Tag Archives: cancer

Lack of exercise damages us – WHO Report

Eat less; move more; live longer. The World Health Organization agrees. Following are the potential results of inadequate exercise for all age groups, according to the WHO.

– Insufficient physical activity is one of the leading risk factors for death worldwide.
– Insufficient physical activity is a key risk factor for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes.
– Physical activity has significant health benefits and contributes to prevent NCDs.
– Globally, 1 in 4 adults is not active enough.
– More than 80% of the world’s adolescent population is insufficiently physically active.
– Policies to address insufficient physical activity are operational in 56% of WHO Member States.

WHO Member States have agreed to reduce insufficient physical activity by 10% by 2025.

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What is physical activity?

WHO defines physical activity as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure – including activities undertaken while working, playing, carrying out household chores, travelling, and engaging in recreational pursuits.

The term “physical activity” should not be confused with “exercise”, which is a subcategory of physical activity that is planned, structured, repetitive, and aims to improve or maintain one or more components of physical fitness. Beyond exercise, any other physical activity that is done during leisure time, for transport to get to and from places, or as part of a person’s work, has a health benefit. Further, both moderate- and vigorous-intensity physical activity improve health.

How much of physical activity is recommended? Continue reading

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Filed under cancer, diabetes, Exercise, exercise and brain health, exercise benefits, longevity

‘Safest level of drinking is none’ – study

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.

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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

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Mediterranean diet could reduce osteoporosis – Study

Eating a Mediterranean-type diet could reduce bone loss in people with osteoporosis – according to new research from the University of East Anglia.

New findings show that sticking to a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, nuts, unrefined cereals, olive oil, and fish can reduce hip bone loss within just 12 months.

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The study is the first long-term, pan-European clinical trial looking at the impact of a Mediterranean diet on bone health in older adults.

More than 1,000 people aged between 65 and 79 took part in the trial, and volunteers were randomized into two groups – one which followed a Mediterranean diet and a control group which did not.

Bone density was measured at the start and after 12 months. The diet had no discernible impact on participants with normal bone density, but it did have an effect on those with osteoporosis.

People in the control group continued to see the usual age-related decrease in bone density, but those following the diet saw an equivalent increase in bone density in one part of the body – the femoral neck. This is the area which connects the shaft of the thigh bone to its rounded head, which fits in the hip joint.

UK study lead Prof Susan Fairweather-Tait, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “This is a particularly sensitive area for osteoporosis as loss of bone in the femoral neck is often the cause of hip fracture, which is common in elderly people with osteoporosis.

“Bone takes a long time to form, so the 12-month trial, although one of the longest to date, was still a relatively short time frame to show an impact. So the fact we were able to see a marked difference between the groups even in just this one area is significant.”

The EU-funded trial, led by the University of Bologna, was completed by 1142 participants recruited across five centers in Italy, the UK, the Netherlands, Poland and France. Those following the Mediterranean diet increased their intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts, unrefined cereals, olive oil, and fish, consumed small quantities of dairy products and meat and had a moderate alcohol intake.

People in the intervention group were provided with foods such as olive oil and wholemeal pasta, to encourage them to stick to the diet, and were also given a small vitamin D supplement, to even out the effects of different levels of sunlight on vitamin D status between the participating countries.

At the start and end of the trial, blood samples were taken to check for circulating biomarkers. Bone density was measured in over 600 participants across both groups at the lumbar spine and femoral neck. Of these participants, just under 10% were found to have osteoporosis at the start of the study.

Co-researcher from UEA, Dr Amy Jennings said: “Although this is a small number it is sufficient for the changes in femoral neck bone density between the two groups to be statistically significant.

“Those with osteoporosis are losing bone at a much faster rate than others, so you are more likely to pick up changes in these volunteers than those losing bone more slowly, as everyone does with age.

“With a longer trial, it’s possible we could have picked up changes in the volunteers with normal bone density. However, we already found it quite challenging to encourage our volunteers to change their diet for a year, and a longer trial would have made recruitment more difficult and resulted in a higher drop-out.”

The researchers would now like to see a similar, or ideally longer, trial in patients with osteoporosis, to confirm the findings across a larger group and see if the impact can be seen in other areas of the body. If the condition could be mitigated through diet, this would be a welcome addition to current drug treatments for osteoporosis, which can have severe side effects.

But in the meantime, say the researchers, there is no reason for those concerned about the condition not to consider adapting their diet.

