Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Best Drink for Your Heart

If you want to be good to your heart and possibly live a lot longer, drink grape juice.

Reuters reports that research from the Universite Louis Pasteur de Strasbourg in France concludes that Concord grape juice has the same protective effect against heart disease as red wine. "Grape juice can have a similar effect (against heart disease) as red wine but without the alcohol. That is a very important message," said lead study author Dr. Valerie Schini-Kerth.

Certain types of grape juice and red wine are packed with high levels of polyphenols, which have been shown to block the production of a protein that is linked to cardiovascular disease, reports Reuters.

When endothelial cells--these are the cells that make up blood vessels--stop working as they should, heart and vascular problems develop. The French scientists discovered that the polyphenols in Concord grape juice activate the endothelial cells so they produce nitric oxide. That in turn helps protect the heart from cardiovascular disease and helps maintain healthy blood vessels and blood pressure.

Here's the catch: If you're going to drink grape juice for your heart, make sure it's Concord grape juice. Other types of grape juice, which don't have the same high levels of polyphenols and are processed differently, don't have the heart-healthy punch of Concord grape juice.

The study, which was partly funded by Welch Foods Inc., is reported in the journal Cardiovascular Research, 2007.

--From the Editors at Netscape

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

HOW Many of Us Will Get Fat?

Here is the sad, sorry truth: The vast majority of Americans will be fat someday, according to researchers at Boston University who are among the first ever to forecast the lifetime risk of becoming overweight or obese.

Fully 70 percent of American women and 90 percent of American men will eventually get fat. Think you're home free because you made it to middle age without tipping the scales too high? Think again. Half the men and women in this study who made it to middle age with a respectable body mass index number ultimately became overweight, while one-third gained so much they were obese. The ominous warning from study leader Ramachandran Vasan, "You cannot become complacent, because you are at risk of becoming overweight."

Vasan and his team arrived at this startling conclusion based on data from 4,000 white adults over a 30-year period. The participants, who were the children of those in the long-running and often cited Framingham Heart Study and ranged in age from 30 to 59 at the start of the research, were examined every four years. At the end of the 30-year period, one in seven women were overweight and one in nine men were too heavy. Of these, more than one-third had become obese with a body mass index of more than 30 and one in 10 were severely obese.

There is concern, too, that as shocking as these numbers are, they may be low. People today are heavier at a younger age than those who participated in the study. In addition, no minorities, who are at an increased risk of obesity, were included in the research population.

Why are so many of us gaining so much weight? We live in an environment in which it's hard not to become overweight or obese, unless we actively work against it, assert the study authors. People who are obese have a far greater risk of developing heart disease, some cancers, diabetes and arthritis, as well as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

The study findings were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Women Desire Men Who Have THIS

Click the image to see this amazing system!When it comes to choosing sexual partners, women overwhelmingly choose men who have muscles.

Reuters reports that young muscular men are likely to have more sex partners than their friends who are less well-chiseled, according to a new study from the University of California, Los Angeles. Why? Women are sexually attracted to them. Muscles in men are similar to elaborate tail feathers in peacocks: They both serve the purpose of attracting females who are seeking a virile mate.

"Women are predisposed to prefer muscularity in men," study author David Frederick of UCLA told Reuters reporter Julie Steenhuysen. "Most research is focused on what men find physically attractive in women and the career traits women find attractive in men. Much less research is devoted to what women find (physically) attractive."

While previous studies have shown that women are attracted by a man's earning potential and his personal commitment to the relationship, Frederick found that in actuality physical characteristics mattered more--for one type of sexual relationship. Specifically, women are more physically attracted to brawny men with big biceps for a fling or short affair, but use different qualities when choosing a man for a long-term romance or marriage. "On the one hand, it makes them more sexy to women. On the other hand, it makes women more suspicious about their romantic intentions," Frederick told Reuters.

When Frederick interviewed 99 male undergraduate students about their sexual histories, he and his team found that muscular men were twice as likely to have had more than three sex partners as those who weren't as buff. In addition, the researchers asked 141 college women to view six standardized silhouettes of men ranging from brawny to slender.

