In the News: Exercise Can Help You Quit Smoking, Marijuana Use Increasing in Pregnant Women, Fish Consumption Linked to Improved Sleep and Increased IQ

Exercise can help you quit smoking. Looking for another reason to start exercising this year? Research has shown that it may help smokers break their addictions. Dr. Bailey, a senior lecturer at St George’s, University of London, and his team tracked nicotine addiction and exercise and found in mice, having one group exercise in a wheel twenty-four hours a day, while another group worked out for two hours a day, and the last group didn’t exercise at all. After two weeks they found that the mice that exercised two to twenty-four hours a day showed a large drop in withdrawal symptoms compared to the group not exercising at all. While the exact mechanisms involved are still not clear, experts are looking into the how exercise reduces nicotine withdrawal symptoms as a possible explanation. Luckily, even a speedy 10-minute workout can suffice in terms of knocking out tobacco cravings. Learn more about quitting smoking with this handy fact sheet. (T)

Marijuana use increasing in pregnant women. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), marijuana use during pregnancy is on the rise. Researchers analyzed data from nearly 300,000 pregnant patients at a Northern California health care system over the course of seven years (2009-2016) and found that marijuana use in pregnant mothers under 18 increased from 12.5 percent to 21.8 percent. For pregnant mothers who were 18-24 years old, marijuana use increased from 9.8 to 19 percent, for women between 25-34, the rate of usage jumped from 3.4 to 5.1 percent, and for women over 34 years old the usage went up from 2.1 to 3.3 percent. These findings indicate that there was an increase across the board, among all the age groups, and some experts believe usage will continue to go up as marijuana becomes legalized in more states. (ABC)

Fish consumption linked to improved sleep and IQ. According to a new study out of the University of Pennsylvania, children who eat fish weekly have an improved quality of sleep and score around four points higher on IQ tests, as compared to those who only rarely eat fish or not at all. The key factor seems to be omega-3s, which are fatty acids found in various types of fish. Researchers studied 541 boys and girls in China, who ranged in age from 9-11 years old. After studying their sleep patterns and IQ results, the team found that children who stated they ate fish weekly scored 4.8 points than those who rarely or never ate fish, and those who ate fish sometimes, scored 3.3 points higher. An increase in fish consumption was also linked to fewer sleep disturbances as well. Want to learn more about the benefits of eating certain types of fish? Watch this clip to find out. (SD)

In the News: Zika’s Toll on Babies Revealed, US Teen Usage of Marijuana Remains High, Sugary Diet During Pregnancy May Increase Asthma Risk in Children

Scientists discover Zika’s toll on babies. In a new report released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), researchers followed 19 babies born with lab-confirmed cases of  Zika infections as they aged. This is the first study to follow babies born with microcephaly from Zika infections over time. The study looked at participants in the Zika Outcomes and Development in Infants and Children (ZODIAC) trial. The children, between 19 months and two years old, continue to face significant developmental difficulties, according to the researchers. Among the babies, 11 had a seizure disorder, 10 had trouble sleeping, 9 had trouble eating, 15 had motor impairments that included the inability to sit on their own, 13 had hearing problems and 11 had vision problems. Prior to this study, researchers had documented health complications of babies born with microcephaly but could only speculate about what their development would look like. (T)

US teen usage of marijuana remains highThe University of Michigan released the results of a study on U.S. teens and marijuana use. The survey included about 45,000 students in grades 8, 10 and 12 in schools across the country. The results found that 22.9 percent of high school seniors said they had used marijuana within the previous 30 days and 16.6 percent had used a vaping device.The results also showed that marijuana use was up overall about one percent. However, the study raised concerns about the popularity of vaping devices, which are perceived by some experts as a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes because they don’t include carcinogens that come with burning tobacco. The devices are typically sold with nicotine, but when 12th-graders were asked what they thought was in the vapors, 51.8 percent said “just flavoring.” While noting that the data on vaping devices as a gateway to cigarettes is inconclusive, some researchers are watching this trend carefully. (ABC) 

Sugary diet during pregnancy increases asthma risk. A new study published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society looked at the link between poor diet and obesity and current increases in childhood asthma. Harvard researchers studied 1,068 mothers, gathering diet information during their pregnancies. They checked children’s diet and asthma diagnoses at ages 3 and 7. Compared with the children of women who consumed the least sugar (an average of 21 grams a day) the children of those who had the most (46 grams a day) had a 58 percent higher risk for asthma. The authors are unsure of the causes for the association but implicate sugary drinks and fructose, or fruit sugar. (NYT)

