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Roundup: Best Of HealthNews RoundUp - 4th Week of February 2020



Best of: Pregnant Women’s Commuting Harms Babies



Pregnant women with long work commutes may are more likely to experience a slow fetal growth rate and to deliver a low birth weight baby.  Health economists at Lehigh University drew this conclusion from New Jersey birth records and information about the lengths of the  associated maternal commutes.


Each 10 miles of commuting distance over a 50 mile threshold increased the probability of intrauterine growth restriction by 43% and the probability of a low birth weight infant by 14%.  The increased risk was calculated using control mothers with a 10 mile or less commute.   So women commuting 80 miles a day would have a 42% higher risk of giving birth to a low birth weight infant.



The researchers found that the adverse affects on the fetus occur due to commute-induced chronic maternal stress and, of even more importance, less prenatal care due to limited time.   Many of the women with long commutes had delayed prenatal care or none at all.


This information suggests that pregnant women with long commutes should consider telecommuting during their pregnancies and looking for work closer to home.  Once the baby arrives, time with family will become even more precious. If you are in the car on a long commute, you are also paying even more for child care.


Yang Wang, Muzhe Yang. Long Commutes to Work during Pregnancy and Infant Health at Birth. Economics & Human Biology, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/j.ehb.2019.03.006


#commuting #lowbirthweight #intrauterinegrowth #stress #prenatalcare


commuting, lowbirthweight, intrauterinegrowth, stress, prenatalcare



Best Of: Walnuts May Help Fight Breast Cancer



Walnuts can suppress the expression of genes in breast cancers.  In so doing, the nuts may be able stop breast cancer from growing locally and and spreading.


Oncologist researchers from Marshall University just published a study in the journal Nutrition Research that conclusively demonstrates in both women with breast cancer and in a mouse model injected with human breast cancer cells that consuming walnuts daily throws a logjam into the tumor cells’ metabolism.  The human subjects ate 2 ounces of walnuts for 2-3 weeks between their diagnostic biopsies and definitive surgery.  The mice consumed an equivalent amount.



The results show that walnuts affect the expression of some 456 breast cancer cell genes that in turn inhibit cell proliferation, reduce cell vitality, and promote cell destruction.  Studies are now underway enrolling larger groups of patients to prove that walnuts and their anti-oxidative prowess can indeed stop breast cancers in their tracks and prevent their life-threatening metastasis to vital organs.


W. Elaine Hardman, Donald A. Primerano, Mary T. Legenza, James Morgan, Jun Fan, James Denvir. Dietary walnut altered gene expressions related to tumor growth, survival, and metastasis in breast Cancer patients: A pilot clinical trial. Nutrition Research, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/j.nutres.2019.03.004


#walnuts #breastcancer #geneexpression

walnuts, breastcancer, geneexpression



Best Of: Flow and Grow Drugs Can Trigger Diabetes



The drugs in question are those that make men’s urine flow and their hair grow.  Many men take finasteride, better known as Proscar and Propecia, to shrink their prostates to improve urine flow and others take the same medicine help hair grow on their scalps.  


A new study from Scotland’s University of Edinburgh reveals that this drug and its cousin dutasteride (Avodart), technically known as 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors, can make the body less sensitive to insulin and induce type 2 diabetes.


The investigators reviewed health records from 55,000 men in the UK each of whom been taking these drugs over an 11 year period.  They discovered that this drug increases a man’s chances of developing diabetes by about 33%.


Finasteride and dutasteride are effective and popular.  Experts agree that these medications may be continued, but they add the sound medical advice that dictates close followup and surveillance of the users carbohydrate handling capabilities.  In simple terms, long term user’s docs should check them for diabetes periodically.


Li Wei, Edward Chia-Cheng Lai, Yea-Huei Kao-Yang, Brian R Walker, Thomas M MacDonald, Ruth Andrew. Incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus in men receiving steroid 5α-reductase inhibitors: population based cohort study. BMJ, 2019; l1204 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.l1204


#finasteride #dutasteride #diabetes

finasteride, dutasteride, diabetes




Best Of: Dental Whitening Could Destroy Your Teeth



Using whitening strips to wipe away those coffee and nicotine stains from your dental enamel makes your teeth sparkle.  But…..the chemical reactions that occur beneath the surface could trigger a time bomb.  


This warning comes from biochemical studies at New Jersey’s Stockton University that were presented last week to the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.


All commercial whitening strips contain hydrogen peroxide.  After it whitens the surface enamel, the peroxide penetrates deeper into the protein-rich dentin layer that makes up most of your tooth.  These new studies show the that hydrogen peroxide fragments the dentin collagen explaining why previous studies detected a diminution in the total amount of dentin collagen present.  The concentration of hydrogen peroxide in the whitening strips is sufficient to totally destroy the dentin collagen.


