In the News: Exposing Children to Pets May Prevent Asthma, Large Number of Girls Are Depressed by Age 14, Magnesium Intake May Impact Dementia

Exposing children to pets early on may prevent asthma. According to the CDC, around eight percent of children in the U.S. have asthma. New research out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison has found that exposing children under the age of 3 to pet and pest allergens may actually prevent asthma from developing. This study, which was part of a larger study known as Urban Environment and Childhood Asthma (URECA), looked at the effect of cockroach, mouse, and cat allergens found in house dust and found that the higher the levels of pet and pest dust exposure for children under three, the lower the risk of developing asthma by the age of seven. Researchers also confirmed that if a pregnant woman is stressed, depressed, and smoking tobacco, these habits can also increase the child’s risk of developing asthma. These findings prove that early exposure to various environmental factors can play a big role in the health conditions they do or don’t develop. Can’t tell if you have a cold or asthma? Check out this clip. (MN)

One out of four girls under the age of 14 is depressed. Research out of the University of Liverpool and University College London has unearthed some alarming findings. After analyzing 10,000 participants from 2000-2001 and having parents report on their children’s mood and mental state, they then asked the children how they felt once they turned 14 and found that 24 percent of the girls and nine percent of the boys were depressed. Researchers found that children from wealthier families were less depressed than those in poorer families, raising questions about stress at home and potential factors leading to depression. Interestingly, when parents reported on their children’s mental health the boys and girls were on the same page up until they turned 14, when the girls began eclipsing the boys in terms of depression and anxiety. (SD)

Magnesium levels may play a role in developing dementia. New research out of the Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands has found that too little or too much magnesium may increase the risk of developing dementia. Researchers measured magnesium levels in 9,569 participants, adjusting the results to accommodate sex, education, health conditions, and other factors. At the start of the study nobody had dementia but by the end of it, 823 people developed dementia, and 662 were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. They found that participants which fell in the high and low magnesium groups had a 30 percent higher likelihood of developing dementia than those who fell into the middle category. Check out this gallery to learn more about magnesium. (MN)

In the News: Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Papayas, Dogs’ Social Behavior tied to Oxytocin, Lady Gaga Postpones Tour Due to Fibromyalgia

Salmonella outbreak linked to papayas. After 235 people have fallen ill across the United States, the CDC has determined that salmonella found in papayas from Mexico is the cause. Seventy-eight people have been hospitalized and two people have died from this outbreak. To stay safe, experts advise consumers to avoid Maradol papayas until the outbreak is under control. If you are infected, you may experience diarrhea, cramping, and fever, with symptoms typically lasting anywhere from four days to a week. The CDC also recommends avoiding papayas prepared at restaurants since it is unclear where they originated from. (CNN)

Dogs’ social behavior tied to oxytocin. A study out of Linköping University, Sweden has found that dogs’ desire to bond with their owners stems from a sensitivity to the hormone oxytocin. When investigating the evolution from wolf to domesticated dog, researchers studied the effect of oxytocin on their behavior patterns. After spraying the dogs with oxytocin and swabbing the hormone in their noses, they found that the animals became more willing to ask for help and reach for their owners in times of need. (SD)

Lady Gaga postpones tour due to fibromyalgia. Due to severe pain, Lady Gaga has had to postpone the European leg of her tour. After speaking out about her condition earlier this year, she has started an international conversation about this disease, raising awareness about the painful symptoms that plague around five million adults annually. Unlike regular aches and pains, fibromyalgia is caused by disordered sensory processing, causing pain signals to become intensified and impact muscles, joints, and ligaments.While anyone can be susceptible to this condition, around 80 to 90 percent of those diagnosed are adult females. If you want to learn more about this disease, here is what you need to know. (TIME)

What You Need to Know About Maternal Mortality

Pink and Blue Blankets in Bassinets

We have the most technologically advanced healthcare in the world, but you may be shocked to learn that when it comes to maternal mortality, our statistics look more like those of a less developed nation than a world leader. In fact, our rate of death for recent or expectant mothers is the absolute worst among developed nations, in North America and Europe. To make matters worse, rates have risen over the past 25 years, while they have fallen in many other places.  