In the News: Type 2 Diabetes Remission Possible With Special Diet, Intense Exercise May Help Parkinson’s Disease, Weather Not Likely To Make Bones and Joints Ache

Type 2 diabetes remission possible with a special diet. According to a study published today in the Lancet medical journal, certain people with Type 2 diabetes were able to put the disease in remission without medication by following a rigorous diet plan. One hundred and forty-nine participants with type 2 diabetes participated in the study for six years, and were monitored closely as they underwent a liquid diet (which provided only 825 to 853 calories per day for three to five months). The participants were then reintroduced to solid food and maintained a structured diet until the end of the yearlong study. The researchers found that half of the participants were able to put their diabetes into remission, without medication, after one year. In addition, those who participated in the study also lost an average of more than 20 pounds. The findings are important, as diet and lifestyle are touched upon in research on diabetes remission, but the impact of cutting calories and increasing physical activity is rarely discussed. The study also offered a more universal approach to reversing diabetes compared to undergoing bariatric surgery, which can achieve remission for some people, but is considerably more expensive and comes with a greater health risk. (ABC)

Intense exercise may help Parkinson’s disease. An important new study published in JAMA Neurology looked at the effect of intense exercise on the progression of Parkinson’s Disease with adults in the early stages of the disease. The researchers recruited 128 men and women who had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s within the past five years. None had started taking medications for treatment, and none regularly exercised. The researchers tested their aerobic capacity, maximum heart rates, and disease severity, using a standard numerical scale. They then divided the men and women randomly into three groups, one control group who would not exercise, one who participated in moderate exercise, and one who exercised intensely. After six months of monitoring the exercise sessions, the only group that showed no decline in the progression of the disease was the group that exercised intensely. Researchers theorize that intense exercise causes improved blood flow to the brain, which may aid overall brain health and slow deterioration. The study’s results also indicate that while gentler exercise is safe for people with Parkinson’s, it does not seem to delay the advancement of the disease. (NYT)

Weather not likely to make bones and joints ache. A study published in BMJ looked at whether an increase in humidity, rainfall, or barometric pressure can cause joint or back pain. Researchers looked at medical records of 11,673,392 Medicare outpatient visits. Matching the dates of the visits to local weather reports, they found that 2,095,761 of them occurred on rainy days. Using estimates they predicted how many of those visits were for a condition related to join or back pain, and how many of them occurred on rainy days. After controlling for age, sex, race and various chronic conditions, they found that more visits for bone and joint pain happened on dry days than wet ones. While the weather might not be causing joint pain, there might be some psychology involved; researchers say that when it’s raining and you have joint pain you might be more likely to attribute it to the weather than when it’s sunny and you have joint pain. (NYT)

In the News: Women Are Naturally Fitter Than Men, Mammograms May Not Be Useful, Exercise Can Make Body Fat Healthier

Women are naturally fitter than men. A new study published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism looked at the natural fitness ability of women as compared to men. Researchers from the University of Waterloo directed women and men who were of a similar age and BMI to walk at gradually increasing speeds and inclines on a treadmill, going until they had reached 80% of their maximum heart rate. Each person wore a face mask to measure how much oxygen they used and how much carbon dioxide they produced.The results found that women adjusted to the exercise after about 30 seconds, while men took 42 seconds. Women had a 30% faster rate of processing oxygen overall, a clear advantage when it comes to physical efficiency. It’s important to remember that fitness can’t just be defined by aerobic power; how quickly a person adapts to an exercise level is really a good indicator of health and fitness. Inspired to start working out? Try these exercises. (T)

Mammograms may not be useful. Picking up early signs of disease is the best way to prevent cancer from spreading, so it is widely recommended by doctors that patients get screened for all types of cancer on a regular basis. However, a new study published in BMJ shows that mammography did little to reduce either deaths or advanced breast cancer over a period of 23 years in the Netherlands. The study involved all Dutch women who were screened with mammograms every other year between 1989 and 2012, a total of eight million women overall. Over a long period of time, there was no significant decrease in stage 2 to stage 4 breast cancers, and the mammograms designed to pick up tumors led to overdiagnosis (most of which not requiring treatment) 60% of the time. This is dangerous, as overdiagnosis of breast cancer can lead to additional biopsies and even treatments that expose women to side effects, without necessarily protecting them from cancer. To learn more about breast health, take this quiz. (T)

