Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

peace on earth

Merry Christmas


Happy New Year...

Normal blog entries will resume on 1/5/09

Friday, December 21, 2007

Stay Fit After Forty to Reduce Stroke Risk

news you may not knowThe Latest Health Craze

Sure, it's not the most joyous of all occasions. But, turning forty needn't be a harbinger of life on the decline. In fact, with just a bit of care, the decades beyond forty can easily be the most enjoyable period of one's life.

Scientists continue to verify the health benefits of an active lifestyle. Especially as we age. A recent study by researchers at the University of Cambridge finds that even modest exercise helps those over forty prevent stroke.

A little background information will help us gain a bit of perspective. 15 million people worldwide suffer strokes each year. 5 million of these people die, and an additional 5 million are permanently disabled. In the United States, someone suffers a stroke every 45 seconds - someone dies of a stroke every 3 to 4 minutes. In 2004, females accounted for over 60% of the stroke deaths in the U.S.

The researchers examined over 13,000 men and women, ages 40 to 79, between 1993 and 1997. They then followed their health status through 2005.

The researchers assessed the participants' physical abilities in completing everyday tasks: climbing stairs, carrying groceries, kneeling, bending and lifting. They found the more capable individuals were in completing these tasks, the lower their risk of stroke. Those in the top 25% of physical capability were 50% less likely to have a stroke than those in the lowest 25%.

"People who reported better physical health had significantly lower risk of stroke," said study author Phyo Kyaw Myint, MRCP, with the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

Go ahead - enjoy your fortieth birthday. And, to make sure there are many more, add a bit of stretching, bending, walking, stair climbing, and grocery carrying to your daily routine. Before you know it, you'll be celebrating with a cake blessed with too many candles to count - and, a life full of vibrant years to match.

To read more about the study, see this from ScienceDaily. To learn more about stroke prevention, see this from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Eat Mediterranean Foods, Live Long

tidbits that tantalizeGreat Food - No Seasickness...

Winter, 2007

Maybe you should have listened to your wife's plaintive pleas to move to a warmer locale. But, heck, you grew up in the north, you love the ice and snow, you're stout of mind and body - well, at least body...

And, now your wife wants to take a cruise to the Mediterranean...

Well, even if a Mediterranean cruise is not in your future, you can still find great advantage by emulating their lifestyle. A recent study shows that eating a Mediterranean diet helps you live longer. And, unlike the cruise, there's little risk of seasickness.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge assessed the diets and mortality rates of over 380,000 American men and women between the ages of 50 and 71. They specifically looked at the degree to which individuals adhered to a Mediterranean-style diet. They then correlated those results with the likelihood of death, from any cause, in the following five years. The results are quite striking.

Men who ate a diet closest to the Mediterranean diet were 21% less likely to die during the follow-up period. And, in a bit of an oddity, the news is even better for smokers. Those smokers eating a Mediterranean diet reduced their risk of death by almost 50%. That's fabulous, but... It's believed the effect is more significant in smokers because their need is greater. They simply have more need of the antioxidant impact of the Mediterranean diet because of their smoking habit.

A Mediterranean diet is both simple and tasty. It's choke full of fruits and veggies, fish, olive oil, and nuts. Oh, and a nice glass of red wine, of course.

A long, healthy life without the seasickness? What could be better?

To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To read more about the benefit of a Mediterranean diet, see this from the Mayo Clinic.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Broccoli, Blackberries, and Cancer

news you may not knowGo Ahead - Try the Broccoli...

Do you love blackberries? What about broccoli? If so, you are fortunate indeed. Especially if you can concoct a tasty recipe that uses both cancer-fighting wonders. OK, so that may be a bit of a stretch, but...

Researchers at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York, report that raw broccoli is a powerful cancer fighting cruciferous vegetable. Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cabbage, kale, watercress, bok choy, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and mustard greens. What's their cancer-fighting secret? They are the only vegetables that contain isothiocyanates.

Isothiocyanates are nutrients that have previously been shown to fight cancer. The current study reconfirms this.

Eating just 3 servings of broccoli per month reduced the risk of bladder cancer by 40%. The news is even better when you factor in being a non-smoker. For non-smokers eating at least 3 veggie servings each month, the risk was reduced by 73%. Seems like a pretty decent payoff for a piece of broccoli here and there.

