Hugs Ward Off Colds

December 19, 2014 7:48 am 0 comments

yayomg-bunnies-huggingHoping to get through this winter without a cold? Hug somebody, or persuade somebody to hug you. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University are convinced that hugs and other forms of perceived social support can keep people from getting sic, or sicker. A Carnegie Mellon news release reports that the researchers surveyed 404 healthy people, asking them about personal conflicts and the number of hugs they received over a 14-day period. The people were then exposed to a common cold virus, and later monitored for signs of sickness. The envelope please…..The researchers found that perceived social support really did reduce the risk of infection. In fact, hugs were responsible for one-third of the protective effect of social support. Wait, there’s more: among infected participants, greater perceived social support and more frequent hugs were associated with less severe illness symptoms whether or not they experienced conflicts.

Weekly Weigh-Ins Help Us Lose Weight

December 18, 2014 8:07 am 0 comments

imagesWhen can you stop weighing yourself? Whenever you want to, but if you really want to keep losing weight, it’s best to weigh-in at least once a week. That’s the conclusion of researchers at Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab, where scientists analyzed 2,838 weight measurements (up to a years’ worth of weigh-ins) from 40 overweight people who were trying to lose weight.  A Cornell news release reports that the researchers found that the more frequently people weighed in, the more weight they lost. The average time that participants could go between weighting without gaining weight was 5.8 days. Round that off to a week and you should be fine.

Where Exactly Does The Fat Go?

December 17, 2014 8:17 am 3 comments

When you lose weight,CachedImage where does the fat go? Don’t ask your doctor: new research at the University of New South Wales suggests that more than 50 percent of doctors think it’s converted to energy. Wrong. The correct answer is into the air, breathed out as carbon dioxide. A UNSW news release reports that losing 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of fat requires 29 kilograms (64 pounds) of oxygen to be inhaled and that this metabolic process produces 28 kilograms (62 pounds) of carbon dioxide and 11 kilograms (24 pounds) of water. The researchers found that if you follow the atoms in 10 kilograms of fat as they are ‘lost’, 8.4 of those kilograms are exhaled as carbon dioxide through the lungs. The remaining 1.6 kilograms becomes water, which may be excreted in urine, feces, sweat, breath, tears and other bodily fluids.

Long Life: Feeling Young Is Half The Battle

December 16, 2014 8:08 am 0 comments

People who feel younger imagesthan their age may actually be right–they may be younger than their age–healthwise, at least. Researchers at University College in London are convinced that feeling “young at heart” is a good indicator how long we will live. How do they know? Because when they followed more than 6,000 people (average age 66) for eight years after asking them whether they felt younger or older than their age, they found that people who felt older than their age had a 41 percent greater risk of death than those who felt younger. The researchers found that 25 percent of people who felt older than their actual age died, compared with about 14 percent of people who felt younger than their true age and almost 19 percent who felt their age. HealthDay reports that more than two-thirds of participants felt three or more years younger than their actual age, while about a quarter felt their age. About 5 percent felt more than a year older than their true age.

Irregular Heartbeat Treatment Improved By Exercise, Diet

December 15, 2014 8:09 am 0 comments

imgresAtrial fibrillation–doctors know it as AF,  you know it a disturbing irregular heartbeat–can be bad for your health. It is usually remedied with a procedure called catheter ablation, in which electricity is used to burn the tissue around the problem area. Strange, but it works, somewhat. Now comes a study from researchers at the University of Adelaide suggesting a way to greatly improve the likelihood that it will continue to work. A U of Adelaide news release reports that researchers at the school followed more than 149 AF patients who had undergone catheter ablation. Of these, 61 had also undergone an intensive risk factor management program aimed at improving weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, and limiting drinking and smoking. The envelope please….after five years, arrhythmia-free survival rates for patients who undertook the risk management program were 87 percent, compared with less than 18 percent of the control group.

