Natural Health Reviews - April 2005
April 2005 Issue
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Health Reviews Headlines
- Meditation Calms the Mind, Lengthens Life
- Too Much Meat, Alcohol a Bad Mix for the Heart
- Best to Eat Like the Greeks
- Few U.S. Adults Lead Healthy Lives
- Sleep Patterns Linked to Diabetes Risk
- As Stress Mounts, Self-Control Goes Out the Window
- Wine Or Beer? Both Equal Higher Blood Pressure
- Diet, Exercise Best for Preventing Pre-Diabetes
- Sleepless Elderly Prone to Falls
- Chili, Broccoli Help Prevent Cancer
- Mercury in Fish Seems Not to Harm Older Brains
- Sun, Vitamin D Help Lung Cancer Survival
- Dairy May Not Help Weight Loss Much After All
- High Folic Acid Intake Linked to Mental Decline
- Eating Beans May Stave Off Breast Cancer
- Stress Management, Exercise May Aid Heart Patients
- Vitamin E Temporarily Raises Cancer Risk
- Alcohol Hand Gel Use Tied to Fewer Family Colds
- Cognitive Therapy Effective As Antidepressants
- Exercise Helps Middle-Age Adults Stay Spry
- Arthritis Inflammation Increases Cardiac Death Risk
- Half of All US Cancer Deaths are Preventable
Health Reviews for April 2005
Here is our health reviews of historical news stories covered from the Natural Health Perspective.
Friday, April 29
Transcendental meditation not only reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, but actually lets people live longer, according to a new review.
Overall, men and women who practiced transcendental meditation not only had lower blood pressures than those in the other groups, but were also 23 percent less likely to die from any cause, Schneider and his team report. In particular, they were 30 percent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease and 49 percent less likely to die from cancer.
Meditation is a mind-body technique that helps to lower blood pressure.
Regular drinking and high iron intake from meat was associated with a higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease in women, according to new research.
Among women who drank roughly a drink a day or more, those who consumed the iron through meat had more than twice the risk of cardiovascular death as those who ate the least. But, iron from supplements was not strongly related. However, women who had a higher zinc intake from their diet showed a decreased risk of dying from heart disease or stroke.
Women experience iron deficiency problems while men generally do not. Hence, the findings of this study would probably be a bigger problem for men, since they are more likely to suffer from excess iron.
Wednesday, April 27
People with heart disease who eat a Mediterranean diet tend to live longer than those who follow different diets, according to new research.
People with heart disease who eat a Mediterranean diet tend to live longer because they were 27 percent less likely to die during follow up over a 4 year period. There is no need to wait until heart disease strikes, before eating this healthy diet.
The Mediterranean lifestyle is rich in fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts, and plenty of healthier fatty acids like those found in olive oil. It also features moderate amounts of red wine as well as a physically active life.
Friday, April 22
Few people follow four basic rules of health living -- don't smoke, eat well, exercise regularly, and maintain a healthy weight, according to a new study.
This survey found that only three percent of surveyed adults maintained all four of these healthy habits.
Doing 3 out of the 4 is better than nothing. And, If you had to pick only one then I would choose to exercise regularly.
Sleeping for less than six hours or for more than nine hours is associated with an increased risk impaired blood glucose tolerance and of diabetes, according to a new study.
"Compared with subjects who slept for seven to eight hours each night, the risk of diabetes was increased by 2.5-fold in those sleeping five or less hours, 1.66-fold for those sleeping six hours, and 1.79-fold for those sleeping nine or more hours. The corresponding increased risks of developing impaired glucose tolerance were 1.33-, 1.58-, and 1.88-fold. Blood glucose levels were not significantly affected by insomnia."
People should ideally get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep a night. Sleeping more than 9 hours generally indicates not getting enough food, or engaging in excessive levels of physical activity.
Thursday, April 21
During episodes of high stress, people are likely to see a relapse in behaviors that they had once successfully controlled, according to a new study.
