A team of National Institutes of Health-funded researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina has found that deactivating a stress-signaling system in a brain area known for motivation and emotion-related behaviors decreases binge drinking. The study, which was published online in February and is to appear in the May issue of Neuropharmacology, pinpoints a particular system in a specific brain region that can be manipulated to reduce harmful binge drinking.
The MUSC team was led by Howard C. Becker, Ph.D., director of the Charleston Alcohol Research Center and professor in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences.
“Binge drinking is one of the most common patterns in which alcohol is consumed,” explained Becker. “It’s a risky behavior, and one consequence of repeated binge drinking is increasing risk for developing an alcohol use disorder.”
Further, according to Becker, those who consistently binge drink, particularly during adolescent and college years, have almost 10 times the risk of developing an alcohol use disorder.
But how much alcohol must be consumed to qualify a drinking session as a binge?
Your Body Mass Index (BMI) can be useful in widely spread studies, but you need to be careful about relying too much on it personally. I posted on it previously and you can read Don’t get hung up on your BMI – Body Mass Index for more info.
Young Arnold Schwarzenegger as Conan the Barbarian. Six foot two inches tall, 257 pounds, BMI 33. Not what most of us would call obese.
The following is from the Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter:
Having obesity increases risk for cardiovascular disease and other metabolic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, but a normal BMI also does not guarantee good heart health. Here are tips based on what we know to date about metabolic health and weight: Continue reading
At the risk of being called cannabis-crazy, I thought this item on possible negative effects of marijuana to be worthwhile.
Summary: Prenatal exposure to THC makes dopamine neurons hyperactive and increases the sensitivity to the behavioral effects of the compound during pre-adolescence. This may increase the risk of developing schizophrenia later in life. However, treatment with pregnenolone, a drug under clinical trials for ASD, cannabis use disorder, and schizophrenia, appears to correct the brain abnormalities and behavioral problems associated with prenatal cannabis exposure. Source: University of Maryland School of Medicine
The researchers were able to correct these behavioral problems and brain abnormalities by treating experimental animals with pregnenolone, an FDA-approved drug currently under investigation in clinical trials for cannabis use disorder, schizophrenia, autism, and bipolar disorder. The image is in the public domain.
As a growing number of U.S. states legalize the medicinal and recreational use of marijuana, an increasing number of American women are using cannabis before becoming pregnant and during early pregnancy often to treat morning sickness, anxiety, and lower back pain. Although emerging evidence indicates that this may have long-term consequences for their babies’ brain development, how this occurs remains unclear. Continue reading
I have written about the brain benefits of exercise time and again. Here, is some further info on benefits for the brain and heart.
The debate whether moderate drinking is good, bad, or has no effect on health has been ongoing for years. Now, a new study suggests that people — especially women — who give up alcohol can experience better mental health and reach levels of well-being almost on a par with those of lifelong abstainers, according to a report in Medical News Today.
Many people drink socially at, for instance, work functions or family events. Some of us may also relish having a glass of wine or beer with our dinner at the end of a long and tiring day.
Numerous people fall into the categories of “light” or “moderate” drinkers. But is this habit harmless, or would all of us be better off abstaining from alcohol?
Even among researchers, opinions tend to vary greatly whether drinking any amount of alcohol is safe or healthful.
For instance, earlier this year, a study published in The Lancet argued that moderate drinking can increase a person’s risk of cardiovascular events.
Meanwhile, research featured this month in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research suggests that older adults who occasionally drink may live longer than nondrinkers. Continue reading
Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushed against the the wall of the arteries …
Over 500 new gene regions that influence people’s blood pressure have been discovered in the largest global genetic study of blood pressure to date, led by Queen Mary University of London and Imperial College London.
Involving more than one million participants, the results more than triple the number of blood pressure gene regions to over 1,000 and means that almost a third of the estimated heritability for blood pressure is now explained.
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for stroke and heart disease and was responsible for an estimated 7.8 million deaths worldwide in 2015. While lifestyle risk factors are relatively well-known and include obesity, smoking, alcohol and high salt-intake, high blood pressure is also highly heritable through genetics. Prior to this study however, the genetic architecture of blood pressure had not been well understood. Continue reading
A comprehensive worldwide study of alcohol use and its impact on health concludes that the safest level of consumption is zero. The Global Burden of Disease Study 2016 has calculated levels of alcohol use and its effects on health during 1990–2016 in 195 countries.