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In the News: Caffeine May Help Women With Diabetes, Weight Loss Myths Debunked, Gut Bacteria Can Indicate If You Can Lose Weight

Caffeine may help women with diabetes. A study carried out at the University of Porto in Portugal has found that caffeine may benefit women with diabetes, finding that just one cup of coffee can reduce their risk of death by 50 percent. They found that women who had 100-200 milligrams of caffeine were 57 percent less likely to die compared to participants who had no caffeine. By increasing the dose to over 200 milligrams daily,  participants had a 66 percent lower risk of death. It looks like tea may be beneficial as well, with researchers finding that drinking green tea reduced cancer-related mortality. Women who had over 200 milligrams of caffeine in the form of tea had an 80 percent smaller likelihood of developing cancer compared to those who did not get their caffeine fix from tea. More research will be required to find out exactly how coffee and tea play a role in disease prevention and diabetes management. If you have diabetes you can take control of your condition in four easy steps. (MN)

Nine popular weight loss myths debunked. It’s no surprise that losing weight can feel impossible sometimes, but all the myths circulating around this topic don’t make it any easier. Many people think that losing weight is as simple as moving more and eating less but genetics, emotions, the types of food, and environmental factors can also play a role in weight loss success. Another myth states that all calories are created equal and while that may be technically true, when it comes to weight loss, eating foods high in protein and fiber will keep you from binging on unhealthy snacks and keep you fuller longer than a diet soda or a bag of chips. Another myth states that alcohol is the enemy when weight loss is the goal. But according to the New York Times, light and moderate drinking doesn’t prevent weight loss, it’s all about being mindful of how much you consume and choosing the right type of beverages. Want to lose a few pounds? Try Dr. Oz’s 21-Day Weightloss Breakthrough Diet. (T)

Gut bacteria can reveal if you can lose weight.  According to a study at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, gut bacteria can play a major role in our ability to lose weight. While gut bacteria has long played a role in obesity, it’s possible that it can also help scientists figure out how to treat overweight patients as well. In the study, half of the participants ate according to the Danish national dietary recommendations, consuming lots of fresh produce, whole grains, and fiber. The other group followed the New Nordic Diet, which resembles the Mediterranean diet in many ways. Those on the new diet lost 3.5 kg while those on the average Danish diet lose 1.7 kg. It appears that high levels of Prevotella bacteria lead to greater weight loss; the participants with a higher amount of Prevotella bacteria lost more weight on the New Nordic Diet than those who had less. These results demonstrate that it’s not just the diet type, but other factors as well, that can contribute to weight loss, further banishing the “one size fits all” concept. (SD)

In the News: Sugarcane May Reduce Insomnia, Scientists Identify 27 Emotions, Mediterranean Diet May Reduce Reflux Symptoms

Sugarcane extract may reduce stress-induced insomnia. According to research published in Scientific Reportsoctacosanol, an extract found in sugarcane may help fight insomnia if the lack of sleep is brought on by stress. This compound, which also has anti-inflammatory benefits, has also shown potential to prevent Parkinson’s disease when tested on animals. In this most recent study, researchers observed the sleep patterns of mice for a full 24-hours after the octacosanol had been administered to determine the amount of REM and non-REM sleep they had. They found that this extract didn’t change the sleep patterns of relaxed mice but it did positively impact the ones under stress. Want to get a better night’s rest? Try these five tips. (MN)

Scientists identify 27 distinct human emotions. While many assume that human emotions land within these categories: happy, sad, angry, scared, disgusted, and surprised, it turns out that there are actually 27 distinct emotional states that intersect with one another. The notion that every emotion is a standalone feeling has been debunked, with new research suggesting that these intersect with one another in many different ways. These findings hold a lot of promise for the future of psychiatric research since understanding the nuances of human emotion can improve the understanding of the brain. (SD)

Mediterranean diet may reduce painful reflux symptoms. The Mediterranean diet, often praised for its heart health and weight loss benefits, may also play a positive role in reducing acid reflux symptoms. New research has found that the combination of alkaline water and plant-based Mediterranean diet foods can relieve some of the painful side effects of acid reflux. In the study, one group took traditional medication for their symptoms while the other group tried this method and found that both sets up of patients had similar results. These findings suggest that what you eat can help you manage your reflux symptoms effectively. Want to erase your reflux for good? Try this 28-day plan. (ABC)

In the News: Pen Can Detect Cancer in 10 Seconds, Tomatoes May Reduce Liver Damage, Cyberchondria Is Becoming Increasingly Common

A new pen can detect cancer in 10 seconds. A new form of technology, known as the MasSpec Pen, can detect cancer in humans with 96 percent accuracy. While other methods already exist, this gentle form of testing is extremely efficient, which can greatly improve the patient experience. In a study, carried out by the University of Texas at Austin, researchers examined over 250 cancerous tissue samples and compared them to healthy tissue. This device creates a tiny droplet of water that can pull molecules out of a person’s cells and analyze the pattern they are making. While healthy molecules have a certain fingerprint, cancerous ones create new patterns that can reveal if a person has this disease. Want to learn about other breakthrough cancer treatments? Watch this clip. (TIME)