The women weren't fooled by that chiseled look. Most preferred a man who was toned but more likely to commit over a highly muscular man that they perceived as more volatile, aggressive and dominant.

The study findings were published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
--From the Editors at Netscape

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

These 2 Foods Boost Male Fertility

Men who want to improve their fertility should chow down on fruits and vegetables. That's the word from researchers at the University of Rochester in Rochester, N.Y., who determined that the more fresh produce a man eats, the less sluggish his sperm and the better able it is to fertilize an egg.

When it comes to improving sperm motility, the best fruits and veggies have bright colors, such as any vegetable with leafy greens, as well as tomatoes, peppers and oranges.

For this study, 48 infertile men and 10 fertile men who fathered children in the previous year answered questions about the food they typically ate. The results were amazingly clear-cut. Fully 83 percent of the infertile men ate very little fruits and vegetables, which is defined as fewer than five servings a day, compared with just 40 percent of the fertile men. And among all the men--both fertile and infertile--the men who had the lowest sperm motility also consumed the least amount of fruits and vegetables.

The magic ingredient is antioxidants, specifically glutathione and cryptoxanthin, which are found in abundance in brightly colored fruits and vegetables. "We think that sperm quality is affected by dietary antioxidant intake," lead study author Dr. Vivian Lewis, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology, told MSNBC's Jacqueline Stenson.

Stenson says that it appears these antioxidants protect sperm by preventing the kind of damage that makes them sluggish and unable to fertilize an egg.

The takeaway: Go for quality and quantity. Men who are hoping to be fathers should eat a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and a minimum of five servings a day. Hey, if nothing else, it will make you healthier.

The study findings were reported at a meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, 2006.
--From the Editors at Netscape

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Your Toenails Predict Heart Disease Risk

Cigarrest to Stop Smoking in 7 Days!Your toenails hold a secret to your health. Researchers from the University of California in San Diego have devised a test that helps gauge a woman's risk of heart disease by analyzing the nicotine content in her toenail clippings.

Reuters reports that the unusual test is useful for those at high risk for the potentially deadly illness, especially when smoking history is unavailable or subject to bias. Biomarkers of cigarette smoke are left in the urine and saliva, but these only reflect exposure from the past few days. Toenails, however, grow very slowly and retain a much longer history of nicotine. Specifically, the amount of cotinine, a nicotine breakdown product, is measured.

Using data from the massive Nurses' Health Study, the researchers correlated the nicotine content in toenail clippings that were collected in 1982 from 62,641 women with the risk of being diagnosed with heart disease between two and 16 years later. The result? The women in the top 20 percent for toenail nicotine content were thinner, less active, heavier drinkers and more likely to have high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes, as well as a family history of heart attack, compared to those with less nicotine in their toenails. In addition, the 905 women who were diagnosed with heart disease during the study follow-up period had twice as much nicotine in their toenails, on average, as similar women without heart disease, reports Reuters.

Even after adjusting for other risk factors, the women in the top fifth for toenail nicotine had nearly four times the risk of heart disease compared to those in the bottom fifth. The findings suggest that measuring nicotine levels in the toenails "may improve the assessment of exposure and therefore our understanding of tobacco-related illnesses," the researchers conclude. The study findings were published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Best Foods to Eat for Weight Loss

If you want to lose weight, exercise and eat protein.

A high-protein diet seems to enhance the benefits of exercise, helping you to lose fat without losing muscle, according to researchers from the University of Illinois. The best foods to eat for weight loss are meat, dairy products, eggs and nuts.

The study: In this four-month study, 48 obese female volunteers were divided into two groups. One group ate a protein-rich diet designed to contain specific levels of leucine, one of the essential amino acids. A second group consumed a diet based on the food guide pyramid, which contained higher amounts of carbohydrates. Both groups consumed the same number of calories, but the first group substituted high-quality protein foods, such as meats, dairy, eggs and nuts, for foods high in carbohydrates, such as breads, rice, cereal, pasta and potatoes. The study included two levels of exercise. One group walked two to three times a week, but less than 100 total minutes. The others participated in five 30-minute walking sessions each week, as well as two 30-minute weight lifting/stretching sessions.

