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Roundup: HealthNews RoundUp - 3rd Week of December, 2019


Are Sit-Stand Desks Really Good For You? - Reprise



Sit-stand desks, so-called SSDs, are no miracle.  This conclusion stems from a University of Pittsburgh meta-analysis of some 53 studies.


The Pitt bioengineers conclude that these convertible desks do drive less sitting, can improve back pain issues, may make their users somewhat more comfortable, and can lower your blood pressure a bit.  They will not help you lose weight, and their safe use requires attention to how you are positioned such as desk height, monitor height, posture, and use of an anti-fatigue mat on which to stand.


These devices aren’t cheap.  Prices range from the bare-bones model at $175 to the luxury liners with push button controls that run nearly $1000.  Before making a final purchase, you might like to try one out by purchasing from a merchant with liberal return policies.


April J. Chambers, Michelle M. Robertson, Nancy A. Baker. The effect of sit-stand desks on office worker behavioral and health outcomes: A scoping review. Applied Ergonomics, 2019; 78: 37 DOI: 10.1016/j.apergo.2019.01.015


#standingdesks #sittingstandingdesks #dieting #ergonomics #footmat

standingdesks, sittingstandingdesks, dieting, ergonomics, footmat



You May Be Allergic To Your Pills - Reprise



Ninety percent of the most popular prescription medications in the US contain one or more ingredients that may make you sick.  Now, I’m not talking about the main or so-called active ingredient but rather about the inactive ingredients that are added to pills, capsules, and liquids to improve shelf life, absorption, and taste.


A study just released by collaborators from Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital and MIT analyzed some 42,000 oral medications and their nearly 350,000 inactive ingredients.  The investigators pinpointed 3 troublesome inactive ingredients that appear most often.  


Forty-five percent of medications contain lactose, 33% contain one or another food dye, and up to 0.1% contain peanut oil.  This latter ingredient that could be life threatening for those with peanut allergies.  


To make matters worse, there are countless versions of the same prescription drug by different manufacturers that contain different inactive ingredients.  If you are an allergic individual, check drug labels and question your pharmacist about the inactive ingredients in the medication you are given.   


Those with allergies should always have an antihistamine like Benadryl handy, and those with severe allergies should carry Epipens or their generic equivalents.


Daniel Reker, Steven M. Blum, Christoph Steiger, Kevin E. Anger, Jamie M. Sommer, John Fanikos and Giovanni Traverso. Inactive” ingredients in oral medications. Science Translational Medicine, 2019 DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aau6753


#inactiveingredients #allergy #fooddye #lactose #peanut

inactiveingredients, allergy, fooddye, lactose, peanut 



Green LED Lights May Help Migraine Sufferers


A University Of Arizona study suggests that green LED lights or green tinted glassses may suppress migraine headaches.  Very preliminary but worth a try. 


Read the details:


Get lights:

Buy lights:

HAHOME Waterproof Led String Lights,33Ft 100 LEDs Indoor and Outdoor Starry Lights with Power Supply for Christmas Wedding and Party Decoration,Green


Pregnancy Illnesses May Trigger Preventable Childhood Brain Ills - Reprise



Pregnant women will suffer colds and may get the flu despite receiving the flu vaccines.  When that occurs, the babies they are carrying are more likely to develop excessive neural sensitivity.  That in turn leads to agitation for infants and toddlers and attention deficits and even serious psychosis such as schizophrenia later in life.


A study by University of Colorado pediatricians and psychiatrists reveals that this problem may be prevented by sufficient levels of the essential B vitamin choline.  Choline is necessary for the synthesis of the cell membranes of neurons and the sheaths of nerves.


While choline is found in some foods including eggs, red meat, and liver, 75% of pregnant women fail to consume the recommended daily 450 milligrams of this nutrient.  Unfortunately, prenatal vitamins do not contain choline.


Pregnant women should take a 500 mg choline supplement daily for at least the first 16 weeks of pregnancy.  Choline may be obtained from most drugstores and online.


Robert Freedman, Sharon K. Hunter, Amanda J. Law, Brandie D. Wagner, Angelo D'Alessandro, Uwe Christians, Kathleen Noonan, Anna Wyrwa, M. Camille Hoffman. Higher Gestational Choline Levels in Maternal Infection Are Protective for Infant Brain Development. The Journal of Pediatrics, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2018.12.010


#Choline #neuropathy #agitation #ADHD #psychosis #schizophrenia #pregnancy

Choline, neuropathy, agitation,  ADHD,  psychosis, schizophrenia pregnancy


ACL Repair Improved By Reducing Blood Flow - Reprise



The knee takes a beating in many athletic contests, and anterior cruciate ligament repair is a frequent operative event in the world of sports medicine.  During recovery, though, there tends to be a loss of muscle mass and bone density despite good rehabilitation therapy.


