Testosterone Surge Is For Losers, Too

November 26, 2014 7:39 am 0 comments

imagesIt’s called the “winner effect,” because trainers have long believed that winning athletic competition actually boosts testosterone levels. Now a new study by researchers at Emory University suggests that it should be called the “winner and loser effect.” The researchers analyzed saliva samples of male and female cross country runners taken during warm up, before a race, and after a race.  The envelope please….The researchers found that testosterone went up from the baseline for everyone– both men and women during the warm-up, while levels of cortisol — a hormone related to stress — did not. At the end of the race, while both men and women  showed the expected increases in cortisol and surges in testosterone, neither hormone was related to finish time. In fact, one of the biggest testosterone surges occurred in a runner with one of the slowest times.

How To Walk Off A Thanksgiving Dinner: 63 Miles

November 25, 2014 7:20 am 0 comments

Want to know how to walk off the calories from a Thanksgiving dinner? Keep walking. About 18 hours after you start, you’ll be back to ground zero. According to this calories burned chart, walking burns about 250 calories an hour. And according to this Thanksgiving calorie counter, a Thanksgiving meal delivers 4,575 calories. The math is simple, the journey is not. Here’s some more math: if you walk at a normal pace of 3.5 miles per hour for 18 hours, you’ll cover 63 miles.

Heavy Drinker Or Alcoholic? That Is The Question

November 24, 2014 7:34 am 2 comments

Is this good news? The NAlcohol-by-Mark-Turner-Creative-Commonsew York Times reports that a new study of results from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health suggests that nine out of 10 people who drink too much are not addicts, and can change their behavior with sufficient prompting. It could be good news, except the Times also reports that excessive drinking, the kind practiced by non-alcoholics as well as alcoholics, results in 88,000 deaths a year, from causes that include alcohol poisoning and liver disease, to car accidents and other accidental deaths. Here’s another question: When does drinking become excessive? Quite soon, actually. For men, the Times reports, excessive drinking is achieved with five or more drinks in one sitting or 15 drinks or more during a week. For women, it’s four drinks on one occasion or eight drinks over the course of a week. Yes, quite soon, so soon in fact, that about 29 percent of the population meets the definition for excessive drinking, while 90 percent of those people do not meet the definition of alcoholism. What can those people do about the problem? The government funded report suggests that they should drink less.

A Bad Marriage Can Kill You, Slowly

November 22, 2014 10:47 am 0 comments

It takes a while, but a baA bride and groom wedding cake topper.d marriage can kill you, especially if you’re a woman. Researchers at Michigan State University arrived at that conclusion after analyzing five years of data from about 1,200 married men and women who were aged 57-85 at the beginning of the study. A Michigan State news release reports that the researchers looked at answers to questions about marital quality, as well as lab tests and self-reported measures of cardiovascular health such as heart attacks, strokes, hypertension and high levels of C-reactive protein in the blood. What did they find? Four discouraging things:

  • Negative martial quality (e.g., spouse criticizes, spouse is demanding) has a bigger effect on heart health than positive marital quality (e.g., spousal support). In other words, a bad marriage is more harmful to your heart health than a good marriage is beneficial.
  • The effect of marital quality on cardiovascular risk becomes much stronger at older ages. Over time, the stress from a bad marriage may stimulate more, and more intense, cardiovascular responses because of the declining immune function and increasing frailty that typically develop in old age.
  • Marital quality has a bigger effect on women’s heart health than it does on men’s, possibly because women tend to internalize negative feelings and thus are more likely to feel depressed and develop cardiovascular problems.
  • Heart disease leads to a decline in marital quality for women, but not for men.

Jogging Keeps Our Bodies Young

November 21, 2014 7:51 am 1 comment

images-1Jogging, as contrasted with walking, really does keep us young.  That’s the verdict from researchers at Humboldt State University, where a recent study found that people who run at least 30 minutes, three times a week were less likely to experience age-related physical decline in walking efficiency than those who simply walked. Humboldt State Now reports that researchers looked at self-reported older joggers over the age of 65—those who ran at least 30 minutes a day, three times a week—and self-reported walkers, those who walked three times a week for 30 minutes. To learn exactly how much younger the joggers’ bodies were, the researchers put them on a treadmill and had them walk at three speeds (1.6, 2.8 and 3.9 miles per hour) as they measured their oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production. The envelope please…Overall, older joggers were 7-10 percent more efficient at walking than older adults who just walked for exercise. Wait, there’s more: their metabolic cost was similar to young people in their 20s.

