Brain-Stimulating Activities May Help Dementia Patients, Altitude Linked to Lower Risk of Metabolic Syndrome, Camping May Improve Sleep Quality

I don’t just like puzzles, I lobe them. There may be a link between brain-stimulating activities and dementia. In many ways, the brain is like a muscle that needs regular exercise. A recent study investigated the association between brain workouts and dementia. The scientists followed nearly 2,000 healthy seniors over four years and found that those participating in brain-stimulating activities had a significant decrease in their risk of developing cognitive impairment – even in patients with a genetic predisposition to cognitive decline. Some of the activities include computer use, social activities, and playing games. Check out some of Dr. Oz’s favorite brain boosting games here. (MEDNEWS)

The hills are alive… with the sound of heart health. Altitude might have an impact on heart disease risk. A recent study found that living at a higher altitude is linked to a lower risk of getting metabolic syndrome – the combination of increased blood pressure, sugar, cholesterol, and waist size. Together, these factors greatly increase the risk of heart disease. The authors of the study recognize that living or exercising in low oxygen environments like those at high altitudes seems to be very helpful for heart and lung health, weight loss, and even insulin sensitivity. The good news is that you don’t need to live in the mountains just to decrease your risk of getting metabolic syndrome. Take this quiz to find out if you’re at risk for metabolic syndrome. (EUREKA)

The sleep I got on that camping trip was in-tents! Camping trip might help you sleep. In a recent study, scientists tested the melatonin of people who went camping and compared it to people who stayed at home. Those who spent time in the great outdoors had a melatonin boost one and a half times earlier than those who stayed home. According to the authors, this means the campers’ biological clocks reset to better match the sun and that may have greatly improved the sleep quality. If you can’t get away for a weekend camping trip, don’t worry. Just try to increase the amount of natural light you’re exposed to during the day and decrease the artificial light from smartphones and tablets at night. Check out Dr. Oz’s favorite tips for better sleep here. (NPR)

Tips to Keep Skin Healthy While Staying Active

 

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Exercise is great for the mind, body, and spirit. Hundreds of clinical studies have demonstrated the amazing effects working out can have on the body. If you are living an active lifestyle (or it’s a New Year’s resolution), here are a few tips to avoid some common skin problems that can develop with a regular exercise routine.

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How to Avoid Being Overcharged on Health Products

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Elisabeth is a 13-time Emmy winner, a critically acclaimed personal finance author, and a 20-year consumer advocate for programs such as Good Morning America and The Dr. Oz ShowConnect with her via Twitter @ElisabethLeamy and on her website, Leamy.com.

Experts estimate Americans lose a billion dollars or more each year due to scanner mistakes at all kinds of different stores. Some of those overcharges come from stores charging sales tax on products—often health-related products—that are supposed to be tax-exempt, a topic we covered in depth on the show. Other overcharges happen when items marked for sale on the shelf don’t ring up correctly at the register. Here are several steps you can take to make sure this doesn’t happen to you.

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Study Finds Cause for Misophonia, Elevated Testosterone Linked to Generosity, Ibuprofren No Better Than Placebos for Back Pain

Study determines why loud chewing bothers some. If you find yourself going bananas every time someone chews with their mouth open or slurps their tea, you aren’t alone. Many people suffer from misophonia, a condition where you are particularly bothered by these type of noises. While we knew there was a name for the condition, it wasn’t quite clear what caused that reaction. Scientists have finally gotten to the bottom of it, finding changes in brain activity when a bothersome sound was heard. The research found an abnormality tied to the emotional control part of the brain, causing an overdrive effect when exposed to these triggers. On a physiological level, sweating and an increased heart rate were also found in participants with this condition. Watch this episode to find out if you have misophonia too. (TIME)

Elevated testosterone linked to positive personality traits. Researchers at Trinity College and St. James’ Hospital in Dublin explored the side effects that correlate with increased testosterone. Forty participants were given a testosterone injection or a placebo and then took part in various games to test their social behavior. They determined that testosterone serves as more of a status enhancer than an aggression booster, with noticeable acts of generosity and kindness found amongst the participants. These findings help dispel the age-old belief that heightened testosterone is linked to domineering or controlling behavior. Wondering how to increase testosterone? Here’s what you need to know. (SALON)

Anti-inflammatory meds proven no better than placebos for back pain relief. While many people assume that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are useful in stopping back pain in its tracks, new findings show otherwise. In reviewing 6,000 participants, researchers found that only one in seven patients saw improvement (short-term at best) when taking an anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen for back pain. Along with having minimal benefits, these medications more than doubled the risk of gastrointestinal illness and side effects like stomach ulcers and bleeding. Suffering from back pain? Try this plan to get rid of the discomfort. (GUARDIAN)

In the News: New Device Helps ALS Patients Communicate, Meal Timing May Affect Heart Health, Laundry Pods Causing Eye Injuries in Kids