Orthopedic surgeons at Houston’s Methodist Hospital report to the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine that precise and cyclic limitation of blood flow to the healing limbs during postoperative rehabilitation exercises reduced if not eliminated the loss of both muscle and bone mass.  An automated tourniquet was used to reduce the blood flow by about 80% on an intermittent basis.


Researchers across the country and around the world are now studying this phenomenon to better understand the underlying reasons for the benefit.  If you are contemplating an ACL repair, ask your orthopod about this tourniquet technique.


American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine. "Blood flow restriction therapy may protect against bone loss following ACL reconstruction." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 March 2019.


#ACL #anteriorcruciateligament #sportsmedicine #musclewasting #osteoporosis

ACL. anteriorcruciateligament, sportsmedicine, musclewasting, osteoporosis



Traffic Lights Halt Poor Food Choices - Reprise



A green light over the salad bar and a red light over the burgers and fries triggers healthier and environmentally more responsible food choices.  Experimental psychologists at London’s Queen Mary University set up a lunchtime canteen and studied the choices of over 400 subjects.


They conducted two experiments.  In the first, one group of subjects saw traffic signals over the food reflecting its caloric content and healthfulness.  In the second experiment, two traffic signals were present: one again representing the health rating of the food; the second signal revealed the environmental friendliness and carbon emission quotient of the food.  The control groups saw no lights.


Even though the investigators presupposed that multiple lights would be confusing, the group choosing food while exposed to the one signal for calorie count but also the group exposed to indicators for both calories and carbon emissions choose healthier options.  The bonus was that the group also exposed to the environmental signals also chose meals representing fewer carbon emissions.


The traffic light is the ubiquitous signal that governs our behavior both walking and driving.  It turns out that the intuitive nature of this graphic also works at the dining room table.


Magda Osman, Katie Thornton. Traffic light labelling of meals to promote sustainable consumption and healthy eating. Appetite, 2019; 138: 60 DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2019.03.015


#Trafficlight #calories #carbonemissions #dieting #graphics

Trafficlight, calories, carbonemissions, dieting, graphics



Childhood Team Sports Prevent Later Depression For Men - Reprise



Playing organized team sports grows the hippocampus, the brain’s emotion and memory center, while reducing the incidence of adult depression.  This is the finding by neuroscientists at the Washington University-St. Louis.  


They studied a nationwide sample over over 4000 children 9 to 11 years of age using questionnaires to determine their participation in sports and their emotional outlook.  Each underwent MRI brain imaging to measure their hippocampal volumes. 


Participation in regular, organized team sports but not casual pickup games or non-sport activities such as music or art triggers hippocampal growth in both boys and girls.  The sports-playing boys but not the girls showed a notably reduced incidence of clinical depression later in life.


The authors caution that this observation is merely an association and not proof of cause and effect.  Even so, it underscores the value of participation in after-school athletics as long as they don’t trigger head injuries.


Lisa S. Gorham, Terry Jernigan, Jim Hudziak, Deanna M. Barch. Involvement in Sports, Hippocampal Volume, and Depressive Symptoms in Children. Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/j.bpsc.2019.01.011


#Sports #teams #hippocampus #depression #music #art

sports, hippocampus, depression, music, art



Creative Productivity Soars When Dollars Drive Brainstorming Followed By Reflection - Reprise



Paying creatives for every idea they churn out led to optimal results.  The alternatives, paying for idea quality or offering no motivational reward at all, fell flat according to studies by business school researchers at The University of Texas-Austin and the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign.


Their data also demonstrated the most interesting finding that true creativity has an incubation period.  The greatest creative productivity occurred when the idea kids spewed out rough ideas, took at least a 20 minute break, and then returned to their initial thoughts and refined them into very practical plans.


The bottom line?  When you need creative solutions throw as many ideas up on the board as you can, and don’t be cheap about paying the brainstormers or yourself.  Then go out for a walk and return to fine-tune the initial ideas many minutes or days later.


Steven J. Kachelmeier, Laura W. Wang and Michael G. Williamson. Incentivizing the Creative Process: From Initial Quantity to Eventual Creativity. Accounting Review, March 2019


#Creativity #brainstorming #motivation #mindbreak

Creativity, brainstorming, motivation, mindbreak



Losing Weight Stops Migraines - Reprise



If you’re overweight and suffering from migraine headaches, dropping those extra pounds will literally take a load off your mind.  This conclusion comes from a new study by Italy’s University of Padova recently presented to the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society.