There are no studies to indicate whether dentin collagen can regenerate.  Until such information surfaces, the smart money is on avoiding use of whitening strips so that you don’t find your teeth crumbling.


Experimental Biology. "Teeth whitening products can harm protein-rich tooth layer: Researchers show active ingredient in whitening strips damages dentin." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 April 2019.


#whiteningstrips #dentalenamel #dentin #collagen

whiteningstrips, dentalenamel, dentin, collagen



Best Of: Five Minute Exercise Works Wonders



Here’s a quickie exercise routine that can lower your blood pressure, reduce your risk of heart attack, boost your fitness, and sharpen your brainpower.  The best part is that there is no weight lifting, jogging, or sweating involved.


Integrative physiologists at the University of Colorado reported to the recent Experimental Biology scientific meeting that exercising your muscles of breathing just 5 minutes a day with an inhalation device that can vary the resistance you breathe against has all of these beneficial effects.


Inhalation exercise devices are available on Amazon for $30 to $50.  You may want to try using this so-called Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training (IMST) using your blood pressure and level of fitness for aerobic exercise as outcome measures to see how it is working for you.


Buffing up your respiratory muscles is a wonderful idea, but it is no substitute for consistent, aerobic exercise.  I highly recommend stationary recumbent cycling as a form of aerobic exercise that is oh so easy on your joints and back.


University of Colorado at Boulder. "Novel 5-minute workout improves blood pressure, may boost brain function." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 April 2019.


#inspiratorymuscletraining #imst #aerobics #respiratorymuscles

inspiratorymuscletraining, imst, aerobics, respiratorymuscles




Best Of: Glimpses Of Coffee Mimic Caffeine Effect



Tired of shelling out 3 bucks for that Starbucks Latte?  You might just derive some of the same emotional and psychological effect by looking at a picture of it.


Management researchers at the University of Toronto’s Rotman Management School studied responses to seeing even glimpses of coffee-related images.  Called priming, such images caused the subjects to think more precisely and to sense a shorter than actual time scale loosely mimicking the effects of caffeine.


The effect was definitely stronger in Westerners for whom coffee has a strong tradition than it was for those accustomed to Eastern culture and drinking tea.  


This priming effect apparently also works for fast food logos.  Seeing them prevented viewers from relaxing and enjoying a pleasurable experience.


Eugene Y. Chan, Sam J. Maglio. Coffee cues elevate arousal and reduce level of construal. Consciousness and Cognition, 2019; 70: 57 DOI: 10.1016/j.concog.2019.02.007


#coffee #caffeine #priming #arousal

coffee, caffeine, priming, arousal




Best Of: Meditation Could Backfire



Meditation is designed to relax you, but a new study from University College London finds that one in every four persons who regularly meditates experiences a decidedly unpleasant experience on a regular basis. The investigators surveyed more than 1200 persons who had regularly meditated for at least 2 months.


The unpleasant experiences included anxiety, fear, distorted emotions or thoughts, and an altered sense of self or the world.  Those most likely to have negative meditation experiences were those subjects who had been at a meditation retreat, those practicing deconstructive meditation, and those without deep religious beliefs.  Bad meditation trips were slightly more likely for men than women.


Meditation can have very positive effects.  Just be aware, though, that it may trigger negative sensations so buyer beware!


Marco Schlosser, Terje Sparby, Sebastjan Vörös, Rebecca Jones, Natalie L. Marchant. Unpleasant meditation-related experiences in regular meditators: Prevalence, predictors, and conceptual considerations. PLOS ONE, 2019; 14 (5): e0216643 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0216643


#meditation #badtrip #anxiety

meditation, badtrip, anxiety



Best Of: Recreational Sports Improve Grades



Ok college students!  Looking to bump up your GPA?  Get yourself signed up for intramural sports ASAP!


A study of some 1800 Michigan State University freshmen revealed that those playing intramural sports earned a GPA average of 3.25 compared with the 3.07 GPA earned by the couch potatoes.  In addition, the data revealed that the athletes were less likely to drop of fail a course and were 40% more likely to advance and become sophomores during their second year at MSU.  The students in each group were matched by high school GPA, gender, race, socioeconomic status, and legacy status.


Lest you think that more extracurriculars were better, the study reported that between 4 to 6 was the ideal number.


Kerri L. Vasold, Lauren E. Kosowski, James M. Pivarnik. Academic Success and 1 Year of Intramural Sports Participation by Freshmen Students. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice, 2019; 152102511983300 DOI: 10.1177/1521025119833000


#intramuralsports #gpa #flunking

intramuralsports, gpa, flunking



Best Of: Avocado Kills Hunger



If you’re looking to suppress your hunger without “pigging out” and bumping up your daily calorie count, try substituting avocados for carbs in your diet.  Nutrition scientists at the Illinois Institute of Technology studied some 31 overweight and obese subjects and modified their diets.