“A Mediterranean diet is already proven to have other health benefits, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and cancer,” said Prof Fairweather-Tait. “So there’s no downside to adopting such a diet, whether you have osteoporosis or not.”

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Filed under Alzheimer's disease, cancer, healthy bones, Mediterranean Diet, osteoporosis, Parkinson's disease

How Shift Work Disrupts Metabolism

This time it’s personal. A hundred years ago, it seems (actually it was 1977), I worked for Reuters News Service. I had the good fortune, I thought, of being sent to London to experience the international news desk. That turned out to be a wonderful educational as well as professional experience. However, part of my deal was that since I was the Yank who was only there for a year, they used me to fill every staffing vacancy that came up. As a result I often worked two or three different shifts in a week. I have to tell you that I have never felt so discombobulated in my life. I would wake up and not know if it was morning or night. All my body rhythms got fried. So, I really related to the following study.

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Researchers report metabolic disruptions often seen in shift workers are not influenced by the brain’s circadian rhythm, but by peripheral oscillators in the liver, gut and pancreas. Source: Washington State University.

Working night shifts or other nonstandard work schedules increases your risk of becoming obese and developing diabetes and other metabolic disorders, which ultimately also raises your risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer.

Exactly why this happens has been unclear, but a new study conducted at Washington State University (WSU) has brought scientists closer to finding the answer. Continue reading

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Filed under brain, brain function, brain health, cancer, prostate cancer, shift work

ALS: Most physically active have 26 percent higher risk’

I must confess that when I read this conclusion, I almost lost my lunch. But, there is a bright side … at least not so dark … to the story. Read on …

A new study reveals evidence of a link between physical activity and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which supports the idea that a history of vigorous exercise may raise the risk of developing the rare neurological disorder.

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The research, conducted by members of a large European project that is studying amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), studied subjects in Ireland, Italy, and the Netherlands.

The findings are reported in a paper that is now published in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.

It is important to note that nowhere in the paper do the authors suggest that the study makes a case for reducing physical activity, or vigorous exercise in particular.

Instead, they note that physical activity has been shown to protect against health problems that are much more common than ALS, including diabetes, several cancers, and cardiovascular disease.

“Decreasing the risk of these common conditions,” the authors propose, “may be a trade-off with increasing the risk of a relatively rare disease such as ALS.” Continue reading

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Filed under ALS, cardio exercise, Exercise, exercise benefits, Lou Gehrig's Disease, Type 2 diabetes

Current trends point to more than half of U.S. children suffering from obesity as adults – Harvard

If current trends in child obesity continue, more than 57 percent of today’s children in the U.S. will have obesity at age 35, according to a new study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The study also found that excess weight in childhood is predictive of adult obesity, even among young children, and that only children currently at a healthy weight have less than a 50 percent chance of having obesity as adults. The findings were based on a rigorous simulation model that provides the most accurate predictions to date of obesity prevalence at various ages.

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The study was published in the November 30, 2017 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

“Adult obesity is linked with increased risk of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer,” said Zachary Ward, programmer/analyst at Harvard Chan School’s Center for Health Decision Science and lead author of the study. “Our findings highlight the importance of prevention efforts for all children as they grow up, and of providing early interventions for children with obesity to minimize their risk of serious illness in the future.” (my emphasis) Continue reading

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Filed under cancer, childhood obesity, diabetes, heart disease, ideal weight, obesity, Weight, weight control

Long term aspirin use sharply reduces incidence of digestive cancers – Study

Personally, I try to take as few drugs as possible and as small a dosage that I can. My action is rational in that I don’t like to introduce foreign substances into my system. Additionally, I also feel uncomfortable about foreign substances in my system. So, I take a minimum of drugs, especially considering the fact that I will be 78 years old at the end of January. One of the few exception is aspirin. I take one regular aspirin (326 mg) every morning to help reduce the pain from arthritis in both of my hands. So, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that there are further benefits to aspirin.
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The long-term use of aspirin has been shown to significantly reduce the incidence of digestive cancers, new research presented at the 25th UEG (United European Gastroenterology) Week has found.

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The dark side of blue light – Harvard

Elsewhere in the blog I have written repeatedly about the how valuable it is to get a good night’s sleep. For a full rundown, please check out my Page – How important is a good night’s sleep?

In the meantime, here is an excellent study from Harvard Medical School on our vulnerability to our evening illumination.