Exercise may create healthier fat. A new study, which was published last month in the Journal of Applied Physiology, found that just a single session of exercise may change the molecular workings of fat tissue in ways that, over time, could improve metabolic health. Researchers gathered men and women who were overweight but did not have insulin resistance, then tested their body compositions and took fat samples. The researchers then had each volunteer exercise on a treadmill or stationary bike for an hour at a moderately tiring pace, and an hour later, repeated the fat biopsies. In almost all of the volunteers, the fat tissue after exercise showed greater amounts of a protein that is known to contribute to the development of more blood vessels. More blood vessels in tissue leaders to greater blood flow, which is great for metabolic health. While the changes were not enormous, they were shown to occur consistently and after a single session of exercise. With continued exercise, one could expect to improve fat health over time. (NYT)

In the News: Birth Control Pills Still Linked to Breast Cancer, Showering At Night Improves Sleep, Tylenol Use In Pregnant Women Linked to ADHD

Birth control pills still linked to breast cancer. A Danish study which tracked 1.8 million women over the course of a decade has found that birth control pills and contraceptive devices that release hormones may cause an increased risk of breast cancer. These findings reinforce previously held beliefs that hormonal contraceptive methods may lead to a higher likelihood of breast cancer. While a lot of women think that new pills and devices are safer due to a lower amount of hormones, researchers are looking into the progestin hormone which is often used these days as a potential cause for the higher risk. They have also determined that there were not many differences in terms of IUDs and pills, as they both release hormones in the body. These findings may change the way doctors approach prescribing these medications. Want to learn more about breast cancer risks and prevention? Check out this fact sheet. (NYT)

Showering at night improves sleep. Research has shown that taking showers at night can help control your body temperature and therefore help you fall asleep faster. Studies conducted by the New York’s Montefiore Medical Center report that your core temperature naturally begins to drop in the evening and remains low while you sleep. While a shower before bed will briefly heat up your skin, you’ll quickly feel colder after toweling off because, as with sweat, the evaporation of moisture on the skin leads to skin cooling. This cooling effect may facilitate the onset of sleep. The results of several studies show that body temperature plays an important part in regulating circadian rhythm, which tells the body when to feel tired or alert. Cooling down sends signals to the body when it’s supposed to go to sleep. The effects work the same way when reversed; early in the morning since you’re likely to be on the move after your shower, and your body’s circadian rhythms are driving your core temperature upwards, a shower will help you feel more awake. While you’re at it, try these five snacks to help you sleep! (T)

Tylenol use during pregnancy may increase ADHD risk. In a large study published online in Pediatrics, researchers looked at possible effects of heavy use of acetaminophen by pregnant women on the brain of a developing fetus. The study analyzed acetaminophen use during more than 100,000 pregnancies in Norway, and the risk of the child eventually being diagnosed with ADHD. Researchers looked at information collected from a Norwegian patient registry about what drugs they had taken while pregnant and analyzed which children were later given ADHD. diagnoses. They found that regardless of the medical reason the women used acetaminophen, those who reported taking it for 29 consecutive days or more during their pregnancy had children who were twice as likely to receive a diagnosis of ADHD. While the study doesn’t completely prove cause and effect, there’s enough evidence of a link to make experts think carefully about what the recommendations for pregnant women should be in the future. (NYT)

In the News: Breakfast Can Boost Your Metabolism, Hormonal Birth Control May Have Serious Risks, Air Pollution May Impact Bone Health

Breakfast can boost your metabolism. While there has been a great amount of evidence published supporting the benefits of breakfast, now the evidence is even stronger. In the study, published in the Journal of Physiology, researchers asked 49 people to either eat breakfast or fast until mid-day, every day for six weeks. Before and after the study, the researchers measured everyone’s metabolism, body composition, and cardiovascular and metabolic health. The findings suggest that eating breakfast every morning may help lower the risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease by increasing the activity of genes involved in fat burning. They also found that even if a morning meal increased a person’s total calorie consumption for the day, those calories might offset by other energy-burning benefits. However, while the participants in the study ate breakfasts high in carbohydrates, the researchers cannot say conclusively if other types of breakfasts (high-protein, high-fat, etc) would have the same effects. Researchers are also looking further into how breakfast interacts with other behaviors, such as regular exercise. On the go? Here are 20 breakfasts you can make in five minutes or less. (T)