The results: The obese women who exercised most days of the week and consumed a reduced-calorie diet of 1,700 calories that was high in protein, lost more fat and less muscle than the women who ate a diet high in carbohydrates. "Both diets work because, when you restrict calories, you lose weight. But the people on the higher-protein diet lost more weight," researcher Donald Layman, a professor of food science and human nutrition at the University of Illinois, said in a news release. They also lost more weight in the abdomen.

"There's an additive, interactive effect when a protein-rich diet is combined with exercise. The two work together to correct body composition; dieters lose more weight, and they lose fat, not muscle," says Layman. The higher-carbohydrate, lower-protein diet based on the USDA food guide pyramid actually reduced the effectiveness of exercise, Layman said.

While this protein-rich diet works for everyone, it seems to be even more effective for people who have high triglyceride levels and carry excess weight in their midsection--a combination of health problems known as Syndrome X. "The protein-rich diet dramatically lowered triglycerides and had a statistically significant effect on trunk fat, both risk factors associated with heart disease," Layman said. "Exercise helped dieters lose an even greater percentage of body fat from the abdominal area."

The study findings were published in the Journal of Nutrition.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

If You Do This, You May Not Get Diabetes

Free Glucose Meter DealsDon't drink fruit juice. Women who avoid juice and instead load up with green leafy vegetables and whole fruits have a better chance of never developing type 2 diabetes, according to a new study from the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans. Do note this: If you have many other risk factors for developing the potentially deadly disease, including being overweight, not drinking fruit juice won't prevent it. Lead study author Dr. Lydia A. Bazzano told Reuters Health, "It's a tool in the prevention strategy."

The study: The Tulane team analyzed data over an 18-year period among 71,346 women enrolled in the Nurses' Health Study to determine the rates of type 2 diabetes. Out of the entire group, 4,529 developed the disease during the follow-up period. They divided the women into five groups based on their fruit and vegetable intake; in addition, they were grouped based on fruit juice consumption.

The results: For each additional three services of whole fruit that women ate daily there was an 18 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes. Those who ate one more serving of spinach, kale or other leafy green vegetable enjoyed a 9 percent lower risk. But adding one more daily serving of fruit juice increased the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes by 18 percent.

How does fruit juice up the risk of type 2 diabetes? "It's a big sugar load, and it comes in a liquid form which is absorbed rapidly," Bazzano told Reuters. The study findings were published in the July 2008 edition of Diabetes Care.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Do This for 30 Minutes. You'll Be Smarter

Exercising for 30 minutes a day will not only strengthen your heart and muscles, but also strengthen your brain. Work up a sweat for just a half an hour and you will be able to learn faster, remember more, think more clearly and recover more quickly from brain injuries, such as a stroke.

How? reports that exercise creates stress for the body--only in this case, that's a good thing. When you break into a jog, this aerobic exercise burns calories quickly, which becomes a threat to your energy reserves. Your body is screaming, "Danger!" That means all resources go to the brain to protect it. The brain's neurons are quite vulnerable to disruptions in the energy supply. "If deprived of energy for more than one minute, the neuron dies," Fernando Gomez-Pinilla of UCLA told "All the physiology of the body is designed to protect the brain." So the mild stress of exercise actually stimulates protective benefits that allow the release of brain-building growth factors, according to Carl Cotman, director of the Institute for Brain Aging and Dementia at the University of California in Irvine.

Exercise also improves brain function and the ability to learn as it makes the neurons stronger and healthier. Not only are new neurons formed, but old ones grow and form better connections with one another. Blood vessels grow next to the neurons, giving glucose and other nutrients. As Cotman told, exercise "builds the pipes" for improved cognition.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Math Formula For Sexy Bodies

Hey, guys, you say you know a sexy and shapely body when you see one? Now that qualitative judgment can be narrowed down to a simple quantifiable mathematical formula.