How should you cook your broccoli? That would be using the "no heat" method. Yes, researchers found the benefit only derives from raw veggies - cooking reduces the amount of isothiocyanates by up to 90%, thus eliminating its cancer fighting potential.

Blackberries, in a separate study, were shown to have a similar ability to fight esophageal cancers.

...You know what to do. Head to the grocery store, hit the produce section, and buy some color. Then, instead of ignoring it for two weeks before finally throwing it away, get in the habit of giving it a quick wash and enjoying the snap and crunch of real food. Health has never been so simple...

To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To read more about the health benefits of fruits and veggies, see this from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Kids With Cancer Living Longer

news you may not knowSometimes Down is Good...

It's not great news - yet. Only news announcing the elimination of childhood cancer could be classified as great. But, while we move toward that goal, this news is certainly encouraging: kids with cancer are living longer.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports the death rate for children with cancer declined sharply between 1990 and 2004. The overall decline was about 20%. The decline in death rates is not due to fewer cancer cases, as the number of new cases has remained stable. Rather, the decline is due to more effective treatments for a variety of childhood cancers.

One group that has not experienced the same level of decline is U.S. Hispanics. Their death rate has declined by only 1% per year, compared to the overall average of 1.7% per year. That's a significant difference. Officials say the problem for Hispanics is multi-faceted. They are less likely to have health insurance, have poorer access to care, and suffer from cultural and linguistic barriers. With the continued growth of the Hispanic population, this is an area requiring immediate attention.

So, the news is good. But, with over 2,000 children still dieing each year from cancer, the work is far from complete. Let's roll up those sleeves, pour some coffee and get to work - the children are counting on us.

To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To find resources to help cope with a childhood cancer, see this from the Children's Cancer Association, or this from the Kids Cancer Network.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Can You be Both Fat and Fit?

news you may not knowSure, Bring a Friend - or, Two...

Let the groaning begin.

Yes, it's one more report about the obesity epidemic in America. This is old news, right? We all know we're a nation of healthy eaters and even healthier waistlines. But, this report comes with a bit of a twist.

You can indeed be both fat and fit - eureka!

Dr. Steven N. Blair, of the University of South Carolina, studied the interplay of weight and wellness in about 2,600 people aged 60 and over. Over a 12-year period he assessed fitness levels and tracked mortality rates. He found that fitness, rather than fatness, is the key to living longer.

"Fitness level is a strong predictor for risk of dying in older adults," said Dr. Blair.

The study assigned people to one of five fitness levels, based on body mass index, waist circumference, and body fat percentage. The results speak well of leading an active lifestyle. Those in the lowest fifth fitness level were four times more likely to die than those in the highest fifth. That's a huge difference - yes, pardon the pun.

But, there is some very good news. The study found that even moderate exercise has a positive health impact, allowing sedentary individuals to escape the lowest fitness levels. A simple routine of walking 30 minutes each day, five times per week, will help improve fitness.

"It is possible for many older Americans to improve their fitness," Blair said. "The good news from this study is that they don't have to be thin to benefit from being physically active."

The bottom line? Get off the scale and move those chubby toes on down the path. You'll not only enjoy the fresh air, but add some years to your life in the process.

To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To read more about the health benefits of walking, see this from

Monday, December 10, 2007

Obesity Rates Stable, Problematic

tidbits that tantalizeUsing The Alternate Burger Mustard Index

Americans love to eat - and it shows.

The "good" news is that for the first time in a quarter century the obesity rates are not rising. But, while the obesity rates have stabilized in the past couple years, there is no real call to celebrate. Americans continue to tip the scales on the high side. The U.S. centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that over 72 million Americans were overweight in 2005-2006. Yes, that's a BIG number...

Parity among the sexes is also a new phenomenon. In the past, women were more likely than men to be obese. But, in an apparent bow to political correctness, men have feverishly packed on the pounds in recent years in a valiant effort to equalize obesity rates. Congratulations, guys - you are now every bit as overweight as your female counterparts. Time to celebrate with a three-layer chocolate cake?

Obesity is defined as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or more. The BMI is calculated from a person's height and weight, and is one means of predicting weight-related health complications. Previous studies have shown obesity to contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

"In view of these alarmingly high rates of obesity in all population groups, CDC has made the prevention of obesity one of its top public health priorities," said Janet Collins, director of CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. "We are actively working in partnership with state and local public health agencies, the nation's schools, community organizations, businesses, medical systems and faith communities to promote and support healthy eating, physical activity and healthy weight."

