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Workplace cafeteria study finds no evidence that physical activity calorie-equivalent labeling changes food purchasing

An experiment carried out across ten workplace cafeterias found no significant change in the overall number of calories purchased when food and drink labels showed the amount of physical activity required to burn off their calories. 

More than three in five UK adults are overweight or obese, increasing their risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cancer. A major factor that contributes to this is excess energy intake – in other words, eating too many calories. Measures that can help reduce energy intake could help tackle the obesity problem.

In the UK, adults eat as many as a third of their meals out of home, including in workplace cafeterias, and these meals are often much higher in calories than meals eaten at home. Since April 2022 calorie labeling is now required on food and drink served out of the home in businesses employing 250 or more people. While many people welcome this information, evidence for its effectiveness in reducing calories purchased or consumed is limited in quantity and quality. For example, two previous studies conducted by the authors in nine worksite cafeterias found no evidence for  an effect of simple calorie labeling (kcal) on calories purchased. 

Another option is to show the amount of exercise required to burn off these calories – so-called PACE (physical activity calorie-equivalent) labels – for example, a 1014kcal ‘large battered haddock’ portion would take upwards of five hours walking (278 minutes) to burn off. A recent systematic review – a type of study that brings together existing evidence – concluded that PACE labels may reduce energy selected from menus and decrease the energy consumed when compared with simple calorie labels or no labels, but only one of the 15 studies reviewed was in a ‘real world’ setting.

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Skin cancer may predict future cancers – MNT

As I wrote last week in My unpleasant health news , I very likely have some form of lung cancer. I am currently waiting to hear from the hospital to schedule my biopsy to get further information on my condition. As I am a committed non-smoker, you can imagine my surprise at this news. On further reflection, however, I have had skin cancer three times (see the Page on which I discussed that here.)

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Skin cancer is by far the most common cancer; there are a number of types, the most common being basal cell carcinoma. There are millions of diagnoses each year in the United States.

Our skin is regularly bombarded by ultra violet light, which damages DNA and can eventually lead to cancer.

In our cells, there is a range of proteins whose job it is to repair this type of damage.

Catching skin cancer at an early stage is important and, compared with other cancers, relatively easy.

Many internal cancers, however, do not produce particularly obvious symptoms until they are at an advanced stage. Because of this, finding ways to predict who might be most at risk is vital.

According to a new study — which now appears in the journal JCI Insight — basal cell carcinoma may help doctors predict who has an increased risk of developing other types of cancer.

Skin cancer as a predictor

Researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine in California recently investigated how the number of basal cell carcinoma occurrences might impact an individual’s future cancer risk.

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Increasing addiction and intensity of e-cigarette use by US adolescents – Study

I am opposed to smoking – period. However, I understand that there are some people under the impression that smoking e-cigarettes is safer than tobacco cigarettes.

The recently released 2022 National Youth Tobacco Survey data show that 2.55 million adolescents use e-cigarettes and 27.6% of adolescents use e-cigarettes daily.

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A new analysis published in JAMA Network Open by investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in collaboration with a retired UCSF professor reveals ongoing and worsening adolescent e-cigarette addiction in the United States.

In the analysis of data from the annual National Youth Tobacco Survey, a nationally-representative survey of middle and high school students in grades 6–12, researchers found that e-cigarette prevalence among youth peaked in 2019 then declined, but e-cigarette initiation age dropped between 2014 and 2021,and intensity of use and addiction increased after the introduction of protonated nicotine products.

Protonated nicotine is created by adding acid to the e-cigarette liquid, which makes the nicotine easier to inhale. Since Juul pioneered protonated nicotine, it has been widely adopted by other e-cigarette companies.

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Public confusion revealed about risks of tanning and sunburns – AAD


Early November seems an unlikely time to learn about tanning and sunburn risks, but why wait till you are out there in the heat and be totally uninformed? As a three-time skin cancer survivor, I know there is a lot of misunderstanding and outright ignorance about sun exposure risks. As my dermatologist told me, “There is no such thing as a healthy tan.”

A recent American Academy of Dermatology survey of more than 1,000 U.S. adults revealed a significant increase in both tanning and number of sunburns in 2021 compared to 2020. Since tanning and sunburns can increase the risk of skin cancer and premature skin aging, the AAD is encouraging the public to practice safe sun so they don’t get burned by the sun’s harmful rays. It’s never too early to emphasize the importance of sun protection as many people will be spending more time outdoors enjoying summer activities.

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According to the survey, 63% of respondents reported getting a tan in 2021, a 9-percentage point increase from 54% in 2020, and 33% reported getting sunburned in 2021, an 8-percentage point increase from 25% in 2020.

