In the News: Sleep and Lung Cancer Are Linked, Human Eggs Grow to Maturity in a Lab, Drinking Soda May Cause Infertility

Research finds a link between sleep and lung cancer progression. We know that getting enough sleep is an important rule for overall general health, but a few recent studies have emerged, leading sleep experts and lung doctors to believe there is a link between disrupted sleep and development or worsened prognosis of lung cancer. In a study using mice, frequent sleep interruptions, particularly those caused by sleep apnea, led to far faster tumor growth. This is because poor sleep and circadian rhythm disruption may play a role in how your immune system functions. This is even more of an issue, according to a professor of neural science, because lung cancer patients are already prone to poor sleep due to breathing difficulty and associated anxiety. However, he provided a few techniques for both people who are currently suffering from lung cancer and those who are looking for preventive options. Keep a regular bedtime and wake-up time, try to meditate before bed, keep your bedroom dark during all sleep hours, and avoid naps. Also, be sure to control pain right away as it can keep you up. You should keep these sleep hygiene habits even if you’ve been given a sleep aid while in treatment. Want to sleep better? Here are five easy steps. (USNEWS)

Human eggs have grown to maturity in a lab for the first time. Scientists have previously developed mouse eggs to a live offspring and matured human eggs from a late stage of development, but this is the first time that anyone has been able to mature human eggs from the most rudimentary stage of ovarian tissue outside the human body. The researchers acknowledged that they have to find more consistent success in order to confirm the most optimal conditions for healthy egg development. However, this achievement has been respected as hugely impressive and influential in the field and has critical implications for future strides in infertility treatment, including allowing cancer patients to preserve their fertility while undergoing chemotherapy. It also deepens the scientific understanding of human life as we know it so it may contribute to the treatment of other illnesses and regenerative medicines. (NBC)

Drinking one or more sugary sodas a day could promote infertility in either partner. Research conducted by Boston University School of Public Health found significant fertility-related findings when surveying 3,828 women between the ages of 21 to 45 trying to get pregnant and 1,045 of their male partners. Soda consumption showed a 20 percent lower chance of getting pregnant each month, with a 33 percent lower chance if the male was the one consuming the beverage. There did not appear to be a link between infertility and consumption of juice or diet soda. About 15% of couples in North America struggle with infertility, so studies such as this one are particularly pertinent right now, with many trying to look at diet-related risk factors. This research supports the recommendation of limiting sugary beverages in many fertility diets but is different in that it suggests just one soda a day could have an effect. Try Dr. Oz’s four-week detox to banish soda for good. (USNEWS)

In the News: Neither Low-Carb Nor Low-Fat Diets Are Better for Weight Loss, Study Sees Increase in Kidney Stones in the U.S., Researchers Find Potential Source of Osteoarthritis Prevention

Low-fat and low-carb diets contribute to weight loss just about equally. In a study from the Stanford University School of Medicine, using 609 participants between the ages of 18 and 50 with about equal numbers of males and females, it was found that limiting either carbs or fats will contribute to weight loss the same amount. What is more, the study also tested all participants’ specific genotype patterns and insulin levels before they began their respective diets, and neither factor could predict an individual’s success with one approach or the other. Each group started their intake of either fat or carbs at just 20 grams a day and then slowly added it back until they reached an amount they could sustain for the course of the yearlong study (an amount which was significantly less than the starting fat/carb intake). While the study definitively answered that certain genotypes do not affect your weight’s reaction to low-carb or low-fat, there was a drastic disparity in results on both sides, with the average participant losing 13 pounds. The study authors decided that the main takeaway was that the fundamental strategy to either approach was the same: be more mindful of your food intake, and as a result eat less sugar, more vegetables, and mostly whole foods. That is where people on both sides saw results. (SD)

Study finds an increase in kidney stones in Americans. About 10% of people will experience a kidney stone at some point in their lives, making it a fairly common ailment, but kidney stone cases increased by four times in women and two times in men from 1984 to 2012. Women aged 18 to 39 saw the largest increase, from 62 to 252 cases in every 100,000 participants. This extremely painful diagnosis is mostly due to genetics and is more likely to happen if a person has too much calcium in their body and does not consume enough fluids. One reason for the larger number of kidney stones found may be a large increase in the amount of CT scans performed, which is how the condition is found. However, calcium oxalate was behind about 75% of the stones discovered in this study, and oxalate is naturally found in foods like beets, chocolate, tea, and nuts – therefore things you may want to avoid if you have a genetic disposition to kidney stones or have had one in the past. The best thing you can do is drink as much as 3 quarts of water a day, ideally producing about 2 ½ quarts of urine, to flush out stones before they become a problem. Learn more about preventing kidney stones here. (CNN)

