Saturday, November 14, 2009

ARE POSITIVE HEALTH STUDIES MORE BELIEVABLE? According to research done at Copenhagen University Hospital, which included more than 2,800 middle-aged men and women, people with skinny thighs had a 50%-100% higher risk of heart disease or premature death during the 12-year study. Those with thighs measuring less than 23.6 inches were at risk. Those with thighs measuring less than 18 inches were at the greatest risk. It’s thought skinny thighs mean a lack of muscle mass and lower body bulk, which are necessary for proper glucose and lipid metabolism, which are key factors for maintaining health. For those without super model bodies this research brings “thighs” of relief. According to research published in the journal “Science”, it may be possible to erase fearful memories from the brain – a procedure that could help thousands with post-traumatic stress disorder. Fear comes from the amygdala - part of the brain that isn’t logical. It just reacts. When the molecular sheath protecting the amygdada in rats was chemically dissolved, the rats forgot fear of a sound they’d been conditioned to associate with being electrically shocked. Because human brain cells have similar sheaths, similar results could be expected. For those suffering with PTSD, panic disorders or phobias, finding a cure is a rat race. According to a study done at Catholic University in Campobasso Italy, the polyphenols and tannins in red wine limit the toxic effects of radiation for women after breast cancer surgery. The protective effects of varying levels of self-reported, red wine consumption by 348 women were evaluated. The incidence of radiation-induced skin toxicity was 38.4% with non-drinkers, 31.8% with half a glass daily and 13.6% with 1 glass daily. The good news is red wine may be beneficial with other types of radiated tumors. The bad news is 2 glasses of red wine provided little benefit – not twice the benefit. According to a study done at Stamford University School of Medicine, fat cells removed by liposuction can be turned into induced pluripotent stem cells. Like stem cells from embryos, iPS cells can be turned into cells to regenerate organ tissue and repair damage – but without controversy. The first iPS cells were developed in 2007 from skin, but making stem cells from fat takes 2 weeks instead of 8 and less than 6 ounces is needed. Among other things, iPS cells could be used to help heart attack patients and repair skeletal defects – putting new love in love handles.
IS FINDING OUT WHAT'S BAD FOR US GOOD? Colorado researchers have found high levels of micro-organisms capable of causing disease growing in mats called biofilms inside showerheads. The most worrisome of these pathogens are the non-tuberculosis mycobacteria. Unfortunately, chlorinated water doesn’t kill these bacteria. In tests of 45 showerheads in 6 locations across the United States, 20% contained mycobacterium avium. Because these bacteria can attach themselves to the aerosol droplets in shower spray, they can get deep into peoples’ lungs. This especially affects people with weak immune systems, which includes pregnant women. When it comes to staying healthy, this is a showerhead – ache. Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have found that living near noisy traffic can raise blood pressure. Among 24,238 people interviewed, exposure above 60 decibels was associated with high blood pressure in the young and middle-aged. Middle-aged adults exposed to 64 decibels - just louder than ordinary conversation – were twice as likely to have high blood pressure. Of those adults 40 to 59, 28% had high blood pressure compared with 17% who lived in quieter areas. However, a similar pattern wasn’t seen among the elderly. The elderly have multiple risk factors for high blood pressure – and many can turn a deaf ear to noise. Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas have found that palmitic acid – a saturated fatty acid found in beef, butter, cheese and milk - suppresses appetite control signals. Palmitic acid molecules cause the brain to send messages to the body’s cells to ignore signals from both leptin and insulin – hormones involved in weight control. As a result, the brain won’t say to stop eating for up to 3 days. Because palmitic acid is very high in foods rich in saturated fat and because 67% of Americans are supposedly overweight, saturated fat seems to have us “in-fat-uated”. Researchers at the University of Chicago’s Department of Medicine have discovered that not getting enough sleep causes metabolic changes in the body, which can lead to weight gain. Volunteers who slept only 4 hours for 2 nights had an 18% decrease in leptin – a hormone that signals the brain that the body has had enough to eat – and a 28% increase in ghrelin – a hormone that triggers hunger. As a result, the sleep-deprived volunteers experienced a 24% increase in appetite. Sleep experts recommend 7-9 hours of sleep nightly in a dark, quiet bedroom that is used only as a bedroom – but maybe they’re dreaming.

Knight Pierce Hirst

I may be the only writer who has moved to Los Angeles for the weather.

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