Today’s Headlines: Fruits and Vegetables That Can Help Post-Menopausal Women, Genetically-Modified Salmon, and Diabetes Risk in 45-Year-Olds

Lycopene, found in fruits and vegetables that are red, may help post-menopausal women’s bones. A recent study has shown that lycopene may have the ability to increase bone mass and density. “Markers of bone breakdown, called bone resorption, were significantly decreased after lycopene treatment compared with untreated controls. Bone resorption contributes to accelerated bone loss, especially after menopause, the study said. Lycopene appears to shift the balance slightly toward osteogenic, or bone-building, activity, the researchers suggested.” The researchers have not yet tested this theory on humans, but encourage older women to eat red foods—such as tomato sauce—more frequently. (WSJ)

The FDA has stated that genetically-modified salmon is safe and has been approved to be sold in the U.S. The FDA issued a statement saying that genetically-modified salmon poses no risk to humans or the environment. “‘The FDA has thoroughly analyzed and evaluated the data and information submitted by AquaBounty Technologies regarding AquAdvantage Salmon and determined that they have met the regulatory requirements for approval, including that food from the fish is safe to eat,’ said Bernadette Dunham, director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine.” This salmon is the first GMO animal to be approved for purchase and consumption in the U.S. (NBC)

If you’re approaching 45-years-old, you have a high risk of developing diabetes. A research study found that half of all 45-year-olds may develop pre-diabetes symptoms and then one in three of those 45-year-olds might become diabetic in some point in their lives. “Over about 15 years, 1,148 people developed elevated blood-sugar levels, 828 developed diabetes and 237 started taking insulin to control their diabetes. The study team translated these results into population risk levels at age 45 and found that about half of people would develop pre-diabetic blood-sugar levels before their death, 30 percent would develop full-blown diabetes and 9 percent would start taking insulin.” The study was not conclusive in the scientific reasoning behind this risk but urged everyone to maintain a healthy diet and exercise to lower the risk. (Washington Post)

Scientists Uncover Likely Cause of Stretch Marks

Applying moisturizer on belly

If you’re anything like the billions of women who have given birth or had their weight yo-yo at some point in their life, you’re probably pretty familiar with stretch marks. But in spite of its near universality, little is known about where they come from and why they don’t go away. Now a team of researchers has finally figured out some of the mystery in a paper published this week. Their findings might lead to better treatments in the future to help the skin recover after sudden episodes of rapid expansion.

Who gets stretch marks?

It’s thought that stretch marks occur any time the skin is forced to expand faster than it’s able to simply by stretching (the quick response) or by growing new skin (the very slow response). Some examples of people in this situation are: pregnant women, those rapidly losing or gaining weight, or children or teens going through a growth spurt. It’s clear that the skin of stretch marks is different from normal skin. What wasn’t known was exactly how it was different from normal skin that caused it to look and act so differently. This is where this research paper comes in. Read more  »

Today’s Headlines: Helping Hearts With Exercise, the Truth About Bookworms, and Big Versus Small Stressors

Exercising as a social activity can help heart failure patients. It’s important for everyone to exercise, but heart failure patients especially in order to decrease their risk of additional or more severe heart problems later in life. Lead researcher Dr. Lauren Cooper on this study found that “‘patients with higher levels of social support and fewer barriers to exercise exercised more than patients with lower levels of social support and more barriers to exercise…This is important because patients who exercised less had a higher risk of death from cardiac causes or hospitalization due to heart failure compared to patients who exercised more.”’ A main reason this study was done was to find additional ways to help people—who tend to be older in age–with heart failure because getting them to move and improve their health can be a challenge. (Fox)

Good news: the germs in library books probably won’t make you sick. While there are many things—bookworms, silverfish, bedbugs, and cold and flu causing bacteria—hiding in your library books, there’s not enough of them to make an impact. Infectious disease professor from the University of Chicago, Michael David, says that “Books are no better hosts for bacteria and viruses than many other objects…All pathogens need a critical mass—a minimum number of bacteria or viruses—for an exposed person to become infected. Most require very high numbers.” But, if you’re really still worried about the books you bring home, just make sure to thoroughly wash your hands to keep up good immune-boosting hygiene. (WSJ)

If you’ve experienced major stress in life, studies show you don’t sweat the small stuff. A study had participants explain both life and daily stresses they encountered in relation to how old they felt they looked every day. “Interestingly, the researchers found that the men and women who had experienced a major stressful event in the past year were overall less upset by smaller daily stresses. The people who had not experienced a major stressor were more likely to feel much older on a stressful day whereas those who had dealt with a stressful event didn’t change much in their opinions of how old they felt.” The researchers concluded the study by confirming a valuable life lesson: “The results suggest that as difficult and traumatic as they can be, stressful experiences can be sources of strength from which people can draw during future trying times.” (Time)