This study suggests once again that wellness is a journey rather than a destination. Health is a battle that you must face, every minute of your life.
Wednesday, April 20
People at risk of high blood pressure should avoid drinking wine and beer, according to a new study.
Drinking beer raised systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) an average of 2.9 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and increased the sleeping heart rate by five beats a minute on average. While drinking wine raised systolic pressure by an average of 1.9 mm Hg and increased the sleeping heart rate by four beats a minute.
A positive relationship between alcohol consumption of all types and a higher blood pressure have been pretty well established by scientific research.
Lifestyle has been affirmed to be more effective than drug treatment in preventing metabolic syndrome, by yet another new study.
The study found that the rate of metabolic syndrome decreased from 51 percent to 43 percent in the lifestyle group. but increased from 54 percent to 55 percent in the metformin drug treatment group.
These changes in lifestyle had a greater impact on reducing waist circumference and in lowering blood pressure than it did in improving cholesterol.
The elderly suffering from insomnia have an increased risk of falling, according to a new study.
"Compared to patients without insomnia, those with untreated insomnia were 55 percent more likely to have future falls, and those with insomnia despite taking sleeping pills had a 32 percent higher risk."
Tuesday, April 19
Broccoli and red chili peppers may help fight cancer, according to a new unpublished study.
"We discovered that red chili pepper and broccoli appear to be effective inhibitors of the cancer process," according to the lead researcher.
The current study, however, used lab dishes and hence is of very little evidentiary value. But, does bring up findings that have been pretty well been established by other prior research studies.
Eating moderate amounts of fish contaminated with mercury poses little danger to the brains of older adults, according to a new JAMA study.
"Among a group of older adults between 50 and 70, those with more mercury in their blood appeared to perform equally well in multiple tests of mental functioning as people with lower blood mercury levels." These elderly with higher mercury levels tended to outperform others on tests of manual dexterity involving finger tapping. However, the researchers noted that "more than half of the adults included in the study had blood mercury levels far below what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers potentially harmful."
This study strongly suggests that Mercury in fish is more of a threat to developing brains than it is to an aging adult. It is another indication, that you should not become paranoid about avoiding eating fatty fish because of their mercury content. Nobody, however, is suggesting that anyone should be eating huge amounts of fish. Two servings a week of fish, still seems reasonable for a middle-aged adult.
Sunshine and vitamin D may help people with early stage lung cancer survive longer after surgery, according to a new study.
"The survival advantage at five years is pretty dramatic, ... if the research is validated it may mean that taking vitamin D or fortified nutritional supplements soon after a diagnosis and before surgery could provide 'a survival advantage,'" according to the lead researcher.
Vitamin D appears to be anti-proliferative, as it inhibits proliferation of abnormal cancer cells. This study strongly suggests that vitamin D inhibits the spread of cancerous tumors.
Friday, April 15
Eating dairy food appears to do little for young women's waistlines, despite earlier reports that eating dairy helped, according to a new study.
A study author said that: "It is likely that the effect of calcium or dairy products on preventing gain of body fat is relatively small, and therefore it will take a long time to see the changes."
However to make the findings of this study even more confusing, she also stated: "We can definitely say that adding dairy to your diet does not increase weight or body fat." Thus, the old findings may still apply in that consuming dairy wont increase your weight.
Monday, April 11
High intakes of folic acid result in a faster rate of mental decline, according to a new study.
Those in the top fifth of folic acid consumption, i.e., more than 700 micrograms in a day, had twice the rate of mental decline over six years than those who with the lowest folate intake. Rates of decline were also faster among people who got more than 400 micrograms of folate in the form of supplements, and among those whose folate intake from food was nearly 400 micrograms.
