Boomers Fail Muscle-Building 101

September 20, 2014 8:56 am 0 comments

What percentage of people over 45 meet the muscle-strengthening recommendations set by the Department of Health and Human Services? Less than 25 percent. Yes, that’s a fail. Researchers at Arizona LargeThumb.00135124-201305000-00005.TT14State University recently analyzed data from the 2011 U.S. Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a telephone health survey conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that asked about the type of physical activities people do regularly. HealthDay reports that of all those who answered the questions on muscle strengthening, about 24 percent said they met the government’s recommendations. What exactly are the government’s recommendations? They’re hard to find, which may explain why so few people comply with them, but here you go: Besides aerobic activity, you need to do things to strengthen your muscles at least 2 days a week. These activities should work all the major muscle groups of your body (legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders, and arms). To gain health benefits, muscle-strengthening activities need to be done to the point where it’s hard for you to do another repetition without help. A repetition is one complete movement of an activity, like lifting a weight or doing a sit-up. Try to do 8—12 repetitions per activity that count as 1 set. Try to do at least 1 set of muscle-strengthening activities, but to gain even more benefits, do 2 or 3 sets. Read more here.

FDA Wants A Closer Look At Testosterone Risks

September 19, 2014 7:54 am 3 comments

imagesTestosterone replacement therapy may make older men feel younger, but according to some studies, it can also push them closer to the grave. The Wall Street Journal reports on a 2013 study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, that found a 30 percent increased risk of death, heart attack and stroke among men taking testosterone, compared with other men. That study and others like it, plus a 65 percent increase in sales of such products between 2009 and 2013, have persuaded a panel of experts at the FDA to recommend that makers of testosterone-replacement drugs study possible increased risks of heart attack and stroke. The panel also voted overwhelmingly that the FDA should come up with language in the products’ labels to restrict the intended uses of the drugs. The Journal reports that the National Institutes of Health is sponsoring a trial to investigate whether older men taking testosterone therapy primarily benefit physically or are hurt by heart disease and other side effects. Caveat emptor.

Artificial Sweeteners May Pose Real Threat To Glucose Levels

September 18, 2014 8:04 am 0 comments

imgresArtificial sweeteners, used to avoid the health risks of real sugar, turn out to have their own problems. The New York Times reports that the sweeteners have been found to “disrupt the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, causing metabolic changes that can be a precursor to diabetes.” The research, conducted at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, suggests that the sweeteners alter bacteria in the digestive system such that it changes the metabolism of glucose, causing levels to rise higher after eating and to decline more slowly than they otherwise would. The Times warns that glucose intolerance, in which the body is less able to cope with large amounts of sugar, can lead to more serious illnesses like metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes. The researchers found that three different molecules of saccharin, aspartame and sucralose all cause similar changes in the glucose metabolism. Read more about the research here.

Q: How Many Viruses Does A Healthy Person Harbor? A: Five

September 17, 2014 8:17 am 0 comments

Congratulations, you’re heimgresalthy. Your family thanks you. So do the several viruses that reside happily in your body. After all, for most viruses, healthy bodies make such comfortable homes. Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis are persuaded that healthy people carry an average of five types of viruses on their body, all without any physical symptoms that might tip off the owner of the body. A Wash U news release reports that when researchers looked for viruses in 102 healthy young adults ages 18 to 40,  (sampling up to five body habitats: nose, skin, mouth, stool and vagina), they found at least one virus in 92 percent of the people, and some people harbored 10 to 15 viruses. Yikes! Is that bad? Maybe. Maybe not. The researchers don’t know yet whether the viruses have a positive or negative effect on overall health, but they do speculate that in some cases viruses may keep the immune system primed to respond to dangerous pathogens while in others, lingering viruses increase the risk of disease. How helpful is that? Not. The scientists found seven families of viruses, including strains of herpes viruses that are not sexually transmitted. Herpesvirus 6 or herpesvirus 7 was found in 98 percent of individuals sampled from the mouth, and certain strains of papillomaviruses were found in about 75 percent of skin samples and 50 percent of samples from the nose. Not surprisingly, the vagina was dominated by papillomaviruses, with 38 percent of female subjects carrying such strains. Wait, there’s more: Adenoviruses, the viruses that cause the common cold and pneumonia, also were common.


Male Pattern Baldness Linked To Aggressive Prostate Cancer

September 16, 2014 8:08 am 0 comments

imagesBefore you order up a PSA test, consider this: male pattern baldness affects about 70 percent of men at some point in their lives. And now the possibly disturbing news: in a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, male pattern baldness has been associated with aggressive prostate cancer. So, does that mean men with male pattern baldness face a higher risk of aggressive prostate cancer? Not necessarily. Let’s look at the numbers. Science Daily reports that from 1993 to 2001, researchers looked at nearly 40,000 men between 55 and 74 years old, asking what they remembered of their level and type of hair loss at age 45. About 18 percent of the men recalled having male pattern baldness at age 45. During the study follow-up period between 2006 and 2008, they found that more than 1,100 men in the study were diagnosed with prostate cancer, and of those, 600 developed aggressive prostate cancer. Men who remembered having a specific type of male pattern baldness — in the front and, moderately, around the crown of the head — were 39 percent more likely to develop an aggressive form of prostate cancer than men who had no baldness, but they weren’t more likely to have less aggressive types of prostate cancer. What does it mean? The researchers say that male pattern baldness may be an early warning sign, or not.