Today’s Headlines: Get Your Flu Shot From Uber, How to Make Healthy Foods Taste Good, and a Vaccine to Help Cholesterol

If you still need to get your flu shot, call an Uber on Thursday, November 19th, to help you out. After last year’s huge success, Uber is once again offering $10 flu shots to certain major cities in the U.S. “Organizers plan to have more than 10,000 flu shots available. Hundreds of nurses will be at the ready in Uber vehicles across the country, with the specific number varying by city, Maxwell said. The $10 fee will cover a portion of the total cost; the remainder is being donated by Uber, Passport Health, and Epidemico, a public health data mining company owned by Booz Allen Hamilton.” All you will need to do on Thursday is log into the Uber app and order a car like you normally would. However, this time around the car comes equipped with a nurse to give you the shot at your home or office. (Washington Post)

Scientists are trying to manipulate the brain into thinking healthier foods are more delicious to aid in issues such as obesity and improper nutrition. Neurogastronomy is the ability to change neuron signals in order to trick the brain via taste or smell that something is delicious, whether a person likes the food or not. “They could help make nutritious food more appealing to people whose taste and smell receptors are greatly altered because of chemotherapy. In the case of patients struggling with compulsive eating or obesity, the techniques could make nutritious foods at least as enticing as foods they crave.” While researchers are not making broccoli taste like chocolate just yet, those are the hopes for the future—to make physically flavoring foods obsolete and instead have foods mentally “flavored” to help a series of health issues. (WSJ)

A vaccine could help lower cholesterol. The vaccine has only been tested on mice and monkeys so far, but researchers are hopeful that it will have positive effects on the human body. “The vaccine targets a protein called PCSK9 that’s involved the management of cholesterol levels in the blood. By interfering with PCSK9, the researchers are able to lower cholesterol in the blood, and have shown that just one vaccination has significantly cut down on LDL cholesterol (considered the bad type of cholesterol) levels in lab animals.” The vaccine appears to be more effective than using a statin to control cholesterol and risk of heart disease. (Time)

Mindfulness Meditation May Help Ease Pain

woman meditating relaxing

Pain is part of our daily lives, from the occasional ache of sitting too long to the burning pain from touching a hot plate by accident. Pain can come and go, but how intense it is when it arrives and how quickly it goes away comes down to a complex interplay between the sensation of damage to the body and the way the brain chooses to interpret that information. New research has now found that mindfulness meditation may be the next big player in pain prevention by shifting the balance in how the brain perceives and interprets pain. Read more  »

Bacteria Thrive on Unwashed Knives, Greater on Graters


Reusing knives, graters, and other cutting tools in the kitchen is pretty common practice. Most get a quick rinse to remove anything seemingly left on the surface and are thrown back in the drawer. But that practice may not be so good for your health. A new study out this week had a look at how poor cleaning practices affect the bacterial contamination left on them after use. Their findings demonstrate why it’s so important to give cutting tools a thorough wash before they find their way back into the cupboard. Read more  »

Today’s Headlines: Pain Alleviation From Meditation, Exercise to Help the Flu Shot, and How Change in Humor Could be a Red Flag for Dementia

Meditation might be able to alleviate certain physical and emotional pain. A study began due to the questioning of whether or not meditation really is effective for pain management, or if it acted as more of a placebo—people believing it helps simply because the idea of meditation is currently popular. Researchers “recruited 75 healthy, pain-free people and scanned their brains using an MRI while they experienced painful heat with a 120-degree thermal probe. Then, the researchers sorted them into four groups and gave them four days of training. Everyone thought they were getting the real intervention, but most of them were getting a sham treatment… mindfulness meditation outperformed them all. In this group, pain intensity was cut by 27% and emotional pain reduced by 44%.” These numbers were pretty significant considering morphine has been tested to reduce pain by 22 percent, the researchers believe the increased number had something to do with the act of being mindful and therefore activating certain parts in the brain to help manage pain. (Time)

Frequent exercise for men may help the effectiveness of the flu shot. Exercise helps improve the body’s immune system, therefore protecting it from viruses such as the flu as well as increasing the level in which the flu shot helps aid the body. “Men who were consistently active for up to two decades or longer had significantly greater seroprotection, or antibody levels capable of fighting an influenza infection, to three common influenza strains compared with inactive men.” The study only looked at men and only seemed to show effectiveness in men who engaged in moderate to intense exercise on a regular basis. (WSJ)