According to researchers from Hong Kong Polytechnic University in Kowloon, the best way to judge a woman's attractiveness is to take her volume in cubic meters and divide it by the square of her height, reports Nature News Service. This math formula, the ratio of volume to height, is known as the volume-height index or VHI.

Call it an equation for attraction.

Led by Jintu Fan, the Hong Kong researchers arrived at the formula by showing more than 50 volunteers 3D movies of rotating female silhouettes in assorted shapes and sizes. (We know. You want to know how you can volunteer for a research project like this.) The viewers were asked to rate the attractiveness of each woman on a scale of 1 to 9. The body measurements that got the highest scores became the basis for the VHI formula.

We already use a similar, although easier to compute, formula to determine our body mass index. The BMI is a measurement of total body fat. It's calculated by multiplying your weight in pounds by 705 and then dividing by your height in inches twice. Or click here and let the calculator do it for you.

VHI is a modification of BMI, which researchers at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom already used as a way to determine women's attractiveness. That study, led by Piers Cornelissen, found that women with a BMI of 18 to 19 were considered the most lovely. That's very thin and barely in the "normal" BMI range of 18.5 to 24.9.

The researchers admit that most men don't need a mathematical formula to determine if a woman is attractive. Even Britain's Cornelissen told Nature News that people make an instinctive assessment of shape, but a "winning" VHI or BMI may be reflection of evolutionary preference for women who are healthy or fertile.

So what is the ideal VHI number? The Hong Kong researchers refuse to identify it. Which just goes to show that beauty may indeed be in the eye of the beholder.

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Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Four Stages of Gout

"When I have gout, I feel as if I am walking on my eyeballs"
-Sydney Smith

If gout is not treated properly it can become a crippling disease, damaging or destroying joints and resulting in constant pain along with frequent, intense and long-lasting acute attacks. Before we discuss how gout is treated, let's take a look at what causes the disease and how it progresses if untreated.

Gout is a form of arthritis, more formally known as acute gouty arthritis or crystal-related arthropathy. Unlike rheumatoid arthritis, which is caused by the immune system attacking the joint itself and eating away at it, gout is caused by uric acid crystals that form within the joints.

Why Do We Get Gout?

A long time ago - somewhere between when our ancestors were still swinging in trees and when they started to walk upright on land - something happened. Nearly every mammal on earth produces an enzyme called uricase. This enzyme's function is to degrade uric acid, the normal by-product of the metabolization of chemicals called purines.4,6 At some point, while early humans were taking their first tentative upright steps on land, a mutation occurred in their genes, and they stopped producing uricase.7

This lack of uricase didn't seem to cause too much of a problem for early man. Without any form of medicine and only limited intelligence, these early bipeds survived on a sparse diet and were lucky if they made it past the age of 40. However, as man evolved further, developing bigger brains, language, agriculture and civilizations, people began living longer and with more abundance.

As their diet grew richer,their hair grayer and their lives more sedentary, nature's omission of the uricase enzyme came back to haunt them. Initially this omission only affected the wealthy - those who could afford rich foods and wine. The consumption of these rich foods (which contain higher concentrations of purines) resulted in higher levels of uric acid in their blood. Alcohol and lack of exercise made things even worse. Gout became the disease of kings and noblemen.

Over time, as the global economy and wealth grew and complex systems for transporting food products were developed, even common people became able to live with the abundance of the kings of past. Gout could strike anyone, not just the rich. Thus, gout became more common, and the portion of the population suffering from this disease continues to grow today.

Gout occurs in four stages. Not all cases progress to the final stage, but if left unmanaged, many do.

