September: New Research to Help You Live and Feel Better

Healthy Living

There are many interesting and useful items on the list this month. Please take a look — you may find the answer to a perplexing problem.


Motorcycle Helmets Hard On Hearing

Motorcycle helmets, while protecting bikers’ brains, may also be contributing to hearing loss. Scientists mapped the airflow and noise patterns to find out why.

Breast Screening Has Had Little to Do With Falling Breast Cancer Deaths, European Study Finds

Breast cancer screening has not played a direct part in the reductions of breast cancer mortality in recent years, says a new study published online in the British Medical Journal.

‘Brain Cap’ Technology Turns Thought Into Motion; Mind-Machine Interface Could Lead to New Life-Changing Technologies for Millions of People

“Brain cap” technology being developed at the University of Maryland allows users to turn their thoughts into motion. Associate Professor of Kinesiology José ‘Pepe’ L. Contreras-Vidal and his team have created a non-invasive, sensor-lined cap with neural interface software that soon could be used to control computers, robotic prosthetic limbs, motorized wheelchairs and even digital avatars.

Out-Of-The-Blue Panic Attacks Aren’t Without Warning: Body Sends Signals for Hour Before

Panic attacks that seem to strike sufferers out-of-the-blue are not without warning after all, according to new research.

Progressive Telomere Shortening Characterizes Familial Breast Cancer Patients

Telomeres, the complex structures that protect the end of chromosomes, of peripheral blood cells are significantly shorter in patients with familial breast cancer than in the general population. Results of the study carried out by the Human Genetics Group of the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO), led by Javier Benitez, to be published in open-access journal PLoS Genetics on July 28th, reflect that familial, but not sporadic, breast cancer cases are characterized by shorter telomeres. Importantly, they also provide evidence for telomere shortening as a mechanism of genetic anticipation, the successively earlier onset of cancer down generations.

‘Mirroring’ Might Reflect Badly On You

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but clueless copycatting comes at a cost. As anyone who has been subjected to the mocking playground game knows, parroting can be annoying. Yet gentle mimicry can act as a kind of “social glue” in human relationships. It fosters rapport and trust. It signals cohesion. Two people who like each other will often unconsciously mirror each other’s mannerisms in subtle ways — leaning forward in close synchrony, for example — and that strengthens their bond.

Getting 50-Year-Old Americans as Healthy as Europeans Could Save Medicare and Medicaid $632 Billion by 2050, Study Says

Forty years ago, Americans could expect to live slightly longer than Europeans. This has since reversed: in spite of similar levels of economic development, Americans now live about a year-and-a-half less, on average, than their Western European counterparts, and also less than people in most other developed nations. How did Americans fall behind?

Raising U.S. Life Expectancy Could Save $632 Billion

Forty years ago, Americans could expect to live slightly longer than Europeans. This since has reversed: In spite of similar levels of economic development, Americans now live about a year-and-a-half less, on average, than their Western European counterparts and also less than people in most other developed nations. How did Americans fall behind?

Yoga Boosts Stress-Busting Hormone, Reduces Pain, Study Finds

A new study by York University researchers finds that practicing yoga reduces the physical and psychological symptoms of chronic pain in women with fibromyalgia.

Telomere Length Linked to Emphysema Risk

Telomeres, the body’s own cellular clocks, may be a crucial factor underlying the development of emphysema, according to research from Johns Hopkins University.

Low vitamin D impairs strength recovery after knee surgery

Scientists from an American medical institution published a study that has practical implications for patients undergoing ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) surgery.

New study concludes the need for vitamin D repletion in systemic lupus erythematosis patients

Several studies have documented that patients with systemic lupus erythematosis (SLE) have low vitamin D levels and that those with the lowest levels progress to the most serious cases. Furthermore, animal studies have consistently shown that treatment with vitamin D helps the disease, but positive controlled human trials are lacking (one such human trial used meaningless doses of vitamin D).

Mindless Eating: Losing Weight Without Thinking

Dieters may not need as much willpower as they think, if they make simple changes in their surroundings that can result in eating healthier without a second thought, said a consumer psychologist at the American Psychological Association’s 119th Annual Convention.

Harnessing the Power of Positive Thoughts and Emotions to Treat Depression

Positive activity interventions (PAIs) offer a safe, low-cost, and self-administered approach to managing depression and may offer hope to individuals with depressive disorders who do not respond or have access to adequate medical therapy, according to a comprehensive review article in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, a peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.

Why Diets Don’t Work: Starved Brain Cells Eat Themselves, Study Finds

A report in the August issue of the Cell Press journal Cell Metabolism might help to explain why it’s so frustratingly difficult to stick to a diet. When we don’t eat, hunger-inducing neurons in the brain start eating bits of themselves. That act of self-cannibalism turns up a hunger signal to prompt eating.

