Everything You Need to Know About HPV

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We usually think of HPV as the cause of cervical cancer and most of us are familiar with HPV screenings as part of the pap smear process. But head and neck cancers are increasingly becoming a concern because studies show that they are actually on the rise, especially oropharyngeal cancer in men. Rates have been increasing about 2.9% per year in men and have remained relatively stable in women. And now, the number of cases of HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer in men is now about the same as the number of cases of cervical cancer in women.

This begs the question why and a new study out this week in the Annals of Internal Medicine is getting a lot of attention because it attempts to uncover an explanation for this phenomenon.
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In the News: Stress Harms Gut Health as Badly as Junk Food, Legal Marijuana is Saving Lives, Death Cleaning is the Newest Home Organization Trend

Stress may harm gut health as badly as junk food. While it’s no surprise that eating junk food can do a number on your gut, it turns out that stress can be just as harmful, particularly if you’re a woman. In a new study, researchers observed the changes in gut microbiota among female mice when stressed and found that the changes resembled that of a high-fat diet. When looking into the gut health of male mice under stress, no gut microbiota changes were found. The American Psychological Association states that 80 percent of people in the U.S. reported stress-related symptoms in the past month. With this condition becoming so prevalent in today’s day and age, it’s crucial to look into how stress impacts not only mental and emotional health but physical well-being too. Want to find out if you have a healthy gut? Take this short quiz. (MN)

Legal marijuana is saving lives in Colorado. According to new research reported in the American Journal of Public Health, Colorado has seen a reversal in opiate overdose deaths since the legalization of marijuana. Since marijuana is very effective at treating chronic pain conditions and it has zero chance of fatal overdose, a lot of patients are opting for marijuana over opiates. This trend may lead to other states legalizing marijuana and destigmatizing it overall. Since the opioid epidemic kills several thousand people annually, it may be worthwhile to increase marijuana availability so that patients have an alternative form of treatment. (WP)

Death cleaning is the newest organization trend. Now that the Marie Kondo organizational method has made a huge splash, it looks like there’s a new trend in town: death cleaning. While the Kondo style advises homeowners to throw out or donate the items that no longer bring them joy, the Swedish death cleaning practice asks participants to hand down items to loved ones instead. The author of The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, Margareta Magnusson says that people should start thinking about doing a big tidy up in their home as soon as they reach an age where they can contemplate their own mortality. Since decluttering can increase productivity and reduce stress, it may be worthwhile to give it a try. Want to learn some more organizational secrets to transform your life? Watch this clip. (T)

In the News: Menopause May Lead to Alzheimer’s Disease, Liver Disease Risk May Be Exacerbated By Certain Drugs, Brain Waves Indicate Learning Types

Menopause may lead to Alzheimer’s disease. A new study has found that a drop in estrogen could make women more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. In terms of risk factors for this condition, the leading risk is old age, followed by being female. According to recent estimates, a whopping two-thirds of people with Alzheimer’s are female. While it’s not fully clear why those numbers are so high, it now looks like menopause may be a leading cause. In a study on the link between women and Alzheimer’s disease, 15 of the participants were premenopausal, 14 were perimenopausal, and 14 were postmenopausal. Researchers found that the women in the perimenopausal and postmenopausal groups had noticeably lower glucose metabolism level in the brain leading scientists to believe that a drop in estrogen may hurt brain cells in a way that impacts memory.  (MN)

Liver disease risk may be worsened by gastric acid drugs. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are used by many people every day to lower the amount of acid in the stomach, specifically when they are suffering from conditions like gastroesophageal reflux disease. After recent findings have suggested that PPI prescriptions are on the rise, researchers have found that when this medication kills off the gastric acid, it can also change the gut microbiome. When the acid is eliminated, Enterococcus bacteria grows in the intestines and makes its way to the liver, which can cause inflammation and even serious conditions like liver disease. After these findings, physicians may be a bit wary about prescribing PPIs, especially if patients have a history of liver conditions. Currently dealing with a liver condition? You may want to try this reboot plan. (MN)