The Four Stages of Gout:
1. Asymptomatic Hyperuricemia
2. Acute Attacks
3. Intercritical Periods
4. Advanced Gout

Asymptomatic Hyperuricemia

Having high levels of uric acid in your body without experiencing any symptoms is called asymptomatic hyperuricemia. Gout will only develop in people who have had asymptomatic hyperuricemia for years or even decades.8 Today, somewhere between 5% and 30% of people living in the developed world are hyperuricemic.6 However, having hyperuricemia does not guarantee that you will get gout; it only predisposes you to it. About 20% of people with this condition go on to develop gout.2,6,9

Hyperuricemia is sometimes caused by a genetic error in the body's metabolism that causes it to produce more uric acid than normal. Or, much more commonly, it can be caused when the kidneys have difficulty removing uric acid from the body. The kidneys are very good at filtering uric acid, but about 90% of it still gets reabsorbed back into the blood before leaving the kidneys.4 Often people can be both "over-producers" and "under-excretors" of uric acid, resulting in exceptionally high levels. This makes gout more frequent and painful, as well as more difficult to manage.

This chapter discusses the direct effects of untreated gout, but untreated hyperuricemia may pose many more health problems. There are a host of disorders associated with hyperuricemia that are much more dangerous than gout. Researchers are just starting to put the pieces of hyperuricemia and these other conditions together, and a frightening picture is developing. In Chapter Four we will discuss hyperuricemia, its causes and the diseases that scientists are now beginning to link with this condition.

Acute Attacks

Uric acid dissolves in blood serum (the liquid part of blood) and other body fluids. In people with hyperuricemia, uric acid concentrations rise to a level where it becomes a super-saturated solution,10 meaning that more uric acid is dissolved in the body than is normally possible.

An acute gout attack occurs when these body fluids can no longer sustain this super-saturation and begin to form urate crystals; like ice crystals that form in freezing water.* These crystals can form anywhere in the body, but in a gout attack they develop in one or more of the joints.11

The body's immune system quickly detects these newly appearing urate crystals and assumes they are disease or infection. In response, white blood cells are sent in to attack the invaders; but when they try to devour them, the large rigid crystals burst the cells, just like popping balloons. As the white blood cells die, they release proteins telling the immune system that the cell has lost its fight with the invader and reinforcements should be sent in.

The released proteins also cause an increase in the acidity of the fluid of the joint. This makes conditions more favorable for even more urate crystals to form. The immune system responds by sending in more white blood cells and by causing inflammation. More white blood cells are killed by the urate crystals, causing even more proteins to be released and more crystals to form. This process perpetuates itself, creating a runaway inflammatory response that directly causes the extreme pain of gout.

Most men are stricken with their first gout attack between the ages of 30-60, and most women are affected only after reaching menopause,2,14 with gout being 5 to 8 times more common in men than women.4 An acute gout attack typically starts with the rapid development of severe pain in the joint that reaches a peak in 6 to 12 hours. Tenderness, swelling and redness around the affected joint18 are also typical symptoms of an attack. In severe attacks, fever and chills may also be present.

A first attack of gout often occurs in the middle of the night and usually only strikes one joint. However, as the disease progresses, attacks involving multiple joints become more likely.8,15 Eventually the inflammation process of an attack will run its course and the pain subsides on its own after a few days, but severe attacks can last weeks. (...)

Excerpted from

Beating Gout: A Sufferer's Guide to Living Pain Free

by Victor Konshin
Buy this book online at Barnes & Noble

Friday, August 8, 2008

Scary News If You Like Sugar in Coffee

If you like your coffee or tea sweet and spend the day sipping soft drinks, all that sugar you're consuming gives you a far higher risk of developing cancer of the pancreas, one of the most deadly types of cancer, according to a large study from Sweden.

Reuters reports that between 1997 and 2005, researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm examined the diets of nearly 80,000 men and women, 131 of whom developed pancreatic cancer. They determined that the amount of sugar in the diet is related to the risk of getting this type of cancer.

Here are the specific risks:

  • Those who drink carbonated or syrup-based drinks twice a day or more have a 90 percent higher risk of developing cancer of the pancreas than those who never drink them.
  • People who add sugar to coffee, tea and other drinks about five times a day or more have a 70 percent higher risk.
  • Eating extra sugary, sweet desserts once a day ups the risk 50 percent. (In this study, the researchers focused on a single dessert called creamed fruit, a sugary, fruit-based dessert that is very popular in Sweden.)

