a person is diagnosed with kidney stones, he can be treated non-invasively with a soundwave device called a lithotripter, which smashes the stones into tiny fragments. Another technique is to insert an optic fiber into the urinary tract to destroy the stones. But Dr. Mordechai Duvdevani of the andro-urology unit at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem's Ein Kerem notes that these treatments are not so simple, and that the condition may still require minimally invasive surgery.

Writing in the latest issue of Urology Updates published by Medical Media, Duvdevani says these procedures are sometimes not successful - especially when stones are larger than 20 millimeters in diameter or very dense. In some cases, the fragments don't flush out of the body. Instead, a better technique, called percutaneous nephrolithotomy, is recommended.

The urologist explains that kidney stones result when there are bacteria able to break down uric acid and allow minerals to accumulate in the urinary tract. Antibiotics are not enough to get rid of these stones, as layer after layer of minerals accumulate. Sometimes, kidneys that are congenitally shaped differently than the norm are more prone to stones.

In percutaneous nephrolithotomy, which is performed under general anesthesia in one to four hours, a path is created to the kidney via the hip. Ultrasound, laser or other energy-based devices are introduced to smash the stones in situ and "vacuum" them out. Sometimes a supportive stent in inserted into the urethra that remains for a day or two. The procedure takes so long because the path must be at exactly the right location, angle and size. Sometimes a second path has to be created. The patient is hospitalized for two days to a week. Serious complications, writes Duvdevani, are rare.

Nephrolithotomy can be used by a well-trained team on a wide variety of patients, he concludes, including those with chronic illness and anatomical changes in the urinary tract. As kidney stones can recur, patients should be followed up.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Statin Warning for Women

Pregnant women or those hoping to start or extend a family should avoid using the cholesterol-lowering drugs statins, say scientists.

Current clinical guidelines already recommend that women who are pregnant should stop taking statins but the advice is based on the knowledge that cholesterol is essential for normal fetal development.

Indeed, a 2007 study examining the risk of congenital anomalies in children of pregnant women using statins suggested that the detrimental effects of the drugs may be restricted to fat-soluble or 'lipophilic' statins only.

But new research from The University of Manchester has shown that even water-soluble or 'hydrophilic' statins, such as pravastatin, can affect placental development leading to worse pregnancy outcomes.

"The rapid rise in obesity and type-2 diabetes is a major health issue and affected individuals are often treated with statins to lower circulating cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease," said Dr Melissa Westwood, a Senior Lecturer in Endocrinology based at the Maternal and Fetal Health Research Centre at St Mary's Hospital, Manchester.

"Given the evolving demographic profile of these conditions, such drugs are increasingly prescribed to women of reproductive age but the actions of statins are not limited to the regulation of cholesterol levels, as they can affect the production of other chemicals in the body too.

"Our study examined the effects that both lipophilic and hydrophilic statins had on a key biological system that is crucial for maintaining the normal function of the placenta, which acts as the nutrient-waste exchange barrier between mother and fetus."

The research, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), used a placental-tissue model that could be maintained in a viable state outside the body for several days and tested the effects of two different statins – one water-soluble and one that dissolves in fat.

As expected, the fat-soluble statin, cerivastatin, affected the placenta resulting in reduced growth but the researchers also found that pravastatin – the water-soluble statin thought to be potentially compatible for use in pregnancy – had the same detrimental effect.

"These results clearly show that the effect of statins on the placenta is not dependent on their lipophilicity as had previously been suggested," said Dr Westwood, whose findings are published in the Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine.

"While hydrophilic statins have not been reported to increase the incidence of fetal malformations, our research suggests that they will have a detrimental effect on placental growth, which is likely to result in poor pregnancy outcome.

"Healthcare professionals should continue to advise women to avoid the use of any type of statin once they plan to start a family or when a pregnancy is suspected or confirmed."

Four in Ten Adults Use Unconventional Medicine

About four in 10 U.S. adults and one in nine children are turning to unconventional medical approaches for chronic pain and other health problems, health officials said on Wednesday.

Back pain was the leading reason that Americans reported using complementary and alternative medicine techniques, followed by neck and joint pain as well as arthritis, according to the survey by the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About 38 percent of adults used some form of complementary and alternative medicine in 2007, compared to 36 percent in 2002, the last time the government tracked at the matter.

For the first time, the survey looked at use of such medicine by children under age 18, finding that about 12 percent used it, officials said. The reasons included back pain, colds, anxiety, stress and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to the survey.

The risks for children using these are unclear, they said.

Complementary medicine is used together with conventional treatment, while alternative medicine is used instead. This includes such things as herbal medicines and other natural products, chiropractic techniques, acupuncture, massage, meditation and others.

Many people feel these may work better for them than typical medical approaches, with fewer bad side effects. And so-called natural products have become big business, too, with various herbal medicines and others emerging as lucrative products.

"As I look at this data, what I'm most struck with is how much people are turning to CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) approaches as part of the management of chronic pain conditions, particularly chronic back pain, but also neck pain and musculoskeletal pain and headache," said Dr. Josephine Briggs, director of the U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the NIH.

"And from my days as an internist seeing patients in my office, I know that these are conditions that are hard to manage and tough to treat," Briggs told reporters.

Chiropractic care, acupuncture and massage therapy are among the complementary and alternative medicine techniques used for chronic pain, NIH researcher Richard Nahin said.

The survey results were based on responses from about 23,000 adults and 9,500 children nationwide.

Overall, the most common category of complementary and alternative medicine used was natural products such as herbal medicines and certain other types of dietary supplements other than vitamins and minerals.

Among these natural products used by adults, fish oil was the most commonly used. Nahin said it is used for such reasons as high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Nahin said use of complementary and alternative medicine seems to be remaining at a significant but stable level, with most of the recent increases among those age 60 and up.

Deep breathing exercises, meditation and massage therapy all showed significant increases among adults. Overall, women and people with higher levels of education were more likely to use complementary and alternative medicine techniques.

Echinacea, a medicinal plant sometimes used to treat or prevent colds, was the most common of the natural products used by children, according to the survey. Echinacea use dropped among adults from 2002 to 2007, Nahin said.

Exercise Suppresses Appetite Hormones

A vigorous 60-minute workout on a treadmill affects the release of two key appetite hormones, ghrelin and peptide YY, while 90 minutes of weight lifting affects the level of only ghrelin, according to a new study. Taken together, the research shows that aerobic exercise is better at suppressing appetite than non-aerobic exercise and provides a possible explanation for how that happens.

This line of research may eventually lead to more effective ways to use exercise to help control weight, according to the senior author, David J. Stensel of Loughborough University in the United Kingdom.

The study, “The influence of resistance and aerobic exercise on hunger, circulating levels of acylated ghrelin and peptide YY in healthy males,” appears in the online edition of The American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, published by The American Physiological Society. The authors are David R. Broom, James A. King and David J. Stensel of Loughborough University, and Rachel L. Batterham of University College, London.

There are several hormones that help regulate appetite, but the researchers looked at two of the major ones, ghrelin and peptide YY. Ghrelin is the only hormone known to stimulate appetite. Peptide YY suppresses appetite.

Ghrelin was discovered by researchers in Japan only about 10 years ago and was originally identified for its role as a growth hormone. Only later did its role in stimulating appetite become known. Peptide YY was discovered less than 25 years ago.

