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Most websites that provide information about probiotics are unreliable and often tout unproven health benefits

Reuters »

After examining the first 150 websites turned up by a Google search, researchers concluded that the vast majority were run by companies advertising products or news outlets that offered incomplete information, often leaving out potential side effects, according to the report in Frontiers in Medicine.

“This study demonstrates that a number of online claims on the health benefits of probiotics are not supported by scientific evidence,” said coauthor Michel Goldman, a professor of immunology at the Universite Libre de Bruxelles, in Belgium, and chief editor of Frontiers in Medicine. “(For example,) online claims on the beneficial effects of probiotics in cancer are not supported by any evidence.”

People who frequent art galleries, museums, attend the theatre, concerts may live longer

Vishwadha Chander, Reuters »

Even after accounting for a wide range of other health and social factors, researchers from University College London found that people over 50 who regularly engaged with arts activities were 31% less likely to die during a 14-year follow-up than peers with no art in their lives.

Those who took part in arts-related activities only once or twice a year still had 14% lower odds of dying during the study.

“These findings support previous statistical analyses and anthropological work suggesting there may be benefits of the arts to individuals as they age,” said Daisy Fancourt, an associate professor of psychobiology and epidemiology at University College London and co-author of the study.

Alcohol-related deaths in the US have more than doubled in the past 20 years

Vanessa Romo and Allison Aubrey, NPR »

Some of the greatest increases were found among women and people who were middle-aged and older.

[…]

Overall, researchers found men died at a higher rate than women. But when analyzing annual increases in deaths, the largest increase was among white women.

“With the increases in alcohol use among women, there’s been increases in harms for women including ER visits, hospitalization and deaths,” Aaron White, who authored the paper, told NPR.

The research shows that in 2017, alcohol proved to be even more deadly than illicit drugs, including opioids. That year there were about 70,000 drug overdose deaths — about 2,300 fewer than those involving alcohol, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For people with atrial fibrillation (Afib), cutting out alcohol may be beneficial

Gene Emery, Reuters »

Eliminating most alcohol consumption dramatically cuts the number of episodes of the potentially-deadly heart rhythm disturbance among moderate and heavy drinkers, according to results of a six-month Australian study of 140 volunteers published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

While atrial fibrillation (AF), or Afib, reappeared in 73% of the people who averaged 13 drinks per week, the rate dropped to 53% among patients in the abstinence group – who weren’t supposed to drink at all but, on average, consumed two drinks weekly.

[…]

The findings are not completely surprising. Population-based research had suggested that every drink (12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or a 1.5 ounce of distilled spirits) increases the risk of atrial fibrillation by 8%. The new randomized trial was designed to be a definitive test.

Related » Alcohol Abstinence in Drinkers with Atrial Fibrillation » The New England Journal of Medicine

The connections between lack of sleep and cancer

Did you know, for example, that long stretches of shift work may increase cancer risk.

Johns Hopkins Medicine »

Long-term sleep disruptions may raise the risk of some cancers. But sleep and cancer are intertwined in other ways too. Getting a good night’s sleep is difficult during cancer treatment and can be a lifelong challenge for survivors.

“In our research, nearly one in four survivors of childhood cancer had difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep,” says cancer expert Kathryn Ruble, M.S.N., Ph.D. , of the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center . “Helping cancer survivors improve their sleep might help them perform at school, on the job, and throughout their lives.”

Disruptions in the body’s “biological clock,” which controls sleep and thousands of other functions, may raise the odds of cancers of the breast, colon, ovaries and prostate. Exposure to light while working overnight shifts for several years may reduce levels of melatonin, encouraging cancer to grow.

Make time to unplug, relax, sleep, and other ways to look after your well being this holiday season

Natalie Clarkson, Virgin »

  1. Unplug and relax
  2. Prioritise sleep
  3. Practise gratitude
  4. Establish healthy habits

More at Virgin »

Watch » Matt Walker » Sleep is your superpower

The link between lack of sleep and cancer is now so strong that the World Health Organization has classified any form of nighttime shift work as a probable carcinogen.

TED Talk »

Sleep is your life-support system and Mother Nature’s best effort yet at immortality, says sleep scientist Matt Walker. In this deep dive into the science of slumber, Walker shares the wonderfully good things that happen when you get sleep — and the alarmingly bad things that happen when you don’t, for both your brain and body. Learn more about sleep’s impact on your learning, memory, immune system and even your genetic code — as well as some helpful tips for getting some shut-eye.

Pregnant air travellers can reduce their blood clot risk

Carolyn Crist, Reuters » 

Pregnant air travelers face a higher risk of blood clots, but they can reduce their risks by walking airplane aisles, drinking water and doing calf exercises, according to a new review.

For women with additional risk, doctors may recommend compression stockings and injectable blood thinners while traveling, the authors write in the Journal of Travel Medicine.

Human evolution explains why physical activity is important for our brain health

David A. Raichlen and Gene E. Alexander, Scientific American »

  • It is by now well established that exercise has positive effects on the brain, especially as we age.
  • Less clear has been why physical activity affects the brain in the first place.
  • Key events in the evolutionary history of humans may have forged the link between exercise and brain function.
  • Cognitively challenging exercise may benefit the brain more than physical activity that makes fewer cognitive demands.

[…]

People often consider walking and running to be activities that the body is able to perform on autopilot. But research carried out over the past decade by us and others would indicate that this folk wisdom is wrong. Instead exercise seems to be as much a cognitive activity as a physical one. In fact, this link between physical activity and brain health may trace back millions of years to the origin of hallmark traits of humankind. If we can better understand why and how exercise engages the brain, perhaps we can leverage the relevant physiological pathways to design novel exercise routines that will boost people’s cognition as they age—work that we have begun to undertake.

There’s lots more to this article over at Scientific American »

 

Consuming oatmeal for breakfast instead of eggs and white toast might lower people’s risk of stroke

Reuters Health »

Most ischemic strokes occur when a clot blocks an artery carrying blood to the brain.

To minimize that risk, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends not smoking, getting regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, keeping blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar in check, and eating a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean protein with limited sweets and fats.

Replacing one weekly serving of eggs or white bread with oatmeal was specifically associated with a 5% lower risk of ischemic stroke from blockages in small arteries, the researchers note.

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