Scientist Converts Human Skin Cells Into Functional Brain Cells

A scientist at the Gladstone Institutes has discovered a novel way to convert human skin cells into brain cells, advancing medicine and human health by offering new hope for regenerative medicine and personalized drug discovery and development.

Tufts-Harvard study builds vitamin D’s anti-diabetes potential

Daily supplements of vitamin D may boost the function of the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, says a new study from Boston-based researchers that supports the potential role of the vitamin for pre-diabetics.

Which Is Better: Vitamin D2 or D3?

Which oral formulation of vitamin D is preferred: vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) or vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol)?

“. . .  ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) and cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) are not bioequivalent and should not be considered interchangeable. Although few head-to-head trials exist, based on pharmacokinetic studies and limited clinical evidence, cholecalciferol (D3)s preferred over ergocalciferol (D2). Because of its shorter half-life and decreased potency, this is especially relevant in the setting of severe deficiency, where high-dose ergocalciferol (D2) is often only given once weekly. Health professionals should encourage use of cholecalciferol (D3) over ergocalciferol (D2) in all patients without severe renal failure, either as a general supplement or as a treatment for vitamin D deficiency.”

Pfizer Wants Atorvastatin Available Over the Counter

Pfizer is hoping to sell atorvastatin (Lipitor) to consumers over the counter (OTC) as a way to offset the expected plunge in revenue as the world’s best-selling prescription drug goes off patent in November, according to the Wall Street Journal [1

Doctors’ Religious Beliefs Strongly Influence End-Of-Life Decisions, Study Finds

Atheist or agnostic doctors are almost twice as willing to take decisions that they think will hasten the end of a very sick patient’s life as doctors who are deeply religious, suggests research published online in the Journal of Medical Ethics.

Eating Protein Throughout the Day Preserves Muscle and Physical Function in Dieting Postmenopausal Women, Study Suggests

Dieting postmenopausal women who want to avoid losing muscle as they lose fat should pay attention to a new University of Illinois study. Adding protein throughout the day not only holds hunger pangs at bay so that dieters lose more weight, it keeps body composition — the amount of fat relative to muscle — in better proportion.

New study throws further light on caffeine as a sunscreen

Further studies on the sunscreen properties of caffeine by Univerisity of Rutgers in New Jersey suggest it may lower the risk of skin cancer. The latest study shows that topical application of caffeine may help to further filter out the harmful UVB rays that are associated with skin cancer.

New Study on the Role of Vitamin D in Colon Cancer

Professor Hector Palmer and his co-researchers at the Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology in Barcelona, Spain, announced this morning the reason vitamin D may be an effective treatment early in the course of colon cancer, yet have little effect later as the cancer becomes more widely spread.

The effect of vitamin D on estrogen levels in women

I have written before that vitamin D increases testosterone levels in men. It is not a minor effect. Now, a group in Canada, led by Dr. Julia Knight at Mount Sinai Hospital, discovered that administration of 24,000 IU/week for four weeks was associated with lower estrogen levels and progesterone levels. Per 4 ng/ml increase in vitamin D, progesterone levels decreased by 10% and estrogen decreased by 3%. Unlike men, the study was confounded by what estrous cycle phase the women were in.

Medical Ghostwriting is a Fraud on the Court

Current examples of ghost writing by the drug industry planted into the medical literature include drugs such as:

1) Vioxx (rofecoxib) a heavily promoted anti-inflammatory NSAID drug, later found to cause heart attacks.

2) Prempro (combined estrogen/progestin), a synthetic hormone combination drug heavily promoted for years as hormone replacement for women. This was found to cause cancer and heart disease in the WHI (Women’s Health Initiative Study).

3) Paxil (paroxetine), an SSRI antidepressant found to be no better than placebo for most patients in treatment for depression, and also found to cause suicidal impulses.

Moderate Drinking May Protect Against Alzheimer’s and Cognitive Impairment, Study Suggests

Moderate social drinking may significantly reduce the risk of dementia and cognitive impairment, suggests an analysis of 143 studies by Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine researchers.

Majority of Pharmaceutical Ads Do Not Adhere to FDA Guidelines, New Study Finds

A study led by Mount Sinai School of Medicine researchers of 192 pharmaceutical advertisements in biomedical journals found that only 18 percent were compliant with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines, and over half failed to quantify serious risks including death. The study, is published online August 18 in the journal Public Library of Science (PLoS) One.

Fish Oil’s Impact On Cognition and Brain Structure Identified in New Study

Researchers at Rhode Island Hospital’s Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders Center have found positive associations between fish oil supplements and cognitive functioning as well as differences in brain structure between users and non-users of fish oil supplements. The findings suggest possible benefits of fish oil supplements on brain health and aging.