Brain waves indicate different learning types. For the first time ever, researchers have been able to analyze brain waves to determine different learning types. By being able to recognize these unique neural signatures, scientists can gain more insight into the human brain and help people with learning issues and memory problems, especially in cases such as Alzheimer’s. Understanding the brain signatures can also help teach a person how to do a certain task, by monitoring if they are using implicit skills (also known as muscle memory, like learning how to ride a bike or juggle), more versus explicit (consciously learning something like a chapter in a book or the steps of a chess game) skills. Want to test your brain health? Learn more here. (SD)

In the News: Marriage May Improve Heart Health, Music Therapy May Benefit Cancer Patients, 40% of Americans Are Obese

Marriage may improve heart health. According to a new 16-year study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, participants in happy marriages tended to maintain a healthier weight and lower cholesterol. Researchers measured the high and low points in marriages and compared these findings to the heart health of participants. They found that men who claimed their marriages improved over the years had lower LDL and healthy weight, whereas men with worsening relationships had higher blood pressure, a factor that could seriously influence heart health. While there is still a lot of grey area when it comes to this connection, but this research does seem to suggest that a happy home makes for a happy heart. Want to keep your heart healthy? Stock up on these foods. (T)

Music therapy may benefit cancer patients. New York’s Mount Sinai Beth Israel hospital has turned to a new approach in keeping cancer patients less anxious and stressed. Personalizing playlists with different genres for each patient, music therapists play songs to soothe worried minds, especially when they enter the radiation room. One patient, Julia Newmark, relied on this therapy during her treatments and though she is now cancer-free, continues the therapy weekly to stay calm and prevent insomnia. When studying the effects of music therapy on cancer patients, researchers found that stress can drop by at least 20 percent, making it a very beneficial part of any treatment program. (CBS)

Forty percent of Americans are obese. In recent years America has been going through an obesity epidemic, with more and more adults and children qualifying as obese than ever before. According to the latest figures, based on a survey from 2015-2016, the problem is only growing, as there are nearly 40% of American adults qualifying as obese and 19% of younger people as well. Despite efforts to combat this problem such as providing calorie counts at restaurants and cafes, offering healthier alternatives, and adding fruits and veggies to fast food menus, this trend continues to stay alarmingly high. According to this data, the middle-aged segment of the population is the most likely to become obese. Want to get a handle on your weight? Try the 21-Day Weight Loss Breakthrough diet. (T)

The Cheerleader and the Hitman: Is It Ever Okay to Kill?

 

crime scene for vehicle search protect by yellow caution tape

After 30 years, infamous cheerleader Cheryl Pierson Cuccio is finally breaking her silence about why she committed this horrific crime.

In 1986, Cheryl was a 15-year-old popular teenage cheerleader who was being sexually abused by her father. No one, not even her boyfriend, now husband Rob Cuccio, knew about the abuse she was subjected to daily. Cheryl suffered in silence in fear that her father would make good on his threats and kill her if she ever told anyone.

“My father used to threaten me on a daily basis. He would say he’d kill me and kill anybody I ever told. I believed him”, she says.

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In the News: Around 80% of Schizophrenia Risk is Genetic, Saunas May Be Good for Blood Pressure, New Gadget Can Measure Calories in 10 Seconds

Around 80% of schizophrenia risk is genetic. According to new research from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, almost 80 percent of the chance of having schizophrenia comes down to your genes. When looking into conditions that fall along the schizophrenia spectrum, the heritability rate was also high, at around 73 percent. These findings are particularly important as many scientists are trying to identify the genes linked to this disease and these results may aid in finding new treatment approaches. Want to learn more about schizophrenia? Check out these facts. (MD)

Saunas may be good for blood pressure. A study out of Finland has found that routine visits to the sauna may have a positive impact on blood pressure. Published in the American Journal of Hypertension, this study included 1,621 middle-aged men with average blood pressure who were studied over 25 years. Of this group, 251 participants developed hypertension at some point during the observation period. The group that had two to three sauna sessions weekly was 24 percent less likely to develop hypertension, compared to the group who had one or fewer sauna visits weekly. While this study does not conclusively link sauna usage with a lowered risk of high blood pressure, there are several facts that may be in play. The warm temperatures may improve blood flow, the relaxing experience can help reduce stress and moderate blood pressure, and sweating is a natural diuretic, which is an effective form of hypertension treatment. Click here to learn which foods to avoid if you have high blood pressure. (NYT)