In this experiment, 11 male university students did three eight-hour sessions. During one session they ran for 60 minutes on a treadmill, and then rested for seven hours. During another session they did 90 minutes of weight lifting, and then rested for six hours and 30 minutes. During another session, the participants did not exercise at all.

During each of the sessions, the participants filled out surveys in which they rated how hungry they felt at various points. They also received two meals during each session. The researchers measured ghrelin and peptide YY levels at multiple points along the way.

They found that the treadmill (aerobic) session caused ghrelin levels to drop and peptide YY levels to increase, indicating the hormones were suppressing appetite. However, a weight-lifting (non-aerobic) session produced a mixed result. Ghrelin levels dropped, indicating appetite suppression, but peptide YY levels did not change significantly.

Based on the hunger ratings the participants filled out, both aerobic and resistance exercise suppressed hunger, but aerobic exercise produced a greater suppression of hunger. The changes the researchers observed were short term for both types of exercise, lasting about two hours, including the time spent exercising, Stensel reported.

“The finding that hunger is suppressed during and immediately after vigorous treadmill running is consistent with previous studies indicating that strenuous aerobic exercise transiently suppresses appetite,” Stensel said. “The findings suggest a similar, although slightly attenuated response, for weight lifting exercise.”

In a nutshell: Eat more nuts to reduce heart risks

CHICAGO (AP) — Scientists have come across a nutty risk reducer: Eating a handful of nuts a day for a year — along with a Mediterranean diet rich in fruit, vegetables and fish — may help undo a collection of risk factors for heart disease.

Spanish researchers found that adding nuts worked better than boosting the olive oil in a typical Mediterranean diet. Both regimens cut the heart risks known as metabolic syndrome in more people than a low-fat diet did.

"What's most surprising is they found substantial metabolic benefits in the absence of calorie reduction or weight loss," said Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of preventive medicine at Harvard's Brigham and Women's Hospital.

In the study, appearing Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the people who improved most were told to eat about three whole walnuts, seven or eight whole hazelnuts and seven or eight whole almonds. They didn't lose weight, on average, but more of them succeeded in reducing belly fat and improving their cholesterol and blood pressure.

Manson, who wasn't involved in the study, cautioned that adding nuts to a Western diet — one packed with too many calories and junk food — could lead to weight gain and more health risks. "But using nuts to replace a snack of chips or crackers is a very favorable change to make in your diet," Manson said.

The American Heart Association says 50 million Americans have metabolic syndrome, a combination of health risks, such as high blood pressure and abdominal obesity. Finding a way to reverse it with a diet people find easy and satisfying would mean huge health improvements for many Americans, Manson said.

Nuts help people feel full while also increasing the body's ability to burn fat, said lead author Dr. Jordi Salas-Salvado of the University of Rovira i Virgili in Reus, Spain.

"Nuts could have an effect on metabolic syndrome by multiple mechanisms," Salas-Salvado said in an e-mail. Nuts are rich in anti-inflammatory substances, such as fiber, and antioxidants, such as vitamin E. They are high in unsaturated fat, a healthier fat known to lower blood triglycerides and increase good cholesterol.

More than 1,200 Spaniards, ranging in age from 55 to 80, were randomly assigned to follow one of three diets. They were followed for a year. The participants had no prior history of heart disease, but some had risk factors including Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and abdominal obesity.

At the start, 751 people had metabolic syndrome, about 61%, distributed evenly among the three groups.

Metabolic syndrome was defined as having three or more of the following conditions: abdominal obesity, high triglycerides, low levels of good cholesterol (HDL), high blood sugar and high blood pressure.

The low-fat group was given basic advice about reducing all fat in their diets. Another group ate a Mediterranean diet with extra nuts. The third group ate a Mediterranean diet and was told to make sure they ate more than four tablespoons of olive oil a day.

Dietitians advised the two groups on the Mediterranean diet to use olive oil for cooking; increase fruit, vegetable and fish consumption; eat white meat instead of beef or processed meat; and prepare homemade tomato sauce with garlic, onions and herbs. Drinkers were told to stick with red wine.

After one year, all three groups had fewer people with metabolic syndrome, but the group eating nuts led the improvement, now with 52% having those heart risk factors. In the olive oil group, 57% had the syndrome. In the low-fat group, there was very little difference after a year in the percentage of people with the syndrome.

The nut-rich diet didn't do much to improve high blood sugar, but the large number of people with Type 2 diabetes — about 46% of participants — could be the reason, Salas-Salvado said. It's difficult to get diabetics' blood sugar down with lifestyle changes alone, he said.

To verify that study volunteers ate their nuts, researchers gave some of them a blood test for alpha-linolenic acid found in walnuts.

The study was funded by the Spanish Ministry of Health and the government of Valencia, Spain.

Salas-Salvado and another co-author disclosed in the publication that they are unpaid advisers to nut industry groups. Salas-Salvado said all of their research "has been conducted under standard ethical and scientific rules" and that peer-review journal editors determined the study results were not influenced by food industry ties.

Cabbage, an Inexpensive Nutritional Powerhouse

An article last month by Tara Parker-Pope about the challenges of eating fresh food on a tight budget got me thinking about cabbage. It is a very economical vegetable that is easy to find in any supermarket and it gives you a huge nutritional bang for your buck. This humble food has always been a mainstay for the poor and in cold climates people of all classes have relied on it to feed themselves through many a winter. (The vegetable is at its best during the fall and winter months, when it is in season, and it stores well for weeks).


ARTICLE

Pomegranates taste good and are good for you

Chasing a youthful glow never tasted so good. The pomegranate, an ancient "super" fruit, is packed with antioxidants and a bounty of health benefits. Not only does it taste good, it's good for you. And it can also be a fun decoration for the holiday.

Throughout history, the pomegranate has been held in high esteem. According to POM Wonderful, one of the largest producers in the United States, Buddha believed it was one of the three blessed fruits. Early Christians used it to symbolize God's bountiful love — its red juice, the blood of martyrs. Pomegranates also appeared in ancient Greece, symbolizing winter and the holidays. In one New Year's Eve tradition, the Greeks would smash a silver-foil-wrapped pomegranate against the threshold of a home to spread the seeds of good luck.


A fruit fit for decorating or dining

There are many uses for pomegranates, and they don't all involve eating.

Decor: With its ruby-red exterior and ornamental appearance, the pomegranate would make a festive holiday centerpiece.

Simply fill a glass bowl with pomegranates, surrounded by greens, and listen to your guests ooh and ahh as they walk in the door.

If you want more ideas on decorating with pomegranates, go to www.pomwonderful.com.

Dining: For a new twist on your holiday table:
• Try using the arils from the pomegranate on top of warmed brie and toasted bread.
• Use the juice in fancy cocktail drinks.
• Freeze the arils in ice trays to make fun ice cubes for drinks.
• Garnish salads.
• Use arils in marinades and sorbets.
• Add a tart taste to basic dishes by using the arils.

Symbolism: Not only do pomegranates add festive flavor and a colorful touch to your holiday gathering, they are a symbol of hope, healing and fertility.

— Brenda Junkin

ARTICLE

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Gout

Gout is an arthritic type of pain in your joints; typically, about 75 percent of people will experience it as an excruciating pain in their big toe. (Hence, if you ever experience sudden, severe pain in your big toe, you’ll want to go get checked for gout.)

