In the News: Scientists Edit Human Embryos, Sexually Transmitted Zika Virus Confirmed in Florida, Low Calorie Diet Linked to Learning Improvement

Scientists edit mutation in human embryos. For the first time ever, scientists have successfully repaired a mutated gene that causes hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). This disease affects half a million Americans annually, particularly young athletes who pass away from sudden cardiac death. Scientists have spent the last few years looking into gene editing, particularly its ability to prevent certain diseases. A popular form of gene editing known as CRISPR-CAS9 involves removing or making changes to DNA sequences to change the way the gene operates. This scientific breakthrough raises ethical questions, with many wondering if this is a form of “playing God” and will require further research before it can be used in clinical trials. (MEDNEWS)

Sexually transmitted Zika virus confirmed in Florida. This year’s first sexually transmitted Zika case has been discovered in Florida recently. The state’s health department confirmed that a Florida resident’s partner showed Zika symptoms after returning from Cuba; both were diagnosed with this mosquito-borne virus. This recent case highlights the importance of taking precautions when engaging in sexual contact with someone who may have been exposed. The CDC also recommends postponing unprotected sex for six months or more to ensure females are not infected. While the symptoms of Zika are minor (rash, fever, pinkeye), it can cause birth defects if contracted during pregnancy. Want to learn more about Zika? Here are five facts you should know. (ABC)

Low-calorie diet linked to learning improvement in worms. Want to try a low-calorie diet? A new study has found that eating less gives worms a brain boost. Research has already shown that calorie restriction can boost longevity and it appears that it can also improve learning ability too. A team of scientists at the University of California, San Francisco trained roundworms to link the scent of butanone with a food-based reward. The worm groups were divided up between those who ate whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, those who fasted for sixty minutes, and those who were on a calorie-restricted diet. The group on the diet was two times more likely to complete the exercise the way they were supposed to as compared to the group that ate freely. Some experts believe that eating fewer calories lowers the amount of kynurenic acid (a brain chemical) which may improve learning ability. Want to try a restricted diet? Give this 1200-calorie meal plan a try! (NS)

In the News: Engineers Print an Artificial Beating Heart, FDA May Require Nicotine Reduction in Cigarettes, Men Who Eat Excess Sugar May Develop Mental Health Disorders

Engineers print an artificial beating heart. At ETH Zurich, engineers have successfully created an artificial heart with ventricles that pump a blood-like substance, that weighs the same as a real human heart, and can beat for 30 minutes at a time. Using a mold, they were able to 3-D print a silicone heart which can have major implications on the future of organ donating. They also aim to replace blood pumps, which can have malfunctioning parts that create health issues. This engineering marvel can also eliminate the process of waiting around for a heart when in need of a transplant. With heart disease claiming over 17 million lives across the globe, the speed and convenience of 3-D printing is poised to make a huge difference. (CNN)

FDA may require nicotine reduction in cigarettes. The Food and Drug Administration is considering requiring tobacco companies to reduce the amount of nicotine in their cigarettes in order to make them less addictive. The hope is that this switch will reduce the public’s dependency on cigarettes, preventing the premature death of millions. This change will mark the first time in the history of the FDA that they will regulate nicotine levels in cigarettes. Producers of cigars, hookah tobacco, pipe tobacco, and cigarettes will have until the summer of 2021 to submit their applications for review. Think switching to electronic cigarettes is the answer? Find out why they may be dangerous as well. (NPR)

Men who eat too much sugar may develop mental health disorders. While it’s common knowledge that consuming too much sugar can cause weight gain, inflammatory conditions, and other health issues, it turns out that men are particularly impacted. Research shows that men who eat over 67 grams of sugar on a daily basis have an increased likelihood of developing depression, anxiety, mental health issues, and mood disorders. Compared with participants who ate less than 39.5 grams of sugar daily, excess sugar eaters were 23 percent more likely to showcase these troubling symptoms. Ready to give up sugar? Try this 14-day detox plan. (MEDNEWS)

In the News: Brain Disease Found in 99% of Deceased NFL Players, Owning a Dog Can Improve Physical Health, Sperm Count Dropping in Men Across the World