Hormonal birth control may have serious risks. In a recent study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, researchers in Denmark report that women taking hormonal contraceptives, such as birth control pills, the patch, the ring and hormonal IUDs, have up to triple the risk of suicide as women who have never taken hormonal birth control. Researchers analyzed a national study that tracked all women ages 15 and older who were living in Denmark from 1996-2013. They also looked at prescriptions filled for contraceptives, as well as deaths and causes of death, and compared women taking this type of birth control to women who did not have a history of contraceptive use. The risk of attempting suicide was nearly double that of women who’d never used birth control and triple that for suicide. However, don’t stop using contraceptives just yet —other scientists say the study may not have accounted for all of the potential differences in women who use contraceptives versus those who do not. For example, women using contraceptives are more likely to be in relationships, which might bring along more emotional challenges, especially in younger women. (T)

Air pollution may impact bone health. Investigators have analyzed data in a new study in Lancet Planetary Health looking at the relationship between air pollution and the risk for weakening bones. The analysis looked at two studies, one that tracked hospital admissions among nearly 10 million Medicare recipients in the Northeast over eight years. The other looked at levels of parathyroid hormone, which aids bone health, in 700 middle-aged low-income men in Boston. They found that the risk for bone fractures among people over 65 increased steadily as levels of air pollution went up. People living in locations with higher levels of air pollution, especially middle-aged men, were also found to have had lower levels of bone mineral density. The researchers compare these results to secondhand smoke, detailing that the ill effects of smoking, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and bone mineral density loss, can also be caused by air pollution. Want to boost your bone health? Try these foods. (NYT)

In the News: Marriage Linked to Lower Risk of Dementia, Nearly Half of Cancer Cases Are Within Our Control, Dog Owners May Live Longer

Marriage linked to lower risk of dementia. A new paper in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry by researchers from University College London found that people who are unmarried or widowed are at increased risk of developing dementia compared to married people. The review found that people who had never married were 42 percent more likely to develop dementia compared to married people, and widows and widowers were 20 percent more likely. The analysis used evidence from 15 previously published studies involving more than 800,000 people in Europe, North and South America and Asia. The question of why this is might be explained by similar studies, which show that people with spouses tend to be healthier than those without them. The researchers analyzed that married couples may motivate each other to exercise, eat healthfully, maintain social ties and smoke and drink less—all things that are associated with a lower risk for dementia. Check out this fact sheet to learn more about this disease. (T) 

Nearly half of cancer cases are within our control. In a study published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, researchers at the American Cancer Society calculated how much risk factors for cancer are within a person’s control. The study analyzed national cancer data and calculated how much of cancer cases and deaths can be attributed to factors that people can change; these included smoking, being overweight or obese, drinking too much alcohol, eating red and processed meats, not exercising, six cancer-related infections (including HPV), and more. Among more than 1.5 million cancers in 2014, 42 percent were traced to these factors, as well as 45 percent of deaths in that year. Researchers say that this should be seen as encouraging overall since it supports the idea that a good proportion of cancer cases and deaths can possibly be avoided. The hope is that these findings will encourage local, state and federal lawmakers to support more policies that reduce these risk factors, such as creating smoke-free areas and encouraging physical exercise. (T)

Dog owners may live longer. A Swedish study suggests that owning a dog is linked to a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease and death. The study, published in Scientific Reports, used demographic data on 3.4 million Swedes ages 40 to 80, and found that owning a dog was associated with a 20 percent lower risk of death and a 23 percent lower risk of death specifically from cardiovascular disease. These results were found through the Swedish Board of Agriculture, as all dogs in Sweden must be registered and identified by number with an ear tattoo or an implanted chip. Interestingly, the effect seemed to be stronger with certain breeds, particularly pointers and retrievers. Researchers suggested that this may reflect different kinds of owners, as owning an athletic dog might be good motivation to go out and exercise, as well as providing social support. (NYT)

In the News: Leaving the House Daily Can Help Seniors Live Longer, Cinnamon Oil May Trigger Fat Burn, Cold and Flu Drug May Halt Cancer Growth

