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Ban on flavored vaping may have led teens to cigarettes – Study

When San Francisco voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure banning the sale of flavored tobacco products in 2018, public health advocates celebrated. After all, tobacco use poses a significant threat to public health and health equity, and flavors are particularly attractive to youth.

But according to a new study from the Yale School of Public Health (YSPH), that law may have had the opposite effect. Analyses found that, after the ban’s implementation, high school students’ odds of smoking conventional cigarettes doubled in San Francisco’s school district relative to trends in districts without the ban, even when adjusting for individual demographics and other tobacco policies.

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The study, published in JAMA Pediatrics on May 24, is believed to be the first to assess how complete flavor bans affect youth smoking habits.

“These findings suggest a need for caution,” said Abigail Friedman, the study’s author and an assistant professor of health policy at YSPH. “While neither smoking cigarettes nor vaping nicotine are safe per se, the bulk of current evidence indicates substantially greater harms from smoking, which is responsible for nearly one in five adult deaths annually. Even if it is well-intentioned, a law that increases youth smoking could pose a threat to public health.”

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Concussion with Loss of Consciousness May Be Linked to Life with Some Disability

People who have had a concussion where they lost consciousness may be more likely to have some disability or limitations later in life—such as difficulty walking or limitations in the amount or type of work they can do—than people who have never had a concussion, according to a study published in the May 26, 2021, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“About 16% of all adults have experienced a concussion with loss of consciousness, and our study found that nearly half of those people are living with disability,” said study author Andrea L.C. Schneider, MD, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. “This substantial burden of disability suggests that research into how to better care for and improve the functioning of people with concussions over the long term should be a priority for both public health and for planning for individuals.”

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The study involved 7,390 people with an average age of 58. People were asked if they had ever had a concussion with loss of consciousness. They were also asked questions about their ability to do daily activities such as eating and dressing, preparing meals and doing household chores, walking up steps and carrying heavy objects. Their grip strength was also tested to check for any disability in their arms. Disability was defined as having “some difficulty” or greater difficulty in an area.

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Celebrate Memorial Day

On this Memorial Day, let’s remember that we live in the land of the free because of the brave …

Art by Frank Brunner

Tony

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‘Rejuvenating’ the Alzheimer’s brain

Alzheimer’s disease is the main cause of dementia and current therapeutic strategies cannot prevent, slow down or cure the pathology. The disease is characterized by memory loss, caused by the degeneration and death of neuronal cells in several regions of the brain, including the hippocampus, which is where memories are initially formed. Researchers from the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience (NIN) have identified a small molecule that can be used to rejuvenate the brain and counteract the memory loss.

New cells in old brains

The presence of adult-born cells in the hippocampus of old people was recently demonstrated in scientific studies. It suggests that, generally speaking, the so-called process of adult neurogenesis is sustained throughout adulthood. Adult neurogenesis is linked to several aspects of cognition and memory in both animal models and humans, and it was reported to sharply decrease in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers also found that higher levels of adult neurogenesis in these patients seem to correlate with better cognitive performance before death. “This could suggest that the adult-born neurons in our brain may contribute to a sort of cognitive reserve that could later on provide higher resilience to memory loss”, says Evgenia Salta, group leader at the NIN. Therefore, researchers from the NIN investigated if giving a boost to adult neurogenesis could help prevent or improve dementia in Alzheimer’s disease.

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Weekend Funnies …

Here we are heading into the last weekend of May. Can you feel the vise grip of the pandemic easing? Even here in Chicago the mask mandate has fallen. Have a great weekend! Things are looking up!


Tony

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Study shows how to boost muscle regeneration and rebuild tissue

One of the many effects of aging is loss of muscle mass, which contributes to disability in older people. To counter this loss, scientists at the Salk Institute are studying ways to accelerate the regeneration of muscle tissue, using a combination of molecular compounds that are commonly used in stem-cell research.

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In a study published on May 25, 2021, in Nature Communications, the investigators showed that using these compounds increased the regeneration of muscle cells in mice by activating the precursors of muscle cells, called myogenic progenitors. Although more work is needed before this approach can be applied in humans, the research provides insight into the underlying mechanisms related to muscle regeneration and growth and could one day help athletes as well as aging adults regenerate tissue more effectively.

