In the News: Exercise May Improve Brain Efficiency, Junk Food May Increase Distraction, Pesticides May Lower IVF Success Rates

Exercise may improve brain efficiency. A new study has found that just two weeks of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) lowers the amount of blood glucose the brain has to use up for energy in participants with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. This study also found that moderate exercise for the same amount of time improves insulin sensitivity in participants as well. Using a positron emission tomography (PET scan), researchers observed these promising changes in middle-aged men and women who don’t normally exercise and have either type 2 diabetes or prediabetes. These findings seem to suggest that even a small amount of exercise can significantly change how the brain uses up energy, making it a promising option for the 29.1 million people who have diabetes in this country, along with the 8.1 million who may have this condition but aren’t diagnosed. (F)

Junk food may increase distraction. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University examined the impact that food has on our ability to concentrate and found that when it comes to healthy or unhealthy food, the unhealthy stuff can provide a serious distraction. In fact, when examining 18 participants, they found that any and all food imagery was distracting, but that the images of caloric and fattening foods were two times as distracting compared to the images of fruits and vegetables. When looking for an explanation, they found that sugary, high-fat foods activate the reward system in the brain, making it easy for us to succumb to distraction. Want to say goodbye to junk food? Here are six ways to kick the habit. (MN)

Pesticides may lower IVF success rates. New research has found that eating fruits and vegetables that are high in pesticides may make it harder for women to get pregnant with IVF. Scientists studied 325 female participants who were using assisted reproductive technologies and found that those with high exposure to pesticides (large numbers of which are found in strawberries, spinach, and peppers), were eating more than two servings of these fruits and vegetables and were 18% less likely to get pregnant than those who had less exposure to pesticides, and were also 26% less likely to have a live birth. While these findings do suggest that high pesticide exposure can lower IVF success rate, they don’t yet link pesticide exposure to reproductive health issues. While more research will be needed to get a better picture into what this means, eating organic produce is a good way to avoid harmful exposure to these chemicals in the meantime. Want to learn more about avoiding pesticides? Follow these guidelines. (T)

Everything You Need to Know About HPV

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We usually think of HPV as the cause of cervical cancer and most of us are familiar with HPV screenings as part of the pap smear process. But head and neck cancers are increasingly becoming a concern because studies show that they are actually on the rise, especially oropharyngeal cancer in men. Rates have been increasing about 2.9% per year in men and have remained relatively stable in women. And now, the number of cases of HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer in men is now about the same as the number of cases of cervical cancer in women.

This begs the question why and a new study out this week in the Annals of Internal Medicine is getting a lot of attention because it attempts to uncover an explanation for this phenomenon.
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The Cheerleader and the Hitman: Is It Ever Okay to Kill?

 

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After 30 years, infamous cheerleader Cheryl Pierson Cuccio is finally breaking her silence about why she committed this horrific crime.

In 1986, Cheryl was a 15-year-old popular teenage cheerleader who was being sexually abused by her father. No one, not even her boyfriend, now husband Rob Cuccio, knew about the abuse she was subjected to daily. Cheryl suffered in silence in fear that her father would make good on his threats and kill her if she ever told anyone.

“My father used to threaten me on a daily basis. He would say he’d kill me and kill anybody I ever told. I believed him”, she says.

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Deadly Texts: Can Words Kill?

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Conrad Roy was just 18 years old when he took his own life. His suicide sparked a nationwide conversation because a court found his girlfriend, 17-year-old Michelle Carter guilty of manslaughter. Her weapon? A series of text messages urging Conrad to kill himself. The text messages recovered by police from Michelle Carter’s phone filled 317 pages which now contain the whole tragic story.

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O.J. Simpson’s Life After Parole: What Happens Next?

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He’s America’s most infamous inmate. From all-star football player to convicted felon, OJ Simpson is set to walk free after serving nine years in prison.

It’s a defining cultural tale of modern America – a saga of race, celebrity, media, violence, and the criminal justice system. O.J. Simpson became one of the most controversial and polarizing celebrities in pop culture history. He had first skyrocketed to fame and fortune as a gridiron icon with Hollywood looks, who transitioned from athlete to actor with ease. But his fall from grace would prove equally stunning when he was accused of murdering his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. With underlying themes of race and police corruption, it became the “trial of the century”, transfixing and ultimately dividing the country when Simpson was acquitted on all counts. A subsequent civil trial would find Simpson liable for the death and order him to pay a total of $33.5 million to the families of his two victims.

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What You Need to Know About Maternal Mortality

Pink and Blue Blankets in Bassinets

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

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The #1 Lifestyle Change to Improve Your Brain

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Written by: Wendy A. Suzuki Ph.D.Professor of Neural Science and Psychology, New York University.

Doctors often recommend a long list of lifestyle changes to help protect your brain from the damaging effects of aging, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. A model described at the most recent Alzheimer’s Conference in London in 2017, identified nine lifestyle changes that could help prevent one in three cases of Alzheimer’s Disease. That’s truly impressive, but how could we hope to tackle so many life changes all at once? Should I start that Mediterranean diet today? Or should I try to get 8 hours of sleep in tonight? Should I finally learn how to meditate to decrease my stress? We clearly need a better strategy and as a neuroscientist who has studied the brain and the effects of exercise on the brain for over 25 years (think of me as your exercise doctor), I suggest to start with the single lifestyle change that packs the strongest punch: adding more aerobic exercise into your life.

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Are Your Shoes Making You Sick?

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Around the world, it is customary for many households to require you to remove your shoes upon entering the home, and with good reason! As we find ourselves back to work and back to school, those sparkling new shoes or the kids’ new kicks can quickly become a source of contamination. After a day of contact with the outside world, we may be tracking some nasty bugs back home without realizing it.

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Why You Should Add a Dose of Gratitude to Your Day

Free Happy Woman Enjoying Nature. Outdoor. Freedom concept. Beauty Girl

Practicing gratitude has been clinically proven to have a profound and positive impact on a person’s health and quality of life — and it’s free! No co-pays, no time spent at appointments, no needles, no prescriptions. However, the fast-paced lifestyle that many of us have become accustomed to makes practicing gratitude difficult if we do not make a concerted effort to work it into our daily routines.

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An Inside Look at How Houston Is Dealing With Hurricane Harvey

Closeup of high water flooding on neighborhood street.

Written by Jon P. Spiers, MD JD

I was near the epicenter of both Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Katrina, and they share many characteristics. Storms are unique, and I want to be clear that a disaster is a disaster – no matter its name.

I was in a suburb of Biloxi, MS when Katrina made landfall. The winds and storm surge were immense. We had a surge inland for miles. At my own home on the shore we took about 20 feet of water. Most of my neighbors lost their homes, and those that did not were left with shells of homes. Read more  »