Tomatoes may reduce alcohol-related liver damage. New studies have emerged that show tomatoes may protect your liver and brain from the side effects of excessive alcohol. While some experts suggest a glass of wine here or there can lower stress and benefit you, alcohol abuse can wreak havoc on your organs. When looking into different types of tomato (powder form, extract, purified lycopene), experts found that the tomato powder decreased signs of alcohol damage by an astounding 90 percent. These results underscore the fact that lycopene, when isolated, does not stave off liver damage, but whole tomatoes may hold the key to these benefits. Want to know how to find the best tomatoes? Try these tips. (MEDNEWS)

Cyberchondria is becoming increasingly common. If you have ever found yourself Googling symptoms only to come to the conclusion that you are gravely ill, you are not alone. Hypochondria is facilitated by the tools of the modern age, making it too easy for people to self-diagnose. Now dubbed”cyberchondria”, this condition can lead to an excess of appointments and tests. In a study published by the National Institute for Health Research, researchers tracked 444 patients with severe anxiety relating to health conditions – real and imagined – and found that cognitive behavioral therapy helped reduce these symptoms significantly. (BBC)

In the News: Carbs, Not Fats, Can Cause Health Problems, Ibuprofen May Stunt Muscle Growth, Injection May Get Rid of Belly Fat

Carbs, not fats, can cause health problems. A recent study has found that refined carbohydrates can increase your risk of premature death while a high fat intake (which accounts for 35% of your diet), has a 23% lower risk of premature death compared to those who eat fewer fats. While old fashioned diet rules used to state that eating fat makes you fat, it turns out that this is far from the truth. To figure out how this factors in when you eat out, if you go to a burger joint, you can stick with beef but maybe swap the buns for a lettuce wrap since that white refined flour causes health issues. While international guidelines recommend that 50 to 65 percent of one’s daily diet should be made up of carbohydrates and 10 percent saturated fat, experts now recommend 50 to 55 percent should be carbohydrates and 35 percent should be fats. (CBS)

Ibuprofen may stunt muscle growth. A Swedish study has found that taking anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen can discourage muscle growth in healthy, young adults who weight train. In the study, half the group was asked to take 1,200 mg of ibuprofen while the other group was taking 75 mg instead. After taking part in various weight training activities several times a week for eight weeks, researchers took measurements and found that the low dose aspirin group had twice the muscle mass compared to the other group. Want to lose fat and build muscle? Follow this 10-minute workout. (IND)

An injection may get rid of dangerous belly fat. Scientists are in the process of introducing a new treatment that can target harmful white fat tissue in the stomach and convert it into “good” brown fat. Brown fat is known to burn calories when generating heat, while white fat stores calories. Since having an excess of white fat can cause type 2 diabetes and heart disease, it’s especially crucial to reduce that fat and keep it at a minimum. These injections may also help fight obesity when paired with a healthy diet and regular exercise. Want to know what your belly fat type is? Take this quiz. (MN)

What You Need to Know About Hurricane Harvey’s Aftermath

A bright yellow sign warns motorists that the road is flooded.

In the wake of the ongoing devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey, many Texas locals are wondering how to begin picking up the pieces. Along with restoring homes and resuming a normal day-to-day, many are worried about the sewage-filled flood waters circulating the area. Inside Edition reporter, Ryan Sit recently spoke to Dr. Oz about waterborne and water-related diseases that residents and health officials in Texas should be aware of. Read on to learn more.

 Q: What kind of contaminants may be in the floodwaters and dangers do they present?

A: Floodwater isn’t just rain. It can be contaminated with bacteria from sewage as well as chemicals. Everyone should avoid wading through floodwaters, especially people with open wounds because they can get infected. Diarrheal disease caused by floodwater contaminated with norovirus is also an issue. Don’t eat or drink anything contaminated with floodwater, even canned food. Be sure to wash thoroughly if you’ve been in contact with water.  Don’t let children play in floodwater.

Q: What are residents, first responders, and health officials facing as it relates to water-related diseases?

A: Right now health officials aren’t focused on waterborne infections because the biggest killer in floods is actually drowning. In fact, in past floods in the US, the majority of deaths involved motor vehicles. So never drive into flooded roadways, since only six inches of water can cause you to lose control of your car and only 18 inches of water can carry most cars away, including SUVs. Walking in flooded areas is another major cause of death. The other big concern right now is carbon monoxide poisoning. Because of power outages, many people are hooking up generators to power their houses and these can generate carbon monoxide. Use generators at least 20 feet from any doors, windows, or vents.