“Loss of these progenitors has been connected to age-related muscle degeneration,” says Salk Professor Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, the paper’s senior author. “Our study uncovers specific factors that are able to accelerate muscle regeneration, as well as revealing the mechanism by which this occurred.”

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Adolescent obesity linked to increased risk of stroke as an adult – AHA Study

Higher body mass index (BMI) — an indicator of obesity — in late adolescence is associated with a significantly higher risk of first ischemic stroke in men and women under age 50, regardless of whether they had Type 2 diabetes, a new study finds. Even BMIs in the high-normal range are associated with increased stroke risk in both men and women, according to new research published today in Stroke, a journal of the American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association.

While rates of adolescent obesity and stroke among adults under the age of 50 years continue to rise around the world, the precise link between the two conditions is still not fully understood.

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“Adults who survive stroke earlier in life face poor functional outcomes, which can lead to unemployment, depression and anxiety,” said study co-author Gilad Twig, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., an associate professor in the Medical Corps of the Israel Defense Forces and the department of military medicine, Faculty of Medicine of The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel. “The direct and indirect costs attributed to stroke prevention and care are high and expected to keep increasing since the rate of stroke continues to rise.”

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Stair climbing offers significant cardiovascular and muscular benefits for heart patients

I started writing about stair climbing several years ago when my home town of Chicago suffered an unusually bitter winter. At the time I focused on the weight-bearing aspect of the exercise as well as the cardiovascular benefits. If you are interested, you can check out the beginning of a multi-part series of posts starting with: Five Reasons Stair-climbing is good for you – Part One.

A team of researchers who studied heart patients found that stair-climbing routines, whether vigorous or moderate, provide significant cardiovascular and muscular benefits.

A team of McMaster University researchers who studied heart patients found that stair-climbing routines, whether vigorous or moderate, provide significant cardiovascular and muscular benefits.

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Eating more fruit and vegetables linked to less stress – study

Eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables is associated with less stress, according to new research from Edith Cowan University (ECU).

The study examined the link between fruit and vegetable intake and stress levels of more than 8,600 Australians aged between 25 and 91 participating in the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle (AusDiab) Study from Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute.

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The findings revealed people who ate at least 470 grams of fruit and vegetables daily had 10 per cent lower stress levels than those who consumed less than 230 grams. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends eating at least 400 grams of fruit and vegetables per day.

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Is it normal aging or early signs of dementia?

Because I have people onboth sides of my family who have suffered from Alzheimer’s or dementia, I know I am particularly sensitive to my cognitive state. But, I think that is typical of everyone over 50 years old.

Misplacing keys. Forgetting names. Struggling to find the right word. Walking into a room and forgetting why.

Are these early signs of dementia? Or normal signs of aging?

It all depends on the circumstances, health experts say. To distinguish between changes associated with typical aging and concerning signs of cognitive loss requires a deeper look.

“Instead of thinking about things in terms of what is a sign of dementia, I would ask, ‘What is the situation in which those signs appear?'” said Dr. Jeffrey Keller, founder and director of the Institute for Dementia Research and Prevention in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “It’s how the brain functions in response to a challenge that demonstrates early changes that can lead to dementia.”

In other words, a person experiencing normal aging may experience some memory lapses, he said. But more important than whether they’ve misplaced their keys is whether they’re able to retrace their steps to find them. Or whether they can retain information long enough to carry out a multi-part task, such as filling out medical or tax forms, even if interrupted while doing so.

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Feeling younger buffers older adults from stress, protects against health decline

People who feel younger have a greater sense of well-being, better cognitive functioning, less inflammation, lower risk of hospitalization and even live longer than their older-feeling peers. A study published by the American Psychological Association suggests one potential reason for the link between subjective age and health: Feeling younger could help buffer middle-aged and older adults against the damaging effects of stress.

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In the study, published in Psychology and Aging, researchers from the German Centre of Gerontology analyzed three years of data from 5,039 participants in the German Ageing Survey, a longitudinal survey of residents of Germany age 40 and older. The survey included questions about the amount of perceived stress in peoples’ lives and their functional health – how much they were limited in daily activities such as walking, dressing and bathing. Participants also indicated their subjective age by answering the question, “How old do you feel?”