Researchers may have found a preventative measure for osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and plagues about 30 million adults just in the United States alone. Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute recently looked into how a certain protein known as FoxO affected joint health in mice. Lower levels of FoxO contributed to the degeneration of joints at a younger age and a greater chance of damage to cartilage. FoxO-deficient mice also showed poorer autophagy, which is the process where cells get rid of damaged components to carry out repairs, and not enough lubricin, which is a protein that protects joint cartilage from damage in the first place. Perhaps the most hopeful bit is that researchers increasing FoxO expression in cells taken from people with osteoarthritis saw a renewed expression of autophagy and lubricin production. More research will be conducted on creating molecules that increase FoxO levels and their potential effects. In the meantime, try these three tips to reduce arthritis. (MNT)

In the News: Fish Oil May Increase Liver Disease Risk, Smiling While Running Improves Performance, Flu Increases Heart Attack Risk

Fish oil may increase the risk of fatty liver disease later in life. Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis is a type of liver disease caused by the buildup of fat unrelated to consumption of alcohol; some of the biggest risk factors include obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, so it is clearly greatly influenced by diet and fat consumption. With this in mind, Professor José Luis Quiles and his colleagues at Spain’s University of Granada set out to discover the comparable effects of sunflower oil, fish oil, and virgin olive oil on the liver. In this study, where researchers analyzed rats over the entire course of their lives, they found that olive oil was the best option for liver health. Lifelong consumption of sunflower oil and fish oil led to liver fibrosis (scarring) and impaired cell function in the organ. However, fish oil has already been proven to benefit your health in numerous other ways, such as memory and mental health benefits, heart and cardiovascular health improvement, a decrease in postpartum depression, and better vision. Therefore, like most things, the key is moderation, and you can decide how much fish oil you want to incorporate into your diet based on your individual health concerns. (MNT)

Smiling while you run may increase endurance and improve performance. Exercise scientists have known for a while that your endurance hinges greatly on psychological factors along with physical ones, and that perceived effort has a big effect on performance. In general, the less effort we feel we are using, the better our performance. However, for the first time, these known facts were taken to an even more specific level in a study that tested how manipulating your facial expression while running would affect your endurance. The study, which was conducted on 24 club-level runners, showed that they used 2.8 percent less energy when smiling than frowning and 2.2 percent less energy when smiling than when they had neutral facial expressions. It follows the idea of embodied emotion, which says your facial expression can affect how you feel. There is still a question as to why, but the results as of now suggest that smiling during your workout is definitely worth a try to increase your endurance – and feel better while you do it. Want to give exercise a go? Try this quick workout. (CNN)

Having the flu raises heart attack risk. Doctors have suspected for years that the flu can kill indirectly as well as directly, and this was confirmed in a new five-year study. The researchers at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and Public Health Ontario found that people who had the flu had a six times greater risk of heart attack in the seven days after it subsided. This suggests that people with heart conditions should take extra care to avoid influenza (vaccinations, hand-washing), but the risk in that seven-day period was equal among people who had never had a heart attack and those who had. Other respiratory diseases are correlated with higher heart attack risk, but none so much as the flu. The researchers particularly want to share their findings to encourage more people to get the flu vaccination if they have not already, given the particularly bad flu season we are experiencing this year. To learn more about what to eat this flu season, check out this gallery. (NBC)

In the News: Studies Show Importance of Going Outside Daily, Military Steps In As Olympic Security Hit With Illness, Hot Tea May Increase Cancer Risk in Heavy Drinkers and Smokers

Studies show the importance of going outside daily. Multiple recent studies have shown that, while it’s tempting to stay inside for long periods of time during the winter, doing so can be extremely detrimental to your health. Most of all, too little sunlight throws off your circadian rhythms, which control everything from your sleep patterns to your moods and digestion. Natural sunlight boosts your serotonin levels far more than artificial light and taking in vitamin D both reduces inflammation and promotes the effectiveness of your immune system. Taking just a twenty-minute walk outside is also a great time to be mindful during your day if you leave your phone behind and take in the fresh air. Yet another study performed at the University of Michigan showed that taking in the scenery improved memory and cognitive function by 20 percent compared to a group not exposed to any scenery. It may be the last thing you want to do when it’s the coldest time of year, but all of these health benefits are worth taking the time to bundle up and venture out. (NBC)