The symptoms of gout -- the stiff, swollen and painful joints -- are due to excess uric acid forming crystals in your joints, and the pain is caused by your body’s inflammatory response to these crystals.

Besides gout, elevated uric acid is related to a variety of other health conditions, including:

  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney disease
  • Heart disease

Many people suffering from gout end up taking some type of pain reducing medication, typically an anti-inflammatory. Drugs like Allopurinol and Cholchicine work by either lowering your uric acid levels, which decrease crystal formation, or by simply blocking your body’s natural inflammatory response.

But these drugs also have very dangerous, long-term side effects, and gout is frequently a lifelong condition, so you may end up staying on these drugs for very long periods of time, which can wreak havoc with your health.

Folks, you don’t need to take a dangerous drug to deal with this painful condition. You CAN address the underlying cause of excess uric acid formation via all natural means.

Change Your Diet -- Reduce Inflammation Naturally

Any time we’re talking about reducing inflammation, please remember that your diet is your number one priority.

Why?

Because the REAL underlying problem causing the inflammation, and subsequent damage, is likely due to having chronically elevated blood sugar. (The sugar molecule causes far more damage than any other molecule.) And, your number one way of normalizing your blood sugar and insulin levels is through your diet.

But what constitutes an optimal diet?

Well, first of all, you should know by now that there is no one diet that is right for everyone. This is why I always recommend you go through my nutritional typing process to find out which type of diet is right for you, based on your personal biochemistry and metabolism.

Some people thrive on a high carb-low fat/low protein diet. Others need more fat and protein, and far less carbs. Others may fall somewhere in between.

However, regardless of your nutritional type, drastically reducing or eliminating sugar is essential if you’re dealing with gout, or any other condition caused by inflammation in your body.

Recent research shows you can lower your risk of gout by an impressive 85 percent, simply by reducing your intake of sugar.

What this means for most people is: eliminate the soft drinks and fruit juices.

It never ceases to amaze me that the number one source of calories for Americans is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in the form of soda. This is so tragic because soda can be one of the easiest dietary modifications to make.

Instead, drink plenty of pure water, as the fluids will help to remove uric acid from your body.

Another important diet modification is to reduce or eliminate alcohol, as it is clearly a risk factor in gout.

Other Natural Tips for Treating Gout

Exercise, just like optimizing your vitamin D levels, is an all-around health booster that helps improve your health no matter what your problem is. In this case, exercise helps normalize your insulin and hence your uric acid levels, naturally.

As far as using supplements, tart cherries have been found to offer excellent benefits in the treatment of gout. Tart cherries contain two powerful compounds, anthocyanins and bioflavonoids, which are known to have similar activity to aspirin and ibuprofen. Both of these compounds slow down the enzymes Cyclo-oxyygenase-1 and -- 2, which helps to relieve and prevent arthritis and gout in your body.

A handful of fresh cherries in the summertime are a natural gourmet delight, but if you want to harness the antioxidant power of cherries on a routine basis--and you definitely should, as they are one of nature’s true "healing foods"--then you should seriously consider taking a red tart cherry juice concentrate.

Cherry juice concentrate can contain about 55 to 60 tart cherries in every ounce. That’s a single recommended serving, so in other words, you’d have to eat 55 to 60 cherries to get the same health benefit (and I don’t recommend eating 55 to 60 cherries, as that is too much sugar ... But with a concentrate, you can get the health benefit of the cherries without all the sugar).

Last but not least, just in time for the Christmas holiday season, consider spicing up your dishes with plenty of nutmeg, as this common spice is also useful for gout.


Related Articles:

VIDEO

Nuts Help Cut Metabolic Syndrome Risk

Here's a health tip in a nutshell: Eating a handful of nuts a day for a year — along with a Mediterranean diet rich in fruit, vegetables and fish — may help undo a collection of risk factors for heart disease.

Spanish researchers found that adding nuts worked better than boosting the olive oil in a typical Mediterranean diet. Both regimens cut the heart risks known as metabolic syndrome in more people than a low-fat diet did.

"What's most surprising is they found substantial metabolic benefits in the absence of calorie reduction or weight loss," said Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of preventive medicine at Harvard's Brigham and Women's Hospital.

In the study, appearing Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the people who improved most were told to eat about three whole walnuts, seven or eight whole hazelnuts and seven or eight whole almonds. They didn't lose weight, on average, but more of them succeeded in reducing belly fat and improving their cholesterol and blood pressure.

Manson, who wasn't involved in the study, cautioned that adding nuts to a Western diet — one packed with too many calories and junk food — could lead to weight gain and more health risks. "But using nuts to replace a snack of chips or crackers is a very favorable change to make in your diet," Manson said.

The American Heart Association says 50 million Americans have metabolic syndrome, a combination of health risks, such as high blood pressure and abdominal obesity. Finding a way to reverse it with a diet people find easy and satisfying would mean huge health improvements for many Americans, Manson said.

Nuts help people feel full while also increasing the body's ability to burn fat, said lead author Dr. Jordi Salas-Salvado of the University of Rovira i Virgili in Reus, Spain.

"Nuts could have an effect on metabolic syndrome by multiple mechanisms," Salas-Salvado said in an e-mail. Nuts are rich in anti-inflammatory substances, such as fiber, and antioxidants, such as vitamin E. They are high in unsaturated fat, a healthier fat known to lower blood triglycerides and increase good cholesterol.

More than 1,200 Spaniards, ranging in age from 55 to 80, were randomly assigned to follow one of three diets. They were followed for a year. The participants had no prior history of heart disease, but some had risk factors including Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and abdominal obesity.

At the start, 751 people had metabolic syndrome, about 61 percent, distributed evenly among the three groups.

Metabolic syndrome was defined as having three or more of the following conditions: abdominal obesity, high triglycerides, low levels of good cholesterol (HDL), high blood sugar and high blood pressure.

The low-fat group was given basic advice about reducing all fat in their diets. Another group ate a Mediterranean diet with extra nuts. The third group ate a Mediterranean diet and was told to make sure they ate more than four tablespoons of olive oil a day.

Dietitians advised the two groups on the Mediterranean diet to use olive oil for cooking; increase fruit, vegetable and fish consumption; eat white meat instead of beef or processed meat; and prepare homemade tomato sauce with garlic, onions and herbs. Drinkers were told to stick with red wine.

After one year, all three groups had fewer people with metabolic syndrome, but the group eating nuts led the improvement, now with 52 percent having those heart risk factors. In the olive oil group, 57 percent had the syndrome. In the low-fat group, there was very little difference after a year in the percentage of people with the syndrome.

The nut-rich diet didn't do much to improve high blood sugar, but the large number of people with Type 2 diabetes — about 46 percent of participants — could be the reason, Salas-Salvado said. It's difficult to get diabetics' blood sugar down with lifestyle changes alone, he said.

To verify that study volunteers ate their nuts, researchers gave some of them a blood test for alpha-linolenic acid found in walnuts.

The study was funded by the Spanish Ministry of Health and the government of Valencia, Spain.

Salas-Salvado and another co-author disclosed in the publication that they are unpaid advisers to nut industry groups. Salas-Salvado said all of their research "has been conducted under standard ethical and scientific rules" and that peer-review journal editors determined the study results were not influenced by food industry ties.