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Exposure to blue light at night, emitted by electronics and energy-efficient lightbulbs, harmful to your health.

Until the advent of artificial lighting, the sun was the major source of lighting, and people spent their evenings in (relative) darkness. Now, in much of the world, evenings are illuminated, and we take our easy access to all those lumens pretty much for granted.

But we may be paying a price for basking in all that light. At night, light throws the body’s biological clock—the circadian rhythm—out of whack. Sleep suffers. Worse, research shows that it may contribute to the causation of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Continue reading

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Do You Contribute To Discovering The CURE For Breast Cancer?

While a little off the beaten path, this post has some useful information on donating to fight breast cancer.

Tony

All About Healthy Choices

Passionately Pink JPGcropped400The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation (later known as Susan G. Komen for the Cure) has become the largest and most well known breast cancer organization in the United States: It was started by Susan G Komen’s sister (Nancy Goodman Brinker) in 1982.

We want to believe that tragedies like Susan’s story of breast cancer develop into massive organizations (ex.Susan G. Komen for the Cure) based on honest altruistic intentions to offer real hope to OTHERS suffering from this dreaded disease.

What do the facts reveal about Nancy Brinker’s financial gains as Founder and CEO and the success her organization has achieved winning the “war” against beast cancer?

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“In early 2012, the Komen organization announced it was pulling its grants for breast-cancer screenings from Planned Parenthood, drawing an immediate backlash from Komen supporters and abortion rights advocates. Within days, Nancy Brinker, the group’s founder and CEO, reversed…

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40% Of Cancers Diagnosed In U.S. Related To Obesity, CDC Says

As if we needed another reason to pay attention to our weight as well as what (and how much) we eat. Here is the CDC with some hard facts.

Tony

Our Better Health

Add cancer to the many good reasons to strive for a healthy weight

The rates of 12 obesity-related  cancers rose by 7 per cent from 2005 to 2014, an increase that is threatening to reverse progress in reducing the rate of cancer in the United States, U.S. health officials say.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 630,000 people in the United States were diagnosed with a cancer linked with being overweight or obese in 2014.

Obesity-related cancers accounted for about 40 per cent of all cancers diagnosed in the United States in 2014. Although the overall rate of new cancer diagnoses has fallen since the 1990s,  rates of obesity-related cancers have been rising.

“Today’s report shows in some cancers we’re going in the wrong direction,” Dr. Anne Schuchat of the CDC said on a conference call with reporters.

According to the International Agency for…

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Dairy – Good or Bad? – MNT

I started drinking soymilk some years ago after reading some scare stories about cow milk consumption. I don’t even remember the reasons now, but I do look forward to my quarts of soymilk that I buy from Costco. Since starting I can’t put my finger on any negative health effects.

This extensive Medical News Today rundown by Hannah Nichols gives a lot of useful detail on the subject.

What do government health guidelines say? According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) food MyPlate guidelines, to get all the nutrients you need from your diet, healthy food and beverage choices should be made from all five food groups, including fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy.

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The dairy food group consists of all fluid milk products and many foods that are made from milk. The USDA recommend that food choices from the dairy group should retain their calcium content and be low-fat or fat-free. Fat in milk, yogurt, and cheese that is not low-fat or fat-free will count toward your limit of calories from saturated fats.

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More bad news about extra belly fat – Study

Scientists have found that carrying fat around your middle could be as good an indicator of cancer risk as body mass index (BMI), according to research (link is external)* published in the British Journal of Cancer today (Wednesday).

“However you measure it being overweight or obese can increase the risk of developing certain cancers.”Dr Julie Sharp, Cancer Research UK It shows that adding about 4.3 inches to the waistline increased the risk of obesity related cancers by 13 per cent.
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For bowel cancer, adding around 3.15 inches to the hips is linked to an increased risk of 15 per cent.

Carrying excess body fat can change the levels of sex hormones, such as oestrogen and testosterone, can cause levels of insulin to rise, and lead to inflammation, all of which are factors that have been associated with increased cancer risk. Continue reading

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Beware of blue light at night – Harvard

Sleep, like walking, is one of the critical elements of good health very commonly not appreciated by the man on the street. I have a Page – How important is a good night’s sleep with a ton of information on it.

Here is some valuable info from the Harvard Health Letter on getting a good night’s sleep.