The survey also found that many still believe several tanning myths, which if followed, can cause significant skin damage. Of the survey respondents, 45% believe one or more of these tanning myths:

  • 22% believe a base tan will prevent sunburns.
  • 20% believe tanning is safe as long as you do not burn.
  • 18% believe a base tan decreases the risk of skin cancer.
  • 13% believe tanning is healthy.

In addition, 53% of the survey respondents believe people with tanned skin look healthier.

“A tan is your body’s response to injury,” said board-certified dermatologist Elizabeth Bahar Houshmand, MD, FAAD, based in Dallas. “When you tan, you are intentionally putting your health at risk. If you want to look tan, consider using a self-tanning product, but continue to use sunscreen with it.”

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Brain Benefits of Exercise

I think of this as a variation on one-picture-is-worth-1000 words.

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My unpleasant health news …

I recently got some very unpleasant news about my personal health.

I suffer from a ‘post nasal drip,’ have all my life. It means that I have mucous dripping from behind my nose down my throat. As a result, I have to spit a lot, have a tender, raw throat because it has to keep contracting and I think I have a bit of a smoker’s deeper voice because of it even though I don’t smoke.

A week or two ago, I noticed that occasionally, when I spat, there was blood in it. This was sporadic, not every time or even every day, So, I thought ‘no big deal.’ However, when it continued over more than a week, I consulted my physician. She said she needed to look at me.

I went in last week and after an examination, she could not find anything wrong. Before I left, however, she said she wanted me to get a chest X Ray because I am 82 years old. I went the next day. On the following day, I was in Costco shopping when my phone rang. It was my doctor calling to tell me that the X Ray showed a mass on my left lung. She said the next step would be to get a CT Scan for more information and then a biopsy.

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Frivolous Friday …

Now that the election is past perhaps we can lighten up a bit …

Tony

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Two Alzheimer’s drugs tested head-to-head in first-ever virtual clinical trial

An estimated 6.2 million Americans ages 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s disease. The national Alzheimer’s Association predicts that number to grow to 13.8 million by 2060, barring the development of medical breakthroughs that would prevent, slow or cure the debilitating disease.

Scientists may be one step closer to such a breakthrough thanks to a first-of-its-kind computer model that successfully simulated a clinical trial evaluating the efficacy of multiple treatments for Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

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“We’re calling this a virtual clinical trial, because we used real, de-identified patient data to simulate health outcomes,” said Wenrui Hao, associate professor of mathematics at Penn State, who is lead author and principal investigator on the study published in the September issue of the journal PLoS Computational Biology. “What we found aligns almost exactly with findings in prior clinical trials, but because we were using a virtual simulation, we had the added benefit of directly comparing the efficacy of different drugs over longer trial periods.”

Using clinical and biomarker data, the researchers built a computational causal model to run virtual trials on the FDA-approved treatment aducanumab, as well as another promising therapy under evaluation, donanemab. The two drugs are some of the first treatments designed to work directly on what may cause the disease, instead of just treating the symptoms.

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Moderate to heavy drinking in young adults, linked to higher risk of stroke

Risk increases with more years of drinking.

People in their 20s and 30s who drink moderate to heavy amounts of alcohol may be more likely to have a stroke as young adults than people who drink low amounts or no alcohol, according to a study published in the November 2, 2022, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. The risk of stroke increased the more years people reported moderate or heavy drinking.

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“The rate of stroke among young adults has been increasing over the last few decades, and stroke in young adults causes death and serious disability,” said study author Eue-Keun Choi, MD, PhD, of Seoul National University in the Republic of Korea. “If we could prevent stroke in young adults by reducing alcohol consumption, that could potentially have a substantial impact on the health of individuals and the overall burden of stroke on society.”

The study looked at records from a Korean national health database for people in their 20s and 30s who had four annual health exams. They were asked about alcohol consumption each year. They were followed for an average of six years.

They were asked the number of days per week they drank alcohol and the number of standard drinks per time. People who drank 105 grams or more per week were considered moderate or heavy drinkers. This is equal to 15 ounces per day, or slightly more than one drink per day. A standard drink in the United States contains about 14 grams of alcohol, which is equivalent to 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of liquor.

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Reduced-nicotine cigarettes result in less smoking in anxious, depressed smokers

For the record, I am against smoking. You are better off not doing it. However, it appears that if you must, you can do it with less onerous results.

Lowering the amount of nicotine in cigarettes to non-addictive levels may reduce smoking without worsening mental health in smokers with mood or anxiety disorders, according to Penn State College of Medicine and Harvard Medical School researchers. They said reducing nicotine content in cigarettes could also lessen addiction, lower exposure to toxicants and increase a smoker’s chances of quitting.