Selenium May Prevent Bladder Cancer

By Silvia Booth Hubbard

A new study reported by the American Association for Cancer Research found that selenium, a non-metallic trace mineral found in grains, nuts, and meats may help prevent bladder cancer, especially in those patients at high risk.

Researchers from the Dartmouth Medical School also found a significant reduction in the incidence of bladder cancer in women, smokers and people with cancer related to a specific gene—p53.

Lead researcher Margaret Karagas measured the selenium levels in the toenails of 767 people recently diagnosed with bladder cancer and 1,108 people from the general population. They found that higher rates of selenium were related to a reduction in bladder cancer in women (34 percent), moderate smokers (39 percent) and in those with p53 tumors (43 percent).

“Ultimately, if it is true that selenium can prevent a certain subset of individuals, like women, from developing bladder cancer, or prevent certain types of tumors, such as those evolving through the p53 pathway, from developing, it gives us clues about how the tumors could be prevented in the future and potentially lead to chemopreventive efforts,” Karagas said.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Diabetes Updates - Links

Depression linked to poorer diabetes control
Depression may make it harder for people with diabetes to keep their blood sugar levels in check, researchers have found.
more >>

Psychotherapy may help with diabetes control
Integrating motivational enhancement therapy with cognitive behavioral therapy may help people with type 1 diabetes better manage their disease, British researchers report.
more >>

Heart problems often worse in diabetic women
Women younger than 65 with diabetes tend to have worse heart problems than diabetic men of the same age, leading to higher death rates following a heart attack, the results of a Swedish study indicate.
more >>

Diabetes control doesn't normalize menstruation
Good metabolic control and intensive insulin treatment doesn't normalize the onset of menstruation, which is usually delayed in girls with type 1 diabetes compared with girls without the disease, study findings confirm.
more >>

Eating fish may prevent kidney decline in people with diabetes
Eating fish at least twice a week seems to reduce the incidence of kidney disease in patients with diabetes, according to findings from a large British study.
more >>

Periodontal disease linked to metabolic syndrome
In middle-aged adults, gum disease goes hand in hand with the metabolic syndrome, UK researchers report.
more >>

Vitamin E May Ease Chronic Inflammation

Chronic inflammation and the pain it brings can seriously impair physical activity and quality of life, especially in light of the fact that up to half of a person’s body mass consists of skeletal muscle. But according to University of Illinois professor Kimberly Huey, vitamin E may be able to reduce chronic inflammation.

Researchers gave vitamin E to mice and then injected them with E. coli lipopolysaccharide (LPS) to cause acute inflammation throughout the mice’s systems. Then the mice were examined for levels of particular pro-inflammatory cytokines (chemicals that help cells communicate and the immune system respond).

When the mice were examined, researchers found a significant decrease in cytokines, when compared with the placebo.

In addition to examining the cytokines, the researchers also looked at the amount of oxidized proteins in the muscle. “Oxidation can be detrimental, and in muscle has been associated with reduced muscle strength,” Huey said. The researchers found a “significant reduction” in the amount of oxidized proteins in muscles with vitamin E compared to placebo.” she said.

Vitamin E “may be beneficial in individuals with chronic inflammation, such as the elderly or patients with type 2 diabetes or chronic heart failure,” Huey said.

Heart Attack Patients Get 'Big Chill' Treatment

It took five mighty shocks to get Cynthia Crawford's heart to start beating again after she collapsed at Ochsner Clinic a few weeks ago. A dramatic rescue, to be sure, yet it was routine care she could have had at any hospital. What came next, though, was not. As she lay unconscious, barely clinging to life, doctors placed her in an inflatable cocoon-like pool that sprayed her naked body with hundreds of icy cold jets of water, plunging her into hypothermia.

"Like jumping in the North Sea," said the cardiologist leading her care, Dr. Paul McMullan.

Days later, Crawford was recovering without the brain damage she might have suffered.

For years, doctors have tried cooling people to limit damage from head and spinal cord injuries, strokes and even prematurity and birth trauma in newborns. It's also used for cardiac arrest, when someone's heart has stopped. In January, New York will join several other cities requiring ambulances to take many cardiac arrest patients to hospitals that offer cooling.

Now doctors will be testing a new and dramatically speedier way of doing this for a much more common problem — heart attacks, which strike a million Americans each year. ...more

It's official: Men really are the weaker sex

The male gender is in danger, with incalculable consequences for both humans and wildlife, startling scientific research from around the world reveals. The research – to be detailed tomorrow in the most comprehensive report yet published – shows that a host of common chemicals is feminising males of every class...

Click here to view this content.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

One sneeze, 150 colds for commuters

TISSUES at the ready. A single sneeze in a busy area can end up infecting 150 people with a cold in just five minutes, new research suggests.

An analysis of the germs unleashed from a single commuter's sneeze showed that within minutes they are being passed on via escalator handrails or seats on trains and underground carriages.

...more

Eating Eggs Protects Mom’s Offspring from Cancer

Eating eggs while pregnant can protect the mom’s offspring from cancer. Researchers reported in the journal of the “Federation of American Society for Experimental Biology” (FASEB) that eating choline—a nutrient abundant in eggs—during pregnancy lowered the risk of breast cancer in the mother’s offspring.

The team of biologists from Boston University was the first to link choline with the prevention of breast cancer and the first to identify changes in genes related to choline....more

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sex is the key to longer living

Sex - we're so ohhh-ver it!

At least that's what 105-year-old Clara Meadmore reckons.

Forget plenty of exercise, a strong family history or a diet of oily fish, fruit and veg.

The thing she credits for her lengthy life is men – or rather, a distinct lack of them.

The elderly Scot has gone without sex her entire life, claiming the hassle-free existence has given her a distinct advantage in staying fit and well.

But can this be true?

Well, according to sexperts, Claire's abstinence could have the opposite effect.

Just check up our round-up of reasons why sex could save your life.

1) Sex keeps us fit

It’s an age-old notion, but sweating it out in the bedroom really can give you a full-body workout.

The average lovemaking session burns between 50 and 100 calories.

That means that having sex three times a week burns 7500 calories per year, the equivalent of jogging 75 miles.

And it isn’t just the thigh and arm muscles that get a full workout when you treat your man in the bedroom.

Sex tones and conditions the muscles of the pelvic floor too.

These muscles play a vital function when it comes to good posture, straighter back and flatter tummies.

2) Sex works as a painkiller

Some women may use the 'headache' excuse when they don’t feel up to a session, but in reality, lovemaking itself can help to relieve pain.

According to a recent study, women who brought themselves to orgasm regularly saw their pain tolerance threshold shortly afterwards increased by 75 per cent.

This may happen because regular orgasms help the release of Oxytocin; a natural chemical in the body that can work to relieve pain by releasing sedative endorphins.

3) Sex improves our mood

So it’s pretty obvious that writhing around in perfect pleasure will perk you up, but other studies show that sex can improve our mood in different ways.

Firstly sex, like exercise, can improve our mood by releasing endorphins – giving us that 'runner’s high' for hours after lovemaking.

And a recent study goes so far as to suggest that semen itself may act as an antidepressant.

Females in the US study who were having sex regularly with the partners without a condom, had fewer signs of depression than women who weren’t having sex at all.

4) Sex is good for our health

So, sex makes you happier and a happy disposition has been proven to help keep your body healthy.