Want Help? Wear High Heels. Want More Help? Wear Higher Heels

November 20, 2014 8:09 am 0 comments

Can the style of shoes worn by women influence the behavior of men? The French think so. Science Dailyimages reports on research conducted at the Université de Bretagne-Sud, where study author Nicolas Guéguen set up experiments in which he watched what happened when a woman in flat shoes asked people to complete a survey, and whether or not they complied more readily when she was wearing high heels. He also tested whether or not people’s spontaneous urge to help changed when the same woman — again wearing shoes with different heel sizes — dropped a glove. The answers are unsurprising. Guéguen found that men’s helpfulness increased along with the height of the heels a woman was wearing. Also unsurprising, heel height had no influence on other women’s willingness to help. “Women’s shoe heel size exerts a powerful effect on men’s behavior,” summarizes Guéguen, who, Science Daily reports, believes that more research must be done to examine whether this effect depends on a woman’s shoe heel size and on any change of gait due to wearing high heels. Over to you.

For Some, Soy Cools Hot Flashes

November 19, 2014 9:28 am 0 comments

imgresThe good news is that eating a soy-based diet can reduce the frequency and intensity of hot flashes. The less good news is that the soy diet only works for women whose bodies naturally produce equol, which is metabolized from the soy isoflavone diazden by bacteria in the gut. What’s the likelihood of that? Well, in a recent study involving 357 women, 34 percent were equol producers. Science Daily reports that among the equol producers, those who had the most soy in their diet were 76 percent less likely to have a higher than average number of hot flashes and night sweats than those who had the least soy in their diet. But for the women who did not produce equol, soy made no difference. How to find out if you’re an equol producer? It’s not easy. Science Daily writes that “measuring equol in urine is a test that’s only done in research centers, so it’s not realistic for women who are not participating in studies to be tested.” Of course, women could simply start eating more soy and see what happens.

Walnuts Slow Prostate Cancer

November 18, 2014 10:29 am 0 comments

Yes, it appears to be true: walnuts slow the growth of prostate cancer, at least in mice. A UC Davis news releaseimgres reports that researchers at the school had found, in a previous study, that walnuts reduced prostate tumor size in mice, but the researchers weren’t sure which parts of the nuts generated these benefits. This time around, the researchers used a mixture of fats with virtually the same fatty acid content as walnuts as their control diet. Mice were fed whole walnuts, walnut oil or the walnut-like fat for 18 weeks. The envelope please…the researchers found that while the walnuts and walnut oil reduced cholesterol and slowed prostate cancer growth, the walnut-like fat did not, confirming that other nut components caused the improvements – not the omega-3s. The researchers note that while the study doesn’t pinpoint which combination of compounds in walnuts slows cancer growth, it did rule out fiber, zinc, magnesium and selenium. What it did show is that walnuts modulate several mechanisms associated with cancer growth.

Why Men Don’t Ask For Directions. It’s About Sex

November 17, 2014 9:58 am 1 comment

travel3-130x97Ever wonder why men don’t ask for directions? According to researchers at the University of Utah, it’s about sex, maybe. A U of Utah news release reports that researchers at the school who studied two African tribes found that men evolved better navigation ability than women because men with better spatial skills  can roam farther and have children with more mates. The researchers believe that the two tribes they chose to study, the Twe and Tjimba, were good subjects because they travel over distances of 120 miles during a year, “navigating on foot in a wide-open natural environment like many of our ancestors.” The tribes also have a comparatively open sexual culture, with many men having children by women other than their wives. So how, exactly, does mating pressure favor navigation skills? “Navigation ability facilitates traveling longer distances and exploring new environments,” says Elizabeth Cashdan, the study’s senior author. “And the farther you travel, the more likely you are to encounter new mating opportunities.”

Cleanliness Could Really Be Next To Godliness, Or At Least More Ethical Behavior

November 14, 2014 8:03 am 0 comments

Yikes! What if cleanliness really were next to godliness? It’s possible. In fact, researchers at Rice University think it’s probable, if godliness is related to ethical behavior. Science Dailyimages reports that researchers at the school who have been studying the influence of disgust on behavior have found that people who are disgusted tend to become hyper-protective, so much so that they will lie or cheat to get out of a disgusting situation. Conversely, the researchers found, when study subjects contemplated cleanliness–they were asked to evaluate cleaning products, such as disinfectants, household cleaners and body washes– they did not engage in deceptive behaviors any more than usual, whatever that is. Why do we care? The researchers suggest that the findings could be applied to the workplace, where a cleaner environment could foster less self-interest and more cooperative behavior. Please pass the soap.

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