Researchers there conducted a meta-analysis of 10 studies covering more 473 migraine sufferers.  They found that any weight loss in obese subjects led to significant improvement including fewer migraines, shorter and less intense headache spells, and less disability.


The improvement did not depend upon the degree of obesity, the numbers of pounds lost, or how subjects achieved the weight reduction.  Dieting and surgery both worked, and the effects were similar in adults and children.


If you’re popping pills, getting shots, having psychotherapy, using biofeedback, enjoying therapeutic massages, getting acupunctured, or wolfing down exotic herbs all to prevent or control your migraines and you are overweight, you will help yourself by making an honest effort to knock off those pounds.


The Endocrine Society. "For migraine sufferers with obesity, losing weight can decrease headaches." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 March 2019.


#Migraines #obesity #overweight #dieting

Migraines, obesity, overweight, dieting



Working Nights Triggers Miscarriage - Reprise



If you’re pregnant and work two night shifts in any given week, you significantly increase your chances of suffering a miscarriage.  Danish occupational medicine specialists reviewed the data from nearly 23,000 pregnant women a for a study recently published online.


The data revealed that, after the 8th week of pregnancy, women who worked two or more night shifts in any given week had a 32% higher risk of miscarriage by the following week.  The risk of miscarriage escalated as the number of night shifts and the number of consecutive night shifts increased.


Again, this study only unearths an association, and the cause of this phenomenon is unproven.  The investigators do add that night work disrupts the body’s circadian rhythms and diminishes melatonin release.   Melatonin is known to be a factor in normal placental function.


If you are on the night shift and considering becoming pregnant, ask your managers if you can join the day crew.  This is crucial if you have a history of miscarriages or high-risk pregnancies.


Luise Moelenberg Begtrup, Ina Olmer Specht, Paula Edeusa Cristina Hammer, Esben Meulengracht Flachs, Anne Helene Garde, Johnni Hansen, Åse Marie Hansen, Henrik Albert Kolstad, Ann Dyreborg Larsen, Jens Peter Bonde. Night work and miscarriage: a Danish nationwide register-based cohort study. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 2019 DOI: 10.1136/oemed-2018-105592


#Nightshift #miscarriage #highriskpregnancy #pregnancy #obstetrics #circadianrhythm #melatonin

Nightshift, miscarriage, highriskpregnancy, pregnancy, obstetrics, circadianrhythm, melatonin



Virtual Reality Cures Fear of Heights - Reprise



Do you cringe at the thought of looking down from bridge or tall building, going up in a balloon, or parasailing?  Are you afraid of falling even if you are only up on a chair?  Some caution makes sense, but if you have a pathologic fear that limits your life choices then you probably suffer from acrophobia or the extreme, irrational phobia about height.   


From 2 to 5% of us have acrophobia, and twice as many women as men suffer from it.  It can be extremely dangerous if an affected person develops a panic attack and becomes so agitated that she or he cannot safely get down.


Dutch researchers developed a VR app to help acrophobics control their fears using cognitive behavioral therapy without the use of formal psychotherapy.  The app called ZeroPhobia, available on the iOS and Google Play app stores for $14, works with your smartphone and cardboard goggles.


The neuroscientists studied this app in a trial involving nearly 200 subjects.  Half were treated with 6 animated modules over 3 weeks and half were not.  The treated group experienced a significant reduction in their fears.


The app provides individual self-help at home for a reasonable price.  The theory behind this type of exposure therapy is that it triggers hippocampal extinction neurons which suppress undesirable memories.


If you have fear of heights, you may want to try the VR app.  If you want save a few bucks, check out the wonderful high altitude 2D YouTube videos that will also help you fight your fears!


Tara Donker, Ilja Cornelisz, Chris van Klaveren, Annemieke van Straten, Per Carl-bring, Pim Cuijpers, Jean-Louis van Gelder. Effectiveness of Self-guided App-Based Virtual Reality Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Acrophobia. JAMA Psychiatry, 2019; DOI: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2019.0219


Anthony F. Lacagnina, Emma T. Brockway, Chelsea R. Crovetti, Francis Shue, Meredith J. McCarty, Kevin P. Sattler, Sean C. Lim, Sofia Leal Santos, Christine A. Denny, Michael R. Drew. Distinct hippocampal engrams control extinction and relapse of fear memory. Nature Neuroscience, 2019; DOI: 10.1038/s41593-019-0361-z


#Acrophobia #heights #VR #selfhelp

Acrophobia, heights, VR, selfhelp

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