But recent studies even suggest that serious conditions, like high blood pressure, can be cured between the sheets.

One study found that women who ingested semen during sex had a lower risk of preeclampsia, the dangerously high blood pressure that sometimes accompanies pregnancy.

Other studies show that sex lowers blood pressure, and reduces the incidence of strokes because of its stress-relieving ability.

And lovemaking can also help to prevent cancer.

Recently The Journal of American Medical Association recently reported that high ejaculation frequency was related to decreased risk of total prostate cancer.

5) Sex is fun – enough said

6) Sex boosts oestrogen

Dr Winnifred Cutler, a specialist in behavioural endocrinology and director of the Athena Institute for Women's Wellness in Pennsylvania found that women who enjoyed regular weekly sex with a man had significantly higher levels of oestrogen in their blood than women who abstained.

The benefits of oestrogen include lowering bad cholesterol, better bone density and supple skin.

7) Sex makes us brainier

It has been suggested that women can raise their IQ with every orgasm that they experience.

Scientists found that the moment of orgasm causes the speed of blood circulation to reach its maximum. This means oxygen-enriched blood reaches organs, including the brain, very quickly.

Healthy MORAL sex was planned by God for our benefit in every way. It is physically, mentally and morally good for us and marriage between a men and women was ordained by our creator. It's not just for having babies!


Newly Diagnosed People With Diabetes See a $4,200 Increase in Their Annual Medical Expenses

People who have been newly diagnosed with diabetes will spend substantially more in the first year on medical costs than their non-diabetic counterparts-an average of $4,174 for a 50-year-old-according to RTI International, a non-profit research institute in North Carolina.


Newly Diagnosed People With Diabetes See a $4,200 Increase in Their Annual Medical Expenses

Incidence of Diabetes in Postmenopausal Women Not Reduced By a Low-fat Diet

Next week we'll publish a great article written by Dr. Richard Bernstein. MD. Dr. Bernstein is a long-term proponent of paying more attention to carbs rather than fats (though he certainly doesn't advocate that you can have all the fats you want!) While Dr. Bernstein has been telling us about the benefits of low carb for over 30 years, there is still much skepticism about his (and many other's-Gary Taubes, anyone?) low carb results. The establishment has been slow to be convinced, despite the many research trials that back up their findings.

Incidence of Diabetes in Postmenopausal Women Not Reduced By a Low-fat Diet

A Father of A Child with Type 1 Warnings

A Father of A Child with Type 1 Child Warns: Be Prepared for Hypoglycemia

My daughter Lauren was five days shy of her twelfth birthday when she was diagnosed with type 1. We were blessed with a child who could and did take the lead in her recovery and care. She never had any "teen diabetic rebellion" and never adopted a "why me?" mentality. Her health has been great, and her last A1c was 6.7%. With all the hormonal changes that can affect a teenage girl's body and thus change her insulin requirements, Lauren has always stayed on top of her care and never lost her fantastic personality.

Insomnia drug helps jet-lag, shift-work troubles

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An insomnia drug that helps the body produce more of the sleep hormone melatonin may improve sleep for jet-lagged travelers and shift workers, researchers reported on Monday.

Maryland-based Vanda Pharmaceuticals Inc. reported on two studies of its drug tasimelteon, also known as VEC-162, that showed it helped patients sleep longer and more deeply than a placebo.

They said that people with so-called circadian rhythm disorders could be helped. These disorders are common causes of insomnia that affect millions of people whose activities are out of sync with their internal body clocks.

These disorders entail persistent sleep disturbances, insomnia when trying to sleep and excessive sleepiness while trying to remain awake, the researchers said.

"...Tasimelteon has the potential for the treatment of patients with transient insomnia associated with circadian rhythm sleep disorders, including people affected by jet lag, or those who work at night, and early-riser workers," they wrote in their report, published in the Lancet medical journal.

Dr. Shantha Rajaratnam of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston and colleagues, working with the company, did both Phase II and Phase III trials of the drug, aiming to show it is safe and works.

Volunteers slept in labs and were tested using devices known as polysomnographs, which measure sleep activity.

Patients given tasimelteon fell asleep faster, had better sleep and woke up faster, they reported. The drug did not cause any more side-effects than a placebo, they noted.

Melatonin can fight jet lag too but over-the-counter melatonin products are not regulated, they pointed out, and have not been consistently shown to help treat jet lag and other sleep disorders.

The market is potentially large. The study quoted U.S. labor statistics as finding that about 20 percent of the workforce or about 19.7 million U.S. workers are early risers who start work between 2:30 a.m. and 7 a.m.

"Most of these people probably experience chronic sleep restriction because they are unable to initiate and maintain sleep when they attempt to sleep in the early or late evening hours. Tasimelteon might alleviate this problem by advancing the sleep-wake cycle, by providing a direct sleep-promoting effect, or both," they wrote.

In a commentary, Dr. Daniel Cardinali of the University of Buenos Aires and Dr Diego Golombek, National University of Quilmes in Argentina, noted that drugs such as valium can be addictive.

"Shift-workers, airline crew, tourists, football teams, and many others will welcome the results of Shantha Rajaratnam and colleagues' study in The Lancet today," they wrote.

(Reporting by Maggie Fox; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Fears of measles epidemic as cases soar to 13-year high in wake of MMR scare

There have been more than 1,000 measles cases so far this year – putting Britain at risk of a deadly epidemic, health officials say.

The Health Protection Agency blamed unfounded fears about the combined MMR jab for the increase and urged parents to vaccinate their children.

In the first ten months of 2008, there were 1,049 confirmed cases in England and Wales – the highest level since the early 1990s.

A recent outbreak of more than 60 cases in Cheshire has prompted the launch of a programme to vaccinate 10,000 pupils.

The agency blamed the rise on a low uptake of the MMR jab over the past decade.

A panic among parents was triggered by researchers who claimed there was a link between the combined measles, mumps and rubella jab and autism. Most experts believe the jab is safe and effective.

Around three million children and teenagers are believed to be at risk of a measles epidemic because they missed one of two doses of vaccine, or are entirely unprotected.

The disease can lead to ear infections, pneumonia, and permanent brain damage, and may even be fatal.

HPA immunisation expert Dr Mary Ramsay said: 'Over the last few years, we have seen an unprecedented increase in measles cases and we are still receiving reports of cases across the country.

'This rise is due to relatively low MMR vaccine uptake over the past decade and there are now a large number of children who are not fully vaccinated with MMR.

'There is now a real risk of a measles epidemic. These children are susceptible to not only measles but to mumps and rubella as well.'

The NHS information centre said uptake rates of the triple jab remained at 85 per cent in 2007-2008, the same as the previous year. A rate of 95 per cent is needed for immunity in the community.

In August, the Chief Medical Officer announced an MMR catch-up programme to reduce the risk of a measles epidemic.

Primary Care Trusts and GPs were urged to identify individuals not up to date with their MMR injections and offer catch-up immunisation

The move was based on models of measles transmission in England carried out by the Agency, which suggested there was a real risk of a large measles outbreak of between approximately 30,000 to 100,000 cases - with the majority in London.

Dr Ramsay said: 'We are glad to see that public confidence in the MMR vaccine is now high, with more than eight out of 10 children receiving one dose of MMR by their second birthday.

'But we shouldn't forget that the children who weren't vaccinated many years ago are at real risk.