Brain disease found in 99% of deceased NFL players. According to a study in the JAMA medical journal, 99 percent of deceased NFL players showed signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative brain disease. This condition, often seen in patients with consistent head trauma, causes a buildup of an abnormal protein that can switch off certain neural pathways and cause side effects like depression, anxiety, confusion, poor judgment, lack of control, and even suicidal ideation. Since an autopsy is required to properly diagnose this condition, it can be tricky determining who is currently afflicted with this condition. These findings do show how important it is to take proper care when playing contact sports and to seek help if any of these symptoms appear. Learn more about head injuries here. (CNN)

Owning a dog can improve physical health. While we all know that having a dog can improve overall happiness and improved mental health, a new study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health shows that dog owners are less stressed, more active, have a decreased risk of asthma, and have lowered blood pressure as well. While studying over 3,000 participants ranging in age from 49-91, researchers found that the participants who didn’t own dogs were sedentary for 30 minutes more than the ones who did. These findings may have implications in the senior citizen community, since retirement can often lead to a less active lifestyle. Owning a dog may just be the trick to maintain good health physically and mentally. (TIME)

Sperm count dropping in men across the world. After assessing the results over almost 200 studies conducted on men in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, researchers found that sperm counts have halved in less than four decades. These findings were the culmination of research from 1973 to 2011. When looking for an explanation, scientists point to an increased exposure to pesticides and plastic chemicals, along with lifestyle issues like obesity, stress, smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle. Find out how to boost testosterone here. (BBC)

In the News: Appetite-Suppressing Foods Revealed, Blue Light May Impact Eye Health, Time-Saving Services May Boost Happiness

Appetite-suppressing foods revealed. While there is no secret ingredient to help you lose weight, there are a few key foods you can eat to give you a boost. Nutritionists recommend Greek or Icelandic yogurt (which provides a healthy dose of protein), avocados (an excellent source of monounsaturated fat), red chili peppers, barley, soup (which helps you fill up for fewer calories), vegetable salad, spinach, and flaxseed. These ingredients provide you with protein, healthy carbohydrates, fiber, and healthy fat, so you can feel satisfied without relying on high-calorie junk food. Want to learn more? Check out this natural appetite suppressant. (CNN)

Blue light may be hurting your eye health. Since we are on our computers and phones more often than ever before, we are exposed to an unprecedented amount of blue light emissions. Doctors are particularly concerned because the blue light that comes from electronic devices isn’t filtered by the cornea or lens, going straight to the back of the eye instead. While more research is required, some experts worry that this exposure can lead to damaged retinas and other eye health issues. If you want to prevent eye strain, optometrist Janelle Routhier, OD, recommends giving your eyes a break, using a light-reducing app and purchasing blue-blocking lenses. Find out how to further reduce blue light emission on your phone here. (HEALTH)

Time-saving services may boost happiness. According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, spending money on time-saving services may boost overall happiness and satisfaction. Researchers studied the spending habits of 6,000 participants all over the world and found that those who paid for others to clean or cook for them reported increased contentment compared to those who didn’t. Interestingly, under 50 percent of the millionaires surveyed paid to outsource unpleasant tasks, while the others opted to do it themselves, potentially due to feeling guilty or wanting control. Another factor could be the “busy” culture of North America, leading people to juggle all aspects of their lives and enjoying that feeling of being capable. Some experts suggest that letting go and spending a little money to save time can have a huge positive impact on the quality of life. (ABC)

In the News: Study Reveals Why Cutting Carbs Is Hard, Laughing at Yourself May Improve Health, Diet Drinks May Cause Weight Gain

Study reveals why cutting carbs is so challenging. If you’ve ever tried to quit eating carbohydrates and found yourself in a cold sweat gawking at a chocolate chip cookie just days later, you are not alone. Researchers have devoted a lot of time and resources to finding out why cutting carbs is so universally difficult. While many people assume they lack willpower or discipline, it may be a bit more complicated than that. Insulin may play a role in regulating hormones, which is tied to obesity. When insulin is elevated, the body stops burning fat and starts burning carbs, and the more insulin you release, the more you will want to eat carbs. In order to avoid this trap, you need to avoid these types of foods along with social triggers, and plan ahead to make smarter choices. Wondering if your body is resistant to carbs? Take this quiz. (NYT)

Laughing at yourself can improve mental health. Have you ever noticed someone tripping on the street and laughing at themselves? On the opposite end, have you seen someone fall and try to act like nothing happened? As it turns out, of these two camps, those who are able to laugh at themselves may not only have a healthy outlook on life but also greater well-being overall. In a recent study, researchers found that laughing at yourself can improve your heart health, help you handle life’s obstacles better, manage pain more effectively, and surprisingly even boost your short-term memory. Feeling blue? Try these five at-home therapy hacks to boost your personality. (NBC)