They replaced carbohydrate calories with fat calories from avocados on a calorie-for-calorie basis.  They used either whole avocados or half avocados to create dose-response data.


The final results demonstrated that avocados can suppress hunger and increase the hormones typically released when a person feels full.  The fats and fiber contained in avocados are healthy additions to anyone's diet, and this soft fruit is a useful weapon in the battle against obesity and diabetes.


Lanjun Zhu, Yancui Huang, Indika Edirisinghe, Eunyoung Park, Britt Burton-Freeman. Using the Avocado to Test the Satiety Effects of a Fat-Fiber Combination in Place of Carbohydrate Energy in a Breakfast Meal in Overweight and Obese Men and Women: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Nutrients, 2019; 11 (5): 952 DOI: 10.3390/nu11050952


#avocado #hunger #dieting #obesity #overweight

avocado, hunger, dieting, obesity, overweight




Best Of: Skin-sparing Mastectomy A Safe Alternative



A Mayo Clinic study shows that many breast cancers may be safely and completely removed without sacrificing the overlying skin and nipple.  This study is being presented to the American Society of Breast Surgeons annual meeting this month.


The study looked at skin and nipple-sparing mastectomies in 769 women undergoing a total of 1300 surgeries.  At one year following surgery, the technique was considered a success in 97% of cases both in terms of cancer eradication and breast reconstruction.


Longer-term followup data will be necessary to determine whether or not skin- and nipple- sparing will become the norm.  Even at this point, though, this information from Mayo suggests that such conservative surgery should be considered an option for many women.


Mayo Clinic. "Less-invasive mastectomy safe for more breast cancer patients." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 May 2019.


#mastectomy #skinsparing #breastcancer #cancer

mastectomy, skinsparing, breastcancer, cancer



Best Of: Nuts to High Blood Pressure

Vidcast:  ttps://


Eating walnuts instead of other sources of fat in a diet can lower your blood pressure.  This conclusion comes from a study of 45 overweight or obese subjects by nutritionists at Penn State just published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.


The investigation found that eating walnuts to replace at least 5 percent of the typical 12 percent saturated fat that most Americans consume significantly lowered the body’s central diastolic or resting blood pressure. A normal diastolic pressure level is key for preventing heart disease and stroke.  The walnuts did not lower either systolic blood pressure or arterial stiffness.


The next time you’re looking for a heart healthy snack, skip the potato chips and reach instead for the can of walnuts.  For an even greater effect, replace those french fries you know you always order with walnuts and green beans.  Your heart and circulation will be glad you did.


Alyssa M. Tindall, Kristina S. Petersen, Ann C. Skulas‐Ray, Chesney K. Richter, David N. Proctor, Penny M. Kris‐Etherton. Replacing Saturated Fat With Walnuts or Vegetable Oils Improves Central Blood Pressure and Serum Lipids in Adults at Risk for Cardiovascular Disease: A Randomized Controlled‐Feeding Trial. Journal of the American Heart Association, 2019; 8 (9) DOI: 10.1161/JAHA.118.011512


#walnuts #hypertension

walnuts, hypertension



Best Of: Broccoli Triggers Cancer Immunity



Broccoli and its cruciferous vegetable cousins can inactivate a gene that cancers use to overwhelm our immune systems and our bodies. This latest finding comes from Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center’s Cancer Research Institute.


We know that eating broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, collard greens, Brussel sprouts, and kale seems to reduce the risk of cancer.  The Harvard researchers report that a tiny molecule in these vegetables, indole 3 carbinol or I3C, blocks one gene, WWP1, and releases a second gene, PTEN that is a potent human cancer cell suppressor.  By this round about mechanism, these veggies metabolically disable tumor cells.


So all we have so do is eat some broccoli, cauliflower, or cabbage to cure cancer.  No so fast.  Only tiny amounts of the magic I3C are in the usual servings of these vegetables, so you’d have to consume whopping quantities to consistently have an effect.  


Nonetheless, eating them regularly is beneficial while researchers find a way to produce or extract larger quantities of this cancer Achille’s heel.


Yu-Ru Lee, Ming Chen, Jonathan D. Lee, etal. Reactivation of PTEN tumor suppressor for cancer treatment through inhibition of a MYC-WWP1 inhibitory pathway. Science, 2019; 364 (6441): eaau0159 DOI: 10.1126/science.aau0159


#broccoli #cancer #cauliflower #cabbage #collardgreens #brusselsprouts #kale #wwpi #pten #indole3carbinol

broccoli, cancer, cauliflower, cabbage, collardgreens, brusselsprouts, kale, wwpi, pten, indole3carbinol

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