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Until the advent of artificial lighting, the sun was the major source of lighting, and people spent their evenings in (relative) darkness. Now, in much of the world, evenings are illuminated, and we take our easy access to all those lumens pretty much for granted.

But we may be paying a price for basking in all that light. At night, light throws the body’s biological clock—the circadian rhythm—out of whack. Sleep suffers. Worse, research shows that it may contribute to the causation of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. (My emphasis)

But not all colors of light have the same effect. Blue wavelengths—which are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times, and mood—seem to be the most disruptive at night. And the proliferation of electronics with screens, as well as energy-efficient lighting, is increasing our exposure to blue wavelengths, especially after sundown.

Daily rhythms influenced by light

Everyone has slightly different circadian rhythms, but the average length is 24 and one-quarter hours. The circadian rhythm of people who stay up late is slightly longer, while the rhythms of earlier birds fall short of 24 hours. Dr. Charles Czeisler of Harvard Medical School showed, in 1981, that daylight keeps a person’s internal clock aligned with the environment.

The health risks of nighttime light

Study after study has linked working the night shift and exposure to light at night to several types of cancer (breast, prostate), diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. It’s not exactly clear why nighttime light exposure seems to be so bad for us. But we do know that exposure to light suppresses the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that influences circadian rhythms, and there’s some experimental evidence (it’s very preliminary) that lower melatonin levels might explain the association with cancer.

A Harvard study shed a little bit of light on the possible connection to diabetes and possibly obesity. The researchers put 10 people on a schedule that gradually shifted the timing of their circadian rhythms. Their blood sugar levels increased, throwing them into a prediabetic state, and levels of leptin, a hormone that leaves people feeling full after a meal, went down.

Even dim light can interfere with a person’s circadian rhythm and melatonin secretion. A mere eight lux—a level of brightness exceeded by most table lamps and about twice that of a night light—has an effect, notes Stephen Lockley, a Harvard sleep researcher. Light at night is part of the reason so many people don’t get enough sleep, says Lockley, and researchers have linked short sleep to increased risk for depression, as well as diabetes and cardiovascular problems.

The power of the blues

While light of any kind can suppress the secretion of melatonin, blue light at night does so more powerfully. Harvard researchers and their colleagues conducted an experiment comparing the effects of 6.5 hours of exposure to blue light to exposure to green light of comparable brightness. The blue light suppressed melatonin for about twice as long as the green light and shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much (3 hours vs. 1.5 hours).

In another study of blue light, researchers at the University of Toronto compared the melatonin levels of people exposed to bright indoor light who were wearing blue-light–blocking goggles to people exposed to regular dim light without wearing goggles. The fact that the levels of the hormone were about the same in the two groups strengthens the hypothesis that blue light is a potent suppressor of melatonin. It also suggests that shift workers and night owls could perhaps protect themselves if they wore eyewear that blocks blue light. Inexpensive sunglasses with orange-tinted lenses block blue light, but they also block other colors, so they’re not suitable for use indoors at night. Glasses that block out only blue light can cost up to $80.

Less-blue light

If blue light does have adverse health effects, then environmental concerns, and the quest for energy-efficient lighting, could be at odds with personal health. Those curlicue compact fluorescent lightbulbs and LED lights are much more energy-efficient than the old-fashioned incandescent lightbulbs we grew up with. But they also tend to produce more blue light.

The physics of fluorescent lights can’t be changed, but coatings inside the bulbs can be so they produce a warmer, less blue light. LED lights are more efficient than fluorescent lights, but they also produce a fair amount of light in the blue spectrum. Richard Hansler, a light researcher at John Carroll University in Cleveland, notes that ordinary incandescent lights also produce some blue light, although less than most fluorescent lightbulbs.

What you can do

  • Use dim red lights for night lights. Red light has the least power to shift circadian rhythm and suppress melatonin.
  • Avoid looking at bright screens beginning two to three hours before bed.
  • If you work a night shift or use a lot of electronic devices at night, consider wearing blue-blocking glasses or installing an app that filters the blue/green wavelength at night.
  • Expose yourself to lots of bright light during the day, which will boost your ability to sleep at night, as well as your mood and alertness during daylight.When I work on my computer late at night, I always wear a pair of blue blocker sunglasses. You can buy them on Amazon for under $20. I have no problems getting to sleep.