Over one thousand Winter Olympic security guards replaced with military personnel due to a norovirus outbreak. Forty-one of the security guards on Olympic duty have suffered from a sudden bout of vomiting and diarrhea just days before the beginning of the Olympic Games in South Korea, leading to all of the security guards in the Winter Olympics facilities to be pulled from their posts. The military will be fulfilling all aspects of the security staff’s duties until each individual’s condition has completely subsided, but all of the civilian guards are in stable condition as of now. The Korean Center for Disease Control and Prevention immediately dispatched a team to check other people for symptoms and take the necessary steps to control and prevent further infection (such as checking the food and water sources), but it’s not clear right now how the illness originally came about in the facilities. Want to learn more about the Olympics? Get the scoop here. (CNN)

Hot tea linked to cancer risk in previous tobacco users. Drinking “hot” or “burning hot” tea increases chance of esophageal cancer in people who already smoked or drank heavily, according to one of the largest studies of its kind. The study was performed at Peking University in China and followed almost 500,000 adults over nine years. It is well-documented that smoking tobacco and drinking can cause esophageal cancer, but drinking hot tea increases that risk even further because it damages the cell lining of the organ, leaving it vulnerable to other carcinogens. Therefore, if you have a habit that you just can’t kick, you can reduce your risk by letting your tea cool before drinking. Learn more about cancer screening here. (CNN)

In the News: One Cigarette a Day Raises Heart Disease Risk, Who You Eat With Can Affect How Much You Eat, Aerobic Exercise May Help Prevent Alzheimer’s

Just one cigarette a day significantly raises heart disease risk. A new study conducted at the Cancer Institute of University College London and published in the British Medical Journal reviewed all credible health studies from 1946 regarding how many cigarettes people smoked and what happened to them – and the results were shocking. The study concluded that women who smoke just one cigarette a day have a 57 percent greater risk of heart disease than that of a non-smoker. To put that in perspective, smoking 20 cigarettes a day almost triples that risk. The main message is that quitting is the only option to substantially minimize your risk. Most credible sources have also found little evidence that e-cigarettes (and the very new “heat-not-burn” cigarettes) lower health risks, except in cases when transitioning to them helps people eventually quit smoking altogether. (NBC)

Who you eat with can affect how much you eat. Cornell University Food and Brand Lab recently confirmed the theory that people are less likely to stick to their diet and more likely to overeat when dining with someone who is overweight, regardless of how much or how healthfully the overweight individual is eating. Other studies have also shown that we are more likely to overeat when our companion is overeating, even if that person is not overweight. Cornell found that people take the most of the food that is placed at the beginning of the buffet, so you can make better choices by taking a full tour of the line before serving yourself and noting where the healthiest options are. Want to learn how to stop overeating around family and friends? Try these nutritionists’ tips. (NPR)

Aerobic exercise may help prevent Alzheimer’s. After scientists at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles reported last year that one in three cases of Alzheimer’s may be preventable with lifestyle changes, an exercise physiologist at Hartford Hospital, Gregory Panza, and his team attempted a comprehensive study on exercise’s cognitive effects. They reviewed 19 existing studies and analyzed over 1,100 at-risk seniors. Their study confirmed that seniors who did any exercise at all showed better cognitive performance than those who did not, but were actually able to draw more specific conclusions as well. It suggested that adults who did only aerobic exercise demonstrated three times better cognitive function than those who combined aerobic with muscle-strengthening exercise. Additional research is needed but this study is enough to suggest that adults who know they are at-risk for Alzheimer’s should carefully incorporate a lot of aerobic exercise into their routines. To further prevent Alzheimer’s, stock up on these delicious foods. (MNT)

The Nut That is Good for Your Brain and Gut

Walnuts interact with the brain to help appetite control.  While it has long been suspected that walnuts reduce overeating due to their nutrient-packed makeup, a new study administered by Harvard professor Christos Mantzoros at a Boston medical center recently proved that consuming walnuts indeed activates a part of the brain linked to hunger and cravings. Participants were in a lab environment for ten days, which increased validity because experimenters knew exactly what each participant was eating when. During five days of consuming a walnut smoothie each day and five days of consuming a placebo smoothie that tasted the same, participants consistently reported feeling fuller when having consumed walnuts. The fMRI test in which participants were shown desirable foods, neutral objects, and less desirable foods backed this up. As Mantzoros says, “We know there’s no ambiguity in terms of study results. When participants eat walnuts, this part of their brain lights up, and we know that’s connected with what they are telling us about feeling less hungry or more full.”