One possible explanation for this finding could be a undetected vitamin B-12 deficiency. The study found that a high B-12 intake was associated with slower mental decline among the oldest study participants. Those who consumed 20 micrograms of B-12 through supplements daily had a 25 percent lower decline than those who got the recommended level of B-12 for adults (i.e., 2.4 micrograms ). Many know about supplementing with folic acid, but perhaps most don't supplement with B-12. Good mental functioning requires cholesterol in the brain. So, perhaps excessive folic acid intake adversely affects brain chemistry. Nevertheless, it appears that high intakes of folic acid used to control high homocysteine levels should only be done on a temporary basis.
Thursday, April 7
Eating beans or lentils twice a week reduces a woman's risk of developing breast cancer, according to a new study.
Overall flavonol antioxidant intake was not associated with breast cancer risk.
Women who consumed beans or lentils at least twice a week, however, were 24 percent less likely to develop breast cancer. Beans, or legumes, are the 4th food group of the Mediterranean diet.
Exercise and stress management helps people with heart disease, a new JAMA study suggests.
This study is important because it documented that stress reduction techniques resulted in concrete physiological changes in the human body.
The study strongly suggested that improved blood vessel function could be one of the reasons why mind-body stress management works on your body.
Tuesday, April 5
Use of vitamin E supplements was associated with an increased cancer risk, in a recent study of patients with head and neck cancer.
Another negative finding on the use of vitamin E supplementation.
A major problem with this study is that it is tainted by the use of beta-carotene supplements. Beta-carotene supplements have previously been shown to increase the risk of lung cancer. And, if you read the fine print, they are actually talking about coming down with cancer again for the second time after having survived their first bout with cancer. So, perhaps this is more of a word game of research scientists than a practical problem with vitamin E?
Monday, April 4
Alcohol-based hand gels seem to be more effective than soap and water in family settings, according to a new study.
"Close attention to hand hygiene is important for preventing the spread of colds and stomach flu in the home," for those people living with children. The findings of this study apply to anybody living in a closed environment with a lot of other people, such as when you take a vacation on an ocean liner.
Cognitive therapy is as effective as antidepressants in the treatment of moderate to severe depression, according to a new study.
"Cognitive therapy can be as effective as medications for the initial treatment of moderate to severe major depression, but this degree of effectiveness may depend on a high level of therapist experience or expertise."
It should be no surprise to anyone, that there are generally always alternatives like lifestyle to prescription medication.
Friday, April 1
Regular exercise in middle age can help people hang on to their physical prowess as they grow older, according to a new study.
"This study shows that regular physical activity appears to be critical to preserving high physical function in relatively fit, healthy, middle-aged men and women."
The study defined being physical active as getting at least 2.5 hours of moderate intensity exercise or one hour of vigorous physical activity each week. Moderate exercise included biking and leisurely swimming, while swimming laps and running was classified as vigorous exercise. The study, also, strongly suggests that mid-life is the ideal time to start an exercise program that will result in successful aging.
The most likely reason for normal physical decline due to aging is the normal progressive loss of muscle mass and strength. Loss of muscle mass is a normal part of aging. Promoting muscle mass requires bodybuilding exercises rather than aerobics. And of course, mind-body exercises like tai chi and yoga do not promote muscle mass growth either. However, Pilates might be a reasonable compromise for anybody not into bodybuilding.
Inflammation from rheumatoid arthritis increases the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, a new study reported.
There is increasing evidence that any form of inflammation is a major risk factor for atherosclerosis.
If Americans were to stop smoking, exercise more, eat healthier food and underwent recommended cancer screenings more than 60 percent of all cancer deaths could be prevented, according to the American Cancer Society.
"Scientists estimate that approximately one third (190,090) of the 570,280 cancer deaths expected to occur in 2005 will be related to poor nutrition, physical inactivity, overweight, obesity and other lifestyle factors."
Of course, the single easiest way to prevent cancer would be to stop smoking. Everyone should, also, stop eating junk food. Add more fruits and vegetables to their diet. And, exercise regularly in order to live a long healthy life.
April 2005 Issue
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