Extraverts Have Better Immune Systems

December 12, 2014 7:47 am 1 comment

People who like peoarticle-2047625-0CFCD79F000005DC-960_224x423ple are the luckiest people in the world, in part because they appear to have stronger immune systems than people who don’t like people. (It remains unclear if people who don’t like people are the least lucky people in the world.) Futurity reports that when researchers at the University of Nottingham used microarray technology to examine relationships between the five major human personality traits and two groups of genes active in human white blood cells (leukocytes): one involving inflammation, and another involving antiviral responses and antibodies, they found that differences in immune cell gene expression are related to a person’s degree of extraversion and conscientiousness. What does that mean? Study leader Kavita Vedhara says ‘extraversion’ was found to be “significantly associated” with an increased expression of pro-inflammatory genes and that ‘conscientiousness’ was linked to a reduced expression of pro-inflammatory genes. “In other words,” she says, “people who we would expect to be exposed to more infections as a result of their socially orientated nature (i.e., extraverts) appear to have immune systems that we would expect can deal effectively with infection, and people who may be less exposed to infections because of their cautious/conscientious dispositions have immune systems that may respond less well.” Which came first, personality or immune system? Vedhara says more research is needed.

Online Calculator Checks Risk For Heart Disease

December 11, 2014 7:46 am 0 comments

Here’s a cheerful hoimages-1liday entertainment: find the likelihood that you will suffer from heart disease. The new online calculator for cardiovascular disease is brought to you by researchers at Harvard School of Public Health, and claims to estimate the 20-year risk that you will develop cardiovascular disease (CVD). It’s a somewhat lengthy web survey, with lots of questions about your eating, exercising and drinking, yes drinking, habits, and it also it offers practical tips on improving heart health. But you already knew about them. Good luck.

The Cost Of Fat: Three To Eight Years Of Life

December 9, 2014 8:58 am 0 comments

Forget the money; let’s timagesalk about time alive. A new study by researchers at McGill University Health Centre suggests that being fat can shorten our life by three to eight years. The study, which used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (from years 2003 to 2010) to analyze the contribution of excess body weight to years of life lost and healthy years of life lost, found that people who were very obese could lose up to 8 years of life, obese people could lose up to 6 years, and those who were overweight could lose up to three years. Wait, there’s more: Healthy life-years lost were two to four times higher for overweight and obese people, compared to those who had a healthy weight, defined as 18.5-25 body mass index (BMI). A McGill University news release reports that the age at which the excess weight was gained was an important factor, with the worst outcomes for people who gained their weight at earlier ages.

For Women, Daily Aspirin Does More Harm Than Good

December 8, 2014 7:49 am 0 comments

aspirin1Much has been written, yes, even on SportsGeezer, about the benefits of taking a low-dose of aspirin each day. Now comes some other news about aspirin, and it’s not so rosy. HealthDay reports on research conducted at Harvard Medical School that analyzed the results of a clinical trial of nearly 28,000 women who were largely healthy and relatively young — about 55 years old, on average at the start of the study, and were randomly assigned to take low-dose (100 mg) aspirin or placebo pills every other day. After 15 years, the researchers found, women who had taken aspirin saw a small decrease in their odds of cardiovascular trouble or colon cancer — but at the expense of an increase in the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding. HealthDay reports that for every 133 women on aspirin for 15 years, one would suffer a major gastrointestinal bleeding episode, and one out of 29 women would have less serious problems: a stomach ulcer or slight bleeding in the digestive tract. By comparison, 709 women would have to take aspirin to prevent one case of colon cancer; and 371 would have to regularly take the drug to ward off one cardiovascular complication. The outcomes changed as women aged, and for those age 65 and up, 29 would need to take aspirin, long-term, to prevent one case of cardiovascular disease or cancer.

Mediterranean Diet Makes For Longer Telomeres, And Life

December 5, 2014 8:09 am 0 comments

Yet another thing the Mediterranean diet is good for, or perhaps, one reason the Mediterranean diet is so good for your health: writing in the New York Timesimages, Nicholas Bakalar reports on a study conducted at Harvard Medical School, where researchers first ranked the diets of 4,676 healthy women on a scale of one to nine for their adherence to the ideal Mediterranean diet. Then the researchers measured the women’s telomeres–protective structures at the end of chromosomes, which are linked to longer life–longer telomeres, longer life; shorter telomeres; shorter life. The researchers followed the women for 20 years. The envelope please….the researchers found that the difference in telomere length for each point on the one to nine point adherence to the Mediterranean diet scale could be translated to about 1.5 years of life. Bottom line: eat Mediterranean, live longer.

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