Q: How important is it to make sure all the water doesn’t become stagnant, that it gets pumped out ASAP?

A: Stagnant water is a breeding ground for bugs, but the bigger concern is that standing water in your house leads to mold growth, which is dangerous for your health. Residents shouldn’t focus on pumping out the water right now, they should be focused on staying out of the water instead. The damage is done, but when the flood is over people should be getting rid of all their furniture and drywall that was immersed in water.

Q: What symptoms should residents be on the lookout for and what are their treatment options?

A: If people are in crowded shelters they are at risk for the spread of viral infections, so it’s important to wash your hands frequently.  At home, people may experience diarrhea from contact with contaminated water, and if that happens it’s important to stay hydrated.

In the News: Aloe Vera May Improve Hair Health, Cinnamon May Control Blood Sugar, Dancing Can Improve Brain Health

Aloe vera may improve hair health. Most often associated with sun burns and skin irritation, aloe vera may also be helpful when it comes to hair vitality and growth. While this connection isn’t universally proven yet, aloe vera is packed with hair-friendly ingredients such as fatty acids, various vitamins, amino acids, minerals, and plant steroids. In a study focusing on seborrheic dermatitis (a skin condition often found on the scalp), applying aloe vera helped reduce itchiness, scaly irritation, and reduced the amount of scalp affected by this condition overall. Only time will tell how this powerful plant will play a role in hair health in the years to come. Want to give aloe vera a try? Try making this delicious shake. (MN)

Cinnamon may control blood sugar. As fall approaches, cinnamon will be sneaking up in all sorts of food and beverages. This fragrant spice not only imparts an all-natural sweetness but also provides an array of health benefits too. The key is to choose the right type of cinnamon. The two basic kinds are Ceylon, which is grown in Sri Lanka, and Cassia, which is grown in China and Indonesia. While Cassia has a strong flavor and scent and is often used in the foods we consume, Ceylon, the more expensive kind, can provide health benefits. This spice has shown a promising effect on diabetes and cholesterol, and the antioxidants found in cinnamon may also play a role in fighting HIV, dementia, lower blood pressure, and cancer. To learn more about the benefits of cinnamon, check out this gallery. (CNN)

Dancing can improve brain health. Research has shown that certain types of exercise can have a major impact on the hippocampus — the part of the brain responsible for learning, memory, and balance. Dancing and endurance training are both effective in keeping the brain young, but dancing, in particular, plays a role in behavioral skills. These findings are particularly exciting for the senior citizen community, and they may inspire new extracurricular programs across the board. One such program, known as “Jimmin” (jamming and gymnastics), combines melodies with physical activity, which helps dementia patients who have strong reactions to music. (SD)

In the News: Walnuts May Aid in Weight Loss, Licorice May Ease Hot Flashes, Eye Test May Detect Alzheimer’s Disease

Walnuts may aid in weight loss. As many nutritionists will tell you, a handful of nuts can do your body a lot of good. As it turns out, walnuts, in particular, may aid your weight loss efforts. In a recent study, researchers had several obese patients consume a smoothie with walnuts for five days in a row and had others drink a smoothie sans walnuts that had the same flavor and calories. Eventually, they had the placebo drinkers switch with the walnut drinkers and tracked their results. After drinking the smoothies, participants were asked to look at photographs of fatty food and had brain exams to track what took place. The group that drank the walnut smoothies had the appetite control part of their brains activated more than usual, while the group drinking placebo smoothies did not. Want to add walnuts to your daily snack rotation? Try this fragrant and delicious recipe. (NYT)

Licorice may ease hot flashes. While licorice root has been used in Egyptian and Chinese cultures for centuries for medicinal and culinary purposes, it turns out it may help treat hot flashes as well. While it has become increasingly popular to take a licorice supplement when dealing with pesky menopause symptoms, doctors are concerned that this root can negatively interact with other medications. They looked into how three types of licorice interacted with liver enzymes that help break down medications and found that the drugs were either processing slower or faster than usual. (SD)

An eye test may detect Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers are currently determining if eye exams can diagnose Alzheimer’s early on. In one study, experts found that an imaging technique could spot beta-amyloid plaques in the patients’ retinas. Beta-amyloids are pieces of a protein that are found in brain tissue; when a patient has Alzheimer’s disease, these beta-amyloids all bind together in little groupings or plaques, and these disrupt neural signals and cause inflammation. Since these plaques are considered a tell-tale sign of this disease, having the ability to spot them in a non-invasive and routine eye exam can be extremely beneficial. Eat these 10 foods to help keep Alzheimer’s at bay. (MN)