New Research on “Biggest Loser” Contestants Reveals Why Sustained Weight Loss Is So Hard

jogging running couple

On The Biggest Loser, contestants went through a weight-loss journey, often losing upwards of a hundred pounds, through exercise and diet regimens. The difference in appearance is dramatic — but does it last? Researchers followed up with contestants to measure what happens after a large weight loss. What they found may not surprise anyone who has struggled to keep the weight off; according to the New York Times, the results “showed just how hard the body fights back against weight loss.” Read more  »

May Is Melanoma Awareness Month

Doctor examining melanoma on woman

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and May 2nd is designated by the American Academy of Dermatology as Melanoma Monday. On this day, dermatologists focus on raising awareness of malignant melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

WATCH: Dr. Oz Shares Tips for Preventing Skin Cancer

Although skin cancer can affect anyone at any time, people older than 50 are at a higher risk of developing melanoma than the general population. According to a survey taken by the American Academy of Dermatology in 2016, many Americans, and men in particular, need a refresher course on safe skin information. Only 56 percent of men and 76 percent know that there is no such thing as a healthy tan and only 54 percent of men knew that getting a “base” tan is not at all healthy as compared to 70 percent of women. We need to encourage people — men especially — to use good sun sense and protect their skin by seeking shade when possible, wearing sun protective clothing, and generously applying a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen of at least SPF 30 when outside. Plus, men need a reminder not to forget a hat and sunglasses to protect the scalp, face, and eyes. Read more  »

Sharecare Top 5: Kick Off Your Summer Slim Down, Prevent Tick Bites, Warning Signs Your Child Has Vision Problems, and More

Sunbathing girl

Get Sharecare’s weekly roundup of health news and tips:

1. Summer’s right around the corner — which means so is bathing suit season. Click through our slideshow to get quick tips on how to shed those stubborn pounds.

2. If you spend time outdoors – and who doesn’t? – you may find yourself in contact with ticks. Get the 411 on symptoms to watch for if you’re bitten by a tick – plus ways to avoid these woodsy critters.

3. Good vision is crucial for a child’s education and development, but up to 60% of school vision screenings can miss kids with eye problems. Here’s how to spot whether your child has trouble seeing clearly.

4. A new study shows that one-third of Americans with high LDL cholesterol do nothing to treat it. If you fall into that category, these simple lifestyle tweaks can help get your cholesterol levels into the healthy range.

5. Arthritis in the hands and wrists can make the simplest everyday activities challenging. If you or a loved one suffers from arthritis, these five hand exercises can help ease aches and improve range of motion.

Today’s Headlines: Why Working at Night May Affect Your Heart, How Weight Loss Can Help Your Brain, and the New Ingredient Being Added into the Flu Vaccine

Night shifts at work could lead to heart disease. A study of nurses who worked late night shifts found a link to cardiovascular health decline over a long period of time. “They found nurses who worked rotating night shifts for 10 years or longer had a 15 percent or higher increased risk of coronary heart disease compared to women who escaped night shift duty…For younger women, who started the study in their late 30s, those who worked night shifts for 10 years or longer had a 27 percent higher risk of heart disease.” While the exact cause for the correlation was not known, researchers suspect it could be credited towards lack of sleep and disrupting normal “biological rhythms” required for a healthy life. (NBC)

If you have diabetes, weight loss may slow brain health decline. A small study that was done on people with diabetes split individuals into either a counseling group with diet and exercise components or a control counseling group. “The counseling group lost more weight and achieved greater gains in cardiorespiratory fitness than their peers in the control group. And, in a sign that weight loss might protect against diabetes-related brain damage, the control group had smaller volumes of gray matter and more white matter disease by the end of the study. Smaller volumes of brain tissue and the presence of white matter disease are linked to cognitive decline.” The researchers explained that the brain uses energy from the body, mainly from blood sugar, in order to function, but a person with diabetes has fluctuating blood sugar levels which may damage the brain over time. Researchers believe weight loss may help stabilize those levels. (Fox)

A new and improved flu vaccine will be available for senior citizens. This vaccine includes a new additive and will only be for people 65 years old and older or who have poor immune responses to the vaccine. “It’s the first flu vaccine to include what’s called an adjuvant — a compound that helps stimulate the immune system so that a vaccine is more effective…Fluad contains MF59, an oil-in-water mixture that includes squalene, an oily nutrient produced by the liver, and some preservatives. It’s not clear why but when mixed with vaccines it increases the number of immune system cells that are stimulated.” The new shot is expected to become available sometime next year. (NBC)

How Much Wine Is Too Much?