The research, which now features in the journal The Lancet, notes that in 2016, alcohol use was responsible for almost 3 million deaths globally.
Alcohol use was the main cause of death for people aged 15–49 that year, accounting for 12 percent of deaths in men of that age.
“Our findings,” says senior study author Dr. Emmanuela Gakidou, who currently works at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington in Seattle, “are consistent with other recent research, which found clear and convincing correlations between drinking and premature death, cancer, and cardiovascular problems.” Continue reading
What we put into our system counts a lot toward our daily health and ultimate longevity. So, I thought this study on increasing seniors drinking was relevant.
Most older Americans drink alcohol. Given that this segment of the population is projected to almost double by 2050, reaching 112 million, in the future, there will likely be many more older drinkers in the United States than currently. Importantly, older individuals are more sensitive to alcohol’s effects than their younger counterparts, and are also more likely to take prescription medications that can interact negatively with alcohol, potentially leading to falls and other injuries. This study examined trends in drinking status among U.S. adults 60 years of age and older.
Researchers analyzed data from the 1997-2014 National Health Interview Surveys: 65,303 respondents 60 years of age and older (31,803 men, 33,500 women) were current drinkers; 6,570 men and 1,737 women were binge drinkers. Analysis of respondents by sex, age group, and birth cohort showed differing trends over time. Continue reading
There is a ton of good information in this. Read it and reap!
I have posted previously on:
How important is a good night’s sleep?
Super tools for handling stress
Our Better Health
Anxiety seems to be a near-universal condition. In the United States alone, approximately 40 million adults – or 18 percent of the population – suffer from an anxiety disorder.
And these numbers represent only the diagnosed (i.e. reported). The actual number is likely to be significantly higher.
The truth is that society is somewhat to blame (not to negate our own sense of responsibility.) We’ve managed to build a 24/7 “constantly connected” infrastructure that has permeated into schools, businesses and elsewhere. Many people are under constant pressure to succeed; most ironically by leveraging this very infrastructure. This only exacerbates the problem.
“Prevention is the best cure” is a universal axiom within the medical community, including within the mental health sphere. Understanding what “triggers” certain symptoms or condition can – in some instances – drastically reduce the likelihood of a symptom or episode.
Here, we focus on ten established “triggers” that…
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Regular readers know that I am a senior citizen; will be 77 in January. So, I have a lot of senior friends. We have all experienced ‘senior moments’ when we find our memory becoming slightly elusive. Because my family has had Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia I am particularly sensitive to any brain stuff. So I was impressed with the suggestions that Harvard brought forward regarding enhancing our memory.
The way you live, what you eat and drink, and how you treat your body can affect your memory just as much as your physical health and well-being. Here are five things you can do every day to keep both your mind and body sharp.
1. Manage your stress. The constant drumbeat of daily stresses such as deadline pressures or petty arguments can certainly distract you and affect your ability to focus and recall. But the bigger problem is an ongoing sense of anxiety — that can lead to memory impairment. If you don’t have a strategy in place for managing your stress, protecting your memory is one reason to get one. Deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and a “mindful” approach to living can all help.
I have posted a number of times on stress. You can find them by searching s t r e s s in the box at the right. If you want one excellent example check out: Super tools for handling stress.
I thought it only fair to send this as my previous post mentioned alcohol (in small amounts) as a treat.
Our Better Health
Alcohol researcher Jennie Connor says the link is a causal one and that no alcohol is considered safe and risk does go up as you drink.
Alcohol is a direct cause of seven forms of cancer. Tough words to swallow, but those are the conclusions of researchers from New Zealand, who say they found that no matter how much you drink, alcohol will increase your risk of cancer.
“There is strong evidence that alcohol causes cancer at seven sites in the body and probably others,” the authors write in the latest issue of the journal Addiction.