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Tobacco remains the leading preventable cause of premature death and disease in the United States. Recent proposals by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the New Zealand government seek to limit the amount of nicotine in cigarettes to minimally addictive levels. Prior research indicates that reducing nicotine content could help smokers quit, but there is little evidence to demonstrate if these policies could adversely affect smokers with current or prior affective disorders like depression and anxiety disorders — which affect an estimated 38% of U.S. cigarette smokers.

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The different types of dementia – NIH

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November 5, 2022 · 11:04 pm

Daylight Saving Time “fall back” doesn’t equal sleep gain – Harvard

Health Secrets of a SuperAger

Don’t forget to set your clock back tonight before you go to sleep.

Daylight Saving Time officially ends at 2:00 am this Sunday. In theory, “falling back” means an extra hour of sleep this weekend.

Winston Churchill once described Daylight Saving Time like this: “An extra yawn one morning in the springtime, an extra snooze one night in the autumn… We borrow an hour one night in April; we pay it back with golden interest five months later.”

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That’s an overly optimistic view. In reality, many people don’t, or can’t, take advantage of this weekend’s extra hour of sleep. And the resulting shift in the body’s daily sleep-wake cycle can disrupt sleep for several days, according to Anthony Komaroff,M.D., Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter.

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Dieters may overestimate healthiness of their eating habits – Study

In a small study, most adults seeking to lose weight overestimated the healthiness of their diet, according to preliminary research to be presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2022. The meeting, held in person in Chicago and virtually, Nov. 5-7, 2022, is a premier global exchange of the latest scientific advancements, research and evidence-based clinical practice updates in cardiovascular science.

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“We found that while people generally know that fruits and vegetables are healthy, there may be a disconnect between what researchers and health care professionals consider to be a healthy and balanced diet compared to what the public thinks is a healthy and balanced diet,” said study author Jessica Cheng, Ph.D., a postdoctoral research fellow in epidemiology at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and in general internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, both in Boston. This research was conducted while Dr. Cheng was a predoctoral fellow/Ph.D. candidate in the department of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health.

Nearly half of adults in the U.S. try to lose weight each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with a majority attempting to eat more fruits, vegetables and salads. Healthy eating is essential for heart and general health, and longevity. Dietary guidance from the American Heart Association issued in 2021 advises adults to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables; opt for whole grains rather than refined grains; choose healthy protein sources; substitute nonfat and low-fat dairy products for full-fat versions; choose lean cuts of meat (for those who eat meat); use liquid plant oils instead of tropical oils and animal fats; choose minimally processed over ultra-processed foods; minimize foods and beverages with added sugar; choose foods with little or no added salt; and limit or avoid alcohol.

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Frivolous Friday …

For some reason I found a lot of word ones this week. I hope you don’t mind that little extra mental exertion visualizing ….

Tony

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Periodic “activity snacks” may help maintain muscle mass

Interrupting prolonged sitting with periodic “activity snacks” may help maintain muscle mass and quality, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Toronto.

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Daniel Moore, an associate professor of muscle physiology at the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Eduction (KPE) who led the study, found that short bouts of activity, such as two minutes of walking or body weight sit-to-stand squats, allow the body to use more amino acids from meals to build muscle proteins.

The research was recently published in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

“We know that prolonged sedentary periods impair the body’s ability to filter sugar from the blood following a meal,” says Moore, who heads the Iovate/Muscletech Metabolism & Sports Science Lab at KPE.

“However, breaking up this sedentary period with brief bouts of activity such as two minutes of moderate intensity walking or rising and lowering 15 times from a chair (i.e. body weight squats), can improve the way our body clears sugar from our meals.”

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Vitamin D deficiency linked to premature death

New research gives strong evidence that vitamin D deficiency is associated with premature death, prompting calls for people to follow healthy vitamin D level guidelines.

It’s the vitamin that we get from the sun, yet despite its ample availability, one in three Australian adults still suffer from mild, moderate or severe vitamin D deficiency.

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Now, new research from the University of South Australia gives strong evidence that vitamin D deficiency is associated with premature death, prompting calls for people to follow healthy vitamin D level guidelines.

Published in Annals of Internal Medicine, the study found that the more severe the vitamin D deficiency, the greater the risk of mortality.

Vitamin D is an important nutrient that helps maintain good health and keep our bones and muscles strong and healthy.

First author and UniSA PhD candidate, Josh Sutherland, says while vitamin D has been connected with mortality, it has been challenging to establish causal effects.

“While severe vitamin D deficiency is rarer in Australia than elsewhere in the world, it can still affect those who have health vulnerabilities, the elderly, and those who do not acquire enough vitamin D from healthy sun exposure and dietary sources,” Sutherland says.

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