What can be done? Well, consider a few simple steps to start. That's right - open the front door, step outside, and walk. Anywhere will do. Once you get there, turn left - or right - and see where else your little legs may take you.

To read more about the report, see this from Reuters. To read more about the BMI, and to calculate your own BMI, see this from the Mayo Clinic.

Friday, December 07, 2007

The Power of Soap

tidbits that tantalizeUnleash The Power...

Scientists continue to be wary of the next great pandemic. The Black death of the 1300s is estimated to have claimed 75 million lives worldwide. In the 1990s cholera took 10,000 lives in South America. The Spanish Flu, first identified at a military base in Kansas in 1918, was responsible for 25 million deaths worldwide in just 6 months.

The search for new vaccines, new methods to prevent the rapid spread of infections, and efficient pandemic protocols are in high gear. But, while progress is certainly being made, scientists say we should not overlook an old-fashioned technique:

Wash Your Hands...

Science continues to verify old truths on a number of health fronts. The age-old mother's admonition about handwashing may be among the most important.

A recent report in the British Medical Journal detailed the results of a review of 51 studies. The studies analyzed the effectiveness of interventions such as isolation, barriers, and hygiene. The results indicate that handwashing, as well as wearing masks, gowns, and gloves, offers protection against the spread of disease. Separate studies have shown that washing your hands with soap and water helps you avoid common respiratory illnesses.

High tech health care is fabulous. But, don't forget the everyday, simple solutions - wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands...

To read more about the report, see this from Reuters. To read more about the importance and health benefits of handwashing, see this from the Mayo Clinic.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

For Vacations, Quality Time is Key

news you may not knowNeed A Vacation?

OK - run through the list one last time. Golf clubs? Check. Sandals, sunscreen, and swimsuit? Check. Ah, it's going be a great vacation - you can't wait. But...

There is one last list to check.

Cell phone? Check. Laptop? Check. Wireless adaptor, briefcase, spreadsheets, projections? Check, check, arghh!!

This is vacation? Sadly, for many the answer is yes. And, according to Tel Aviv University Prof. Dov Eden, that's precisely the problem.

Prof. Eden studied the impact of vacations on chronic job stress. This is an area of specialty for Prof. Eden, who has been studying "respite effects" for the past decade. His recent study focused on college professors from Israel, the United States, and New Zealand.

The results say it's all about the quality.

Prof. Eden found little difference between stress relief from extended vacations, including yearlong sabbaticals, and brief vacations. In fact, the stress relief from a long weekend vacation was often as significant.

However, the real key was the ability to detach. To actually be on vacation, rather than simply extending the office to the beach via technology. Prof. Eden believes that staying connected to the workplace effectively negates the positive impact of vacations, and is the underlying cause of chronic job stress.

So, the next time you plan a vacation, ditch the cell phone, the laptop, and the spreadsheets. Turn your attention to more important matters - things like a good book, a new stretch of beach, or a midnight stroll. Ah - now, that's beginning to feel like a vacation...

To read more about the study, see this from ScienceDaily. To read more about chronic job stress, see this from

Monday, December 03, 2007

Choose Whole Grains to Fight Cancer

tidbits that tantalizeGo Ahead - Give It A Try...

Sure, that box of sweet, sugar-filled cereal looks fabulous, but... For better health, researchers recommend you stick with the whole grain stuff. Now, for those of you who are new at this, don't shed any tears just yet. You'll soon find that whole grain foods are not only healthier for you, they actually taste like food - quite an idea, isn't it?

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco have added a huge new health benefit to the whole grain arsenal: it fights pancreatic cancer.

Whole grains have long been known to be healthy for the heart and to help fight diabetes. But, the latest news puts a fabulous new spin on their powers. The researchers found those who ate two or more servings per day had a 40% lower risk of developing pancreatic cancer. That's in comparison to those who ate less than one serving each day.

The scientists also found a direct link between fiber consumption and lower pancreatic cancer risk. Those eating the highest amounts of fiber had a 35% lower risk.

Think of it - taking a few simple dietary steps can reduce your risk of pancreatic cancer by 35-40%. Hmm...

The researchers say further studies are necessary to confirm these results.

To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To read more about the benefits of whole grains, see this from the Mayo Clinic.