In the News: Exercise May Improve Brain Efficiency, Junk Food May Increase Distraction, Pesticides May Lower IVF Success Rates

Exercise may improve brain efficiency. A new study has found that just two weeks of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) lowers the amount of blood glucose the brain has to use up for energy in participants with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. This study also found that moderate exercise for the same amount of time improves insulin sensitivity in participants as well. Using a positron emission tomography (PET scan), researchers observed these promising changes in middle-aged men and women who don’t normally exercise and have either type 2 diabetes or prediabetes. These findings seem to suggest that even a small amount of exercise can significantly change how the brain uses up energy, making it a promising option for the 29.1 million people who have diabetes in this country, along with the 8.1 million who may have this condition but aren’t diagnosed. (F)

Junk food may increase distraction. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University examined the impact that food has on our ability to concentrate and found that when it comes to healthy or unhealthy food, the unhealthy stuff can provide a serious distraction. In fact, when examining 18 participants, they found that any and all food imagery was distracting, but that the images of caloric and fattening foods were two times as distracting compared to the images of fruits and vegetables. When looking for an explanation, they found that sugary, high-fat foods activate the reward system in the brain, making it easy for us to succumb to distraction. Want to say goodbye to junk food? Here are six ways to kick the habit. (MN)

Pesticides may lower IVF success rates. New research has found that eating fruits and vegetables that are high in pesticides may make it harder for women to get pregnant with IVF. Scientists studied 325 female participants who were using assisted reproductive technologies and found that those with high exposure to pesticides (large numbers of which are found in strawberries, spinach, and peppers), were eating more than two servings of these fruits and vegetables and were 18% less likely to get pregnant than those who had less exposure to pesticides, and were also 26% less likely to have a live birth. While these findings do suggest that high pesticide exposure can lower IVF success rate, they don’t yet link pesticide exposure to reproductive health issues. While more research will be needed to get a better picture into what this means, eating organic produce is a good way to avoid harmful exposure to these chemicals in the meantime. Want to learn more about avoiding pesticides? Follow these guidelines. (T)

In the News: Surprising Number of Allergies Begin in Adulthood, Daydreaming Could Indicate Intelligence, Dogs May Prevent Childhood Allergies

A surprising number of food allergies begin in adulthood. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 5.7 percent of U.S. children have displayed food allergy symptoms this past year. A report in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 4 percent of U.S. adults are diagnosed with food allergies. While these findings indicate a number of people affected, it begs the question: when do these allergies develop? A new study has determined that nearly 50 percent of adults with allergies developed them in adulthood. They also found that African American, Hispanic, and Asian people are most at risk, with shellfish and peanut allergies being the most likely. With allergies on the rise, researchers are trying to understand what causes them and why there’s an upward trend. Looking for tasty recipes that are safe for allergy sufferers? Watch this clip. (MN)

Daydreaming could indicate high intelligence. If your mind wanders a lot during the day, turns out your brain may actually be more efficient than other people’s brains. A study from Journal Neuropsychologia discovered that daydreamers scored significantly higher on intelligence tests — the daydreaming may actually mean that you absorbed information faster than others and therefore can let your mind have a little break. But the study authors cautioned people not to use this data to mistake these results to justify lack of focus and ability to complete tasks. They advise a good rule of thumb to be observed in your daily life: if your mind wanders a lot but you still get everything done that you need to efficiency is the reason, but if the opposite happens laziness may be to blame. (TODAY)

Dogs may prevent childhood eczema and allergies. Two studies have shown that man’s best friend may be the key to solving childhood allergies. One study looked at babies who had a dog in the house when they were in utero and found that eczema was generally prevented in those children. The other study researched dogs’ effects on children in relation to developing asthma. The research showed that “elements that dogs carry” on themselves could protect kids against asthma. (SD)

Everything You Need to Know About HPV


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.

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.