Drastic change in humor and personality can be a sign for developing dementia. Researchers found that changes such as inappropriate humor–like laughing at a funeral–could be tell-tale signs of a certain type of dementia developing within the brain.  “There are many different types of dementia and frontotemporal dementia is one of the rarer ones. The area of the brain it affects is involved with personality and behaviour, and people who develop this form of dementia can lose their inhibition, become more impulsive and struggle with social situations.” The researchers are not yet sure how the change is caused as well as signs that could develop years before that should be a red flag but are not. (BBC)

Today’s Headlines: Lowering Your Risk of Diabetes, Sibling Effects on Romantic Relationships, and Why You Should Be Drinking More Champagne

Cooking may lower your risk for diabetes. Home-cooked meals could decrease your chances of developing diabetes. A new study has shown that diet quality correlates with the risk for diabetes: “Cooking meals at home, says Zong, avoids many of the processed ingredients and unhealthy fats that restaurants and fast-food chains rely on so heavily. [In the study] Those who reported eating about two of the meals at home each day on average had a 13% lower risk of getting diabetes compared with those who had fewer than six homemade meals each week.” The study still cautioned people to monitor what they eat because not all food cooked at home can be completely balanced or healthy. (Time)

You might be more confident and comfortable in romantic relationships if you grew up with a sibling that was the opposite-sex. A study inferred that sibling type could draw conclusions on how people adjust to and deal with relationships. “Having an opposite-sex sibling provides natural opportunities to practice relating to the opposite sex and learn important social skills that can be applied in other relationships, such as conflict resolution and emotional control, the researchers said. Siblings of different sexes may have a better idea of how challenging interactions with the opposite sex can be, whereas same-sex siblings may be unaware of how little they know, the study suggests.” The study was conducted with a majority of heterosexual teens and therefore can only draw limited conclusions based off of the demographic studied. (WSJ)


Drink a glass of champagne; it may help you combat dementia. A study from 2013 has recently received some new press in regards to its findings on the positive link between champagne and cognitive function, similar to the benefits red wine can have on the body. “According to the news release, phenolics [found in Champagne] help modulate signals in the hippocampus and cortex, which are associated with memory and learning. With age, many proteins in these parts of the brain waste away, but, the compounds in Champagne appeared to help restore those protein counts to normal levels.” The researchers suggested that drinking one to two glasses a week could potentially fight aging in the brain. (Fox)

Today’s Headlines: Acupuncture for Neck Pain, Prescription Drug Use in America, and How Sleeping Affects Your Mood

Acupuncture may be an effective way to relieve your neck pains. A recent study tested out both acupuncture and the Alexander Technique, a program for improving posture and balance to avoid muscle pain, to see which method was more helpful for neck pain. “A year after the start of the study, people in the groups doing acupuncture and the Alexander Technique had significant reductions in neck pain—pain was assessed by questionnaire—compared to those who just got usual care. Both groups reported about 32% less pain than they had at the start of the study, which is far greater than the 9% typically associated with physical therapy and exercise.” While both therapy methods were proven effective, the study highlighted the continued support and evidence towards acupuncture for pain management. (Time)

Over half of the adult population in America is taking prescription drugs. Researchers could not explain the huge increase in prescription drug use; however they nudged towards the obesity epidemic in America as a possible reason. “Among the 10 drugs that were most widely used in 2011 and 2012, eight are prescribed to treat diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure or other conditions often related to being overweight or obese. A ninth drug — omeprazole, a.k.a. Prilosec — is more commonly used by people who carry too many extra pounds, they wrote.” The study was more statistical in nature and the only conclusions drawn were the percentages of drug use. (LA Times)

If you’ve noticed a change in your mood, it may be attributed to a change in your sleep patterns. A new study found that interrupted sleep may be directly correlated with mood. “Researchers checked 62 healthy people into a hospital sleep lab for three nights and randomly assigned them to one of three bedtime fates: uninterrupted rest, delayed bedtimes or consecutive nights of eight forced awakenings…the group assigned to forced awakenings had a 31 percent reduction in positive mood compared with a 12 percent decline for the group that had delayed bedtimes…The lack of sufficient slow wave sleep was tied to a reduction in positive mood, and it was also linked to lower energy levels and reduced feelings of sympathy and friendliness.” The study counted on the ability for the participants to report on their emotions which is always a risk factor in studies. (Reuters)


Living Alone Encourages Unhealthy Eating

Young woman eating a hamburger

If you’re single, you’re probably very familiar with the benefits and drawbacks of living alone. While it’s nice to have your own space without the annoyances of having another person around, living by yourself can also be lonely. New research out this week has found that living alone can bring with it more than just an occasional case of the blues. Those without partners may also find it tough to stick to a healthier diet and may be more likely to leave out key nutrients when making decisions about what and what not to eat. Read more  »