'Measles is a very serious infection as it can lead to pneumonia and encephalitis, even in healthy children. It is highly infectious - it can be passed on without direct contact before the rash appears.

'This is why it's incredibly important to continue to remind parents about the benefits of having their child vaccinated with two doses of MMR for optimum protection. It is never too late to get vaccinated.'

A mass vaccination is to take place in Cheshire in early December.

The parents of 10,000 children have been asked to give consent for the MMR vaccine after tests confirmed 19 cases in the region, with a further 49 youngsters being treated for 'probable' measles.

Most reported cases were in Sandbach, Middlewich and Crewe, but there have also been reports from Congleton, Nantwich and Winsford, Central and Eastern Cheshire Primary Care Trust said.

Guy Hayhurst, consultant in public health at the trust, said: 'We identified 10,534 children who had no record of full MMR immunisation and wrote to their parents to seek consent for them to be vaccinated in school.

'We hope that by doing this we will halt the current outbreak in its tracks, or at least severely curtail it.'

Teams of nurses are being prepared to vaccinate children in 177 primary schools and 33 secondary schools. The vaccine will also be offered to younger school staff members.

The mass vaccination programme will begin on December 3 and is expected to be completed by December 17.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Nap Without Guilt: It Boosts Sophisticated Memory

WASHINGTON -- Just in time for the holidays, some medical advice most people will like: Take a nap.

Interrupting sleep seriously disrupts memory-making, compelling new research suggests. But on the flip side, taking a nap may boost a sophisticated kind of memory that helps us see the big picture and get creative.

"Not only do we need to remember to sleep, but most certainly we sleep to remember," is how Dr. William Fishbein, a cognitive neuroscientist at the City University of New York, put it at a meeting of the Society for Neuroscience last week.

Good sleep is a casualty of our 24/7 world. Surveys suggest few adults attain the recommended seven to eight hours a night.

Way too little clearly is dangerous: Sleep deprivation causes not just car crashes but all sorts of other accidents. Over time, a chronic lack of sleep can erode the body in ways that leave us more vulnerable to heart disease, diabetes and other illnesses.

But perhaps more common than insomnia is fragmented sleep _ the easy awakening that comes with aging, or, worse, the sleep apnea that afflicts millions, who quit breathing for 30 seconds or so over and over throughout the night.

Indeed, scientists increasingly are focusing less on sleep duration and more on the quality of sleep, what's called sleep intensity, in studying how sleep helps the brain process memories so they stick. Particularly important is "slow-wave sleep," a period of very deep sleep that comes earlier than better-known REM sleep, or dreaming time.

Fishbein suspected a more active role for the slow-wave sleep that can emerge even in a power nap. Maybe our brains keep working during that time to solve problems and come up with new ideas. So he and graduate student Hiuyan Lau devised a simple test: documenting relational memory, where the brain puts together separately learned facts in new ways.

First, they taught 20 English-speaking college students lists of Chinese words spelled with two characters _ such as sister, mother, maid. Then half the students took a nap, being monitored to be sure they didn't move from slow-wave sleep into the REM stage.

Upon awakening, they took a multiple-choice test of Chinese words they'd never seen before. The nappers did much better at automatically learning that the first of the two-pair characters in the words they'd memorized earlier always meant the same thing _ female, for example. So they also were more likely than non-nappers to choose that a new word containing that character meant "princess" and not "ape."


"The nap group has essentially teased out what's going on," Fishbein concludes.
These students took a 90-minute nap, quite a luxury for most adults. But even a 12-minute nap can boost some forms of memory, adds Dr. Robert Stickgold of Harvard Medical School.
Conversely, Wisconsin researchers briefly interrupted nighttime slow-wave sleep by playing a beep _ just loudly enough to disturb sleep but not awaken _ and found those people couldn't remember a task they'd learned the day before as well as people whose slow-wave sleep wasn't disrupted.

That brings us back to fragmented sleep, whether from aging or apnea. It can suppress the birth of new brain cells in the hippocampus, where memory-making begins _ enough to hinder learning weeks after sleep returns to normal, warns Dr. Dennis McGinty of the University of California, Los Angeles.

To prove a lasting effect, McGinty mimicked human sleep apnea in rats. He hooked them to brain monitors and made them sleep on a treadmill. Whenever the monitors detected 30 seconds of sleep, the treadmill briefly switched on. After 12 days of this sleep disturbance, McGinty let the rats sleep peacefully for as long as they wanted for the next two weeks.

The catch-up sleep didn't help: Rested rats used room cues to quickly learn the escape hole in a maze. Those with fragmented sleep two weeks earlier couldn't, only randomly stumbling upon the escape.

None of the new work is enough, yet, to pinpoint the minimum sleep needed for optimal memory. What's needed may vary considerably from person to person.

"A short sleeper may have a very efficient deep sleep even if they sleep only four hours," notes Dr. Chiara Cirellia of the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

But altogether, the findings do suggest some practical advice: Get apnea treated. Avoid what Harvard's Stickgold calls "sleep bulimia," super-late nights followed by sleep-in weekends. And don't feel guilty for napping.
___

Alzheimer’s Help From Lowly Blackcurrants

Bioactive compounds in blackcurrants could help stave off Alzheimer’s disease, according to Scottish food researchers. Work is in progress to find an economical way to develop the compounds for use as food ingredients.

A briefing paper released by the Scottish Crop Research Institute said the compounds are extracted from wastes produced when blackcurrants are processed. Blackcurrants, which are high in vitamin C and other beneficial phytochemicals, have demonstrated the potential to inhibit inflammation, which is suspected to be at the origin of Alzheimer’s disease.

Blackcurrants are native to central and northern Europe and northern Asia.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Wash Your Hands—Or Else!

By: Sylvia Booth Hubbard

Health officials constantly warn of the importance of good hygiene, including washing your hands frequently, to stop the spread of germs that cause flu and colds. Now you can add the risk of worms in your brain to the list of problems caused by dirty hands.

Rosemary Alvarez began experiencing numbness in her arm and blurred vision. A cat scan revealed nothing, but an MRI showed something very deep inside her brain. “Once we saw the MRI we realized this is something not good,” neurosurgeon Dr. Peter Nakaji told Phoenix’s Fox News. “It’s something down in her brain stem which is as deep in the brain as you can be.”

She was rushed into surgery where doctors expected to remove a brain tumor. What they found was a worm! Dr. Nakaji began laughing when he realized his patient didn’t have a life-threatening brain tumor. “I was so pleased to know that it wasn’t going to be something terrible,” he said.

The surgery was a success and doctors believe Ms Alvarez will have a complete recovery. How did she get the worm? Doctors said she could have gotten it from eating undercooked pork or from someone who handled food after not washing their hands after using the bathroom.

Experts note that one person with dirty hands could pass along a disease—or worms—to many people. Ms Alvarez has a few words of advice for others. “Wash your hands, wash your hands.”

Attending Religious Services Cuts Death Risk

A study published by researchers at Yeshiva University and its medical school, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, strongly suggests that regular attendance at religious services reduces the risk of death by approximately 20 percent. The findings, published in Psychology and Health, were based on data drawn from participants who spanned numerous religious denominations. The research was conducted by Eliezer Schnall, Ph.D., clinical assistant professor of psychology at Yeshiva College of Yeshiva University, and co-authored by Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, Ph.D., professor of epidemiology and population health at Einstein, as an ancillary study of the Women's Health Initiative (WHI). The WHI is a national, long-term study aimed at addressing women’s health issues and funded by the National Institutes of Health.