Leaving the house daily can extend seniors’ lives. A study that was recently published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society has found that two million senior citizens rarely or never leave the house, most often due to mobility issues and other physical difficulties. Aside from having a negative impact on their physical health, staying cooped up all the time can cause damage to their mental health as well. Being confined to the house at all times can cause anxiety, depression, and mental illness. In the study, 3,375 adults between 70 and 90 years were assessed, and they found that seniors who left their homes every day had the lowest risk of death and those who rarely ever left the house had the highest risk. For more longevity tips, check out this list.(MN)

Cinnamon oil may trigger fat burn. New research from the University of Michigan indicates that cinnamaldehyde, the oil that gives cinnamon its trademark flavors, may encourage calorie burn and enhance fat metabolism. After testing on mice, they found promising results, though it’s still too early to know how this ingredient will impact people and how much is needed. While a sprinkle of cinnamon on top of oatmeal or coffee may not do the trick, experts speculate that eating it every day in one way or another can eventually have metabolic benefits. Want to learn more about adding cinnamon to your diet? Here are six surprising uses for this magic spice. (T)

Cold and flu drug may halt cancer cells. Researchers have found that N-Acetylcysteine (NAC), a common FDA-approved cold and flu medicine, may stop the growth of cancer cells by starving them of certain of proteins. When looking for an explanation, they found that NAC has antioxidant properties and that previous research showed tumors, particularly breast cancer tumors, had high levels of oxidative stress. When the tumor cells are exposed to this type of stress, they actually release a form of nutrients that cancer needs to go and thrive. With that in mind, they looked to NAC as a means of starving the cells and thus halting their development. These results show the potential for an affordable, everyday medication to stop cancer growth without the use of toxic treatments. (MN)

In the News: Spit Test May Detect Concussions, PTSD Often Follows Cancer Diagnosis, Proteins in Breast Milk May Prevent Allergies

Spit test may detect concussions. According to a study published in the JAMA Pediatrics, a saliva analysis may reveal if someone has a concussion and determine how long their symptoms may last. With youth concussions on the rise over the last several years, this discovery could help diagnose the injury early on and determine a more accurate treatment plan. In a study of concussed children, teens, and young adults, researchers identified five molecules known as microRNAs in the saliva, which impact protein functions in the body, and found that they can predict which children would have symptoms 30-days out with 85 percent accuracy, compared to 65 percent accuracy when using a standard survey to assess the condition. Want to learn more about concussions? Take a look at this fact sheet. (CNN)

PTSD often follows a cancer diagnosis. Research out of the National University of Malaysia in Bangi has found that many people diagnosed with cancer also develop PTSD and may continue to have this condition after their cancer subsides. Lead study author, Caryn Mei Hsien Chan, Ph.D., evaluated 469 adults who had been diagnosed with various types of cancer. They were assessed for PTSD symptoms six months following their diagnosis, and again four years later. At the six-month mark, Chan and her team found that participants had a 21.7 percent incidence of PTSD symptoms, and that dropped to 6.1 percent at the four-year check-up. However, one-third of the participants diagnosed before showed constant and/or worsening signs of this condition at that point. These findings highlight the importance of screening for PTSD in cancer patients early in the process to allow for maximum treatment and healing. If you want to learn more about PTSD, here are the important facts. (MN)

Proteins in breast milk may prevent allergies. Researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical Study have found that exposing egg to the breast milk of mothers during pregnancy and breastfeeding may prevent egg allergies in newborns. In this study, which was conducted on mice, they found that the newborns were given the most allergy protection when their mothers were exposed to eggs before and during pregnancy and breastfeeding, as opposed to just being exposed to eggs during pregnancy but then not going on to breastfeed. In another study, it was discovered that feeding peanut-filled foods to babies at an increased risk of peanut allergies actually decreased the odds of developing a peanut allergy. Allergy specialists are now recommending that expectant mothers do not avoid typical allergy foods (milk, nuts, eggs) during pregnancy and breastfeeding, assuming they do not have those allergies themselves. (SD)

What You Need to Know About Olivia Newton-John’s Natural Breast Cancer Treatments


On today’s show, Dr. Oz sat down with Olivia Newton-John to talk about her breast cancer recurrence.  The world-renowned singer and actress was treated for breast cancer 25 years ago and discovered this past spring that it had returned when a painful metastasis was found in her sacrum. She had radiation treatment which relieved her pain and is on a regimen of natural herbs and minerals, including a mix of strains of medical cannabis selected for her by her husband Amazon John Easterling.