Category Archives: Health & Wellness

Health & Wellness

Using Small Plates To Eat Less Doesn’t Work In Overweight Teenage Girls

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food portion control diet obesity

Many dieters have found it helpful to eat in smaller portions by using smaller plates, but a new study discovered that this scheme might not work for teenagers who are overweight.

Study co-author Lance Bauer of the University of Connecticut acknowledged the impact of smaller-sized portions to reduce food intake. “It has been assumed that overweight or obese consumers are more likely than others to underestimate the size of a food serving and accordingly overeat–particularly when the food is presented on a large dinner plate or in a large container… For this reason and others, it is frequently recommended that these consumers use smaller plates to defeat the illusion,” Bauer said in a news item.

However, the study revealed that teenage girls who were overweight or obese revealed might not be able to use the technique due to lack of attention. “The study found that, on average, overweight or obese adolescent girls were less attentive than normal weight girls to visual cues of different types… This finding suggests that changing the size of their dinnerware may be less effective than we thought. It also suggests that presenting them with detailed charts summarizing diet rules or calorie counts might also be less effective than we would like,” Bauer expressed.

The study involved more than 160 female teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18 who were asked to assess food portion sizes in relation to the size of the plate.

“In diet education, one size might not fit all,” Bauer added.

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Health & Wellness

Study: Active Lifestyle During Midlife Lowers Risk of Cancer Death in Men

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A recent study might be just the thing to motivate men to spend more time at the gym.

Researchers from the University of Vermont discovered that males who engage in fitness activities during their midlife may find themselves with less risk of dying from certain cancers beyond 65 years old. The study involved data from more than 14,000 males between 1971 and 2009. The comprehensive analysis revealed a 44 percent reduction in risk of drying from colorectal cancer, and a significant 55 percent decrease from lung cancer death.”These findings provide further support for the effectiveness of cardiorespiratory fitness assessment in preventive health care settings,” the authors said via a news release.

However, the study proponents were dumbfounded as to the effect of increased midlife fitness to prostate cancer mortality. Results showed that engaging in more activity during midlife was linked to a higher risk of prostate cancer. The researchers believe that one possible reason behind this surprising discovery was that men who keep an active lifestyle are more likely to subject themselves to medical diagnosis, which might have captured many cases of prostate cancer.

Still, the researchers believe there is much to learn about the circumstances and underlying factors involved in their study. “Future studies are required to determine the absolute level of cardiorespiratory fitness necessary to prevent site-specific cancer as well as evaluating the long-term effect of cancer diagnosis and mortality in women,” the researchers added.

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Health & Wellness Medical Marijuana

Marijuana in Colorado Found With Fungus and Foreign Materials

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marijuana legalization

Have you tried taking fungus with your pot? Marijuana users in Colorado may be in for a surprise.

Denver medical lab company Charas Scientific discovered traces of fungus, butane, and heavy metals in samples of recreational marijuana sold in Colorado. Andy LaFrate, who works as president and director of research at the lab facility, was surprised with the presence of foreign matter in cannabis samples. “You’ll see a marijuana bud that looks beautiful. And then we run it through a biological assay and we see that it’s covered in fungi,” LaFrate shared in a news report.

The findings were part of voluntary tests by lab facilities accredited by the state to conduct potency analysis on marijuana samples, with Charas Scientific one of those companies. Testing for contaminants has not been mandated by state law, although some lab firms have conducted their own tests. Charas business development chief Mary Meek said that the importance of product purity could bear a significant impact to the health of users. “Right now [the testing] is not in effect for marijuana, so you don’t really know how dirty or clean your product is right now,” Meek said. “The problem is it’s not been tracked. You may just think you’re getting a cold and it may look like allergies, when in reality it could be something else going on.”

The company, however, is quick to dismiss the notion that the revelation of this startling finding is meant to scare people from buying pot. “We want to label your marijuana like we would label your liquor or your beer. You want to know your items have been tested and they’re safe,” Meek added.

State law requires potency and consistency tests on recreational marijuana sold in retail shops.