The researchers evaluated the religious practices of 92,395 post-menopausal women participating in the WHI. They examined the prospective association of religious affiliation, religious service attendance, and strength and comfort derived from religion with subsequent cardiovascular events and overall rates of mortality. Although the study showed as much as a 20 percent decrease in the overall risk of mortality for those attending religious services, it did not show any consistent change in rates of morbidity and death specifically related to cardiovascular disease, with no explanation readily evident.

The study adjusted for participation of individuals within communal organizations and group activities that promote a strong social life and enjoyable routines, behaviors known to lead to overall wellness. However, even after controlling for such behavior and other health-related factors, the improvements in morbidity and mortality rates exceeded expectations.

“Interestingly, the protection against mortality provided by religion cannot be entirely explained by expected factors that include enhanced social support of friends or family, lifestyle choices and reduced smoking and alcohol consumption,” said Dr. Schnall, who was lead author of the study. “There is something here that we don’t quite understand. It is always possible that some unknown or unmeasured factors confounded these results,” he added.

During WHI enrollment, study participants, aged 50 to79, were recruited on a voluntary basis from a variety of sources, from all over the nation. The women answered questions about baseline health conditions and religiosity and were followed by WHI researchers for an average of 7.7 years, with potential study outcomes of cardiovascular events and mortality adjudicated by trained physicians.

To evaluate the impact of religiosity on mortality and morbidity, the investigators looked at variables including self-report of religious affiliation, frequency of religious service attendance, and religious strength as well as comfort, in relation to coronary heart disease (CHD) and death. It is important to note that the study did not attempt to measure spirituality; rather, it examined self-report religiosity measures (irrespective of the participant’s religion). Participants answered three key questions at registration, regarding:

1) religious affiliation (yes or no);

2) how often services were attended (never, less than once per week, once per week, or more than once per week);

3) if religion provided strength and comfort (none, a little, a great deal).

Those attending religious services at least once per week showed a 20 percent mortality risk reduction mark compared with those not attending services at all. These findings corroborate prior studies that have shown up to a 25 percent reduction in such risk.

The study investigators concluded that although religious behavior (as defined by the study’s criteria) is associated with a reduction in death rates among the study population, the physical relationships leading to that effect are not yet understood and require further investigation. “The next step is to figure out how the effect of religiosity is translated into biological mechanisms that affect rates of survival,” said Dr. Smoller. “However, we do not infer causation even from a prospective study, as that can only be done through a clinical trial.

She added, “There may be confounding factors that we can’t determine, such as a selection bias, which would lead people who are at reduced risk for an impending event to also be the ones who attend services.”

The investigators are considering doing an analysis of psychological profiles of women in the study to determine if such profiles can help to explain the apparent protective effects of attending religious services.

Saturated Fats Tied to Small Intestine Cancers

Diets high in saturated fat appear to increase the risk of cancer of the small intestine, a study shows.

The small intestine makes up 75 percent of the digestive tract, yet rarely do cancers develop there, more often showing up in the large intestine, or colon.

"Identifying modifiable risk factors for cancer of the small intestine is important not only because the incidence of this cancer is on the rise, but it may enable us to further understand other gastrointestinal malignancies," study chief Dr. Amanda J. Cross, from the National Cancer Institute, Rockville, Maryland, said in a statement.

Findings from several studies have linked consumption of red and processed meats with colon cancer, but the association with small intestine cancer has received relatively little attention and has not been examined in a "forward-looking" prospective study.

Using data from the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study, the research team examined dietary associations with small intestine cancer in half a million men and women. Food frequency questionnaires were used to gauge meat and fat intake and the subjects were followed for up to 8 years for cancer.

During follow-up, 60 people developed adenocarcinomas and 80 developed gastric carcinoid tumors -- a rare type of stomach cancer.

No statistically significant association between red or processed meat intake and small intestine malignancies was seen, the investigators report.

Saturated fat intake, on the other hand, was positively associated with the development of carcinoid tumors. Relative to people with the lowest intake of saturated fat, those with the highest intake had a 3.18-fold increased risk of carcinoid tumors.

SOURCE: Cancer Research, November 15, 2008.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Vampire lesbian killers allowed jail sex

SADISTIC murderers Jessica Stasinowsky and Valerie Parashumti are being allowed to continue their lesbian love affair behind bars, despite the sentencing judge demanding that they be kept apart.

Prison insiders say the cold-hearted killers - sentenced to life in jail over the brutal murder of Stacey Mitchell, 16 - are free to kiss, hug and have had a sex romp in jail.

Parashumti, once part of a blood-drinking, vampire sub-culture, was reprimanded for sharpening chicken bones into makeshift weapons, while the pair requested raw meat to eat, sources claim.

Authorities refused to comment on the claims, but confirmed the couple are allowed physical contact.

WA Corrections Minister Christian Porter launched an urgent investigation, after media inquiries about the pair's conduct. Mr Porter said he would consider moving one of them to another jail.

Insiders said Stasinowsky, 21, and Parashumti, 20, are housed in separate units at Bandyup, but have constant access to each other during recreation times. This gives the women at least seven hours a day together on weekends and 90 minutes on weekdays.

"They spend a tremendous amount of time together,'' a former inmate told The Sunday Times this week.

"They're feeding off each other,'' said the woman, who did not want her name published. "Their relationship will not end while they are in Bandyup together.

"The officers know what they are up to. But at the end of the day, when you have so many prisoners and you only have so many officers, it's hard to control what prisoner is doing what...They just get away with it.''

Prison authorities have allowed the toxic relationship to continue despite Judge Peter Blaxell recommended that the pair be segregated.

Bikers Risk Urinary Problems!

  • Kate Benson
  • November 23, 2008

SUFFER in your jocks, bikers. Yes, that means you, you wussy Hell's Angel. And you, Bandido boy. The secret's out. You aren't just overweight, smelly, middle-aged drug dealers with more tattoos than teeth. You are soft in the pants department - and quite probably bedwetters, as well.

And guess what? These afflictions are caused by riding motorcycles.

That's right, a new study has found that men who ride them risk impotence and urinary problems because the engine vibration damages nerves in their penises.

A survey of more than 230 motorcyclists who ride for about three hours every weekend found that almost 70 per cent had problems getting an erection or emptying their bladders.

The news is alarming for Victorian men who have turned to motorcycles and scooters in the past few years to beat rising fuel prices and growing traffic congestion.

Doctors in Japan, who published two studies on the dangers in the Inter-national Journal of Impotence Research, said most motorcycle seats put undue pressure on the area between the anus and the scrotum, cutting blood flow to the penis.

Vibrations from the engine also caused a decrease in two growth hormones in the bladder and prostate related to bladder relaxation.

Impotence affects most males during their lives and can be caused by emotional issues, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking or alcohol.

But all men should avoid sitting too long on hard bicycle or motorcycle seats, particularly ones with thin, pointed ends, to prevent compression of pelvic floor muscles, Impotence Australia chief executive Brett McCann said yesterday.

About 76 per cent of riders aged 40 to 49, and 93 per cent of those aged 50 to 59, reported severe erectile dysfunction, compared with 37 per cent and 42 per cent respectively among those who did not ride motorcycles.