Diet drinks have been linked to weight gain. While diet drinks often seem like ideal alternatives to sugary sodas, it turns out that they may not be any better. New research shows that people who regularly consume diet drinks have an increased BMI and a higher risk of developing heart disease. Belly fat in particular, seems to be linked to diet drinks, which is risky because a high waist circumference increases the odds of developing type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, and other health problems. While it’s possible that those who drink diet soda are simply eating more sugary foods in addition to these beverages, scientists also believe that artificial sweeteners may be negatively impacting gut health as well. If you want to wean yourself off of diet drinks, try these infused waters instead. (INDEPENDENT)

What Is Glioblastoma? A Closer Look at This Aggressive Form of Brain Cancer

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain, brain tumor,

Yesterday Senator John McCain’s office announced that he has been diagnosed with a primary brain tumor known as a glioblastoma. The release went on to say that all portions of the tumor visible on imaging have been removed and that the senator and his family were reviewing the next steps. So what exactly is glioblastoma and what are the possible next steps?

Read more  »

In the News: Best Time of Day to Exercise Revealed, Forest Bathing on the Rise, Speech May Show Signs of Mental Decline

Best time of day to exercise revealed. The age-old debate about optimal workout times has always been met with confusion. While many people swear that early morning workouts are the key to success, others cannot fathom waking up earlier than necessary to do any form of exercise. According to the Journal of Strength and Conditioning, research shows that working out in the evening (HIIT in particular) may be the most beneficial. Scientists have found that strength and flexibility peak in the second half of the day, and that perceived exertion is at its lowest, allowing you to work harder and feel it less. In trying to find an explanation, experts point to the circadian rhythm, since it plays a role in these factors. Find out more about the best time of day to work out here. (CNN)

Forest bathing on the rise.  We’ve all heard about the importance of spending time in nature and breathing in the fresh air but it turns out this activity my have a deeper purpose. Known as “forest bathing”, retreating into nature has been found to not just boost mood but also improve immunity and overall wellbeing. While it may sound like water is involved, forest bathing translates to soaking in your surroundings, no bathing suit required. Unlike hiking or camping, this experience requires simply walking through forests, smelling, touching, listening, and watching the beauty around you. Also known as nature therapy, this practice can greatly reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and serve as a form of medicine. Ready to get outside? Make sure to follow these summer safety tips first. (NPR)

Speech may reveal signs of mental decline. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have found that the way we speak may reveal insights into our mental health. This speech analysis study, which was the largest of its kind, also showed that certain aspects of language may be affected earlier than other parts of the body, allowing physicians to uncover mental deterioration before it becomes too late. With around 47 million people suffering from dementia worldwide, the prospect of an earlier diagnosis is very promising. Another study found that hearing loss may indicate mental decline as well, which can also play a role in catching conditions like Alzheimer’s at the very onset of the illness. (ABC)

In the News: Snortable Chocolate on the Rise, Coffee May Increase Longevity, FDA Approves New Cancer Treatment

Snortable chocolate on the rise. A product called Coco Loko is making waves among the party crowd in Europe in recent years. This snortable chocolate powder claims to reduce stress and act as a stimulant, giving users a sense of euphoria and calm focus. While this product isn’t dangerous when consumed orally, inhaling it may create issues. According to Dr. Ryan Stanton, an emergency physician, this powder may get stuck in the lungs if it doesn’t stay in the nose and that can create respiratory issues. People with asthma, pulmonary issues, or lung diseases are urged to avoid snorting Coco Loko for the sake of their safety. Want to enjoy chocolate the healthy way? Try these guilt-free recipes. (CNN)

Coffee may increase longevity. Coffee lovers have one more reason to celebrate: several studies have found that consistent coffee consumption lowers death rates from a wide variety of causes. While many may assume only a certain amount is beneficial, it turns out that the more cups you drink, the greater the result. In an American study that took place over 16 years, participants who claimed to drink four or more coffee drinks daily, were linked to an 18 percent lowered chance of death than the others. In a European study, researchers studied 520,000 people in 10 different counties over 16 years and they found similar results. In the U.S. study, researchers found that decaffeinated coffee provided the same benefits as the caffeinated kind, which means the longevity potion doesn’t necessarily lie in the caffeine. Learn more about the pros and cons of drinking coffee here. (ABC)