    Tony

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Filed under good night's sleep, harvard health letter, Harvard Medical School, sleep, sleep deprivation

When screening for disease, risk is as important to consider as benefits – study

Physicians and patients like to believe that early detection of cancer extends life, and quality of life. If a cancer is present, you want to know early, right? Maybe not.

An analysis of cancer screenings by a University of Virginia statistician and a researcher at the National Cancer Institute indicates that early diagnosis of a cancer does not necessarily result in a longer life than without an early diagnosis. And screenings – such as mammograms for breast cancer and prostate-specific antigen tests for prostate cancer – come with built-in risks, such as results mistakenly indicating the presence of cancer (false positives), as well as missed diagnoses (false negatives). Patients may undergo harsh treatments that diminish quality of life while not necessarily extending it.

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Yet the benefits of early diagnosis through screening often are touted over the risks.

“It is difficult to estimate the effect of over-diagnosis, but the risk of over-diagnosis is a factor that should be considered,” said Karen Kafadar, a UVA statistics professor and co-author of a study being presented Sunday at a session of the 2017 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. “How many diagnosed cases would never have materialized in a person’s lifetime, and gone successfully untreated? Treatments sometimes can cause harm, and can shorten life or reduce quality of life.”

Kafadar is not advocating against screening, but her findings show that frequent screening comes with its own risks. As a metric for evaluation, reduction in mortality is considered the standard. So if a disease results in 10 deaths per 100,000 people in a year, and screening reduces the deaths to six per 100,000 people, then there seems to be an impressive 40 percent reduction in mortality.

However, a more meaningful metric, Kafadar said, may be: “How much longer can a person whose case was screen-detected be expected to live, versus a case that was diagnosed only after clinical symptoms appeared?” This issue becomes harder to discern – how long a patient survives after a diagnosis versus how long the patient might have lived anyway. Some cancer cases might never become apparent during a person’s lifetime without screening, but with screening might be treated unnecessarily, such as for a possibly non-aggressive cancer. And some aggressive forms of disease may shorten life even when caught early through screening.

Kafadar and her collaborator, National Cancer Institute statistician Philip Prorok, gathered long-term data from several study sources, including health insurance plans and the National Cancer Institute’s recently completed long-term randomized control trial on prostate, lung, colorectal and ovarian cancer, to consider several factors affecting the value of screening – over-diagnosis, lead time on a diagnosis and other statistical distortions – to look at not just how many people die, but also life extension.

“People die anyway of various causes,” Kafadar said, “but most individuals likely are more interested in, ‘How much longer will I live?’ Unfortunately, screening tests are not always accurate, but we like to believe they are.”

Because the paper considers together the factors that affect statistical understanding of the effectiveness of screening, rather than looking at each of these factors in isolation as previous studies have done, it offers a new statistical methodology for teasing out the relative effects of cancer screening’s benefits and risks.

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Gluten-free diet may increase risk of arsenic, mercury exposure

I’m sure you have encountered friends and acquaintances who are going ‘gluten-free.’ I have observed, I don’t think imagined, a certain smugness about the announcement. Like they have elevated themselves above the masses. Well, It turns out maybe not.

People who eat a gluten-free diet may be at risk for increased exposure to arsenic and mercury – toxic metals that can lead to cardiovascular disease, cancer and neurological effects, according to a report in the journal Epidemiology.

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Gluten-free diets have become popular in the U.S., although less than 1 percent of Americans have been diagnosed with celiac disease – an out-of-control immune response to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley.

A gluten-free diet is recommended for people with celiac disease, but others often say they prefer eating gluten-free because it reduces inflammation – a claim that has not been scientifically proven. In 2015, one-quarter of Americans reported eating gluten-free, a 67 percent increase from 2013.

Gluten-free products often contain rice flour as a substitute for wheat. Rice is known to bioaccumulate certain toxic metals, including arsenic and mercury from fertilizers, soil, or water, but little is known about the health effects of diets high in rice content. (my emphasis)

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Guys – Get that check up

I started writing this blog for guys nearly seven years ago. The idea was that women did a great job of keeping track of their health; men, not so much. Over the course of writing it, I have found that more than half of my readers are women who are paying attention to their  health, so the focus shifted from guys to simply good health and living past 100. But, according to this little infographic, guys still don’t do a very good job. With 34% of men over age 20 overweight or obese, guys need to wake up.

I hope this little Men’s Health 101 from Texas A&M University Health Science Center gives you a wake up call.

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Tony

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