Today’s Headlines: Heartburn, Alzheimer’s Disease and CPR

Some drugs for treating heartburn may increase heart attack risk. Heartburn is an unpleasant symptom of stomach acid refluxing back up into the esophagus. Newer medications, called proton pump inhibitors or PPIs, block the stomach from making that acid. But new data released this week has found those drugs may carry a heart risk. “The researchers used clinical notes recorded at Stanford University and a web-based electronic health record system of mostly private practices. They used almost three million medical records to study the incidence of PPI use and of cardiovascular risk. They found that people with gastrointestinal reflux disease who took PPIs were 16 percent more likely to experience a heart attack than those who did not, and were twice as likely to die of a heart issue.” The team points out that this risk probably drops to normal after the drugs are stopped. The problem is, many people take these drugs for much longer than they’re supposed to. The team also thinks those who take these drugs may be sicker to begin with, making them more likely to have heart issues. (Reuters)

Staying mentally active doesn’t prevent Alzheimer’s, can delay it. The common wisdom about keeping your brain healthy with age is to keep it busy, but most of those recommendations came from studies looking at brains after death. Now, a team of researchers has looked at living brains to see how these mental gymnastics might help in the living. “The researchers collected data on the current and lifetime physical and mental activity of almost 200 people who didn’t have any memory or thinking problems. Their average age was 74. People in the study had PET and MRI scans so researchers could gauge signs of Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, participants took tests to evaluate their thinking and mental skills. They found that histories of mental activity were related to overall intelligence and generally to performance on tests of mental performance. But, these activities weren’t related to the presence of Alzheimer’s disease markers, such as beta-amyloid deposits in the brain. In fact, although people who kept their brains busy with stimulating mental activities had higher IQs and better mental performance, researchers found no relationship between mental or physical activity and signs of Alzheimer’s disease in the brain.” The researchers think their results show that keeping fit, both physically and mentally, can stave off symptoms of Alzheimer’s even when the brain might appear to be declining. (CBS)

CPR and cell phones can save lives when a person collapses. Getting certified in CPR might seem like a pain, but it’s the best method available to save a person’s life when their heart stops far from medical help. Researchers have confirmed that benefit and developed a new way to boost survival even more. “Cardiac arrest strikes about 420,000 people outside a hospital in the U.S. each year. Another 275,000 such cases occur in Europe. The study found that while 4 percent of the 14,869 people who didn’t get CPR survived for 30 days after their cardiac arrest, the rate rose to 10.5 percent for the 15,512 who did.  Not surprisingly, when the researchers looked at the time between a person’s collapse and the start of CPR, the 30-day survival rate was highest when CPR was begun within three minutes of collapse. The highest 30-day survival rate – 21.6 percent – was among people who collapsed away from home with CPR initiated within three minutes. The rate was just over 19 percent among patients under age 73 who were treated within three minutes; it was 11 percent for older patients who received prompt attention.” The team then set up a cell phone system that could be used to call volunteers trained in CPR who were nearby for help. The system dramatically increased the speed with which CPR was started after a person was found down, which should mean better survival. (Fox)

How a Satisfying Finish Can Skew Your Thinking

woman deciding which choiceWhat is it you like about a restaurant? Its great appetizers? Its juicy steaks? Or is it maybe whatever you happened to eat last before you left? It’s easy to think that the way you feel about the places you eat, the movies you watch or the stores you frequent is based on their overall quality. But new research published this week throws that idea into question. The data suggests that your brain favors some experiences more than others and that timing is key when it comes to how you feel about something. Read more  »

The Dangers and Allure of Indoor Tanning for College Women

I was honored to have the opportunity to represent the American Academy of Dermatology during “The Hazards and Allure of Indoor Tanning Beds on College Campuses” event on Capitol Hill. The event was cohosted by Disruptive Women in Health Care and Congressional Families for Cancer Prevention of the Prevent Cancer Foundation and took place at the Rayburn House Office building in Washington, D.C., on May 20, 2015. Along with Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT), Congressman Charlie Dent (PA) and Dr. Sherry Pagoto from the University of Massachusetts, the importance of educating young women (and parents) about the dangers of indoor tanning was discussed.