A new gadget can measure calories in 10 seconds. For so many of us who want to count calories when we’re out and about, we have to rely on apps that often have inaccurate counts and a lacking database of foods to choose from. With the advent of the CaloRieco created by Japanese electronics conglomerate Panasonic, the tide may soon be turning. To determine the caloric profile of your meal, you just stick the plate of food inside the device, push a button on the lid, and within just 10 seconds you will receive all the info you need.  This device can connect to the cloud via Wi-Fi so you can sync up the data to the counter’s associated app. While it’s not yet clear when this will be released in stores and how much it will cost, if interest is high it will likely make its way to the market soon. (M)

In the News: Angelina Jolie’s Doctor Reveals Cancer Prevention Tips, Black Tea Boosts Weight Loss, New Glue Can Seal Wounds in One Minute

Angelina Jolie’s doctor reveals cancer prevention tips. Dr. Kristi Funk, a renowned surgical breast care specialist, is famously known for treating Angelina Jolie back in 2013. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, she has gathered 10 prevention tips she feels are the most important to keep in mind. Some of the tips include eating cruciferous vegetables daily, adding turmeric to your diet, eating more berries due to their high level of antioxidants, filling your home with plants to absorb toxins, dusting and vacuuming regularly, and buying organic if you plan to eat the skin of your fruits and vegetables. Want to learn more about cancer-fighting superfoods? Check out this episode. (ABC)

Black tea boosts weight loss. While the benefits of tea have been widely publicized for some time now, it looks like black tea may be particularly beneficial for those who want to shed some weight. According to a new study out of the Center for Human Nutrition at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), while both black and green tea have polyphenols which protect the body from free radicals, they encourage weight loss in two different ways. Green tea can alter the liver’s metabolism to burn more calories, while black tea molecules stay inside the intestine, increasing the amount of “friendly” gut bacteria which play a role in metabolism in a different, but also effective way. Want to learn more about buying tea? Check out this guide. (MN)

New glue can seal wounds in one minute. The days of sutures and staples may soon be behind us. According to biomedical engineers from the University of Sydney and the United States, a new elastic and adhesive surgical clue can rapidly seal wounds closed in just 60 seconds. The glue, called MeTro, is ideal for use on body tissues that expand and contract like arteries, lungs, and hearts. This new invention will be beneficial for reaching internal injuries that are hard to get to and only requires UV light to seal it in place. While further trials and research will be needed, this invention can expedite healing and come in handy in emergencies as well as hospital procedures. (SD)

In the News: Meditation May Ward Off Heart Disease, Hypoallergenic Moisturizer Claims Are Often False, Natural Protein May Prevent Blindness

Meditation may help ward off heart disease. The American Heart Association (AHA) has issued a statement on the correlation between certain types of meditation and reducing heart disease risk. After looking at dozens of studies, they found that the data isn’t wholly conclusive but practicing meditation and mindfulness in conjunction with maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, and lowering cholesterol, can have a positive effect. In trying to determine why this practice can lower heart disease risk factors, experts found that meditating reduces stress and blood pressure, two factors that play a major role in heart health. Want to improve your heart health? Take this grocery list to the store with you next time. (TIME)

Hypoallergenic moisturizer claims are often false. Many consumers with skin conditions turn to hypoallergenic and fragrance-free items to provide them with irritation-free relief. While some shoppers wouldn’t know the difference, others have serious allergic reactions when their skin is exposed to certain additives. Dr. Steve Xu, a dermatologist at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine, examined 100 popular moisturizers and found that 45 percent of the products claiming to be fragrance-free had a fragrance and 83 percent of products claiming to be hypoallergenic contained an allergen. Experts recommend a “skinny skin-diet”, which requires using the least amount of commercial products possible and instead sticking to ingredients like cocoa butter, coconut oil, and shea butter. (NPR)

 A natural protein may help prevent blindness. Researchers at Macquarie University in Australia found that neuroserpin, a protein that plays a role in eye health, is not active in glaucoma patients, leading experts to wonder if this holds the key to blindness prevention and disease management. Since glaucoma is caused by an excess of eye pressure that then damages the optic nerve, the absence of this protein may explain how this damage occurs. While there is no cure as of now, this research may open the doors to new glaucoma-related discoveries that can help millions of people. Want to improve your eyesight? Here are seven easy ways to do just that. (MN)