Omega 3’s in walnuts improve brain health. A lot of evidence has come about recently that suggests brain health is closely connected with nutrition, and a study on 100 adults, aged 65 to 75 years old, supports this. Essentially, by monitoring the brain’s fluid intelligence, omega-3 presence, and gray matter volume, the 2017 study determined a definite relationship between omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid and fluid intelligence. Improvements in overall brain health were discovered in the individuals with high omega-3 levels in their blood, which serves as further evidence linking walnuts to health. Chia seeds, fish, and flax seeds are also rich in omega-3s and can serve as additional excellent sources of a valuable good fat.

Walnuts improve gut health by acting as a prebiotic. The high levels of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants in walnuts may provide health benefits such as better heart health, brain health, and reduced cancer risk. An animal study approved by the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center set out to identify the exact microbial changes caused by walnuts in the gut. Two groups of rats were assigned different diets: walnuts, or a replacement of their average meals while maintaining similar calorie intakes. The study showed improvements in gut health in the walnut group due to increasing levels of Lactobacillus. It also demonstrated that walnuts produce significant health benefits by acting as a prebiotic (a food that helps probiotics flourish in your body) and increasing the diversity of the gut’s good bacteria.

Research studies and information provided by Kristin Kirkpatrick, Nutritionist and Good Fat Health Ambassador with the California Walnut Commission

In the News: Meal Timing May Lead to Weight Loss, Curcumin Improves Mood and Memory, Non-Drug Methods of Helping Alzheimer’s Tested

Researchers say restricting when you eat promotes weight loss. It is well-documented that eating unprocessed foods food full of nutrients and taking part in moderate daily exercise will help you lose weight, but more researchers now say that the timing of your meals matters in weight loss as well. Time-restricted feeding (TRF) can burn more fat, and particularly help people whose previously steady weight loss has plateaued. Fat burning is the highest when you sleep, and food takes about three to five hours to metabolize. Therefore, shifting all of your meals into an eight or twelve-hour eating window means that all of your food will be metabolized by bedtime, leaving stored fat for your body to burn. The window begins with the very first bite or sips you ingest and ends with the last. This very structured eating strategy also helps ensure that you are eating to remedy hunger, instead of eating to fight boredom, stress, or emotions. (NBC)

UCLA researchers find consumption of curcumin helps mood and memory. Forty adults with mild memory complaints were randomly selected to ingest curcumin twice daily or a placebo for 18 months. They underwent cognitive assessments and PET scans to test amyloid in the brain, which is associated with negative effects on memory and emotional functions. Those taking curcumin improved their memory tests by twenty-eight percent, demonstrated mild mood improvements, and showed far smaller levels of amyloid than the placebo group. A follow-up study will explore the possibility of curcumin possessing antidepressant effects and whether it can help your genetic risk for Alzheimer’s. These findings back up the far lower rate of Alzheimer’s in India’s senior citizens, whose diet is high in curcumin. Want to test how sharp your memory is? Take this quiz. (SD)

Non-drug methods could help Alzheimer’s disease. Around twenty-five percent of the world’s population is born with one copy of the Alzheimer’s gene, and two to three percent is born with two copies, giving them double the risk of developing the disease. A healthy diet, regular exercise, and a strong social life have already been proven to slow the development of the disease, but researchers in Finland recently set out to compare the effects of these variables specifically on people with and without the Alzheimer’s gene. The participant, none with signs of current cognitive impairment, were randomly assigned to a fairly intense diet, exercise, and brain training program. Those assigned to this intense program all performed similarly well on memory and cognition tests, regardless of whether or not they possessed the predisposition gene for Alzheimer’s, suggesting that those lifestyle changes are equally helpful for all people. More studies will have to be done to determine whether these non-drug therapies are more effective on people with the gene. Want to learn more about how to eat to prevent Alzheimer’s? Check out this grocery list. (TIME)