John Sbrocchi has been riding a scooter to work for 2 years. His sex life had not suffered.

Scooters normally have wider, softer seats than motorcycles, but vibrations can still affect the genitals.

"I do have urinary flow issues, but I'm not putting it down to the scooter," Mr Sbrocchi said.

"I'm a man of 62 and when you get to that age you get prostate problems.

"I think scooters are one of life's greatest innovations - so it would take more than that to put me off."

Most seats are too hard

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Do Flu Shots Work? Ask A Vaccine Manufacturer

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Edible Healing

Courtesy of Prevention A doctor with a malignant tumor sets out to find his cure. And comes back with dinner.My DiagnosisDiagnosed with brain cancer 16 years ago, David Servan-Schreiber, MD, PhD was told by his oncologist that changing his diet would not impact his results. He was determined to prove his doctor wrong. Through months of research and traveling the globe, he discovered a multitude of cancer-fighting foods that helped him live a longer, healthier life. Now, you can benefit, too. Add one or more of these foods to every meal to optimize your full potential to prevent and fight cancer.


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Monday, November 17, 2008

B Vitamins Protect Seniors From Cancer

While headlines this week blared that a study conducted at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School found that B vitamins did not protect against cancer, the media virtually ignored the fact that the study found substantial protection in those over 65.

The study followed over 5,400 women who had high blood pressure or high cholesterol and were at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The women, whose average age was 63, were followed for seven and a half years.

Researchers examined the effects of taking a daily supplement containing folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12. During the study, 379 cases of invasive cancer were diagnosed. Although the vitamin group had a total of five fewer cancers than the placebo group (187 vs. 192), the researchers concluded there was no significant difference. But in women over the age of 65, they found a reduction of 25 percent in the risk of developing any type of cancer and a 38 percent reduction in the risk of developing breast cancer.

Lead author Shumin Zhang wrote: “The results may have public health significance because the incidence rates of cancer are high in elderly persons. The finding is biologically plausible because elderly individuals have increased requirements for these B vitamins.”

Other studies have found that people who have diets high in folic acid lower their risk of developing cancer.

Cancer Risk Aside, Cell Phones are Dangerous

There has been much speculation over the last few years about whether cell phones increase the risk of developing a brain tumor. Research has not conclusively answered this question, which has left consumers confused. The majority of studies that have been published in scientific journals do not have sufficient evidence to show that cell phones increase the risk of brain tumors. The problem is that cell phone technology is in its infancy, so none of these studies could analyze long-term risks. This unknown is a particular issue for children, who will face a lifetime of cell phone usage. While the cell phone/brain tumor connection remains inconclusive, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) cautions that cell phones present plenty of other risks to people’s neurological health, as illustrated by these few real-life scenarios:

~A 29-year-old male was talking on his cell phone while on an escalator, fell backwards, and lacerated his head.

~A 25-year-old male was talking on his cell phone and walked into a street sign, lacerating his head.

~A 43-year-old female fell down 13-14 steps while talking on her cell phone, after drinking alcohol. She suffered a neck sprain and contusions to her head, back, shoulder, and leg.

~A 50-year-old female suffered nerve damage which was related to extensive cell phone usage. She felt pain in her fingers and the length of her arm while holding her cell phone, and was diagnosed with cervical radiculopathy.

~A 39-year-old man suffered a head injury after crashing into a tree on his bicycle while texting

~A 16-year-old boy suffered a concussion because he was texting and walked into a telephone pole.

Several studies show cell phones are a leading cause of automobile crashes. It is estimated that drivers distracted by cell phones are four times more likely to be in a motor vehicle accident. The following are some sobering statistics:

~According to a Harvard University study, an estimated 2,600 people die and 12,000 suffer serious to moderate injuries each year in cell phone-related accidents.

~A Canadian study analysis of 26,798 cell phone calls made during the 14-month study period showed that the risk of an automobile accident was four times higher when using a cell phone.

~National statistics indicate that an estimated 50,000 traumatic brain injury-related deaths occur annually in the United States, 25,000-35,000 of which are attributed to motor vehicle accidents.

Cell Phone Injury Prevention Tips

~Talk hands free by using an earpiece or on speaker mode whenever possible.

~Follow all cell phone laws applicable to your city and state – these vary greatly.

~Use your cell phone only when safely parked, or have a passenger use it.

~Do not dial the phone or take notes while driving, cycling, skateboarding, rollerblading, etc.

~Never text message while driving, walking, cycling, skateboarding, rollerblading, etc.

~Never text message or use a cell phone while performing any physical activities that require attention.

~If your phone rings while driving, let the call go into voice mail and respond later when you are safely parked.

For more information on injury prevention, visit the AANS Web site at: http://www.neurosurgerytoday.org/what/patient_safety/.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tomatoes Could Help Endometriosis

By: Sylvia Booth Hubbard



Lycopene, a potent antioxidant found in tomatoes that gives them their red color, could ease the pain of endometriosis. In addition, it could help treat fibroids and scars caused by surgery.


Endometriosis, which affects up to 10 percent of women, is characterized by the growth of tissue outside the uterus that is similar to endometrium, the tissue that lines the womb. The tissue reacts as if it were inside the womb, growing during each monthly cycle and causing bleeding. In addition to pain, the condition also causes infertility.


A laboratory study conducted by researcher Dr. Tarek Dbouk of Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, found that lycopene suppresses the proteins that encourage the growth of endometrial-like tissue outside the womb by between 80 and 90 percent.


“What we found in our laboratory study is that lycopene can help with the adhesions that these conditions cause,” said Dr. Dbouk. “One of the major complications of endometriosis is that it causes inflammation which induces adhesions. The inflammation basically causes scarring.”


Although Dr. Dbouk said lycopene could help ease the symptoms and complications of endometriosis, he said it’s not known how much a woman would need to eat. “It’s certainly possible that you could get the amount you need from your diet,” he said. “Or if the patients did not like tomatoes, you could give them the lycopene as a supplement.”

GM Crops Affect Fertility in Mice

Genetically-modified maize can affect reproduction in mice, an Austrian study has found, although its authors have dismissed warnings by environmental groups that it could also harm humans.


The long-term study, which was commissioned by the Austrian health ministry, found that female mice that had been given a diet consisting of 33 percent genetically-modified (GM) maize had fewer babies and fewer litters than those fed on non-GM food after a few generations.


But the authors of the study were keen to point out that these were only initial findings and that further tests were needed to confirm the effect of GM foods on other animals and on humans.


"This is an isolated case and the results cannot in any way be applied to humans," the Austrian health and food safety agency AGES, which presented the study by Vienna's University of Veterinary Medicine (VUW) Tuesday, said in a statement.


"Confirmation of these preliminary results is urgently needed through further studies," the study's author, Juergen Zentek, added.


Environmental groups like Global 2000 and Greenpeace were quick to seize on the study to call for a ban on all GM crops.


"Considering the severity of the potential threat to human health and reproduction, Greenpeace is demanding a recall of all GE (genetically-engineered) food and crops from the market, worldwide," the group said in a statement.


Distributing GM foods was "like playing Russian roulette with consumers and public health," added Greenpeace's GM expert Jan van Aken.


EU Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou has requested a copy of the study and will then pass it on to the European food safety authority for expertise, her spokeswoman said.