FDA approves new cancer treatment. A new cancer treatment that uses the patient’s immune system to fight their cancer has been approved by the FDA. Known as a “living drug”, this treatment, takes cells from the patient’s body, changes the genes, and then fuses those changed cells back into the body, essentially using its own immune system to fight the disease. While concerns about safety and cost are a factor, this revolutionary treatment is a huge advancement in the field of cancer research. Are you snacking on these six cancer-fighting foods? Add them to your diet today. (NPR)

In the News: Forgetfulness May Make You Smarter, Mindfulness May Reduce Blood Sugar, Lectin-Free Diet Is the Latest Diet Fad

Forgetfulness may make you smarter. As it turns out, having a perfect memory may not be as brag-worthy as it seems. A report out of the journal Neuron, indicates that forgetting everyday things may increase intelligence. Researchers at the University of Toronto posit that the point of memory is to improve decision-making by only retaining the most important things and releasing the rest. When studying memory and brain activity in mice, researchers found that old memories were regularly swapped with new ones, which lead to more informed decision-making and increased activity in the hippocampus. (CNN)

Mindfulness may reduce blood sugar. Penn State University researchers studied 86 overweight and obese participants to determine how stress impacted their health. They randomly assigned mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) courses to some women and assigned general health courses to the other women. After tracking the results for eight weeks, they determined that the MBSR group was significantly less stressed than the group in the general health courses. While both groups did improve in terms of mood, sleep, and psychological issues, only the MBSR group had lowered blood sugar levels. While more research is required, these findings show that practicing mindfulness may provide significant physical benefits. Feeling stressed? Here’s how to go from manic to mindful in just five minutes. (TIME)

Lectin-free diet is the latest diet fad. Just as going gluten-free was a huge diet trend just a few years ago, it appears that going lectin-free is the new big thing. Lectins are specific proteins found in grains and beans. While research has shown that lectins may have positive and negative effects, a lot of online gurus are writing them off entirely, suggesting that lectins can cause irritable bowel syndrome, obesity, and inflammation. However, nutritionists point out that the the type of lectin you choose, and the preparation, can play a role in terms of health benefits. If you are indeed suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, try this plan to find relief. (WP)

In the News: Eating Vegetable Protein May Prevent Early Menopause, Eating Certain Foods Before Bed May Improve Sleep, Long-Term Breastfeeding Linked to Cavities

Eating more vegetable protein may prevent early menopause. A study at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, scientists have found that consuming foods like whole grains, tofu, and soy may prolong reproductive function and keep early menopause at bay. They also found that eating enriched pasta, certain types of bread, and cold cereal could also push off the start of menopause and that eating animal protein didn’t produce the same effect. For a woman on a 2,000 calorie diet, experts recommend eating three to four servings of these veggie protein foods, with the servings fluctuating based on BMI, age, and lifestyle habits. The next stage of research will have to look at the impact of soy-based protein versus non-soy vegetable protein to determine how it effects the ovaries. Wondering if you’re at risk for early menopause? Take this quiz. (SD)

Snacking on certain foods before bed may improve sleep quality. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over a third of adults are not sleeping enough. As it turns out, diet can play a role in how effectively you snooze. Researchers suggest eating foods high in tryptophan, which is an amino acid that your body converts into melatonin and serotonin, both of which help you relax and feel drowsy. Snacks rich in this ingredient include granola, unsweetened cereal, whole grain crackers, milk, and turkey. You can also snack on oranges, bananas, and pineapples to increase melatonin. Looking to sleep better? Find out your sleep chronotype first. (CNN)

Long-term breastfeeding linked to more pediatric cavities. According to Pediatrics journal, breastfeeding children for two years and up can increase the likelihood of cavities. When studying 1,129 children in Brazil, researchers found that 23.9 percent had severe cavities and 48 percent had at least one cavity. Children who were breastfeed for over two years had more than double the risk of having serious dental issues, whereas kids who were only breastfed for a year or less had a much smaller risk. When looking at the reasons, experts explain that a lot of these breastfeeding sessions take place at night and more frequently over all, which makes it difficult to keep the teeth adequately clean during these hours. Another explanation links prolonged breastfeeding with a higher consumption of sweets and a lower income background, which can explain why there are dental health issues. (CNN)