Lithium For All, Please

September 15, 2014 8:34 am 0 comments

Lithia_spring_1888_posterLithium, generally considered a psychotropic mood elevator for people in desperate need of mood elevation, is so much more than that. That’s the case made by Anna Fels, psychiatrist and faculty member at Weill Cornell Medical College, in her opinion column in the New York Times. Fels points out that lithium is “a naturally occurring element, not a molecule like most medications, and it is present in the United States, depending on the geographic area, at concentrations that can range widely, from undetectable to around .170 milligrams per liter. This amount is less than a thousandth of the minimum daily dose given for bipolar disorders and for depression that doesn’t respond to antidepressants.” Why do we care? Because several studies have shown that people whose water had the least amount of lithium had significantly greater levels of suicide, homicide and rape than the people whose water had the higher levels of lithium. In one Texas study, the group whose water had the highest lithium level had nearly 40 percent fewer suicides than that with the lowest lithium level. Fels also reports that lithium has been known for its curative powers for centuries, and that Lithia Springs, Ga., with its natural lithium-enriched water, “appears to have been an ancient Native American sacred site. By the late 19th century Lithia Springs was a famous health destination visited by Mark Twain and Presidents Grover Cleveland, William Howard Taft, William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt.” She also informs us that lithium drinks were once in huge demand for their reputed health-giving properties, and that 7-Up was originally called Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda and contained lithium until 1950. So, does Fels argue that we should all take a little lithium? Not quite. What she does say is that more research is needed. Read more in the New York Times.

Marital Bliss? Yes, It’s About Her

September 13, 2014 8:18 am 0 comments

imagesFinally, researchers have found the secret to a happy marriage: a happy wife. It’s true. Science Daily reports that sociologists at Rutgers University studied the feelings of both spouses in 394 couples that were married, on average, for 39 years. Yes, 39 years. The couples were also asked to keep detailed diaries about how happy they were in the previous 24 hours doing selected activities like shopping, doing household chores and watching television. Most gave their life satisfaction five out of six points, with husbands rating their marriage slightly more positive than their wives. The big take away? The researchers found that more happy the wife is, the happier the husband is with his life, no matter how he feels about their marriage. Why? The researchers suggest that when a wife is satisfied with the marriage she tends to do a lot more for her husband, which “has a positive effect on his life.” And yes, more research is needed.

Want To Be More Productive? Get A Plant

September 12, 2014 8:24 am 0 comments

Want to be more productive, and happier at the same time?imgres Get a plant. Seriously. Researchers at Cardiff University are convinced people who work in offices with plants are 15 percent more productive than people working in plant-free zones. A Cardiff University news release reports that the researchers examined the impact of ‘lean’ and ‘green’ offices on staff’s perceptions of air quality, concentration, and workplace satisfaction. They also monitored productivity levels in two large commercial offices in the UK and The Netherlands. OK, it’s not surprising, but now at least it’s scientific: the research showed that plants in the office significantly increased workplace satisfaction, self-reported levels of concentration, and perceived air quality. “Simply enriching a previously Spartan space with plants served to increase productivity by 15 percent,” said lead researcher Marlon Nieuwenhuis. Nieuwenhuis points out that his conclusion is “at odds with the present economic and political zeitgeist as well as with modern ‘lean’ management techniques, yet it nevertheless identifies a pathway to a more enjoyable, more comfortable and a more profitable form of office-based working.”

Fish Is Good For Your Ears. What?

September 11, 2014 8:00 am 1 comment

Fish is good for your ears. What? No, it’s true. Science Daily reportsimgres that researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital studied data from 65,215 women were followed from 1991 to 2009. After 1,038,093 person-years of follow-up, 11,606 cases of incident hearing loss were reported. Here’s the good part: In comparison with women who rarely consumed fish, women who consumed two or more servings of fish per week had a 20 percent lower risk of hearing loss. Wait, there’s more: When examined individually, higher consumption of each specific fish type was inversely associated with risk. What does that mean? More long-chain omega-3PUFA was associated with a lower risk of hearing loss.

For Arteries’ Sake: Walk Five Minutes For Every Hour You Sit

September 10, 2014 8:04 am 0 comments

walkingOK, it feels good to sit down, but sitting for long periods of time, as most of us do, is not good for you. According to experts at Indiana University’s School of Public Health, sitting for long periods is associated with risk factors such as higher cholesterol levels and “greater waist circumference”– meaning fat, that can lead to cardiovascular and metabolic disease. Here’s one reason why: when people sit, slack muscles do not contract to effectively pump blood to the heart, so blood can pool in the legs and affect the ability of blood vessels to expand from increased blood flow. Yes, a bad thing. What to do about it? Researchers at the school put 11 healthy men between the ages of 20 and 35 through two tests: In one, the men sat for three hours without moving their legs, while researchers used a blood pressure cuff and ultrasound technology to measure the functionality of the femoral artery at baseline and again at the one-, two- and three-hour mark. In the second, the men sat during a three-hour period but also walked on a treadmill for five minutes at a speed of 2 mph at the 30-minute mark, 1.5-hour mark and 2.5-hour mark. Again, researchers measured the functionality of the femoral artery at the same intervals as in the other trial. What did they find?  For those who just sat and did not walk, the main artery in the legs was impaired by as much as 50 percent after just one hour. Yet those who walked for five minutes for each hour of sitting saw their arterial function stay the same — it did not drop throughout the three-hour period. Got it? Now get up.

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