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Health & Wellness

Study: Arthritis Risk Accurately Predicted By Diabetes and Other Health Factors

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arthritis pain diabetes

A patient’s tendency to experience arthritis may be predicted by health conditions, including diabetes.

This was determined through a study conducted by researchers from the University of Utah School of Medicine, after assessing data obtained from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey in 2011 to 2012. Study author Man Hung, PhD, who works as assistant professor in the school’s Department of Orthopedic Surgery Operations, said that predictive analysis of a person’s health could trace the likelihood of experiencing arthritis later in life. “The algorithms generated in the study offer new insights into pain and should help in the development of cost-effective care management programs for those experiencing arthritis,” Hung said in a news item.

The study involved running the survey data through an algorithm that assesses triggers for arthritis pain of more than 5,700 individuals. Data from the SF-12 Health Component Survey was also used to determine the status of patient health.

Diabetes was found to be one of the prediction factors for arthritis discomfort. Other factors such as health status were combined in one of the algorithms to produce a near-perfect accuracy of 98.6 percent. “Our results indicate that physical health along with a number of conditions can significantly distinguish individuals with and without pain,” Hung added.

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Health & Wellness

Cooking Rice The Right Way May Decrease Risk Of Obesity

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Who knew that changing the method of cooking can drastically change the impact on health?

A group of scientists from Sri Lanka conducted tests on 38 rice varieties to determine the effect of changing cooking methods to decrease the amount of digestible starch. This type of starch is rich in calories that increase the likelihood of storing sugars and fats in the body. The objective behind the study, according to study lead author Sudhair James of Sri Lanka’s College of Chemical Sciences, is to address the issue on obesity in developing countries that rely on rice as a staple food commodity. “Because obesity is a growing health problem, especially in many developing countries, we wanted to find food-based solutions,” said James in a news release.

The study focused on reducing the level of digestible starch and increasing the resistant starch (RS) amount to inhibit the obesity risk. “We discovered that increasing rice resistant starch (RS) concentrations was a novel way to approach the problem,” James added.

The recommended way of cooking rice, as determined through the study, was to add one teaspoon of coconut oil to water and half a cup of rice. The mixture is made to boil for about 20 minutes and refrigerated for 12 hours. “Cooling for 12 hours will lead to formation of hydrogen bonds between the amylose molecules outside the rice grains that also turns it into a resistant starch,” James expressed further.

Results of the study were presented during the American Chemical Society’s National Meeting and Exposition.

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Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Stem Cell Treatment For Type 2 Diabetes Yield Positive Results on Mice

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Months ago, we featured stem cells as a possible key to curing Type 1 diabetes. This time, a new research sheds light into the possibility of doing the same for Type 2 diabetes.

Lab tests done on mice with Type 2 diabetes revealed that glucose metabolism improved after transplanting stem cells from the pancreas combined with drugs that sensitize insulin. The tests were also conducted to assess the impact of stem cells on obesity, which yielded promising results. “Our data suggest that transplanted human embryonic stem cell (hESC)-derived insulin-producing cells thrive following chronic exposure to high-fat diets, at least in immunodeficient mice… Thus, stem cells are candidates for restoring functional beta cells in an insulin-resistant, obese setting,” according to researchers from the University of British Columbia.

The scientists conducted several tests to check which insulin-sensitizing drug could maximize the effect of stem cells on diabetes and obesity. “The reversal of hyperleptinemia in both sitagliptin- and metformin-treated transplant recipients also suggests a more robust reversal of the obesity phenotype in these groups as compared with the high-fat diet transplant recipients treated with rosiglitazone or without drugs,” the researchers said in a news release.

The study was co-authored by Timothy J. Kieffer, who works as Diabetes Research Group Leader and professor of the university. The research paper was published in the Stem Cell Reports journal.

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Health & Wellness Home Health Hazards Real Drug Stories

States Continue to Ban Powdered Alcohol

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Photo credit: Liberal America

Powdered alcohol seems to be moving in the opposite direction of marijuana these day, with a total of five states having banned the substance, according to the Alcohol Justice website and 25 more having introduced legislation to do so.