New device allows ALS patients to speak again. A new device is making it possible for ALS patients to speak for the first time in years. One patient, a 68-year-old woman, hasn’t spoken for a decade, until her family heard of brainwaves experiments that were being conducted on paralyzed patients at the University of Tübingen in Germany. Using electroencephalograms (EEGs) and near-infrared light, researchers were able to communicate with participants, just by having them wear a special cap and a spectroscope, which is an exciting sign of what is to come in the future of ALS research. (NBC)

Timing of meals linked to heart health. According to a recent study from the American Heart Association, your weight may be correlated to the timing of your meals, not just what’s in them. The likely culprit? Your body’s internal clock. Research shows that meal timing has a huge impact on how that clock functions. Eating right before bed can impact your metabolism, causing weight gain and potentially leading to diabetes and heart disease. Skipping breakfast yielded mixed results in terms of weight gain, while short periods of fasting (every other day to once a week) was found to be effective in terms of weight loss. Visit our heart health resource center to learn more. (TIME)

Laundry pods may cause eye injuries in children. We’ve all seen laundry pods on TV and supermarkets by now. These handy little detergent packets seem like the answer to all our prayers because of how convenient and compact they are. Unfortunately, these pods are also causing eye injuries in kids who mistake them for squishy toys or candies. The American Association of Poison Control Center logged 11,528 exposures just last year, which indicates that this is becoming a serious health hazard for your little ones. If your child does squirt the detergent into his/her eye, make sure to immediately rinse it out with cold water for several minutes and then take your child to the emergency room or eye specialist for a thorough examination. If you would like to learn more about eye care, visit our resource center today. (TODAY)

Carrie Underwood Shares Her Daily Diet, Feeling Bad About Weight Gain Linked to Illness, Potato Chips and Fries May Be Carcinogenic

Carrie Underwood shares her daily diet. Ever wondered how Carrie Underwood balances being a musician, mom, wife, and having a fitness apparel line, all while looking extremely toned and fit? It all comes down to a few factors. First, she wears her workout clothes all the time when she’s home, so she can squeeze in a workout (a mix of strength training and cardio) whenever an opportunity emerges. Next, she eats predominantly vegan, and prefers smaller portions throughout the day to keep her metabolism fired up. Third, she keeps a journal of her workouts and eating habits so she can stay aware of how much food she consumes and track her progress over time. Want to give the vegan diet a try? Here’s how to start. (COSMO)

Feeling bad about weight gain could lead to sickness. Feeling depressed about being overweight is nothing new, but a new study from the University of Pennsylvania has found that obese participants who were hard on themselves and self-stigmatized were at an increased risk of metabolic syndrome, high triglycerides, and cardiovascular disease. Many people assume that self-stigmatizing can actually inspire weight loss but in fact it leads to more calories and less gym time, thanks to an overwhelming sensation of stress and sadness. While further research is required, it’s clear that fat-shaming yourself isn’t the way to go. If you want to learn more about health weight loss tips, check out this collection of recipes and diets. (NYP)

Potato chips and fries could be carcinogenic. Love to eat foods that are extra crispy? You may be unknowingly putting yourself at risk. The brown crust that forms on burnt chips and fries indicates the presence of acrylamide, a chemical contaminant. Based on animal studies, this substance is considered to be a likely human carcinogen, though more research is required to know for sure. The foods which are most affected include those made from plants and grain products that are cooked at high heat. Dairy, meat, fish, and other foods that are steamed or boiled tend not to be affected. While the FDA isn’t suggesting that you quit eating the foods you love, it is advised that you stop over-frying and over-toasting. Feeling stressed? Here are 22 ways to cut your cancer risk. (TODAY)

This Week’s Headlines: Cervical Cancer Death Rates Higher Than Expected, Joining a Gym Has Proven Health Benefits, and Cognitive Decline Starts Sooner Than Once Thought

Cervical cancer death rates higher than previous estimates. A recent study has found that the death rate from cervical cancer is not only much higher than once thought, but particularly prevalent in black women. For this group, the mortality rate is 10.1 per 100,000 women and for white women, the rate is 4.7 per 100,000. The main cause of this disease appears to be human papillomavirus, also known as HPV. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends regular pap smear tests, which look for precancerous cells on a woman’s cervix, as well as an HPV test as a means of cervical cancer prevention. Want to learn more about HPV? Check out this fact sheet. (YAHOO)

Joining a gym has proven health benefits. While it comes as a shock to no one that joining a gym is a healthy choice, research has determined exactly how beneficial it really is. The study found that non-gym members only worked out around 137 minutes a week, while gym members clocked in around 484 minutes. Out of all the non-members polled, only 18 percent met the standards for physical activity and strength training, while a whopping 75 percent of gym members met theirs. Want to learn more about fitness? Check out these exercise plans. (TIME)

Age-related cognitive decline starting sooner than once thought. Researchers based in UCLA have found that cognitive decline, particularly in women, is starting sooner than medical experts previously thought. In testing verbal episodic memory, processing speed tests, and working memory, they found that middle-aged women suffered early cognitive decline in large numbers. While these results do show cause for concern, further research will be needed to determine what is causing these higher rates of decline and what can be done to prevent it. Want to test your own memory? Take this quiz. (MEDICALNEWS)