Fifteen Minutes of Moderate Daily Exercise Lengthens Life, Taiwanese Study Finds

Taiwanese who exercise for 15 minutes a day, or 92 minutes per week, extended their expected lifespan by three years compared to people who are inactive, according to a study published in The Lancet.

In Job Market, Social Contacts Help Men, Not Women

When it comes to finding a job, who you know is as important as what you know. Work experience generally helps people foster the kinds of personal contacts that can lead someone to new career opportunities, but a study from North Carolina State University shows that this is really only true for men. The study finds that work experience doesn’t improve women’s chances of finding a job through social contacts.

The Case for Resveratrol – Why do Americans prefer drugs over dietary supplements?

Most senior Americans grew up in an era when so-called miracle drugs like penicillin and statin cholesterol-lowering drugs were considered the envy of those had no access to these medicines in foreign lands. So the average senior American takes pride in American medicine and consumes five daily prescription medicines that are often fraught with side effects, and takes these pills without hesitation because their doctor prescribed them and their health plan largely paid for them. Free e-book:

Sten Cell Newsletter

Do you have Type I Diabetes? You will find this issue of the newsletter helpful.

Natural Alzheimer’s-Fighting Compound Created Inexpensively in Lab

Scientists at Yale University have developed the first practical method to create a compound called huperzine A in the lab. The compound, which occurs naturally in a species of moss found in China, is an enzyme inhibitor that has been used to treat Alzheimer’s disease in China since the late 1990s and is sold in the U.S. as a dietary supplement to help maintain memory. Scientists believe it could also potentially combat the effects of chemical warfare agents.

No Bones About It: Eating Dried Plums Helps Prevent Fractures and Osteoporosis, Study Suggests

When it comes to improving bone health in postmenopausal women — and people of all ages, actually — a Florida State University researcher has found a simple, proactive solution to help prevent fractures and osteoporosis: eating dried plums.

New Model Predicts Environmental Effect of Pharmaceutical Products

Most synthetic chemical products used in consumer goods end up unchanged in the environment. Given the risks this could pose for the environment and human health, researchers from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) have developed a new tool to effectively predict what will happen to current and future pharmaceutical products.

Young Brains Lack the Wisdom of Their Elders, Clinical Study Shows

The brains of older people are not slower but rather wiser than young brains, which allows older adults to achieve an equivalent level of performance, according research undertaken at the University Geriatrics Institute of Montreal by Dr. Oury Monchi and Dr. Ruben Martins of the University of Montreal.

Making Mistakes While Learning Has Memory Benefits for Older Brains

Canadian researchers have found the first evidence that older brains get more benefit than younger brains from learning information the hard way — via trial-and-error learning.

Exercise Can Substitute Effectively as Second ‘Medication’ for People With Depression, Study Suggests

Exercise can be as effective as a second medication for as many as half of depressed patients whose condition have not been cured by a single antidepressant medication.

A Lifetime of Physical Activity Yields Measurable Benefits as We Age

The benefits of physical activity accumulate across a lifetime, according to a new study published in the October issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Researchers in England and Australia examined the associations of leisure time physical activity across adulthood with physical performance and strength in midlife in a group of British men and women followed since birth in March 1946.

Coriander Oil Could Tackle Food Poisoning and Drug-Resistant Infections

Coriander oil has been shown to be toxic to a broad range of harmful bacteria. Its use in foods and in clinical agents could prevent food-borne illnesses and even treat antibiotic-resistant infections, according to the authors of a study published in the Journal of Medical Microbiology.

Inactivity Linked to Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes

Seventy-nine million American adults have prediabetes and will likely develop diabetes later in life, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As the number of people diagnosed with diabetes continues to grow, researchers are focusing on discovering why the prevalence of the disease is increasing. John Thyfault, an assistant professor in MU’s departments of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology and Internal Medicine, has found that ceasing regular physical activity impairs glycemic control (control of blood sugar levels), suggesting that inactivity may play a key role in the development of type 2 diabetes.

Stem Cell Study Offers Hope for Parkinson’s Patients

Scientists have for the first time generated stem cells from one of the most rapidly progressing forms of Parkinson’s disease.

Happiness Can Deter Crime, a New Study Finds

Happy adolescents report less involvement in crime and drug use than other youth, a new UC Davis study finds.

Males Believe Discussing Problems Is a Waste of Time, Study Shows

A new University of Missouri study finds that boys feel that discussing problems is a waste of time.

Taxpayer Film Subsidies Promote Youth Smoking, Researchers Find

State governments, including California as well as others in Canada and the United Kingdom, pour hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars into major motion pictures that depict smoking — leading to thousands of new teen smokers every year, a University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) researcher has found.

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