"Despite the fact that the chances of developing pancreatic cancer are relatively small, it's important to learn more about the risk factors behind the disease," Susanna Larsson, one of the researchers involved in the study, said in the statement.

Pancreatic cancer is almost always fatal because it is typically diagnosed after the cancer has spread beyond the pancreas. "It is perhaps the most serious form of cancer, with very poor prognoses for its victims. Since it's difficult to treat and is often discovered too late, it's particularly important that we learn to prevent it," she added.

The study findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
--From the Editors at Netscape

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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Product of the day: Reflexology Slippers

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As you step into these slippers, massaging nodules provide acupressure stimulation on your feet, to promote and maintain good health. And the nodules are removable, so you can customize pressure points. Based on ancient Shaolin practices, and the Chinese model of acupuncture, the slippers may help to remove toxins from the body, enhance immunity, and improve health and well-being. The materials used today are antimicrobial, reducing the risk of foot odor and fungal infection. Sizes: S (fits men 6-8, women 5-7), M (fits men 8-10, women 7-9), L (fits men 10-12, women 9-11), XL (fits men 12-14, women 11-13).

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Do Diets Work? Surprising 1 Year Results

Do diets really work? Even when disciplined, dedicated people stick with a diet plan for a year or more, they are likely to only lose about 5 percent of their body weight--far less than most dieters anticipate losing. That means, someone who weighs 200 pounds at the start of a diet can realistically expect to lose 10 pounds in an entire year. But the good news is that losing that 10 pounds can do wonders for heart health.

The Washington Post and Reuters report that researchers from the Tufts-New England Medical Center conducted the first scientific trial that pitted four popular diet plans against each other to assess their individual effectiveness: Atkins, Dean Ornish, Weight Watchers, and The Zone. The study was federally funded.

The study: One hundred sixty overweight and obese men and women ages 22 to 72, who had all tried to lose weight previously and had at least one major risk factor for heart disease, were randomly assigned to follow one of the four diets for a full year. Their average body mass index (BMI) was 35. Anything higher than 29 is considered overweight.

The surprising results:
Although almost no carbohydrates are permitted, dieters can enjoy lots of high-fat foods, such as bacon and steak, on the Atkins diet. In this study, 52 percent of the dieters stuck with it for the full year, losing on average 4 percent of their body weight and decreasing their risk of heart disease by 12 percent. Even though the diet encourages consumption of high-fat foods, dieters' total cholesterol dropped by about 3 percent. The "bad" LDL cholesterol dropped 8 percent and the "good" HDL cholesterol rose 15 percent.

Dean Ornish: Half of the dieters stayed with this super-strict low-fat, vegetarian diet for the year and lost on average 6 percent of their body weight, the most of any plan. But their risk of heart disease decreased by only 7 percent, the least of any of the four plans.

Weight Watchers: Similar to the U.S. dietary guidelines, Weight Watchers emphasizes eating low-fat foods. Dieters attend group meetings for expert advice, weekly weigh-ins, and moral support. Fully 65 percent stayed with the diet for the entire year, losing on average 5 percent of their body weight and decreasing their risk of heart disease by 15 percent--the most of all the diet plans.

The Zone: Following The Zone diet requires that all food items be measured by their glycemic index, which is a calculation of how much they raise blood sugar levels. Small amounts of healthy fatty foods are allowed. Sixty-five percent of the dieters continued on the diet for the full year, losing on average 5 percent of their body weight and decreasing their risk of heart disease by 11 percent.

So which diet is best? "The results are modest. The study shows that no single approach has a monopoly on weight loss," Thomas Wadden, director of the Weight and Eating Disorders Program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, told The Washington Post.

The bottom line: The amount of weight you can lose on a diet is not impacted by whether you gorge on carbohydrates or virtually shun them. "Diets work if you use them. They all work probably by the same mechanism, which is that they get people to eat fewer calories," Gary Foster, clinical director of the Weight and Eating Disorders Program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, explained to The Post.

