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Ginger May Protect the Colon

Researchers from the University of Michigan Medical School have reported that supplements of ginger root extract reduced markers of colon inflammation that might lead to cancer. The investigators recruited 30 patients at normal risk for colon cancer for their study and randomly assigned them to receive either two grams of ginger root supplements or a placebo for 28 days. The researchers then measured levels of colon inflammation in biopsies taken via sigmoidoscopy. They found that some markers showed a statistically significant decline while other markers showed reductions that were smaller. Earlier studies have implicated inflammation as a forerunner of colon cancer. The research team noted, however, that further investigation will be needed to explore how ginger affects the risk of the disease, and to determine whether supplements can be recommended as a means of prevention. The study was published online on October 11 by the journal Cancer Prevention Research.


Growing Shiitake Mushrooms (Photos)

Have you ever eaten a shiitake mushroom? They are delicious and great for your health! In late July of 2011, some friends and I in British Columbia, Canada, decided to prepare alder logs for growing shiitake mushrooms. A pleasant, productive way to spend an afternoon! Read more about growing shiitake mushrooms.


Green Tea for Weight Control

Following previous research suggesting that green tea affects metabolism, researchers at Penn State fed obese mice epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a compound found in most green tea, and also put them on a high fat diet. Another group of mice, serving as controls, were fed the same high fat diet but no EGCG. The investigators found that the mice receiving EGCG gained weight 45 percent more slowly than the mice that didn’t get the compound. They also found that the mice on the green tea supplement showed an increase of nearly 30 percent in fecal lipid (fats), which suggested that the EGCG was limiting fat absorption. Both groups of mice ate the same amount of food - apparently the EGCG didn’t reduce the mouse appetite. To get an equivalent amount of EGCG used in this study, a human would have to drink 10 cups of green tea daily, the investigators said. But they noted that other studies have indicated drinking just a few cups of green tea daily may help with weight control.


How do you get your daily news? (Poll)

A recent Q&A discussed taking a news fast and what it can do for you: Need a News Fast? Check out the article and then let us know how you get your news on a daily basis!


Cytokine Hypothesis and Depression (Videos)

Proteins called cytokines are made by the immune system and flood the body when triggered and increase bodily inflammation. This is now a new hypothesis that elevated levels of cytokines and inflammation lead to depression. Find out what Dr. Weil has to say about this hypothesis and how this may be the future of treating depression.


Sitting and Cancer Risk

Even if you exercise a little every day, spending the rest of your time sitting may sabotage the positive effects of your morning run or evening walk. Findings from the emerging field of “sedentary behavior research” suggest that the recommended 30 minutes of daily exercise may not be enough physical activity for continued good health. Data presented at the November meeting of the American Institute for Cancer Research indicate that sedentary living is linked to 49,000 cases of breast cancer and 43,000 cases of colon cancer in the U.S. and that regular exercise can reduce the risk of colon cancer by 35 percent and of breast cancer by 25 percent. Researchers also stressed the importance of enhancing a daily exercise routine by taking hourly breaks from your desk - one or two minutes per hour - even if you do nothing more strenuous than walk to the restroom or across the hall to talk to a co-worker. Other data presented at the meeting suggested that exercise can lower biomarkers of inflammation such as C-reactive protein. Inflammation continues to be investigated as a risk factor in cancer, and decreasing it as a mechanism by which exercise helps reduce cancer risk.

My take? We have good evidence that regular exercise can help protect against breast cancer, and it makes sense that risks of developing other types of cancer could be linked to lack of physical activity. Our bodies evolved in very demanding environments and are meant to be used. If not, they deteriorate faster than they should. Many of the illnesses that plague our society result from sedentary behaviors. Clearly the prevalence of heart and artery disease correlates as much with lack of aerobic exercise as it does with unhealthy diets. I’m not sure that a two-minute break every hour is the answer to spending all day seated at a desk, but I am in favor of anything that increases the motivation to get you up and moving regularly.


The Dirtiest Dozen

What's the dirtiest thing you touch in the course of a normal day? If you've been to a gas station, the pump handle would probably top the list of the filthiest surface you encountered. A new survey from Kimberly-Clark found that 71 percent of gas pump handles tested in six U.S. cities were contaminated with bacteria and viruses capable of making us sick. You may want to pull on disposable latex gloves the next time you reach for the pump handle. Others among the dirtiest surfaces found to be crawling with germs: the handles on public mailboxes, escalator railings, ATM buttons, parking meters and kiosks, crosswalk buttons and buttons on vending machines in shopping malls. And that's not all: at the office, your computer keys and mouse may not be as germ-laden as a gas pump handle, but if you don't clean them, it's likely nobody will. Other office hazards: door handles and elevator buttons. Moral of this story: wash your hands after you touch any of these surfaces.


Poor Posture and Depression (Poll)

A recent Q&A discussed the connection between posture and depression: Does Poor Posture Suggest Depression? Check out the article and then let us know what what exercise lifts your mood the most!