One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, making indoor tanning and skin cancer prevention extremely important issues. Melanoma – the most serious form of skin cancer – is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25 to 29 years old and the second most common form of cancer for adolescents and young adults 15 to 29 years old. Melanoma is increasing faster in females 15 to 29 years old than males of the same age group. Read more  »

How to Keep Cool This Summer

woman drinking water hot sweatingOn my daily morning walks, I’ve noticed that temperatures have really started to climb. While hotter weather can lead to bothersome problems like sweat stains on your work clothes, the heat can also have much more serious effects. Too much time in the sun without drinking enough water can lead to dehydration, heat exhaustion and, in serious cases, heat stroke. Before we hit the hottest part of the season, I wanted to share a few tips to keep you from getting dangerously hot this summer. Read more  »

Today’s Headlines: Placenta Eating, Statins and Multitasking

There’s no evidence for the “health benefits” of placenta eating. A number of celebrities have been making a big deal recently over eating their placenta after birth claiming that it has a wide variety of health benefits. But a new survey of studies out this week has found no evidence for any of those claims. “The review looked at 10 published studies related to placenta eating, but it could not find any data to support the claims that eating the placenta raw, cooked or in pill form carried any health benefits. Placentophagy, as the act of eating placentas is known, has been said to reduce pain after delivery, increase energy levels, help with breastmilk production and enhance bonding between mother and child. Some are also convinced that it replenishes iron stores in the body, but the research team said this was based on subjective reports rather than scientific research.” Importantly, the team pointed out that no studies have been done on the risks of eating the placenta. “The organ acts as a filter to absorb and protect the developing fetus from toxins and pollutants. As a result, bacteria, viruses and heavy metals could remain within the placenta tissues after birth. Since the dosing is inconsistent and there are no regulations as to how the placenta is stored and prepared, women really don’t know what they are ingesting.” (BBC)

Statins don’t seem to increase memory troubles compared to other cholesterol drugs. Concern has simmered for some time about the possible effects of cholesterol-lowering statin medications on memory. But new research out this week has found that they’re no more likely to cause memory issues than other drugs for high cholesterol. “For the new study, the researchers compared medical record data from more than 482,500 people not on cholesterol drugs to a similar number of people who were taking statins and nearly 26,500 people who were taking other types of cholesterol-lowering medications. Overall, 0.08 percent of statin users had some sort of memory problem noted in their medical record within 30 days after starting statins, compared to 0.02 percent of those not taking cholesterol-lowering medications. But when the researchers compared people taking other kinds of cholesterol-lowering medications to those not taking any such drugs at all, they found a similar pattern.” The researchers think the increased rate is occurring because doctors start to looking for and finding more memory issues when they put their patients on drugs for cholesterol, not because the drugs are leading to memory problems. (Reuters)

Multitasking during exercise doesn’t decrease effort. Catching up on your favorite TV show might seem like a great way to take your mind off of sitting on the exercise bike, but many had worried that this sort of distraction might make the watcher slack off. Not so, according to new data released this week. “For the study, a team of researchers from the University of Florida asked 28 participants with Parkinson’s disease and 20 healthy older adults to complete a series of 12 increasingly difficult cognitive tasks while exercising on a stationary bicycle. Participants cycled 25 percent faster while performing the six easiest cognitive tasks. They slowed down as the tasks became more difficult, but never fell below their baseline cycling rate.” The researchers originally thought cyclists would slow when they took their mind off of the activity at hand, but were surprised to find that speed increased. “They explained that when a person exercises, a certain amount of physiological arousal occurs in the brain, which releases specific neurotransmitters, chemicals that send information throughout the brain and body. The team thinks that the arousing effect in the brain could facilitate motor performance.” (CBS)