In the News: Birth Control Could Lower Cancer Risk, How Breathing Can Spread the Flu, Hot Yoga Doesn’t Have to Be Hot to Be Beneficial

Birth control could decrease your risk of endometrial and ovarian cancers. Research published in JAMA Oncology showed that birth control’s ability to affect a woman’s hormones may also lower their cancer risk. In fact, the longer that a woman was on the pill seemed to lower the risk even further: “For those taking the pill for 10 years or more, the risk of ovarian cancer was 40 percent lower compared to women who had never used the pill or used them for less than a year, and 34 percent lower for endometrial cancer.” While similar studies have been done before, this research study took a closer look at potential lifestyle factors — like smoking, obesity, etc. — that may increase cancer risk. This study found that regardless of lifestyle factors, long-term birth control use benefitted all women regardless of health or even family history. However, the results of this study do not mean that you should throw health out the window if you’re on the pill, you should still follow healthy practices in your daily life. (TIME)

You can spread the flu by breathing. While most people think that catching a virus comes from coughing or sneezing, a new study shows that just breathing can put unwanted bacteria out in the air. The study, funded by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health, looked at 142 people with the flu and analyzed their breath, coughing, and sneezing. Researchers found that “…a significant number of flu patients routinely shed infectious virus…into aerosol particles small enough to present a risk for airborne transmission.” Make sure to get your flu shot in order to take preventative measures against catching the virus this season. (SD)

Hot yoga doesn’t actually have to be hot to benefit your body. Bikram yoga, also known as hot yoga, is yoga performed at very high temperatures. But a study out of Texas found that while traditional Bikram yoga improved heart health, Bikram yoga in a room temperature environment had the same results. So if you are interested in trying Bikram but haven’t because of the sweltering temperatures, rest assured that you can still learn Bikram while improving your health and working out at the same time. Look up the moves and do them in the comfort of your own home in a normal temperature environment. (MNT)

Who Is Most at Risk for CTE? A Closer Look at This Dangerous Brain Injury

Football Equipment - Black Helmet

By: Dianne Langford, PhD

You may have seen the recent headlines about a new study that looked at the brains of former NFL players and found Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in a full 99 percent of them. While the headlines make it seem like CTE may be unavoidable for players, the reality is that we still don’t know how often it occurs. That’s because all of the 111 players whose brains were donated for the study, which took place at Boston University, were known to be suffering from signs and symptoms of CTE while alive. In fact, that’s why they donated their brains. So, the study doesn’t give us a good estimate of how many total current or former NFL players may be suffering from CTE, or how many may develop it in the future. But what we do know is that there does appear to be a strong link between playing football and CTE.


In the News: The Way That Stress Can Make You Sick, How a Mediterranean Diet Can Help Seniors, and the Effect Sunlight Has on Your Weight

Stress may actually be making you sick. Research performed on mice out of Michigan State University has shown that a protein in the body affects your immune system when you feel stressed. When this protein, corticotropin-releasing factor receptor subtype 1, better known as CRF1 goes into your immune system it can cause things like irritable bowel syndrome and asthma. Relax your mind and your body to keep your stress levels down and yourself healthy with different types of stress-relieving activities. (MNT)

Adults should eat a Mediterranean diet to avoid frailty as they age. Research published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society took data from several studies to conclude that the Mediterranean diet is the best food plan for senior citizens. This diet is rich in nutrients from healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains which can help increase the strength in older people. More research needs to be done to see if there are other common factors in the tested subjects that contribute to the lessening of frailty in addition to a healthy diet. (SD)

Lack of sunlight may be the cause of your extra pounds. Most people gain weight during the winter months, but a new study from the University of Alberta has found that the sun may be to blame. After observation, it was found that “bad” fat lessens when exposed to sunlight. This helped researchers draw the conclusion that “When the sun’s blue light wavelengths — the light we can see with our eye — penetrate our skin and reach the fat cells just beneath, lipid droplets reduce in size and are released out of the cell. In other words, our cells don’t store as much fat.” However, even though it’s not always sunny out during the winter lack of light doesn’t mean you should abandon healthy lifestyle choices. You should still find a way to get moving and stay active even during the dreariest of days. (MNT)