The researchers found, on average, participants who reported more stress in their lives experienced a steeper decline in functional health over three years, and that link between stress and functional health decline was stronger for chronologically older participants.

However, subjective age seemed to provide a protective buffer. Among people who felt younger than their chronological age, the link between stress and declines in functional health was weaker. That protective effect was strongest among the oldest participants.

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Weekend Funnies …

Tony

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Alcohol in moderation may help the heart by calming stress signals in the brain – Study

Moderate alcohol intake — defined as no more than one alcoholic drink for women and two for men per day — has been associated with a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease when compared with individuals who abstain from drinking or partake in excessive drinking, according to a new study being presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 70th Annual Scientific Session. It’s also the first study to show that drinking moderate amounts of alcohol may be heart protective, in part, by reducing stress-related brain signals based on a subset of patients who underwent brain imaging.

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“We found that stress-related activity in the brain was higher in non-drinkers when compared with people who drank moderately, while people who drank excessively (more than 14 drinks per week) had the highest level of stress-related brain activity,” said Kenechukwu Mezue, MD, a fellow in nuclear cardiology at Massachusetts General Hospital and the study’s lead author. “The thought is that moderate amounts of alcohol may have effects on the brain that can help you relax, reduce stress levels and, perhaps through these mechanisms, lower the incidence of cardiovascular disease.”

While Mezue was quick to caution that these findings should not encourage alcohol use, he said they could open doors to new therapeutics or prescribing stress-relieving activities like exercise or yoga to help minimize stress signals in the brain.

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Strengthening interpersonal relationships helps medical patients live longer – Study

Support interventions such as group meetings and family sessions that promoted healthy behaviors resulted in a 29% increased probability of survival over time

New research from BYU published in PLOS Medicine found that providing medical patients with social support leads to an increased chance of survival and elongation of life. Such findings come at a critical time as doctors and healthcare professionals seek new ways to improve care and decrease mortality.

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“The premise of the research is that everyone is strongly influenced by their social context,” said BYU counseling psychology professor Timothy B. Smith, lead author of the study. “Relationships influence our behavior and our physical health. We now know that it is possible to prolong life by fostering coping and reducing distress.”

Julianne Holt-Lunstad, BYU psychology professor and co-author of the study, said the findings support other research published by the National Academy of Science and that there is now ample evidence that social needs should be addressed within medical settings.

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The Dairy Food Group – Tufts

There are few foods for which dietary recommendations and popular ideology are as far apart as they are for dairy. The internet is full of warnings on the dangers of any and all dairy consumption, but (low-fat) dairy products are key components of research-supported healthy dietary patterns. Emerging research suggests a more nuanced approach to the dairy food group may be necessary.

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Beyond Saturated Fat: Dairy products are rich sources of beneficial dietary calcium and added vitamin D, but dairy—except fat-free and low-fat (1%)—is also a top contributor of saturated fat in the U.S. diet, and higher amounts of saturated fat relative to mono- and polyunsaturated fats is associated with increased risk for heart disease and stroke. But looking at saturated fat content alone may not tell the whole story of dairy and health. “Dairy contains a complex mix of different fatty acids, plus vitamins and other constituents,” says Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH, dean of the Friedman School and editor-in-chief of Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter. “It can also be fermented (like cheese) or have live probiotics (like yogurt). Each of these factors can create varying biological effects.”

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Sugary drinks linked to colorectal cancer increased risk in women under 50 – Study

Colorectal cancer diagnoses have increased among people under age 50 in recent years and researchers are seeking reasons why. A new study has found a link between drinking sugar-sweetened beverages and an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer in women under age 50. The findings suggest that heavy consumption of sugary drinks during adolescence (ages 13 to 18) and adulthood can increase the disease risk.

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Colorectal cancer diagnoses have increased among people under age 50 in recent years and researchers are seeking reasons why. A new study led by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has found a link between drinking sugar-sweetened beverages and an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer in women under age 50. The findings suggest that heavy consumption of sugary drinks during adolescence (ages 13 to 18) and adulthood can increase the disease risk.

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