Wine

Reaching for a glass of wine at the end of the day? You’re not alone. According to the Wine Institute, Americans drank 895 million gallons of wine in 2014. You’ve no doubt also seen headlines about the health benefits of wine. So, if a little is good, more is better, right? Unfortunately, that’s not the case. As a physician, I can tell you that when it comes to wine, there’s definitely a sweet spot — a little bit is healthy, but too much can have disastrous health consequences. Read more  »

Today’s Headlines: The Foods That May Put You at Risk for Colon Cancer, Why Not Exercising Could Lead to Heart Problems, and What You Eat May Be Making You Sleepy

Foods like red meat and full-fat dairy could put your colon at risk. These types of inflammatory foods can irritate your intestines and lead to colon polyps or other tissue abnormalities. “Compared with people whose diets contained the lowest amounts of pro-inflammatory foods, people whose diets contained the highest amounts of pro-inflammatory foods — such as processed meats and red meat — were 56 percent more likely to have one of these polyps…The foods that had the highest inflammation scores were processed meats and red meat, …Dairy foods that contained fat also had pro-inflammatory scores, whereas poultry and fish were neutral… Fruits, vegetables and nonfat dairy, on the other hand, were determined to be anti-inflammatory…” The study only drew the correlation between certain foods and their reactions in the intestines, but researchers suggested that switching to an anti-inflammatory diet may decrease any risk. (Fox)

The time you spend sitting down might be damaging your arteries. Inactivity may increase the likelihood that calcium in your arteries will harden and increasing the risk for blood clots and heart disease. “Research with middle-aged volunteers found that each additional hour of sedentary time was linked to 12 percent higher odds of having calcium buildup in the coronary arteries, an early sign of coronary heart disease…Overall, the volunteers spent between one hour and 11 hours per day sedentary, and spent between zero and 200 minutes a day doing moderate to vigorous physical activity, with an average of 29 minutes.” This was a small study that was done in a small time frame and therefore while the researchers encourage healthy and active lifestyles, they have not proven that calcium buildup is solely caused by being sedentary. (Reuters)

Bacon and other high-fat foods may be the reason you’re sleepy during the day. A small research study showed a potential correlation between diet and sleep. “After adjusting for factors that could influence sleep — smoking, alcohol intake, waist circumference, physical activity, medications, depression and others — they found that compared with those in the lowest one-quarter for fat intake, those in the highest one-quarter were 78 percent more likely to suffer daytime sleepiness and almost three times as likely to have sleep apnea.” More research needs to be done to prove a stronger connection. (NYT)

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff —Your Mouth Will Thank You!

stressed woman phone kids

April is National Stress Awareness Month. Everyone has stress in their lives and that stress takes its toll on nearly every part of our bodies. The stress response is part of our body’s sympathetic (fight or flight) response controlled by our autonomic nervous system. During a stress response (such as a lion coming at us), the adrenal cortex releases cortisol, a steroid hormone that, in short bursts, is good for the body. It controls inflammation, regulates blood pressure, and maintains homeostasis, which is why corticosteroid drugs are administered for certain health conditions. However, an excess of cortisol due to chronic stress can be detrimental to the body. Too much cortisol can lead to problems, including a loss of sleep, immune system suppression, and weight gain.

Studies have also shown consistent links between heart disease and self-reported psychological stress, social isolation, and other stress-related factors. Chronic stress leads to an increased risk of coronary heart disease, while short-term stresses can trigger a cardiac event in patients with existing atherosclerosis.

Oral health is an area of the body particularly affected by increased cortisol levels. Here are a few of the most common ways stress affects oral health. Read more  »

Getting the Vaccinations You Need

Flu Shot

While the good done by vaccines rarely makes the news, the last year has been a big one in vaccination progress. Rubella, a viral infection that leads to birth defects and miscarriage in pregnant women, was eliminated from the Americas around this time last year with more progress being made worldwide on eliminating it entirely. While fear of ebola was swirling this time last year, significant steps have been made towards a vaccine that will go through trials this year to prevent the infection. Finally, trials have also started this year for dengue and malaria vaccines, two of the world’s deadliest infections. But while you might not be affected by rubella, ebola, or dengue, chances are good you know someone who’s had shingles, pneumonia, or cervical cancer. It’s World Immunization Week and I want to bring you up to speed on how you could be using vaccines to keep you and your loved ones healthy. Read more  »