So it all comes down to this--even with the fanciest diet plans: Eat less. Lose weight.

The study findings were announced at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association.
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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

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Monday, August 4, 2008

This is scary! Hidden risk of iced tea

Huh? Iced tea is dangerous to drink? While tea is one of the healthiest drinks you can consume--it soothes stress, it helps prevent heart disease and stroke and even helps preserve memory--for some people it can raise the risk of debilitating kidney stones, according to Mark Mulac, a urologist with the Loyola University Health System in Maywood, Illinois. Mulac, 46, was once an avid lover of iced tea, downing up to six glasses a day of the popular summertime thirst-quencher. "I was a junkie on a bender. I had to have it every day," he said. "Iced tea was very refreshing, cheap to buy and easy to make." Unfortunately, Mulac was forced to go cold turkey. Iced tea helped to bring on an excruciating bout of kidney stones that led to surgery. "The pain was so bad that once it felt like I was delivering a child made out of razor blades," he said. "I really had no idea that iced tea could lead to that."

Why? Iced tea contains high concentrations of oxalate, one of the key chemicals that lead to the formation of kidney stones, a common disorder of the urinary tract that affects about 10 percent of the U.S. population. "For many people, iced tea is potentially one of the worst things they can drink," said Dr. John Milner, instructor, department of urology, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. "For people who have a tendency to form kidney stones, it's definitely one of the worst things you can drink." Kidney stones are crystals that form in the kidneys or ureters, the small tubes that drain the urine from the kidney to the bladder. Men are four times more likely to develop kidney stones than women, and their risk rises dramatically once they reach their 40s.

The most common cause of kidney stones is the failure to drink enough fluids. During the summer, people are generally more dehydrated due to sweating. The dehydration combined with increased iced tea consumption raises the risk of kidney stones, especially in people who are prone to develop them. "People are told that in the summertime they should drink more fluids," said Milner, who treated Mulac's kidney stones. "A lot of people choose to drink more iced tea, thinking it's a tastier alternative. However, in terms of kidney stones, they're getting it going and coming. They're actually doing themselves a disservice." The popularity of iced tea has grown dramatically with a whopping 1.91 billon gallons consumed a year in the U.S., according to the Tea Association of the U.S.A. Nearly 128 Americans drink the beverage daily. Much of iced tea's appeal is due to the belief that it is healthier than other beverages such as soda and beer.

So what should you drink? To quench thirst and to properly hydrate, there is no better alternative than water, Milner said. You might try flavoring it with lemon slices. Lemonade helps to ward off kidney stones. "Lemons are very high in citrates, which inhibit the growth of kidney stones," Milner said. "Lemonade, not the powdered variety that uses artificial flavoring, actually slows the development of kidney stones for those who are prone to the development of kidney stones." Milner said people concerned about developing kidney stones should cut back on eating foods that also contain high concentrations of oxalates such as spinach, chocolate, rhubarb and nuts. They should ease up on salt, eat meat sparingly, drink several glasses a water a day and don't avoid foods high in calcium, which reduces the amount of oxalate the body absorbs.
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Sunday, August 3, 2008

7 Things That Won't Give You Cancer

Smoking, drinking alcohol and exposure to sunlight are the leading risk factors for developing cancer, but drinking coffee, using mobile phones or having breast implants are three things that are highly unlikely to lead to cancer.

That's the reassuring word from a new study by an Australian cancer specialist, who has created a risk ranking system to debunk urban legends about what will and won't give you cancer. Reuters reports that the five-point scale, which was created by University of New South Wales professor Bernard Stewart, lists the risk of cancer from proven and likely, to inferred, unknown or unlikely.

7 things that won't give you cancer:
1. Drinking coffee
2. Talking on a mobile phone
3. Using deodorants
4. Having breast implants
5. Drinking water with added fluoride
6. Using artificial sweeteners
7. Having dental fillings

Stewart's research was published in the journal Mutation Research Reviews.