Among the states that have passed legislation to ban powdered and crystalline alcohol products, are: Alaska, Louisiana, South Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts has issued a regulatory decision that powdered alcohol is not legal in the state and the Pennsylvania liquor control board voted unanimously to keep powdered alcohol off of its product lists.

Among the reasons for the bans and potential bans are concerns that the powder can be easily accessed and hidden by youth and the packets are also similar to nonalcoholic children’s drink packets. People could also easily combine the packets, mix the powder with liquid alcohol, mix it with energy drinks, sneak it into venues where alcohol is not allowed and potentially snort it.

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Health & Wellness Medical Marijuana

Medical Marijuana For Pets Pushed By New Nevada Bill

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Amidst continuing debates over the merits of medical marijuana use in the U.S., a new legislation aims to provide the same treatment to animals.

According to a news item, a new measure sponsored by Democratic Sen. Tick Segerblom provides pet owners access to medical marijuana to be administered to their pets diagnosed with diseases curable by the drug. A prescription must be obtained from the veterinarian, who will certify that the pet has a sickness that medical marijuana is known to alleviate. The measure forms part of a comprehensive bill to update existing medical marijuana bill in Nevada.

Despite this bit of good news for marijuana advocates and pet lovers, Segerblom said that no studies have proven that medical marijuana is safe for animals. In fact, while many veterinarians around the country have administered marijuana to sick pets, using the drug as a painkiller is not yet scientifically proven.

The proposal doesn’t come without criticism. Fellow Democrat Sen. Mark Manendo is worried about the safety of marijuana on pet health, stating further that animals are sensitive to many things that humans can ingest normally. “Alcohol is bad, chocolate is bad for dogs,” said Manendo.

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Alcohol Testing Health & Wellness

Alcohol Ignition Vehicle Device May Help Prevent Drunk-Driving Fatalities

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Would you believe that installing a device in your car may prevent you from figuring in an accident caused by drunk driving?

This seems to be the objective of a group of researchers from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute and the University of Michigan Injury Center, as they looked into the impact of alcohol ignition interlock devices. Results of the study, which was published in the American Journal of Public Health, showed that the vehicle installation could decrease drunk-driving car crashes by 85 percent, equivalent to more than 59,000 fatalities in a span of 15 years.

In addition, the device could also prevent more than a million alcohol-related injuries on the road over the same time frame. Return of investment for the purchase and installation of the alcohol-sensing device is projected at three years, with the U.S. government able to save close to $350 billion within 15 years.

Although the researchers were confident with their study, lead author Dr. Patrick Carter of the university’s Department of Emergency Medicine expressed their surprise over the numbers. “Our analysis clearly demonstrates the significant public health benefit and societal cost savings associated with including alcohol ignition interlock devices as standard equipment in all new cars,” Carter said in a news release.

Data collated by the study proponents showed that 35 percent of DUI accidents involved drivers between 21 and 29 years of age. “By capitalizing on recent technological advancements that make alcohol-detecting sensors seamless to the driver and applying such technology more broadly to all newly built vehicles, we can actually have a substantial injury prevention impact among traditionally hard-to-reach high-risk populations,” Carter added.

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Health & Wellness

Researchers Investigating the Use of Drones in Medical Emergencies

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drone - Don McCullough

You’ve heard a lot about them already and have probably seen them around and now you may be seeing more of unmanned aerial vehicles, more commonly known as drones.

In the latest Air Medical Journal, three researchers from Mayo Clinic’s Department of Surgery investigate the viability of using drones for medical purposes, including delivering things such as drugs and blood derivatives to clinics, disaster areas, and to remote places that are expensive to reach such as ships and offshore oil platforms.

Blood expires quickly and the thought behind using drones for delivery would be to deliver it while it’s fresh from the blood bank before the patient who needs it even arrives at the emergency room. The would allow hospitals to avoid having to keep large amounts of blood in stock and would, in turn, reduce the overall demand for it.

When compared to helicopters, drones are also much less expensive to use for delivering blood and plasma. The Mayo Clinic’s helicopters make 400 flights per year delivering blood and plasma. Each of these trips costs thousands of dollars.

[Photo courtesy of Don McCullough on Flickr]

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