Losing Weight May Help Asthma Symptoms

Woman using her inhaler

Asthma and obesity have both been on the rise in the U.S. over the last decade. More than one in three Americans is now obese and more than half are overweight. About 7% of American adults have asthma, which translates to about 15 million people living with symptoms of asthma. Past research has indicated that the rise of the two might be linked to each other and new research out this week has gone further to see if obesity might be contributing directly to a person’s asthma symptoms. Read more  »

4 Sneaky, Proven Ways to Lose Weight

woman weight loss

We all know that the key to losing weight is eating fewer calories than you burn – but sometimes that seems easier said than done. Help is on the way: A few studies have revealed four sneaky, proven ways to lose weight that can help your slim-down efforts. Try one of these weight loss strategies to increase your chances for success.

1. Eat with people whose eating habits you’d like to copy. In a 2015 study at the University of New South Wales, researchers reviewed the results of 38 studies that examined how much food people eat when dining with others. Those whose companions ate small amounts tended to eat less than they would if they’d been alone. Thanks to a psychological phenomenon known as “social modeling,” if your dining partner eats reasonably and has healthy eating habits, so will you.

2. Stick to the same brand. Whether you’re buying frozen pizza or cereal, being loyal to a single brand has benefits. Psychologists at the University of Liverpool and the University of Bristol studied the eating behavior of 66 people who chowed down on pepperoni pizza. They found that those who ate a variety of brands were more likely to find the pie less filling and eat more food later. The research suggests that buying the same brands means you’re more apt to be familiar with the calories and nutrition content — increasing your awareness of what you’re putting in your body.

3. Snack [healthily] before you grocery shop. We know that a starving shopper can be an out-of-control shopper (which of us hasn’t been the person to open the bag of chips while still in the store?!). Fortunately, the opposite is also true. A 2015 study out of Cornell compared the shopping habits of people who had a healthy snack (an apple slice), an unhealthy one (a cookie) or none at all before hitting the grocery store. The results showed that people who had the apple bought 25% more fruits and vegetables. Conversely, those who ate a cookie filled their cart with less healthy selections.

4. Factor in what you like. Willpower will only get you so far, say researchers at the University at Buffalo. Trying to constantly deprive yourself of foods you love takes so much mental energy that it’s not sustainable (besides, it’s just plain miserable). Create a plan that takes into account your tastes, lifestyle and time restrictions to set yourself up for success.

How to Get More Omega-3s for Healthy Skin

What you doing up there?

Written by Amy Chalmers, health coach (CHC), medical intuitive and founder of Mother of Skin  

Sponsored by USANA Health Sciences

I’m sure by now most of us know how important the possible health benefits of omega-3 and the lesser known omega-6 fatty acids, which serve an important role at healthy levels are for our daily lives. But do you know why that is? The average diet provides plenty of omega-6 fatty acids but tends to be lacking in omega-3 fatty acids. Today I’ll give you a new outlook and perspective on omega-3s and how, when implemented in the right way and at the right times, can help our skin flourish. Read more  »

How to Train Smarter and Better

Fit young woman catching her breath during training

Written by Billy Demong, Olympic gold medalist

Sponsored by USANA Health Sciences

In the world of wellness there is a lot of information on nutrition and training. But when it comes to cardiovascular health, the information is all over the place. As an Olympic athlete, I can’t leave that key knowledge to chance, which means over the years, I’ve done some extensive research to best train my body. The health of my heart is the single most important catalyst and/or limiting factor in everything I do, especially when it comes to my athletic performance. For more than 15 years and throughout five Olympic Games, I have continuously strived to maximize my training, knowledge and nutrition to enhance the adaptation of my cardiovascular system.

Nordic combined skiing is a tiny sport—with a very small pool of athletes to choose from—making it imperative for my teammates and I to take advantage of the time and opportunities to train not only hard, but smart in order to reach our potential. Read more  »