Among the seven things that won't give you cancer mentioned above, number 1 is certainly a pleasure: drinking coffee.
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Saturday, August 2, 2008

Common Rx Drug May Prevent Alzheimer's

If you're taking prescription medicine to control your blood pressure, those little pills may be doing more than that. They may also prevent or slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease.

HealthDay News reports that a research team from the Boston University School of Medicine analyzed U.S. government data and concluded that people who take angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) for hypertension are 35 percent to 40 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia than people who don't take the drugs. In addition, those who have Alzheimer's disease or dementia and take ARBs are 45 percent less likely to develop delirium, to be admitted to nursing homes or to die.

"For those who already have dementia, use of ARBs might delay deterioration of brain function and help keep patients out of nursing homes," Dr. Benjamin Wolozin, a professor of pharmacology, said in a BU news release. "The study is particularly interesting, because we compared the effects of ARBs to other medications used for treating blood pressure or cardiovascular disease. This suggests that ARBs are more effective than other blood pressure and cardiovascular medications for preventing Alzheimer's disease or dementia."

It's not clear, but the Boston University team suspects ARBs help prevent nerve cell injury from blood vessel damage or help promote nerve recovery after blood vessel damage. Such damage is thought to reduce the brain's capacity and thus causes dementia. If blood vessel damage can be reduced, then it logically follows that the progression of dementia could be prevented or slowed. The study findings were presented on July 27 at the International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease in Chicago.


"It is as if I have lost myself," described a client of her state of being to the psychiatrist Alois Alzheimer 100 years ago. Today, as the number of old people is constantly growing, more and more people are affected by Alzheimer's disease.

This book is an artistic approach to the topic of Alzheimer's disease. Many of the images are portraits, a classical way to capture an individual's personality. The soft colors and square shapes of the photographs create a striking esthetic without denying that the people shown are continually losing their individuality. Texts and images are a plea to the individual and to society as a whole to get involved with people suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

Ribbat is visiting Professor of American Studies at the University of Bonn. Visiting Fulbright Scholar at the Cooper Union, New York (1997/98), visiting Scholar at the University of North Carolina (2000), Chapel Hill, Ansel Adams research scholar at the Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona. Teaching interests: American fiction, photography and visual culture, cultural history, urban studies and architecture.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Anti-Aging Superfood

Eat This. It's an Anti-Aging Superfood

Eat your blueberries! This delicious fruit is not only considered an anti-aging superfood, but also helps prevent colon cancer, the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States and Great Britain.

The magic ingredient appears to be a potent antioxidant called pterostilbene, which is found in the pigment that gives blueberries their rich purple color, according to researchers from Rutgers University in Piscataway, N.J., and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. While blueberries won't cure colon cancer, they could go a long way toward preventing it. "This study underscores the need to include more berries in the diet, especially blueberries," said lead study author Dr. Bandaru Reddy. Rising rates of colon cancer in Western countries have been linked to high-fat, high-calorie diets.

The study: Eighteen rats were injected with azoxymethane, a colon cancer-causing compound. For eight weeks, half the rats were given a balanced daily diet, while the other half were fed the same diet supplemented with pterostilbene.

The results: The rats that were fed pterostilbene had 57 percent fewer pre-cancerous lesions in their colons, compared to the rats who only received the balanced diet without pterostilbene. In addition, the compound appeared to reduce the growth rate of the cancerous cells, as well as inhibited certain genes involved in inflammation, both of which are implicated in the development of the disease.

The findings are so promising scientists are hopeful a blueberry-based preventative pill for colon cancer can soon be developed, which would have far fewer side effects than current commercial medications.

And if that's not enough reason to sprinkle a few blueberries on your morning cereal, consider this: Previous research has shown that blueberries also improve short-term memory loss, enhance balance and coordination and help prevent heart disease.

The study findings were presented to the 233rd national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Washington, D.C., March 2007. Funding for this study was provided by the National Cancer Institute.

--From the Editors at Netscape

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