Those seven cancer sites are:
- female breast
- larynx, (the throat organ commonly called the voice box)
- orolarynx (the middle part of the pharynx) behind the mouth
- esophagus (commonly the “food pipe”)
The researchers from the University of Otago reviewed previous studies and meta-analyses, analyzing all the major studies done over the…
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I ran across this infographic in my meanderings and thought it had a lot of interesting if depressing information, like the increase in diabetes in the last few decades. On the positive side, “Many chronic diseases have a root in lifestyle decisions, from obesity to smoking. And, many of these conditions can be treated or even prevented by changing behavior.”
Regardless of your age or family history, a stroke doesn’t have to be inevitable. Here are some ways to protect yourself starting today, Harvard Health Publications said.
But , what is a stroke?
A stroke is a “brain attack.” It can happen to anyone at any time. It occurs when blood flow to an area of brain is cut off. When this happens, brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die. When brain cells die during a stroke, abilities controlled by that area of the brain such as memory and muscle control are lost, according to the National Stroke Association.
Stroke by the Numbers
• Each year nearly 800,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke.
• A stroke happens every 40 seconds.
• Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S.
• Every 4 minutes someone dies from stroke.
• Up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented.
• Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability in the U.S.
Age makes us more susceptible to having a stroke, as does having a mother, father, or other close relative who has had a stroke.
You can’t reverse the years or change your family history, but there are many other stroke risk factors that you can control—provided that you’re aware of them. “Knowledge is power,” says Dr. Natalia Rost, associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and associate director of the Acute Stroke Service at Massachusetts General Hospital. “If you know that a particular risk factor is sabotaging your health and predisposing you to a higher risk of stroke, you can take steps to alleviate the effects of that risk.”
Here are seven ways to start reining in your risks today, before a stroke has the chance to strike. Continue reading
You can have high blood pressure, or hypertension, and still feel just fine, according to the National Institute on Aging (NIA). That’s because high blood pressure often does not cause signs of illness that you can see or feel. But, high blood pressure, sometimes called “the silent killer,” is very common in older people and a major health problem. If high blood pressure isn’t controlled with lifestyle changes and medicine, it can lead to stroke, heart disease, eye problems, kidney failure, and other health problems. High blood pressure can also cause shortness of breath during light physical activity or exercise. My emphasis
What Is Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of arteries. When the doctor measures your blood pressure, the results are given in two numbers. The first number, called systolic blood pressure, is the pressure caused by your heart pushing out blood. The second number, called diastolic blood pressure, is the pressure when your heart fills with blood. The safest range, often called normal blood pressure, is a systolic blood pressure of less than 120 and a diastolic blood pressure of less than 80. This is stated as 120/80.
Do You Have High Blood Pressure?
One reason to have regular visits to the doctor is to have your blood pressure checked. The doctor will say your blood pressure is high when it measures 140/90 or higher at two or more checkups. He or she may ask you to check your blood pressure at home at different times of the day. If the pressure stays high, even when you are relaxed, the doctor may suggest exercise, changes in your diet, and medications.
The term “prehypertension” describes people whose blood pressure is slightly higher than normal—for example, the first number (systolic) is between 120 and 139, or the second number (diastolic) is between 80 and 89. Prehypertension can put you at risk for developing high blood pressure. Your doctor will probably want you to make changes in your day-to-day habits to try to lower your blood pressure.
What if Just the First Number Is High?
For older people, the first number (systolic) often is 140 or greater, but the second number (diastolic) is less than 90. This problem is called isolated systolic hypertension. It is the most common form of high blood pressure in older people and can lead to serious health problems. Isolated systolic hypertension is treated in the same way as regular high blood pressure but often requires more than one type of blood pressure medication. If your systolic pressure is 140 or higher, ask your doctor how you can lower it. Continue reading
I love infographics because they get so much information across in so little time. In this one eat less; move more; live longer is demonstrated time and again: Eat for energy, exercise, get enough sleep, get fresh air….
The only thing missing is Don’t smoke.
Here are a couple of links if you decide you would like to read more on this:
How important is a good night’s sleep?
Important facts about your brain (and exercise benefits)
Alcohol kills more teenagers than all other drugs combined. It is a factor in the three leading causes of death among 15- to 24-year-olds: accidents, homicides and suicides.
The Foundation for a Drug-Free World reports: Youth who drink are 7.5 times more likely to use other illegal drugs and fifty times more likely to use cocaine than young people who never drink. One survey found that 32% of the heavy drinkers over 12 were also illegal drug users.