If hot flashes are depriving you of sleep and driving you nuts during the day, look on the bright side: if you've just reached menopause those flashes may mean that you won't have to worry so much about having a heart attack later in life. These findings follow a new analysis of data from a previous study. The earlier clinical trial, published in 2002, indicated that hormone replacement raised the risk of breast and ovarian cancer and strokes in older women. The investigators noted, however, that women in the study who had hot flashes and night sweats early in menopause had a 17 percent lower risk of stroke, an 11 percent lower risk of heart disease and an 11 percent lower risk of death from any cause during the study period. Women who developed hot flashes or night sweats later on in menopause, on the other hand, had a 32 percent higher risk of heart attack and a 29 percent higher risk of death compared to women whose hot flashes arrived early in menopause. The study was published online on Feb. 19, 2011, by the journal Menopause.
A good source of vitamins K and C, potassium and folate, asparagus is a perennial with 20 edible varieties. A springtime favorite, it may help support heart health, healthy fluid balance and prevent birth defects. Asparagus is prized worldwide as a gourmet vegetable, yet it is easy to grow, fairly inexpensive to buy and simple to cook. Look for:
- Green asparagus - the most common variety.
- White asparagus - grown underground to inhibit its development of chlorophyll content, it has a more delicate flavor and texture.
- Purple asparagus - smaller than the green or white varieties, it has a fruitier flavor. Purple asparagus also provides benefits from phytonutrients called anthocyanins that give it its distinctive hue.
When selecting asparagus, look for stems that are thin and firm, with closed tips that are deep green or purple in color. When preparing to eat, an easy way to determine where to cut the ends of asparagus stems is to hold one stalk and break it - wherever the break naturally occurs is your guideline for trimming the rest of the stalks.
Try this delicious recipe: Brown Rice Soup with Asparagus
That’s the conclusion of a large National Cancer Institute study involving 219,123 men and 168,999 women. When the participants enrolled in 1995 or 1996, they filled out a food frequency questionnaire. Later, the researchers linked information from those forms to causes of death. They found that reported fiber intake was associated with a significantly lower risk of death in both men and women. Those that consumed the most fiber (29.4 grams daily for men and 25.8 grams daily for women) were 22 percent less likely to die during the nine years of follow up than those whose diets contained the least amount of fiber (12.6 grams daily for men and 10.8 grams for women). In addition, the risk of cardiovascular, infectious and respiratory diseases was 24 to 56 percent lower in men and 34 percent to 59 percent lower in women whose fiber intakes were highest. Here, dietary fiber from grains (not fruits) was linked with the decreased risks. The study was published online Feb. 14, 2011 in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Being pessimistic can be more than just an emotional drain on yourself and those around you - pessimism has been linked to a higher risk of dying before age 65. The good news is that expressing positive emotions such as optimism is associated with a variety of health benefits: lowered production of the stress hormone cortisol, better immune function and reduced risk of chronic diseases. If you are stressed-out or anxious, which can be either a cause or an effect of a pessimistic outlook, try the following:
- Take care of yourself by eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and getting adequate sleep.
- Express your emotional reactions honestly so you can effectively deal with what's bothering you.
- Confide in someone - your mate, a good friend or a trusted relative.
- View the cup as half full instead of half empty.
You can also benefit from positivity in the form of laughing, celebrating friends and family, learning to forgive and more!
We already know that not getting enough sleep adds to the risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Now newly published research in the journal Cancer suggests that habitually getting less than six hours of sleep a night can increase the risk of colorectal adenomas, growths that if left untreated can become malignant. Researchers from University Hospitals Case Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio, telephoned 1,240 patients scheduled for colonoscopy and questioned them about their sleep habits and quality of sleep. Of these patients, 338 were diagnosed with colorectal adenomas when they had their colonoscopies. When the researchers checked their records, they found that 28.9 percent of the patients with adenomas had reported getting less than six hours sleep a night compared with 22.1 percent of patients without adenomas. Even when the statistics were adjusted for family history, smoking and waist to hip ratio (a measure of obesity), those who got less sleep had an almost 50 percent greater risk of adenomas. The investigators said that the increased risk seen is comparable to the risk of having a parent or sibling with colon cancer and with a high intake of red meat (both considered major risk factors). So far, no one knows why fewer hours of sleep should lead to colon cancer.
My take? Perhaps the most striking link between sleep and disease comes from studies showing that the less people sleep, the more likely they are to become obese and, as you know, obesity increases the risk of a long list of diseases. Beyond that, laboratory studies have suggested that sleep deprivation may elevate the body's production of stress hormones, boost blood pressure and increase substances in the blood that are responsible for increasing inflammation in the body. Inflammation now appears to be a major risk factor for heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and obesity.
Widely promoted as a cure-all for everything from ear infections and shingles to AIDS, colloidal silver is a solution of silver particles suspended in liquid. Promoters claim that colloidal silver is an alternative to antibiotics and can extend life and remedy mineral deficiencies that lead to a weakened immune system. Is any of this hype true?
I don’t think so - the claims are unproven, and colloidal silver is not a substitute for antibiotics, or any other medications. Not only does the human body have absolutely no need for silver, it can be harmful:
While it is true that silver is an effective germicide, it has limited usefulness in medicine. In 1999 the FDA banned the sale of all over-the-counter drugs containing colloidal silver and silver salts as these compounds haven't been recognized as safe. However the ban doesn't apply to dietary supplements containing colloidal silver because the FDA has no jurisdiction over such products, unless there are established safety issues. I would avoid all products containing colloidal silver.
More dangerous supplements to avoid.
If you turn your head away when you're getting an injection or having blood drawn, you may feel more pain than you would if you looked at your arm. A small study from England and Italy suggests that literally facing up to painful experiences actually can lessen the amount of pain you feel. Only 18 volunteers participated in the investigation from The University College London and the University of Milan-Bicocca. As the participants held a heated probe in their hands, the temperature was gradually increased. When the heat became painful, the probe was removed and the temperature noted. The investigators reported that the volunteers could tolerate an average of three degrees centigrade more heat when they looked at their hands compared to what they could tolerate when their hands were hidden from view with a block of wood. What's more, when the researchers magnified the appearance of the participants' hands with mirrors, the volunteers could tolerate even higher temperatures. The study was published online on Feb. 8, 2011 in Psychological Science.
Regular exercise can invigorate the body and mind, help keep off extra pounds, minimize the risk of disease and illness (including Alzheimer’s, heart disease and diabetes), help to regulate hormones, inspire creativity, boost your mood and increase longevity. Unfortunately, travel - frequent or occasional - can disrupt schedules, making exercise seem like an afterthought, but it doesn’t need to be. Learn more about what to look for in a hotel, space-saving equipment you can pack and more, from Dr. Weil’s personal trainer.
Watch the video “Travel Fitness Tips” featuring Dan Bornstein, Dr. Weil's personal trainer.